Weclome Guest Blogger, Margaret Fieland!

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Please welcome today’s guest, Margaret Fieland, who talks a bit about her process.  Thank you for participating, Margaret!

Rob Walker Takes a Personality Test

I’m not a list maker, a plotter, or well-organized. I don’t make lists of traits for my characters. Instead, I imagine them standing in front of me, moving and talking. I write about them.

And, after I discovered character writer (you can download a limited functionality, free version here), I started giving them personality tests.

I have a difficult time answering multiple-choice questions, with personality tests topping my list. However, I don’t experience the same problem when my characters take them.

Character writer is based on the Enneagram model, but I’m more familiar with Myers-Briggs, so when I started writing my latest science fiction novel, I decided to give Colonel Rob Walker, my new main character, one of them. You can find it here. Myers-Briggs consists of four sets of preferences. The four sets of questions in the test I picked are designed to help pick the dominant preference in each set.

First axis: Introvert/Extrovert. Does Rob crave outside stimulation? Is he at his best in a crowd? Does he look to others when forming his opinions, or does he  decide on his own? Does he prefer his friends one or two at a time?

Okay, easy. Rob is an introvert. He has two wives and three children, and his new posting  has all of them crammed into a tiny house. It’s driving Rob nuts, so much so that he’s sneaking out of the house as soon as the sun rises to eat breakfast (first meal in my manuscript) in peace and quiet.

The next axis is how we understand our environment and the world around us. One mode is called sensing (S) and the other Intuitive (N).  What this means is, do we figure out our world starting from our senses: sights, sounds, smells, or do we understand it starting with an organizing principle. The website calls the sensing “reality” based and the intuitive “speculative.” What this means is that an N starts with a pattern and works on organizing the information using the pattern, while an S starts with the details.

Again, easy. Rob is an S. He attends to present opportunities using common sense and creates practical solutions. He remembers where, when, how, and who about past events. He can improvise from past experience, but he’s not going to make any intuitive leaps, and he hates guessing when he can’t nail down all the details

The third axis is how we form judgments and make choices: with our head (Thinking) or our gut (Feeling).

And now I’m surprised. I had Rob pegged for a Thinker, but, reading the side-by-side questions, I’m having second thoughts. The key question, the one I can answer with no difficulty, is the one about conflict:  “has an almost toxic reaction to disharmony.” That’s Rob, all right, so for now, I’m going with F.

The final axis is how we make decisions and pick our actions.  We all use both judging (thinking and feeling)  and perceiving (sensing and intuition), but one dominates when choosing our actions. Is Rob a J or a P?

A J plans details in advance, advances through tasks in sequence, likes to keep ahead of deadlines and avoid stress, likes routines, measurable goals, and dates. That’s Rob, all right.

So now I have Rob’s type: ISFJ., which makes him a dominant Introverted Sensing type according to the test I gave him. You can read about it here.

And, yup, that’s my boy: dependable, reliable, trustworthy, likes clearly-established responsibility.  If he takes something on, he sees it through to the end.  He’s pretty traditional. Presented with a potential problem, he’ll look to past experience for a solution. Out-of-the-box thinking is not his style.

Plenty here to get my new main character into trouble. He’ll face a problem where his only solution is something against the Guard’s policy. Maybe he has to go against orders.

All in all, a good test result.

Relocated Blurb

When fourteen-year-old Keth’s dad is transferred to planet Aleyne, he doesn’t know what to expect. Certainly not to discover Dad grew up here, and studied with Ardaval, a noted Aleyni scholar. On Aleyne, Keth’s psi ability develops. However, psi is illegal in the Terran Federation. After a dangerous encounter with two Terran teenagers  conflict erupts between Keth and his father. Keth seeks sanctuary with Ardaval.  Studying with the Aleyne scholar Keth learns the truth about his own heritage. After Keth’s friend’s father, Mazos, is kidnapped, Keth ignores the risks and attempts to free him. Little does he realize who will pay the cost as he becomes involved with terrorists.



By the time I woke the next morning the sun shone low in the sky and warm, spicy air blew through the open window. I decided not to fight over what to wear, since standing out wasn’t on my to-do list. Dad and Ardaval sat in the courtyard sipping kaff. Ardaval nodded at me and turned to Dad. “You should let him wear Aleyni tunics, pants, and sandals. He’s going to be much too hot in those clothes.” He spoke Aleyni.

Dad pushed his lips together and checked me over. “I’d rather he dressed in Terran standard trousers and shirts. I don’t want him to look like an alien…” He answered in Common.

Ardaval flushed at Dad’s choice of language. “Gavin, those clothes are much too heavy for this climate. The boy will melt.”

Too bad Dad wouldn’t listen. Sweat already dripped down my back. I frowned, staring at him. “Why can’t I wear the Aleyni stuff?”

Dad would never say yes, and a big piece of me was glad he’d saved me from making the choice. The Aleyni clothing appealed to me, but I wasn’t ready to look weird, especially on my first day.

Dad shook his head. “You might attract trouble, and I need to keep you safe.”

Ardaval sighed. Oh well, at least I asked.

Dad pushed me toward the door. “Come on, we don’t want to be late.”

We don’t?” I mumbled. Dad shook his head and followed me out the door and down to the trans stop. I would have enjoyed the bright blue sky and warm sun more, but the heavy Terran clothing left me sweating. “Dad, are Aleyni human?”

They’re a separate species. Or so goes the official line. Nobody in the Federation has studied Aleyni genetics, and the Aleyni themselves aren’t interested.”

“Why not?”

“It’s considered an inappropriate area for study.” He glanced at me, noting the frown on my face. “Kind of like a sacrilege.”

How come they look like us?”

He sighed. “Many origin theories exist, but the bottom line is nobody understands.”

I scraped my shoe in the sand collected in the street, admiring the pale pinks and blues as they appeared and disappeared. “It still doesn’t explain anything.”

He smiled. “No, it doesn’t, but I’m afraid since it’s politically incorrect to believe humans and Aleyni are closely related species, no one wants to hunt for answers.”

By the time we reached the trans stop, sweat dripped down my face and my shirt clung to my back. The only other people waiting, a group of Aleynis, stared at us for a moment before moving away. I flushed and wanted to say something, but Dad’s face turned cold and he moved away, too. I wondered what would have happened if we’d been speaking Aleyni.

Back on the base we walked over to Dad’s office. A long counter of the gray synglass wrapped around one wall and part of another. File cabinets covered the third wall and a shelf for books hung over part of the counter. A comp and a printer rested on the other part of the counter. A chair with a padded seat stood in front of the comp.

Brad walked in, took a data cube from Dad, scanned it quickly and locked it in the file cabinet. “Gavin, we’ll discuss these recommendations later. You stay here and read this, and I’ll walk the boy to class.”

He handed Dad another data cube, opened the door, and ushered me out. We walked over to the port school, which met in yet another of the gray buildings.

The room he led me to held six kids my age or a few years older. The beige walls and thin beige carpet appeared dingy and worn. The desks and chairs, made of the same gray synglass as everything else, formed a half circle.

I walked into the room and stopped short, unsure of what to do next. The teacher, a man Dad’s age with fair, sun-burned skin and blue eyes, wrote on a large comp at the front of the room. It linked to those of the students, like the ones back home.

Brad took my arm and propelled me toward the teacher as he turned away from the comp. “John, this is Gavin Frey’s son, Raketh. His father is here for an indefinite stay. Try to get him integrated as quickly as possible.” Brad gazed over the room before turning to leave.

John held out his hand and I shook it. “Nice to meet you, Raketh.”

Keth, please call me Keth.”

John nodded and turned to the other kids. “Class, this is Keth, the son of Major Reynolds’ new assistant, Gavin. He’ll join us from now on.”

Jork,” one of the boys with brown curly hair said, but he grinned at me.

Welcome to the class,” piped up one of the girls. She smiled at me. I blushed. I found her kind of pretty, actually. She tossed her hair over her shoulder and smirked at a boy with fair skin and straight blond hair who looked the same age. The kid glared at me instead of at her.

John tapped the desk with the stylus he’d been using to write on the comp. “Enough. Keth, you can take a seat.” He pointed and I sat.

John made them go around the room and introduce themselves. The kid next to me with the curly brown hair answered to Martin, and the girl with the red hair said her name was Henrietta. The blond boy was Tom.

John said, “We’re going over some Aleyni vocabulary. I can help you later on. For now, try to follow along.”

I honor the request, and bend myself to your will,” I said in Aleyni. Clearly nobody bothered to tell him I already spoke the language.

Martin poked me. “What did you say?”

I said yes.”

How come you speak Aleyni? You just got here.”

I shrugged. Just another thing to make me a freaker. “My dad made me learn it.”

Martin stared at me for a moment. “It’s weird.”

“We used to have Aleyni exchange students hanging out at our apartment back on Earth. I guess he wanted to make them feel comfortable or something.” Like I believed  that. I never told anyone back home about speaking Aleyni, not even Mark, my best friend.

John clapped his hands “Since you already understand the language and don’t need to pay attention to the lesson, why don’t you and Henrietta move to the corner there,” he pointed across the room, “and go over this vocabulary.” He stared at me for a moment and handed me a data cube. “Come get me if you get stuck.”

Red crept up my neck. Maybe I should have resisted the urge to show off my Aleyni. After dragging my chair over to the corner, we both sat. “Go on, ask me to translate any of those words from Common into Aleyni. You can correct my pronunciation. John says it’s bad enough so no Aleyni would ever understand me.”

I managed to pay attention even though I needed to pry my eyes away from Henrietta’s chest. Every time my eyes strayed she’d grin and toss her hair. Luckily, Tom sat with his back to us.

After the language lesson came a history lesson. The history lesson covered the first encounters between the Terran Federation and the Aleyni. John projected a star map on the comp at the front of the room and pointed to a spot. “This is where we first met the Aleyni. As you can see, it’s within a light-year of our home solar system.”

I asked, “How long ago did we first meet the Aleyni?” Yeah, I should have remembered.

John said, “A hundred years ago, although according to the Aleyni they have been watching us for at least five thousand of our years.”

Martin mumbled, “Like we believe them.”

I would have asked more questions, but the buzzer went off for break, and we trooped down the hall to the cafeteria. A counter at one end dispensed the food and more of the gray tables and chairs covered the floor. The food choices consisted of soups of dried beans and vegetables and hand meals made with soy protein. I grimaced and selected some soup and one of the hand meals.

Martin poked me. “If you want any meat, you have to buy it on the black market. Vegetables and fruit, too, but Major Reynolds looks the other way on those.”

John led us to a round table. I ended up next to Martin again. Henrietta sat on my other side. The blond kid, Tom, sat opposite me. He glared at me.

Henrietta smiled at me. “You helped me a lot this morning. Maybe you can come over to my house and go over my homework some time.”

Fat chance. I’ll bet if I ever went over there, Tom would kill me. He continued to glare at me. I choked on my bite of hand meal, and Martin needed to pound me on the back.

Buy links for “Relocated”:

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Born and raised in New York City, Margaret Fieland has been around art and music all her life.  Her poems and stories have appeared in journals such as  Turbulence Magazine, Front Range Review, and All Rights Reserved. She is one of the Poetic Muselings. Their poetry anthology, “Lifelines,” was published by Inkspotter Publishing in November, 2011.  She is the author of “Relocated,” published by MuseItUp Publishing, and of “Sand in the Desert.” Her book,  “The Angry Little Boy,” will be published by 4RV publishing in 2013. You may visit her website, http://www.margaretfieland.com. or http://poetic-muselings.net/



Interview With Cynthia Woolf


Author Cynthia Woolf was kind enough to stop by and share some of her process. She’s giving away a copy of her book and a $5 Starbucks giftcard. Leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway — winner announced on Friday.

Devon Ellington: What was the seed of inspiration for the Gregara books? And then, what, specifically, drew you to telling Honora’s story?

Cynthia Woolf: The Gregara books grew out of my Centauri series. The third book in the Centauri series, Centauri Midnight, takes place mostly on Gregara.

Honora’s story grew out of the third Centauri book. In it, we learn that the heroine, Kiti, has lost her younger brother in battle. In Honor’s story we find out that he wasn’t annihilated, but was captured and sold into slavery. I knew I wanted to have a female gladiator,and I thought Joridan was the perfect hero for her. After that, the story just grows.

I’m a pantser not a plotter, so I never know for sure what is going to happen next. I start with the premise, like the one above, and just start writing.

DE: Will your characters ever interact from book to book? IE, will Jenala, Riza, and Honora ever meet, or do you keep them distinctly separate, although they are in the same created world?

CW: They are distinct, stand alone books. Jenala and Riza meet but very briefly in book 2, Riza’s book. Riza’s book then takes you to another part of the planet.

Honora never meets the other two, but she does meet characters from Centauri Midnight.

DE: What freedom does this genre give you?

CW: Writing in the scifi romance genre lets me create my own world with my own rules. Hence the planet that chooses to use swords even though greater technology is available.

DE: How do you set up your writing schedule? Do you focus entirely on one project at a time, or do you move between projects?

CW: I write full time and yet I don’t have a “writing schedule”. I write, promote and write some more. I work about 18 hours a day doing something related to my writing. I have severe insomnia, which is why I can devote so much time to my career.

I have to work on more than one project at a time and, in some ways, prefer it. When I get tired or stuck on one project, I can move over to the other one. Sometimes, it will help me get unstuck on the first story.

DE: How many other Gregara books do you envision? What else is in the pipeline for you?

CW: I’m done with the Gregara books for now. I’m currently working on a historical western series called Matchmaker & Co. The first book in the series, Capital Bride, is already out and the second, Heiress Bride, is in the works. I hope to have it finished, edited, and out for sale by the end of March.

I also have a contemporary series in mind where the heroes are actually part of the Guard from the Swords of Gregara series. They chase villains to various cities in the United States.

Actually, I guess that means I’m not done with the Gregara series yet doesn’t it?

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Author Bio:

Cynthia Woolf was born in Denver, Colorado and raised in the mountains west of Golden. She spent her early years running wild around the mountain side with her friends.

Their closest neighbor was one quarter of a mile away, so her little brother was her playmate and her best friend. That fierce friendship lasted until his death in 2006.

Cynthia was and is an avid reader. Her mother was a librarian and brought new books home each week. This is where young Cynthia first got the storytelling bug. She wrote her first story at the age of ten. A romance about a little boy she liked at the time.

She worked her way through college and went to work full time straight after graduation and there was little time to write. Then in 1990 she and two friends started a round robin writing a story about pirates. She found that she missed the writing and kept on with other stories. In 1992 she joined Colorado Romance Writers and Romance Writers of America. Unfortunately, the loss of her job demanded she not renew her memberships and her writing stagnated for many years.

In 2001, she saw an ad in the paper for a writers conference being put on by CRW and decided she’d attend. One of her favorite authors, Catherine Coulter, was the keynote speaker. Cynthia was lucky enough to have a seat at Ms. Coulter’s table at the luncheon and after talking with her, decided she needed to get back to her writing. She rejoined both CRW and RWA that day and hasn’t looked back.

Cynthia credits her wonderfully supportive husband Jim and the great friends she’s made at CRW for saving her sanity and allowing her to explore her creativity.



Excerpt from Swords of Gregara – Honora

“Oww” a woman’s voice awash with pain reached his ears.

“You disappoint me, Honora. You continue to try to escape me. When will you learn?” asked a whiney voiced man.
The whip struck flesh. Again the woman moaned but didn’t scream. She didn’t scream.

When he woke again he was not alone but the man with the whip was gone. Chained across the room from him, hung by her wrists, was a woman. He could see the lash marks on her back. Lash upon lash, new over old. They obstructed the beautiful tattoo of a dragon on her back. The blood hard to see within the red of the dragon.

Crawling to her he released her hands from the chains holding her up. She collapsed in a heap on the floor. He crawled back to his side of the room as darkness overtook him once more.


The dried blood on her back cracked with each movement, but she worked through the pain as she stretched. Breathed deep and accepted the pain. Her sword weighed heavier in her hand than usual. More evidence of the lashing two nights ago. She looked down at the unconscious man at her feet. A new recruit. A Zolthor, like herself. Another reason Perdor punished her for her attempted escape, her sixth try in as many months.

This last punishment was the worst. Five lashes. Not enough to incapacitate her but enough to make her remember. Perdor wanted her to be able to train the new slave. He wanted them to be a team, good enough to take on all contenders. He’d be the only owner with two Zolthor fighting for him. Not just one, but a team. He was practically wetting himself in anticipation of the beras that he’ll win with a team of Zolthor fighters
Again she looked down on the naked man. Long brown lashes lay against his cheek. A nice contrast to his golden blond hair. What color eyes did they hide? Blue? Green? Brown perhaps. She’d find out soon enough.
He was a beautiful man. Well formed. Broad shoulders. Trim waist. Long muscular legs. He looked like a warrior. Would be a good fighter. Maybe even a good lover as he appeared well endowed there as well.

He’d awakened from the drug induced sleep long enough to crawl over and release her from the chains. For that she was grateful. Her wrists didn’t hurt as much as usual because of him. Using her blades was easier than it had been after her previous punishments.

Time to wake up the sleeping man and get him trained. Time was short and she intended to make the most of it. He would learn or he would die.

Find it here: www.cynthiawoolf.com

Start Your New Year’s Reading with DYING ART by Shirley Wells


What better way to start the New Year than with a novel by Shirley Wells? If you haven’t read DYING ART, go get it and read it.

Wells’s protagonist, Dylan Scott, is back again, as complex and intriguing as ever. He unconsciously wants to be a loner in the Marlowe style, but he isn’t. He just gives too much of a damn. And he’s got a wife and kids, and an ex-hippie mother. When the book opens, he’s in his swanky new office, hoping to find a way to pay for it, when a former lover, Madeleine, shows up. Madeleine begs him to find out what happened to her sister, who or what caused Prue’s death, up in Dawson’s Clough, Dylan’s least favorite part of the country.

Of course, he agrees.

The police figure it’s a botched burglary attempt, ending with the victim’s fall down a flight of stairs, but something doesn’t sit right with Dylan. And Dylan goes with his gut.

Especially when he realizes Maddie has an ulterior motive in hiring him, and one of the paintings in Prue’s flat full of secondhand furniture turns out to be worth sixty thousand pounds.

Wells has the ability to integrate the most telling detail in a way that’s both unusual and completely organic. Her stories crackle with original use of setting, build their tension beautifully, and are passionately about justice or the lack thereof. No one is untainted; no one is without secrets. The book is a true page-turner, with wonderful surprises and accelerates to an exciting climax.

Shirley Wells always provides a great read; DYING ART is one of her best. What a great book to start the Reading Year of 2013!

Shirley Wells in her own words:

“I was born and raised in the Cotswolds and after time spent living in Cyprus and on the idyllic island of Hoy in the Orkneys, I’m now lucky enough to live in the beautiful rolling hills of the east Lancashire Pennines. It’s no surprise then that my mystery novels are set in the area as it saves on research trips.
People say it’s grim up north. It’s not. It’s beautiful. The weather leaves a lot to be desired but a bit of rain never hurt anyone, right?”
Visit her on her website, www.shirleywells.com