Tag Archives: science fiction

Creating a Believable Science-Fiction Environment by Dellani Oakes

When introducing a new planet, the author needs to keep several things in mind:

What’s the scale?

Is it bigger than Earth?
Smaller than Mercury?

What is the climate like?

Temperature, rainfall, etc.
What sort of atmosphere has it got?
Will they need survival suits, oxygen, etc?
Is it a verdant, lovely place, hot and dry or cold and unrelenting?

How many moons or suns?

Distance from the sun?

Is it capable of sustaining human life?

Is it completely hostile to humans?

What is the indigenous population like?

Are they sentient?
Ignorant of outer space?
Are they humanoid?
Do they look like giant cats, bugs or leeches?
What is their home environment?
Can they vocalize or are they telepathic?

How do your characters get from Point A to Point B?

What sort of vehicles are there?
Do they have to travel by horse (or planet’s equivalent)?
Must they walk?
Are there well maintained roads?
Do the vehicles need roads?
What’s the terrain like?

What is your level of technology? Not all futuristic worlds are the same. One need only watch TV shows or movies to see the vast differences in approach.

Is yours a post apocalyptic world (Resident Evil, Book of Eli,    Planet of the Apes)?
Are machines in charge (Terminator)?
Is it a more utopian society (Star Trek)?
Is it highly technical or more rustic (Firefly, Farscape)?
Are the characters at war (Battlestar Galactica)?

Social strata:

Is there slavery?
Are all inhabitants given equal rights?
How does the indigenous population regard humans?
Are there classes or casts? Is it possible to advance?
Is it a monarchy? Democracy? Dictatorship? Communist society? Anarchy? Religious fanatic? Autocracy? Something completely different and unique to them?

Not all of these characteristics need to be mentioned in your story to make it believable. The author must know what kind of environment the characters are in. How they react to their environment or how it acts upon them can make a huge difference in a story. Characters will not behave the same way in a jungle that they will in the frozen wasteland. If the space is confined, that makes a difference too.

Place rules and adhere to them. If you say the sky is purple, the grass is blue and water is pink, then don’t violate that later. If you’re going to get this off kilter, though, have a ready explanation for it. Some readers will question when the setting is too bizarre. Your readers must be willing to suspend their disbelief and embrace their new environment. Don’t make the mistake of creating a setting so odd that it makes the readers focus on that instead of the action.


This article is anthoNovel Writing Tips and Techniqueslogized in the Second Wind Publishing book: NOVEL WRITING TIPS AND TECHNIQUES FROM AUTHORS OF SECOND WIND PUBLISHING, which was the 100th book released by Second Wind.

“As someone who constantly evaluates novels for publication, I was astonished at the breadth and clarity of the wonderful advice contained in this handbook. It addresses concerns as grand as plot development and as simple but essential as formatting your submission. It offers crucial advice on literary topics ranging from character development to the description of action. Virtually every subject that is of great concern to publishers — and therefore to authors — is covered in this clear, humorous and enormously useful guide.” –Mike Simpson, Chief Editor of Second Wind Publishing


(Dellani Oakes is the author of Lone Wolf and Shakazhan. Both science fiction novels are published by Second Wind Publishing).

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Great New Novels For All Tastes From Second Wind Publishing!

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00021]A Ripple in the Water, a romance by Donna Small: Kate Penner, a lovely young widow raising her seven year old daughter, has managed to put her life back together with the help of good friends and a year to recover from her husband’s accidental death. Fate isn’t through dealing surprises to Kate, however. A much younger man, irresistible and charming, has come back into Kate’s life, bringing with him a highly charged secret that will change many lives and relationships permanently. At a point in her life when she thought maintaining was the best she could do, Kate must decide if she can laugh, trust and love once again.

Click here to read the first chapter: A Ripple in the Water by Donna Small


shakazhanShakazhan, science fiction by Dellani Oakes: Beginning where Lone Wolf left off, we join Wil VanLipsig and Matilda Dulac as they continue their epic sci-fi adventure. John Riley is gone. He disappeared with the help of an ancient transportation device. They hope he’s dead, but can’t count on it. He’s far too dangerous. With the help of some new friends, they trek across the galaxy, venturing further into deep space. They arrive at a long forgotten planet – Shakazhan, heart of a legendary warrior race, The Timokuan.

Click here to read the first chapter: Shakazhan by Dellani Oakes


deadlyadagioDeadly Adagio, a mystery by Carole Howard: Emily Radly chafes at being a tag-along spouse while her husband tries out a Foreign Service career in Dakar, Senegal. When Margaret, her closest friend and fellow violinist in an amateur expat-orchestra, is garroted with a violin string, Emily delves into her friend’s private life for clues. She discovers Margaret was involved in a campaign against the traditional practice of female genital mutilation. She risks a visit to the village where Margaret’s anti-cutting activities were centered. When the Peace Corps volunteer in that village is also murdered, Emily is certain her own life is in danger.

Click here to read the first chapter: Deadly Adagio by Carole Howard

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Excerpt From “Shakazhan” by Dellani Oakes

shakazhanWil VanLipsig and his wife, Matilda Dulac, dove into the depths of barely remembered space, pursuing the villainous John Riley. With the help of a creature of  legend, a Kahlea Master, John escapes capture. Capitulated into the unknown, he travels to Shakazhan. Like Avalon, in Old Earth lore, Shakazhan is a thought to be a myth, but it is very real. Unless Wil and Matilda can stop him, John Riley will release the Kahlea, bringing destruction to the universe.


Gazing out the window of her sumptuously decorated office, Telorvech Asandal reflected that the weather on her home planet was much more interesting than that here on climate controlled Committee Home Base. Granted, it was wicked weather, but there was only so much sunshine, balmy breezes and fresh air she could tolerate. A good old fashioned thunderstorm with gale force winds, that was something she could sink her teeth into.

Pacing the luxurious hand loomed, dark red, deep pile carpet, she realized she felt trapped here. She wanted to go home, but that was impossible. As Aisulov’s Vice-Chairman, she was provisional head of the Committee until his return or his death. His death was something she had dwelt on for the last two and a half years.

Though Aisulov had been gone three years, the first months had demanded her full attention. A freak accident set the galaxy in a tail spin from which it was only now recovering. Planets, moons, asteroids both populated and barren exploded, victims of an unknown force. Aisulov’s home planet was one of those lost, his wife and children with it.

After all the Committee members went on their fact finding missions, Aisulov prepared for his own trip. He was determined to find the cause of this disturbance. If he had come up with any answers, he certainly hadn’t shared them with her or anyone else. He was supposed to report to the Committee when he came out of cryo-sleep. He hadn’t. In fact, no data was transmitted from his ship to Committee Headquarters at all. This left her hopeful he was dead.

Unfortunately, the Committee needed proof. The body in an hermetically sealed box would do nicely. Even identifiable body parts—an ear, a hoof! But there continued to be no word, no sign, no whisper in the dark that he was alive.

Telorvech was a credit to her race, holding an office of power and authority. Positions of trust were not generally awarded to her people. Wil wasn’t the only person who distrusted the Leonatae, with good reason. They were greedy, arrogant, stubborn, bigoted, fairly intelligent, superstitious, and money grubbing. The creature they most resembled were Old Earth weasels. Standing nearly eight feet tall, they were ferocious, merciless and had disagreements with nearly every sentient race in the galaxy. They were represented here on the Committee because everyone wanted to keep an eye on them, not because their presence was welcome. Telorvech and her nine staff members were the only Leonatae on Committee Home base. That was ten too many for most Committee members.

Long fingers smoothed her indigo gown as she sat at her desk and made a few decisions concerning Aisulov. Perhaps she could fabricate an authentic sounding transmission? No, it would take a long time to set up. It also required too many intermediaries to forge a location. However, a bot ship coming across remains of his vessel in space, his poor body burned beyond recognition, now that had distinct possibilities. She could obtain a Vandaran corpse easily enough, having it’s records altered to match Aisulov’s. That was simplicity itself, neat and easy. Yes, the simple plans often were best.

She decided to consult her head of security. Izzatai Mabatsuou was even more blood thirsty than she and a trusted aid. Not so much trusted, she amended honestly, but each knew so many secrets about the other, it was a shared extortion. She contacted him, calling for a private conference.

Stroking her soft, mahogany fur, Telorvech looked out upon the landscape again. The clouds shifted, turning darker as the wind picked up.

Izzatai Mabatsuou bowed when he came in the room. Handsome, by Leonatae standards, his fur was darkest ebony. It had often been said that his heart was blacker than his coat. Admittedly, it was an exaggeration, but it was true that he was probably the most evil Leonatae that Telorvech knew. Because of his reputation as a conniving, villain, the job of Security Chief was perfect for him.

Waving him to a seat across the desk from her, Telorvech leered at her cohort. “Mabu, you and I are about to embark on a project to secure our positions here at Home Base. Would you like that?”

Mabatsuou chuckled. “There’s nothing I’d like better.” He plucked at the gold braid on his burgundy jacket, with long, sharp talons. His chuckle became a hideous caricature of a laugh.

She outlined her basic plans. Mabatsuou’s horrid smile widened.

“Indeed, Madame, that is excellent.”


Dellani OakesDellani Oakes doesn’t claim to be an expert on anything, but she has a lot of experience making something out of nothing. Thrown into the world of publishing five years ago, she found that trying to promote her work was the hardest part of being an author.

Dellani once told her publisher that she had enough books, finished & unfinished, to keep him busy for the next 10 years. She’s not sure he believed her, but he should. Three novels, Indian Summer, Lone Wolf and Shakazan – book two in the Lone Wolf series are published by Second Wind Publishing, but she has 43 finished romance novels and at least that many (she won’t count them) that are still in the works.

Dellani Oakes is a former A.P. English teacher, photo-journalist. She’s a published author who avidly reads & reviews the work of others.

Look for Dellani Oakes on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter & Good Reads, among others.

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Remembering Uncle Forry by T. C. Harrelson

As I sat down to write December’s blog post, I was confident my thoughts would flow from my heart to the keyboard as quickly as King Kong fell for Fay Wray. After all, the subject I had chosen had a profound effect on the pre-adolescent psyche of a skinny North Carolina preteen who loved to read about the strange and macabre. I’m talking about the father of modern-day science fiction fandom, the late-great Forrest J Ackerman. (Note the lack of a period after the “J”…that’s no typo, that’s the way 4E referred to himself).


Since the anniversaries of Uncle Forry’s birth and death occurred since my last blog post, my intent was to write yet another tribute to a man who legitimized the science fiction genre and paved the way for countless writers, directors, special effects artists, and fans to make significant contributions to the world of entertainment. But what could I say that hasn’t already been said in numerous tributes, eulogies, and memorials? So, I’ll simply tell you what the man meant to me. But first, you’ll need just an inkling of background on Forry.

Forrest J Ackerman (November 24, 1916 – December 4, 2008) fell in love with science fiction in 1926 on the day he read his first science fiction story in a copy of Amazing Stories magazine (founded by Hugo Gersback, the namesake of the Hugo Award). From then on he was a great proselytizer on behalf of the genre, proclaiming his love and converting others to the ranks of fandom. He formed one of the earliest science fiction clubs in Los Angeles and brought his young friend Ray Bradbury, then an unknown writer. Later, he edited and published Bradbury’s first story. The result can be summarized in Bradbury’s own words, “If there was no Forry, there would be no Ray Bradbury.” He later acted as agent for a host of up-and-coming science fiction writers and nurtured the careers of Bradbury, L. Ron Hubbard, and Ray Harryhausen.


Have you heard of the Ackermansion? During his lifetime, he amassed the largest collection of science fiction, horror, and fantasy memorabilia of all time (some 300,000+ items that included movie props, books, still photos, and autographs) that he kept in his 18-room house dubbed “the Ackermansion.” Forry would gladly give tours to fans and curiosity-seekers. The maquettes from the original King Kong…Bela Lugosi’s cape…Ray Harryhausen’s models from War of the Worlds…every prop, script, autograph and model had a story that Forry loved to tell. Sadly, he was forced to sell part of his collection near the end of his life to pay for his mounting medical bills. After his death, the collection was further broken apart and auctioned by Joe Maddalena of Profiles in History, the company featured on the SciFi Network’s Hollywood Treasures.


Forry may have made the greatest impact through the pages of a pulp magazine he launched in 1958. Famous Monsters of Filmland (FM) was a publication dedicated to showcasing the science fiction, horror, and fantasy movie genres both past and present. It was through FM that I was introduced to Uncle Forry, during my formative preteen and early teen years in the late seventies and early eighties. Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Alien, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Clash of the Titans…they were all there in glorious black and white print. And it wasn’t just the latest hits that were between the covers of FM. Forry made sure my generation was versed in the classics as well. I learned to love and respect the giants that paved the way for the modern blockbusters, like the classic Universal film monsters and the men behind their scowls: Bela Lugosi, Lon Cheney, Jr., and the great Boris Karloff.

Not every movie that graced the pages of FM was Oscar-worthy, but Forry loved them all nonetheless. If it was sci-fi, it was qualified for page time, no matter if it was Ed Wood’s Plan 9 from Outer Space or Steven Spielberg’s ET-The Extra Terrestrial. Forry was an advocate for the genre. Period. But the best thing about Famous Monsters?  The wit and passion of Uncle Forry himself was infused in every issue, including his penchant for puns, his gratitude for his fans, and his genuine love for the art and craft associated with making genre movies.

It was through FM that I learned about the men behind camera—the directors, special effects artists, makeup artists, and writers—and the tremendous amount of time and talent needed to produce a quality film. I marveled at the spacecraft models created for Star Wars, the stop-motion animation of Ray Harryhausen, and Rick Baker’s creature effects. To say FM stirred my imagination is like saying Godzilla was just a little perturbed.

Before you think I’m as mad as Vincent Price in House of Wax for allowing a pulp magazine to shape my childhood, please realize I wasn’t the only one that was influenced by the great 4E. A regular who’s who of artists credit Forry for helping provide the inspiration that led to their star-studded careers: Stephen King, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Peter Jackson, Joe Dante, Tim Burton, Frank Darabont, John Landis, Danny Elfman, and many, many others. If Uncle Forry accomplished nothing else, he provided us with a generation of entertainers fused with the mystical energy needed for a lifetime of creativity.

Some little known facts: Uncle Forry was perhaps the inventor of cosplay, the extremely popular practice of dressing as your favorite character from the world of pop-culture. It happened in 1939 when Forry and a friend attended the first World Science Fiction Convention in Manhattan dressed in spacesuits. And did you know he is widely credited with coining the term “Sci-Fi?”

So what else can is there to say about Forrest J Ackerman? Much more, I must admit. But for the sake of brevity, I’ll wrap it up. Perhaps I (and legions of other sci-fi fans) still miss Uncle Forry because he was one of us. He wasn’t untouchable and he didn’t possess an overwhelming talent for writing, directing, or creating special effects. He was simply a fan—albeit the original super-fan—and an appreciator of the art form we know as science fiction. He was every dreamer’s favorite Uncle. And best friend.


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The January Saga Concludes with Launch of January’s Thaw

I was fortunate in that my first novel, January’s Paradigm, was picked up by a publisher in the U.K. fairly quickly. I’ve heard stories from other writers who claim to have written five or six novels before they hit pay dirt. In addition to learning perseverance, they also end up with a nice backlog of novels ready to go.

The success I had finding a home for January’s Paradigm spoiled me. It came easy, and so I expected the same for the sequel, One Hot January. It was not to be. My publisher went belly up and I self-published January’s Paradigm to keep the title available with the hope another publisher might pick it up. I completed One Hot January and immediately commenced submitting queries to agents and publishers while I started writing the third and final book in the January series, January’s Thaw.

Eighteen months later I completed January’s Thaw; but where One Hot January was concerned, I had accumulated nothing more than rejection letters. Most were form letters, but there were a few very encouraging letters, too—“we like your voice; however, not for us,” “regrettably we must pass, but it’s obvious you have talent; feel free to submit to us other work.”

So I continued submitting queries, but now offering both books, convinced that having a sequel would be appealing to a publisher. Then I commenced my next project—Backstop: A Baseball Love Story in Nine Innings.

As I approached completion of Backstop, I received some interest in the two January books from an independent press; but they suggested I combine the two into one volume and pare it down by about thirty thousand words. I wasn’t ready to do that, so I politely declined. After I finished Backstop, I began submitting it. Then I started work on Chaotic Theory, a novella that explores the theory of a butterfly in Brazil flapping its wings and causing a tornado in Texas. I’d written it as a short story a couple years previously, but I wanted to expand its scope.

After completing Chaotic Theory, I hadn’t yet come up with my next project, so I reconsidered the January books, the suggestion that I combine and shorten them into a single volume. I decided it would be a good exercise for me, getting out a scalpel and slicing and dicing my baby. So I combined the two files into another file, renamed it January’s Penitence, and went at it.

It took me about six weeks. I found cutting twenty-eight thousand words was fairly easy—deleting scenes and, in some instances, whole chapters. It was those last two thousand words that were a challenge—a paragraph here, a sentence there. But as I neared my target word count, it became more and more difficult to find paragraphs and sentences with which I could part. I started looking for single words and phrases to cut.

In the end, I managed it. Originally, the two books were composed of 180,000 words. I now had a single novel of 150,000 words. I resubmitted it to the publisher who’d made the suggestion. This time, they politely declined. I was disappointed and began to think that maybe it was time to let the second and third January books go. They’d taught me a lot about the craft of writing, but Backstop was a much better story, better written, and certainly more accessible. I had to consider that maybe January’s Paradigm would be the only January book to grace a bookshelf.

But I wasn’t having much success finding takers for Backstop either. One agent told me there was no market for baseball novels. I resisted, somehow, the urge to tell her she should search Amazon using “baseball” as her keyword.

So I started work on The Cobb Legacy, a mystery romance written around the shooting death of the father of baseball legend, Ty Cobb, by his mother. All the while I was collecting more rejection letters for Backstop … until I struck gold with Second Wind Publishing.

2W was not yet even a year old when they offered me a contract. It was a risk for me, such a small independent press with very little record, but I took a chance. Shortly after Backstop launched, the title was submitted as a 2010 Michigan Notable Book, and a year later the Illinois Institute of Technology adopted it as required reading for a spring course—Baseball: America’s Literary Pastime.

With that success, I explained to Mike Simpson (2W) the exercise I’d gone through with January’s Penitence and offered it to him, along with One Hot January and January’s Thaw; Mike opted to publish them as the diptych I’d originally envisioned. However, it was my choice to use the revised January’s Penitence text, with some minor revisions, rather than go back to the original 180,000-word editions.

You see, I realized, after making the edits, I had a much stronger, tighter narrative than I did in the original manuscripts. Never underestimate the value of edits.

One Hot January launched in March 2010, and January’s Thaw is due to launch any day. I’m proud of the entire January series—they hold their rightful place in my growing body of work.

Below appears a short excerpt from January’s Thaw:


Our eyes meet, hold for a moment. We are thirty-five years older: Lindy in her 1982, me from my own 2082.

Despite her affliction, which has left her much thinner and frailer than I would’ve imagined, I still recognize her. Despite my own aging—more than a few pounds heavier, longer, grayer hair, bearded and hobbled by a bad knee—perhaps she, too, recognizes something familiar; she looks back at me, her gaze at least steady, perhaps wanting to recognize me.

I smile, nod. It is the polite thing to do.

“Do I know you?” she asks, rushing the four words together nearly as one, the sound more breath than voice; it is difficult for her to support her speech.

I shake my head. “I don’t think so.” More truth than lie: I had withheld from her in our youth any hint of the Joe January I would become.

“Listen,” I add. “Do you have the time? I seem to have left my watch elsewhere.”

Lindy’s eyes widen; I see the light of recognition. A corner of her mouth rises. A moment later a full smile breaks across her face and I glimpse the Lindy I knew so long ago. In that moment I realize that it was this anything but chance meeting that had resulted in Lindy taking the necessary steps to return my watch to me sixty-five years into her future.

John Roberts—I can’t bring myself to refer to him as her husband—seemingly embarrassed to be seen with her, says angrily, “It’s twenty after four.”

“Thank you,” I say to Lindy, and, “I hope you will forgive me.”

My apology leaves no impact on John Roberts, who only takes Lindy’s arm and starts to turn her, roughly; Lindy nearly loses her balance but John Roberts is quick to support her.

“Come on, Lindy,” he says. “Let’s go.”

I watch Lindy’s back recede as they make their way to the diner’s exit.

As John Roberts opens the door, Lindy turns back to offer me a smile and a nod that is not the result of her condition, and I steel myself to put the next stage of my plan into motion.


I arrange the cutout letters in semblance of my message and paste them, letter by letter, onto a blank piece of paper:

Bring the package to Indianapolis

Using the time travel device I’d confiscated from Ben Junior, I return to 1947 to leave the envelope outside my office door for Lindy to find when she opened up.

I have time enough, before returning to 2082, to watch my past self interact with Lindy, Melissa and Lance before they depart for Indianapolis. I marvel at how young I look, chuckle over the arrogance in my demeanor—how self-important I once thought myself—and Lindy, for whom I feel a flood of warmth: the love a brother might feel for a sister with whom he is fixing up a friend. I see in my past self’s eyes the look of love for Lindy I had, at that time, worked so hard to mask.

And I believed Lindy could not have known! I think.

I grieve for her in that moment, grieve for and regret, not for the first time, the heartache my past behavior caused her, and still she persisted in loving me, hoping she would in time win my heart.

“She sees in you what I see in you,” Melissa would say later that day.

She saw in me what Ecstasy had seen and been instrumental in bringing out more than a century later.

Someone once wrote that history is a fickle science left mainly to those who wish to enshrine the past.

So here I am, finally letting go my past by trying to set things right: to give my past self a chance to find the love I found with Ecstasy by creating another timeline, one in which I wouldn’t be swept into the future, in which Lindy wouldn’t be trapped in a loveless marriage to a man who, in time, would be embarrassed to be seen with her.


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Going out on a limb – metaphorically speaking

I’ve started to wonder if I should start writing about how to deal with writer’s block.  With respect to my writing, that seems to be what I do more of than anything else.  Don’t get me wrong, I have no shortage of ideas flitting about my noggin.  If anything, that may be part of the problem.  My muse seems to have contracted a case of severe ADD.

The minute writer’s block kicks in with whatever story I am trying to finish – another idea will pop up and either I start crafting the bones of a new story or I struggle to break the block on the other manuscript.  Mike Simpson, publisher extraordinaire, is probably reading this thinking, “Ah ha! So that’s why the sequel to A Love Out of Time hasn’t been completed, yet.”

The latest idea to come my way is a fairly cool one that weaves in string theory as the means for time travel.  The problem is that I don’t really understand much beyond the bare basics of string theory and those basics are from the non-scientist/non-technical perspective.  Which roughly translates into – haven’t got a flipping clue how it works and thus whether my idea would be “cool” to the reader.

One thing I have learned is that one must venture very carefully into the world of hard science fiction.  Get it wrong and people will let you know.  Bluntly.  Perhaps that is why I like fantasy writing over sci-fi, I can take more creative license.  Can’t figure out the science behind how the hero managed to travel through time?  Easy – it was a magical portal, yeah…er, wait – maybe an enchanted object…um, no, it was a curse.  When you write fantasy, you don’t have to bother with the pesky facts of physics – quantum or otherwise.  Science fiction, even so-called “soft” sci-fi, needs to have some tethering to either present known science or to plausible future scientific discoveries.  While I would love to write a science fiction novel, and do it well; I feel the pull of fantasy will ultimately hijack this idea so that I do something with string theory that will result in the howls of physicists everywhere. 

My father used to tell me that my love of fantasy fiction is because it’s coded in my DNA.  James Branch Cabell is an ancestor of mine on my dad’s side of the family.  (And yes – it is pronounced CAB-ble.)  Maybe I should ask my muse to channel my ancestor and under their combined guidance, I just might get something finished.

In all seriousness…we all hear the “write what you know” advice, but how much do you need to know to follow an idea down another path or out on a limb?

Mairead Walpole is the pen name for a somewhat introverted project and contract manager who has 20+ years of business and technical writing under her belt. In her spare time, Mairead reviews books for Crystal Reviews (www.crystalreviews.com) and writes paranormal romance. Her first novel, “A Love Out of Time” is available through Second Wind Publishing (www.secondwindpublishing.com) or Amazon.com.

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Interview with Dellani Oakes, Author of “Lone Wolf”

What is your book about?

Lone Wolf is set in the year 3032 when humans have conquered long range space flight and have settled into many parts of this and other galaxies. Hovering in space far from civilization, members of the Mining Guild, Marc Slatterly & Matilda Dulac, wait for their miners to return from the planet they’ve been working. Unbeknownst to them, one of their miners has harvested Trimagnite, a toxic and volatile liquid ore. Exposure to Trimagnite causes madness and death. Their ship isn’t prepared to handle this load.

Enter Wilhelm VanLipsig, the Lone Wolf. He is assigned by the Mining Guild Commandant, John Riley, to pick up the ore and carry it back to the Mining Guild home planet. He and Marc have a history, apparently one ending in violence. Despite this, the two men agree to work together with Matilda in order to track down the villainous Commandant Riley before he can wreak havoc on the galaxy.

How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?

The characters were in my mind many years ago. The idea for the three main characters of Marc, Wil and Matilda came from a role playing game my husband and I played. I had originally set out with the idea of recording their adventures in game, but that changed almost immediately. The characters took on a life of their own and insisted on telling a different story. What they came up with is far better than what I had initially had in mind.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

As I mentioned above, the idea came from a “Traveler” game we played back in 1982. However, the characters apparently thought that scenario rather lame and came at me with other ideas. I like theirs better.

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

Matilda is a lot like me in some respects. Her fierce devotion and the way she takes up for those she loves is totally me. Oddly enough, some of the aspects of Wil’s personality come from me as well. Mostly, he and Marc mirror aspects of my husband’s personality.

Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?

Of the three main characters in “Lone Wolf”, I love Wil the most. I’m very fond of Marc and Matilda, but Wil stole my heart the minute he walked through the airlock. He’s smart, sexy, handsome, wicked and not scared of anything. He always has a contingency plan and he’s easily the most paranoid character I’ve ever created. His paranoia keeps him alive and one step ahead of his enemies. As long as he’s lived, that’s quite a feat.

Who is your most unusual/most likeable character?

I think that Caprilla Mayeese, the enormous Fellician warrior is the most unusual and likeable. Fellicians are giant cat people who speak and walk upright. They are almost all mercenaries and fight like no others in the galaxy. Caprilla is the leader of a small group of mercenaries, all Fellicians. He’s about eight feet tall, with sleek black fur and penetrating blue eyes. He’s got a quick wit and a wonderful sense of humor. He’s also loyal to the death and will gladly kill anyone who gets in his way or threatens his friends.

How long did it take you to write your book?

“Lone Wolf” took a few months to write, but far longer to edit and perfect. It was one of my earliest novels and it took me awhile to get my style down. I didn’t really figure out what I was doing until about the fourth book in the series, so each of them requires a lot of perfecting. Now, I can sit down and write a book that’s close to finished with the first draft.

How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?

I had quite a lot in mind when I started to write, but the characters took me in a totally different direction. I can honestly say that absolutely nothing in “Lone Wolf” was in my mind except for the three main characters. What’s on the page came from Wil, Matilda, Marc and the others telling their story in their own way.

Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it? (searching Internet, magazines, other books, etc.)

It’s hard to research something set so far in the future. Since I created my own worlds and locations, I didn’t have to study maps or anything like that. However, in order to get the Mining Guild and Galactic Marine ranks correct, I had to do some research into military rank. Most of my research is done on-line as it’s the most easily available. Thank got for the Internet!

How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

The characters delineate themselves. I come up with a body for the slot, give it a name and it develops its own personality and characteristics. Even minor characters speak loudly wanting a name and an occupation. Some of these seemingly unimportant people later become major players in the series. One character in particular that comes to mind is introduced in book two, “Shakazhan”. I thought Dr. Stanley Savolopis was unimportant, merely a cog in the corporate wheel. By book three, “The Maker”, he’s a main mover and shaker.

Does writing come easy for you?

Writing comes very easily for me. The ideas come faster than I can get them down, which is why I have so many unfinished stories. I’ve learned to work on one until the ‘muse’ grows silent, and move on. I come back and work on each story a little at a time until it’s done.

Other stories come to me all at once and I write until I’m finished. One in particular I think of—I’d finished my NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) project early and got the idea for an entirely different book. I started it Thanksgiving afternoon and finished four days later.

Have you ever had difficulty “killing off” a character in your story because she or he was so intriguing and full of possibility for you, his or her creator?

I greatly dislike killing a character and avoid it if I can. However, there are times when a character must die to advance the plot. The one who upset me the most was a guy named Murdock Pickford. He’s in a prequel to my sci-fi series. Murdock is a nice guy. He’s kind, capable, loving and forgiving. He’s engaged to a woman who’s pregnant with another man’s baby & he agrees to raise her as his own. He’s thrilled about the baby, excited about getting married—and he has to die, horribly, brutally, for the book to move forward. I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried when I had to kill him off.

Do you have mental list or a computer file or a spiral notebook with the ideas for or outlines of stories that you have not written but intend to one day?

I’ve got a list in the back of one of my notebooks with story ideas that one day I might get to. Let me finish the 54 novels and short stories I’ve got pending before I take them on. (Gosh, didn’t realize it was so many. Kinda sorry I counted them up.)

How many stories do you currently have swirling around in your head?

Apparently 54, cause that’s how many are unfinished.

Have you written any other books?

I have one other published novel, “Indian Summer”, also available from Second Wind. “The Lone Wolf” is the first in my sci-fi series. I’ve written six books in the series so far & am working on a 7th. Finished books not in the series—27 and probably 20 short stories.

Where can people learn more about your books?

My novels are available through my publisher, Second Wind Publishing at www.secondwindpublishing.com “Indian Summer” and “Lone Wolf” are also available at Amazon.com where it can be purchased in paperback or Kindle format. The books are on Smashwords and a variety of other websites.

To find out more about me and my books…

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Click here to read an excerpt from: Lone Wolf

Click here to read the first chapter of: Lone Wolf

Click here for an interview with: Wil VanLipsig from Lone Wolf by Dellani Oakes

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Contest — The Best and the Worst of the Far Future

Dellani Oakes’ new novel, Lone Wolf is set in the year 3032. To celebrate the release of Lone Wolf, Dellani is sponsoring a contest. All you have to do is answer these questions: What do you think will be the best thing in the future? What will be the worst thing?

Post your ideas of the best and the worst of the far future here on the blog or send them to: secondwindpublishing@gmail.com. The person with the most intriguing ideas, to be determined by Dellani Oakes, will win a signed copy of Lone Wolf. Deadline for entries is September 15, 2011. The contest is open to anyone, but if the winner resides outside the United States, the prize will be a coupon for a free ebook download in the format of your choice. So . . . tell us what you think.


Lone Wolf: The year is 3032 and mankind has expanded far beyond Earth’s galaxy. Matilda Dulac is a member of the Galactic Mining Guild. With her lover, Marc Slatterly, she works in a small mining ship in deep space. Their well ordered life if suddenly thrown into chaos when one miner arrives with a load of Trimagnite, a highly toxic liquid ore. Enter the Lone Wolf. Wil VanLipsig, known as the Lone Wolf, arrives to take the Trigmagnite off their hands. Is it a coincidence for him to show up on Marc’s ship years after Marc thought he’d killed Wil? Or is this the beginning of something far more insidious? Lone Wolf is the first book in a new science fiction series by Dellani Oakes.


Click here to read the first chapter of: Lone Wolf by Dellani Oakes


An adopted Floridian who fell in love with its culture-both modern and historical-Dellani is a happily married mother of four, substitute teacher and former English teacher. When she isn’t being one of the above, she is an avid writer, spending every possible moment immersed in her other worlds. Indian Summer is her only historical romance, but she also has written a series of futuristic romance novels, contemporary romances and short stories. Dellani’s interests include reading, going to the beach, listening to all kinds of music and cooking.


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Introducing LONE WOLF, a New Novel by Dellani Oakes

The year is 3032 and mankind has expanded far beyond Earth’s galaxy. Matilda Dulac is a member of the Galactic Mining Guild. With her lover, Marc Slatterly, she works in a small mining ship in deep space. Their well ordered life if suddenly thrown into chaos when one miner arrives with a load of Trimagnite, a highly toxic liquid ore. Enter the Lone Wolf. Wil VanLipsig, known as the Lone Wolf, arrives to take the Trigmagnite off their hands. Is it a coincidence for him to show up on Marc’s ship years after Marc thought he’d killed Wil? Or is this the beginning of something far more insidious? Lone Wolf is the first book in a new science fiction series by Dellani Oakes.


Their eyes met over the glow of the candle. He started to speak once or twice, but each time he stopped before doing so. Matilda sat placidly, waiting for him to make the first move. She had a feeling she knew what he was trying to say, but couldn’t quite put into words. A playful smile tugged at her lips.

Wil blushed, his gaze dropping to his lap uncomfortably. He couldn’t remember a time he’d felt so awkward in a woman’s company. Probably not since he was a kid. Suddenly, it was very important to him that she say yes to what he wanted to ask.

“I was going to try to be subtle and charming.” He grinned at her shyly. “But it’s been so long since I tried to be either, I can’t remember how.” He pressed his lips together and the candlelight played along his scar. “This usually isn’t a problem for me. I guess I got used to being irresistible.”

Matilda reached out, tracing the line of his scar with her finger. The skin was warm and silky. He held her fingers to his lips.

“It’s all right, you know,” she said softly. “You don’t have to be subtle with me. You were about to invite me to your room, weren’t you?”

He nodded sightly, looking embarrassed.

“But you weren’t sure what the answer would be.”

He looked even more uncomfortable, silent. The table developed interesting dimensions. He stared at them.

“Where are you staying?”

Trying to speak, he stammered.

“We can’t go to your room if you don’t show me.”

Wil stood awkwardly, nearly knocking the table over. He pointed to a luxurious hotel near the hostel.

“I’m—over there.”

Taking his hand, she tugged pointedly so he’d follow. “Show me,” she whispered throatily. Leaning toward him, the top of her breasts brushed his bare chest. “I want you to show me everything.”

Gulping, Wil followed her eagerly, like a puppy until he caught up with her. Sweeping her into his arms, he carried her quickly to his room. Only after the door was locked behind him, did he kiss her for the first time.

Wil brushed his lips lightly across hers, barely touching. His tongue flickered between them, teeth nipping playfully as he explored her mouth. Holding only her cheeks between calloused hands, he caressed her throat, licking the base. He hadn’t even kissed her mouth and already she was his.

Hungry for his mouth, Matilda brought his face to hers, demanding that he kiss her. Lips parted, she brought him closer, sure of what she wanted. Laughing throatily, Wil complied, giving generously, taking hungrily.

He held her gently, his full lips leaving a blazing trail upon her skin. He held her tantalizingly close, their bodies not quite touching. The heat from him set her on fire as the intensity of his kisses increased. Still he held her carefully, treating her as if she were made of spun glass. Somehow, this contrast of passion and tenderness made his touch even more erotic.

After several minutes just kissing her, he took off her bikini top. For the space of three breaths, he gazed at her breasts without touching them. Admiring the firm, fullness, he took one nipple into his mouth, suckling blissfully. Sighing happily, he moved to the other, treating each like the greatest of gifts.

Matilda moaned as his hands moved along her body, pulling her so close to him, she could feel the beating of his heart. His touch was still consciously delicate. She sensed a tension in him, his body fighting with itself for control. Marc had always held her the same way, afraid he’d crush a delicate flower.

Nearly mad with desire, Matilda decided she’d had enough standing around and kissing. She wanted action and now. Shoving his shoulders hard, she pushed him on his back. Wil sprawled on the bed as she removed his shorts and her bikini bottoms. He laughed, glad she had finally decided to take control.

“I admire a woman who knows what she wants,” he chuckled as she made her desires clear. Still laughing, he complied.

Matilda had never been so aggressive in bed. Something about Wil encouraged her to assert herself. She pulled him close, demanding his all. He gave it to her freely, unconditionally, something he had never given to any other woman.

For the first time in Wil’s adult life, a woman left him so breathless, he couldn’t even speak her name. But that was all right, because she couldn’t say his either. He kissed her softly, holding her close, stroking her hair. His fingers played along her spine, sending a thrill dancing down her back.

He wanted to speak, but couldn’t find the words to express how he was feeling. After sex dialogue had never been his strong suite. Anything he said at this point would be trite, or worse yet, silly. Instead, he kissed and fondled her, expressing himself more eloquently than words.


An adopted Floridian who fell in love with its culture-both modern and historical-Dellani is a happily married mother of four, substitute teacher and former English teacher. When she isn’t being one of the above, she is an avid writer, spending every possible moment immersed in her other worlds. “Indian Summer” is her only historical romance, but she also has written a series of futuristic romance novels, contemporary romances and short stories. Dellani’s interests include reading, going to the beach, listening to all kinds of music and cooking.

Click here for an interview with: Dellani Oakes

Click here to read the first chapter of: Lone Wolf

Click here for an interview with: Wil VanLipsig from Lone Wolf by Dellani Oakes


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Pardon, But Your Book is Showing by JJ Dare

Previously, I’ve talked about how writers’ lives influence their books, but have you ever wondered how the books you read and write influence your life?

As a writer, bits and pieces of you are in the stories you tell. Words are the influences and emotions from your environment. Even if your story is set in 17th century as a pirate on the high seas, parts of your life are imprisoned in your tale.

It’s unavoidable. We write what we are, to a certain degree, before imagination and fantasy take over.

What if, after imagination and fantasy take the wheel, the influences reverse? Theoretically, do we become what we write?

Science fiction writers and readers, has a switch flipped inside you and have you started to explore the previously unimaginable? Romance writers, how about you? Do you become the hero or heroine and does your partner start to look like your hot suitor?

Crime writers, are you surrounded by clues in your everyday life? Has writing about detectives helped you find your lost keys faster? Mystery and thriller authors, do you see beneath the masks of those around you?

I had always been apathetically aware of the agendas of others, but that escalated when I started writing suspense. Now, I feel so keenly attuned to the hidden designs of people, I have a “motivation” trigger in my brain that won’t quit.

This comes as an advantage at times. When someone asks me or any of my loved ones a question, I instantly think, why do they need to know and what do they gain from the answer?

If anything, my sometimes off the wall questioning of a question forces others to think about agendas. Although I might come off as a conspiracy theorist, almost everyone has a reason, usually self-related, for the questions they ask.

A few years ago, I would have simply accepted the question and given a straightforward answer. Now, however, after being exposed to my own writing, I look beyond the question to the purpose of the question.

Do writers and readers become better people after creating or reading a book? I hesitated to use the word “better” because measuring one’s goodness (or badness) is unreliable. The meter on that varies too widely at any given second.

However, I do think you become “different” after exposure to a strong book (written or read), but the strength of the written word is subjective and relative to your emotions of the moment.

It’s an interesting concept to think about. I know my writing has changed me. Have books changed you?

J J Dare is the author of two published books, several short stories and about thirty works-in-progress.

Current enthusiasm is co-authoring at Rubicon Ranch


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