Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sunday Musings: June 28 2015

pic by ChrisChat

Morning, Musers.

It's Summer! And with this vacation heavy season, this will be our last 'live' Sunday Musings until September.  During the next few weekends we'll revisit some of our past Musings. Thank you for your continual support.

In the meantime, what do we have for you this week?

How does a writer convey the summer season to their readers without's summer?

How do you do this within genres, SF or Fantasy, where it may not be so obvious?

Let's get musing and have a grand and fun Summer vacation season.

I don't think using the word "summer" is a bad thing, but it's just one adjective- I never use it as a noun. For example talking about a "summer rain falling, quenching the torrid heat."  The key is to describe both the environment and how characters react to it. As a speculative fiction writer, you do have to go an extra distance making sure of exactly what the seasons are. In my current series I've kept the seasons generally akin to the seasons in the Northern Hemisphere, but they're a lot milder, unless you travel to certain regions. In other fantasy, seasons might have totally different meanings.  The clearest example is probably the Song of Ice and Fire books by George RR Martin (and the Game of Thrones TV series based on them) where each "season" lasts for multiple years. He spends a lot of time explaining how that works, and it's a central concept to the novels overall. 

It's the job of the writer to convey all sorts of things. Things like mood, appearance, time of day or time of day can be hinted at or alluded to without actually saying, 'It is summer.'

In my debut historical romance, Mariah's Marriage, Tobias calls at the house Mariah shares with her papa, Mr. Jerome Fox. They walk out into the communal gardens behind the house:

          They stepped through and the greenery surrounded them. She heard the doors clip shut cutting off her aunt’s stridency and replacing it with the drone of bees and the distant barking of a chained dog.

          Tobias walked ahead of her down the short brick path that led to a gate from Jerome’s property into the shared land in the square. He waited while she walked through and closed the gate behind them.

          “You have no hat,” he said.

          “The trees are in full leaf and will protect me from too much glare,” she answered.

As always, thanks for joining us and see you in September!
 If you have a question or comment you’d like us to muse upon, do not hesitate to contact me Christine Steeves-Speakman  at

Friday, June 26, 2015

Undead America

Love The Walking Dead? Love strong female kick-ass characters?
Then check out Leah Rhyne’s series: Undead America
Available in ebook and print

“ Zombie Days, Campfire Nights is full of action and builds a readers anticipation as it reaches the major climax”

“ Great book. Very discriptive and full of action”

“ No Angels kept me on my toes all the way through.”

“ fast paced, quick read. love the new characters and story line they bring with them.”

“ Amazing. Wouldn't have changed a thing. This final book brings closure with all the excitement you've come to expect from Rhyne. It's a must must must read.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Sunday Musings: June 21 2015

let's kick back with all the dads out there

Happy Daddy's Day!

In my family this would be the "official" first BBQ of the season. Dad's gone ten years now, but hubby keeps the tradition going. Now I need to send a sorry to our Muser moms, I think I missed their day.

As you can probably tell we're incorporating parents...ours and us as them...whether in role of parent, aunt, uncle, grand, birth-adopted, guardian...any and all parental roles...yes, siblings as parents count too...into this week's Musings.

The question:

Why or Is it important these role models read to, with, around those under their care?

Did yours? What did you get from those experiences?

My father and aunt, his sister, were great readers, and my brother and I grew up seeing them with books in hand.  There was no question that books are an important part of life.  So was the telling and sharing of stories.  Although we could not afford a large collection of our own, there were always a few volumes around, which both my parents read to us and encourage us to read on our own.  As a result, I could do that before I went to school.   We also patronized the public library regularly, generally on a weekly basis.  It was a great environment for a budding author.

Yes, I think it’s very important for anyone who is taking care of a young child to read to them. Studies have shown that children who have had the experience of reading aloud, especially if they were held close or on the lap of the parent or caregiver, learned to read much faster and enjoyed reading more. Reading aloud to a child gives them the ability to know all about the parts of a story and a book and this is also very important in learning how to read. As a teacher I needed to assess the ability of children in terms of knowing the parts of a book. Sadly, there were children who did not know much of what they needed to know. These children start with a handicap and are the ones who are always behind the other children. When a child has the experience of hearing the words in a book they associate them with meaning and when it is time for them to read they are more able to understand that the letters come together with their own sounds and create words. Of course learning vocabulary is also important for learning to read and children who have been read aloud to have the experience of hearing words they might not have heard in their lives. They are introduced to concepts they might never have experienced either. The more vocabulary a child has when he or she comes to school the more likely they are to be able to learn sight words. Sight words are the core of reading and if a child has enough of these it becomes easier and easier to read. Phonics is helped too when children know the sounds of letters and words.

My parents always read to me and I was brought up with a love of books. I always had books and I remember I had my favorites too. I had one that my little fingers wanted to read so much it got so dog eared. But I loved it and wanted to hear it over and over. When I became a parent I started reading to my children very early in their lives. When they were babies they had cloth books so they could hold them in their hands and read themselves. Later they each had favorite books they wanted read over and over. As we read after they had heard the book read to them over and over I would leave out the last word in a sentence and they had memorized the words so they could fill them in. My older daughter became such a voracious reader she was getting five library books at a time and finishing them every three days.

Reading is a free activity, though picture books, if you buy them are an expense. However, you can get them free at the library and give your child that experience as well. Being around books and having that experience of sharing is also something that helps children become more familiar with books and brings them into the world of reading. Then books become a valuable thing for children and reading a pastime they will have for the rest of their lives. It is important that children learn to love reading, because unless they have learned it early it will not be there as they get older. Children need to have the foundation of loving books so they will be readers for their whole lives.

I've got to say that I'm pretty status-quo; my role models/parents are actually my mom and dad. They've always taught me right/wrong/what's polite/etc. They're also really, really, really weird but that's another story. When I was really little, my mom tried to get me to read a Winnie the Pooh book. I screamed, cried, and rolled around on the ground shouting, "You're killing me!" Needless to say, they were not pleased but kept trying and were more than surprised when my kindergarten teacher told them what a good reader I was! I also memorized the alphabet but had no idea what it meant, and would memorize some stories by heart to goodnaturedly (I don't even know if I was being sneaky or just thought that's what reading was) make my parents think I could read words on a page. Who would've thought I'd grow up to be a writer, huh? Basically, you never know and it's really important to teach kids to read. There's that saying how, if you don't like reading you just haven't found the right book. My older sister doesn't read hardly at all (she even likes the phrase "I read a book. Once.") but has read and reread the book The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein because it has two of her favorite things: dogs and races! Reading opens worlds, whether for learning or relaxation or whatever it is your looking for. It's a form of escapism and betterment. I don't care if you like manuals, graphic novels, poetry, novels or dictionaries (guilty. I've read the dictionary or a thesaurus for fun more than once); enjoy it!

You could say books were worshipped in my house. Granny, Dad and Mum all read. We had books, but with the exception of Christmas and birthday presents the number didn't really change until I started to study English literature. However, there were libraries. The school had library boxes. The high school had a library and there was a public library in the town. The village was served by a mobile library. My mother helped us selflessly with our reading homework and did read to us at bedtime. My own children adored bedtime reading and often sat in on the younger ones after they were too old to have a story themselves (they said). I discovered my elder son had 'got it' the morning he told me how the novel we were reading ended. 'I finished it after you went downstairs, mummy.' One of life's precious moments.

My father never read to me or my brother.  He was a Presbyterian minister and must have felt that having to listen to his sermons every Sunday was plenty.  His office was full of books, however.

Our mother read from a book of Bible stories almost every night when we were young.  This was the only book she ever read from, but it did not stop me from going to the library and finding out a few things on my own. She had a beautiful voice.  I remember the stories vividly.

Ken Hicks

The one item my parents never said no too were books. The one item we never say no to for our daughter...books.

Thanks for joining us and see you next week!
 If you have a question or comment you’d like us to muse upon, do not hesitate to contact me Christine Steeves-Speakman  at