Paula is a good writer friend of mine, even though we’ve never met. We’re both members of an online chapter of RWA, “Futuristic, Fantasy, and Paranormal” and have critiqued each other’s work on FFnP’s Mud Puddle.
Be sure to check out Paula’s website. She writes fascinating tales of dragons and leprechauns, suspense and romance, all with an indefinably gentle touch that I admire but couldn’t begin to duplicate.
With a new release coming out in a month, I was thrilled when she asked me to follow her post from Monday, January 20, 2014.
All of us in the chain are answering four questions about how we work. Here they are.
What am I working on?
- I’ve formatted The Trial of Tompa Lee, book 1 in the Tompa trilogy, for release as a trade paperback.
The book was first released in hardcover by Five Star Speculative Fiction in 2005, and it is currently available as an e-book. I’m awaiting the galley proofs, and have nothing to do until they arrive.
- I’m nearly done formatting the Tribulations of Tompa Lee, the sequel to the above book. The book will be available by the end of February.
Tribulations is completely written and edited, and it’s a good one—the bad guys whom Tompa defeated now strike back, leading to lots of action, strange predatory beasts, and romance.
It’s book 2 in the trilogy, and if you read book 1, you might have guessed that I was influenced by Romeo and Juliet. Dante Roussel dies saving Tompa’s life, but in this book he lives in her head, though only she can hear him.
- I’m getting the word out about Tribulations.
This blog chain is one example of that. Publicity is by far my least favorite authorly chore, however, and I’m not very good at it. I vastly prefer devoting my energy to writing great books—so if you want a great read, take pity on me and buy Tribulations even if I am a lousy self-promoter.
- I’m editing my completed draft of book 3 in the trilogy, The Triumph of Tompa Lee.
This time the full weight of the Galactic Trading Council is thrown against Tompa. Poor lass! To get out of this jam with her friends alive, all she has to do is change the galaxy’s whole power structure.
- I have a nearly complete outline and one chapter of an SF-rom (science fiction romance, more jargon), a novella loosely based on The African Queen.
The story of Hector and Katie is mostly on hold, although if I wake up at 2:00 am with a great idea (which happens with annoying frequency) I jot it down. My subconscious does a lot of work even when I don’t.
- I’m awaiting word from publishers on the prequel to the above, The Guardian Angel of Farflung Station. I’m prejudiced, but I think it’s one of the best things I’ve ever written.
You’ll notice that I’m not actively writing anything new. Who has the time?
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
- My science fiction always has elements of romance, if it isn’t an outright SFRom.
- I concentrate on my characters, unlike most SF authors who concentrate on an idea.
The Tompa Lee trilogy is a good example. Even though I wrote the first book years ago, my diminutive, feisty underdog kept haunting my thoughts. She deserved an unequivocally happy ending. In The Tribulations of Tompa Lee, she nearly gets one, but not quite. Hence book 3!
- Before I start writing, I simply have to have something unique that I haven’t seen before. Without that, I can’t get anywhere.
In the trilogy’s first book, it was an alien justice system based on trial by combat.
In book 2, Tribulations, it was two things: national parks and a James Bond-type who plays the oboe. (I play the oboe, too, but that’s strictly a coincidence, I assure you.)
I’d never read a science fiction book set in an alien national park. What would aliens think worthy of preserving in their version of a Yellowstone? The thought consumed me.
My alien Shons are cute and cuddly, but with a bloodthirsty streak—witness Tompa’s bloody trial by combat, which was broadcast to the whole planet. And so PallaPellyPark was born.
Palla Pelly is set in spectacular mountains, yet, Shons care less about preserving the beauties of nature than they do with preserving as many lethal predators as possible. Tourists come to Palla Pelly to test their mettle against the killer beasts. If they fail the test, tough luck. (Shons obviously do not have a lawyer caste intent on law suits!)
Creating unique killer beasts was a delicious challenge. Tompa and company are forced to take the two-day hike across Palla Pelly, fighting off both weird predators and Klick pusuers.
Why do I write what I do?
- I have little choice in the matter. My work reflect the duality of who I am: a technically oriented geek who loves science fiction, and a romantic guy who thinks that not only does love makes the world go round, it makes other worlds go round, too.
How does my writing process work?
- I believe in rewriting and rewriting and rewriting.
I rarely get it right the first time, and my subconsciously is constantly surprising me by making great suggestions about something I wrote months ago. This makes me relatively slow compared to other writers, but (in my dreams, at least) it also makes me better than other writers—or at least better than the dreck in my first drafts.
Who’s Next in the Chain?
First up is my long-time friend, Pamela Keyes. I first met Pam in a writer’s group here in Tucson back in the early years of this century.
In addition to being a brilliant and multi-published author of young adult fantasies, Pam is also the best darned critiquer it’s ever been my pleasure to work with. Be sure to check out The Jumbee–it’s a masterpiece.
Jessica A. Kong is an avid reader of all things fantasy, futuristic, and paranormal. When she is not reading or writing, she enjoys puzzles, arts and crafts, crocheting, horror movies, and video games.
Mr. Valentine has reviewed her novel, A Lost Kitten.
Jessica created the Sea-anan Saga out of inspiration provided by her love for movies like Star Wars and Deep Space Nine, along with an avid appreciation of romance novels. She makes her home in Somerset, New Jersey, with her loving husband of twenty-two years and their teenaged triplets.
Her most recent book is A Forgotten Kitten (Sea-anan Saga).
Many readers enjoy Star Wars-esque stories of conflict on faraway planets, while other readers tend to stick to epic romances. Few authors have managed to combine the two genres in such a seamless way as Jessica A. Kong has in her Sea-anan Saga. Creating a highly complex story with fully developed characters, A Forgotten Kitten zips along at just the right pace.
The story revolves around Sev, a young, handsome prince and member of a royal family who rises to become king of the Oceanan race. Sev is raised in the midst of a vicious family feud, but all seems worth it when his adoptive aunt gives birth to a beautiful little girl whom Sev falls instantly and irrevocably in love with. But when Sev’s planet collides with its own sun and collapses, he must bear the loss of his entire family, including his love as well as any memory of her.
Areo, the heroine of the story, is that little girl that Sev fell for during his childhood. When her empire is brutally attacked, everyone is scattered throughout the universe. Where does she land but the planet that Sev is currently occupying.
What follows is a continually building conflict interlaced with one of the most fervently passionate love stories seen in these kinds of novels. Kong chooses not just to write about space travel, or war, or love, or family, or even racism; instead, she chooses to combine all of these classic literary themes into one amazing story. The result is a mysterious and ultimately deeply satisfying story that only leads to the craving for more from this gifted and astoundingly creative writer.
The task of any science fiction writer is to take alien, unbelievable concepts and present them in a way that convinces the reader they are plausible in reality, and Kong has certainly hit the mark with her second novel in this delightfully mystifying series.
A Musical Coda
In honor of the writer’s process blog chain, and referring to no one but myself, here’s one of my favorite songs by Aretha Franklin: