Category Archives: In My Opinion

How to Write Science Fiction Action Romance

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Over the last decade there have been a lot of changes to the publishing world. Traditionally, anyone dreaming of becoming an author often had a long and tedious journey ahead of them. Just like today, there were no guarantees that the work of the author would be well received. The difference from previous years was the screening process an author was required to go through. During that time, there were few authors that wrote Science Fiction Romance, or SFR.

Science Fiction stories were different. The genre was, and still is in a large part, dominated by male authors who focus on the science aspect of the story. SFR is different. Here, the readers are given both science and romance. The stories contain aspects of science, alien worlds, different modes of transportation, and such, but also contain a romantic element to them. Wow! For those of us that enjoy that combination of action, adventure, fantasy, and romance this is out of this world reading, no pun intended.

Wait a minute! Action… Adventure… Fantasy… and Romance? Isn’t that what Star Trek, Star Wars, and a dozen other successful television and movies have in them? I grew up loving anything to do with SFR, even before it was called that. The million dollar question was how does a writer write a successful Science Fiction Action Romance. Well, I don’t know about the million dollars, but I’ll give you my two cents on it… with passion!

Step one: World Building

To write a successful science fiction action romance you have to have a world and characters that seem real. If you are having the romance, the characters have to be compatible with each other. Yes, you can have shifters, but when the characters come together they need to be in a form that is believable. Wait a moment… Shifters! Isn’t that paranormal? Yes, it is, but the beautiful thing about science fiction is that you can make your species anything you want as long as the rules you build in work. So, build worlds and characters that work together.

Step two: Character development

Your characters and their interaction with each other is important. I believe every character throughout the story is important. The smallest one can make the difference from an okay story to a fabulous one. It is also important to balance your dialogue with your description. Let the readers build the world in their minds by giving them just enough information without breaking into a college lecture on the dynamics of the atmospheric molecular structures and astrophysics.

Your characters also have to be able to communicate with each other. How they do that is up to you. Just make sure that whatever method you come up with makes sense. In Outlander (the scifi movie), the aliens had a machine that poured the information into their brains. I’ve had everything from the human heroine learning the language to magical spells to implanted translators.

Step three: Action!

I love action and adventure. When developing a story, remember that not all plots have to be from an internal conflict. Science Fiction Action Romance is the perfect setting for outside conflict to pull the readers in. When you think of it, just the thought of space travel has enough hazards involved. Whatever happens in space, you either fix it or die. The same concept applies if you are on an alien planet. Now, throw in all the other things like cultural differences, tribal mentality, differences in technology, greed, power, corruption and love. It is the perfect mix for an action-filled story.

Step four: Bringing it all together

You have your world, you have your characters, you have your action – now what? You listen to the characters as they share their amazing journey through the stars. Remember, you don’t have to have all the rules for the universe you’ve built in book one. Let it grow throughout the series, because if you write a fascinating world, your readers will want another book in that world based on one of the characters you have introduced (this is why ALL characters are super important for the story; they carry on in that world).

There is a reason shows and movies like Star Trek and Star Wars are so popular. Readers, whether male or female, crave the unknown action, adventure, suspense, and romance of far away worlds. They want to know what it would be like to journey to another world and live the life of a space pirate or be a member of the Alliance.

So, the next time you step outside on a clear night and look up at the stars ask yourself “What if…?” and let the characters take you to another world you’ll never forget.

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Space and Beyond: Why is it so fascinating?

Space – the final frontier. Wow! Just those words send a shiver down my spine. Why? LOL, my answer: Why not?

Movies and television shows have helped fuel the fascination about space and intergalactic travel for generations. Books and movies bring to life the question that if we were ever visited, would the aliens be good or bad. Viewers have grown up watching Lost in Space and Star Trek to a resurgence of Star Wars that tantalize a new generation of Science Fiction fans; thus proving that humans love the idea of not being alone at the same time as we are terrified of finding out that we are.

For me, writing Science Fiction and Urban Fantasy is a lot like having your driver’s license when you reach sixteen years old and can drive alone for the first time, restricted only by the cash in your pocket and the strict words from your parents to be home on time, ringing in your ears. The road is in front of you and there are a million places you want to go. Writing SF and UF are just like that, only this time my imagination is the limit.

When I was a kid one of my favorite things to do at night was lie out on the driveway and look up at the stars. It was beautiful, mysterious, and filled with unbelievable objects that NASA was just discovering. My parents took my brothers, sister, and I over to Cape Kennedy to watch the launches. I did the same with my kids when they were little.

There was just something magical, and heartbreaking, about watching the Apollo and Shuttle launches. I remember exactly where I was when both the Challenger and the Columbia exploded. I remember my first night launch of the Atlantis and how the night sky lit up and the delayed rumble shook under my feet and in the air as it shot skyward.

For me, it proved that space travel was possible at the same time showing the dangers involved. Some of you may remember those events as well. For those that can’t, you’ve been fortunate enough to grow up with the beautiful images from the Hubble Space Telescope and the amazing imaginations of the film makers that bring it to life through incredible special effects.

Over the years, my fascination with space has not changed. I continue to stare up at the sky and wonder. Today, we live in a time defined by advanced technology in astronomy. The last decade has become known as the Age of the Amateur Astronomer. Why? Because of the development of more powerful, cost effective telescopes, computer applications including Google Sky, and astrophotography that isn’t limited to NASA or universities any longer thanks to the development of digital photography. I believe if there is life out there it will probably be found – by an amateur astronomer.

So, to answer the question as to why it is so fascinating, the answer for me is simple; there is a whole universe out there for me to explore. Does space travel have to make sense in the stories and movies that I read and watch? To a certain degree, but not necessarily if you can make the story entwined within it believable. We are just infants in this amazing universe; a grain of sand in the vast desert. The one thing I love is it is my desert and I’m that grain of sand moving through it. I can dream up my starships, my aliens, my worlds, and I can live in them for as long as I want. My aliens can be good or bad, after all, we are aliens as well.

The key is to open your mind and your heart and discover what it means to be alive among the stars. The next time you take a walk outside at night, turn off the lights and look up at the stars. You’ll discover a whole new universe.

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How Stories Influence Our Lives

How Stories Influence Our Lives

Stories are a collection of a person’s experience gathered together and bound into sweeping tales that others can identify with on a wide scale ranging from simple entertainment to life changing. If I were to ask you to think back to the first story that influenced you, what would it be? How did it affect you? What type of change came about from reading this story?

That is a lot of questions, but they are important ones. Stories can have a very powerful influence and as an author, I have to recognize that power. Everyone is familiar with non-fiction books that focus on self-awareness, self-improvement, and ways to make your life better, but what about the influence of fiction books designed for entertainment? How can they influence your life and make it better? More questions! Mm, I’m beginning to see a pattern here. Let’s see if I can give you some insight as to how just one story influenced my life over the years.

What is the first story that influenced me? 

This is an easy one for me. Many of my readers may have seen references to this story in several of my books. Which book had such an impact that almost half a century later I still refer back to it? It is The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett that was published in serial format in 1910 and published in its completion in 1911. There are several reasons why this unusual children’s story had such an impact on me which I’ll explain below.

How did it affect me?

My dad read me this story for the first time. We have pictures of the two of us, sitting on the couch in the family room. Maybe that is a big part as to why it is so special to me. I can still hear his voice when I read it, feel his warmth next to me, and get lost in the magic of Mary Lennox, Colin, and Dickon. I’ve read that book every year since I learned to read. I could relate to Mary. I wasn’t very strong as a child. I was sick a lot and spent a fair amount of time in the hospital. I was also very quiet and loved to be outdoors, perhaps because of being sick. I fell in love with Dickon. His calm look at life and his love for animals reflected my own. I wanted to get lost in a magical secret garden on the moor and never come out. At times, I still do. This story captured my attention. I felt Mary’s anger and confusion. I realized that she was acting out because all she really wanted was to know that she was important and meant something to someone.

What type of change came about from reading it? 

A good part of the change that came from this story was the belief that there was a place for me out in the world. I wanted to write a story that held the same feelings, that gave the same hope, that this book gave to me. I wanted to capture the magic inside the pages and live it in my own life. It also gave me hope that one day I wouldn’t be sick anymore and I could run and play. As an adult, I look at Mary and Colin’s strength to overcome and Dickon’s gentle understanding of the world around him and know that I have those same qualities inside of me.

Was it just for entertainment?

I know that my dad read me the story for simple entertainment, but it was more than that to me. It was a connection to him, an understanding that life was filled with challenges, and the importance of family and friendship. It was a story that left me feeling strong and happy at the end. One that filled me with hope. When I think of this story, it is as if the characters are real, so for me it was more than entertainment.

How did it influence my life?

I can’t say that the book has made me who I am, but it has had an influence on who I’ve become and my own writing to a big degree. I want stories that are magical when you read them. I’m not talking paranormal magic, necessarily; but, magical in the way they make a reader feel when they are finished with a story. I try to see others in a positive light. Some people call me a Pollyanna. I’m good with that. I don’t mind looking at the world with rose-colored glasses on. One thing is for sure, The Secret Garden helped me decide on what types of books I enjoyed reading.

Did it make my life better?

Any book/story that has a positive effect on you makes your life better. The Secret Garden gave me an appreciation and love for reading that I might not have had otherwise. Reading is so important, yet it can also be one of the most difficult skills to learn how to do. I didn’t learn how to really read until I was in the sixth grade. It was very, very difficult for me to learn. The letters and the sounds just didn’t make sense. At times, I still have a lot of trouble. Because of it, reading was not something I enjoyed doing. It took a story that could capture my heart to make me want to learn to read. It also opened up millions of new worlds to me that I would have otherwise never known. So, yes, my life is much, much better because of a simple story about a little girl who lost everything and found herself living a new and magical life on an English moor.

I’d love to hear which story influenced you the most!

About S. E. Smith

S.E. Smith is a New York Times, USA TODAY, International, and Award-Winning Bestselling author of science fiction, romance, fantasy, paranormal, and contemporary works for adults, young adults, and children. She enjoys writing a wide variety of genres that pull her readers into worlds that take them away.

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Is Reading eBooks the New Social Media for Children and Teens

Is Reading eBooks the New Social Media for Children and Teens

This past year, I discovered a new form of Social Media from a very unexpected source – my thirty-something year old son. I was sharing the new story I was writing, Dust: Before and After, with him and told him about uploading a chapter to Wattpad. He asked me if I had heard of . I hadn’t, of course. With a little guidance, he navigated me through the process of uploading Dust to it and explained that anyone who wanted to write a story could write one and upload. It is very similar to Wattpad, but these are a little more hardcore in the type of genres they write. Still, I felt that Dust would fit in the niche, and I excitedly check each day to the growing number of views.

What I found exciting was down at the bottom, there is a number that kept changing. It was readers chatting about the different stories. These are readers who follow the stories as they unfold and talk about them. The number of views for some of them were unbelievable, showing that this type of writing attracts the younger readers in large numbers. Reading is not a dying art, but an evolving one, just as the younger generation of readers is changing the way and type of genre they want to read.

I’m amazed that there is little discussion about the array of sites out there that are available. Sites like Wattpad and Royalroad are just two examples that give readers of all ages a new way of communicating. They are eBooks written by both novice writers who have a story and want to tell it, too far more experienced authors.

I have stories up on both of these sites and what I’ve found is that most of the readers are pre-teen and teenagers and that they talk… about the stories they are reading… a lot! They discuss the characters, the settings, the plots, and the dialogue. They are passionate, avid readers, and very vocal about their reflection on the stories. But most of all, they are talking with other readers from around the world! This type of reading is growing fast and I believe will become even more popular as these readers one day branch out and become writers. The biggest thing I really like is they are taking the time to discuss what they’ve read and share it with others, much like a Book Club does. So, if you were to ask me if reading eBooks is the new Social Media for children and teens, I’d have to say yes, it is. It is a growing, international Book Club that authors need to sit up and take a look at. If anything, it will grow in popularity. All I can say is: Yay, for Social Media interaction about books! I hope they keep it up. About S. E. Smith S.E. Smith is a New York Times, USA TODAY, International, and Award-Winning Bestselling author of science fiction, romance, fantasy, paranormal, and contemporary works for adults, young adults, and children. She enjoys writing a wide variety of genres that pull her readers into worlds that take them away.

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Writing in the Young Adult Market

Writing in the Young Adult Market

Writing in the young adult market is different from writing in the adult market. While the young adult market has more disposable income, they also have more interests to spend it on. Regardless of the age, books hold a special place in a person’s life.

Ageless enjoyment: 

From a simple children’s tale of an epic adventure, a well-written story can capture the reader’s imagination and take them to worlds they would otherwise be unable to go to. The recent popularity of the Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Goosebumps, and Twilight series are just a few examples that prove the market is not just there for children and teens, but adults as well. Many of my favorite stories are children and young adult stories.

Reaching a Young Adult Market: 

In the past, reaching the young adult market has always come from the traditional publishers. As an Indie Author, I write and publish my own books through my own publishing company, this could easily be a daunting task to face. How can an Indie author break through into the YA market? I can tell you one thing; it isn’t going to happen overnight. If you were to research the series I mentioned above, you might be surprised to discover many were around for years before they were discovered. One of my favorite quotes is that the overnight success of the artist only took ten years to achieve.

I don’t expect my YA stories to be an overnight success. That doesn’t mean I would turn it down if they were, but I’m fairly grounded. I know that it will take time to build my name and reputation as an excellent author in the YA genre that can provide fascinating stories that teens and adults can relate to. It will also take time for my name to get out among the readers. I’m in this for the long haul. It was never my intention to write one book, sit back, and twiddle my thumbs before someone ‘magically’ discovers it. I will write more and more fascinating stories filled with action, adventure, suspense, and love while I wait for my overnight.

How Do I spread the Word?

As I mentioned above, my overnight success may be years in the making. I am excited that a movie production company has asked for the script of Voyage of the Defiance: Breaking Free. But, as I also mentioned, I won’t be sitting back waiting by the phone for their call. I understand it takes time to make a decision about whether a script is worth a second glance, much less sinking possibly millions of dollars into it. I’ve written another YA book called Dust: Before and After that has me just as excited, and have plans for the second book in the Breaking Free series: Capture of the Defiance to be released this fall. In the meantime, I promote my books through Social Media, paid advertising, word of mouth, conventions, book signings, and more. I participate in online Fan Fiction sites where readers get to read other work I’ve done and learn about my writing style. Most of all, I continue to improve my craft.

Writing in the Young Adult market is just like anything else, it is being consistent and persistent. Write fantastic stories that get readers talking, keep a presence online, and keep writing. Your overnight will come; it just may take a while.

About S. E. Smith 

S.E. Smith is a New York Times, USA TODAY, International, and Award-Winning Bestselling author of science fiction, romance, fantasy, paranormal, and contemporary works for adults, young adults, and children. She enjoys writing a wide variety of genres that pull her readers into worlds that take them away.

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