Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Regeneration, the Nano Way

Here's the scenario: It's war and a soldier is shot. Not only is his wound becoming infected, but he's suffering from internal organ damage.
Right now the chance of survival would be iffy and even if he lived, there'd be scarring and some lasting effect. But, think about in the future when doctors could just apply nanotechnology. It would repair the damaged organ, kill the infection, and even assist in healing the open wound by growing back new skin.
That's crazy, right? I mean, you can't just fix what's broken. You can maybe stitch it together, but it'll never be what it was, right?
Right now nano-focused science is now moving small solutions into the big picture of life. Nanoscale technology and science is being developed in the areas of military, space, consumerism, and healthcare.

In fact there's research going on for nanotechnology gel that promotes nerve cell regrowth. Reading this, my fictional brain went on overdrive, thinking about the direction this all would take. Imagine nanotechnology that would promote the regrowth of limbs, organs, and bone.
What do we think about when some says nanotechnology? Well, I don't know about you but I think of the evil robot from Terminator 2. They used nanoscale metal and circuits that molded into any shape. In a sense, that's exactly what nanotechnology is. nano is a Greek word that means one billionth the size of something. So, a nanometer is one billionth of a meter. The tech part would be a combination of the individual scale objects combining together for a common, larger purpose.

But, you really have to envision beyond metal and circuits and beyond the visually large object. Most likely, you will never see any nano size tech with your naked eye. It'll always be on a teeny little thing.

This is especially true in the realm of healthcare. Most of the nano research direction in healthcare involves organic nano material. Nano particles. If successful, they will carry drugs, enzymes, and cell substances to get to work on an infected/impacted area. I can see them ultimately containing accelerant substances that will speed up the recovery and repair work from months, to only days. Maybe even hours, depending on the severity of the problem.

I was so excited about this prospect that I worked the science into my new SFR release, Duty and Devotion. Nano health really lent itself well to the military setting. I made sure to add limits because, well, that's life. (I mean come on the future's still gotta hold challenges to solve.) So, in my future nano world organs, bone and skin can be regenerated from nanotechnology but only if some part of the original substance remained.

Older sister Nettie, one of the main characters in Duty and Devotion ended up in a serious war accident and was rushed to the medical ward to be fixed. The scene below is her waking up and hearing from the doctor what they were able to fix...and what they weren't.


The nurse brought a tray of food in. At least, she said the goopy gelatin like substance was food. All three were dubious about the truth of that as they poked at it.

"Out, out," the nurse chided them, pushing and prodding both Kaitlin and Oliver out the door. She pointed at Nettie and then at the food. "Eat it."

Nettie continued to poke at the pile, relieved when the physician strolled in, James behind him with his clipboard. He winked at her and leaned against the far wall.

"Good morning. How are you feeling?" the physician asked.

"Felt like I just had a hot flash. I tell ya, I'm falling apart." Nettie pushed the rolling tray aside. He smiled and tapped the electronic chart. "Okay. What's the damage and what were you able to fix?"

The physician's smile wavered. He took a seat on a tall rolling chair beside her. "Well, that's the question of the hour isn't it? I'm proud to say we were able to save most of your internal organs, re-growing replacement tissue for those partially damaged. And as you can see, we were able to reattach your leg with nano nerve and skin engineering."

"But... " She urged him on.

"But, your ovaries and fallopian tubes were too damaged to fix. It's a very sensitive area and there was nothing left to rejuvenate."

Nettie felt stunned and her mind went blank. "What? What does that mean?"


If you want to learn more about nano tech, here's some links for you to start:


If you want to learn more about me, stop by my blog: Adventures of a Sci-Fi Writer

Duty and Devotion is available at Desert Breeze, All Romance Books, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Kobo, and the Apple iBookstore.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Just Because It’s Make-Believe Doesn’t Mean You Can. . .

Please welcome guest author, Suzan Harden, who offers great tips on writing fantasy.

A writer creating any type of fantasy still needs to do her homework.

“But this isn’t real!” you say. No, but it has to be believable. You have to construct a story that’s so logical the reader is willing to throw away his knowledge of everyday life to follow your character’s journey.

Here are some tips I hope will help you as you write your story.

1) Your character shouldn’t be omnipotent.

If the character is all-powerful, your story’s over on page 1. I’m not saying your character can’t be powerful, but there has to be a limitation or a flaw to keep the conflict going. Not even Merlin (The Once and Future King by T.H. White) could do everything, and his fatal flaw was showing off his knowledge to sweet, young things who liked to stab people in the back.

The other problem all-powerful characters is that such stories come across as Mary Sue fantasies, i.e. a projection of the writer’s wishes and desires.

2) There should be rules in your world, and they should be consistent.

Your reader isn’t going to trust you if you have your heroine says she has to have a particular stone/flower/herb to complete X spell in Chapter 3 and doesn’t use the same requisite item for the same spell in Chapter 15.

Can you break your world’s rules? Yes, but the exceptions need to be consistent with the rules you’ve already established. Take Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter books. Dark-hunters are dead warriors who’ve sold their soul to the Greek goddess Artemis. The process to get their souls back leaves the Dark-Hunters’ significant others with horrible burns. In Dance with the Devil, Zarak’s true love, Astrid avoids the pain because Zarak still had his soul. Zarak had been so dirty and deformed when he died that Artemis couldn’t bear to touch him to take his soul.

3) You probably shouldn’t break the rules of physics, even in a fantasy.

The biggest ones I see broken are the conservation of mass, the conservation of energy, and Newton’s third law of motion, also known as the equal and opposite reaction rule. As a Bachelor of Science geek, these annoy me the most and throw me out of the story.

Take shapeshifting for example. The average weight for an adult male North American wolf is about eighty pounds. If a two hundred-pound man transforms into a normal-size wolf, where does that extra mass go? And how does he get it again when he transforms back to a human? This is one of the reasons I love Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn, and it’s one of the few gripes I have about Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. Professor McGonagall should not be the size of an average house cat without any sort of explanation.

Also, using Newton’s third law of motion gives you the price your character may pay for using magic, i.e. your potential flaw. Christopher Paolini used this to great effect in Eragon.

4) Know what you’re talking about when you mix religion and magic

I’m not talking about political correctness. You can definitely have religion and magic in the same book. But I see too many urban fantasy and paranormal romances writers throw the terms “Wicca,” “Wiccan,” and “witch” about in a way that shows they have no concept of the true meaning of the words.

On the other hand, Dan Brown made The Da Vinci Code so believable that it scared the you-know-what out of the Vatican.

5) If you use an existing myth, do your research and find a new take on the story.

Sometimes digging past a certain source material can give you new ideas for your stories. Bram Stoker blended Eastern European myths concerning vampires with the historical Transylvanian prince, Vlad Tepes, to create Dracula. Many of those vampire myths can be traced further back to the Greek demi-goddess Empusa and the Hebrew demon Lilith, both of which seduced young men and drank their blood. Lilith may have possible connections to various Assyrian, Babylonian, and Sumerian female demons (scholars still debate the etymological sources) who acted as succubi.

As for a new take, Anne Rice transformed vampires from evil blood-suckers into tortured anti-heroes with Interview with the Vampire. Lynsay Sands turned them into survivors of Atlantis. MaryJanice Davidson’s vampire queen is a self-absorbed ex-secretary with a show fetish.

The key thing to remember is to enjoy writing your characters and guide them through new paths in the fantasy arena.


Blood Magick is the first novel of Bloodlines, an urban fantasy series.

It’s not the family you’re born to. It’s the Family you join.


Caesar Augustine has survived on it for millennia, but his friend Natasha believed she was close to a cure for vampirism. When she dies and her lab notes disappear, Caesar’s only chance to walk in sunlight again is finding her granddaughter Bebe, the one witch Natasha would trust with her research. But getting Bebe to trust him is another matter altogether.


Dr. Bebe Zachary has feared and mistrusted vampires for seventeen years, since the night she witnessed two of the bloodsuckers brutally murder her parents. When Caesar Augustine comes to her with an insane story that her grandmother’s death was no accident, the last thing she wants to do is believe him. Except her cousins have challenged Bebe for leadership of their coven, somebody definitely wants her dead too, and Caesar is the only the person standing between her and the grave.

Blood Magick is currently available through the following retailers:


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Tess tells all....

Please Welcome Tess St. John who tells us a bit about her journey to self publish.

I would like to thank Ciara for having me on her blog today. She’s asked me to speak a bit about my Indie publishing journey.

When I began writing, over six years ago, I found the avenues to publication were limited to impressing an agent or publisher, or spending costly amounts to self-publish a print book.

Each avenue scarier than the next!

Now, let me explain why it was so scary for me. I have a disorder where my equilibrium acts up—and we know reading can aggravate it. I always feared if I miraculously got a contract, I might not be able to fulfill my end of the bargain. And this past November and December the dizziness got so bad I couldn’t read or write. So while we were announcing our New Year’s resolutions at a bar in Galveston (my niece was getting married the next day), I said when I felt better, I would Indie publish my books.

I have a great writing friend, Sandra Edwards, who Indie published last year and she’d been encouraging me to do it. So toward the end of January, when my illness settled a bit, I began working at a pace my dizziness could handle. I had five books written and Second Chances was the most polished of them, so it was the logical one to release first.

Over the years I’ve only sent my work to five agents, who I’d met in person at different conferences. I received four rejections (very nice ones, encouraging me to send other works) and one who said she wasn’t rejecting it, but suggested I get rid of the fluff (which was great advice) and resubmit. I’ve also never sent the first query letter. But all those years I learned my craft. I took classes. I got critique partners. I studied every angle of writing.

Indie publishing has been exhilarating and has given me the freedom I need to write on my time-table and no one else’s. I can’t say it is the road everyone would want to take, but Indie publishing gives me the freedom of working at my own pace and setting my own goals...and if my health interferes...that’s okay. For me, that’s peace of mind.

My first release, out now, titled Second Chances, is a Regency Romance set in 1826. I write from scenes that play like movie reels in my mind and when I wrote Second Chances, the first scene came to me first (which rarely happens), but as I wrote, tears began trickling down my cheeks. I felt so connected to the story (and, well, it was a death scene).

I begin releasing my Romantic Mystery/Suspense series in June with Don’t Let It Show. The series is about FBI agents finding their HEA. These are the first books I wrote and have gone through many transformations, but I love the story each holds and felt they just had to be told.

Below you’ll find a blurb and excerpt of Second Chances. 

Love that frees the heart ~ also captures it.

Lady Emma Easton’s elopement to an elderly earl shields her from an abusive father, until her husband’s death leaves her vulnerable once again. Only one man can protect her—the earl’s trusted friend, Viscount Drake.

After losing his wife, Lord Drake vows never to marry again. But his heart warms to the young widow he’s promised to protect. Emma’s love frees him from the darkness that’s consumed him. But now Drake must protect her from her father’s evil whims, or face losing her forever.

Please enjoy an excerpt from Second Chances:

Northampton, England, February 1826

Emma smoothed a few strands of gray hair from Harmon’s forehead, wishing for a way to forestall the inevitable. The huge four-poster bed dwarfed his frail, feeble body. Gold brocade drapes and bedspread cast a regal glow to the chamber, adding a jaundiced yellow to his already pallid complexion.

A fit of coughs rumbled in his chest. Harmon reached for a glass of water on the bedside table. His clumsy fingers couldn’t quite grasp it and he knocked it over. “Bollocks.” He slumped back on the bed.

She’d been so young when they married five years ago, his gruff words and manners should have terrified her. But from the first moment they met, she’d found Harmon’s ways endearing. She knew if she offered any type of sympathy he’d scoff, willful old man that he was.

Emma snatched a linen cloth from the bedside drawer and swabbed the mess. After pouring another glass of water, she leaned over him. “May I be of assistance?” She carefully put an arm around him and held his head and shoulders straight, then brought the glass to his lips. After he took a sip, she leaned him back on the pillows.

“Damn. I hate that you have to do everything for me.”

She smiled. “You are quite welcome.”

A ghost of a grin passed his lips. “Please forgive me, dear.”

Shock ran through her. She’d never heard him utter the word please.

Hands slightly shaking, unsure if the tremors were from his words or because she hadn’t broken her fast this morning, she doused a cloth in the basin filled with warm water. She wiped Harmon’s face and neck. He would undoubtedly fall asleep soon and always rested better when clean. She splashed a tiny amount of sandalwood cologne on her palm and rubbed it on his jaw. Weeks ago he’d grumbled about how he feared he smelled like death, so she’d made this a daily habit. The clean, fresh scent tickled her nose.

Harmon didn’t open his eyes when he said, “Tell Simmons to send Drake up as soon as he arrives.”

 She straightened the bedclothes around him. “You’re going to drive Simmons to Bedlam. You’ve told him dozens of times.”

“I must see Drake.”

“I will remind him.” Her feet were leaden as she trudged across the floor. Before she shut the door, she glanced back at the bed. Harmon’s eyes were closed, and his chest heaved with each breath he fought to take. Stacked on the nightstand were his beloved books. He never tired of listening to Byron, Blake, and other poets and authors.

Tears pricked her eyes. How many more times would she enjoy reading to him?

Voices from the foyer caught her attention, and she glanced down the stairwell.

Harold Drake, the fifth Viscount Drake, his tall lithe form meticulously dressed in black, stood at the entrance. Simmons took his coat and pointed toward the stairs. Lord Drake acknowledged each servant by name. He had been an esteemed guest at Westbourne for years. She’d never known a time when he didn’t visit once a month. Not even two years ago, after his wife’s death.

She glanced toward Harmon’s door. What did he want to discuss with Lord Drake?

“Lady Easton?” Lord Drake had already climbed the steps. “How is he? Simmons practically pushed me up the stairs.”

A lump lodged in her throat. If she looked into his eyes and saw sympathy, she would not be able to stop her tears. Not meeting his gaze, she motioned to the door with her arm.

He gingerly slipped her hand through the crook of his arm and laid it on his coat sleeve—still cold from the freezing weather. Together they made their way to Harmon’s room. After a quick knock, Lord Drake towed her over the threshold. “Look what I found in the hallway.”

Harmon cracked his eyes open. “You have a treasure there, my boy.”

Lord Drake squeezed her arm and released her before he approached the bed. “We are due for a ride, Harmon. Shall I have Endicott saddled?”

Harmon’s eyes flashed with longing. “I am want for a ride.”

“It’s good to see you, my friend.”

“At least I’m alive.” Harmon coughed.

The men usually exchanged many quips during their visits, but today Harmon cut their banter short. “I’m glad you’re here, Drake. We need to speak.”

She started for the door.

“Emma, please stay,” Harmon said.

A shiver raced through her. He’d said please again. “As you wish.” She moved to the opposite side of the bed from Lord Drake and sat in an armchair.

Harmon reached out a trembling hand, and she leaned over the huge mattress to clasp it.

He inhaled a shallow breath. “Drake, the day your father saved my life, he and I became brothers. You are like a son to me. That is why I want to grace you with my most prized possession.” He grabbed Lord Drake’s hand and placed it over hers. “Emma will make you a good wife.”

Lord Drake’s stunned gaze collided with hers.

A heated flush spread through her body. She glared at her husband. “Bloody hell. This is what you had to speak to him about?”

Please visit my website here. And look for a free Prologue to Second Chances titled Emma’s Chance on my website, B&N, or SW.

Second Chances can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

Thanks again, Ciara!