Monday, April 1, 2013

Blue Hearts of Mars Book Tour: Guest Post

Blue Hearts of Mars by Nicole Grotepas

Retta Heikkinen knows the unspoken rule of society: love between androids and humans is forbidden. A simple enough edict until Hemingway Koskinen spends an evening charming her with his intense gaze, bewitching smile, and sparkling conversation that hints at so much more than the usual obsessions of high school boys. Rules were meant to be cast aside, especially when love beckons.

If only it were as simple as being in love.

Trouble is brewing, not just for Hemingway--for all androids. Secrets have been kept, lies propagated, and Retta soon discovers that a frightening future awaits thousands of androids if she doesn’t do something to stop it. Worse yet, she will lose the one love she’s ever endangered herself for: Hemingway.

Book praise: 

"I love how the author populated Mars . . . so descriptive and comprehensive . . . I could clearly picture everything as if I was seeing the movie &/or was along for the ride. . . . Retta, the main character, is strong, opinionated, and a great champion for her cause." Amazon reviewer

"The main character, Retta, has a wry, funny sense of humor and is very entertaining. . . . I thoroughly enjoyed the images that the descriptions of the cities, the landscapes, moons, trains and other vehicles brought to life for me, they seemed so real to me that I could really visualize them. The book was hard for me to put down so much of the time, and I was sad when I knew it was ending." Goodreads Reviewer
Author Nicole Grotepas

Author Bio:
Nicole wrote her first fantasy novel in 7th grade on her mother's old Brother typewriter. It was never finished but it strongly resembled a Dragonlance plot and she's forever wondered what happened to the manuscript and Tonathan--the handsome elven protagonist. After living in Nashville where she worked as an editor, she returned to the Utah desert where she was raised. Nicole now lives near the Wasatch mountains with her husband. She writes and raises her son and three cats full time.


Every writer has a process that helps facilitate the act of writing and creating. This could be reading, daydreaming, watching TV to learn how to write dialogue or to figure out how a story arc works, and a number of other things. I thought it would be helpful to illustrate my process in a list (I love lists).

1. Write every day. It's like physical exercise—if I don't do it daily, I'll just stop altogether, because there's always a reason to not exercise (too tired; didn't get enough sleep last night; feeling bloated; coming down with something; something else came up; my cat looked at me funny; Ellen is on). Likewise there's always a reason to skip a writing session, so I don't give myself room to skip and then it's easier to never skip.  

2. Schedule the sessions. It's important to always have in mind when I will write so that I can mentally prepare. This should be a time when I know that interruptions will be less likely to happen, because for me interruptions inhibit the stream of creativity. And so I schedule writing sessions during my son's naptime. Oh sure, yeah, it's tempting to sit down and catch an episode of Dr. Who on Netflix instead. Or take my own nap. Or read someone else's book. And you can't blame me, because none of this stuff can actually be bad for me. Right? See number three for what I really mean about this.  

3. Keep my mind fresh with writing ideas. I'm obsessed with ideas, and I don't really see how a writer can't be, because a writer needs fodder. Delicious, scrumptious fodder. And that can come from Dr. Who episodes, other books, dreams (naps), conversations, or just driving while suffering from highway hypnosis and listening to music. This goes back to a common question I get as a writer: what inspired my books? Everything. I never know when something I learned once will come in handy. Ideas converge in my head and when I go looking for an answer for some problem that comes up in a story, there it is. The solution. In my own head. Waiting for me to find it. However, I have to write to make use of these ideas (see 1, and also see why I can't always give into what I mention in 2).

4. Create goals. The writing software Scrivener makes it easy to create word count goals and make deadlines—I put in a self-imposed deadline and Scrivener lets me choose what days I write and presto! It calculates daily word goals. It's like beautiful magic. Before Scrivener added this feature, I wrote my goals down in a planner along with other lists (did I mention that I love lists? I also really love crossing out tasks I complete). Three thousand words a day or whatever worked best for me. To start, I made my writing goals small, like 500 words a day. On the days that I get to two or three thousand, I'm pretty excited and I celebrate—with an episode of Dr. Who. Or a bubble bath. Or . . . well, really I don't celebrate. I tend to make my goals even steeper after that. I have a disease. It's called one-uppery. I compete against myself, even, that's how bad it is. I've never been a big goal-setter, but with writing, if I want to get anything done, I have to be. Otherwise the story tends to languish.

5. Mapping. Another thing I tend to do is I map out some aspects of my story. But I'm a mixed bag on this, because sometimes I have a story in mind before I start. Other books that I've written, such a Blue Hearts of Mars, come out of nowhere and I see where it takes me. I flesh the idea out as I go and do research parallel to my creative process.

6. Remain flexible. But I do that while sticking to my guns where it counts. Every writer is different and if other writers are like me, they have to be ready to roll with the punches. I do what I have to do to finish a project, even if that means putting a project aside for a time while I work on something else. Then I pick it back up later and finish it. Sometimes a novella or a short story is begging for attention. Do I give it attention and then resume my novel later? In today's rapidly changing market, authors need to be as flexible as a gymnast. As long as I keep working, I'm satisfied and happy with my achievements. 

Thanks, Nicole, for an awesome post. I always love to read about the writing process of other authors. And I LOVE lists!

Be sure to check out Blue Hearts of Mars.

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