Saturday, July 27, 2013 - Monthly non-fiction column by Theresa Snyder

We 3: The Road Trip 
Dad notices a mural on a building we're passing: "Look at that pretty mural."

Mom: "What pretty girl? Are you ogling the girls again?"

Mom to Dad: "Well, that makes everything copasetic."

Dad: "I didn't think it was so pathetic."

Have you ever been in a car with two parents that are hard of hearing on  the way to visit your brother who's hard of hearing and stopped along the way to visit a friend who's also hard of hearing? We haven't either, but Theresa Snyder has.  Read about her road trip here.

Character is Everything

I have made a new friend in Italy, Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli. She is a fellow author, translator and scientist. I hope you will check out her blog and read the article she asked me to contribute to her site.

Carla is also available on Twitter at

Loyal Young Damnling

A short story of desire -


I cling to the shadows of the alley. I try so hard to move silently as I creep toward the children. They have what I so deeply desire. Their presence tugs on me like the chains Master often uses when I disobey him. Master tells me I am an appalling Damnling, but I am still young.

My foot hits a can in the alley causing it to careen loudly to the center. I plaster myself against the wall of the house and curse beneath my breath. I can feel the Master’s chains tighten. He always tells me I am too noisy. I must be quieter.

The children are all huddled close together, some bent low over the things they study. This is one of their night's of celebration. I have seen it before. Now, I am only startled when it booms and lights rain in twinkling stars overhead. It used to scare me when I was much younger. Master would growl and throw me out of the mansion to grovel pitifully beneath the bushes in the garden. “You must be brave!” he would demand. “Your cringing appalls me.” “Out of my sight!” His boot is heavy. It hurts.

I am braver now. I am almost to the children. I linger in the safety of the shadows waiting for my opportunity to take what I need. What I desire. What I long for so deeply I shiver at the thought.

It grows late. The explosions and lights overhead begin to slow. I crouch silently waiting for the right moment to lunge. The children start to dissipate. The time to move is approaching. I quiver in excitement. Soon…Soon…

The last two children linger picking up items from the ground. A growl uncontrollably escapes my lips. Master would be so angry if he heard it. I would be severely punished. The children’s heads snap up and they peer into the darkness of the alley, but they do not see. I intently stare at them, as Master does me, in a desire to make them do as I wish. It works and they flee with wild giggles, pushing and shoving one another.

I am left alone. I creep forward into the open darkness. Master would be so displeased. He would be so angry, but I can’t help it. I am only a young Damnling. Loyal, but very young. I reach down and grab the handful of exhausted sparklers the children dropped and shove them into my mouth with glee. They are like candy, sweet as I crunch them nosily - much better than any human blood.

Master doesn’t understand. I don’t think Master was ever young.

Star Traveler Series

Back in the early 1990s when I first submitted my Scifi books to publishers and agents I was pleased they took the time to write a letter telling me how much they enjoyed my work. However, every time they would close their correspondence with the statement that they either thought the books were young adult and they only dealt with adult, or they thought they were adult and they only represented young adult. In short, they didn't know how to categorize a scifi novel with a main character team made up of a 40 year old and an 18 year old that could be enjoyed by readers from 13 to 70 years old.

I grew up loving 'buddy' books and films. The close friendship that is like the brother you never had, the father you longed for and the best friend who knows you like a sneeze knows a sleeve. That's what I wanted to write. The guy that would sacrifice himself to protect his friend. The one who would never think of leaving his buddy behind unless it was in order to save him.

The Star Traveler Series has grown since the inception, as all series do. With Vol. 2 & 3 the women of this imagined future began to show how strong they were. By Vol. 6 the cast of characters in the series had grown to 78. Now I could go anywhere, do anything - Follow a Walhmite back to his home world where it rains incessantly and they live almost on a medieval level; Battle the Nanon who use Tuldavian Swamp Lizard as partners who burrow under the mud to set their traps for the unwary; or Mine galnon crystals on a planet where the temperature never dips below 120 degrees.

Come with me as I explore the worlds of the Star Travelers. Leave a note for your loved one, strap on your blaster and put on your breather. We're off to discover new worlds and meet a multitude of diverse beings while traveling with characters you will want to visit with again and again.

Endless Tweaking

I read something recently that was forwarded to me via a ‘Tweet.’ The link was to ‘Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling.’ Rule #8 hit me like a blaster between the eyes.

#8: Finish your story, let go even if it's not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.

Recently I posted my first novel “The Helavite War” on Kindle. This volume was originally written in 1990. I have never had a child, but I imagine I was as proud of this volume as a first-time mother. I labored over it. I endeavored to proof it and fine tune it. In 1991 I wrote the second volume of the Star Traveler Series, “The Heirs of Henu.” By the time I was halfway through that book, I knew I was going to write a trilogy. I finished the third volume “Old Friends/New Enemies” in 1992.

But I kept going back to the first volume - endlessly tweaking it.

I felt I found my writer’s voice by the third volume. I wanted to improve the first book. I did an extensive rewrite. I changed long passages of prose to dialogue because by now my characters had found their voices.

A reader told me if I thought I found my voice in volume three then I learned to sing in volume four. I was encouraged. I wanted to take the characters I had grown to love further. So between 1990 and 1995 I wrote a volume a year resulting in six books of the Star Traveler Series.

And then I deserted it. My mind was brimming with more ideas for the series. More volumes were planned (outlined in a drawer), but I still believed I could rewrite the first novel and make it better, stronger, cleaner.

So the series sat untouched for seventeen years on my shelf. The soft copy moved from computer to computer through an endless number of software upgrades. Meanwhile, I wrote five middle-school fantasies. I wrote a bi-weekly, non-fiction column for four years for the local newspaper. I created and wrote my story blog with two posts a week.

February 2012, I started the seventh volume of the Star Traveler Series and after 68 pages I was back at the first volume tweaking again. I was obsessing even after a layoff of over seventeen years. I needed to move on or I would never get another volume of the series completed.

So, I threw up my hands. I decided I was finished fiddling with volume one. I let go. It’s not perfect, but I hope you will find the characters compelling enough to come back and visit them again as I post the succeeding five volumes of the series to Kindle.

I let go and moved on. The completion of Volume Seven is the result. Hopefully, I did better this time.

Support Your Followers

I have only been on Twitter for 3 months, but I have seen all the types of pleas by authors to read their books - some almost desperate.

I want to get the word out about my books too, but I want to help other authors as well. I was told by a Kindle reading friend that she does not read anything with less than 5 reviews.

So here is what I am going to do. These past 3 months I have read 30 of my followers books. I reviewed them. I tweeted about them. I encouraged and gave feedback. I was told by Amazon that no less than nine of my reviews led to sales for the authors I read.

I am going to read at least a book a month from one of my follower. I am going to follow that up with tweets, a review on Amazon and Facebook time. Maybe throw in some Goodreads reviews and a review here as well.

I'm thinking that we are all writers and if we each picked one of our followers to buy from, encourage and review we would make the reading/writing world a better place.

I know you all must do this already.
Join the revolution.
Let's organize and make it happen for all of us.