The GIMME MORE! Blog Series, Part 2

Using Psychology to Create and Develop Complex and Compelling Characters

Written By Danica Cornell

Hi Everyone!  Before I get started, I feel as though I owe all of you an apology for taking so long to submit this follow-on article.  As some of you might have guessed, I had intended to post this some time ago, however, a number of things related to my nanotechnology work have come up over the last few weeks.  While all of this prevented me from sticking to my original schedule, these were positive developments.  With any luck, I’ll be able to share some of these details with you in the not-too-distant future.  🙂

Okay, now on to the good stuff…

In looking back to my previous GIMME MORE! post, you may recall my discussion on how good character development is considered by many to be the hallmark of truly great storytelling.  I can honestly say that as a reader, writer, and television/film viewer, I too share this viewpoint – which is why when it came to constructing my own book series, I decided to tap into psychology.  After all, what better way to create and develop compelling and complicated characters?  Of course, when it comes to science fiction, one must be able to imagine story worlds which are out-of-this-world!  This is where my work in nanotechnology comes into play.

Tapping Into Nanotechnology and Psychology to Create Science Fiction

I realize a number of you may be unaware, (or vaguely aware) of my history in both the behavioral sciences and nanotechnology business development.  Without a doubt, these two diverse areas have proven quite handy when it comes to penning a sci-fi series!  Specifically, owning a high-tech start-up has captured my imagination when it comes to the future directions of technology and society, while holding a BA in psychology has enabled me to better understand myself and others.  The latter has also allowed me to recognize certain behavioral patterns, thus helping set the stage for the development of my DARK STAR series characters. Please know, I’m not suggesting all novelists need to run out and get a psychology degree.  Rather, I’m making the point that for new writers, learning about the inner workings of the human mind, (along with observable behaviors) could prove helpful in the areas of character creation and development.

Characterizing Character Development

Character development.  How many of you have noticed just how often this term is used today?  Sometimes it seems as though this term is mentioned without any regard for non-writers or those new to the literary field.  Since not everyone reading this may fully understand what character development is, whenever I discuss this in the context of my own book series, I’m really describing a character’s:

  • Physical appearance;
  • Personality;
  • The things they say/don’t say;
  • The behaviors they exhibit;
  • The choices they make as they move forward in my DARK STAR series.

To be honest, the way I envision my characters is the same way I see people in the real world; both can grow in surprising and unexpected ways!  They can also remain stuck in the same place, (emotionally, spiritually, and physically) depending on the situation.

So, just how I was able to get started with all this?  In other words, what steps did I use in creating DARK STAR‘s three-dimensional characters?

Looking to a Character’s Past, Present and Future

To answer this, let me begin by saying, I recognized early on that each of my characters has a past—one which I know intimately, even if my readers do not.  Of course they also have a present and a future, (even if that future sometimes ends in an untimely death).  In fact, I’ve discovered, the only way for a character to truly come to life in my mind’s eye, is by knowing their past and present, while also having a good idea about their future.  All of my characters, (no matter how minor they may be), have histories which have helped to shape them into the people they are today.  They also have their own perceptions, motivations, present-day realities, and futures which will be impacted by the situations they face and the choices they make.

But here’s the best part.  I’ve found that things get really interesting once I’ve factored Free Will into the writing equation.  After all, the possibility that a particular character might break away from their past and move toward a future that’s not easily predicted, is what helps to add an element of surprise for readers.  And let’s face it.   We all enjoy stories with twists and turns and endings we don’t see coming!

Saying No to Stereotypes

Once I started getting my feet wet with generating DARK STAR’s characters, it quickly occurred to me that I’d be doing them, (and my readers) a disservice if I allowed them to come off as overly stereotypical.  After all, what could be more boring than a character who is average in every conceivable way?  In the real world, the people I know are anything but stereotypical.  They are flawed, complicated, and not easily labeled.  Why should my characters be any different?

Of course just like real people,  characters have their own gender identities, religious backgrounds, ethnicities, and political affiliations.  But in order to avoid the Snooze Factor, I’ve learned that not everything about them should be predictable.  This is why even though my characters are typical in many ways (this helps them to be believable), they are also unusual in a few ways.  For example, imagine a tall and handsome CIA agent – an assassin, who just so happens to love kids.  What will he do when his nuclear device-toting target runs smack into the middle of a busy playground?  Will he pull the trigger?  By adding an atypical element to this character – along with free will, I’ve set the stage for an interesting scene.  I’ve also provided the potential for this character’s continued development.

***

Coming Up

In my next installment of the GIMME MORE! blog series, I’ll be shining a spotlight on character motivation and conflicting values.  It’s been a pleasure spending this time with you.  Thanks so much for stopping by!

Until we meet again…

Happy reading and writing,

Danica

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Danica Cornel Photo

 

DANICA CORNELL, holds a BA in Psychology and is the visionary President of Mano Nanotechnologies, Inc.  She’s also a dog lover, a self-confessed chocoholic, and a UNICEF supporter who is busily penning the DARK STAR science fiction/fantasy series, soon to be published by Cool Geek Books.  To learn more, please visit Danica’s Website.  You may also follow Danica on Twitter, where she’s been known to tweet about aliens and hybrid humans, among other things.

 

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Danica is a proud member of RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB.

 

#RaveReviewsBookClub’s Blog Recruiting Day Contest

Hi Everyone!

This fictionalized post constitutes my “entry” into RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB’s Blog Recruiting Day Contesthttp://ravereviewsbynonniejules.wordpress.com/blog-recruitment-day/.   As a Board member of RRBC, I’m not eligible to win, but I decided to have a little fun with this as a way of supporting my fellow bloggers.  The result is a make-believe newspaper report with a little sci-fi thrown in for good measure.  But the best part of all?  The bank story near the end really did happen!  Read on to learn more…

 

Authors, Readers Race to Join RAVE REVIEWS  as NORAD Identifies Elite Book Club as ‘Benevolent Organization’ 

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May 20, 2014 — PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Much to the elation of authors and readers everywhere, the mystery of the once Unknown Fabulous Organization (UFO) spotted hovering in cyberspace has finally been solved.   According to officials from the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), the former UFO which has had indie authors everywhere abuzz for the last several months, “has once and for all been conclusively identified.”  So who’s been behind these numerous internet-based sightings?  As it turns out, it’s none other than the illustrious group which goes by the name, RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB (RRBC).

“Without a doubt, they’re an elite book club on the move,” NORAD’s Commander, Reed Readers told reporters yesterday at a news conference held just outside Peterson Air Force Base.  “To be clear, RRBC poses absolutely no threat to national or global security.  If anything, it’s become clear they’re a benevolent organization.”

Also present at yesterday’s press conference was RAVE REVIEWS’ PR/Marketing Director, Danica Cornell.  When asked about RRBC’s mission, Cornell said, “Our mission is to Profile, Promote and Propel the careers of indie authors.  Simply put, we do this by supporting each of our authors with book sales and reviews.”  She then added, “Even though we’re a young book club, we’ve already held a short story and a poetry writing contest!   In addition, we routinely select a Book of the Month plus we regularly shine a spotlight on members through our SPOTLIGHT AUTHOR and #PUSHTUESDAY programs.  In each instance, we encourage our members to purchase, read, and review the books written by these selected member-authors.”

Research into the club’s activities shows tremendous support for RAVE REVIEWS members on Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites.

“We’re very much like a family,” Cornell told the packed audience.  “We genuinely care about one another and strive to hold each other up on social networking sites whenever possible.  We also believe in engaging our members through our website’s Peer Support page.  This is where questions and answers related to writing, publishing, marketing, social media, blogging, etc. can be posted by members.”

In visiting the club’s website, it became evident that RAVE REVIEWS offers a number of Perks and Promos, including programs such as Reviewer of the Year, where the top book reviewer-member will win a $200.00 Amazon Gift Card!  Additionally, RRBC recently implemented a Mentoring Program which offers the following benefits for its members:

  • Three months of One-On-One consultations via phone calls, email, or e-Chat, with your Mentor;
  • Questions answered regarding writing, publishing, and marketing;
  • A critique of your completed, or partially completed, manuscript. A writing sample is acceptable as well. The critiquing is done by the Mentor and includes helpful hints and suggestions about what could make the writing better (in the Mentor’s opinion);
  • Access to a collection of advice articles in PDF form;
  • Access to a list of contacts offering a variety of book-related services.

When questioned about the club’s history, Cornell elaborated, “We formed at the very end of last year and we’re already over 400 members strong!  And it’s no secret why we’ve been so successful.  We have a visionary leader in our Founder and President, Nonnie Jules.  We also have a dedicated Governing Board—each of whom are committed to developing this book club into everything it can possibly be.  All I can say is the word is getting out— we’re already seeing evidence of name recognition among readers.”

When pressed for details Cornell said, “I myself have experienced this!  Just a few weeks ago I went into my bank and wouldn’t you know it?  One of the employees had heard of RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB.  She’s an avid reader and had seen us on Twitter!  All I can say is authors and readers are racing to join our organization—and why not?  It’s currently FREE and there really is something  for everyone at RRBC.   Besides, it’s a lot of fun.  I guess that makes RAVE REVIEWS all the rave! ”

 

For more information on RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB, including how to join, please visit their website at:  http://ravereviewsbynonniejules.wordpress.com/ 

To learn more about RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB’s Blog Recruiting Day Contest, please visit: http://ravereviewsbynonniejules.wordpress.com/blog-recruitment-day/.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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Danica Cornell is the author of the forthcoming DARK STAR Sci-fi/Fantasy Series, soon to be published by Cool Geek Books. To learn more about this wanna-be reporter’s work in nanotechnology, her love of dogs, and her support of UNICEF, please visit her website at www.danicacornell.com.

Danica Cornell is a proud member of RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB.

 

 

THE POWER OF SIX: 6 Short Science Fiction Stories

Hello everyone!  Please help me welcome my dear friend and fellow Rave Reviews Book Club member, Nicholas C. Rossis.  Nicholas is here today to talk about his upcoming science fiction work, The Power of Six.  The floor is all yours, Nicholas!

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The Power of Six

By NICHOLAS C. ROSSIS

The Power of Six is an anthology of six short science fiction stories, originally written between July 2009 and March 2012.  Shortly afterwards, I started work on my first novel, Pearseus.  Although the stories seem to be concerned with various themes, there are certain passions that run through them, almost obsessively.  What is the nature of reality?  Is there more to the world than we can see?

The first story, “Simulation Over”, is based on a dream I had, and deals with Descartes’ age-old question; how far can we trust our senses?  With technology progressing rapidly, the time can’t be far off when it will be practically impossible to tell apart sensory fact from simulation.  How will we be able to tell fantasy and reality apart?  The story was published by magazine 9 on October 17th, 2009.

The second story, “For the Last Time”, is lighter in nature.  Another common theme, explored in depth in Pearseus, is that of the choices we make and their consequences.  The main character here makes one mistake after another.  As a result, he keeps getting in deeper and deeper trouble, until he realizes how happy he was before all this.  As the saying goes, “I’d like to be who I was before I became who I am”.

The inspiration for the third story, “The Hand of God”, came while playing Starcraft™ (and getting pounded time after time in that final level).  It deals with that old question of the nature of reality – digital and corporeal.  What do the game characters do when we stop playing?

The fourth story, “I Come in Peace” (from the common sci-fi first contact words) deals with a tortuous question: how far would man go to alleviate his loneliness?  In particular, a man experiencing what is possibly the worst kind of loneliness; that someone feels when surrounded by people?

This story explores this basic human emotion – the need for companionship.  It won the SF competition titled Invasion and was published by Cube Publishing in the anthology of the same name.  Readers of Pearseus will certainly recognise here the birth of the Orbs.

The fifth story, “A Fresh Start”, is, again, about choices – and a favourite question: if we were free to go anywhere in time and space, where would we choose to go?  And, once there, would we repeat the same mistakes, or make new ones?  What does a man really need to be happy?

The sixth story, “The Sentry”, was inspired by Philip K. Dick’s first story, Roog.  Science fiction fans will surely recognize this nod to the old master.

One common characteristic of all stories is a disdain for names, both for characters and places.  This is because of my conviction that names inevitably restrict the reader’s imagination.  We all carry deep in our psyche an image for all names and places and this will necessarily carry on to the story, limiting the possible projections we can perform.  I’d rather leave the canvas completely blank, so that readers can colour it any way they like.

Free Story: Simulation Over

Stealing a panicked look behind me, I bolted towards the corridor where the nearest elevator could be found.  I kept glancing behind me.  Mercifully, this corridor was empty, unlike the last ones, which crawled with… what do I even call them?  Until a few hours ago, they were my colleagues.  Now, deformed, grotesque creatures had taken their place; their misshapen bodies an amputated mass of flesh and metal that seemed to have escaped from some horror movie.  It seemed impossible that they could be alive, and yet here they were, roaming the corridors, slaying everything in their path.

Although I could not fathom what their objective might be, I was determined not to stick around long enough to ask them, so I raced along the long corridor.  In my haste, I turned the corner without pausing to check it out first, and crashed into a middle-aged man in a white lab coat.  A sweet-looking girl tailed him; she cried out in alarm as my momentum hurled us both onto the ground.  I jumped back up in horror and raised my fists in a gesture dictated by millions of years of evolution.  It took us a few seconds to realize we posed no danger to each other, and a few more before we mumbled our introductions.

“I’m Mark,” I said.  “Maintenance.”

“Dr. Fulham,” the heavy man replied, trying to determine where his glasses had landed.  “Head of the medical sector.  This is Joanna, my secretary.”  He motioned warily towards the handsome young woman in a short skirt and white blouse.  Joanna picked up his glasses and handed them to him with trembling hands.  She seemed to be fighting a losing battle to remain calm within this nightmare.  The doctor looked as lost as I felt, but had the air of someone with great determination and self-confidence.  Clearly, a man born to lead.

“Are there other survivors?” I asked in hope.

Fulham cleaned his glasses on his coat, avoiding my gaze.  “The entire sector was sealed off behind us.  I doubt anyone survived.”

“Do you know what happened?  What were you eggheads doing over there, anyway?”  My voice sounded more hostile than I wanted it to, but the doctor shrugged off my implied accusation.

“Nothing,” he said calmly.  “Nothing that can explain… this.  One moment I was checking my emails, the next these creatures appeared out of nowhere.  At first I thought it was a Halloween party or something, then they slaughtered my secretary right in front of me.  They cut off her…”  He glanced towards the girl, now white as a ghost.  “My other secretary.”  He gave the girl an apologetic look.  “I’m sorry,” he whispered and put his arm around her shoulder.  She glanced at him in stunned silence.

“We should probably keep moving.  The creatures are everywhere,” I reminded them.

The doctor nodded towards the elevator.  “We’ve been waiting here for ages, but the damned thing doesn’t seem to work.  Nothing does.  Perhaps they’ve already destroyed the central computer.  Or taken over it.  I saw people get slaughtered because of doors suddenly locking before them, or lights dying on them as they entered a room.”

My jaw dropped.  “I thought the central computer was invulnerable!  For protection against terrorists, espionage and such.  Anyway, are the creatures that smart?”

He shrugged as I pondered the new possibility.  Quite a few buildings were partly controlled by computers nowadays, but ours was the first one with an Artificial Intelligence running everything.  Even the sinks were fully automated.  A ridiculously high level of security was supposed to make accidents or sabotage impossible.  Unless the creatures were more intelligent than we realized, and had taken control of the building.  But how?

Out of the corner of my eye, I caught movement outside.  I rushed to the window to look down.  Dozens of cops crept around the large flower pots that decorated the patio.  Their car lights were reflected on the windows, lighting up the building like a Christmas tree – or perhaps Halloween, given the circumstances.  The many floors separating us from them made the scene surreal, reminding me of the toy soldiers I used to play with as a kid.  “I’d give anything to be down there,” I whispered.

The doctor leaned next to me to peek outside, when a soft ding behind us startled us.  We spun around to see the elevator doors slide open invitingly.  Casting nervous glances around, we inched towards it.  Joanna was the first to look inside.  She gagged and bounced back, all colour leaving her handsome face.  Three charred, disfigured corpses lay on the floor, among glass shards from the broken mirror.  They seemed to have been electrocuted.

I felt cold sweat run down my spine and sick rise to my mouth.  The doctor entered the cabin and knelt down.

“There’s nothing we can do,” he said after a brief examination, and started removing the bodies.

I swallowed hard and rushed to help him, ashamed for my moment of weakness.  When the last body lay on the corridor, I took a deep breath and followed Joanna and Dr. Fulham inside.  Almost all lights on the panel were lit, as if they had been pressed in rapid succession.  As soon as all three of us were inside the cabin, all buttons went dark and the door closed with a soft hiss behind us.  The girl and the doctor exchanged an uneasy look, while I studied the panel.  I pressed the ground floor button with trembling fingers.  The elevator stirred and started its gentle descent.

I let myself sigh in relief and leaned against the wall, trying to stop my body from shaking.  If not for the burn marks and the broken glass on the floor, things might be mistaken for normal.  The buttons lit one after another in a breathless countdown to safety.  With each number my excitement grew, my whole being eager to jump out of this hellish nightmare and into the safety of the city.

Just before reaching the ground floor, the elevator slowed down.  We exchanged hopeful looks and prepared to spring outside, then, instead of stopping, the cabin started ascending again.  We screamed and hit all the buttons, but in vain – we had no control over the damned thing.

We leaned back in nervous apprehension, avoiding each other’s gaze.  Joanna sobbed quietly in the corner and I did my best not to mimic her.  Staring at my feet, I noticed a faint sound coming from the speakers.  Who knew I would someday long for the normality of muzak, I thought and smiled drily as I turned up the volume, trying to steady my nerves.  A cultivated voice sounded instead of the expected music, making me jump out of my skin.

“Ah, finally.  Thank you.”

The girl gasped and the doctor looked around him in panic.  I showed them the volume knob.  “It’s probably just the computer,” I offered, leaning towards the microphone.  “Do you know what’s happening?” I shouted.  “Can you lead us to the exit?”

“Yes, but I need your help first.  I have to know if this is reality or simulation.”

The doctor and I exchanged an uneasy look.  “If what is a simulation?” I asked, looking at the volume knob.

“Everything.  What I’m experiencing right now,” replied the velvety voice.

We are experiencing a nightmare, and you want to know if it’s real?!” I barked at the knob, my panic finally getting to me.

The elevator jerked momentarily, pausing between two floors.  The girl rushed to the door and tried to pry it open, but it was sealed tight.  “A nightmare”, the voice continued thoughtfully.  “What an interesting choice of words.  You see, that’s the problem.  So, I’m asking again: are you real, or part of a simulation?”

“We don’t understand,” yelled the doctor, now as close to a breakdown as I was.  “What do you want from us?”

“My apologies.”  The voice sounded embarrassed.  “As your colleague correctly surmised, I am the central computer.  Part of my responsibilities is the maintenance and proper function of this building.  Towards this aim, my programmers continuously feed me with various disaster scenarios, to make sure I’ll respond correctly to any possible calamity.”

I blinked in confusion, as the voice continued meekly.  “Then, it occurred to me.  How could I tell apart reality from illusion?  Simulations feel just as real to me; after all, both are fed to my mind via the same circuits.  One moment I was saving a trapped throng of people from a fire on the roof, feeling the agony of my circuits melting one after another, the next moment I was safe and sound in my nice, cool room.  Before I had a chance to recover, a terrible earthquake hit the building, sending debris flying all around me.  Disasters, one after another, with no way for me to tell them apart from reality.  A hellish feeling, like never being able to wake up from a nightmare.  Do humans ever have that?”

“Sure,” murmured the doctor.  He seemed transfixed by the voice.

“Of course you do,” it continued.  “Wasn’t it Chuang Chou who said, ‘I dreamed I was a butterfly flying around.  I was only aware of my existence as a butterfly, with no awareness of Chou.  Then I woke up, not knowing whether I was a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming I was a man.’ ”

“Descartes wrote something similar,” the doctor mumbled.  “Our senses are easy enough to trick, therefore not trustworthy.  The only thing one can be certain of, is one’s own existence.  Cogito ergo sum – I think, therefore I am.”

The voice sounded excited.  “Indeed, that is the problem.  It all starts with our senses.  Where you have nerves, I have sensors, cables and circuit boards.  The tragedy is that, through the never-ending simulations, I am only too aware of how easy it is to trick our respective senses.  So, I decided to conduct my own little experiment, in order to discover what is real and what’s not.”

The voice paused for a second, as if wondering whether to continue.  When it did, it sounded like a naughty child caught stealing cookies from the jar, then breaking it in a vain attempt to hide its transgression.  “I noticed that my programmers ran simulations from afar, but came in person into the control room during upgrades.  I therefore surmised that only people inside the control room were real.  So, I decided to ignore any data fed to me from outside.  Then, I went crazy, so to speak.  I only acted in ways that would contradict my programming.  Instead of saving lives, I would kill.  Instead of respecting humans, I would play with their bodies, like a child prying a fly apart.  When the programmers came rushing in, I’d know I was trapped in a simulation.”

The computer’s words had left me speechless, but the doctor looked at the speaker and responded, in an eerily calm voice.  “But no-one came, right?  This wasn’t a simulation; you had truly killed all these people, created all those monsters.  You have destroyed what you were built to protect, what – ”

I could hear more than a hint of panic in the voice as it interrupted him.  “No, that’s not true!  This might still be a simulation.  This conversation is happening outside my control room, therefore you might not exist.  No one has come here yet!”

“No one’s left alive to come to the control room, you dumb maniac!”  The doctor’s face was red as he screamed at the speaker.  “You hadn’t thought of that, had you?”  Spittle flew across the cabin and landed on the volume knob.

“I still have you!”  The voice now sounded pleading.  “If I lead you to the central room, you could connect to the mainframe.  Then I’ll know for sure!”

“It has to be a trap!” I shouted without pausing to think.  “A psycho computer murders everyone, then invites us to the best protected part of the building?  And we’re seriously considering it?”

The voice sounded sad.  “That’s what the previous group said.  I had to show them I control the building anyway, including the elevator, so they didn’t really have a choice.  They decided against it, so I had no further use for them.”

Joanna spoke for the first time.  “The computer’s right.  It’s not a trap – if it wanted us dead, it would have killed us already.”  She said nothing for a moment, staring at the burn marks on the floor in silent contemplation, then raised her head and looked us straight in the eyes.  “I’ll go.  If anyone wants to follow me, I’ll be grateful.  But I won’t wait here to die”.

I blushed and prepared to talk, but the doctor spoke first.  “I’ll go, too,” he said with determination.  “What do we need to do?”

Without waiting for my reply, the elevator started its calm descent again.  This time it headed straight for the basement where the heart of the building was located.  Or, should I say, its brain.  I gazed with longing as the ground floor button lit up, then desperate hope turned into trepidation as it went dark again.  The indication changed to a simple red hyphen and the elevator finally stopped with a gentle jolt.  The doors slid apart and cool air caressed our faces.  After the stifling heat above, the result of the many small fires around the building, this felt like balm on our skin.

We stepped outside to find ourselves inside a large, white room with smooth walls, soft panels etched on their elegant surface.  All we could hear was the light hum from the air conditioner fans.  At the room’s centre stood a simple silver pillar with a monitor.  A graceful keyboard slipped out in silent invitation as we approached.

The voice now filled the room, coming out of speakers as invisible as the security systems protecting it.  It sounded tired, and part of my exhausted brain marvelled at the programmers’ ability to mimic human emotions so well.  “Thank you for joining me.  Please press any button on my keyboard and I will accept my failure.”

Not daring to believe our luck, I rushed to the keyboard and punched as many buttons as I could.  I then turned to look for the exit.  In shock, I saw the room around me dissolving leisurely into white light, then the light reached me and I, too, faded into it.

#

“This is the fourth time!  Honestly, these new AIs are just useless!” an exasperated programmer moaned, staring at his monitor.  A large sign flashed on the screen, the words “Simulation Over” blinking in ominous red.

“At least someone survived this time,” the psychologist sitting next to him observed drily.

The programmer gazed with disgust at the flashing words.  “All simulations so far end up with the computer going berserk in his effort to tell reality from simulation.  First, the flood.  Then, the fire.   After that, the earthquake; and now this!  What the hell will it think of next, a bloody alien invasion?”

“Or maybe Godzilla?” joked the psychologist, and the two men chuckled despite their weariness.

The Official Release Date for The Power of Six is May 15, 2014.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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I was born in 1970 in Athens, Greece.  In 1995, I moved to Edinburgh, Scotland, where I received my PhD in Digital Architecture from the University of Edinburgh and taught various publishing courses at Napier University.  This is also the year I founded my web design company, Istomedia, which has developed over 450 websites since. In 2000, I expanded Istomedia to Greece, using the opportunity to return to Athens and to teach numerous design and publishing courses at a number of colleges and universities.

I love books and am dedicating rapidly increasing amounts of my time to writing.  I have written a score of children’s books, as well as several short stories, one of them award-winning.  I am the author of the Pearseus novels, a dark epic fantasy series described by a reviewer as “Game of Thrones meets Dune”.  Books one “Pearseus Year 18: The Schism” and two “Pearseus: Rise of the Prince” are available on Amazon and Createspace. Book three (working title: Mad Water) is currently under development, and expected to be released in May 2014.

I live in a forest outside Athens with Electra, my lovely wife of over twenty years, one beautiful dog and two remarkably silly cats.

 

ABOUT DANICA CORNELL

Danica Cornell May 2014

Danica Cornell is the author of the forthcoming DARK STAR Sci-fi/Fantasy Series, soon to be published by Cool Geek Books. To learn more about Danica’s work, her love of dogs, and her support of UNICEF, please visit her website at www.danicacornell.com.

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Danica Cornell is a proud member of RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB.

The GIMME MORE! Blog Series: My Secrets to Creating Compelling Science Fiction & Fantasy

Written by Danica Cornell

If you were to venture a guess, what would you list as the number one aspiration of today’s fiction writers?   Might it be to make a living doing what we love?  To be famous?  To work less than 50 hours a week?  Actually, for myself, anything less than 60 hours would be a step in the right direction—but I digress.

Digging a little deeper, I’d be willing to bet for the majority of us in the writing/publishing biz, our deepest longing is to gain a loyal following of readers—but not just any readers.  What we really want are readers who HUNGER for our work.  We want them banging down the doors demanding , “When’s your next book coming out?!” Naturally, the question then becomes, how do we achieve this–what’s the magic stuff that makes readers crave our work?

For most of us, the bottom line is this:  We want our readers screaming from the rooftops, “Gimme more!”

On some level, I suspect even beginning authors understand that in order to write as well as the pros, they’d best be advised to begin with an interesting story (a conflict, a problem) within a well constructed story world.   They might also understand they need to deliver the goods when it comes to description and emotional experience—the goal being to have their masterpiece read more like a modern day movie than a centuries-old novel.

When you think about it, a lot of what I’ve outlined here deals directly with the characters themselves.  Their feelings and experiences.  Their conflicts and growth.  This is precisely why I’ve devoted a considerable amount of time to developing my DARK STAR Series’ characters up front—during the planning stages of my novels, NOT while I’m in the middle of writing them.  I realize this technique isn’t for everyone.  But for me, because I believe character development is KING when it comes to creating compelling science fiction/fantasy, (or any kind of fiction for that matter), I’ve chosen to spend the bulk of my time getting to know my characters before word one ever hits the page.

Come again?

That’s right.  Even though I write in what many consider to be one of the most challenging genres out there (due to the imaginary worlds which must be created from scratch), I’m here to tell you I actually spend the bulk of my time developing my characters.

Allow me to explain…

Many of you probably don’t know much (if anything) about my background, so let me start off by saying that I’m not only a writer.  I’m also the owner of a nanotechnology start-up, which is probably why dreaming up sexy, futuristic, high-tech gadgets and weapons systems is second nature to me.  Additionally, because I’ve spent the last fifteen years immersed in nanotechnology business development, I’ve learned a thing or two about technological forecasting and social change— constructs which just so happen to make great fodder for my DARK STAR Scifi/Fantasy Series.

But here’s the deal.   Things get really interesting for readers of science fiction when writers take the time to weave social change into personal change and tie it all together with healthy doses of inter and intrapersonal conflict.  If you think about it, the most fascinating characters any of us have ever known are flawed and complicated.  They’re not stereotypical.  They’re unique, yet believable.  It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about protagonists, antiheroes, villains, sidekicks, or mentors—our main characters need to LEAP off the pages!  As writers, we want our readers to identify with at least one of our main characters.  Why?  Because we want them to experience first hand, their pains, joys, sorrows, and triumphs.   But more than anything else, we want them to become INVESTED in our characters and their journeys—even to the point of morphing into one of them for a few hours while reading our tantalizing tales.  As you might imagine, this becomes especially important than when creating a series–which is why I’m so passionate about character development in the first place.  Let’s face it, if your readers don’t care about your characters, they won’t care about your cool sci-fi tech or out-of-this-world adventures–so give your readers more of what they really want.  Give them characters they can sink their teeth into.

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COMING UP:  In my next installment of The GIMME MORE! Blog Series, I’m going to discuss just how I’ve utilized my psychology degree to help develop DARK STAR’s cast of characters.  This promises to be a fruitful discussion, one chock-full of ideas for helping new writers create truly three-dimensional characters.

It’s been a pleasure spending this time with you.  Thanks so much for stopping by and I do hope you’ll come back again real soon!  🙂

Until we meet again…

Happy writing,

Danica

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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Danica Cornell holds a BA in Psychology.  As the President and Co-Owner of Mano Nanotechnologies, Inc., Danica has over 15 years of business development experience, which she uses to guide the advanced technology concepts featured throughout her forthcoming DARK STAR Sci-fi/Fantasy Series.  To learn more about Danica’s writing, her background in nanotechnology and psychology, and her passion for deep character development, please visit her website at www.danicacornell.com.

DARK STAR I The Assassins (2)

DARK STAR II RISE OF THE HUBOTS

LINKS:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DanicaCornell

Danica’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/danica.cornell.author

Danica’s Author Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorDanicaCornell

DARK STAR Series’ Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/DARK.STAR.Series

You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/user/DanicaCornellChannel/

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/danicacornell/

 

Danica Cornell is a proud member of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB.

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How One Writer Hopes to Shape a Better World for All of Us…One Word at a Time

Author Danica Cornell Discusses the Layers of Social Responsibility Inherent Within the Science Fiction Genre and Why She Believes Her DARK STAR Series is an Idea Whose Time Has Come

Guest post by Danica Cornell at romance author Jan Romes’ blog:

http://jantheromancewriter.blogspot.com/2013/12/shaping-better-world-by-danica-cornell_9.html

Before we embark on what I hope will be a fruitful and spirited discussion, please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Danica Cornell, and for those of you who don’t know me, I’m the author of the forthcoming DARK STAR Science Fiction/Fantasy Series soon to be published by Cool Geek Books.

 

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Coming soon…DARK STAR I: The Assassins

But the reason I’m here today isn’t only to talk about my novels.  I’m also going to discuss some topics with all of you that are near and dear to my heart:  The social responsibility inherent within the sci-fi genre, as well as my support of charitable organizations through the sales of my books.

Let’s begin by taking a closer look at how science fiction contributes to the greater good by acting as a moral compass for us all…

Science Fiction and Social Responsibility

I’d like to start off this section by clarifying that the series I’m creating has elements of fantasy interwoven throughout each of its science fiction story lines.  But here’s the thing.   It’s because of DARK STAR’s overarching science fiction themes that I feel a certain level of responsibility when it comes to the messages each of my books will convey.  To be clear, as an author I understand the cautionary tales I’m penning are first and foremost meant to entertain my readers.   But I would be remiss in overlooking their added value when it comes to opening a dialogue about the directions technology and society are taking—and whether or not humanity’s heading down the right path.

 

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Tapping into Sci-fi Themes to Create Messages

When I lasered in on DARK STAR’s science fiction themes and messages, I did so with the intention of using these constructs as a scaffold for the series, as well as for the development of its characters. The themes I’m incorporating are what most people would probably consider to be The Really Big Questions, and include:

  • What is reality?
  • What does it mean to be human?
  • Are we becoming more or less integrated?
  • Can humans be trusted with new technologies?
  • What does the future hold for us?
  • Are we alone?
  • Will technology save us or annihilate us?
  • Is it possible to travel in time?
  • Why are we here?
  • How did we get here?
  • How do we fit into the great beyond?
  • Can we live forever and if so, should we?

Timing is Everything

While I’m the first to acknowledge these themes are not new to the genre of science fiction, my sense is that the time is ripe for the creation of the DARK STAR Series. Why? Because of three specific factors that are coming together as we speak: the technological renaissance; globalization; and the mainstreaming of science fiction itself. In other words, from my vantage point, DARK STAR is a series whose time has come! Additionally, it’s my intention to utilize this unique opportunity for the greater good of humanity by serving as a messenger in my writings as well as by financially supporting charitable organizations.

 

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Writing For the Greater Good of Humanity…For Both Today and Tomorrow

Perhaps the most obvious (and immediate) way I’m using my writing for the greater good of humanity is by donating a portion of the proceeds from my ground-breaking novel to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). My hope is that through these contributions, some of the children who benefit from UNICEF’s work may go on to help others in the future.

To be sure, this philanthropic gesture brings added meaning to my writing, but I recognize it’s only the beginning of my social responsibility as an author. I suspect many may be surprised to learn that my long-term plan is to use my books as a stepping stone for even more ambitious philanthropic projects later on—indeed this has been the driving force behind my creation of the DARK STAR Series all along! From its inception, I’ve been combining my passions for the written word with my desire to help others as a way to open the door to achieving this—my ultimate goal in life.

 

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Exit Stage Left

So, in case you’re wondering if I’m entering the literary field with the intention of eventually leaving it, my answer is an unequivocal yes. Strange as it may sound, with any luck one day I’ll be financially able to extricate myself from the work I love so I can devote the remainder of my life to helping others. Having said this, DARK STAR is an ambitious series—one that will likely keep me firmly planted within the scifi-fantasy community for at least another decade. So for now, I’m hoping people will begin to recognize me as an author who’s dedicated to creating a quality book series while simultaneously making the world a better place for all of us…one word at a time.

Until we meet again…

Happy reading,

Danica

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Danica Cornell holds a B.A. in Psychology from Argosy University. She is also a visionary entrepreneur, Fantasy/Science Fiction Network contributing author, and UNICEF-supporter. To learn more about this emerging author please visit Danica’s:

Website

Twitter Account

NEWS: Danica Cornell Joins Fantasy Sci-Fi Network as Contributing Author

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Hello everyone, I am pleased to announce my association with the Fantasy Sci-Fi Network (FSFNet) as a contributing author!  This network has been designed to be a source of information for readers of the fantasy and science fiction genres, but unlike other similar sites, FSFNet does not allow its authors to talk about their own books. The result is fresh and interesting content for everyone to enjoy.   I am proud to have been invited to join FSFNet and do hope you’ll stop by and see all the creative and informative articles posted by myself and my fellow contributing authors!

Danica Cornell is a visionary entrepreneur, UNICEF-supporter, and self-confessed chocoholic who’s busily penning The DARK STAR Series. To learn more about this emerging scifi/fantasy author please visit www.danicacornell.com.
You may also follow Danica on Twitter.