Friday, February 8, 2013

25 Things About Me

A promotional site called Indie Author Anonymous recommended I write a list of 25 Things About Me:

1. I think I own an 1898 Renois original print, but I cannot find any info on what it’s worth.
2. I’ve traveled to Spain, Costa Rica, and Mexico.  I would love to live in Costa Rica or Puerto Rico.
3. I’ve had 3 major concussions and got smarter after each one.
4. I’ve dated several very sensitive men in the past; I write about the sensitive sides of men because ‘uber-macho’ men are over-represented in literature.
5. I’ve studied philosophy, a ton of spiritual systems, and psychic mediumship.  I am a great Tarot reader, or so I’m told!
6. I hate being late for anything.
7. I used to read about 10 books a week.  I would go to the library and pick 3-4 books of career topics, 3-4 science fiction or fantasy books, and 2-3 books I knew nothing about.  Did you know glass is considered a ‘supercooled liquid’?
8  My favorite authors are Robert A. Heinlein and Lois McMaster Bujold.
9.  I used to love to drive cross-country, camping along the way.
10. My favorite instrument (to listen to) is the cello; my favorites to play are the recorder and guitar.
11. I just got a cheapie greenhouse, hoping to raise my own veggies this year.  $1/green pepper NO MORE!
12. I believe most archaeological dating methods are completely wrong, for they rely on inaccurate assumptions, mostly having to do with a continuity of climate, whereas natural disasters can wreak havoc on very large scales.
13. I’m very much an ‘Earth Mother’ hippie child of the 60’s; I’m now into permaculture, recycling, repurposing, and homesteading.
14. If I were to win a lottery, I would build a passive solar earthen house like a hobbit-hole, with a masonry heater and domed with a veggie garden on the roof.  I would like to try some vertical gardening this summer.
15. I have no true sleep schedule, frequently spending the entire night writing, researching, or editing.
16. The only value I think sports have is as a participant, not a spectator.  My favorites are martial arts.
17. I do not willingly turn on the TV.  Twice I’ve lived without a TV for 3 years each.
18. As a former teacher, I believe the educational system in the U.S. is irremediably broken, and all because of ‘grades’.  You do not want to hear my opinion of standardized tests.
19. I have never had children because I couldn’t think of a good reason to have them.  I have always, however, been more than willing to be the family member who would take in a child if some tragedy were to happen to a relative.
20. I try to be a being of love and understanding; sometimes it’s quite difficult!

Some of my views about humanity:

21. We MUST pursue colonization of other planets and interstellar travel.
22. There is a cheap, safe, effective form of male birth control that lasts about 10 years, and every boy and man in the world should have access to it.  See
23. Solar power does not entail only photovoltaic cells producing electricity.  Everyone should educate themselves on solar cooking, distillation, passive solar heating, and the plethora of ways to capture the sun’s energy for furnaces and updraft towers, many of which have been around for thousands of years.  We MUST do this BEFORE we pollute our atmosphere so severely that it cannot clean itself!
24. Feminism has served its purpose, empowering women.  Now is the time for equalism, where we simply treat each other as people and avoid gender bias at all levels.
25. Planting fast-growing evergreens simply because they are fast-growing will not supply the oxygen needs of our future.  We need deciduous trees with broad leaves instead of needles, and not in homogenous plantations; there should be a mix at every opportunity, and we should allow them to grow for a minimum of 100 years before harvesting them.  The Industrial Revolution, a mere 200 year span, has HALVED the number of trees on the planet.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Men in the Kitchen and the Mysteries of Marriage

My hubby may not be a chef, but he is an awesome cook, almost as good as my brotheril who is a chef.  As a result, the Lubbin' Hubbin' does most of the cooking in our house.

Trust me, this is for the best!  I think it is because I have skewed, fluctuating perceptions of time, getting so bored I cannot stand to watch, yet if I walk away for any reason, There Will Be A Disaster.  I can barely boil water for tea (trick: set microwave's timer to 15 minutes, and pay attention when it goes off!)  Quesadillas are about the best I can do, and I doubt if I have ever flipped anything in a skillet perfectly.  Unevenly-cooked omelettes and pancakes that look like amoebas with tentacles don't always 'taste fine anyway', not when parts are scorched and parts are still mushy.  Quesadillas are great because the cheese and veggies that slip out when I flip one do a bit of fryin' on their own, which I just scrape on top of the finished product before the sour cream and salsa go on.

Still, the angelic man I married 18 years ago is not always around when I am hungry.  My favorite snack is a plate of Flipside pretzel-crackers, slices of cheese, and fruit, but you can eat that only so many days in a row without boredom.  I have four types of cheese and five types of fruit in my kitchen at this moment, but needed some real protein this morning so decided on eggs.  Since the Awesome Man's over-easy eggs could be featured in culinary magazines, and even my dogs turn up their noses at mine, I dared to make an omelette.

Lining up the peppers and onions, I got out a knife, and it was dull.  This aggravated me for a number of reasons.  My Beloved is usually great about keeping them sharp.  He even has a holiday ritual: whenever we go to my parents' house, he brings his 'sharpening kit' (an old Army ammo canister) and spends a couple of hours sharpening all their knives with two or three types of stone and oils, including my dad's pocket knives.

I've asked him to show me how to sharpen knives many times before.  "Okay," he says, distracted by some show on TV; he works hard so I hate to disturb him when he's relaxing.  Naturally, if he's around he cooks, so I only usually remember to ask him when I tried to use a knife earlier in the day.  If he's cooking, I'm usually writing, editing, submitting, or trying to find ways to promote my books, so I forget to ask.  I have also wondered if there's a little bit of subconscious apprehension, given that I have suffered depression these many years; perhaps he fears I might do myself harm?  Then again, we both brought guns into our marriage, and I haven't shot myself yet, so why would teaching me to sharpen a knife give him cause for concern?

I've looked up knife-sharpening online and decided he should really teach me.  I understand the physics involved, but he was taught by his mother at a young age; his sister is a professional butcher who mocks the fact that their store doesn't have some of the good old-fashioned equipment that holds up forever.  There's just nothing like one-on-one, hands-on teaching and learning.  Plus, I can be pretty clumsy and always plan emergency procedures before I do anything even remotely dangerous.

Example:  I only own one ashtray for anyone/everyone, guests included, which can only be used in the living room and only gets dumped in the 10-gallon crock-trashcan.  If it were to go up in flames, it would be taken to the outside door only 3 feet away and promptly get the doggies' broad 1-gallon watering dish dumped upon it, and not only for water -- it is one of those heavy, flattish metal tubs I think they use in surgeries, and it covers the crock perfectly so it would also smother the flames.  For me and knives, the procedures would be grab paper towels, hold in place for several minutes, check to see if blood is still flowing if shallow, then medicate and wrap as needed unless cut is severe, in which case clamp with paper towels and call the hubby for transport for stitches.  Trust me, I have as many EMT supplies as my paramedic nephew; we get things for each other all the time.

Still, at 5:00 in the morning, starving for protein, ready to make an omelette, I could either check all the knives in the drawer, or go wake up the precious husband an hour before his alarm... or I could try to sharpen the damn knife myself!  The last time I noticed my angel sharpening a knife, he was using that iron stick-thingie, and it looked pretty easy though I was on an important phone call at the time and couldn't ask.  I found his sharpener and began swishing the edge of the knife at about a 15° angle a dozen times or so.  And by all that's good and holy, it worked!

Omelette eventually scraped onto the plate and eaten, I finished working on my scene until he woke up and started his morning routine.  When he made it to the kitchen to fix himself some breakfast, I told him about my amazing triumph.  "Oh, yeah."  He poured milk on his cereal.  "It's pretty easy."

"Why did you never show me before, then?"

A shrug.  "It's just so easy."  I plagued him with questions until he took the knife and sharpener and showed me, explaining a few techniques.  I thanked him and let him get back to his cereal.

Why, why, why?  Eighteen years of asking my hubby to sharpen the knives, when all he had to do was take thirty seconds to show me?  All those years of saying he would show me and never did, what was the point of that?  Was it that he felt he was the Master of the Kitchen, doing mysterious things to make his culinary results seem magical?  Did he secretly laugh at all my kitchen blunderings, wondering whether to keep me out as much as possible just so I couldn't harm myself or poison anyone accidentally?

I am a life-long learner, always doing online research to flesh out my novels, so I try to impress him with interesting things I've studied of a day.  He's a practical guy, fix-it-all genius, knows when to call in the professionals, builds his own computers, and always helps me if I ask.  But is there something going on in men's brains that tells them, 'Don't give up any advantage you have over a woman'?  Or perhaps, 'Don't show them anything unless they ask you'?  Or even, 'Don't let her think she can get along without me'?

As a former teacher, I can appreciate that knowledge is best learned when the student has a real desire to achieve it, so I do not mind if he doesn't drag me around to show me everything he fixes.  Yet I love learning how things work, I love knowing I could rely on myself if I have to, and I love knowing enough about something to decide whether to let a professional handle it.  And the Lubbin' Hubbin' knows all that.  Why would he not occasionally say, "Darlin', I'll be out changing that headlight... do you want to watch?"  Why doesn't he invite me to help him on occasion?

Maybe it's because I pestered him to teach me how to cook bacon.  I am dead serious when I say my bacon breaks temporary crowns.  So there we were, hovering over the stove, me pestering him with a thousand questions about how he figures out when the bacon is done.  He finally shakes his head.  "You just have to do it enough to notice the right colors."

I groan; I'm terrible with colors.  "I agree that practice makes perfect, but you have to give me some kind of guidelines, here!  How can you figure out the right colors?"

Phlegmatic Man shrugs.  "I've never really thought about it.  I just cook it until it looks right.  You just get a feel for it."

My beloved, incredible, awesome, magnificent, brilliant, logical, long-suffering angelic husband is an INTUITIVE!  My heart bursts with wonder and joy.  He's a pantster, so good at everything it has all gone subconscious, like driving.  He just fixes things.  He has no deep-seated reason for not showing me how to do something; he just doesn't analyze it to death, like his wife asking questions and making bullet-lists of procedures in her brain.

Lesson learned:  next time Magnificent Man goes to fix something, follow him, ask questions, and try to figure out his genius.  I'll be learning more than whatever task is at hand; I'll be learning about my mysterious husband, with whom I spend so little time as it is.  You  may be certain I will be mindful of his every word and move, and loving the fact that this incredible being chose to share his life with me.

SFR Brigade Presents: Snippet from ROYALTY

The Science Fiction Romance Brigade is a lovely group of authors who work to promote this science fiction subgenre's potential as the best niche in the galaxy!  The newest idea is a sign-up, for up to 20 authors, for snippets to showcase our talents and give you an idea of our work.  Please visit SFR Brigade Presents! for this month's snippets.  And here is mine.... which Lady Renee Delacorte, Crown Prince Zhaiden Sinclair's love interest, finally moves beyond her childhood rape....

SFR Brigade Presents:  a snippet from ROYALTY, Book Four of the To Be Sinclair series by Eva Caye

They kissed and caressed each other until she stopped to gaze deeply into his luminous green eyes. “I want you,” she said, voice husky. “All of you.” Running her hands through his hair, she smiled at his hesitation, breathless with uncertainty. “[....]I want to know what it’s like to be completely involved with you. To be your true love.”

“You already are my true love,” Zhaiden whispered. “But if you are sure you’re ready, I am more than willing to give you your heart’s desire.” That roguish smile of his reflected so much joy, Renee could not help but giggle.
He collapsed upon her, buried his face beside her neck in the pillow, and began to cry.

She stroked his head and back for the few moments it took for him to recover. “Come, now, I wasn’t that terrible at it, was I?” His laughter and glittering eyes made her giggle anew.

“Are you okay?” he asked with tender concern.

“Hm. No, I’d say I’ve achieved several orders of magnitude beyond okay,” Renee teased him. As he laughed again, moving off of her to cuddle her, she gave him a happy sigh. “I’ve finally moved on. The past is history. All that matters is now.”

“And tomorrow. And the next day, and the next,” Zhaiden glimmered. “Forever and a day,” he stated sweetly, kissing her hand.

Explore the future of love and the galaxy!  Visit the Science Fiction Romance Brigade for snippets by many authors!

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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Question Is the Answer

This post was written for Melisse Aires' writing process series at

The Question Is the Answer:
How I Approach the Writing Process
Eva Caye, author of the To Be Sinclair series

The Question:

For 30 years I have searched for philosophical, spiritual, psychological, and practical answers to all the questions that have plagued me about life, and my personal library contains everything from Plato’s Dialogues to NLP.  I only truly began writing when I felt I could contribute something to humanity. The purpose of a book is to communicate, so I frequently insert my little life-lessons throughout, such as having my lovely ‘tough’ character Rosita tell a flighty socialite, “What matters is planning to matter.”

Crafting a book is such a huge endeavor, my personal belief is that it should answer a specific question.  After all, you cannot simply write the book, expect to send it to a publisher, and go on your merry way.  I feel the current estimate that “1/10 of being a successful author is the actual writing” is a generous estimate.  If you are going to invest your time in producing a product you want to be associated with for the rest of your life, knowing you will spend untold hours advertising, marketing, interviewing, attending conferences, responding to fan mail, and gathering ideas to fuel further books, then you should pick ideas you think will make a difference.  In order to sustain such a life-long dedication to your literary output, you must pick a question that matters greatly to you, and you must use your novel as the answer.

Trust me, don’t feel like these introductory paragraphs mean I insist you get metaphysical and produce strictly philosophical literary works!  I do not read vampire or zombie stories for a number of reasons, but I recognize their true value, namely, there are ‘bloodsucking’ creatures out there who take advantage of all of us (ever hear the term ‘fraudsters’ before?), and a huge number of people we deal with in everyday life who might as well be considered ‘undead’ (ever hear the term ‘sheeple’ before?).  These are powerful metaphors, and readers look for books which might offer them solutions, no matter how subtle, in how to deal with such unnerving so-called ‘human beings’ in their everyday lives!

Here are the questions I have used so far to produce my series:

What two people could have the strength of love, power, and will to produce the greatest and most benevolent ruling family the galaxy might ever know?

How could a person develop a science fundamental to human galactic expansion that might be too dangerous to teach, demonstrate, or even allow to be known, yet still use it to the benefit of mankind?

What relationship between two people could grow in such power and depth that it causes a sociological phenomenon which demonstrates Service is the greatest potential we have as human beings?

When a person of privilege meets a person of deep understanding, how much can they teach each other while inspiring their society toward similar partnerships?

How can siblings come to terms with the strong expectations of their parents, as well as the expectations they have of each other, yet still strive for individuality with distinct purposes and goals?

What sacrifices must privileged people make to demonstrate their responsibility to their loved ones, their society, and the world at large?

How can a person of absolute privilege be inspired to perfect himself in every possible way, all with the goal of Service to his countrymen?

As you can see, I’m quite the philosopher all told, because I feel questions of great scope are appropriate for books.  My short stories answer shorter questions, such as which alien species has observed Earthlings the longest, and why? 

To me, what matters is that your story, of whatever length, be used as an attempt to help further your reader’s understanding of its issues, using your imagination as a vehicle to make that learning a pleasant, or rollicking, or erotic, or even terror-filled experience instead of a dry lecture spouting your beliefs.  Find the questions that matter to you most in life, and frame your story to answer them.

The Answer:

My first two books originally began as a juxtaposition of two fantasies, namely, who do I want to be? and what would I do if I could do anything at all?  The first fantasy was born out of a depressive episode so profound I figured I was already dead, though still ambulatory, and realized the only thing I truly had was my future.  That was it; I took the ‘me’ I wanted to be and started conversations with the ‘me’ I used to be, and my first two characters were born.

Start with your main characters, and consider what question their interaction could answer.  Extremes are a good device, yet your characters also need significant points in common.  Since my question entailed love, power, and will, one character has problems with will; despite being the ruler of the planet, the number of people making demands on him every day weakens his will considerably as he tries to keep the peace.  The other character is a lady who intends with all her will to be a scientist in a male-dominant society.  She has mental power, he has political power, and neither has ever been remotely in love.  The interplay of will, power, and love is behind almost every scene in the book.  And, if you remember my original fantasies, one character’s pure dedication to life and humanity pulls the other character out of a deep, dark pit of depression.

Next, your background is the social milieu in which the characters must strive to accomplish their goals.  Although I have studied quite a bit of history in my life, I have always loved the pure potential of science fiction, so I set their society some 600 years after the advent of interstellar travel.  One of the prequels I am currently writing is on how that particular planet was established, and its question is this:  How can wealthy, brilliant investors entice colonists to populate their planet while convincing them of the strengths a monarchy has over other forms of government?  It doesn’t matter how much history you use in your novel, but it does matter that you incorporate a number of short, rich descriptions to settle the reader into a recognizable timespace and its concomitant expectations.

Next, your characters must strive for at least one goal.  I love using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to figure out their goals, especially when considering the goals of minor characters with whom the protagonists must interact.

You do not necessarily need to describe which level each character is at and the goal toward which they strive, for simple actions can provide plenty of information.  In my fourth novel ROYALTY, Crown Prince Zhaiden asks a jeweler, “Do you have anything really unique?  That you’ve never made the like of before?  Something spectacular?”  And the jeweler’s face splits in a wide grin.  He’s not only going to be selling his most expensive set of jewelry, assuring his financial security (see Safety) and supporting his family and friends (see Love/belonging), he has just shot to the Esteem category, for selling his opus magnum to the Crown Prince will be an incredible achievement, beyond his hopes and dreams.

Last, the actual writing.  You probably already know your strengths, whether they be comedic comebacks, physical comedy, tragic death scenes sparking a need for revenge, or sheer action.  I enjoy pushing myself; despite my straightforward sentence structure, borne of writing way too many lesson plans as a teacher and APA papers in college, I incorporate blends of snappy remarks, full-out deadly action, subtle humor, extended metaphors, recurring jokes, and vibrant descriptions to pepper my scenes.  I have to do it this way, because the scenes play out so strongly in my mind, I actually wonder at times if I am ‘tapping’ some parallel future dimension.  If I try to change the storyline much, the characters won’t let me, acting the scenes out over and over until I get out of bed to change them back so I can finally get some sleep.  I envy the people who can be the gods and goddesses of their characters; perhaps someday I will reach that summit, to actually write a story in which I determine all the rules!

Whatever your favorite technique, whether you line up a number of jars with tags for verbs, tragedies, locations, and results, selecting one from each jar, or whether you’re a ‘wing-it’, ‘analyze the classics’, or ‘plan beginning, middle, and outcome’ writer, I feel you must have that original question in mind at all times, and your work must answer that question thoroughly.  Despite the success of some books whose authors simply take you on a roller-coaster ride, very few will become as memorable as Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  If you can do something like that and start a new fad, good for you!  Yet, looking over the literature of the last 100 years, how many fads have come and gone? 

If you want staying power in your genre, make it count; answer a question that matters and give it your unique voice.  As a result, you will never tire when it comes to promoting your books, for your contribution to literature has utmost meaning to you, a child of your mind, heart, and soul whose impact upon the world springs from that fount of ultimate power: imagination.

◊ ◊ ◊

Eva Caye’s To Be Sinclair series currently consists of seven books and one add-on anthology of four novellas.  With two prequels underway and scenes for a final book keeping her up at night, she has recently managed to publish her fourth novel, ROYALTY, at Smashwords and Amazon, with hopes they will pay her editor for the rest of the series.  Eva lives with her magnificent husband and two lovely mutts in a tiny farmhouse in Louisville, Kentucky.