Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Techie and other Stuff For Writers

Hey Folks...Ok, I'll admit it-The words Carissa and tech savvy should never be used in a sentence together. I muddle my way through stuff or bellow for a kid to come explain it at least a half dozen times...but these are user friendly and kind of unique. Price wise they vary from cheap to Oh My God but they're still fun to check out. Some are just cool, some are ingenious, some are fun. 

1. Coffee/Tea Joulies. 
These are small steel coffee beans that got their start on shark tank and through crowd funding. You drop them into your cup and it stays hot for up to five hours. I have lost count of the number of cold cups of coffee I have choked down- this is genius. Engineered beans that cool coffee to the right temperature faster and then keep it there longer. Made in USA from 85% recycled stainless steel using hydro power from Niagara Falls.

2. Scan Marker.
 Again...where in blazes was this while I was in college? It's the size of a highlighter, but leaves no bright yellow/orange/green behind, so you can highlight anything. It even has a bank of 20 languages so it shouldn't argue with your document software.

3. Airstash. It's essentially an SD card reader that creates its own WiFi network, enabling you to access the content on whichever card is inserted as long as you're connected to the network it emits. Cards up to 32GB in size are supported, and you can load up any kind of content your heart desires. Size-wise, the AirStash is fairly portable, clocking it at 1.9 x 3.6 x 0.5-inches in size it's certainly small enough to toss in a bookbag. It's got a USB port on one end for file transfers from your PC and to handle charging duties, while the SD card slot is at the opposite end. 

4.Aqua Notes-yep, just what it sounds like.
     These waterproof notepads help you capture and preserve your ideas before they're forgotten. You can use this to preserve a great- or not yet great idea organize thoughts and tasks for the day ahead, or to leave messages in the shower for roommates, spouses or kids. Or they can draw, sketch,or doodle in the shower. If you think better in the shower or poolside this may cure any soggy results. They're supposed to meet your need for a paper pad that can take whatever the weatherman dishes out and there's like 40 pages. 

5.Idea Paint. 
This is sort of like chalk board paint, you buy it in the gallon can and paint the walls, the upside is you can plot like crazy if that is your path to writing, but it also gives the munchkins a place to doodle. They have the usual colors, green, red, blue & black. But if you're doing a series and need the room for massive notes- this could be the ticket.

6. Echo Smart Pen. 
If a pen is mightier than a sword, then Echo Smartpen can give a Kitana a run for its money. This pen is a Dictaphone, portable storage drive and music player all rolled into one. The pen allows you to write on paper and then electronically transfer those notes onto a computer with the help of a Micro-USB Connector. If you’re a list maker, you’ll benefit immensely from the recording feature, forget about shorthand and scribbling furiously into the paper – just turn the recorder on and Echo Smartpen will capture 3D audio. Super cool and not awful on the price point, but it made me stop and look twice. › smartpen

7. . Steelseries 7G
The 7G is actually a gaming keyboard, but it’s a worthy upgrade for writers. I know I have killed at least three keyboards in the last two years and totally rubbed off the letters on two others.It’s a heavy, rock-solid keyboard high on technology and made with quality in mind. Its design is clean and has a minimal appeal to it, coupled with that design are features like USB and audio ports, gold plated switches and connectors, multimedia controls and an unrivaled lifecycle of 50 million keystrokes.
But here’s the real kicker for writers – the keys are made of mechanical switches and not membranes, what does it mean? Increased tactile response (you feel you’re typing on an advanced typewriter) and response time. I love this and will have it on my list of "I wants" just in case.

8.Book Tent.
 This was the OMG one, but it's just too cool to not include and yeah, the only tech involved is trying to put the thing up but...

Sunday, May 18, 2014

An Excerpt from "The Super Spies and the Pied Piper!"

Hello everyone! I hope all is well with you! I'm Lisa Orchard the author of the bestselling Super Spies series and I thought I'd share with you today an excerpt from "The Super Spies and the Pied Piper!" I'd love to hear what you think! :)

Chapter One

“What do you mean you lost them?” Sarah Cole fidgeted as she waited for Agent Gray to answer. I can’t believe it! He lost the only clue to our parents’ location. What is wrong with this picture?

Agitated, Sarah shifted in her seat and chewed on her lip. She was uncomfortable in the folding chair and rearranged her petite frame so she wouldn’t feel the cold metal against her bare legs. Shivering, she glanced around the alltoofamiliar  room.

The gray cement block walls no longer gave her that creepy, closed-­in feeling she’d used to get when she first came to the interrogation rooms. She remembered the first time she’d been in that tiny space. It had been the day she’d discovered the Cat Lady’s dead body. Sarah shuddered at the memory and then smiled when she remembered forming the Super Spies and bringing the Cat Lady Killer to justice. Glancing around the room again, she realized she’d been in this room quite a bit these last few weeks, not only during the Cat Lady investigation, but the High School Bomber investigation as well. Shivering again, Sarah rubbed her arms but she really wasn’t cold. Her mind filled with the image of the bomber the Super Spies had helped apprehend just a week earlier.

Wow! Was it just last week?

She tugged at a lock of her honey colored hair, then brushed it away with an impatient hand. She sighed and glanced at her younger sister. Lacey sat beside her with her legs crossed, jiggling her foot at such a rapid rate it seemed like her whole body was electrified. She caught Sarah’s eye, and for a moment her eyes glittered like emeralds before she shifted her gaze to Aunt June, who had placed her hand on Lacey’s leg in what appeared to be an attempt to quiet her. Sarah shifted in her chair and sighed again.

Are we ever going to find Mom and Dad?

A commotion out in the hall drew everyone’s attention. Sarah leaned forward and craned her neck to see what was happening.

“Chief, we’ve got an OD!” An officer yelled.

“What?” Chief Johnson yelled as he rushed by. “An OD on what? Give me the details.”

“The parents found their son unconscious in his room this morning, and an empty bottle of prescription medication on his bedside table.”

“What was it?” Chief Johnson asked.

“It’s Myodine.”

“Who makes it?”

“Ah… Piper Drugs.”

“Call Poison Control with the name and manufacturer and ask them what to do about an overdose. Instruct the parents to get their son to the hospital pronto,” Chief Johnson ordered.

“They’ve brought him here.”

“What?” Chief Johnson exclaimed.

The sound of policemen rushing through the hall pulled Sarah and her sister out of their seats. They hurried to the door, unable to stifle their curiosity. Peering down the corridor, Sarah caught a glimpse of a young man sagging between two officers as they desperately tried to keep him on his feet. One officer gently slapped his face while the other officers held him up. The young man blinked and then gagged, puking on the officer in front of him.

The rancid stench of fresh vomit filled the air. While plugging her nose, Sarah ducked back inside the interrogation room, followed by her sister. Sarah closed the door, hoping it would keep the smell from penetrating the room.

“Did you hear that, Lace? Piper Drugs! That’s the company Dad works for,” Sarah whispered in her sister’s ear before proceeding back to her seat.

Lacey opened her mouth to speak, but closed it when Agent Gray cleared his throat and motioned for them to sit down.

He continued his conversation as if they hadn’t been interrupted. We were on our way to the location of the ping… but before we got there it disappeared.”

“So, what does that mean? Did you find our parents or what?” Sarah blurted out as she sat down. She stared into Agent Gray’s icy blue eyes, trying to read his mind.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Determining a Character's Skillset

Only one of my series' characters has skill sets similar to mine. The rest are all different and require some research. When I do research a particular job I prefer talking to people in the job over simple dry, boring, routine searches of job descriptions, Wikipedia entries and career sites.

I've been fortunate to have a wide group of friends and acquaintances and have enough folks on hand to ask about social work, medical coding, security officers, police officers, construction work, plumbers, electricians, and mechanics.  Which makes it fairly easy to fact check certain aspects of a story line.

The problem arises when one character in particular is in a field I've never even been close to working in or with: she's an "almost" supermodel. And I despise the fashion industry in general, which makes it more difficult for me to work on her character's story lines. Her only saving grace is she's a Fae-hybrid.

As I was digging through modeling research I began to wonder how other writer's determine their character's career choices and various skill sets. For instance, Jess happens to have a lot of practical farm skills even though she works as a medical coder and has previous experience in web design. Although several of those aspects come from my own experiences, I did not create her to be that way. Jess simply "told" me what she does.

Do your characters tell you what they do for a living or do you determine that for them? I would expect writers who do plot outlines would say yes, but what about the rest of us "pantsers"?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Changing TIdes is Out!

My newest book, Changing Tides is out from Resplendence Publishing!

Blurb -

Brett DeMarco is a First Lieutenant in Aelland’s Security Forces and hopes to become the head of intelligence someday. After the death of his fiancée, Brett threw himself into his work, dodging his father’s attempts to get him to marry the right woman, never doubting the career path he’d chosen.

Orion Hellman is the base commander’s personal assistant, has never spoken a word to anyone, and follows orders exactly, helping to ensure the base runs smoothly by any means the general deems necessary. Classified as a manual laborer with marriage out of the question, Orion has no intention of getting involved with anyone.

A chance meeting ignites Brett’s long dead desire and changes everything he knew and gives Orion everything he never thought he wanted.
Excerpt - 

Tension eased in Lieutenant Brett DeMarco’s shoulders as he neared his base, Fort Tottenham. The lights from the city and surrounding businesses had faded away miles ago. Unlike his father’s base, Fort Landry, a Strategic Military Command base, the government required a ten-mile business and city free zone with a limited number of people allowed to live in all directions from any Tactical Command base or installation. Farmers were given permission to reside there so long as their property measured between five and two hundred and fifty acres. In exchange for inexpensive land and lower taxes, the owners agreed to abide by a curfew and lights out whenever the order came down from the base.

Light from the car’s headlights caught movement on the side of the narrow, two-lane road. Brett tapped the brakes, slowing the vehicle as a trio of deer stared at him. The way his week was going, hitting a deer would be the perfect way to end the one vacation he took each year.

His one full week of leave coincided with the anniversary of General Vanessa Landry’s accidence to the Presidency and the day celebrated as the date of rebirth of the country. He’d been spent it with his parents. The visit had started off with another fight with his father about who Brett should marry. He’d been reminded that the time to make his choices was coming up and they needed to be submitted in writing with his signature as approval. Brett had countered by stating he needed a sponsor but it didn’t have to be a parent. He could ask his boss or the base commander to sign off if he needed to. His father had threatened him and Brett had started to walk away until his mother had interceded.

The week had ended with his father trying to set him up with younger men he personally deemed appropriate. Brett did not. He couldn’t shake the feeling that something was off. After years of yelling at him to marry a woman instead of a man, his father had conceded too easily. It made him suspicious, even as his father began suggesting younger men to him. Those his father found acceptable were all good-looking men with the manners and intellect found in the children of officers and high-level public administrators. They’d all seemed stiff and emotionless next to Brett’s memories of Orion Hellman, and none had the golden-brown eyes and uncommonly long brown hair.

A figure stumbled out into the middle of the road pulling him from his thoughts. Brett slammed on his brakes, yanked the wheel and prayed he’d miss the person. The car skidded to a halt several feet beyond where the man stood. Brett looked in his rearview mirror and saw him fall. Throwing the car into park, Brett jumped out and ran over to them.

“Are you okay?” Brett asked, kneeling. The red from his taillights cast an eerie glow over the scene. The man wasn’t someone he recognized. While they were closer to the medical clinic on the base than to other facilities, it was reserved for military personnel only. The civilian medical center was about fifteen miles away, close to the center of town. Blood coated the man’s face and hair, and bruises were starting to form. “I’m going to call for help. I’ll be right back.” Brett started to stand.

The man grabbed his arm and pulled, shaking his head.

“You need help,” Brett replied.

The man shook his head again.

Brett stared down at the man. If he did nothing, the man would die. He wasn’t even sure if the civilian medical center would send a response team this far out. The military emergency personnel travelled off base only for military personnel or their dependents. The man’s shirt was bloodied and torn, exposing more of his battered body.

Brett squeezed his eyes shut, trying to prevent the familiar images of his deceased fiancée from pressing forward. The similarities were too close to be discounted, but left him no closer to knowing who was responsible. “I-I need to take you to the base.”

The man tried to push himself up.

“Stop, you’re going to make everything worse. You don’t want me to take you to the base, right?”

“No base,” the man said, his voice soft and cracking.

“I suppose I can take you to the clinic instead. You’re a civilian?”


“All right, let’s get you into the car.” Brett helped the man up, trying not to dwell on the fact that he was probably breaking another rule or wonder why the man was so far from the residential areas. But the man needed help, and as a military officer, he was duty bound to help. More than that, he knew, was Taren’s influence. No one should suffer as his lover had.

The ride into the city’s center was quiet. Brett’s passenger refused to answer questions or talk until Brett tried to turn down the road leading to the medical center. The man adamantly refused to go to the large clinic, instead giving Brett directions to a different place, in an area of the city Brett had never been to. Nerves taut, he made his way through the winding streets until he came to an area of abandoned and crumbling buildings, most of which looked as if they might have been warehouses at one point. He stopped at the edge of an alley.

“Here?” Brett asked hesitantly, unable to hide his dismay.

The man nodded. “Thanks for the ride, but you should’ve left me where you found me.”

Brett turned and stared at the man, astounded at the first full sentence he’d said. “You need medical help, I can—”

“You’ve done enough. I don’t like medical centers.” It was eerily similar to what Orion had basically “told” him.


“End of the road. Turn left. Two miles turn left again. First working light, turn right. You can find your way from there.”

Brett nodded and watched the man pull himself out of the car then disappear into the shadows. Had he helped an enemy of the state get away? Noise from the other side of the street caught his attention, reminding him why he didn’t want to wait around. He carefully followed the other man’s directions until he was familiar with the area then made his way back to base. Parking in his assigned spot in front of his building, he turned off the car and grabbed his bags. His heart was heavy with another secret he couldn’t tell.