Life Defined

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Hydra Blog Hop, Day 6: Michael Wallace

 Happy Saturday, Folks:

Today officially marks Day Six, the final day of the Hydra Blog Hop. I hope you all have had a splendid time learning about each of the featured authors. It has certainly been a treat hosting them on my page. But, of course, as Team Hydra, we share a common bond. :) 

For the final day, you can find me featured on Erin Danzer's Blog. But - more importantly: last - but certainly not least - author Michael Wallace has a 'Behind the Scenes' post to share regarding his novel, Eternal Patrol:

Behind the Scenes: Eternal Patrol
Michael G Wallace

One problem with writing a story which involves WWII is the number of war historians out there that will hang onto every detail no matter how slight. So when I took on the project of writing a time travel story that included two American Gato Class submarines, I knew the details would make or break the book. No one would have a problem with the time travel, but if I said the said the depth gauge was above the ballast gauge, they would throw the book down and say the entire story was unbelievable.

Even though some readers posted, in their reviews, I should have watched more WWII movies so my submarine facts would have been more accurate, several submariners have told me I had the details so accurate it was like being back on the boat.

Before I wrote my first word for this book, I spent a year and a half researching all I could about submarines. I read Commander's logs, sailor's journals and every manual, schematic, and website I could find about Gato Class submarines and their operations. This led to a lot of information about modern day subs which also came in handy as this is a time travel story.

"I did find some very unusual events surrounding the disappearance of two subs."

My research started with the Navy's record archives catalog. I found, since the Navy launched its first commissioned submarine, (the USS Holland, October 12, 1900), it has kept a record of the location of each boat. The are listed as "In Port", "On Patrol", "Sunk in Battle", or "De-commissioned". If a sub goes out on patrol, never returns and its fate is unknown, the Navy will officially list the submarine as "On Eternal Patrol." It was these subs I wanted to find.

I spent days going through each page of the Navy log writing down the names of all the subs from WWII still listed as "On Eternal Patrol". Once I had my list, I delved into the logs, sightings and war reports from the U.S, Japanese, and German navies to try and find out what happened to the subs. As I expected, if the Navy couldn't find out what happened, I wasn't going to have much luck going through only the de-classified reports. But I did find some very unusual events surrounding the disappearance of two subs, the USS Corvina and the USS Dorado.

While on patrol in the Gulf of Mexico, the Commander of the Dorado radioed he had spotted a German U-boat. This was the last communication from the Dorado as she was never seen again. According to German records, they did not have a submarine in that area at that time. I'm going to give Commander Schneider the benefit of a doubt he knew what a U-boat looked like and one must have been in the area. If the Germans didn't have any record of this sub in the area, it sounds like German black-ops.

"The Germans claimed they did not have a boat there at that time."

There are several conflicting stories of what happened to the Dorado. She sank under friendly fire, sank under attack off of Panama, but none of these stories actually confirm what happened to her.

In my novel, I used the circumstances we know about the submarine. The last contact was that Schneider saw a U-boat in the area and the Germans claimed they did not have a boat there at that time. I knew these details would work well with my time travel story.

The second boat in my novel is the USS Corvina, also listed as "On Eternal Patrol". Like the Dorado, the Covina had some mysterious facts surrounding her disappearance. After months of searching through both U.S. and Japanese records, (ones that had been translated to English), I again found many conflicting stories. But, they all boil down to no one knows what happened to the sub.

The Corvina reported they were under attack by a Japanese destroyer which had an attack sub escort. The Japanese destroyer reported they had dropped depth charges on the American sub and followed her oil slick for miles. One problem here: after they dropped their depth charges, they never saw or heard from their Japanese attack escort sub. The Japanese Captain insisted he only sank one sub, and it was the American boat. There was no way he would go back to Japan and tell the Emperor he sank one of his own subs.

So which sub did they sink? Debris from the Japanese sub was found by passing Allied ships hours after the attack and modern day deep water surveys have found the hull of the Japanese sub in that area, but to this day no evidence has been found as to the fate of the Corvina. 

"...this crew spent the next several days wondering if they had all died in an earlier attack."

So I had my two submarines for my story. But with all that research, I found so many incredible stories of what happened to our subs when they were out there on patrol. Commanders wrote about their boats being flipped upside down and dragged across the ocean floor by undersea storms. While on the surface conducting open sea repairs and unable to submerge, one submarine had a Japanese destroyer pass by only fifty yards away and never saw them. And, what I found was common on many boats, this crew spent the next several days wondering if they had all died in an earlier attack and this is why the Japanese ship didn't see them. Many subs went deeper than they were built to go causing the crew to wonder if they were still alive. Crewmen continuously made makeshift repairs with whatever they could find on the boat.

Every sub had to deal with "rogue fish." These were torpedoes that would loose their steering and come back at the sub which launched them. To make it worse, they didn't come back in a straight line. They darted all over like a tuna chasing a mackerel giving the sub no place to hide.

In the novel, Eternal Patrol, I brought all of these events into one story that linked both the Corvina and Dorado into a battle where the fate of the war, their future and our past is held on the outcome of their journey.

Check out the trailer:


About Michael G Wallace:

By day I’m just a time traveling pirate trying to save the world one beer at a time. At night, I slay zombies except on Thursday nights, that’s when I watch Burn Notice.
If it can be done outside, I probably do it and I bring the wife and kids with me. I like to, (take deep breath here) ski, snowboard, rock climb, canyoneering, snowshoe, mountain bike, sea kayak, scuba dive, backpack, fish and last but not least run. I run anywhere from six to twenty miles a day and I usually do it barefoot. I’m training for the 4 Deserts Race with my biggest obstacle being trying to find sponsors.
As for my novels, they are good old fashioned science fiction without the fantasy. When you read most stories, once you know the plot you have a good idea how it will end. They will find the murderer, catch the bank robbers, find the treasure, fall in love, etc… What I like to do is let the reader get comfortable with how they think it will end then throw in a plot twist which changes the story and eliminates your previous ideas of where we were going.

Here's more about my and my other books.


Thus concludes the week-long Hydra Blog Hop. Thank you to everyone who has participated and/or visited during the week. Check-in regularly for future posts and guest figures! Also, you can find my Hydra features listed here today: Erin Danzer's Blog, Michael Wallace's Blog, Lyndi Alexander's Blog, and R.S. Hunter's Blog.

Whew - that was a mouthful! I hope to see you all on a few of the sites. :)

Until next time~


Friday, September 14, 2012

Hydra Blog Hop, Day 5: Tricia Ballad

Greetings, Ladies and Gents:

My - what a special treat that Friday has in store for us! Fantasy and romance author Tricia Ballad is here to answer a few questions and introduce us to her work. It seems we share a penchant for similar genres, so I am quite excited to introduce her to everyone this lovely morn~

Interview with Tricia Ballad

Good day, Tricia!

Thank you for being here today. Would you mind telling us three things about yourself? It could be anything – anything at all: unique, mundane, unusual, etc… 

Thank you for having me, Rachel! 
Ok - Three things about me… 

1. I completely geek out over old architecture, and my dream home is a beautifully restored Victorian – or maybe an Irish castle. Modern McMansions might be comfortable, but they lack the amazing artistic detail you find in older architecture. (Now that I’ve said that, my next home is going to wind up being one of those anonymous boxes with eggshell-white walls and boring, carpet-covered stairs!)

2. I relax in the evening by watching hard-edged travel shows like Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, but when it comes to my own vacations I love the Walt Disney World Resort. Every once in a while, it’s ok to take the easy, safe option! We took our family to WDW in 2010 for the first time, and I completely fell in love with the atmosphere there – so much so that I started a weirdly successful blog about it, which led me down some fairly interesting rabbit holes. Besides, where else can you have breakfast with a Princess?

3. I met the love of my life two months into my Freshman year of college…after telling my mother that I had no intention of dating anyone until at least my Junior year. Whoops! She laughed at me at the time, I’m sure. My father didn’t take it so lightly. His response, which I’ll never forget, was “No way in hell my daughter is dating some long-haired Hippie freak!” to which I innocently responded, “Oh no, Daddy. He’s not a Hippie. He’s in a punk band!”
20 years and four children later, we’re still happily attached at the hip. 

Your website says you are an author of ‘Epic Fantasy’ and ‘Sweeping Romance.’ Now those are two genres I could read without tire! Would you mind telling us a bit about your work?

It all comes down to what I love to read, and the stories I see all around me. I grew up reading the great fantasy authors – David Eddings is my favorite! – and classic romances. The one thing that always disappointed me about fantasy was that most of it was written by men, who were overly interested describing exactly what a sword in the entrails would do to a man. Such detail leaves little room for developing the relationship between the hero and the fair maiden for whom he guts half the kingdom. 

On the other hand, the classic romances by Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte had all the relationship building a girl could ever want, but their heros rarely draw their swords even if they do happen to possess one! It’s a major failing in a hero, not carrying a sword.

I tried writing literary fiction (that didn’t go well, even I was bored by it), and mainstream romance, but I missed the epic quality of a great fantasy. Trying to write within the real world was too restrictive for me. So I threw caution to the winds and wrote the stories I wanted to curl up and read.

I understand that you are not only an author but a mother and a homeschool teacher as well! How do you go about balancing the various roles your lifestyle demands? 

Coffee, and lots of it! 

I write from 5-7am every day, so no matter how crazy the day gets I know I’ve gotten my writing done. My kids have grown up with me working from home, so they know that when Mom is frantically pounding the keyboard or scribbling notes on scraps of paper, not to interrupt – I may be killing someone off. 

One of the hardest things for me is leaving the story when my writing time is done. Transitioning from writer to Mom/Teacher is difficult sometimes, but those are the days when we start our school day with a story. I’m lucky, all of my kids are insanely creative, so they get it when Mom’s got her head in the clouds a bit and we rush through math to get to art time. 

Tell us about your recent promotion in Hydra Publication’s new gaming division. Are you an avid gamer – or do you prefer to create the worlds that players delve in?

Both! I started gaming back in college, thanks to that guy I met and married. He has always been a gamer geek, so if I wanted to hang out with him on Saturday nights I had to give the gaming thing a shot. I loved it, being able to immerse in the story was invigorating. 

I rarely run the games, but I often create the scenarios and adventures that the players explore. We sit down before the players arrive, and talk about the major villain, the events that thrust the players into the middle of the action, and any side quests we might throw in, and so on.

What spurs the Muse within you? Do you listen to music as your write? Do you record your dreams?

People-watching. When I’m stopped at a red light, I’ll glance over at the car next to me and imagine what circumstances might have led the great beloved Princess out of her castle and into the minivan in the next lane, or what quest the young hero on the steel horse might be thrust into just beyond the next curve. I love to peel away the layers of modernity and mundane life to find the larger-than-life hero(ine) lurking below.

What is your favorite quote?

I have two:

The first is from Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey, great Southwest American poet and novelist:

"Do not jump into your automobile next June and rush out to the canyon country hoping to see some of that which I have attempted to evoke in these pages. In the first place you can't see anything from a car; you've got to get out of the goddamned contraption and walk, better yet crawl, on hands and knees, over the sandstone and through the thornbush and cactus. When traces of blood begin to mark your trail you'll see something, maybe. Probably not. In the second place most of what I write about in this book is already gone or going under fast. This is not a travel guide but an elegy. A memorial. You're holding a tombstone in your hands. A bloody rock. Don't drop it on your foot - throw it at something big and glassy. What do you have to lose?"

This has been one of my guides through life – that sometimes you have to get dirty and bloodied in order to get to the good stuff, and that sometimes you have to chuck a bloody rock at something big and glassy!

The second is from T.S. Eliot, who needs no introduction:

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre

    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

This always seemed to describe my inner world – lots of anarchy and chaos!

Thank you for introducing yourself and your writing, Tricia. Do you have anything else you would like to say before we part? 

Thanks for having me! I can’t think of anything else – so I’ll open it up to the readers: Feel free to leave questions in the comments section, and I’ll stop by to answer as many as I can. If you’d rather contact me directly, you can check out my author page on Facebook or my website.
Thanks again!

Tricia Ballad


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hydra Blog Hop, Day 4: Jay Noel

How now, Mates?

Today marks Day Four of the "Hydra Blog Hop", and to celebrate, author Jay Noel has come for a visit. He will be sharing his Guest Post on his "Confessions" as a "Reformed Pantster". (Mr. Noel's forthcoming novel, Dragonfly Warrior, is scheduled for publication through Hydra Publications in early 2013.)

So, without further ado, strap on your favorite pair of jeans and discover the confessions of a had-been pantster~

Confessions of a Reformed Pantster...
by Jay Noel

I've written a bunch of novels that will never see the light of day. Stories that went all over the place. Poor victims of a sprawling imagination. By nature, I'm pretty "by-the-seat-of-my-pants." However, life has dramatically changed the last several years, and being so haphazard and spontaneous just won't work anymore.

Those who juggle careers, writing aspirations, and children all at once will know exactly what I'm talking about.

For ten years, the manuscripts I wrote were such prime examples of what happens when wayward creativity is allowed to spew all over the place. Unbridled and wild. I also spent a lot of time putting my English degree to good use and did lots and lots of editing. So I looked inside of myself and thought, "There's got to be a better way."

I went to the "Dark Side" and tried my hand at outlining. Plotting. Planning. It was tough at first. Disciplined is always difficult for the undisciplined. I tried all different kinds of outlines...and my uncontrollable urges got the best of me, and my outlines always ended up looking like full blown manuscripts. So I worked really hard at forcing myself to make SHORT outlines.

One of my blogger buddies, David Powers King, did a post back in March of 2012 where he described his outlining process. I took what I did (namely the visual mapping I love to do) and David's format - and magic happened. My outlines were concise and clear, yet it left me with more than enough room for flexibility. Here's how to create your own Mini-Synopsis-Outline:

Brainstorm in any fashion you wish. For me, I love to draw "bubble maps" or "mind maps." I literally start with one central idea and just keep mapping outwards from there. 
Once you've gotten the juices flowing and figured out some of your characters, plot, conflicts, themes, etc., create a three lined paragraph summary of every chapter. Do this for as many chapters as you're going to need to tell your story. Keep each chapter summary to only three lines. This forces you to write down the chapter's main purpose and action. It also gives you plenty of room to flesh out the chapter as you write.

When you're done, feel free to go back and edit the outline for your book. It's a plan with just enough to help guide your writing, but doesn't pigeonhole you or hold you hostage to your initial ideas. If done right, your outline should only be 2-3 pages long. All of mine have ended up being three pages for a 100,000 word novel.

I use my mini synopsis outline throughout the writing process, always referring back to it when I'm beginning and ending a chapter. And when inspiration hits me, I'm free to not follow any part of what I've written on my outline. Sometimes, you go in a different direction and the outline itself might need to be revamped. This happens to a pantster like me maybe 33% of the time. But when I do make those changes, it's so much easier for me to revise my work because I know where to look and what chains in the link need to follow any changes I make.

Since using this method, I've written four novels with only one where I quit about three-fourths of the way through. Although I can see clearly where it just wasn't working for me, and I'm able to go back and rework it.

I still love the flow and creative spontaneity that comes with feeding off of my imagination and being inspired by my muse. But utilizing the mini synopsis outline method, I'm able to create a workable skeleton from which I can let my creativity continue to flesh out and build. I can still go a little crazy and wander, but now I'm no longer lost in the woods. Plotting works.

I'm Jay Noel, and I used to be a Pantster. 

Jay Noel is a one-time high school English teacher, but now works in medical sales. He's been blogging since 2005, and has spent most of his writing career as a freelance editor. After finally gathering enough courage, he has taken the leap to writing his own work. His first novel, Dragonfly Warrior, is an Asian-inspired Steampunk story filled with pirates, ninjas, gunslingers, and samurai warriors. They say you must write what you love, and damnit, that's what he's done. It will be published in early 2013 by Hydra Publications. 
His blog can be found at


Also: Take a peek at my "Hydra" feature on Tricia Ballad's Blog.

Hydra Blog Hop, Day 3: Melissa Goodman

G'mornin' to ya, Adventurers and Perusers of Ink:

Today marks Day Three of the "Hydra Blog Hop", and fellow Hydra author Melissa Goodman is here with an excerpt of her release, It's Your Love. So, if you've a penchant for the romantic, you'll want to stick around and see what Ms. Goodman has in store for you. (And, as it's Day Three of the "Hop", you can find my post featured on the blog of Gwen Perkins.)

It's Your Love: Excerpt

"It's about time," said Kade. He was leaning with his back against the wall. He had not bothered to glance her way. He came across as if it was completely natural for him to be standing there.
"What are you doing?" She looked over her should just to be sure that God wasn't playing a cruel joke and the blond was behind her.
"I'm an ass," he said as if it was the only explanation needed.
So she agreed with him, "And?"
Kade stood up straight. With his hang dog expression Allie fought the urge to forgive him on the spot.
     "I'm sorry."
"I didn’t mean to pry. I'm sorry."
"I live a very public life. There are some things I just like to keep private."
"You don't have to explain," she said, "I understand."
     He held out his hand and gave her a wink. "So what now? Do we start over?"
His hand was Kade himself. Warm, strong with the right mixture of soft and rough. Touching him felt right. It felt like nothing could go wrong as long as she was in his embrace. It felt as if Allie had come home. If he didn't feel the same, God help her.

Kade let out a breath that he wasn't aware of holding when she took his hand. When Allie left the table he had considered what she said. He had even gone as far as to start his way over to the blond. About ten feet away he changed directions. He never walked away from a sure thing. He especially didn't leave a woman he knew was willing for one that had just dumped him. Waiting outside the ladies' room was agonizing. Kade had done his best to look like he was doing anything other than waiting for a woman. When the blond and her friends passed by trying to catch his eye Kade knew that he had dodged a bullet.
Then Allie appeared and Kade knew. It amazed him how wrong people were. He didn't hear bells and whistles, what he heard was a soft voice that called to his soul. A missing piece he hadn't been aware was missing until she placed her hand in his.



About the Author:

Melissa Goodman was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. She’s a die-hard member of the University of Kentucky’s Big Blue Nation and a lover of all things Nascar, reality television, and fairytale endings. She can be contacted at

Buy links:

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Hydra Blog Hop, Day 2: Amy McCorkle

Good Morning, Bloggerati:

For Day 2 of the "Hydra Blog Hop", author Amy McCorkle will be introducing us to her romance novel, Gladiator. If you like a bit of romance with a post-apocalyptic flavor, then you may want to tune in and get a taste of Ms. McCorkle's upcoming excerpt. Today, you can also find me featured on Jay Noel's Blog.


Ten years ago Tristan Shane had failed to pick sides and he paid with the ultimate price—his family.  Enslaved as a post-apocalyptic gladiator, he is now faced with a similar dilemma, serve the despot  Queen and murder her innocent sister, or face certain death himself. What will he choose?

Tristan Shane was a moderate before the nuclear and economic crisis which plunged the world into darkness. While his sister Aidia ran off to fight the rebel’s war he desperately tried to hang onto normalcy and lost his wife and children in the process. Spending the next ten years as the Crown’s favored and the mob’s favorite Gladiator, he never expects to meet the Queen’s sister, Alexandra, a Healer.

She claims to be the much whispered about Savior sent to heal the wounded Earth and oceans, the one who would bring about her cruel sister’s dethroning. But is she? Or is she just a fraud? But he quickly learns her erotic touch has the power to heal his heart and his to save her life. But as the passion heightens and the danger increases will they have forever or will he have to give up everything to save the planet?




 Excerpt: A Sneak Peek

“What is it you want, Veronica?”

She leaned in close and whispered seductively, “Why, you know I only want you, Tristan.”

He snatched her up by her throat, pinned her against the wall and kissed her passionately, brutally, and without clemency. When he pulled away she was smiling with a darkness that made him angry. She was a power-hungry mongrel who played on her husband’s weaknesses and jealousies. Tristan hated her. And he hated himself for f***ing her. But this was his life. He let go of her and walked away.

“Is my poor Gladiator jealous? There’s really no need for that, is there? You know you’re my favorite.”

“What is it you really want, Veronica?”

She came up behind him and seductively began to ease off his armor. He was covered in sweat and blood and he felt her shiver against his body. And as always there was a twinge of nausea that would precede the raw animal aggression.

She turned him around. He looked at her. There was no doubt about it; she was beautiful. But she was poisonous—a rattlesnake with crystal green eyes and flaming red hair. Her father had promised peace and a return to normalcy and democracy in the wake of economic and nuclear disaster, and instead this was what had become of the world. And she was no doubt always enjoining her father to maintain her life in this fashion. He loathed her. He detested her. And every time he had sex with her his intense hatred for himself deepened a little bit more.

“My dear, sweet Gladiator, as much as I’d like to celebrate your victory with you tonight, my husband wishes me to share his bed. But fear not—I do have a consolation prize for you.”

His skin began to crawl. Veronica had a twisted way of looking at what constituted a consolation prize; it was usually just a groupie who wanted to watch what the queen did with the equivalent of rock stars of the former United States of America. And he usually did the dog and pony show. But sometimes Veronica required something to prove his loyalty to her. That would be more complicated.

“What is it this time?”

She smiled. His response had given her the mistaken impression that he cared.

“The rebels have been restless. And it seems there is a young woman we have in our prison whom they want terribly. Well, frankly, they are in two minds as to what to believe. It is rumored she is the mythical Healer. The one meant to find her soul mate, so together they will lead our Nation out of the so-called darkness into which it has plunged itself.”

“And what do you want me to do?”

“Oh Tristan, why are you being so defensive? I just want you to find out whether she really is the Healer, and report to me if she is.”

“And then, what?”

“And then you let me handle it,” Veronica said, sliding back into the evil skin that was her natural state. “The rebels have no idea what it takes to run a country.”

The image of his wife being raped and murdered flooded him and it was all he could do not to throttle the queen right then and there.

“So can I count on you to do this for me or do I need to find someone else who can?”

He was no one’s hero. But she had said young woman. And he couldn’t just allow his wife’s fate to be visited upon some other unsuspecting girl. “I’ll do what I can.”

Veronica ran her index finger down his cheek and whispered, “Good boy, Tristan,” she purred.
 “Guard! She’ll be delivered before the night is over. I don’t know when I’ll be able to return to you, but I expect that you’ll have had enough time to gain her trust by then.”

Tristan’s stomach churned. The Healer? In the beginning there had been whispers of it. But he had never believed in such a thing. It had been years since the crown had feared anything. And now this.
 He said nothing as the queen was escorted away. He was left to think about the young woman he might be forced to turn over in the end.


About Amy:

Amy McCorkle was born and raised in Louisville, KY. She has lived in New Mexico and Texas as well but she currently makes her home in Shepherdsville, KY.
An award winning blogger, she is also a successful author in both the sci-fi erotic romance genre with No Ordinary Love and the upcoming release: a dark romantic suspense tale, Another Way To Die. She also has been contracted for GLADIATOR, a Mad Max meets Gladiator series, set to be a trilogy. She has placed second in the 2011 Preditors & Editors Readers Choice Poll for "Best Short Romance Story" and semi-finaled with Another Way to Die in the 2012 Moondance International Film Festival.
 From Hydra Publications, Set Fire to the Rain has been recently released, and her first print novel, Bounty Hunter, is due out in October. She is also contracted for the Gunpowder & Lead series she is co-authoring with Melissa Goodman.
 Her work is flavored by her childhood heroes, pop culture, music, and the cinema as well as the writers she still enjoys reading today.


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