Spotlight on d4 by Sherri Cronin

Genre: Speculative Fiction
Date Published: Jan. 31, 2015
Publisher: Cinnabar Press

A clairvoyant young woman finds her visions of the future to be a nuisance, until she discovers that she is hardly unique. An entire group of seers has learned how to profit from their knowledge in ways that Ariel has never considered. Another group is obsessed with using their talents to understand a dark future they cannot ignore.

An alliance with either crowd looks dangerous, given that they both seem a little crazy. There is no possible way to help them both. Worse yet, each group is convinced that Ariel is more than a potential asset; she’s the one thing that they must have in order to fully succeed.


Planning not to Plan

Guest Post by Sherrie Cronin

We all have a split personality somewhere in our make-up. Mine has to do with preparation. I have an engineering degree and technical work experience, so it’s not surprising that part of me that likes to plan things down to the tiniest detail. My to-do lists are a wonder to behold.

Yet, I am equal portion wild child; half-inhabited by a creature that screams “don’t tell me what to do.” This side of me contains the creative writer, or so I thought.

Once I moved on from short stories, essays and lots of bad poetry to trying to write a full-length novel, I had to face the fact that savage disorganization wasn’t getting my first book finished. In fact, it wasn’t getting me much past the third chapter.

I talked to other new writers and was surprised by the amount of time many of them spent outlining their stories. It didn’t seem unusual for a novelist to know will happen in every single chapter before beginning the book.

“I’ve got this in me,” I assured myself as I began my first detailed outline. I produced a play by play account of several chapters, proving that I could create such a plan.

However, I hated writing from it. The exercise showed me that my favorite part of being an author is the sense of discovery. I love it when the gardener surprises me by insisting on a larger role in the story. Detailed planning got the job done, but it took the fun out of it for me. Yet my stalled-out novel needed a way to move along. How could I plan a book and still allow me to surprise myself as I wrote?

I found a method that was perfect for me. It was inspired by my fabulous to-do lists, the place where my inner planner shines.

I now start my books with task management. I allocate time for research, creating characters, and brain-storming. I know when I have free time, and how much of it I want to use for writing. I literally parcel out the necessary time on a calendar.

Then I decide roughly how long I want my book to be. I know how fast I write, so I plan my writing sessions on a calendar with word count goals. I add in some in slop for the unexpected, and pencil in my milestones. My daily planner dictates the pace, and my inner organizer is delighted.

Then I take my simple outline and I write from it. I know where I want the book to start, and where I want it to end. I just don’t know much about the path in-between. My wild child amuses herself discovering the route.

I’m finishing my sixth novel right now.

“I’ve got to get this thing done so I know how this ends,” I complained to my sister.

“What? You don’t know?” She was incredulous.

But I don’t know. Yet. For me, that’s the best way to write.


About the Author

Sherrie Roth grew up in Western Kansas thinking that there was no place in the universe more fascinating than outer space. After her mother vetoed astronaut as a career ambition, she went on to study journalism and physics in hopes of becoming a science writer.

She published her first science fiction short story long ago, and then waited a lot of tables while she looked for inspiration for the next story. When it finally came, it declared to her that it had to be whole book, nothing less. One night, while digesting this disturbing piece of news, she drank way too many shots of ouzo with her boyfriend. She woke up thirty-one years later demanding to know what was going on.

The boyfriend, who she had apparently long since married, asked her to calm down and explained that in a fit of practicality she had gone back to school and gotten a degree in geophysics and had spent the last 28 years interpreting seismic data in the oil industry. The good news, according to Mr. Cronin, was that she had found it at least mildly entertaining and ridiculously well-paying The bad news was that the two of them had still managed to spend almost all of the money.

Apparently she was now Mrs. Cronin, and the further good news was that they had produced three wonderful children whom they loved dearly, even though to be honest that is where a lot of the money had gone. Even better news was that Mr. Cronin turned out to be a warm-hearted, encouraging sort who was happy to see her awake and ready to write. “It’s about time,” were his exact words.

Sherrie Cronin discovered that over the ensuing decades Sally Ride had already managed to become the first woman in space and apparently had done a fine job of it. No one, however, had written the book that had been in Sherrie’s head for decades. The only problem was, the book informed her sternly that it had now grown into a six book series. Sherrie decided that she better start writing it before it got any longer. She’s been wide awake ever since, and writing away.


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  • Emily Heisler

    Thank you for posting

    • Sherrie Cronin

      I enjoyed writing the post, and am delighted to appear on this blog. Thanks for the comment.

      • A pleasure to have you here, Sherrie! I can totally relate to what you were saying in your guest post. While I sometimes wish I wrote extensive outlines for my novels (usually when I’m midway through and wondering what to do next!), I much prefer the joy of discovering the story along with my characters.

        • Sherrie Cronin

          Yes it can be scary when you realize you’ve got an important character in a situation from which you may not be able to rescue them. The nice thing about fiction, though, is that we can always find a way. It’s nice to meet another writer who enjoys discovering the their own stories as they go!