I hope your summer has started off nicely (or winter for my southern hemi friends). The weather in Chicago has finally warmed up following a chilly, rainy spring!
Last weekend, I took a trip to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Sometimes life in the city gets to be too much—frequent sirens (I live near a hospital), car horns beeping, garbage trucks in the alley—and it’s a real treat to sit quietly and stare at a lake. I captured a beautiful sunset. Check it out.
I’m 8,000 words into a book in a completely new series that features a robot as the main character. He struggles to survive in a post-apocalyptic world while carrying precious cargo. I don’t want to say more because it’s still early (a lot could change).
This is a novel in partnership with Molten Universe publishing, and I’ll find out if I can share an exclusive preview of the first chapter with you in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!
What are you watching these days?
I’ve nearly finished Good Omens on Amazon (based on the book by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman). Have you seen it? I’m enjoying the laugh-out-loud antics of an angel and a demon teaming up to prevent the apocalypse. The show features several Queen songs, so you really can’t go wrong. 🙂 😇😈
Gaiman is one of my favorite authors (currently reading American Gods which was made into a series on Starz). He also teaches a master class on writing, and it’s awesome to hear him describe where he gets ideas and to learn his work habits.
Quick favor to ask…
My friend, author KA Crow, is starting a new fantasy series and is looking for feedback from readers. When you fill out her short survey, you can register to win a signed copy of her first book when it comes out. KA is an amazing writer and good friend of mine, so please check it out. It takes less than a minute. Click here to give your 2 cents.
Recently I was interviewed on a sci-fi podcast. Here’s a glimpse into my life for those of you who don’t know me well yet.
Q: On a scale of 1-10, how weird are you?
Maybe a 6 or 7?? In terms of outward appearances and behavior, I’m pretty average:-) But on the inside…
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved the dark side of things: vampires, zombies, aliens.
I collect wigs and do cosplay at sci-fi conventions. I have a pet sock monkey that I often talk to–that’s probably the weirdest thing about me.
Q: If you could send a message to yourself 10 years ago, what would you tell the younger you?
Start writing! I spent a long time thinking it was too difficult to write and too challenging to get published. I was a workaholic 10 years ago and also quite unhealthy. I would tell myself to work less, create more.
Q: Describe the process behind how you come up with stories.
I come up with a character first. I like to let that character start to develop a personality. Then I think of an unusual situation to put them in.
Q: Where do you get your best ideas?
I get a lot of ideas from movies and TV. I find that a lot of ideas stem from stuff I watched ages ago as a kid. Or, I’ll start with an idea that’s a mish-mash and play with it to see what happens. For example, what happens when the Terminator meets Thelma & Louise?
My original idea for Ida Sarek and my Rogue Spark series was Bladerunner meets La Femme Nikita.
Sometimes I use writing prompts. I think that’s an excellent way for new authors to start playing with ideas.
Q: What books have inspired you?
I read my first Stephen King book when I was eight years old—Salem’s Lot. I recently re-read it and was enthralled. The Stand is my favorite book. My sci-fi is inspired by books like Ender’s Game, Neuromancer, and Why Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
I love long series, too. A Song of Ice and Fire is among my favorites. Recently, I’m reading The Expanse series by James SA Corey because I’m obsessed with the show and binged all three seasons.
My dystopian leanings are inspired by Margaret Atwood and Octavia Butler, among others. I read The Power by Naomi Alderman this year and highly recommend it.
Q: How do your values show up in your work?
I’m a huge believer in respect for all life and all walks of life regardless of gender, age, race, sexual preference. I suppose this shows up in my books because I write about robots who are programmed to obey and a species of animal-human hybrids and how they struggle with equality.
I always like to root for the underdog, and that shows up in my work.
When I write, I think about the transformation of a character. Ida starts out as feisty and rebellious, but she’s up against tough opponents and thrust into this world where she has no control. She also a huge secret. There were side effects from the DNA experiments, and she becomes very protective of the physical changes that have happened to her. And she can’t get close to anyone or have a normal relationship and friends because they might rat her out. As the series moves along, she comes to find that she has to lean on other people and trust them and that starts her down a path of personal transformation.
Q: Who was your toughest critic, and how did you grow and change from that experience?
I was lucky to find a fantastic editor who helped my writing improve dramatically. The first few editors I had didn’t challenge me enough. I think it’s imperative for writers to hire a structural/content editor. I know it’s expensive at first, but it will seriously improve your writing ability.
It hurts when you get a red-inked copy back when you worked so hard on your manuscript. But you need to go through that process. I practice “deliberate editing.” I keep a log of the common mistakes I make and add them to a self-editing checklist, so I prevent myself from making those same mistakes again.
Q: What would you like people to know about you and your writing?
When you read my books or follow me as an author, you’ll find strong female characters. I like to say:
In Future Worlds, Strong Women Fight the Toughest Battles.
My character, Ida is an amalgamation of lots of badass characters like Ripley, Katniss, Molly Millions, Kara Thrace. You’ll find strong, resilient women in my books. I like to keep the pages turning with lots of fast-paced action.
Q: What is the weirdest question you’ve been asked?
I was on a podcast once where I was asked, “What’s your favorite sound?” I said the ocean.
Q: What is one thing few people know about you?
This is going to sound weird, but in high school, I interned at the USDA, and I spent my time dissecting moths and hooking up their tiny abdomens to this complicated machine that dripped peptides into their stomachs. I think there’s an entomology story in me somewhere based on that time!
Q: What are you interested in that most people find boring?
I’m highly organized! I love keeping spreadsheets and lists. I think many people would find that boring if they’re not into productivity like I am.
Q: What, other than writing, do you get excited to wake up and do?
Kickboxing! I started going to a gym earlier this year, and I love it. As a writer, I’m always sitting, so it’s a great way to get out of the house and get moving. It’s improved the way I write about fight scenes as well because it’s helped me better understand the mechanics of kicking and punching.
Q: Who is a person who has inspired you and why?
My Dad is 73, and he’s an ass kicker physically and mentally. He’s been a role model for how I want to age gracefully. He and my stepmom are super active and constantly curious people. I’ve had family members with problems like dementia, Alzheimer’s and I think a lot about brain health. How you eat and making sure you’re keeping your brain healthy and active are so important.
Q: If you could wave a magic wand and change your life or the world, what would you wish for?
Unlimited wishes! Ha:-) I’m pretty damn grateful to be alive and living in these times. I’d love to have smashing success as an author and get my books out to millions of people. But I realize it’s a long haul, and I’m lucky to be able to write and use the Internet to connect with readers. We live in truly amazing times.
I wish the world would be more peaceful. I wish there were better education access for all children–boys and girls globally. We can’t forget the lessons learned from our history, or we’re doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past.
Q: What is something on your bucket list that you have yet to do?
I’ve traveled a lot but I’ve never spent time in Paris, and it’s a city I’ve always dreamed about visiting. I’ll get there one of these days.
Q: What quality or trait do you wish you had more of and why?
I wish I were a more extroverted person. Like many writers, I’m an introvert who is uncomfortable being in the spotlight in front of large groups. I wish speaking in front of groups came more naturally to me. I have to work really hard at it.