When are your next books due out?
My earnest hope is that the Novum Trilogy will be released in June of 2014. This date could of course be affected by writing, editing, cover art, bear attacks, or a sudden shortage of coffee. The long and short of it is simply that Novum will be released when it has been edited, honed, and polished to within an inch of its little life. In addition, I have a sequel and prequel to Mahalia in the works, there is a fantasy epic (dragons! Ice elves! Explosions!), a SciFi short story, and an untitled series of SciFi vignettes in the near future …
What do you write?
I write short stories, vignettes, and novels in the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres – with some crossover! (Why settle for just magic or wonderful science when you can have both?) Like many writers before me, I have done my fair share of drabbles for other universes: Firefly, World of Warcraft, Star Trek, Mass Effect even a bit in the Kushiel’s Dart universe. I am also writing the storyline and dialogue for a video game that will be out sometime in 2014 – stay tuned for updates!
Are you a full-time writer?
Well, that would depend on your definition. No, I do not make my bread-and-butter money from writing; I have a day job and, in fact, a career. The dream would be to make enough money that I could write for a living, but in the meantime, I still need to eat (my body is tricksy that way). So, while I am prone to scribble all over any piece of paper that sits on my desk for long enough, and I spend my nights typing away and my days daydreaming…no, I am not a full-time writer.
Where do you get your ideas?
From all over! I read all the time – fantasy, science fiction, science textbooks, Op-Ed pieces, historical novels. I am also a huge fan of games: FPS, RPG, indie games like Fallen London. I love storytelling in all of its new and evolving forms, and I try to be involved in that so that I can learn new and more immediate and engrossing ways of telling stories! So I read and I read and I read, and I play games and watch movies, and eventually my brain mixes all of the things I read into very strange configurations and characters and situations emerge. This is usually followed by a lengthy period of staring blankly at a wall while my tea gets cold, and then another lengthy period of formulating 48(-592) lists, outlines, character sketches, and drabbles.
Why aren’t you publishing in print, through a publishing company?
My answer to this is very complicated. I would love to publish in print, to have my books in bookstores and libraries, because I adore print books and I love the process of browsing in bookstores and libraries. I am able to make part of that a reality by using CreateSpace to have my books printed, and I will do everything I can to get my books into wider distribution.
As for a publishing contract an an agent, that becomes even more complicated. I have pursued representation by agents, but have not been successful in this endeavor. Eventually, the search for an agent became so time consuming that I was neglecting my writing, and I decided to buckle down on the writing end, write my little bum off, and perhaps restart the agent search once I had a few more books to my name. Stay tuned!
In the meantime, I write because I love to do so, because it is my passion, and because the ever-evolving indie publishing industry makes it possible to find incredibly talented editors and cover artists! I publish online because I am a child of the internet age – the web is changing the face of small business, and I think that’s great!
Who is your cover artist?
I am presently working with multiple artists, and all of them are great! For Light & Shadow, I was very lucky to work with Zezhou Chen! You can find his work here, on DeviantArt (there’s more on other sites, but I happen to know he’s active there – so, writers, feel free to query him!). For Novum, I will be working with Sandro Rybak for cover art (join the mailing list to get sneak peeks of the artwork!), and I am hoping that Zezhou will be able to help with some character portraits
Who are your inspirations for writing?
I have great admiration for dozens of writers; I don’t think I could possibly list all of them! In the genre of Young Adult Fantasy, four stand out: Madeleine L’Engle, Patricia C. Wrede, Tamora Pierce, and Robin McKinley (whose book Beauty, in particular, taught me to appreciate the elegance of well-crafted YA writing). For adult Fantasy, Jacqueline Carey’s writing is a particular inspiration; I love the way she evokes emotion through her language. In Science Fiction, C.J. Cherryh is a favorite; try to read “Cyteen” if you have some spare hours! And, to keep me light-hearted, I always have a P.G. Wodehouse book lying around close at hand.
How should I go about having a career in writing?
There are a lot of ways to get wherever you want to go, and unfortunately, I have no ironclad advice. There are elements that will help make your success as a writer much more likely, however, and those are:
- Write – don’t look at me like that, you have to be writing every day, not just on the days when you feel inspired. Learn to get through patches of writer’s block, develop those writing muscles. It doesn’t particularly matter what you write while you’re starting out, because letting your mind run is an essential part of writing. Spur your creativity with fanfiction drabbles! Come up with original universes if you want to do so! Write steamy short stories if that’s your thing! The main thing is this: you have to write, and keep writing, and develop your style. No matter whether what you write is seen by anyone else, or makes it into your final draft, no time spent writing is wasted!
- Edit – an uncomfortable truth is that not every sentence that comes out of your pen (or keyboard) is going to be gold. A more unpalatable truth is that the vast majority will not be good. You have to go back to what you have written and sift out the absolutely incredible writing from the drivel. This may be painful: entire sentences, paragraphs, chapters, characters, and even novels may bite the dust. But trust me, that feeling you get when you find the perfect way to say something? You also get that feeling when you realize that this sentence actually goes over there, and Plot Point A doesn’t really go in Chapter 28, but instead in Chapter 5. Taking your raw work and editing it is essential. Trust me.
- Get a ruthless beta reader – one of the best pieces of beta-reader advice I ever got was, “I honestly don’t care about these two characters.” Those words helped me get my act together! You need someone who will be able to say, honestly, “this line feels out of character,” or, “this chapter feels sloppy.” When you’ve been working on something for weeks, you lose the ability to see it objectively and – very important – you lose the ability to remember what you have and haven’t told the reader.
- Pick your goal – do you just want to write, and the pay is a nice perk, or are you looking to write the next Harry Potter/Twilight/Hunger Games? Be honest with yourself. You can’t make a path to your goal until you know what you want your end point to be.
- Run it like a business – one of the best pieces of advice I ever got. It’s from Smart Self-Publishing: Becoming an Indie Author, by Zoe Winters. It really put things in perspective for me – I would know to wear a business suit to a job interview, but would I have thought to put up a website before e-publishing my first novel? Perhaps not! When you run things like a business, you not only look at inflows and outflows, you also slow down and plan things out in advance – like getting an email address for your pen name.
- Remember that it’s on you to get the word out – have you SEEN the number of books in a bookstore? How about in the Kindle store? That’s right, there are millions of them. So do not – do NOT – expect people to choose yours on their own. The odds are incredibly slim, and slimmer because the odds are weighted against you. No one knows who you are right now, and no one is anticipating your work, or looking for it. Advertising is your friend, and as uncomfortable as it can be, you have to put yourself out there and say, “HEY! I’M AWESOME, AND SO IS MY BOOK!”
- Don’t give up – this economy has taught me that you can do all of the “right” things and still not do well. There are hundreds of factors that can go into your success or failure, and unfortunately your skill and hard work do not guarantee quick success. When you hit snags and it seems like nothing is happening, you have to grit your teeth and keep going.
How do you feel about fanfiction?
I love fanfiction! I think it’s very fun to write and fun to read; as mentioned above, I have written my share of fanfiction. With that in mind, I have no problem with fanfiction set in my universes, or using my characters. I simply ask that you not sell these works for profit.
Will you read/review my novel?
On the one hand, as with most starting-out authors, I am essentially working two jobs and trying to see sunshine every once in a while. On the other hand, I do keep a reading list going, and it cannot hurt to ask! Feel free to email me with the following: title, author, genre, and blurb (no attachments, please!). I will get back to you as soon as I can!
Can I email you?
Of course you can! Please note that I will NOT open any attachments, and in fact I will not even open emails with attachments in them; this is for the security of my computer, which I love to pieces. Also, while I would dearly love to say that everyone will get a personalized, wonderful response, this may not always be possible. If I miss your message, do know that I am so very sorry – life intervenes sometimes. I suggest writing again if you do not get a response!