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Archive for December, 2018

dianna sanchez Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, Dianna Sanchez. Dianna Sanchez is the not-so-secret identity of Jenise Aminoff, whose superpower is cooking with small children. She is an MIT alumna, graduate of the 1995 Clarion Workshop, frequent participant in Odyssey Online, active member of SCBWI, the Author’s Guild, Broad Universe, and New England Speculative Writers, and former editor at New Myths magazine. Aside from 18 years as a technical and science writer, she has taught science in Boston Public Schools, developed curricula for STEM education, and taught Preschool Chef, a cooking class for children ages 3-5. A Latina geek originally from New Mexico, she now lives in the Boston area with her husband and two children.

Dianna has published one novel, A Witch’s Kitchen (Dreaming Robot Press, September 2016), and the sequel, A Pixie’s Promise (September 2018). Her short fiction appears in the 2017 and 2018 Young Explorer’s Adventure Guides.

sanchez book Dianna Sanchez’s latest book, A Pixie’s Promise, is a fun middle grade read (ages 8 – 12). A quick summary for my readers: Petunia’s tired of being overlooked just because she’s six inches tall. She gets lost at home among her gazillion brothers, sisters, and cousins, and her own parents don’t remember her name. When her best friend, Millie, offers a vacation at her house, Petunia jumps at the chance. Cooking for Millie’s witch of a mother and babysitting a tree should be easy, right? But when an epidemic of spickle pox hits the Enchanted Forest, and Millie’s mother comes down with a mysterious illness, Petunia must pitch in to brew cures as quickly as she can, even if that means using up all her pixie dust. It’s a good thing she has friends to help.

Where did the idea come from for your latest book, A Pixie’s Promise?
The protagonist, Petunia, was a supporting character in my first novel, A Witch’s Kitchen, and I really wanted to spend more time exploring her character and giving her the spotlight she so desperately craves. Petunia’s a six-inch-tall pixie from a large family with twelve or so siblings and an exponential number of cousins. I was inspired by my own large extended family and my abuela, who can never keep all our names straight. Petunia feels lost and overlooked, both within her family and in the culture of the Enchanted Forest where she lives, and she’s always trying to find ways to gain attention. She gets into fights and tells really bad jokes, but she’s also fiercely loyal and deeply determined to succeed.

Who is your favorite character in the book—and why?
That’s a terrible question! That’s like asking which of my children is my favorite! Even though Petunia is the focus of this book, I still have a soft spot for Millie, the protagonist of A Witch’s Kitchen, and a deep fondness for Millie’s half-brother, Max. I love pushing the boundaries on Millie’s prickly mother, Bogdana, and I really enjoyed playing with their house ghost, Horace. I even love my villain, Cretacia! That’s one of the reasons why I choose a different protagonist for each book. Sagara, a math-loving elf, will be the protagonist of book three, An Elf’s Equations, and Max will star in book four.

Is your book traditionally published, indie published, or self published?
I’m indie-published by Dreaming Robot Press, an awesome little publisher that specializes in science fiction and fantasy for middle grade readers. I love the flexibility of working with a small press. They allowed me to design the cover for my first novel and used a sketch by my then-ten-year-old daughter as the basis for the cover of A Pixie’s Promise. They Kickstart each novel and anthology they publish, which is a lot of fun and a great way to connect with my readers. The disadvantage, of course, is that I have to fight to have my book carried in bookstores and rely heavily on social media to promote my books, which eats into my writing time.

What is your writing process like—are you an architect (planner) or gardener (pantser)?
I’m a hybrid, actually. I usually start with a basic plot outline and a well-fixed beginning and ending. Then, as I write, the story begins to change and grow organically. I have a bad tendency to kitchen sink my novels, throwing in ideas as they occur to me. That leads me to a lengthy revision process, when I have to significantly prune and reshape my work. I suppose you could call this a sculptor’s process. I start with a wire frame, spend my first draft throwing clay at it, and then carve and smooth and refine until I have the final manuscript.

What was your favorite book as a child?
That’s almost as bad as asking which character is my favorite! I devoured books as a child and worked my way alphabetically through the SFF section of my local library. The books that I came back to over and over were Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series, Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain series, Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders and Harper Hall series, and a little-known book called Windhaven by George R.R. Martin and Lisa Tuttle. I think what drew me to these particular books was the common themes of determination and personal transformation. Schmendrick perseveres and finds his magic. Frodo and Sam persevere all the way to Mordor to destroy the One Ring. Lessa goes from downtrodden scullery maid to leader of a weyr of dragonriders. Maris, the protagonist of Windhaven, changes all the rules of succession so that she can become a flyer. This last, in particular, inspired me to push my way out of the various boxes society tries to place me in. There were very few women (about 25% my freshman year) and even fewer Hispanic women at MIT, but I refused to let those labels define me or prevent me from succeeding.

What writing project are you currently working on?
I’m working on An Elf’s Equations, which is proving to be quite tricky. Originally, it was the second half of A Pixie’s Promise, but my publisher cried foul when I turned it in to them because there was entirely too much packed into one novel, and Sagara had largely taken over that second half even though Petunia was the protagonist. I’m now revising with Sagara as the viewpoint character, which has been slow going because I hadn’t done any of my usual character arc workup. All I knew was that she loved math and was something of a misfit among the elves because of it. But a lot of deep work on Sagara plus a very inspiring trip to Sweden and Finland have got me chugging along again.

What’s the best writing advice anyone ever gave you?
Daniel José Older has a wonderful essay refuting the standard advice that you must write every day. Certainly, that would be lovely, but like most people who don’t live in a monastery or on a desert island, I have a complicated life, and much of my time is devoted to my family. I can’t have a set work schedule because I never know from day to day whether someone will be home sick or has a doctor/dentist/orthodontist appointment or desperately needs silk roses for a school project, or the car gets sideswiped and needs repair, or both heating valves in our house break… all the tiny emergencies of daily life that I must cope with. Thanks to Older, I refuse to feel guilty for the days when I get no writing done, and this makes me far less anxious and more able to work when I do find the time.

Want to learn more about Dianna Sanchez and A Pixie’s Promise? Check out her :
Website & Blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon page.

Or better yet, purchase a copy of A Pixie’s Promise.

Thanks to author Dianna Sanchez for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author Carole McDonnell on January 1, 2019. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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#2 627 “What we once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose, for all that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” — Helen Keller

I love Christmas–for me, it is filled with treasured memories. Memories of family, friends, church services, school Christmas pageants, snow, sharing with others, and giving without expecting anything in return. Yes, the stockings were hung, the tree was decorated, and gifts appeared beneath the tree on Christmas morning–and of course, I was excited about those things as a child. But even then, it was the other things which meant more to me.

I loved the church and school pageants and Christmas programs in which each small part seemed important, made me feel like a star–though I was not. I remember my friends who sang beside me (with far better voices) or acted beside me (with far greater skill), but I was happy being a part of the greater whole.

I loved handmade gifts–knitted, sewn, and crocheted by grandmothers or great aunts or dear friends. Each stitch took time and was made with love–imperfect, but always perfect in my eyes. Those mittens, slippers, scarves, and hats were all the warmer because of who made them.

I love cookies! I still enjoy the smell, the taste, and the decorations of home-baked cookies. I remember the exotic and foreign flavors of my godmother’s baking, the familiar tastes of Granny’s cookies, and the best efforts of my sisters and I piled on a plate in a heap of colorful sweetness.

I loved giving to others. A Girl Scout, my troops from Brownies through Seniors made gifts and treats for shut-ins, nursing homes, and “the poor.” Were there homeless shelters more than 50 years ago? I don’t know. But through Scouts and my church, I know we donated food, clothing, and toys to many. And my Christmas always felt richer because I’d shared.

But most important, I love the people who shared my Christmases. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, special friends–many gone now, but held close in my memory. Now, my husband, children and their spouses, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews, and newer friends–join with my siblings, my husband’s siblings, and old friends to make the holidays memorable.

I loved the Christmases of the past–and they are part of me. Nowadays, I try to make each new Christmas special for those I love, so it can join those of the past and not be lost. For each of my readers, I wish love, joy, and hope on this Christmas and those yet to come. – Vonnie

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AL Kaplan Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, A. L. Kaplan. A. L. Kaplan’s love of books started as a child and sparked a creative imagination. Born on a cold winter morning in scenic northern New Jersey, her stories and poems have been included in several anthologies and magazines. Her novel, Star Touched, released October 2017. She is the Maryland Writers’ Association’s Vice President and served on the Howard County Chapter board for several years. A. L. is a member of Broad Universe and holds an MFA in sculpture from the Maryland Institute College of Art. When not writing or indulging in her fascination with wolves, A. L. is the props manager for a local theatre. This proud mother of two lives in Maryland with her husband and dog.

Startouched AL Kaplan A. L. Kaplan’s latest book, Star Touched, is a fast-paced read for those who love science fiction. A quick summary for my readers: Eighteen-year-old Tatiana is running from her past and her star-touched powers eight years after a meteor devastates earth’s population. Her power to heal may be overshadowed by more destructive abilities. Fleeing the persecution of those like her, Tatiana seeks refuge in a small town she once visited. But this civil haven, in a world where society has broken down, is beginning to crumble. Will Tatiana flee or stay and fight for the new life she has built? Only by harnessing the very forces that haunt her can Tatiana save her friends…and herself.

Where did the idea come from for your latest book, Star Touched?
Star Touched was born from a series of nightmares: Huge waves of water, giant fireballs, etc. There are several scenes that are straight from those dreams. There are real world inspirations as well. Tatiana’s favorite book, Island of the Blue Dolphin, is also one of mine. The bit about the octopus came from a trip to the aquarium. Some things I didn’t plan on that just sort of happened, were the huge meteor that passed nearby earlier in 2018 or the multitude of natural disasters. Really, I didn’t plan that.

Who is your favorite character in the book—and why?
Bobby Sue started as a minor character, then morphed into a whole lot more. She’s just a sweet southern girl who was a lot of fun to write. I had to do some research to get her accent right and wasn’t sure I had it right until I saw Jason Smith on Food Network’s Holiday Baking Championship. Yup. Nailed that one.

Is your book traditionally published, indie published, or self published?
Star Touched was published by a small press. One of the advantages was I got to have a lot of input on the book cover without having to hunt down a cover artist. They handled all the non-creative parts of getting a book out. Getting books on shelves is another story. Most stores will order print copies if requested, but unless I’m going there for a reading or signing, they don’t stock them.

What is your writing process like—are you an architect (planner) or gardener (pantser)?
I tend to be somewhere between a plotter and a pantser. The beginning and end are usually set, but what happens between them evolves as I write. I’m also flexible to what my characters tell me.

What was your favorite book as a child?
I had three favorite books growing up, Julie of the Wolves, My Side of the Mountain, and Island of the Blue Dolphins. All of them have similar themes, kids surviving on their own in the wild. Something about that always touched me. By the way, I also love the musicals Annie and Oliver. Go figure.

What writing project are you currently working on?
I’m working on several projects right now, which is very unusually for me. There is a sequel to Star Touched, a YA fantasy, a Sci-fi fantasy series, an a few short stories. There’s even a story about Fifi – Well, sort of.

What’s the best writing advice anyone ever gave you?
This wasn’t exactly advice as much as inspiration. My college English 101 teacher told the class she wanted everyone to write creatively and wasn’t taking points off for spelling errors. It was the first time I didn’t stress out with words. I got an A on my first assignment. She also made a general request for those of us with “artistic handwriting” to please write every other line.

Want to learn more about A. L. Kaplan and Star Touched? Check out her :
Website & Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon page.

Or better yet, purchase a copy of Star Touched.

Thanks to author A. L. Kaplan for stopping by. Watch for a post from me on Christmas and an interview with author Dianna Sanchez on December 27. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, LJ Cohen. LJ is a Boston area novelist, poet, blogger, ceramics artist, geek, and relentless optimist. After almost twenty-five years as a physical therapist specializing in chronic pain management, she now uses her anatomical knowledge and myriad clinical skills to injure characters in her science fiction and fantasy novels. When not bringing home strays (canine and human), LJ can be found writing, which looks a lot like daydreaming.

LJ is active in SFWA (The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) and Broad Universe, and blogs about publishing, general geekery, and other ephemera. A Star in the Void (book 5 of the SF/Space Opera series Halcyone Space) is her most recent novel. Derelict, the first novel in the series, was chosen as a Library Journal Self-e Select title and book of the year in 2016.

A Star In The Void ebook Cover revised LJ’s latest book, A Star in the Void, is an out-of-this-world read for those who love science fiction. A quick summary for my readers:

Control the wormholes, control the galaxy! For over fifty years, the Commonwealth’s lock on wormhole transit has enabled the military government to keep its grip on commerce, travel, and the community in diaspora off Earth. But everything changed once Ro Maldonado resurrected the damaged AI on a derelict spaceship. When she and her accidental passengers aboard Halcyone stumbled upon a hidden planet and Ada May, its brilliant but reclusive leader, they became entangled with her covert resistance.

But behind the scenes of the Commonwealth lurks an even bigger enemy: the Reaction Chamber, a powerful shadow organization of politicians, business moguls, and crime cartels that has co-opted and infiltrated all levels of the government. The Chamber knows Halcyone is the key to finding and eliminating the resistance. And as people close to Ro and her companions disappear or die, it’s clear their enemies are closing in fast.

When May vanishes through an impossible wormhole, taking the leader of the Reaction Chamber with her, she abruptly shatters a decades-old stalemate. Now, Halcyone and her crew must decode May’s revolutionary wormhole technology and locate the missing scientist before the Reaction Chamber obliterates the resistance and exploits its resources to seize complete control of the cosmos.

This is the culmination of the series that began with Derelict, a kindle best seller and award winning science fiction novel.

A Star in the Void - Cover Art Where did the idea come from for your latest book, A Star in the Void?
It’s pretty much impossible to separate out this 5th and final book of the Halcyone Space Series from the prior books. The initial idea for the series actually started out as a very different book than what ended up being written. My first idea was for a YA book where the main conflict was between the children of privileged diplomats and the children of the space station personnel. What I developed and wrote ended up being far richer and far more nuanced, as well as being more of a genre science fiction space opera and not specifically YA.

Typically, my stories are a weird blend of a lot of disparate ideas. These books had many influences, including:
— a colonial world scattered across space where the colonists lost their war for independence
— a group of young people who stumble upon a political conspiracy that changes the trajectory of all their lives
— an AI controlled space ship where the AI is damaged and has PTSD
— a post-sea level rise world where we’ve abandoned the coastal cities and where the gap between the wealthy and the poor has widened dramatically, creating permanent shanty towns of emergency settlements
— a story where one generation of revolutionaries passes the fight to the next

Who is your favorite character in the book—and why?
Wow. That is a very hard question in a story with a large ensemble cast!

I will highlight Barre Durbin. He is the eldest son of the station’s physicians. A musician in a family of hard scientists, he has always felt less-than both in his family and in the wider world. What I love about Barre is how much he grows and changes across all five books and the relationship he has with Halcyone’s damaged AI: he is the one who figures out how to make contact with the computer, creating a musical language to bypass its broken code and eventually help it heal. He also has a deep connection to his young brother Jem.

I wanted to highlight the importance of relationships in these books and how it is our emotional bonds that sustain us, especially in times of crisis. Nearly all of the characters travel this arc at one point or another through the five books.

Is your book traditionally published, indie published, or self published?
My novels are self-published. After traveling the traditional route and being represented by an agent for 5 years, but not successfully selling a novel, I created my own publishing imprint.

I’m very much someone who likes to have creative control of each step in the process and have found a team of freelance folks—editors and cover artists—who help make my books shine. I also like being able to set my own publication schedule and to be able to price my books.

The disadvantages are: It’s far harder to get your books in bookstores. Discovery is entirely up to you. Promotion is entirely up to you. Plus, I have to outlay the production expenses

What is your writing process like—are you an architect (planner) or gardener (pantser)?
I’m a little bit of both! I typically start out with a big picture view of the story, the main characters and their problems/desires/goals. Then, I start writing. After a few scenes or chapters, I go back to my big picture view and see if anything has changed. Then I outline what I’ve written and a few scenes beyond.
Then, it’s write, reflect, and repeat.

What was your favorite book as a child?
Hands down, A Wrinkle in Time. It was the first time I’d read a speculative fiction story where a girl I could identify with so closely was the hero. Even when a boy (Calvin) was in the story, the book belonged to Meg. Even after they rescued her father, she was still the hero and main driver of the story. It was a revelation. It was the book that spurred me to write my own stories.

What writing project are you currently working on?
I’ve just created that big picture view of my next book. It’s a totally different universe from the Halcyone Space Series. I’m in the process of putting together the big picture view of a whole new story. New characters, new universe. It doesn’t have a title yet, but it’s broad themes are inspired from this verse by Rabbi Tarfon: “It is not your responsibility to finish the work of perfecting the world, but you are not free to desist from it either.”

Multiple worlds are connected in the quantum realm. Most are safely sealed off. Most have no knowledge that they are but one in an infinite multitude. A few people on a few scattered worlds can see though the multiverse. Most of those go mad. Fewer still are able to bear the burden of so many possibilities. Those are seers and are either considered cursed or blessed. Though the reality is some of both.

Perhaps one in a billion has the ability to slip from world to world and becomes a Traveler. But always, there is balance. A Traveler comes, a Traveler goes, never more than any world can bear, treading lightly to encourage balance. Until now.
Three individuals from three different worlds are drawn to one another through the thinning walls between the worlds. None of these three are Travelers in truth. But they are all that is left. For they discover something is hunting Travelers and obliterating them and the balance they bring from the multiverse. Together, they must rescue each other and fight a foe they cannot name to heal the worlds before the walls dissolve for good.

I have the characters, their goals, their problems and I’ve written a few trial scenes. Nothing left to do but the writing!

What’s the best writing advice anyone ever gave you?
Find your own process and don’t be afraid to change it.

Want to learn more about L.J. Cohen and A Star in the Void? Check out her :
Website & Blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon page.

Or better yet, purchase a copy of A Star in the Void.

Thanks to author L.J. Cohen for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author A.L. Kaplan on December 20. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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tanya lisle Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, Tanya Lisle. Tanya Lisle is a novelist from Metro Vancouver, British Columbia who has series littered across genres from supernatural horror to young adult fantasy. She began writing in elementary school, when she started turning homework assignments into short stories and continued this trend well into university. While attending Simon Fraser University, she developed an appreciation for public domain crossovers and cross-platform narratives. She has a shelf full of notebooks with more story ideas than pens lost to the depths of her bag. Now, she writes incessantly in hopes of finishing all of them.

Thankfully, her cat, Remy, has figured out how to shut off Tanya’s computer when she needs to take a break.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00002] Tanya’s latest book, Static, is a fun read for those who enjoy mysteries. A quick summary for my readers: Harrison’s boyfriend, Max, is missing. Again. Or, well, his ex-boyfriend, he thinks. His memory of the last week is fuzzy. It’s while his roommate, Ally, is trying to help him that they get the phone call; Max has gone missing, and Willow—who’s supposed to be catatonic and locked away—abducted him.

Harrison sets out on a mission to find him, but he and his friends are placed under house arrest. Is it to keep them safe from Willow, or is Harrison being used for live bait? Trapped with the mysterious new Doctor Gethen who’s taken a keen interest in them, Harrison needs to make things right, find Willow, and get Max back.

Where did the idea come from for your latest book, Static?

This idea actually spun off of a scene that I originally came up with to torment a friend of mine that liked the first book, White Noise. Once I had it written down, I couldn’t get it out of my head and it just spiraled into a sequel from there. The scene where Max gets kidnapped again has been mostly removed from the book, but it’s still the inciting incident of the whole book.

Who is your favorite character in the book—and why?

That would have to be Mary. She made only a cameo in the first book and getting a chance to write her was everything that I could have hoped for. She’s been dragged along for this ride against her will and watching her deal with the bad situation, as well as her relationships with the other characters, has been fantastic and a lot of fun.

Is your book traditionally published, indie published, or self published?

Like the rest of my books, it’s indie published. It’s given me the freedom to switch between genres, put out books on my own schedule, and find my own people to work with.

On the down side, it’s a more expensive option and I have to do all the marketing and promotion on my own. Which is a lot more difficult when it’s a sequel to a book that originally came out a few years ago, so trying to rekindle the excitement in an audience that’s since found other books is a little tricky. Hopefully, they remember and will bring more people along for the ride!

What is your writing process like—are you an architect (planner) or gardener (pantser)?

For my first drafts, I usually go in with a plan. I know who my main cast is, how I want them to move through the story, and where they eventually end up. By about the third chapter, I will have thrown half of that away and create a whole new road map based on how the narrative is going and new ideas. A few chapters later, I’ll do it again. And again. And again.

The story doesn’t end up being fully formed until I sit down to rewrite it. After a few months, I go back to the story, figure out what ideas really worked and which ones didn’t and then rewrite the whole thing again until it’s put back together into something fantastic.

What was your favorite book as a child?

I read this collection of Alfred Hitchcock short stories that was in the library which probably explains a few things about my stories. As a kid I read the stories and I was fascinated by the ideas and not at all impacted by the horror elements. I thought it was much more interesting than it was scary. I found I really liked the feeling of suspense and I spent a few years trying to emulate it as a teen. Even now, I think there’s still some of that influence in a lot of my narratives.

What writing project are you currently working on?

I am currently working on the last few things for Dead Air, which is Book Three, and the final book in this series so that it can come out in January. There’s just a couple small tweaks left for the paperback— and it will be ready to go!

I’ve also just finished a few drafts for another series, The Looking Glass Saga, and gotten another draft back from my editor to start working through, so I’m also working through that one when I have a bit of time between other projects.

What’s the best writing advice anyone ever gave you?

It’s been said many times by many different people in many different ways, so I don’t have a direct quote, but it’s this: A bad draft is better than no draft. If you want to make something good, you’re probably going to make something not so good to start with, but it’s easier to edit something into perfection than it is to bring it forth fully formed as perfect. And really, it’s more fun making something terrible and finding those golden moments in it than it is to start with something amazing anyway.

Want to learn more about Tanya Lisle and Static? Check out her :
Website & Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon page, and Instagram.
Or better yet, purchase a copy of Static.

Thanks to author Tanya Lisle for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author L.J. Cohen on December 18. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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Jennifer Povey Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, Jennifer R. Povey. Born in Nottingham, England, Jennifer R. Povey now lives in Northern Virginia, where she writes everything from heroic fantasy to stories for “Analog.” She is currently working on an urban fantasy series of which the most recent volume, Fallen Day (Lost Guardians Book Four), was released in the summer of 2017. Additionally, she is a regular writer and designer of tabletop RPG supplements for a number of companies. Her interests include horseback riding, Doctor Who and attempting to out-weird her various friends and professional colleagues.

Jennifer Povey Book Jennifer’s latest book, Risen Day, is a great read for those who enjoy urban fantasy. A quick summary for my readers: After saving the city of London from a demon trying to make it his own personal kingdom, Anna McKenzie, Victor Prince and their friends must now save the world…from a similar, but far greater threat. One which has already removed many of Earth’s defenses.

Where did the idea come from for your latest book, Risen Day?

This is the fourth (and last) in a series that was essentially an answer to the craze for YA vampire romantic fantasy…remember that? It evolved into something a little different. I hadn’t planned on writing an actual romance.

Who is your favorite character in the book—and why?

Rahel Chudasama. She’s just so much fun to write! I love her powers, and now I kind of regret that I didn’t introduce her until Book Three.

Is your book traditionally published, indie published, or self published?

Self published. The advantage is keeping control and not having to worry about a publisher going bankrupt or deciding your series sold so badly that it isn’t worth publishing the rest. Disadvantage is having to pay for everything.

What is your writing process like—are you an architect (planner) or gardener (pantser)?

Definitely a gardener, although I prefer “discovery writer.” I usually know what the ending is going to be. Usually.

What was your favorite book as a child?

I don’t do favorite questions! 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is the book that got me into science fiction though…and for fantasy, yes, The Hobbit. What? I’m a forty something Brit.

What writing project are you currently working on?

About to start a new science fiction novel, working title, The Veteran –although I know that’s going to change. I also have another book I’ll be publishing in the new year.

What’s the best writing advice anyone ever gave you?

Not to follow writing advice slavishly. The rules are useful, but you need to learn how to break them.

Want to learn more about Jennifer R. Povey and Risen Day? Check out her :
Website, Facebook, and Tumblr.

Or better yet, purchase a copy of Risen Day.

Thanks to author Jennifer R. Povey for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author Tanya Lisle on December 13. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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KathrynSullivan pic Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, Kathryn Sullivan. Kathryn writes young adult science fiction and fantasy. Her Doctor Who-related works include the essay, “The Fanzine Factor,” in the Hugo winning Chicks Dig Time Lords and essays in Children of Time: Companions of Doctor Who and Outside In: 160 New Perspectives on 160 Doctor Who Stories By 160 Writers. She also has reviews in the Star Trek-related Outside In Boldly Goes and Outside In Makes It So. She is owned by a large cockatoo, who graciously allows her to write about other animals, as well as birdlike aliens. Kathryn lives in Winona, Minnesota, where the river bluffs along the Mississippi River double as cliffs on alien planets or the deep mysterious forests in a magical world.

She also mentioned, she couldn’t find enough stories with girls as the main characters when she was growing up, so now she writes stories where girls are the explorers, the wizards, and the ones who solve problems and rescue people.

kathryn sullivan book Kathryn’s latest book, Agents, Adepts & Apprentices, is an imaginative read for those who love short stories. A quick summary for my readers:  From EPPIE Award winner Kathryn Sullivan come stories of magic and off-world adventure sure to appeal to readers of all ages. Here are tales of wizards training apprentices and interstellar operatives protecting “primitive” worlds. How does one university cope with a student from very far away, and where do some wizards get their supplies? And what’s the deal with the cat whiskers?

Where did the idea come from for your latest book, Agents, Adepts & Apprentices?
Several of the short stories in Agents, Adepts & Apprentices were inspired by things in the real world. “The Demons’ Storeroom” resulted after I was at a garage sale and wondered how a wizard might view the items there. “Transfer Student” was written while I was in college in the days before ADA and was my take on how an alien might try to maneuver around my campus. “Goodbye, Jennie!” was inspired by a newspaper article about a meteor shower.

Who is your favorite character in the book—and why?
I think Salanoa, the wizard on the cover of the book. There’s a few short stories with her as a little girl (“Horsefeathers” and “Curses, Foiled Again”) when she’s learning to become a wizard, and a brief appearance by her as an adult in another story. She’s very determined, very smart and a good teacher. She appears again in my two YA fantasy books.

Is your book traditionally published, indie published, or self published?
Zumaya Publications is a small press that publishes both in trade paperback and in electronic formats. The advantages to publishing with a small press is that you have input to the cover art—and Zumaya found a wonderful artist who produced a gorgeous cover. Zumaya handled getting the book out in several electronic formats. Small presses are much more savvy about ebooks, which means the prices for those are much more reasonable than those books with the big traditional publishers. Royalty rates with small press are much better than with the big traditional publishers. The disadvantage is that small press books don’t have the distribution of the big traditional publishers.

What is your writing process like—are you an architect (planner) or gardener (pantser)?
With the short stories in this collection, I was definitely a pantser. Some of those stories just started off with a character or a scene and went from there.

What was your favorite book as a child?
I found my dad’s science fiction collection at an early age, and the books that stuck with me were James Schmitz’s Agent of Vega, James White’s Sector General series, and a series that my dad borrowed from a friend and handed to me: J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

Lord of the Rings was much richer than the Edgar Rice Burroughs series I had read in my dad’s collection. Sector General, being a series set around an intergalactic hospital, had aliens as different as large caterpillars and multi-tentacled creatures working together with humans. Agent of Vega had an intergalactic agency which had women as main characters (which was not usual back then). I still see the influence of those books in my short story collection.

What writing project are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on a middle grade/YA book set on a colony planet where the main character wants to be an explorer like her grandmother, who discovered the planet.

Want to learn more about Kathryn Sullivan and Agents, Adepts & Apprentices? Check out her :  Website and Facebook page.

Or better yet, purchase a copy of Agents, Adepts & Apprentices from Amazon or Zumaya.

Thanks to author Kathryn Sullivan for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author Jennifer R. Povey on December 11. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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