SciFi Blog tour – Tabitha

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Bio

Tabitha Chirrick is an author of all things speculative, geeky, and/or badass. Her most recent release is a YA Space Opera called Overshadowed, which she feels includes an about-right number of explosions. She makes her base in a little-known town so close to San Diego that it’s just much easier to say “San Diego.” She lives in San Diego.

Tell us about your novel, Overshadowed.

Sure thing! Overshadowed is a YA Sci-fi about an orphaned refugee who teams up with a raider princess and a dangerous test subject to take down a group of invading alien shapeshifters called Rokkir. I like to pitch is as Star Wars meets Avatar: The Last Airbender (the kickass TV show, not the movie)

It’s got space pirates, war-time intrigue, explosions, and just a dash of romance. I had a lot of fun writing this one, and I’m currently working on its sequel.

 

What is the hardest thing about writing?

That’s a tough one, because writing can be pretty challenging. Developing three dimensional characters with meaningful arcs that affect story, developing story that lets characters shine, filling in plot holes, developing a unique voice, pacing everything just right… It’s almost like a giant, 3,000 piece puzzle, and it has to be assembled perfectly for it to actually work.

But I think one of the hardest parts – despite all that – is pushing through the insecurity those challenges can bring about. In the middle of writing a book, it can feel pointless, like the story is total garbage, like the characters are uninteresting cardboard cutouts of overused cliches, like there are a million other books out there better than the one I’m working on, so why even bother?

I think writing itself is challenging, but oftentimes, the biggest challenge is me getting in my own way. I relentlessly pull in outside factors that have nothing to do with the story. Things like: would other writers judge me for this? Is this even good? Does anyone really love me? Maybe I should become a doctor instead.

I see a lot of other writers do this, too. We get in our own ways. But when I can push those doubts away (especially the all-consuming question of whether or not my fans are shills paid by my mom) I make progress. Then it’s a matter of fitting the puzzle together, piece by piece.

Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?

I think I end up having long periods of time between one writing binge and another, but it’s never really planned. When I hand off my story to beta readers, for example, I stop working on the book because what’s the point of continuing to work while I’m waiting for the feedback that’s going to inform my editing process?

As for writing a draft and leaving it to simmer, wanting for the light of day, I’m not good at that. I’ve heard the endless benefits of letting a book percolate, but upon finishing a draft, I’m always motivated to get cracking on the next one. I do my best work when I’m motivated, so for me it would be silly not to work for the sake of…what, not working, so later when I’m unmotivated and have to remind myself of the story’s intricate details, I can work harder? I guess? This idea has never jived with me. Breaks from happenstance? Sure. Forced breaks? Ehhhh. Know your process and what works for you, is the advice I try to write by.

What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing and traditional publishing?

I think the decision of how to publish is very personal. It depends on you, what kind of career you want, what kind of books you write, and how you want to spend your time. I think citing certain things as advantages or disadvantages is a little presumptive, because everyone has different tastes. Some people might not want to have “full control.” They might not care about choosing their cover designer, they might not care about setting their price point. Other authors might care less about being on a bookshelf and more about having a professional editor they don’t have to vet and pay for. I believe everyone chooses their publishing path for their own reasons, and despite a lot of pushback on self-publishing, I think both paths are valid.

I chose to self-publish Overshadowed. For me, the biggest benefit of this path is that I get out directly what I put in. The harder I work, the better I write, the smarter I market, the more I blog and connect with my fans, the more people buy my book. If I get lazy, my numbers drop. There’s no relying on anyone else to do their job right. There’s no getting frustrated at a team who isn’t giving my writing enough attention. There’s just me working for me, and I like that. I like seeing the direct results of my efforts.

The biggest benefits of traditional publishing – in my mind – are validation and reach.  Self-publishing doesn’t prohibit you from hiring a professional cover designer, a professional editor, or even a publicist, if you really want one, but it’s unlikely you have decades of contacts and tried and true relationships with booksellers. If I’m willing to spend the money, I can get a product comparable to a traditionally published book, but I’d be hard-pressed to get it into international bookstores.

As for validation, how fulfilling is being “chosen?” That’s pleasant to anybody. Who doesn’t want to rise to the top of a slush pile and “win” an agent and get paid in advance for something they wrote? I imagine to many traditionally published authors who look down on self-publishing, self-publishing looks like cheating. Skipping the slush pile? Making some money anyway? Come on, man. No one likes a cheater.

I think the real winners in this game are the hybrid authors, though. In fact, one of my favorite authors, Rachel Aaron, is hybrid, and she has an EXCELLENT article on self-publishing vs. traditional publishing. I highly recommend it if you want answers instead of my senseless ramble.

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?

I wrote a ton of stories as a kid, but even though it’s not the first, my most memorable early creation was a short, hand-drawn picture book for a school contest I made when I was in second grade. The book was called “The Tiger’s Lunch.”

I’m pretty sure the story followed a Toucan who was trying very hard not to end up the tiger’s lunch. In the end, Toucan made Tiger a sandwich, and they ended up being pals. It won second place. I don’t remember getting the award, but I like to falsely remember that my acceptance speech involved a sombering tirade about breaking down barriers between bird and feline kind. And maybe that is what happened. I hear the book did much for Toucan-Tiger relations.

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SciFi Blog Tour – Heather Hayden

Today I’m interviewing Heather Hayden for the SciFi blog tour! I’m excited for this because I love the cover. 🙂

 

Bio:

Though a part-time editor by day, Heather Hayden’s not-so-secret identity is that of a writer—at night she pours heart and soul into science fiction and fantasy novels. In March 2015 she published her first novella, Augment, a YA science fiction story filled with excitement, danger, and the strength of friendship. She immediately began work on its sequel, Upgrade, which continues the adventures of Viki, a girl who loves to run, and her friend Halle, an AI. Her latest release is a short story “Beneath His Skin,” which is part of an anthology her writer’s group put together called From the Stories of Old: A Collection of Fairy Tale Retellings. You can learn more about Heather and her stories through her blog and her Twitter, both of which consist of equal amounts of writerly things and random stuff she’s interested in.

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Questions:

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Don’t dwell on the dark times. When things get rough, reading and writing will help you make it through. Don’t abandon your books or your stories, because that will only make it worse. Do things for yourself, not just for others. It’s not selfish, it’s taking care of yourself. Run on the beach at night. Take long bike rides. Read.

Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?

It depends on the book. A short story might get a few days or a week. A novel might get a month or even longer, in some cases. Augment didn’t have that luxury because I had a strict 6-month window in which to write, edit and publish it. But its sequel, Upgrade, had a gentler deadline and took closer to ten months to complete the first draft.

What are your ambitions for your writing career?

Eventually I would like to earn my living through writing. Though it may take a few years to reach that point (or longer), it’s how I want to live. I’m not looking to become the next J. K. Rowling or anything, just earning enough to afford an apartment or a house, food, and travel; that last is especially important, since I want to see the world, and plane tickets can get pretty pricey depending on the destination.

I’m not as proliferous (yet, anyways) as other writers I know, who can release an amazing book every few months, but I’m working hard and eventually I hope to reach that goal. I’ve already released Augment, a YA science fiction novel (2015), and From the Stories of Old, an anthology with other writers (2016). I hope to release Upgrade early this year, with other publications later in the year.

What drew you to write science fiction?

Ever since I was a child, fantasy has fascinated me. When I started reading science fiction, I found it just as captivating. For that reason, I read both genres and also write both genres. Augment, in particular, drew a lot from my knowledge of computer science, genetics, and implant technology. Augment was my Senior Project (a requirement for graduation at my college), and in it I combined all my passions—for writing, for science, for science fiction. I’d written science fiction before, but never to the level of technical detail thatAugment required. It was challenging, but also rewarding.

What hobbies do you have, other than writing?

My hobbies tend to vary, depending on where I am and who I’m with. Sometimes I enjoy beading—usually making bracelets, since the loom I use is small. Other times I spend more free time gaming—often Minecraft, but also a variety of RPGs and 4X strategy games. Or I might play a lot of the card game Magic the Gathering. I’ve done knitting (scarf), crocheting (afghan), and cross-stitching (various projects) in the past, too. As a bookworm, I also read a lot, but I don’t consider that a hobby—more like sustenance for life.

Author Interview – James Moran

Today’s SciFi Interview 🙂

Jim is a random guy on the Internet who accidentally fell into this whole “writing” thing. He is terribly inexperienced in virtually every aspect of the writing endeavor, and is currently just making things up as he goes. What fun! He has a blog.

http://www.anexecutorswork.com/

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?

In my current work, Focus, I’ve really got a party of four. But if I had to pick single main character, a first among equals, It’d probably be Adam. He and his companions, as an experiment, are press-ganged into learning how to wield an extra-dimensional power. (It’s a long story. Ha! And the story is called Focus.) In Adam’s case, he learns to focus this power in a way that nobody has ever seen before. Since he knew nothing of this power before the experiment, he’s as ignorant of this new aspect as everybody else. Learning what this new aspect of power is, wondering what it might be, fearing what it might be, is a major driver of Focus.

 

Along the way, Adam compensates for the ignorance of his potential abilities via the exploration of more mundane approaches to problem solving. This causes a stir all its own, and this “stir” becomes the driving force for the next story.

 

But of course he doesn’t do it by himself. His companions are as much a part of the story as he is. He just happens to be the source of conflict.

How much research do you do?

My research efforts are all over the place.

 

One of the great things about soft science fiction is that, to an extent, you can just make things up as you go, as long as you stick to the rules that you’ve defined. I don’t have to research my magic system, I just have to invent it.  On the other hand, I do have to follow those rules, and those rules have to make sense, or it’s just chaos. And really, I strive for at least a passing relationship with reality wherever I can’t avoid it.

 

And boy, do I try to avoid it. For instance, my spaceships need to travel interstellar distances, but the narrative requires consistent time scales between planets. So my ships need what I like to call LANGADAR drives. (Let’s All Not Give A Damn About Relativity.) Because I didn’t want to do all the research into the physics of light-speed travel, I eschewed faster than light travel (travelling the entire distance from A to B at some crazy-impossible velocity) for jump drives (disappearing from point A and appearing at point B instantaneously). Voila! No time dilation. No red-shifting. None of that.

 

On the other hand, for Focus, I needed a selection of naturally occurring, relatively basic molecules. H20 of course, and N2, but Fe2O3 also plays a part, and others will later. For Dissonance, I needed an imposing piece of heavy equipment that could reasonably walk on feet instead of roll on wheels. So I learned quite a bit more than I expected to about tunnel boring machines. Just a couple of examples among many.

 

So my research comes in fits and starts, and only as necessary. But it’s very much something that happens.

 How often do you write, and do you have a special time during the day to write?

They say that you should write a little each day, and they’re right about that. I write at least a little every day. It’s not always on my main work in progress; often it’s user documentation, or a critique of somebody else’s work, or a random blog post, or correspondence with somebody. But I approach every writing endeavor as something that should be done well, and that should hold at least a baseline interest for the reader. Proper punctuation, proper grammar, a decent progression of ideas. A narrative that holds together. Even if I’m texting someone, I do my best to observer proper grammar and punctuation. I loathe txtspk.

 

I’d estimate that I write at least three thousand words a day in various formats. Probably more, on most days.

 

If you want me to limit my answer strictly to my works in progress, I don’t write every day, but I do write multiple days a week. I don’t really have a special time of day, but I find that I can better accomplish different tasks at different times of day. I do a lot of plotting and troubleshooting during my commute to my day job, to the point where I rarely listen to the radio. On weekends, I find myself most motivated in the early morning or in the early afternoon. If I have a serious case of writer’s block, I’ve found that relaxing late in the evening with a laptop, a whiskey, and a comfortable chair can work wonders.

 

I don’t exactly have a significant depth of experience, but I’d say that when I seriously buckle down on a work-in-progress effort, I’ll get anywhere from five to fifteen thousand words a week. It mostly depends upon how much “free” time I have.

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?

This probably comes down to personal preference. For me, it doesn’t play an important part, because I’ve read any number of books now where the scene depicted on the cover doesn’t actually happen in the story. That’s annoying.

 

On the other hand, the cover art plays a part. It’ll (usually) at least tell me what kind of book I’m looking at. For instance, if I’m in an airport bookstore scanning the rack for a last-minute something for the flight, I’ll steer away from any covers sporting a fainting damsel clutching a shirtless Fabio. That scene may or may not happen in the book, but I don’t really care, because that’s not the book I’m looking for.

 

So, yeah. Judging a book by its cover plays a part in the initial winnowing process, at least for me. But only at that very high level. Otherwise, I could hardly care less. Good cover art is certainly fun to look at, but bad cover art just gets me reading the book’s blurb sooner.

What is your favourite motivational phrase?

Quit whining and do your job.

Author Interview – H.T. Lyon

I’m catching up on Author Interviews, and here’s this weeks great guy, please check out his blog, it’s really interesting, and thoughtful.

Author Name: H.T. Lyon

Blog Site: https://beyondescapevelocity.wordpress.com/

Q&A:

Q: How often do you write, and do you have a special time during the day to write? 
A: I write when I can. Having Google Docs (and before that One Note) is a great way to make writing portable. I should be able to pick up a device and get writing but I do seem to need some quiet space to get into it. Nanowrimo was a great motivation to get writing. I’d write in my lunchtime and in the evening and whenever I could. I hit the target and it’s the most productive I’ve ever been. I try to write once a day but sometimes only manage once a week. If there was any chance I could make to my writing, it would be to write more often. Style be damned if you don’t have the words to start with!

Q: For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?    
A: Personally, I’ve grown up with paper books so I am more comfortable reading them. I would prefer to be more comfortable with ebooks though. They are more environmentally friendly and also, it would be nice to be more comfortable reading using the platform I primarily intend to publish in. Weight for weight, the ebook has the advantage. You could take one paper book on a long plane flight but for the same weight, 1,000 ebooks. I can and have read books in ebook format and enjoyed them immensely. The main difference I find is that I am a lot faster when reading a paper book.

Q: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing as far as content?  
A: The number on challenge for me is injecting personality into my characters. I really struggle there, I want them to pop out and I haven’t managed to get into the space where I can get into the moment and inhabit a character shoes, especially where the character is unlike myself. I do find the best way to get over this is to carry on with the draft and let the actions define the characters. The needs of the plot eventually sorts this out for me! The thing I then need to deal with is their voice. It’s not point the villain and the hero having the same speech patterns!

Q: Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?    
A: The first story I remember reading that had a major impact on me was Lord of the Rings. It was a massive book and I tried several times to follow in my brother’s footsteps and read the damn thing but I could never really get it started. Then one day I flipped to page 119 (I think) and was immediately in the battle for Weathertop from then on, I made it all the way through and had enough context to get through the beginning again! What I took from it was an amazement that someone could create a world like that and an amazement that I could get lost in it. I think my friends heard about the book for months after that!

Q: Did you have any ideas about being a writer that becoming a writer changed?  
A: I always thought that writing was a job like being an accountant, people would learn to do it and then become good. Being around writers online has certainly been an education. Even the experienced of us struggle. Its the ultimate creative exercise. You can become better at it but it will always be something that is hard. For anyone standing at the edge and wondering whether to give it a go, I encourage you to do so. It only takes one positive reaction and it all becomes worthwhile.

About H.T. Lyon.
I am aspiring writer of science fiction. A futurist with a keen interest in where our society is heading, I tend focus most of my attention on stories that examine the direction our society is taking or that shows where we could end up. Optimistic my nature, I believe that one day we will look to settle the Solar System as we outgrow our planet and some of my stories examine how this could look. Currently, I have a number of novels underway and some short stories. My aim is to get one of these up and published before the end of the year around the other commitments that exist in my life.

 

New Release – Sentient by Dr. Victor Acquista

Today, I’m excited to welcome – Dr. Victor Acquista 🙂 

Dr. Victor Acquista has become a successful international author and speaker following careers as a primary-care physician and medical executive. He previously helped to co-found The Collaborative for Community Health, a non-profit, is a founding member of River Valley Market, a food co-op, and authored a syndicated Health and Wellness column.

His non-fiction and his workshops focus on personal growth and transformation, especially as pertains to health and wellness. His fiction includes social messaging intended to get the reader engaged in thought provoking themes.

Dr. Acquista has a longstanding interest in consciousness studies, is a student of Integral Theory, and strives to do his part to make our planet a wee bit better. He lives with his wife in New Mexico.

Sentient
is his debut fiction novel. More info can be found at www.victoracquista.com.

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————— Release day is today Occtober the 15th.

Sentientan epic tale of humanity’s defeat and resurgence spanning 168,000 years of struggle is a science fiction debut from Dr. Victor Acquista…..

Synopsis

The Mind Warriors of T’rox, intent on being the supreme sentient race in the galaxy, annihilated the home world of Adden, a place where the people had lived telepathically connected in peace and harmony. The species slim chance to survive rests in a distant colony, genetically altered to block telepathy and evade detection by T’rox.

Anyeuros escaped the destruction of Adden, traveling disembodied for 168,000 years before arriving on New Adden, only to learn of the disastrous consequences of the genetic manipulation—violence, poverty, abuse, prejudice.

T’rox is on the verge of collapse, a result of social stagnation and infighting among the clans. Discovery of New Adden, the lost colony, provides a chance to reinvigorate their race with a fresh conquest.

However, discovering their past mission was incomplete, a resulting conflict ensues, but a troubled physicist, his young neighbor, and an artificial intelligence may be the key to defeating them. Heroic misfits and outcasts are woven into three intersecting story lines and will determine humanity’s fate.

Character Quotes

“When we bear triumph or failure alone, we remain alone. Our strength lies in our togetherness. Bonded together, we celebrate our triumphs and we endure our failings. This is the way of our people…this we must not forget.” – Janna, First Colonist, New Adden

“There are limits of acceptability. Weird and eccentric are tolerable but just barely. Once you cross over into crazy, no one wants to have anything to do with you. Sometimes, you don’t even want to deal with yourself.” –Professor Jeremy Strickland, Earth

“When you rise to power on the wings of fear you must depend on fear to remain aloft.”
Ka ‘Stan, Ghal of T’rox, 5th Epoch

Praise for Sentient

“Sentient is a superb debut, a rollicking sci-fi saga that beautifully combines action and philosophy, visionary ideas, and prescient social critique. In creating an alien world with its own cosmology and rituals, Acquista sheds light on our own struggling little planet, and does so with humor and style. This is a work to be savored.” –JJ Amaworo Wilson, author of Damnificados

Purchase Links

http://mybook.to/Sent

Watch for more links to come!

Want to Feature Victor Acquista?

If you would like a copy of the book for review or to conduct an interview with Dr. Victor Acquista, please contact Erin Al-Mehairi, Marketing and Publicity at Mirror Matter Press and Hook of a Book Media: hookofabook@hotmail.com.

Mirror Matter Press

For more on Mirror Matter Press, publishers of science fiction and fantasy, go to www.mirrormatterpress.com. Immersing Readers in Other Worlds…