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 – 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.

 

SciFi Blog Hop – Author Interview – Imogen Keeper

 

For my first interview for the SciFi blog hop. I’m excited to welcome Imogen! 

MY BIO

Imogen Keeper started writing seriously after trying on a few dozen other hobbies, but in a lot of ways, she’s written her whole life. In third grade, she tried to write a mystery, and in fifth, she tried again, with limited success. College brought a passion for literary analysis and art history. So many papers written in those four years.

An MFA in design, and a brief career in Interiors, followed by the hard decision to be a stay-at-home mom resulted in a lady who didn’t enjoy sitting idle, a long-napping baby, and a lot of time on her hands. The result – fantasies finally getting put down on the blank page!

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The release date for The Bonding is 8/12/16….

So, what have you written?

I recently finished a full-length novel called The Bonding. It’s a very steamy sci-fi that was, quite honestly, a blast to write. I made every possibly mistake a writer could make, plot circles, dead spots, and filters. Editing was a disaster, but so much fun.

In so many ways, that was me at my purest, because I wasn’t hemmed in by all the writerly laws that I know about now. I just sat down at my computer and the words poured out. All my beta readers have torn through it. Reading it in a matter of days, rather than the weeks allotted. It’s been called addictive. I just wanted it to be fun, and I think I succeeded there.

Who’s your main character? What inspired you to write them?

I work on multiple pieces at once to keep my mind fresh and my level of engagement high. There are so many characters I love, bouncing around in my head…. How to choose one?

I suppose, at the moment Cara, from a story I’m working on now called The Night Market. I’ve been in her head the most recently. She lives in my take on an Omegaverse, and she’s one of the omegas. Poor thing. In my world they are called Felinas, and they’ve got a rough lot in life. She resists becoming just one more omega with teeth, nails, knives and spit. She’s a fighter, and she’s snarky, and she’s definitely not a pushover. I always feel invigorated after spending a little time in her head.

And then there’s Tam from The Bonding. My favorite creation ever. I’m not sure what it says about me that a gruff, potty-mouth alien came so naturally from my fingers as I typed, but he just poured out. I never had to pause to wonder, what would Tam do? I just knew. Tam curses, and kicks butt, but at his core, he’s just a good guy who loves his lady, Nissa.

When did you decide to become a writer?

I’m not sure I did. I quit working when I was in my 6th month of pregnancy. And I dabbled in every hobby under the sun. I gardened. I baked. I cooked. It was sad. I’m not lying when I say this: for about three months, I planned my menus a month in advance. My husband would come home, there would be music playing that coordinated with the country I’d chosen to cook that night. So Jamaica – reggae. Jerk chicken, mango rice, and black beans. Seriously. The amount of time I put in to finding popular Greek music on Greek night, or choosing what went best with Borscht on Russian night was pathetic.

Anyway, I nearly blew up the oven making wheat bread, and my husband and I had gained some weight, and it was time to say goodbye to cooking.

I painted until there was no wall-space left in our house, and one day just sat down at the computer with Tam and Nissa in my mind. I’d dabbled in their story for years, had the first seven chapters down, and the rest just flowed. As I got more serious, my writing got better, and I learned about plotting, and had to do some major edits. I sat down to write thirteen months ago, and in a lot of ways, I never really stood up again. If a day goes by without writing, I feel twitchy, and nervous.

Any tips on what to do and what not to do when writing?

No. Find a way of telling a good story that works for you, or more importantly, your characters as you write. Forget the rules about what not to do…. I’d have said, “don’t head-hop,” about a week ago, but, recently, I was shocked to read – and enjoy – a story that hopped-heads like lice on a nursery playground.

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?

My son, though I’m not sure it’s an inspiration, so much as not having much of a choice. I think with longing of the lazy Sundays my husband and I enjoyed before we had a child. We slept until ten. Now we’re up at seven like clockwork. There’s nothing like a grinning toddler-alarm clock. He’s always happy, and even when I’m so tired, I can barely stand, it’s impossible not to smile when I see how happy he is to see me again.

Link to my blog is –
https://imogenkeeper.wordpress.com/