Daughters of Destiny Release Day – Author – Raven Oak

Introducing Raven Oak –

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Bestselling science fiction & fantasy author Raven Oak is better known for her novels Amaskan’s Blood (EPIC Awards 2016 Finalist, Ozma Awards 2016 Finalist), Class-M Exile, and the collection Joy to the Worlds: Mysterious Speculative Fiction for the Holidays (Foreword Book of the Year 2016 Finalist). She spent most of her K-12 education doodling stories and 500 page monstrosities that are forever locked away in a filing cabinet. When she’s not writing, she’s getting her game on with tabletop games, indulging in cartography, or staring at the ocean. She lives in Kirkland, WA with her husband, and their three kitties who enjoy lounging across the keyboard when writing deadlines approach. Raven is currently at work on Amaskan’s War and The Eldest Traitor.

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Reviews of Amaskan’s Blood:

“With a ferocious-yet-fragile heroine, resonant themes, and a sweepingly gorgeous backdrop, Amaskan’s Blood delivers food for thought and frank enjoyment.” –Maia Chance, author of the bestselling Fairy Tale Fatal series

“An exciting epic fantasy filled with intrigue and layers upon layers of well crafted secrets and lies.” 4 out of 5 stars. –Stephanie Hildreth of 100 Pages a Day

“Holy crap, this is good!” –Seattle Geekly

Facebook Author Page: http://facebook.com/authorroak
Goodreads’ Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/raven_oak

SciFi Blog Tour – C. L. Feindel

Excited to introduce to you – C. L. Feindel

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Bio: C. L. Feindel resides in central Texas with her multi-talented husband, Noah. While traversing academia, civil service, and chronic illness in early adulthood, she founded the whole-foods blog ACleanPlate.com and now works as a cook, photographer, and educator. She pens fiction in her spare time, with a particular passion for character development and genre-blending. More info about her and her debut novel can be found at CLFeindel.com.

Summary, if needed: With its advanced weaponry, the ghost ship Revenant was supposed to turn the tide of the war… but went missing instead. Ten years later, the Federation’s hold on the three suns is firmly cemented and corrupt in every way, and any Separatist hopes or dreams seem to have gone the way of Old Earth and its dinosaurs.

Grayson Delamere was still a child when the war ended and she doesn’t much care why it was fought in the first place. In the cold, dark vac of space, most lives are short and brutal with or without the Federation’s interference. She’s worked hard and kept her head down, making her living as a mechanic on any ship that’d have her. If she’s broken a few laws and made a few enemies along the way, well, that’s just the way life is on the fringe of the Trisolar System.

But now, someone has discovered all of her dirty little secrets… and will hold them hostage to ensure Grayson’s help in the most dangerous job of her life: To recover the Revenant and rekindle the fires of rebellion.

Q: Do you remember the first story you ever read and the impact it had on you?

A: I’ve been reading longer than I can remember, and I was always inspired by stories of all kinds–not just books, but movies, TV shows, and music, too. So it’s hard to go back that far or say what had the biggest impact on me as a young reader. But I do remember getting a lot of positive reinforcement from my teachers and parents at a very young age, like having my stories put in the school’s library, being allowed to read books of my own choosing while the class read from textbooks, or my dad taking me to the library every weekend even though he didn’t read himself. All of that encouragement and enabling had a huge impact and I’m so grateful for it.

 

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

A: I feel like I work best when I’m suffering from insomnia. The midnight hours are wonderfully isolating for really diving into your world and your characters. Of course, that’s not an ideal time to be doing anything if you want to stay healthy enough to pay the bills. So I try to get it out of my system first thing in the morning while it’s still dark outside, or if there’s a minor thing that’s really nagging at me, I’ll take care of it just before bed. Being self-employed means I can do whatever I want whenever I want, but I try to stick to a predictable routine for the sake of my household’s health and sanity.

 

Q: Do you work with an outline or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?

A: A little bit of both. I tend to be hyper-organized about everything in life and having a thorough outline to act as a prompt can help me sit down to write whether I feel inspired to or not. On the other hand, just seeing where a chapter takes you can yield some surprising results. Some of my favorite events were completely unplanned. So I try to go in with a loose outline and be open to whatever direction the story might take me.

 

Q: Is it the same way when you develop characters?

A: Pretty much. I like to start with a general concept–a lone-wolf mechanic with PTSD, for example–and that persona will grow as they interact with other characters or deal with curveballs from the plot. Sometimes my general concept winds up becoming obsolete in the process and I have to go back during editing to tweak that character’s history, which is fine. What I wind up with is inevitably better than what I started with.

 

Q: Any advice about what to do and what not to do when writing?

A: Everyone’s going to have their own needs, their own style. You’re going to have to experiment to find what works best for you both in terms of getting yourself to write and putting your best words on the page. But I think the best universal advice is to just get off the internet! I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve wasted clicking over to Twitter or checking my e-mail when I needed to be bashing my way through writer’s block.

 

 

SciFi Blog Tour – Alasdair Shaw

Introducing –

Alasdair Shaw grew up in Lancashire, within easy reach of the Yorkshire Dales, Pennines, Lake District and Snowdonia. After stints living in Cambridge, North Wales, and the Cotswolds, he has lived in Somerset since 2002.

He has been rock climbing, mountaineering, caving, kayaking and skiing as long as he can remember. Growing up he spent most of his spare time in the hills. Recently he has been doing more sea kayaking and swimming.

Alasdair studied at the University of Cambridge, leaving in 2000 with an MA in Natural Sciences and an MSci in Experimental and Theoretical Physics. He went on to earn a PGCE, specialising in Science and Physics, from the University of Bangor. A secondary teacher for over fifteen years, he has plenty of experience communicating scientific ideas.

 

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Where was your favourite reading spot as a child? Where is it now?

Then and now it is curled up in bed. Warm, cosy, and immersed in whatever world the book describes.

If you won ten million dollars tonight, what would you do?

Buy land with caves that currently have poor or non-existent access. Manage the land as nature reserves, with access consistent with conservation.

Set up a scholarship for true all-round students – high academic performers across arts and science as well as taking part in outdoor activities, music and sport.

Move somewhere nearer the mountains.

 

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When you develop characters do you already know who they are before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go?

I have a pretty good idea before starting. However, they do take on lives of their own, especially when they start interacting with other characters and the situations they find themselves in. A recent new character, Alexandra Seivers, was originally written as a man, but by I was halfway through The Perception of Prejudice she just had to become a woman. Hopefully I managed to correct all the ‘he’s and ‘him’s.

Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?

I write on a computer. As I have the files on Onedrive they are shared automatically between my PC, two laptops and Surface. Wherever I am when I find I have a little while to write I can access them.

Recently I have been taking a notebook with me when I go out walking. Sitting on mountains jotting down bits of a book is somehow very satisfying, even if my pen hand does get ridiculously cold. I take particular amusement form the fact that the notebook was part of a prize I won for ‘major contributions to A level and GCSE Physics publications’ (the several hundred pound cheque was the more exciting part when I opened the envelope).

Dictation seems to be popular nowadays, especially with the advances in speech recognition on computers. I find I cannot write well without having the text in front of me, and the many inaccuracies of homophones and punctuation seriously bug me. Also, I constantly edit as I go along, and rarely have a whole sentence in my head before it goes down. I have considered dictation might be useful when I am driving, however, so might try that out at some point.

 

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Is being a writer a gift or a curse?

Given the two options, I’d say gift. Anything that allows you to communicate and share ideas and passion is a good thing.

 

The Two Democracies: Revolution science fiction series starts with Independence, and continues with Liberty and The Perception of Prejudice. His second novel, Equality, will hopefully be released in summer 2017, followed by Fraternity the year after.

 

You can sign up to Alasdair Shaw’s mailing list at http://www.alasdairshaw.co.uk/newsletter  and see what else he gets up to on his website at http://www.alasdairshaw.co.uk.

The Two Democracies universe intersects with our own at https://twitter.com/IndieAI and https://www.facebook.com/twodemocracies.

 

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.