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.

AudioBook Review – Betrayal

Really enjoyed this one, and am well into the next! A great book and as far as narration goes this book will make you think this is read by two very talented people, hope you pay her well Jeff 🙂

Betrayal: Girl from Above, Book 1 | [Pippa DaCosta]

“wow. enjoyed this a lot!”

I had no idea what this book would involve, I picked it up because I follow Jeff about and love his work. So wasn’t sure on this and never really read the premise, just saw there were two books and I love series.

When this started out of course Jeff does a fantastic job, but I really wasn’t expecting the story to grab my attention so much or for the characters to dig their heels in so deep.

This story will grab your attention and keep you on the edge of your seat from the off. Captain Sheppard is flawed in pain and so so good. His POV really hits home even if you want to hate him for the way he thinks, but the problem is you don’t!

This is a very well thought out novel, the characters bring it to life and Jeff of course does both Male POV and Female so much justice you’d actually think that number 1001 was a different actor. 🙂 he’s that good. lol

Don’t hesitate to pick this one up, I promise you’ll not be disappointed. And I’m already on with the next. I do hope there’s some more still after this one, and I’m defo going to check out more of this writers world, loved it.

AudioBook Review – Star Alliance

This was easy to pick after the ending on the last!

Review as follows 🙂 this was an excellent book, I can’t wait for the next one. Do hurry up guys!

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Star Alliance: Ascension, Book 3 | [Ken Lozito]

“Loved it!”

I put this on straight after the second book and it didn’t disappoint. (after reading some reviews about the books not being worth a credit) I honestly have to say ‘what’ ? Do you guys have any idea what goes into writing something like this, let alone the audio production!

So for a credit, yes this series is well worth spending it on. Don’t let the others put you off.

This part of the series has to be by far the best.

Zack wakes up, trapped on another ship and then sent to the Pit. Just by the sheer name of it you know it’s not going to be a good thing. The characters are all put through the mill here, in locating Zack and in fighting off the constant chase of their enemy. It will have you on the edge of your seat, in fits waiting for something to go right for a change, and hoping that everyone you’re starting to get to love makes it through.

Some of the best moments of the series are in here, from the realisation of the Nershal that not everything is out to kill you, to of course some home truths about the love x 4 that’s on going on the Athena.

Excellent narration once again, and great listen. Of course, I’m really excited for the next one, and hope it’s not too far off into the distance. I’m tempted to go to amazon and see if it’s been published yet, but that just annoys me, as I rarely get time to read.

Thanks guys. One to come back to this one 🙂

AudioBook Review – Weapons of War

I totally had to listen to this asap.

It didn’t disappoint! Roll on book 3 🙂

Weapons of War: Rebellion, Book 2 | [M. R. Forbes]

I was waiting for this and only as I checked out Jeff’s latest had I realised it was out. Why can’t there be a follow button for a series, haha 🙂

Anyway, so yes. This was a really great continuation of the series. We pick back up with both sides of the story, on Earth and in Space.

Donovan and his team are going through some awful conditions and worse situations to get to the resistance that is left. There were some moments here where I cried, it’s so extremely well written that we get to know and love the character in book 1 and yet M.R Forbes delves even deeper with them and makes us feel even more! This book totally pulled my heart out.

Gabrielle and the old Gator… just superb characterisation. Though they go through so much as father and son, as a team on the Magellan they pull out no stops to protect and survive.

This was a totally nail-biting audiobook, the fights the action, the love and people lost along the way. A total must listen.

Only gripe would be that the ending was just as emotional as the rest of the book! and I was like OMG what the… you can’t leave it like that. You just can’t…. haha

Awesome narrator and author, I want the next one. Like now!