Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
After growing up in Maryland and realizing that I hate winter, I applied for graduate school in only warm places. I landed at University of Florida, getting a PhD in astronomy. I managed to avoid winter for a good ten years, living in California, then Louisiana. But work brought me back to Maryland, and to be a single, self-published author, it helps to have steady income. I now work on weather satellites for NOAA, which is super-fun.
I drafted my nine-book series before I started down the road to publishing. The first book came out in September 2017, and by September 2018, I'm on track to have the first six out. I knew from the start that I wanted to write a series, and while these books have a motivating character arc that takes nine books to finish, each one has a unique villain that the crew must face in an action-packed thriller that can utterly exhausting to write.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
The first book in the series is called "The Disappeared." I started with a girl looking out her window, seeing the glow of the planet below. Everything evolved from that moment. Who was she? Why was she there? What else is out that window? What's going on behind her? I learn a lot about my worlds through discovery writing, and while most of these scenes don't make it into the final draft, every one is an important part of the journey.
The first two books of my series actually started as a single unit – the story of how my crew got together. But because the book took place on two worlds and had two distinct villains, I ultimately decided to separate the stories, so that I could spend more time delving into the unique cultures of each world. When I created my lead character for the new Book 1, Corey, I had already done a fair amount of writing with the other crew members. I threw her into a scene with my Captain to see how they reacted to each other. The results were adorable. I love doing that – taking characters developed independently and tossing them together to see if they're friends.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
One day, I decided to try yoga. I hadn't done it since high school, and I'd hated it in high school, but as I am now an adult, and I don't have to pay to try a yoga class at my gym, I showed up. I hated it. I get SO BORED. So I took my characters and put them in the yoga class, one-by-one, to see if any of them liked it better. Thankfully, one did. I had no idea she did yoga/meditation, and I'd been writing her for ten years! Needless to say, this is now written into her character, and I was even able to throw in a reference to it in "The Disappeared."
What authors, or books have influenced you?
"Black Holes and Time Warps" by Kip Thorne. Not only did I enjoy the science, but he wrote about his time in graduate school (with Stephen Hawking). I remember reading and thinking "these sound like cool people. I should go to graduate school." And I did. I think there's a lot of power in a person's life story.
What are you working on now?
Getting Book 5 edited enough so that I'm not ashamed to show it to a beta-reader. (After going through beta-reading and edits for the previous four, I can anticipate comments and the story is there, but I need to fix one point in the world building before I send it off.)
Also, I'm choreographing a show for a local community theater.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I'm still too new at this. We'll see if this one works. 🙂
As I'm a science fiction writer, I know a lot of my audience goes to science fiction conventions, and that will be a great place for me to meet my audience face-to-face.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
I'm still collecting advice, but here it goes: talk to other authors. If they have a book out, chances are, they know something you don't. I thought I wanted to go traditional publishing or nothing, until I spoke to other authors. There's a big difference between reading a blog and talking to a person. Go where the authors are and talk to them.
Second – if you ever have a contract in hand, spend the money on a literary lawyer. Not a lawyer friend who does some other kind of law, but someone who specializes in literary contracts. This is your life. This is your work. It's worth it to consult someone who has read a thousand contracts and can pick up on nuances that can't be learned overnight by consulting online blogs.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
"Never walk your child farther than you're willing to carry them back."
Told to me by a man who had hiked his kids three miles up a mountain to go on a cave tour. My family was on the way up, he was on the way back. I don't have children, but I still consider this excellent advice.
What are you reading now?
"Red Planet Blues" by Robert J. Sawyer. I was in Florida for a work thing, and I'd finished all the books I'd brought, so I walked two miles to the nearest Barnes & Noble (in Florida, in July), and I was not going to leave until I found a book to read on the plane. I walked away with more than one of his books. I liked this one because it combined my two favorite things: science fiction and gum-shoe detective stories.
What’s next for you as a writer?
Book 6: Sky Glow. I started reading my first draft, and it doesn't have the right hook, which is great, because that means I get to come up with new action sequences! But I feel like I should read the rest of the book first, so that I remember what I wrote.
I have two spin-off shorts that are nearly done editing. One is a sweet story about Saskia (the one who liked yoga), and the other is a Food Memoir for one of my characters who is very creative in the kitchen. I take some of the recipes mentioned in the novel, spell them out, and weave them into his backstory. Both have more drama than action, and they'll go out to subscribers of my newsletter first!
Also, I'm percolating this idea for a completely new, unrelated story about a telepath named Tabitha … I'm not ready to say more.
What is your favorite book of all time?
Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams. It starts in an airport. I used to read it whenever I was in an airport. Once for an audition, I had to do a monologue, so I did the airport soliloquy, and now I know the opening by heart.