Monday, April 30, 2012

BRoP Interview--Christine Fonseca

Today I not only have the honor of starting off the Blog Ring of Power interview, I also get to do it for a friend of mine. I met Christine Fonseca through the long-running Blog Chain. She writes both YA and nonfiction. Here's her official biography:

School psychologist by day, critically acclaimed YA and nonfiction author by night, Christine Fonseca believes that writing is a great way to explore humanity. Her debut YA Gothic series, The Requiem Series, including DIES IRAE and LACRIMOSA, examines the role of redemption, sacrifice and love. Her nonfiction titles include 101 SUCCESS SECRETS FOR GIFTED KIDS and EMOTIONAL INTENSITY IN GIFTED STUDENTS.When she’s not writing or spending time with her family, she can be sipping too many skinny vanilla lattes at her favorite coffee house or playing around on Facebook and Twitter. Catch her daily thoughts about writing and life on her blog. For more information about Christine Fonseca or the series, visit her website  or her blog.

 Let's start by getting to know Christine a bit better:

 How long have you been writing?
I started writing stories as a kid, crafting my own myths and contemporary stories. But I didn’t write with the intention of publishing until April 2009. I, like many, was bitten by a story that would not let me go. It was relentless in its pursuit of me, literally forcing me to write it. And although it was promptly shelved once I really figured out how horrible it was, that story and those characters still speak to me.
When and why did you begin writing?
As I mentioned in the question above, I started writing because the noise in my head was just too loud to ignore. With that first story I discovered an outlet, a creative voice that had been missing for far too long. I continue to write because I feel like I have something to say, if that makes sense.
What genre do you write?
I write a couple of genres – in nonfiction, I write parenting and self-help books for kids and adults that focus on the social and emotional needs of giftedness, as well as empowerment. In fiction, I write YA and New Adult urban fantasy, paranormal, psychological thrillers and contemporary. Yea, I’m pretty eclectic.
What is your favorite theme/genre to write about?
As much as it may seem that I dabble in a lot of genres, I actually write about only one or two themes – self discovery. Whether it is discovering and “owning” your flaws, or overcoming obstacles, and dealing with redemption and sacrifice—every story focuses on emotional development and acceptance in some way.
If you couldn’t be an author, what would your ideal career be?
You know, I think my ideal job is actually what I do in my day job – developing and supporting educational programs designed for children with behavioral and mental health needs. That and speaking.

You can find the rest of Christine's interview on the following blogs:

The Writing Life  Tuesday, May 1st @ Dean
The Creative Process - Wednesday, May 2nd @ Terri
The Technical Aspects -- Thursday, May 3rd @ Teresa
About Your Current Work + The Business Aspects - Friday, May 4th @ Emily 

As if casting out demons isn’t hard enough, five-hundred-year-old Nesy has to masquerade as a teenage girl to do it. Nesy is the best of the warrior angels called Sentinals. She never makes mistakes, never hesitates, never gets emotionally involved. Until she meets Aydan.  
He is evil incarnate; a fallen angel that feeds off the souls of others. Everything Nesy is supposed to hate.  But she can’t, because he’s also the love of her former life as a human girl—a life that ended too soon, tying her to emotions she was never supposed to feel.
Now Nesy must choose between doing her duty—damning Aydan to the fiery depths of hell—or saving him, and condemning herself. 
Author Endorsement(s):
“LACRIMOSA reaches out, grabs readers by the heart, and takes them on an emotional journey from the first page to the last. The last novel you’ll need to read to understand true sacrifice.”
~Elana Johnson, Author of POSSESSION
ISBN: 0984786368 (ISBN 13: 9780984786367)
Hardback and Digital formats from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and fine retailers.

Additional Titles in the series include DIES IRAE (a Requiem Novella), LIBERA ME (Oct 2012) and REQUIEM (March 2013).

Friday, April 27, 2012

Science of the Week 4/27/12

It's the last science post for April. Here are a few news articles from ScienceBlog that I found interesting this week:

"Junk DNA" Can Sense Viral Infection

Glowing Polymers Highlight, Eliminate Prions in the Brain

‘Monster’ Discovered By Amateur Paleontologist

Who's to Blame When Robot Warriors Run Amok?

I found this article on

Can James Cameron--Or Anyone--Really Mine Asteroids?

Finally, the May 2012 issue of Scientific American offers several interesting articles for those interested in science fiction. The topics include predicting extreme weather, a new approach to unifying physics (or an old approach resurrected), tomorrow's medicine, erasing memories, plants that sniff signals from other plants, and an interview with Intel's futurist.

My birthday is tomorrow, so I plan to ease off on the never-ending housework, visit a nearby Celtic Fest, and go out for dinner with my family. Perhaps I may even get the gift of some writing time--a scarcity on the weekend. No matter what your plans are, I hope you enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Paying Forward with Kickstarter and Petridish

Are you familiar with Kickstarter? It's a crowdfunding site for various creative projects. There's also an analogue site for funding science projects; that one is Petridish. Today I'd like to share with you some of the projects I'm backing on both sites. Some of the projects are getting close to their deadlines. If you'd like to back these projects (or others that appeal to you), that would be wonderful, but of course it's up to you.

Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology

This anthology will include works from the 1970s onward. I found out about it through BroadUniverse. There are 35 days left to fund this project.

THE WARLOCK'S CURSE: #3 in the Veneficas Americana series
With less than twenty days left for funding, this project will allow a Nebula-nominated author to continue her series.

Miles to Go/Promises to Keep: a Cosa Nostradamus Project

I've been reading this author since she spoke at my local library a few years ago. Her other works in this world have been traditionally published, but she wants to tell the story of one of the secondary characters. There are less than ten days left to fund this project.

Here are the two science projects I'm backing on Petridish. Both of them involve genetics, which is what drew me to them.

Tracking ancient dog populations in Africa

Village dogs in Africa are intermediate between wild canines and domesticated ones. Studying their genes will not only tell us more about the history of dogs but could also lead to the discovery of genes that affect human and canine health. There's less than a month left to fund this project.

Using Ancient DNA to Reconstruct Avian Extinctions

This project will look at DNA from museum specimens of extinct birds (including the passenger pigeon and the ivory-billed woodpecker, as well as two other species) to determine exactly when these populations began to decline and if habitat loss played a role in their extinctions. It costs $2,000 to sample enough birds to analyze one species. They are asking for $2,000, but they need $8,000 to study all four species listed in the project description. There are less than two months left to fund this project.

Have you backed a crowdfunded project--or started one yourself? Please share your experiences with us.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Check Out "Oh, a Girl Dragon" Blog--and Interview

I normally don't post on Tuesdays anymore, even though it was fun doing Ten-Word Tuesdays. However, I did want to recommend that you check out a new blog written by a friend of mine. It's called "Oh, A Girl Dragon," and it's "Geeky Stuff for Humans with +2 to X Chromosomes." It looks like it'll be an interesting blog to follow.

Today I have the honor of being the first self-published SF author to be interviewed on the site. Sabrina wants to make the author interviews a regular feature, so if you or someone you know fits the bill, please contact her.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Blog Ring of Power: Interview with Jessica Khoury

Jessica Khoury
The Blog Ring of Power is back with another progressive interview. This time, we're interviewing Jessica Khoury. I'm the last interviewer this time, so you can find the About You, The Writing Life, The Creative Process, and About Your Current Work by following the links. We'll finish up with some Words of Wisdom.

Tell us about your route to success –how did you land your agent/publisher? 

The usual way: query letters. Many query letters. And waiting. And phone calls. And agonizing decisions about what agent to go with (and I definitely made the right call; I absolutely love my agent!). Once I had an agent, she handled the submission to publishers. The whole process was a whirlwind. I had my agent within two weeks of sending the first query letter. I had my publisher in than a week after my agent submitted the manuscript. It was crazy, especially since everything I read told me the process took months and months. I guess I just got lucky; we did hit a sweet spot for submitting to publishers, just before the Frankfurt book festival.

What are the most important elements of good writing? 

There is so much to say about this, but I’d say it comes down to the most basic: your idea. You can be a great writer, and even if you’re not, you can learn. There are plenty of books and courses and workshops designed to help you hone the craft. But even if you write the most glorious, captivating prose this planet has seen, it won’t get picked up if your idea isn’t good. Focus on the core concept of your novel: is your idea new? Is it interesting? Will people care? What’s the hook? What’s the zing? With Origin, I tested the waters before I wrote the book. I posted my initial concept on critique sites in the form of a query letter, and when I saw a positive response, I knew I had something worth writing.

What tools are must-haves for writers?  

On Writing by Stephen King. A trustworthy computer (back EVERYTHING up). Time. A solitary place to which you can retreat while writing. And a whole lot of gumption.

Do you have any advice for other writers? 

 Keep writing and keep reading. Don’t stop, whatever you do, and don’t give up. A friend of mine wrote ten novels before her eleventh was picked up and became a NYTimes bestseller. Not every book is going to be a hit, and if it isn’t, don’t waste time. Put it away. Start another one. Keep your forward momentum.

What do you feel is the key to your success? 

Before writing Origin, I’d just finished querying a high fantasy novel I’d spent four years writing. I loved that book, and still do, but I realized that if I was going to make it into bookstores, it wouldn’t be as a high fantasy writer. So I changed genres. That made all the difference in my writing. I discovered a whole other side to my writer-self I never knew I had, and if I hadn’t let go of who I thought I was as a writer, I would never have discovered who I truly was. You have to be willing to try something new, something different, something crazy.

What are your current / future project(s)? 

 I have several projects on the table right now, all of them potential YA novels or series. But nothing definite yet. I will have more news on that later this year. For now, I’m focusing on Origin and just enjoying the journey to publication. It’s an adventure I never dreamed I’d get to live, and I’m so thankful and blessed that it’s been made possible.

Cover of Origin
Jessica Khoury is 22 years old and was born and raised in Georgia. She attended public school followed by homeschooling, and earned her bachelor's degree in English from Toccoa Falls College. She lives in Toccoa, Georgia with her husband Benjamin, two terrible dogs, and an abundance of books, shoes, and sweet tea. When not writing, she's usually directing stageplays or coaching soccer. Origin is her first novel.

Facebook page:
Goodreads author page:

What format is your book(s) available in (print, e-book, audio book, etc.)? It is available for pre-order for hardcover and Kindle at the moment.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Goodreads Giveaway, Scattered Seasons, and a Book Rescue

I have to admit sometimes I miss blogging more frequently about everyday stuff and having more interaction in the comments. On the other hand, it is nice not having to post so frequently. Perhaps at some point I should rethink my schedule.

Anyway, first the exciting news for people on Goodreads: I'm giving away two copies of the paperback version of Lyon's Legacy. The contest runs from now through May 16th, so there's plenty of time to sign up. Click here to sign up.

Now for a couple of random points that would have earlier taken up an entire (but shorter) post. Yesterday I finally finished the first draft of Scattered Seasons, the first book in my fantasy Season Lords trilogy. Normally I'd be excited about that, but partway through the story, the plot fell apart, and it became much harder to write. I do have some ideas about what I want to change, but I'm going to take a nice long break from the story before I revise it. It probably would help if I could outline before drafting a story so I'd know where I was going. Plotters and pantsers end up at the same point; they just take different journeys there.

Finally, I had a bit of a book scare this weekend. When I was a girl, I had a copy of Richard Scarry's Word Book in three languages. I remember it so fondly I tracked it down for my own son. He goes through periods of wanting to read from it and ignoring it. Lately, he wants me to read from it, so I read a few pages before he takes his back. Saturday, it happened to fall into the bathtub (along with another book). We towel-dried them, then I dried them with my hair dryer. (It gets more use on other objects than my own hair!) It's OK now, but the pages are crinkled.

Have you ever had to rescue a paper copy of one of your favorite books? If so, were you successful?

Monday, April 16, 2012

My Tips for Using CreateSpace

I hope everyone had a good weekend. Mine had some ups and downs. The Blog Ring of Power is on hiatus again this week, so I have some free time for another topic.

As I posted on Friday, I promised to talk about using CreateSpace today. As with Smashwords, Amazon, and PubIt!, you need to set up an account first before you can add projects, or books. Paper books are more complicated to produce and publish than e-books; you have to go through several steps before you even get to the review stage.

Some of the hardest decisions involve what type of IBSN you want to use for your book (this link helps you weigh the pros and cons of obtaining your IBSN from various sources. I used one from CreateSpace because it was free and allowed me the most options for distribution), what size you want your book to be, and how to lay out the interior. CreateSpace does provide templates for layout, but when I tried to use one, it seemed to introduce more problems than it solved. It was easier to follow this guide and do everything manually. (Here I was grateful I had a relatively short book.) The hardest part of interior formatting was getting the headers right and suppressing them on the first pages of the book. I did have to remove my author photo (the resolution wasn't high enough for good printing) and fix a problem with embedded fonts before my uploaded file was approved. For some reason, even when I converted my Word file into a PDF according to the directions, the fonts (and these were common fonts) didn't embed correctly. I finally solved the problem by uploading the Word file and letting CreateSpace do the conversion.

My cover artist was able to add the spine and back to my existing e-book cover for a reasonable fee. CreateSpace now provides online digital proofing, so that made the review process easier. Even so, I decided to order a physical copy before approving the book for distribution. CreateSpace distributes to its online store and to Amazon for free; I paid $25 for expanded distribution, which includes bookstores and libraries. (Admittedly, the chances of a bookstore or a library ordering my book are small, but with so many changes in the publishing industry happening, that may change. I didn't want to limit my options.) I think the expanded distribution affected the minimum pricing I could set for the book. My royalties are highest for books ordered directly through CreateSpace, followed by Amazon. The royalties for expanded distribution are extremely small in comparison to the other two outlets, enough to make me reconsider my decision for my next paper book. I should probably keep the same distribution for this series at least.

Anyway, despite the complicated process, it was thrilling to hold the paper version of my book, and it allows me to reach a larger share of my target audience. I'm going to try to set up a giveaway on Goodreads; if it works, I'll announce it here.

Please let me know if you have any questions about the process.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Lyon's Legacy Now in Paperback!

I know I normally post my roundup Science of the Week links on Fridays, but I'd like to pre-empt that this week for some exciting news. My science fiction novella, Lyon's Legacy, is now available in paper! I just approved the proof on Wednesday and wasn't expecting to find it available on Amazon until next week, but you can find it here. If you'd like to order it directly from CreateSpace, you can do so here. The price is $6.50; I'll explain more about that on Monday when I talk about my experience of publishing through CreateSpace. (I plan on bringing some copies to WisCon next month, and I'll be able to sell them for a little less in person.) Now if I can only figure out how to link the reviews for the Kindle version to the paper version....

Have a good weekend, everyone, and I'll post more science news next Friday.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

WisCon Schedule

WisCon isn't for another month yet, but since my programming assignments arrived last week, I couldn't wait to share my schedule with you:

Saturday: participant in Broad Universe Rapid-Fire Reading (I plan to read from Lyon's Legacy)
Sunday: moderating a panel: Critique Groups: How to Give and Take a Critique
Monday: The SignOut

At some point during the convention I also plan to help out at the Broad Universe table, but I won't know when that will be until I see the final programming schedule and have a chance to sign up during the convention.

So, is anyone else planning to attend a convention this year? If so, which one (or ones)?

Monday, April 09, 2012

BRoP Interview with Alma Alexander

Today I have the honor of hosting author Alma Alexander as part of the BRoP moveable interview. You can find the first three parts here, here, and here; the final part will post tomorrow here. Alma is going to discuss her current work on my blog.

Tell us about your new book and when it is out. Where can people purchase it?

Eh, which one…? Okay. Two current projects, out now. The first is the new novel, “2012: Midnight at Spanish Gardens” and it’s out as both an ebook in most common formats (at Smashwords and as Amazon) and as a paperback. The second is my first tilt at the editorial windmills, an anthology named “River”, a collection of thirteen stories by the likes of Jay Lake, Seanan McGuire, Brenda Cooper, Nisi Shawl, Irene Radford, and more fabulous writers. On the drawing board right now – awaiting final edits before it is (initially) released as an ebook, with a paperback edition to follow: “Embers of Heaven”, a follow-up to my published-in-14-languages Blessed Book “The Secrets of Jin-shei.” “Embers” had a UK edition but has not been published in the USA before, so this is exciting. Coming really soon now, as soon as I get the edits done. Also on the drawing board, the first volume of a projected duology concluding the story told in my YA Worldweavers series – the final growing up of Thea Winthrop, more fun and games with Nikola Tesla and Corey the Trickster from Native American mythology. This – this is a good book. Can’t wait to see it out there. And I also have a new YA series looking for a home.

Is there anything new, unusual, or interesting about your book? How is it different from other books on the same subject?

For the two current projects, then. In “2012: Midnight at Spanish Gardens,” five friends meet in a café called Spanish Gardens two decades after they used to frequent the place back in college. Here’s the thing – there are a lot of secrets out there, and Spanish Gardens… was always special. It’s a place where only truth can be spoken, more so on this night than ever, because it’s December 20, 2012, the prophesied Mayan Apocalypse, the end of the world. And in this place, in this hour, the five who return here with all their lost dreams and their secrets are given a choice. They are allowed a do-over – a chance at a different life – and then, at a crucial point, they are to make a choice about which life they want to keep, the one they have re-created for themselves with the different choices they have made, or the one they had turned their back on. Four of them choose to return to their old lives. One… does not. This is a book about choices and about truth and about asking questions, what matters to you, what hills in your life would you die for, what’s important, what’s REALLY important.

So far the people who have read the book have been moved, almost to a reader, to ask those ‘what if’ questions when it comes to their own lives. It’s been a revelation to me to watch this. It’s an amazing gift to be able to offer to the readers, through the stories of the five protagonists in this book, this same choice, as it were, even if I can’t go the whole way and let them re-live moments they wish they had a chance to change. Just asking the questions can be an immensely liberating experience, can face you with things that you haven’t thought about for years, that are maybe tough to think about. This is not entirely a COMFORTABLE book, but it’s a powerful one, or at least I like to think it goes a long way towards that. And here’s the thing – Spanish Gardens, the café, was real – long gone, now, but real, and a place where I myself used to go back when I was young. And yes, I found myself asking those same questions as I wrote this book. But you’ll have to come back and give me some of your answers before I give you mine, even if you weren’t able to glean them through the story that I wrote.

The second book, the anthology, “River” – well, the conceit was, there is, and always was, only one River and on its banks every story ever told can be found. There is a part of you that would recognize the Mississippi or the Amazon or the Rhine or the Thames, even if it was the first time you’d ever set eyes on THAT particular river, if ever you had known and loved a river of your own. My river is the Danube, and I love it with a fierce love – it is that particular river that inspired ME. For my contributors, the river might be the Columbia, or a creek in Cyprus, or the ancient river that flows between the quays of Prague, or something quite different, quite their own – but they recognize each other’s rivers, anyway. This collection is unique in that it doesn’t have a table of contents. It has a MAP of contents. And every story is placed on that map according to where it fell on the River’s journey. Oh, this is a child of my heart, and it is quite, quite wonderful. Go forth and find it and read it, and, as I offer in the introduction of the book, have a blessing with it: may the rivers you cross always know your name.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?

As I said before, fantasy is my first love, my joy. Building my own worlds has always been a part of that, sailing under my own winds, making my own rules, looking out of windows and seeing only the things that I have made real with my mind and my imagination. Some people may find that daunting – I never have. What frightens me is… mundania. I am frankly not sure of how interested a reader might be in reading about a world that is familiar and which lies within their own purview to touch, see, hear, empirically confirm the existence of. You see, this world already HAS rules, and they are familiar ones to all of us, and writing scenes that are “real”, that set in the “real world” as we know it, scare me because they can be entirely too real – and thus endlessly boring to a reader who has already lived them or is living them right now and why on earth would they waste valuable reading time on my reimagination of a reality which is theirs to sample as soon as they put my book down and speak to another living person in the room with them. Reality is balanced on a knife edge for me – render it with complete truth and verisimilitude and the reader won’t follow you into waters already depressingly familiar (why on EARTH should they?!) Take it too far away from that truth, and you’re sailing into fantasy waters again.

“2012: Midnight at Spanish Gardens” was… a place where the veil between the worlds was thin enough for the fantasy to be glimpsed through it, but which was still, for the most part, anchored in what passed for our own everyday reality. This is the most grounded fantasy I have ever written, it was well out of my comfort zone, and parts of it scared me to death. But writing is about exploration, and I needed new worlds. It was hard to do, this, but now it is done and I know I can do it. I have been stretched. And somehow in the process of rendering the commonplace and the ordinary through just the most basic of fantastical prisms I think that have still managed to convey the very real magic that Spanish Gardens – the TRUE Spanish Gardens – once held for me. And if I have done this… if I have succeeded in this… then I have conquered my own fears, and I’ve gained an important victory, as a writer, as a human being. This is a hugely important book for me, and I would like to think that its subject matter and its ideas and its issues would make it an important book – in different ways – to its readers, too.

What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

Its episodic nature – five intertwined stories – gave me a lot of scope. There are bits from every one of the characters’ lives that I loved writing. I ached for Simon as a child, and for his loss, and I adored his staunch and loving grandmother. The tale of Quincy and the chances she took for love stirred my passions, and it was a wonderful story to tell. John and his relationship with his young patients broke my heart. Ellen’s humanity – her vulnerability, her jealousy, her pride, her joys and her sorrows – her very limitations, and her overcoming of them – made her a terrific character to write about. And Olivia – oh, Olivia – there was so much in her that I dug out from deep inside myself. There were moments in every one of those stories that made me either tear up, or laugh out loud, while I was writing them. I truly hope that some of the absolute joy of the writing of this book shines through for its readers.

Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?

I learned that we are all human, that we all rise or fall as human beings, that choices are important but perhaps not immutable. And that this was a lesson peculiarly suited for fiction to teach.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

In general, I do not write books with “messages” in them. If there are any, they are for the readers to find and decipher, asking the questions that each individual reader will bring with them to the book. In fact, I would absolutely love to hear back from those readers, about the messages they thought they found within these pages. My only message is simply to take responsibility for your choices – to be happy – and, in the end, inasmuch as that is within your power, to maximize your joy and minimize your regrets. If there is a message, it's simple: Live your life, and make it the kind of life that nobody but you could live. Own your existence. Don’t strive to be anything other than… you. And it’s entirely up to you how long it takes you to come up with the meaning of that idea, or where you look for it.


Alma Alexander was born in Yugoslavia, grew up in Africa, and went to school in Wales. She has lived in several countries on four continents, and is quite comfortable in the new continent of cyberspace. She was living in New Zealand when she met a man on an Internet bulletin board for writers, married him and moved to America.

She now lives with her husband and two cats in the Pacific Northwest, in the city of Bellingham (directions to her home include the phrase "Aim for Canada and just before you get there, turn right"). Her office looks out onto cedar woods, and she has frequently been known to babysit young deer left just outside her door while their mothers vanish off on some urgent deer errand.



Facebook page: (Facebook Fan Page: )

Goodreads author page:


Amazon: (Kindle store) or (Alma Alexander Books)


Other: 30th of every month:

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

My Star Wars Haiku

This is my biggest beef with the Star Wars prequels, yes, even bigger than Jar-Jar:

They got Padme wrong;
Mothers endure all for kids
And live past heartbreak.

In case you're wondering why I wrote a Star Wars haiku, it's all Briane's fault. (I mean that in the best possible way, of course.) He's hosting a blogfest challenge to write haikus about Star Wars, and as soon as I read about it, the idea for the above haiku popped into my head. Unfortunately, I couldn't fit the Wookies into my seventeen syllables. If you'd like to write a haiku about Wookies or whatever Star Wars theme inspires you, you have until April 8 to submit yours. Full details are at the link above.

Monday, April 02, 2012

What Do You Want to Read in April?

One of the reasons I chose not to participate in the A-Z Blogging Challenge this year was so it wouldn't conflict with the Blog Ring of Power. Ironically, we don't have an author interview scheduled this week. So, I thought I'd talk about books instead.

I mentioned early in March that I'd pre-ordered several books for my Kindle. Some of them were published last month, and I've read them all. Currently it looks like I only have one book pre-ordered for April. It's a fantasy called Blue Magic. It's the sequel to Indigo Springs, a book I enjoyed very much. The author is a member of Broad Universe, so that's another reason for me to support her.

Are there any books coming out this month that you're especially looking forward to? How about books on your To-Read pile that you plan to tackle this month?

Site Meter