Tuesday, September 25, 2018

HEART OF THORNS by Bree Barton

I first learned about HEART OF THORNS and Bree Barton when I was unable to make it to her book event in Palo Alto. Boy, did I miss out. HEART OF THORNS is a story that explores what happens when we're forced to examine the darker parts of ourselves, and it is a necessary read for anyone who loves YA Fantasy:

Mia Rose wants only one thing: revenge against the Gwyrach—feared, reviled, and magical women—who killed her mother. After years training under her father’s infamous Hunters, Mia is ready. She will scour the four kingdoms, find her mother’s murderer, and enact the Hunters’ Creed: heart for a heart, life for a life.

But when Mia is thrust into the last role she ever wanted—promised wife to the future king—she plots a daring escape. On her wedding night, Mia discovers something she never imagined: She may be a Huntress, but she’s also a Gwyrach. As the truth comes to light, Mia must untangle the secrets of her own past. Now if she wants to survive, Mia must learn to trust her heart . . . even if it kills her.


I love your YouTube channel. What led to it, and what you do love most about putting videos together?  

I’m so glad you enjoy my videos! Thank you for watching. As you’ve probably seen, YouTube is a great outlet for my sillier side, which doesn’t always get full expression in my fantasy. I mean, I hope there’s humor in HoT—if I ever write something with zero humor, please revoke my writer’s license—but I’m writing about misogyny, abuse of power, and severed hands. Not exactly a laugh riot, you know?

When I’m not writing dark and horrific things, I’m a pretty goofy person. The YouTube videos are a chance for me to play. I was a theater nerd all throughout high school and college, and when I first moved to LA, I did a couple of commercials and short films, as well as improv comedy shows every week. So when I made my little “Meet Bree Barton” author video last year, I realized how much I missed it. I did a new video each day for BookTubeAThon 2017 and was totally hooked. Over the coming months, the videos were a way for me to goof off, blow off steam, and talk honestly about my triumphs/struggles/fears as a writer.

What I love most is when the unexpected happens and I catch it on film—like when my dog punched me in the face. Definitely NOT planned. I’m also a sucker for costumes. One of my all-time favorite videos is when I dressed up as a vampire—and those damn teeth kept falling out of my mouth! Since I am a lover of costumes, I also force my dog to wear them. To date he has played Harry Potter, Juliet, Romeo, and Sidewalk Face Puncher. Unlike me, he does not enjoy the cinematic arts.


There's nothing like the unexpected! HEART OF THORNS confronts the inner conflict that happens when we discover parts of ourselves that we don't like. How did you know that this was something Mia needed to grapple with? 

What a brilliant question. You’ve inspired me to be bold—and vulnerable—in my answer. Here goes.

As I’ve said at many of my book events: Mia is a bad feminist. And not the Roxane Gay variety! Sometimes I’m a bad feminist, too. No matter how evolved we think we are, we are all products of our culture, and we can’t escape the influence of these long held and deeply engrained beliefs. I don’t like acknowledging the places where I am inadvertently sexist and misogynist—but as I wrote the character of Mia, I had to. I had to confront my own feelings toward my female friends who have chosen the marriage/motherhood path when I’ve chosen my career. Both of those paths are great! It’s my judgment of another woman’s choice that’s the problem.

Recently I turned on the radio and listened to a woman vehemently calling a man to account. After almost ten minutes of her talking and cutting the man off every time he tried to speak, I had the thought: “Why is she harping on? I wish she’d just be quiet.” I was immediately ashamed. I still am. I couldn’t believe that was my knee-jerk response to a powerful woman strongly and passionately expressing her beliefs. A U.S. Senator, no less: I was listening to Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings.

I think it’s important that we face these moments rather than bury them. Hence why I’m confessing it here. Shame can be a tool for learning—but not unless we shine light on it, and try in earnest to source where these words and the underlying belief systems came from. One of the ways I have interrogated my own failures as a feminist is to have Mia embody similar ones, then send her on a journey to unravel the truth from the lies. She has to grapple with these deeply problematic parts of herself to become a better, wiser, kinder person. So do I.


Me too. Your op-ed piece for Tiny Buddha, "The Greatest Lesson We Learn When Someone Is Unkind" talks about how to navigate a world filled with unkindness. What is your favorite way to show kindness to others? 

Thank you for digging up that piece from the eternal re-occurrence of the internet! More than five years later, I still feel proud of it—and I still have that blue dress hanging in my closet.

I think my favorite way of showing kindness is by sharing the things I love. Books, obviously—I’ve given away a couple dozen YA books this year through my monthly author newsletter, many written by my dear friends. I love doing that! Dancing and writing have both been really important to me, especially having lived with depression for 20+ years, so launching my free Rock ’n’ Write classes has been my attempt to make kindness a weekly gig. Getting to dance, write, and connect with a roomful of brilliant, talented, honest teen girls is a kindness to ME!

I also like writing personalized letters/thank you cards whenever I can. One year my New Year’s Resolution was to spend every day in January meditating on one person I’m grateful for, then writing them a letter or card (sometimes an email!) to tell them what I love about them. I should probably do that again.

Here’s a related story, which also ties in to the last question. There was a woman I met more than a decade ago, a friend I hung out with for a few months.  I liked her but didn’t know her all that well; we went separate ways and haven’t seen each other since. After my sister was sexually assaulted earlier this year, I replayed some of my interactions with this woman and regretted that I had not been a better friend and ally while she was going through a tough time. I let my own selfishness and judgment get in the way.


Twelve years after the fact, I sent her an apology letter, telling her I was sorry I didn’t have her back when I should have. That I thought she was so lovely and smart and fun and strong, and I wished I could go back and do things differently. I told her she never had to respond to my email, but I needed her to know I would always regret not being a better friend.

She did write back—six months later, to tell me my email came at exactly the right time. That she stopped breathing when she read it, because something clicked about her prior relationships…and her current one. That one month to the day after reading my email, she walked out of her violent marriage—and never went back. She wrote to tell me she was finally safe, as were her children. That she hoped I didn’t live with regret, because no matter how much I felt like I had failed her all those years ago, I had helped save her twelve years later.

I still cry when I talk about it. It makes me want to tell anyone and everyone: if there are things you need to say to people, things you wonder if you should apologize for, say them. Write that apology letter. Reach out and tell people what they mean to you. You never know when your words might arrive at exactly the right time.


What an amazing and powerful story! And it's true; we can often help other people in more ways than we realize. The second book in the trilogy, TEARS OF FROST, will debut sometime next year. Is there anything you can tell us about it yet? 


Yes, the title was just announced! I'm a sucker for a good acronym. If book1 was HoT, I couldn’t resist book2 being ToF. A hot tough trilogy, amirite?

The majority of TEARS OF FROST takes place in the snow kingdom, a land of witches and ogres, mystical smoke-swathed lagoons, and messages etched in light across the night sky. The book also draws on some very twisty Yuletide myths I dug up on a research trip to Iceland, which is why I’m extra excited the book will come out in November 2019: just in time for the holidays! It’s a darker book in many ways, but there’s a new character who adds [*THEIR, no spoilers] own dash of irreverent humor, and a very different voice than Mia’s verbose, introspective style. Also, I just saw the cover, and it’s the stuff dreams are made of. Or should I say, nightmares…



Buy: BookPassage ~ Amazon.com Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound

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Release Feature: RABBIT & ROBOT by Andrew Smith

Back in June, Andrew Smith answered some questions about RABBIT & ROBOT, which, I'm excited to announce, was just released into the world:







Cager has been transported to the Tennessee, a giant lunar-cruise ship orbiting the moon that his dad owns, by Billy and Rowan to help him shake his Woz addiction. Meanwhile, Earth, in the midst of thirty simultaneous wars, burns to ash beneath them. And as the robots on board become increasingly insane and cannibalistic, and the Earth becomes a toxic wasteland, the boys have to wonder if they’ll be stranded alone in space forever.




Buy: BookPassage ~ Amazon.com Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound

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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

RULES OF THE RUFF by Heidi Lang

I first discovered Heidi Lang and her sister, Kati Bartkowski, at this year's YANovCon, when I bought their middle grade book, A DASH OF DRAGON. Heidi Lang also has a contemporary book out now, RULES OF THE RUFF, and the sequel to A DASH OF DRAGON, called A HINT OF HYDRA, also came out recently:

Twelve-year-old Jessie is in for a long summer at her aunt and uncle’s house. Her cousin Ann has a snotty new best friend, which leaves Jessie all alone. But Jessie is industrious, and—not content with being ignored all summer—she convinces Wes, a grouchy neighborhood dog walker, to take her on as his apprentice.

Sure, dog walking turns out to be harder than she expected, but she has Wes’s dog-walking code, the Rules of the Ruff, to guide her, and soon she’s wrangling her very own pack. But when a charismatic rival dog walker moves to town, she quickly snatches up most of Wes’s business—and Jessie decides she isn’t going to take this defeat with her tail between her legs.






A thirteen-year-old master chef has a lot to prove as she tries to run a five-star restaurant, cook the perfect dragon cuisine, repay a greedy loan shark, and outsmart the Elven mafia.

Lailu Loganberry is an expert at hunting dangerous beasts. And she’s even better at cooking them.

For years Lailu has trained to be the best chef in the city. Her specialty? Monster cuisine. When her mentor agrees to open a new restaurant with Lailu as the head chef, she’s never been more excited. But her celebration is cut short when she discovers that her mentor borrowed money from Mr. Boss, a vicious loan shark. If they can’t pay him back, Lailu will not only lose her restaurant—she’ll have to cook for Mr. Boss for the rest of her life.

As Lailu scrambles to raise the money in time, she becomes trapped in a deadly conflict between the king’s cold-blooded assassin, the terrifying elf mafia, and Mr. Boss’ ruthless crew. Worst of all, her only hope in outsmarting Mr. Boss lies with the one person she hates—Greg, the most obnoxious boy in school and her rival in the restaurant business.

But like Lailu always says, if you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. And she’s determined to succeed, no matter the cost!


Thirteen-year-old chef Lailu Loganberry must stop a war between the elves and scientists in this follow-up to A Dash of Dragon, which Kirkus Reviews calls “a recipe for success.”

It’s the Week of Masks, a festival held to chase away evil spirits. But Lailu doesn’t have time to worry about demons. She has bigger fish to fry—or rather, griffons, now that she’s been asked to prepare a mystical feast for the king’s executioner, Lord Elister.

Unfortunately Lailu’s meal is overshadowed by the scientists’ latest invention: automatons, human-shaped machines that will respond to their masters’ every order. Most people are excited by the possibilities, but the mechanical men leave Lailu with a bad taste in her mouth.

Even worse, the elves still blame the scientists for the attacks on them weeks ago, and Lailu worries that the elves might be cooking up revenge. So when she and her sorta-rival-turned-almost-friend Greg stumble across the body of a scientist, the elves are the prime suspects. With help from Greg, her best friend Hannah, and the sneaky, winking spy Ryon, Lailu has to discover the truth behind the murder, and soon—because hostilities between the elves and the scientists are about to boil over faster than hydra stew.

And just ask any chef: war is bad for business.

You write with your sister, Kati. When did you first realize that you both wanted to write together?

When I realized Kati had a very unique, fun idea, and I wanted in on it. ;) We used to bounce story ideas off each other and work together to brainstorm for our separate projects even before we started writing together, so one day she told me she wanted to write two stories. The first was a girl’s quest to become the greatest master chef in the land. Her specialty? Dragon cuisine. Her second story would be a world where steampunk scientists move in and begin feuding with the resident elven mafia.

I loved both of those ideas, and added my own idea: to combine the two stories so the feud would be the backdrop to the chef’s quest. From there, I got caught up thinking of all these other fun elements Kati could include, so I kept calling her up with ideas and emailing her until I think I eventually wore her down with my relentless enthusiasm, and finally, she asked if I wanted to write it with her. I jumped at the offer, and our partnership was born.


And a great series was born too! I also love your standalone book, RULES OF THE RUFF, in which 12-year-old Jessie deals with a rival dog-walker. What do you hope readers take away from Jessie and her experiences? 

That often it’s not that easy to know the right thing to do, especially when your emotions are involved. And sometimes good people do bad things for reasons they think are good, but which turn out to be selfish. I love Jessie and I think she’s a really good, empathetic person, but she gets so caught up in this world of dogs that she’s able to justify sabotaging another person’s business by deciding it’s actually better for those dogs. It’s not until a certain line is crossed that she realizes she’s not doing the right thing at all.

So really, I’d say the biggest take away from that rivalry is that even if a person makes mistakes, they can figure it out and grow into a better, wiser person down the road. But it will take a certain amount of self reflection and willingness to own up to those mistakes. To me, that moment of self reflection, where a kid realizes that either they are not the person they thought they were, or someone they looked up to is not quite the person they thought, is the moment where that kid starts on the path toward adulthood. Some of us take a little longer to get there than others, but eventually that “coming of age” moment hits all of us.


Indeed it does. A HINT OF HYDRA expands on the world you created in A DASH OF DRAGON by adding a bit of technology to get in Lailu's way. What was the most challenging part of adding to Lailu's story after the first book?  

I’m not going to lie, writing a sequel was much harder than I thought it would be! Kati and I wanted to make sure we weren’t just doing a rehash of book 1. Our goal was to tell a different kind of story—in this case a murder mystery—while still keeping all of the elements that people loved about the first book. It felt like the mental equivalent of rubbing our heads and patting our stomachs at the same time, and it took us a little while to get our writer feet under us. We knew Starling would have her new creepy invention, and we knew the elves would be seeking revenge for the events of book 1; we just had to figure out what those things would look like. Once we had that set, everything fell into place.


Sounds like a challenging process! What are some of your current projects?

Kati and I actually just turned in our first draft of book 3 of the Mystic Cooking Chronicles, which, assuming it doesn’t change, will be called “A Pinch of Phoenix.” I don’t want to give too many spoilers, but let me just say that Lailu’s jerky first crush, Vahn, will get his just desserts. Also…something will happen that changes Lailu’s life forever, and might make our readers a little angry. Hopefully not too angry, though! ;)

I’m also working on another middle grade contemporary set in the same universe as RULES, which I hope to tell you more about soon…

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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

SAVE THE CAT! WRITES A NOVEL by Jessica Brody

I've been a fan of Jessica Brody for a long time, and I previously featured her here and here. When I found out that she wrote SAVE THE CAT! WRITES A NOVEL, based on one of my favorite craft books, I knew another feature was in order!

Novelist Jessica Brody presents a comprehensive story-structure guide for novelists that applies the famed Save the Cat! screenwriting methodology to the world of novel writing. Revealing the 15 "beats" (plot points) that comprise a successful story--from the opening image to the finale--this book lays out the Ten Story Genres (Monster in the House; Whydunit; Dude with a Problem) alongside quirky, original insights (Save the Cat; Shard of Glass) to help novelists craft a plot that will captivate--and a novel that will sell.


In our last interview, you said that nothing was set in stone, and you were glad that you'd changed careers. What, if anything, would you say to writers who are afraid to take that leap? And what would you say to writers who are interested in writing full time? 

I live by the philosophy: “Leap and the net will appear.” Or the more clich├ęd one, “Do what you love and the money comes later.” But I do realize that’s not necessarily the most practical advice. I mean, you need money to live right? And those bills don’t pay themselves? And kids need to eat! If you are not financially set up to quit your job and wait months—even years—for a writing payday, then obviously I don’t advise you do that. I do believe that being “hungry” can inspire you to write more, but it can also put a financial burden on your creativity which may not be conducive to good writing. My best practical piece of advice for transitioning into a writing career (or any creative career) is to always do what you love first thing every day. If that’s writing, then write first and then go to your day job. If it’s painting, then paint first and then go get that paycheck. What you do first with your day, what you prioritize your life around, is crucial. Not only will you perform that first task better and more creatively and with less distractions, but prioritizing your art first is basically you saying to the universe: “Look, I may not be making money doing this but it’s super important to me. See how I’m making it a priority in my life!” And the universe will eventually respond…when it sees that you’re serious.

Very thoughtful and helpful advice! SAVE THE CAT! WRITES A NOVEL takes the three-act structure methodology used in screenwriting and applies it to novels. In what ways did you feel that novel writers could benefit from an expansion of Blake Snyder's original?

The three-act structure is a beautiful thing. It’s what almost all books and courses about plotting will teach you. But it’s also, sorry to say, a bit thin. When writing a 300+ page novel it’s simply not enough to say, “Act 1 – Set up your world, Act 2 - Throw some conflict in, Act 3 – Resolve that conflict.” You find yourself sitting there staring numbly at the screen going, “okay, but how do I just throw conflict into 180 pages!? (which is approximately how long Act 2 should be in a 300-page novel). What the Save the Cat! method does is it takes the three-act structure to another level. It breaks the three acts (and all stories, really) into 15 key “story beats” (or plot points). These are the same key beats that are found in every great story ever told.

Basically, if you’re swimming the English channel with no life vest, no support boat, and no help (approximately how it feels to write a 300-page novel), the 15 story beats of the Save the Cat method provides you with little buoys along the way. Rest stops. And shorter distances to swim between them. Getting from key story beat to key story beat breaks the daunting process of writing a novel into smaller, more achievable goals. And helps keep you on target for those goals so you don’t accidentally swim off to Fiji. Which is actually way more important for novelists than it is for screenwriters because, ahem, WE HAVE MORE TO WRITE!

(If you want learn more about the “key story beats” and the Save the Cat! method, download my FREE “Save the Cat! Starter Kit” here.)

We definitely have more to write--one of many reasons why I can't wait for this book to come out. For you, what are the biggest challenges you currently face in your writing process?

It’s always, always letting go of what I envisioned the story to be and letting the story be what it needs to be. I’m a plotter and yes, I like to outline in advance. And while I believe that saves me time in the long run, it also creates another challenge: expectation. When I start out with an outline, especially one I’m totally excited about, it’s sometimes hard for me to let go of plot points or “beats” that are not working. And most of the time you won’t know that they’re not working until you actually get there and write that scene. At which point, you have to rethink that particular beat, or maybe even your entire story! Forcing it just won’t work. I’ve tried it (numerous times). Trust me on this, it’ll only run you around in circles and waste time. When a pesky plot point isn’t working, you have to let it go. Yes, even if it’s your favorite.

I am currently working through this on the second draft of a novel--and didn't figure out it wasn't working until the very end. Yikes! If you were stuck on an island and could only access two fiction books and two nonfiction books, what would they be and why? 

Ha! The dreaded island question. As a decisionally-challenged person, I despise this question. But I’ll answer it anyway, because I love you, Karen!

Fiction: The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson (because I don’t think I’ll ever get over how beautifully written it is) and then probably something really long like War and Peace or Les Miserables. Because by the time I reach the end, I’ll probably have forgotten the beginning. That should keep me busy for a while.

Non-Fiction: Save the Cat!...obviously! And how about, How to Get Off a Deserted Island When You Have No Survival Skills Whatsoever. That’s a real book right? If not, it should be. I would buy it! Because apparently I’m going to need it!



SPECIAL PRE-ORDER OFFER (LIMITED TIME):
Pre-order a copy of Save the Cat! Writes a Novel and receive a FREE companion eBook containing bonus beat sheets (plot breakdowns) for 10 popular novels. That’s over 120 pages of extra content to help you plot your own bestseller.
Click Here to Learn More!


About the Author:

Since Jessica Brody started using the Save the Cat! method, she has sold more than 17 novels to major publishers like Simon and Schuster, Random House, and Macmillan. Now, Jessica is the author of several novels for teens, tweens, and adults including The Geography of Lost Things, The Chaos of Standing Still, A Week of Mondays, 52 Reasons to Hate My Father, and the Unremembered trilogy. She’s also the author of the Descendants: School of Secrets series, based on the hit Disney Channel original movie, Descendants, and the LEGO Disney Princess Chapter Books. Her first non-fiction book, Save the Cat! Writes a Novel, a plotting guide for novelists, releases in October 2018. Jessica’s books have been translated and published in over 23 countries and Unremembered and 52 Reasons to Hate My Father are currently in development as major motion pictures. She lives with her husband and three dogs near Portland, OR.

Visit her online at: JessicaBrody.com, Follow her on Twitter @JessicaBrody, or on Instagram @JessicaBrody



Buy: BookPassage ~ Amazon.com Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound

For more ordering links, click here.



Buy: BookPassage ~ Amazon.com Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound

For more ordering links, click here.




Buy: BookPassage ~ Amazon.com Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound

For more ordering links, click here.




Buy: BookPassage ~ Amazon.com Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound

For more ordering links, click here.

Buy: BookPassage ~ Amazon.com Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound

For more ordering links, click here.

Buy: BookPassage ~ Amazon.com Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound

For more ordering links, click here.



Looking for Jessica Brody's new and upcoming U.S. book releases? Find them here. 

This post can also be viewed here.



Monday, September 10, 2018

Monday Thought: Finding Your Own Path

As adults, we often have to track our own way. This becomes harder when if, for some of us, we have been told what to decide--or, if a lot of what we did was decided for us when we were younger. Or, we might be used to finding our path--but currently find ourselves in uncharted territory. Regardless, this often forces us to figure out which paths and opportunities will lead to what we want (and sometimes we're afraid of making the wrong choices too). A lot of this also involves figuring out what matters, and what doesn't.

A lot of people make the mistake of thinking a path has to be either/or. I'm guilty of this too. We often think, "Well, I'm already doing this, therefore I can't do that." That isn't true. What we tell ourselves is often the determiner of what ultimately limits us.

The trick is though, I think, not necessarily finding the "right" opportunities, but finding the purpose each opportunity has. Here are some examples:

Writing sprints, or the Club 100 (Yahoo Groups): These are there to motivate me to write every day, even when my words and ideas are stymied. Sometimes I barely crank that 100 out. Other days, I can write in the thousands, and don't need the motivator as much. The truth is, I'm writing what I can, when I can. And that is enough.

NaNo WriMo: I often use these "novel writing" sessions in November, April, and July to revise. (NaNo purists will probably tar and feather me for this. But that's okay.) Since I'm still honing my revision process, I'll often measure my progress in hours instead of word count. I was able to finish the second draft of my fifth novel this way.

Querying: This has ultimately helped me trust myself as a writer--something that many writers, published or not, struggle with. Querying and receiving feedback has forced me to look at what I want from my own story, rather than rely on input from others. Frankly, it's partially the motivation for this post.


So, I implore you all: find the path that works for you, despite what the self-help books are saying, despite the hard truths, or sound advice you might be hearing. Because it's your path. You get to make your own story. It's frightening, yes. But also freeing.

Courtesy of Creative Commons 






Wednesday, September 5, 2018

TYPHOON TIME by Ron Friedman

I first got acquainted with Ron Friedman in relation to WorldCon. When I found out he'd written a novel, as well as short stories, I was interested in asking him about his writing approach. His novel, TYPHOON TIME, is an Amazon.ca (Canada) #1 best seller in time travel, and is described as "The Hunt for Red October meets Timeline."

MARTIN RICHTER, a pacifist history professor specializing in pre-WWII Germany, has two passions in his life—history...and opposing nuclear weapons.

ERIC SOBOL, a terminally ill holocaust survivor billionaire, learns of a wormhole that leads back in time to 1938, and he decides to do everything within his power to change the past.

Thanks to their efforts, a modernized Russian Typhoon-class nuclear submarine jumps the time barrier and appears in 1938, manned by 21st century multinational experts and equipped with the best technology money can buy. But when a saboteur steals a nuclear warhead and delivers it to the German navy, all of history is at stake. As the crippled Typhoon is ambushed by a U-boat wolf pack, Hitler contemplates how to use his newly acquired weapon to make all of Europe fall to the Third Reich….



You've been nominated for an Aurora Award for best fan writing and publication. What do you love most about fan writing and why?

 I’m privileged and honored to be nominated for the Aurora, Canada’s premier science fiction and fantasy awards, run by the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association.

 Fan writing is more than writing and sharing free stories based on someone’s else universe. Fan writing encapsulates all non-for-profit writing. In a way, when you, Karen, interview writers, both you and us, the writers, are not being paid for our effort. Therefore, we are Fan writers. Nevertheless, we are happy to write and make this interview a reality. We do so because this is our passion. Because this is our way of sharing our thoughts with the world. It is less important whether we get paid for it (professional writing) or not (fan writing). 

 I’m passionate about science, engineering and about the future of humanity. I believe that for creating a better future, we, humans, need to be less ignorant, more educated, and apply logic into our decision-making process.

One of the best way to help people look more favorably at science, is to incorporate it into storytelling. To encourage people to look more positively at science, science needs to be a more important part of storytelling than what it is today. Just like readers want to read stories with good characterization, plot and setting, readers should demand the science to be accurate in the stories they read.

To help writers improve their science literacy, I started to answer questions on Quora. Most of the questions are about space, but some are on other topics.


My Quora posts have more than 1.7 million views. For that, I was nominated for the 2018 Aurora Awards – Best Fan Publication.

To read more about my Aurora nomination and my Quora post, visit:

Speaking of science in storytelling, TYPHOON TIME explores what happens when weapons from the future get into the wrong hands. What do you hope readers take away from this story?  

The main thought I want the readers of my novel Typhoon Time to explore is:  If you know for certain that something really bad will happen in the future, will you take steps to prevent it? How far will you go? What will you be willing to do? Could there be a scenario where a preemptive strike is morally justified?

This question is critical today more than ever. You just need to watch the news, examine current events, politics and evaluate current trends to understand where we are heading. Will you do something about it?

I used the past as a metaphor, because there are many uncertainties in predicting the future. In contrast, we know with 100% certainty how history would unfold without intervention. When exploring the past, this moral dilemma is clearer.

 WWII was the most devastating war in human history. Approximately 70 million people perished in the war. Many cities in Europe, China and Japan were razed to the ground. The Holocaust was the only genocide in history where industrial methods were used to exterminate ethnic groups. The Nazis designed and built factories dedicated to the extermination of humans.

Clearly, WWII was not the brightest point in human history.

If you had the ability to go back in time and prevent WWII, would you?

People may give you various answers. We are, today, the outcome of a timeline where WWII did happen. Can we be certain that a world without WWII be a better world? This one is a good moral dilemma, isn’t it?

 But the more interesting question is: “If you could go back in time and prevent the war, how far will you go? What will you be willing to do to prevent that evil? Will you create a new holocaust to prevent another?

There is no clear answer to that question.


Indeed there isn't. You've also been published in Galaxy's Edge magazine. What do you like most about writing short fiction?

 I’m not a full-time author. I have a family and a full-time job, which, regrettably, leaves me with little time for writing. When I started my career, I had two options. Write novels, which may take a very long time to complete, or focus, at least at the beginning, on writing short stories.

 If you invest the little time you have writing novels, you will be able to produce very few of them. And when you first start to submit those, you are more likely to get a rejection than an acceptance, and it takes months to even get that rejection. In terms of time investment, I can write perhaps twenty short stories, and have at least 10 in circulation, or have only one novel in circulation.

 I … chose to do both.

 My first short story was published in 2011. My first novel in 2018. Without writing and publishing short stories, I don’t know if I would have had the stamina to continue writing all the way to 2018 without any prior recognition.

 I now have 14 short stories published, and one novel.

 Galaxy’s Edge was a breakthrough, at least for me. The philosophy of the editor, Mike Resnick, was to create a magazine for emerging writers. However, since he also wanted to generate sales, he invited a few well-known big-name authors. The result was a hybrid magazine which mixed new voices with stories by famous authors.

 Can you imagine my excitement when I saw my name published on Galaxy’s Edge, issue 12, January 2015, right beside the great Robert H. Heinlein? WTF.

Thanks to my story Game Not Over, which was selected by Mike Resnick to be included in Galaxy’s Edge, I’m now a member of SFWA.




SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America) is a great organization. What are some of your current projects? 

As was discussed earlier in the Fan Writing section, I have a passion for science and space.

Many people are saying we, humanity, should not be confined to one planet. We want to build self-sustained settlements on the Moon, Mars and in other places in space.

Many people advocate the ideas of colonizing space as an insurance policy in case something bad happened on Earth. And trust me, an extinction level event on Earth is only a matter of time. The strategy of putting all your eggs in one basket … um ... I mean one planet … didn’t work very well for the dinosaurs.

Colonizing space to ensure the long-term survival of humanity in case something bad happens here on Earth, is the theme I explored in my short stories collection, Escape Velocity. What would happen if in the future we build colonies on Titan, the Asteroid Belt, and Mars, and then … Earth is destroyed.  A Mad Max scenario, in space.

The project I’m working on now is a novel set in the same universe as my short stories collection, Escape Velocity.




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