Tell us about yourself and what inspired you to start writing.
I’m an astronomer, writer, dancer, choreographer, cosplayer, screenwriter, producer, and much more. After getting a PhD in astronomy, I moved to L.A. to try my hand at screenwriting, but since there was a recession, I never got past the “find minimum wage job to pay the bills” phase, and went back to astronomy. Now I work on weather satellites for NOAA. I’ve written and produced a series of comedic short films about asexuals trying to survive in a hyper-sexual world (based on my own experiences).
As far as writing, I’ve been creating stories since before I knew how to write. In second grade, when we had a list of spelling words and our homework was to use each one in a sentence, I wove them into a story. I wrote my first book in the third grade. It was called Pterodactyls All Over. My sister illustrated it for me. By the fourth grade, I was writing full-length novels.
I took a break when I went to grad school, thinking I didn’t have time to write. Then I got into Firefly. When I ran out of episodes, I started reading fan fiction and it was (largely) terrible. I thought “I can write better than this” and picked up my pen again. It was great. I enjoyed the instant feedback from my fans, and they told me to never stop writing. The hardest thing to do was to stop writing fan stories and dedicate myself to original works again.
Tell us about your books.
The New Dawn series is post-apocalyptic science fiction set on a planet devastated after a war with its lunar settlements. The surviving cities retreated into protective domes, and have lived in relative isolation for the past four hundred years, resulting in divergent and unique cultures, some thriving, some dying, some dead and gone. Another strange thing happens the longer they stay in this solar system. Humans begin to evolve super-human ability. Not great strength or power, just something to suggest that there once was life on this planet, and that life shifted to another plane of existence. That life disappeared.
How did you go about getting published?
I opted for self-publishing.
When I finished the first book in 2009/2010, I began looking for an agent. It’s a slow process. So I wrote the next book in the series while I waited. I expanded my search from agents to small publishers who allowed direct submissions. And I wrote the next book. Through the years, I slowly developed my query letters and poked at the publishing world, but I was also suffering severe depression and knew I would rather leave as my legacy a complete series as opposed to a single published book.
When I finished my ninth book, I finally caught a break. A small press wanted to publish my book. Well, I looked at the contract, evaluated the timing, thought about where I was in life… I spoke to many authors both traditionally published and self-published about their experiences (mostly with marketing assistance from a publisher). I consulted with a literary lawyer about the contract in my hand. Ultimately, I decided to self-publish, so that it wouldn’t take me ten years to put out the series.
What is your writing process? Do you have a time, day or place you like to write?
I write constantly. If I have an instrument to write with, writing will happen. When I had jury duty, they gave us a pencil and paper to take notes on the case. Unfortunately, that case involved a lot of lawyers conferring with the judge while the jury listened to white noise. I didn’t mind. I got a few chapters out of it. Google docs/google drive has made writing on the go so easy.
I have a super-comfy blue recliner, and that’s where I do most of my at-home writing.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Full-time job, pets, hobbies?
I love to dance. I was part of a dance company when I was younger, and now I choreograph shows for local community theater. I got nominated for a Washington Area Theatre Community Honors award for my Music Man choreography. I’m currently choreographing Miracle on 34th Street for a local theater. I love working with community theater groups. I’ve also been an actor, stage manager, costumer, director, and a number of other roles.
I love making films, although I haven’t had a lot of time for that. You can find some of my work at http://www.aces-sitcom.com
I’m a cosplayer. This means I make costumes for various fandoms. I’ve done a lot of Firefly, but also Star Trek, Stargate, Buffy, Avengers, and more. I have a Facebook page with pictures: https://www.facebook.com/beanythingcosplay/
I have three cats. After losing my first cat to cancer in 2015, I wasn’t going to get another. Then I met Hawk. He shared a name with a character in my book, so I had to give him a second look. When I brought him home, he was so sad and lonely. So I got him some friends.
I support my hobbies with my science job. (Thank goodness my mom told me not to major in writing.) My team is working on the Joint Polar Satellite System. The next satellite in that series launches November 10, just after my second book. My team helps the science code get into the massive operational system so that when the terabytes of data come flooding from the satellite, it’s processed and out the door in about an hour so that weather forecasters can predict the weather. I love being a part of something bigger than myself.
Any advice for authors about book covers?
If you can get a professional’s advice, get it. There are people who make covers for a living. They know how to draw in focus points. Your input matters, but be informed.
Any marketing tips you’d like to share with other authors?
My dad is a sound engineer. His advice to me was “there’s a difference between a record going platinum and a record making a million dollars.” To that end, think about whether your goal is to have a million people download your book for free, or whether you’ll stick to your guns and charge money for your work. I’m still too new to give actual marketing advice.
What’s your favorite book?
Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams
What are you reading now?
Resonance by AJ Scudiere
What’s your next book project?
Well, I told myself I wouldn’t come up with any new projects until I finished editing all the books I currently have. I’m currently doing revisions on Book 5: The Gray Market.
I have so many plot bunnies hopping around right now, though, and I’m very excited to get to the new stories.