Jeremy always said Space Academy was Earth’s last hope. People only dream of leaving a dying planet in search of better lives. Avery never expected he would be forced to do just that.
On the heels of his brother’s murder, his father’s disappearance and Earth’s dwindling water supply now contaminated with a deadly virus, Avery and his younger brother have no choice but to leave Earth behind and join the survivors migrating the nearest habitable planet.
What they don’t know is that the rarity of water extends far beyond Earth and they aren’t the only ones fighting for survival.
~What are you currently working on?
Right now I’m working on the second book of, The Last Drop trilogy. It’s taking much longer than I anticipated, but that’s because I have AMAZING beta readers who love good, factually driven, Sci-Fi. It’s going to be a phenomenal second book in the trilogy. I’m also working with a very talented screenwriter who is adapting the first book of The Last Drop trilogy into a screenplay to pitch to producers in California.
~What writing advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Advice for aspiring authors…you should note that not all my advice will work for every single writer…and I tend to write a little sarcastic. It’s how I roll so don’t be offended. Here are my biggest takeaways from writing two sci-fi novels over the last year and a half.
1.) Write every single day. No excuses. No matter what. No, I’ll do it tomorrow, I’m too tired, I should walk the dog, I have to cook dinner yatta yatta yatta. If you’re saying those things you don’t want to be a writer bad enough. You should walk the dog? You better have a notebook in your back pocket ready to take notes. Oh, you need to cook dinner? That laptop better be propped within typing distance so you can switch back and forth between writing and stirring the Béarnaise sauce. And lord knows I can’t count the times I’ve been so tired I’ve fallen asleep with the laptop across my chest. I usually wake up to find I’ve written at least one sentence and a whole lot of aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa…it’s still a win.
2.) It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks and yet IT MATTERS what someone thinks. My second piece of advice to aspiring authors is to find other, like-minded people who are doing the same thing. Talk to people. Share ideas. I spoke to one guy who was in the process of writing his own book. He said he didn’t want to share his ideas or his thoughts because he was afraid it would “disrupt my process” or that I would “steal his ideas.” Needless to say, I gave him a piece of my mind. We as writers are in this together. We don’t “steal” another person’s story. And disrupt the process? YES PLEASE. You might say something profound that makes me think of something different!
Bottom line, build a support system with friends, family, co-workers (because rarely can you quit your job and just write…at least at the start of it all.) and the oddballs you find online that you know nothing about (and that’s the best part). Get every one of them to read your drafts…all seventy five thousand of them, and give you advice. HARD advice.
3.) This one relates to number two. Grow a thick skin. My younger brother, Michael, gave me a brilliant piece of advice when I was starting my first book. I was handing it out to beta readers and family members who, (now granted I had told them to be harsh) were crushing my soul and making me feel like my work was complete garbage. (By the way, the first draft IS GARBABE. So let’s not sugar coat it.) Anyway, I was having an “I’m worthless and this isn’t worth the headache and the criticism,” moment when he literally swiped the computer off my lap, went to the end of the page I was working on and typed: “No matter what other people think or how they feel the story should progress, it is still YOUR story. You got this.”
I add that quote at the bottom page of every manuscript I’m working on. It matters what people think of your work, but at the end of the day it is still YOUR work. People are going to say all sorts of things, good and bad, through the beta reading and editing process and beyond when the book comes out. That’s part of the process. Something to cry over and be inspired by. Trust me it’s worth it. This leads me to my last piece of advice.
4.) The single most important advice I have for aspiring authors is to “just do it.” Some of you know what I’m referring to here. If you haven’t seen Shia LaBeouf’s motivational speech, click this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nuHfVn_cfHU He may not be the best spokes person in the world and I don’t condone some of his life choices, but he is a profound artist in his own way and his advice is sound. Plus it’s said with the passion and intensity I strive to live my whole life with.
~Are you an organized author or scattered?
I’d like to think of myself as an organized author. I’m very much a type “A” personality. My book planning, however, looks a lot like the white boards you see on the TV show, House, or, The Big Bang Theory. It’s a whole lot of information and ideas thrown together in the hopes of creating just the right formula. I usually start mapping ideas on a large white board or a huge piece of paper. Eventually the process evolves into various outlines in notebooks…none of the notes really make sense to anyone but me, though. Or so my husband tells me. Here’s an example picture and the notebook that went with my first book: The Last Drop. Lots of tiny notes and ideas and strange concept drawings.
~Do you plot out your story or write as it goes?
The first book in the Last Drop Trilogy I started with a concept map and a brief outline. Once I had characters, though, it became their story. My cute little concept drawing went right out the window and the story morphed into a completely different beast. Admittedly, it was hard to let go and just let the characters tell me what I should say. That sounds trippy, but it’s the truth.
~Do you have any strange writing habits?
Strange writing habits…that’s tricky because it’s really the characters who have the strange habits. For example, not only do they tell me what to write, they tell me when to write (that could be at 3:15in the morning…thanks Avery. The boss loves it when I come to work and can’t talk to people in a “human” fashion before 9:00am.) I also do a lot of writing in the car to and from work. Part of that is just long commute. But part of it, I feel, is also a zoned out, listening to, but not really listening to, pop radio music and letting the characters have space to invade my mind. Space they would not otherwise have when I’m teaching middle schoolers during the day.
~Do you have writers block and how do you work around it?
Yes, occasionally I do have writers block. I think every author experiences this at some point or another and it shows itself in a myriad of ways. People think of writers block and think of the author staring at blank wall with a pen in their hand or their fingers poised above their keyboard and just nothing happening. Writers block is more than that, though. Yes that previous example does occur, but more often (at least for me) it’s that moment of just not knowing the best way to say what the characters are demanding to say. It’s like there’s a language barrier. I’ll write whole pages and then have the characters scream at me that I got it wrong. That’s not what they intended to say and I’ll have to go back and fix it…sometimes 10 or more times. That’s the most frustrating part of writers block for me.
I’ve found the best way to combat the block is to just keep writing. Even if you write thirty different versions of the same scene, eventually you’ll get it right. A whole lot of pacing the house and going for ten-mile runs also helps. Sometimes you have to step away from the computer or the notebook and let the story and the characters slip in and out of your head while you’re doing something mundane, for things to finally click.
~Do you work on 1 story at a time or multiples?
ONE. There is only room for one set of characters demanding attention at any given time. That’s not to say I don’t take breaks from story to story. For example, I finished the first book in, The Last Drop Trilogy and the spent a few months writing a completely different book, Remotely Unplugged, before going back to the trilogy. But I do finish a book before starting to write another one.
~What is your favorite genre to read?
Science Fiction! You should read a whole lot of what you love to write…right?
~What is the most wacky/crazy weird thing you received from a fan?
I wouldn’t say I’ve received anything that’s wacky, crazy or weird…yet. I’m a pretty newbie author so I’m still building my fan base. But I have received some really nice emails through my website from former student and other people who have read my books and enjoyed them. : )
~What are your favorite hobbies?
I love anything that has to do with the outdoors: Shooting, hiking, horseback riding, swimming, cliff diving, camping. The safer hobbies I enjoy are: Painting and Running.
~If you had a warning label what would it say?
Silence…I kill you!
All personal breakthroughs begin with a change in beliefs.