Fiction Blog, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, & Geeky Things, Writing & Publishing Articles

Meet the 2016 Women of Sci-Fi (FREE Ebook)

A couple months ago, I shared my Women in Sci-Fi interview, hosted by science fiction author and scholar Natacha Guyot. Now, in honor of Women’s History Month, Natacha has released a FREE ebook that compiles her complete 2016 Women in Sci-Fi Interview series.

Why am I telling you about it?

A) Your new favorite author or artist might be inside! This book showcases some seriously talented sci-fi/fantasy writers, cosplay designers and other fantastically nerdy (that’s a compliment!) creators.

B) As you probably guessed, my interview is featured. Learn more about my science fiction background and the inspiration behind the Desertera series.

C) These awesome women share tips for aspiring science fiction creators, so that you can follow in our footsteps!

D) Again: it’s FREE to download!

Pick up your copy today, then let me know what you thought of the interviews. And of course, I’d love to learn about your own science fiction-related interests or pursuits. Share them in the comments!

Author Interviews, Fiction Blog, Guest Posts

Guest Post: Baby Groot Interviews A.M. Offenwanger

I’ve never done a guest post before. Is that kind of like being a guest speaker, where you get bottles of water and an honorarium? What, no honorarium? Drat. Water bottles, at least? Oh, thank you, Baby Groot. [Takes a sip] So how do we go about this?


You’ll ask me some questions, and I’ll waffle on from there? Sure, no problem. Let’s do this thing. [Squares shoulders, makes an intelligent face.] Go.


Yes, thank you, I’m very glad to be here, too, and to get this chance to talk to your esteemed audience. So what would you like to ask me?

seventh son<I AM GROOT.>

Where do I get the ideas for my writing? Ah yes, that’s a question Us Writers get asked a lot. [Takes on faintly supercilious facial expression, then wipes it off again when she realises that she’s actually not been asked that very often herself.] Okay, let me rephrase that: It’s a good question. A while back I was talking to a lovely young lady who is an avid reader and a gamer, and she was asking just that. She said she would like to be able to write, but while she absolutely loves making up worlds, she can’t think of plots or characters, of what happens in those worlds. And that’s, after all, what a story is all about, isn’t it?

Well, here’s what I told her: a good story starts with “What if…?” What if there was a race of small people with woolly feet, and one of them got a dangerous magic ring…? What if there was a whole world of wizards living right alongside all of us, and one of them was a young orphan boy with a lightning-bolt-shaped scar on his forehead? What if… And so in the case of my friend, I suggested she think of what if a person just like herself (no need to invent a character) was living in one of those fantasy worlds she’s made up – how would she react, what would happen to her? (We ended up brainstorming, and came up with quite an intriguing story idea of a commonsensical young woman who goes on a quest with an über-heroic princeling who keeps charging into adventure at the drop of a hat, with the girl always having to keep him on track and rolling her eyes at his overblown heroics… I hope she writes that story; I’d love to read it.)

As a matter of fact, that’s exactly how I started the first book of my series, Seventh Son. Have you ever noticed that in all those time or dimension travel stories, the characters barely blink their eyes at what just happened to them? The kids in Narnia climb through the wardrobe, and just go “We’re in a different world? Whee, how exciting! Let’s go have some adventures!” Well, I got to thinking: what if that happened to me? What if I got sucked off into some magic world, how would I react? I’d freak out, that’s what I’d do. And so that’s just what my protagonist, Catriona, does. She looks into a blue pottery bowl in a museum, and all of a sudden she’s landed in the middle of a forest in a magical medieval world. Some hours later, she’s stuck in a cottage with an injured, unconscious man and a small child, and she just has to cope… Again, what would I do in that situation? My head would go in circles, that’s what, and I’d be thinking things like “Where do you go to the bathroom, and what on earth do you use for toilet paper here?” and “How do you light a candle when you haven’t got matches or a lighter?” For some reason, fictional characters never seem to consider these things in the books I’ve read – but I sure would, so that’s what sparked my story. (If you want the answers to those questions, you’ll have to read my books. You can get them here.)


Steve the Bear of amo vitam

Why, thank you! I’m so glad you enjoyed Seventh Son. Of course, there is a quite important tree in that story, too, so you would be able to relate.


Yes, I really enjoyed our little chat, myself. And thank you, and Kate, for giving me this chance to talk to your lovely readers. Do, folks, stop on by our place, amo vitam (; Steve the Bear and I would love to see you.


Quite. I’ll sign off with my standard signature line: Life, the Universe, and … well, and A Guest Post. What if… What if there was a little Groot Tree in a pot, and a small stuffed bear named Steve, and one day they… [Wanders off in a trance, lost in a world of story possibilities, forgetting her water bottle…]

Fiction Blog, Musings & Bookish Things

My Reading Habits: A Questionnaire

A few days ago, Charles French and Zach Chopchinski nominated me to share my reading habits via a reading habits questionnaire. I must say, the book nerd in me had a lot of fun geeking out over these questions and pondering some of the scenarios. I’m not going to nominate anyone in specific for this challenge — so if it seems like a fun post for you, go ahead and consider yourself nominated! Okay, here are my answers: 20150620_150428

You have 20,000 books on your TBR. How in the world do you decide what to read next?

Right now, I am only reading books from my book review queue and those that are important for my author-entrepreneur business. Therefore, I would read whatever is next chronologically on those lists. Now, once my book review list has dissipated, I will go back to my old method of staring at my bookshelf and pulling at my hair until my eyes land on a book that I know I must read right now.

You’re halfway through a book and you’re just not loving it. Do you quit or commit?

I’m an all or nothing type of person. I rarely ever quit a book halfway through. Honestly, the book would have to be highly offensive to me (in a moral sense) for me to stop reading. I’m a big believer in sticking through books outside of my comfort zone and/or that are poorly written for the lessons they can bring me as a writer.

The end of the year is coming and you’re so close yet so far away on your GoodReads challenge. Do you quit or commit?

Again, I would try to commit. Or, in my continual efforts to tame my inner-perfectionist, I would probably lower my goal and reprimand myself for being too optimistic. As long as I used the time I could have been reading to do something even more important (ie: writing), then I am okay with a reduced reading goal.

The covers of a series you love DO. NOT. MATCH. How do you cope?

I would survive, but it would annoy me. One of my favorite aspects of series is a cohesive theme and style throughout the book covers. I do not care if the covers are “bad” or not, but I think it is important from a branding and aesthetic perspective to keep covers consistent. If they re-released old books with the new covers, I would seriously consider selling my copies and re-buying them with the matching covers.

Everyone and their mother loves a book you really don’t like. Who do you bond with over shared feelings?

Usually my friend, Jess, and I are together on these issues. We tend to have similar tastes when it comes to the “blockbuster” books. However, I can always vent to my husband, even if he does not share my opinion.

You’re reading a book and you’re about to start crying in public. How do you deal?

This depends on where I am. If I’m in an airport, I will just cry my heart out. After being in a long distance relationship (and thus having many a joyful reunion and sorrowful parting in airports), I literally have no shame in airports any more. No. Shame. As for work, a library, or confined space (like a bus), I would probably close the book and wait until I got home to read through the weepy part.

A sequel of a book you loved just came out, but you’ve forgotten a lot from the prior novel. Will you re-read the book? Skip the sequel? Try to find a summary on GoodReads? Cry in frustration?

Typically, if I love a book, I will remember it pretty well — even over time. However, if I do forget a lot about the book, I will go and skim through the first one, perhaps reading the last chapter or two to recapture the emotions I felt during the book’s conclusion so I can carry them into book two more clearly.

20150620_150313You don’t want ANYONE borrowing your books. How do you politely tell people “nope” when they ask?

“I’m sorry, but I don’t lend my books out anymore. I have had too many books go walkabout when borrowed, and I’m tired of having to replace them.”

You’ve picked up and put down five different books in the past month. How do you get over the reading slump?

When I’m in a reading slump, the best thing for me is to find a short book that I can blaze through in a few quick sittings. This gets me back in the groove of reading and whets my appetite for longer tomes.

There are so many new books coming out that you are dying to read! How many do you actually buy?

Other than independent books, I prefer to buy all of my books secondhand to save money. Therefore, if they are traditionally-published, I would probably buy zero and (im)patiently wait a few months until I could find them for next-to-nothing. As for independent books, I would buy them relatively soon, but I would spread out the expenses over a few weeks so it did not hurt my wallet as badly.

After you’ve bought a new book you want to get to, how long do they sit on your shelf until you actually read them?

I am terrible at buying books and then waiting forever to read them. I guarantee there are classics that I bought in high school that are still sitting on my bookshelf unread. If the book is written by a friend or an author I really like, I will probably get to it in a month or two. If anything else, it will probably sit on my shelf for at least six months (if not years) as I slowly read my way through the books that got there first (again, by months or years).

And those are my reading habits! Again, if you’d like to answer, feel free to do so in your own post or in the comments. Side note: the banner and images in this post are snapshots of my actual bookshelves — feel free to evaluate my reading tastes as you will.

Author Interviews, Fiction Blog

The 2K International Writers’ Blog Tour – Archive

The 2K International Writers’ Blog Tour was a month-long series of writer interviews that took place in February 2015. The tour began when Kate Evans of Writing Ourselves Well asked me if I would like to exchange interviews for our blogs, and it quickly evolved into a fully-fledged blog tour. Our goal was to bring together writers of all experience levels and demographic backgrounds and share the beauty of their art with the blogging community.

Included in this post are links to all the original interviews for your reading enjoyment.

Kate Evans (my co-host)

Kate M. Colby (me)

Jonas Lee

Kylie Betzner

Kara Jorgensen

Renee N. Meland

Fia Essen

Elizabeth Hein

David Powning

Brittany Boyce

Amrita Sarkar

Amanda Richter

Lani V. Cox

Corri van de Stege

Steven Baird

Lauren Faulkenberry

Sabina Khan

Suzanne M. Brazil

Kimberly DuBoise

Jay Dee Archer

Cheryle Baker

Zachary Paul Chopchinski

Thank you to all the writers who participated and to all of those who shared and followed the tour. I know I loved hosting you all on my blog, and I’m excited to grow the connections we’ve made and support each of you in your writer journeys.

Author Interviews, Fiction Blog

The 2K International Writers’ Blog Tour – Zachary Paul Chopchinski

Thank you to everyone who has joined us on this blog tour! For our last interview, let me present Zachary Paul Chopchinski, whose first novel will, appropriately, be available next month!

Zachary Paul Chopchinski

zachI am 26 years old and live in Maine with my lovely wife, Layla, our two dogs and two cats. I currently work as the director of security at a local college. Working in a field like security, despite the fact that often I was a manager and in charge of sensitive situations, I found myself with plenty of time to dream up stories. Working primarily nights exacerbated this, since I was often left in solidarity to my own devices. This alone time allowed for me to create other lives, worlds, and times. Often, this led to fervid writings penned as I arrived home after long nights, my day supposedly ending, yet merely at its start. I received an Associates degree in Criminal Justice and a Bachelor’s degree in Criminology from the University of Southern Maine. Although I do not have a degree in writing, or its associated fields, I have always had a passion for it. I had two short stories published by Ohio State University when he was in elementary school, and a poem published when he was in high school.

I have always had two passions in my life, criminal justice and writing, and after spending nearly 5 years working in security, I have decided it is time to give my other passion a chance. When I am not writing, or dreaming up my next story, I can be found reading and studying about watches, playing video games or spending time with my family.

What is the first piece you remember writing (from childhood or young adulthood)?

As a child, I did not live in the best community. Often I found myself sitting alone in my room and reading, about far away places. I began to write at a young age—albeit not very good pieces, but I tried my best—and I have to say that the mere thought of my earliest work still makes me blush. The first thing that I ever wrote and finished was a short story entitled “Never Been Kissed”. Sadly, this was a short story about my very first girlfriend and date. I still have it to this day and my family loves to pull it out of hiding and read it to me just to make me blush. It was quite cheeky, I thought I was the next romantic novel superstar, yet I still think of it to this day.

What is your favorite aspect of being a writer? Your least favorite?

My favorite part of being a writer would have to be the ability to create something out of the most humble of things, or perhaps nothing at all. Whenever I find myself pondering hardships, boredom, possibilities or anything that may hit me, I throw a small story into the mixture and see what develops. I would have to say that my least favorite thing about being a writer is this little attention deficit problem that I have. I often find myself thinking over several possible story ideas at once and get overwhelmed, only to find myself nearly giving up on all of them. I generally am able to press forward, it is just frustrating at times.

Do you believe in writer’s block? If so, what is your best tip for beating it? If not, why not?

Absolutely I believe in writer’s block. Writing, like any art form, is based out of the author’s creativity and inspiration. This is a very fickle thing and, like many things in life, writer’s can find themselves uninspired, not in the mood, or maybe even unable to push through a certain point in their piece, for whatever reason. My best tip for beating this is to think back to what you were experiencing when you first began working the piece. Focus on what sensations you were feeling and emerge yourself into that mindset. If it was a song, listen to the song again. If you were in a special place when the thought first roared through your mind, go back and shoot for it again. Finding ourself in the situation which first spawned your works will relaunch the story for you.

What is your current writing project? What is the most challenging aspect of your current writing project?

zach bookI am currently working on the second instillation of my novel, The Curious Tale of Gabrielle. The most challenging aspect of this piece is the base premise of it depends highly on historical accuracy. So, coupled with heavy writing, I know find myself doing more research than I did when I was in college.

What supports you in your writing?

Currently, there are two things that come to mind when thinking of what supports my writing. First thing would have to be music. I often listen to specific genres when writing that help me maintain focus in what I am currently working on. I use the music to channel the emotions and mindset needed to further my writing. The second is my lovely wife, Layla. She does what I have jokingly referred to as “mothering” me to make sure that I accomplish the goals that I set for myself. As I said, I do have a nasty little attention deficit problem, and she helps me keep that at bay when needed. For that, she is my greatest support.

What are you currently reading?

“War and Peace” by Tolstoy

Where can our readers find you and your books online?

One book that I would like to promote is The Curious Tale of Gabrielle, scheduled to come out at the beginning of March.