I've been writing things with no intention of sharing them with the world for over 25 years. I have shelveSSSS of things only I am allowed to read. Doesn't feel like a long time because 25 years goes by fast when you're lost in other worlds, blowing up stuff, and saving the future. Taking that step from being a writer in the safety of my own world, and finally sharing a few stories with the rest of the world was terrifying on so many levels.

Yet I did.

I apparently traumatized, shocked, yet captivated a few.

Regardless, I felt the support of my writing family, my family, and my friends, as they assured me it was okay to be weird and quite frankly, I've always been weird. I was going for magical, but I guess the two are relatives so I might find myself there soon.

Publishing Speculative Fiction is also a big leap to take when everyone is used to reading your news reports and government grants. Thanks to all the support this past year and the encouragement over the years I actually did it. And in the moment it didn't feel like a big step, just the scary next one. Perhaps I was ready after all.

Still, I can't even begin to express my appreciation for the incredible reviews, support, publishers, editors, designers, and friendships I've made in this journey. So much goes into making a book but preparing it for the world is a different story. (all puns intended)

And I know I would have never done it without my husband's blind belief in me and the motivation he endlessly provides. Or my kids just being so awesome about it (it being me writing, all the time). I have the coolest family. And yes, I am bragging because they are worth bragging about.

So much time, energy, and passion goes into everything we write, so my gratitude is especially deep to all the artists out there who inspire me, because musicians, painters, sculptures, cover artists, writers... all of them have a dedication I aspire to live up to.

This is a journey like no other I've embarked on and I have no idea where it will take me or how long it will last, but it's very interesting and I'm so thankful I found the courage to finally do it. And I'm thankful for every choice I made from publishers to critique partners because each one helped me better my craft. I look at it as a learning experience, and I hope I always will.

What are you thankful for this year?

Insecure Writer's Support Group Anthology Contest 2015

Thought I'd share the details on this most awesome Speculative Fiction contest hosted by the Insecure Writer's Support Group.

The IWSG Anthology Contest is now open until November 1st!

The theme is Alternate History/Parallel Universe (I know!) and it's for members of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group those who blog or Facebook.

Winners will be published in a royalty-paying anthology next year.

Even if you don't enter or write Speculative Fiction, this is a great group to follow. I enjoy reading the posts and find them motivational and uplifting. Sometimes it's nice to know you're not alone on this journey.

Best of luck!

A Peek Into Your Life-- Katrina Mountfort

A peek into your life, is a segment spotlighting authors, specialists, and friends who brave my countless questions day in and day out. It's the best way I can share with you all, the many people who taught me the bizarre things I know, who satisfy my thirst for knowledge and adventure, and who keep me motivated.

I met Katrina Mountfort through social media. I was excited to learn she was a new author at Elsewhen Press, mainly because I've enjoyed so many of their books but also because her title got me thinking. What was so perfect about this future? How was that going to affect the story? Most of my stories are about a not perfect future and people trying to make it better, but dang... what if the future was perfect? What would happen?

Her book is so cool! and!!! her new one comes out this week. So check out FORBIDDEN ALLIANCE.  

This series is about a future where people are trapped in Citidomes where they strive to live by Mind Values that are a bit extreme, in a world where they reward BodyPerfect traits, making the population more and more unisex and identical. So what could possibly go wrong in this Utopian world of perfect people? Human nature, I suppose. Urges. Natural reproduction... Yup, you see, to keep the standards of BodyPerfect, natural selection is not possible. Much to my horror, in this Utopian world, sex is banned. BANNED! Not only forbidden, thanks to Mind Values these citizens believe it is yucky. In all fairness, it does sometimes make them sick and leave them with scars on their perfect bodies.

Caia lives in this world, but doesn't fit in. She tries. Bless her for trying, but thank goodness Mac comes along when he does. He's just so dang... not perfect. He's a breath of fresh air in her stale life of perfection. When they get paired up to go on a mission outside the Citidome they discover a world unlike theirs. But can they give up the perfect life of game shows and empty parties to live a life of hardwork and running?

It boggles your mind how real this world is. By the second chapter, I knew it was a book my daughter would love as much as me. The action kept moving, the intense danger was very real, and the setting impeccable. It was hard to put down, but it was also hard to finish. I did not want to leave them. I actually found myself rereading pages or reading them slow. I was so glad to learn a new one was coming out quickly!

Of course, I had to seek Katrina out and invite her over to share her story, because it is worth the read. So welcome Katrina!

Where did you get the idea for Future Perfect?
I had the idea around ten years ago when I first heard about men waxing off their body hair. At the same time, waif-like supermodels were plastered over every magazine and it occurred to me that if this trend continued, in a hundred year’s time, men and women would be almost indistinguishable.

Is there a message you try to pass on while writing? Or a theme that emerges naturally?
I don’t intend there to be, but I’ve noticed that whatever I write, the theme of conformity creeps in. It can be summed up in a saying I have above my desk – stop trying to fit in when you were born to stand out – and that’s the way I try to live my life. With Future Perfect, I wanted to hammer this message home. I see kids becoming obsessed with body image at an increasingly younger age and it saddens me. When I grew up in the late seventies, there were adverts in Jackie, the teen magazine, for a supplement called Wate On, which promised weight gain for girls who were ‘too skinny to have fun on the beach.’ It seems hard to believe by today’s standards! I hope the trilogy helps young people see that that beauty is an artificial concept created by society

What book would you recommend as "this is a book every writer should read”?
Jo Jo Moyes: Me Before You. She writes in a genre that used to be dismissed as chick lit, but this novel is a masterclass in character development, as well as in creating engaging characters. A writer may have created the most original, well-constructed, beautifully written novel, but if readers don’t care about the main characters, they won’t enjoy it.

Is there a particular genre, target audience or age group you write for? Why?
I write speculative and women’s commercial fiction because they’re the genres I enjoy reading. But I find difficult to categorize novels – for example my husband loves so-called women’s fiction! In the first draft of Future Perfect, the main characters were in their twenties. However, an agent suggested I made them teenagers to appeal to the YA market. While rewriting it, I read plenty of YA fiction and was so impressed with the quality – when I was in my teens there was so little to choose from. But although I imagined that the target audience of Future Perfect would be young women, that hasn’t been the case. A surprising amount of men have enjoyed the book and as far as I know, my youngest reader is 13 and my oldest 88!

Tell us about your bucket list!

I’ve ticked off a lot off my bucket list! This includes seeing gorillas in the wild in Rwanda, walking the Inca trail, a tandem skydive, bungee jumping, whitewater rafting and aerobatics in a Tiger Moth. There’s still plenty left to do though – in a few years I’d like to take a year off to drive round the US National Parks in an RV.

What is the best thing about where you live?
I live in a small town and it’s impossible to walk into the town centre without bumping into a few people I know, a nice respite from the solitary writing day. It’s also close to the beautiful Audley End estate where I walk my dogs. I get most of my best story ideas on those walks.

What do you do for a living?
I’m a home-based freelance medical writer, which involves writing articles for medical journals. It can be hard switching my brain from factual to fiction writing mode. But I started out as a scientist – I’ve worked in food and forensic science. I also studied homeopathy for a while and was briefly a homeopath. I seem to have a major change every seven years or so, which has given me plenty of writing material.

Thanks you so much for allowing us a peek and best of luck with the new release! Thanks for writing! 

A Few Secrets

I am visiting over at Jacqueline Ward's blog today! Be sure to stop by and say hi and! check out a few of my writing secrets in her excellent segment What, When, Where?

Hope you're all enjoying the summer. Happy readings!

And BIG thanks to Jacqueline for having me over!