Programmed to Breathe

Breathing is a gift I give you…
Dragon design: Alison Buck
   Above ground, in the frozen climate of year 3161, Avery’s family is starving. When the jerk from the clan at the end of the village invites Avery to start a family with him in exchange for food and land, she has a serious choice to make. Leaving her family where she fits in, to live in a clan with an old man she loathes, doesn’t feel like a good move. But can she really refuse when the offer comes with food and land that her family desperately needs?

Underground, in the cities of Quma, Yodan’s life is perfect. He looks forward to starting a family with… Azala? Why does that feel wrong? Yodan’s best friend soon discovers that someone or something has tampered with Yodan’s mind, erasing things. Investigating further, they discover a horrifying truth; Artificial-life has found a way to merge with them to live mortally.
   When a violent earthquake destroys the energy source that’s keeping both above and below ground habitable, the survivors are forced together after more than a thousand years of isolated evolution. Their union is a clash of spiritual versus technical existence where suddenly no one fits in. How will the villagers react to the bald pink-eyed children needing a new home? And what kind of damage will be done by the lifeform who hitched a ride with them?

Breathing is a gift I give myself…

Very excited to announce that Elsewhen Press has made Programmed to Breathe a home among their other incredible books. It is now available as eBook! It will be out in paperback later this year.

In a lot of ways, this is a story I was working on since I was a little girl. It has been in my mind fighting to be told. And I am so happy with the final version. It's come a long way from that little idea I had as a kid to this incredible tale of two very different worlds being forced together. The one thing that never changed were Yodan and Avery. These two heroes stuck with me from start to finish, bringing me on many adventures, but by far, this one was the best! I hope you enjoy their stories.

And I have to just make a comment on the incredible cover. It is so perfect for this story. It represents the protector and legendary Dragon carved into the marble caves in the village above ground where Avery lives, but the reflection in the metallic grey is the logo for the threat and very real Nogard, the A-life that is keeping Yodan's underground city running smoothly. It's a very powerful symbol that will hopefully come alive for readers as they explore the story of the two worlds coming together.

Happy readings!

Man vs Nature: the Snow

This might be just me--and for those of you without snow, just enjoy your iced tea with your toes in the warm pool while you laugh at my struggles--but when that first snowstorm hits around October or November I make myself these little deals. They go something like this:
This year, I'm gonna stay on top of this.

This year, I'm not gonna let my husband shovel the snow around the house alone.

This year, I'm gonna shovel as much as I can to stay in shape. At work and at home. Heck, I might even go help the neighbours out! Who needs a snow blower!

This year, I might even come out while it snows just to stay ahead of things.

And comes December and I have to say, things look good. I might actually...

And comes January.

By February, I've basically got a tunnel I can crawl through to get to work. The thoughts are more like this:

Why is it so cold? Why are my ankles suddenly frozen? Where did I lose my scarf? I need another pair of mitts. I just got snow IN my boots. Wth! why am I suddenly sweating?

Screw it. I'm going in. If they can't climb the snow bank, we can text.
         If I wait three more months, it'll melt. Can I wait that long? 

Then I actually think about how long three months will be while I undress and search for warm pjs and a book. But then I realize hubby stayed outside so I go see how he's doing... and the thoughts are more like this: 
We need a snow blower. Why don't we own one? This is just too much snow. Where will my husband pile it all? Why did I make that first pile so far? Did he really shovel ALL that? I know there's a sidewalk out there somewhere...he has to be close. Do we need that much of a path? Snowshoes would be good, we'll invest in snowshoes... 
I can't even see my husband out there it's blowing so hard. Maybe he should come in and we'll just stay on top of it better next year...
And then, I go make a hot chocolate and write about it.
What Man vs Nature element is your yearly challenge?

Missing Someone

Missing someone is a strange but powerful part of life. Some days you miss their wisdom, others their presence. You miss the way they did things and you catch yourself saying the weird things they did that once upon a time made you roll your eyes. My favourite is, "I see, said the blind man." Which was a saying my dad used to use. Worse, when someone mispronounces a word like them, you find yourself smiling, because it's a reminder of how human they were.

You think about the things they didn't get to do or see. And so, because you miss them, you do these things for them, as if that will somehow bring you closer to them or perhaps give you closure.

You drive to their grave and stare at it, tormented by the fact that nothing is right with it. Not a thing. This is not where you should be visiting.

You gather all these pictures in a folder that remind you of them, but looking at them is hard so you just hold the folder like some idiot, hoping it will help.

And you don't shed a tear because it's not just pain causing you to act this way but love. And the two emotions conflict so you just sit there numb wondering when was the last time you laughed.

You have anger. It can't be explained or even properly directed. It just is. And when someone points it out you growl because words can't explain it.

The way you see religion and afterlife changes. If you were raised with these beliefs, you will need them now. Others will share their beliefs. In these moments, all of it is helpful and uplifting yet so useless and terrifying.

Even though you're happy others are there with you, this little void is inside you remembers the one you miss, as if they left with a part of your soul and forgot you needed it. Or maybe they need it wherever they went.

When you miss someone, everyone else falls into three categories: those who have no clue what to say so they walk away or deepen your pain, those who care so much your pain is suddenly theirs and you're comforting them, and of course, those who you NEED around you, for no particular reason or wisdom, you just do.

There is the life before you missed them and the life after. Not sure how that happens, but it becomes a moment in time like you were reborn with their death and when that day rolls around each year you find yourself another year older in this new life with still no grasp on how you survived so long and no clue if that other life will ever return. Perhaps you're comfortable in this new role. And with that is a realization about just how easy life was with them in it. Easier. For so many reasons. Still, looking at your actions, your words, your writing, your everything, nothing was the same after that day. You can physically see the imprint it left on your life as if the book you were writing ended abruptly and another began.

When you miss someone, you feel their teachings seep in at the strangest moments and you listen out of respect.

You talk to them when they aren't there, not because you're crazy, but because what if? What if they were there for just a moment and you missed it?

You find yourself drawn to others who grieve as if someone has answers.

You think about the moments of their life and death, giving them purpose and reason.

You live  your life with more energy. More passion. More questions.

You wonder if they would even recognize you, if they came home today, because the person you are today is so different than the person they left.

Or maybe that's just me.

What do you find yourself doing when you miss someone? How do you use that powerful emotion to push you forward instead of tackle you down? What things have others done to help you, or that you have done for others?

A Peek Into Your Life Nancy Wood

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 Nancy Wood through a publisher we share and her mystery series intrigued me. You can visit her at her site HERE.

Her books Due Date and The Stork are about a woman who agrees to be a surrogate mother for cash, but soon discovers that something is amiss with the family she is carrying twins for. I have yet to read it, but am looking forward to diving into this one. I jumped at the opportunity to interview Nancy and find out a bit about her writing and her life.

Where did you get the idea for The Stork?
This book is the second book in a mystery series. I got the idea when I was attending a writing workshop. The idea I'd come with was a dud, and I came up with this idea while working in a group. That was over ten years ago. It took me five years to finish the first book in the series, Due Date, and six more to finish this one. Hopefully the third won't take as long! The character's name is Shelby McDougall. In Due Date, she's fresh out of college and decides to become a surrogate mom. But the intended parents are not who they seem, and have their own agenda. The second book picks up Shelby's story five+ years later. The third, the one I'm working on, will be set in the not-too-distant future.
Is there a message you try to pass on while writing? Or a theme that emerges naturally?
When I was writing this book, I realized that I always like to write about nature. I live in a beautiful part of the world (Santa Cruz, California) and I love to place my characters in the outdoors, so that I can write about what's around me.

What is the best thing that has come out running your blog?
Definitely my author interview series. I post an interview every week with an author. I love meeting other authors, learning about their books, and discovering tidbits about the writing process.

Where do you do your best writing?
At my desk, on my computer. My ideal writing time is in the morning, just after I get up, with my cup of tea.

What book would you recommend as "this is a book every writer should read”?
I really benefited from Your Book Starts Here, by Mary Carroll Moore. It's an excellent how-to book with sections on planning, writing, and developing the story. Her wisdom really helped me figure out the inner and outer stories and how to weave them into a coherent whole.

What one thing did you learn that you wish to pass on to other writers?
When you're writing, try to ignore that inner critic. I think everyone has one, and it will get you every time! I know from years of personal experience. My critic often perches on my shoulder as I write and I have to work really hard to not listen.

What is the best thing about where you live?
Access to the outdoors, with multiple places to go to get away from it all. I live close to several state parks that span acres and acres of land, encompassing coastal redwood forests and beaches along the Pacific Ocean. I love to hop on my bike and ride along the trails, or walk along the coastal path.

Based on your experience or research, what is a great place to travel to or visit? Why?
I was lucky to be able to spend last summer in the city of Ghent, Belgium. It has not been discovered in the sense of being on the heavily travelled tourist circuit. It's a university city, and is the second largest city in Belgium. The interior of the city, the ancient part of the city dating back to the middle ages, is a pedestrian zone, with only busses, trolleys, and taxis allowed. The city is crisscrossed by canals, and has retained its beautiful medieval architecture, including the Gravensteen Castle; St. Bavo's Cathedral, with the famous Ghent Altarpiece; three beguinages; and dozens of churches. I discovered the brand-new library, De Krook, and was in heaven. It was built on a curve (de krook) in the Scheldt River and is a real marvel.

Thank you so much Nancy for the peek into your life! That sounds like a place I for sure have to add to my travel list. Thanks for recommending Your Book Starts Here, that isn't one I read!! 

For more information about Nancy, or to check out her books you can find her at:
Website and blog:
Twitter: @NancyWoodAuthor