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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Food for Writing Thoughts

Sometimes it is hard for writers to put things in perspective.
Sometimes we writers argue about writer things.
And sometimes writers get hungry.

The other day I was in a debate of sorts, and another writer gave me the "you shouldn't rate books on technical things. Technical things don't matter if the story is good," line. She thought one should never let technical stuff get in the way of enjoying a story.

Hungry me decided to go all Gordon Ramsay on this ...


Yes, technical stuff does matter.

 I have technical knowledge that plaid doesn't necessary go well with floral print that makes it impossible for me to enjoy certain interior decorating.
I have technical knowledge that info dumping is boring and makes the story hard to read.
I have technical knowledge that under or over cooking meat makes it difficult to eat.
I have technical knowledge that there is a specific way to put together sentences that makes them legible.
Yes, sometimes technical things can get in the way of the enjoying something ... and that's not the fault of the person bogged down in "technical stuff." It's the fact that the work doesn't overcome technical problems.
I'm not going to enjoy an under edited book any more than I will find a burnt cake delicious.
Saying that readers should be able to enjoy a book beyond its faults is like dumping a bunch of salt on ice cream and saying, "Well, you're just being technical in complaining that shouldn't be on there."

And technical stuff isn't just blindly following rules. There are all sorts of exceptions to rules where creative artistry takes over or an unlikely combinations works. It's kind of a culinary rule not to combine cheese and sea food, but lobster mac and cheese makes it onto a lot of menus.

There are other ways food relates to fiction:

And sometimes it will just be a taste issue. My mom hates the taste of onions. It doesn't matter how well-executed a dish is if it has onions in it. Other people I know love to slather onions in everything (I'm actually rather fond of them in certain dishes.). Some people can't stand cilantro because to them it literally tastes of soap. No amount of "learning to like it" is going to convince them otherwise. You can't write to please everyone, and some readers you'll just have to part ways with because you continue to add onion and cilantro (or first person present tense ... or cliffhangers ... or love triangles, or whatever else that particular reader just doesn't like) into your work because it works for your readers.

And there are different types of fiction. There's healthy meal fiction that teaches a lesson or bolsters the spirits. There's cheat meal fiction that's as fluffy as cotton candy. Both have a place to give life spice.

Oh, and sometimes the reasons we like fiction aren't because the fiction is technically good. It could be because it appeals to us. Because it triggers nostalgia ... a lot of "home cooking" I grew up with was very much packaged and processed. Arguably not good food, but my mom made it, so I understand it and have a fondness for it.

And there are fads in fiction just like there are fads in food ... like when we wrapped bacon in everything and read YA dystopian for like most of a decade (at least it felt that long) and then traded that in for cupcakes ... or food in jars ... or vampire books ... or fairy tale retellings ...

But some foods (and stories) stay timeless through fads.

So do you like food based writing metaphors? Or are they in bad taste ;)?

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Random Interview Saturday: D. G. Driver

DISCLAIMER
The H. L. Burke Random Interview is not like other interviews. The questions are all over the place. They have no purpose. Their purpose is their lack of purpose.
There are nine questions because cats, but these nine questions are subject to change without notice, so the questions one person answers may not be the questions answered by the next author.
Today's author floats in on a giant shell, pushed by gentle breezes and mermaids! SHE IS D. G. DRIVER!
D. G. Driver
Author Bio
D. G. Driver is primarily the author of YA contemporary fantasy. Her books Cry of the Sea and Whisper of the Woods are about a teen environmentalist who discovers mythical creatures, and her novella Passing Notes is about a ghost teaching a boy to write love letters. She has one of these stories in the new anthology Fantastic Creatures as well. Some of her favorite books and movies are ones where normal people find out that the world has a little magic in it. 2016 has been her year of the anthology, having work come out in three different short story collections. In addition to being a writer, she is a teacher and occasionally can be found singing in a community theater musical somewhere in Nashville, TN. Learn more about her work at www.dgdriver.com


If you favorite historical era had an ice cream flavor made in its honor, what would it taste like?
Vanilla Apple Pie. I love the 1940s. I wish I were alive then and in the movie studio system. I wish I could’ve sung with a big swing band. I wish I could have traveled with that big band to play for the boys overseas during the war. I wish I knew how to wear my hair in those gorgeous hairstyles. Everything here in the U.S. was very all-American then, so that’s why I think Vanilla Apple Pie would been a hit.

Congratulations! You are now president of this blog post. What's your first executive order?
Well, I’d like to tell everyone to go right now and download a copy of one of my books and go to page ten and report back with a line they discovered there. Too much? How about everyone just share their favorite mermaid story/movie.
Describe your life as a film genre.
My life is a musical. My dad used to say this to me all the time when I was growing up, because I was always singing. That hasn’t changed. I sing all the time, and when I’m around people and can’t sing out loud, I hum under my breath. Usually the songs I’m singing are from musicals or are jazz standards. Sometimes I just make them up. My poor daughter has begun doing the same thing, and I now realize how annoying it can be to other people, even if my daughter and I actually sing pretty well.
Tree House or Cave? And why?
Tree house. Definitely. I love trees and there are some really awesome tree houses. Not to mention the fact that my book Whisper of the Woods takes place over half the story up in a tree. Caves are cold and dark. I like sunlight. My book coming out next year, Echo of the Cliffs, has some pretty scary scenes in caves.
During an alien invasion, what would be your weapon of choice?
Oh, I’d probably be like that extra in the movie that just gets zapped by the alien lasers while other heroes are trying to fight them off. I’d like to say I would fight, but I probably wouldn’t. I’m a pacifist. Now, my husband, he’s the one who can shoot, so maybe I’d have a chance if I stuck behind him.
If you could combine any two animals to make a hybrid, what would they be?
A lion and a sheep, so I could hug on that big ol’ mane and not worry about being eaten.
What’s the most important lesson you ever learned from a cartoon?
You can get places really fast when you go through a rabbit hole, and anvils dropping on your head will not kill you.

You have superpowers. What are they and what do you do with them?
At this point in my life, I’d like to have that “glamour” power the vampires usually have. I want to be able to convince people to do stuff without them knowing it, like agents to sign me, publishers to pay me big advances, people to purchase my books (and like them too). In addition, I could get my kids to make their beds and clean their rooms. My husband will do all the cooking. My boss will give me a raise and a three-day week schedule… Oh, the possibilities are endless.
If this question were any question in the world, what question would you want it to be and how would you answer it?
“What inspired you to write your book?” No. I’m kidding! Don’t run away! I think this is a veiled version of “What would you like people to know about you?” so I’ll answer that. I have more stories in my head than I have time to write. I seriously have a backlog right now of five novels I’d like to write, and then I get new ideas all the time. I came up with a new idea this morning that I really like. But then I have to weigh out which idea is burning at me the most with what is most likely to sell or which one I can write quickest. It’s frustrating a lot of the time, but it’s also cool to know that I’m unlikely to run out of ideas.


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Mean Writer Problems: Preserving Your Brand While Keeping Your Friends

A lot of indie book purchasers are hopelessly inbred ... 

That sounds bad, but what I mean by it is that, for indie authors, our first purchasers are often primarily other indie authors ... that or friends and family who want to "help us out" even if they really might not like our book (or even reading) very much.

And on one hand, it's awesome that these communities can be so supportive. I think it's great that if I post about my new release in an author group, I'm bound to get at least a few sales from people who want to support me. Some might even read it and leave a review. Most will share the link with their friends and readers ...

It feels really really good.
But the results can be really really bad.

Why?

Because not all sales are created equal.

It seems counter-intuitive that there are times you may NOT want to sell a book, especially when you are just getting started and every sale seems so hard won. You want your book's ranking to go up, not down, and that won't happen without sales.

I've seen groups of authors agree to buy each others books. They'll start circles where they'll each order the other's books on an appointed day to give the book a boost in rankings, often dropping the price down to 99 cents. Not that they plan to read those books. They might not even like that genre, but what's 99 cents to help a friend and fellow author? After all, getting noticed in the sea of Amazon titles is hard.

Other things that authors might do:

They'll start "social media follow chains" where everyone goes through and likes everyone's Facebook page or Twitter account or Instagram or Blog.

They'll post books on blogs, join street teams, share links ... all to "support your fellow author."

It's warm and fuzzy and ... and just stop, people! This isn't working!

Because doing all this for short term benefit has the long term result of your marketing being incredibly confused.
You're a fantasy writer, but your blog has a dozen links to romance books.
You're a mystery writer, but your Facebook page is followed by a dozen scifi writers who really don't read in your genre but just love to support you.
You're a religious fiction writer, but your "People Who Bought This Book Also Bought ..." is populated by a bunch of steamy romance and covers of bare chested dudes because several people in your writers' group write erotica and you're a lovely person so they picked up your book when it was on sale, just to be nice.

Here's the thing: in order to be successful in this game, you need to find your readers. Some of those readers will be other authors, yes. In fact, a lot of authors got into this game because they are avid readers and adore stories. Some of them are eclectic readers (I kind of count myself as one. I'm a fantasy author, but as a reader, I like classics ... I like some literary fiction ... I occasionally will read a romance ... I don't like cozy mystery. Sue me. I don't.)

And there is a lot of pressure in this world to be supportive, so if you decide to take a "stand for your brand" you may get some backlash. I always feel a little bit like a jerk when (on a fairly regular basis) a writer friend asks me to host a stop on their blog tour for a genre that really doesn't fit my "target audience." The thing is, by refusing, I'm doing them a favor, but it never feels that way. It feels like I'm telling them they don't fit in with the 'cool kids club' that is my blog.

In the beginning I was less consistent about this, and my branding suffered a bit. Now I've doubled down on Fantasy FANTASY FANTASY! 

Why?

Because that's what my readers want. A reader who is searching for romance isn't going to want my stories of dragons and killer robots (though my own bouncing around from middle grade to romantic fantasy to Steampunk probably doesn't help me much ... I'm easily distracted, what can I say? I've made a career out of chasing the shinies.).



So I've been doing a lot lately to tighten my brand, being more selective about what I share even if it means not "helping" a few people in the short term.

But what can you do, then, if you feel guilty for not supporting other authors?
For starters, taking command of your brand doesn't mean you have to stop "supporting." Your readers might not like to read in another genre ... but that person you encounter at the local library might. Your sister might. Your weird cousin who sends you Christmas cards with their ferret dressed as an elf might. You can tell other people about their books. Just do it as yourself, not as your-writer-self.
In other words, don't cross the streams.


You can also be supportive by talking shop, sharing a great tip you found for promotion or a resource for research, or just being "there" when someone is struggling.

Also, it is important to seek out writers who write in a similar genre as you. Those you can share readers with. Those can help you grow, and in turn, you might be able to help them out. That was a lot of the reasoning behind the founding of The Fellowship of Fantasy. Authors who write within a genre, carefully targeting readers who like their genre.



If you'd like to hear why this matters from someone with a little more "experience" than me, here is a good video which I think explains some of the problem a little better than I can.




Saturday, November 19, 2016

Random Interview Saturday! Charmain Zimmerman Brackett

DISCLAIMER
The H. L. Burke Random Interview is not like other interviews. The questions are all over the place. They have no purpose. Their purpose is their lack of purpose.
There are nine questions because cats, but these nine questions are subject to change without notice, so the questions one person answers may not be the questions answered by the next author.

Today's author swings in on a flying trapeze! It's Charmain Zimmerman Brackett!!!



Charmain Zimmerman Brackett


Describe your life (or writing) as a film genre.
I'm not sure if this would be considered more of a style than genre, but I immediately thought of the Claymation cartoons from the 1960s. You know the ones that
Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer and Santa Claus is Coming to Town are film in.

My life and writing process is a lot like that. It's clunky and awkward at times, but it's fun. It can be scary like the burgermeister in Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Despite that, there's a lot of joy in both the writing and life, and that's where the crazy songs come in. My life definitely has lots of songs, and I do burst into random song at times.

Give yourself a totally new look, as dramatic as you want. What is it? I would love to have a crazy hair color like fuchsia or royal blue. Or maybe I'd dye it a deep brown and put in some highlights in burgundy or purple. I did have burgundy hair once about 20 years ago. It was awesome.

You have superpowers. What are they and what do you do with them? I would bend time because God knows there aren't enough hours to mom, wife, work, write and market all in one day.

If you had to write only in one crayon color for the rest of your life, what would you choose? I think it would be purple because it's a blend of two colors that I really like. I enjoy anything in that part of the spectrum.

Would you rather travel to the past or the future? That's a tough one. I like Dr. Who's idea of traveling into all times and dimensions.


If you had to build a house without conventional materials, what unconventional materials would you use?
A house without conventional materials. That's a tough one. 
Well, if I lived in another dimension, I think it would be cool to live in one made from different precious stones. I love color and jewel tones are my favorites with their deep and penetrating shades. I could see a bedroom made from rubies and a kitchen made of amethyst. My bathroom would have to be sapphire because it's a peaceful blue place. The sunroom would be made of diamonds so the sun could refract all the different colors into the room.


What weather is your writing? A dark and stormy night? A sunshiny day?
I think I might categorize it as a hurricane. It can be dark and brooding but then there's a massive amount of rain and wind. At other points during the process, there's the eye which is calm, but you know it won't last long.

You're the next Disney princess. What fairy tale is your full length movie and how would you use your new ability to control woodland creatures?
My Disney princess would be like the Shoemaker and the Elves except that woodland creatures would come and edit my work and not miss a single out of place comma.

If this question were any question in the world, what question would you want it to be and how would you answer it?
So now that you've published your 11th book, where are you going? I'm going on a cruise! 



Follow Charmain on Facebook!
Her website: www.charmainzbrackett.com




Thursday, November 17, 2016

Fantastic Creatures Anthology Scavenger Hunt!

Are you excited to win prizes and find out about some excellent mythical beast stories?

Fantastic Beasts: A Fellowship of Fantasy Anthology releases November 17th. To celebrate we've put together a great scavenger hunt and giveaway! You can look through this piece for a number clue then scroll down to read about one of our stories and find a rafflecopter to enter. 
Are you excited for this awesome collection of stories?

Keio and Clara’s Second Chance

Behind the Scenes of The Golden City Captives

Julie C. Gilbert

Sometimes, when I set out to write a story I use characters I’ve created for older works and breathe new life into them. Such was the case for Keio, Clara, and their sleepy little village of Stillwater. They were originally featured in Keio and the Farsight Fire, which was created for an anthology composed of 100-word stories.

Even though I didn’t get the chance to work with Keio long, something about his character stuck with me all these years, so I’m excited to get to share him with readers in a new, bigger, and better way. 100 words is not a lot to get to explore a character’s thoughts, feelings, and fate. 10,000 words on the other hand, is the perfect length for getting to know somebody better.

Keio started out as a ten-year-old boy, but the revision had me aging him up to twelve to fit better with how I’d portrayed him. His gift was always the same, but his fate was not. The old ending failed to wrap things up as satisfactorily, so I revamped the ending to allow for more closure. I’m a big fan of closure.

Clara began as the side-kick, but she soon fought her way to a position of more prominence in my mind. I wouldn’t be surprised if this pair didn’t return in a future work. Their Gifts are kind of cool to play with. Anybody who’s read my other work, knows I’m a huge fan of Gifted people.

I hope you enjoy The Golden City Captives. It is an honor to be amongst such a wide-ranging and intriguing collection of fantasy stories.

Author Bio:
Julie teaches high school Chemistry and writes stories in several genres, including YA scifi, Christian mystery, and mystery/thriller. Where the Light May Lead was her first involvement in an anthology. Fantastic Creatures will be her second foray into anthology territory. She also collects Legos, drinks lots of tea/coffee, reviews random items at Amazon, and enjoys walking outside if the weather’s cooperative.

Freebies:
Where the Light May Lead (Christian Anthology; contains a prequel to Heartfelt Cases)
Heartfelt Cases 1: The Collins Case – amazon kindle
http://tinyurl.com/n7dcnm2 The Dark Side of Science (Devya’s Children 0)

Quick Primer on What’s What for those new to my work:
Devya’s Children is a YA/scifi series about a group of genetically altered children with Gifts such as telepathy, dream shaping, and controlling emotions.

Heartfelt Cases is a Christian mystery series about a pair of FBI agents and some of their more personal cases.

Shadow Council is a series featuring FBI Special Agent Marcella Scott. This series fits within the Lei Crime Kindle World.
If you have any comments or questions, feel free to email (Devyaschildren @ gmail.com)

Special Giveaway
How to enter: Like the author FB page then send a PM with a mailing address if you want a postcard packet. (You can also decline the packet but request an entry into the drawing.)
- Up to 3 winners will win an ebook of their choice (single title).



Visit the other stops on the blog to find more clues and prizes:

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Random Interview Saturday! C. L. Ragsdale

DISCLAIMER
The H. L. Burke Random Interview is not like other interviews. The questions are all over the place. They have no purpose. Their purpose is their lack of purpose.
There are nine questions because cats, but these nine questions are subject to change without notice, so the questions one person answers may not be the questions answered by the next author.

Look in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's C. L. RAGSDALE!



Author Biography


Writer C.L. Ragsdale is the author of The Reboot Files, a Christian Mystery/Thriller Series, and a Superhero Series, Chasing Lady Midnight.
A California native, she loves to "surf" the web to research plot details for her fun, quirky stories. She has a degree in Theatre Arts which greatly influenced her writing style. Working in various fields as a secretary has allowed her to both master her writing skills and acquire valuable technical knowledge which she uses liberally in her plots.
These days she contents herself with knitting while contemplating her next diabolical plot. Story plot that is.


The Interview


Describe your life (or writing) as a film genre.

My life is a slapstick comedy, mostly because I’m the biggest klutz in the world! Honestly, it’s a miracle I’ve lived this long, because when God was passing out the graceful gene, I must have been in the bathroom.


Pirates, Ninjas, or Vikings? Choose carefully

Pirates. I can always move away from the ocean.


You have superpowers. What are they and what do you do with them?

Invisibility. There are times when I just don’t want to be found.


Fill in the blanks. I am a were____ but I only turn when the ___ is ___.

I am a wererabbit, but I only turn when the carrot is in season.


Would you rather travel to the past or the future?

Future. The past is so yesterday, and over and done. The future is a whole new mess.


If you had to build a house without conventional materials, what unconventional materials would you use? (Gingerbread is inadvisable because it attracts snacking children)

Legos. You can build anything with them, and they last forever.


If your favorite historical era had an ice cream flavor made in its honor, what would it taste like?

My favorite historical era is the 1920’s. The would be bold, not overly sweet, with just a hint of spicy red peppers.


You're the next Disney princess. What fairy tale is your full length movie and how would you use your new ability to control woodland creatures?

Princess Irene from The Princess and The Goblin. Hey, I have a magic ring with an invisible thread only I can see that will always lead me home, no matter what stupid situation I find myself in, as that is the lot of a fairy princesses. I rescue the hero, not the other way around. I’m also very smart, and fairy tale woodland creatures would appreciate this and do my bidding because they don’t like goblins either We would have to age me a bit, because goblins wanting to kidnap and marry an eight-year-old off to a goblin prince is pretty creepy. Even for a goblin.


If this question were any question in the world, what question would you want it to be and how would you answer it?

You’re a Christian, why do you write such unusual stories such as superheroes or Grown-up Scooby Doo style plots?

Because I like Scooby Doo and superheroes. Besides, I believe God gave the ideas in the first place, and I don’t argue with Him.


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Short Story Round Up!

Here I am again, submitting for your consideration various short story snacks, ranging from a quick "lunch break" read to "devour in an afternoon." I hope you get a chance to try some of them out! 




Dogwood Sprocket

Saint Louis, 2287 
Talented toy-maker, Grace York, is focused on her career, but she daydreams about a slower-paced era, filled with ballet and fancy dresses. When bearded inventor, Hugh Hawthorne, sticks his head through a point-to-point portal and into her life, Grace York is sucked into Hugh’s 1887 alternate reality with no hope of return. Struggling to settle into her new steam-powered world, Grace discovers Hugh is keeping a secret that will aid in her return to 2287. 
Will Hugh convince Grace that two time travelers can build a future… together?


My Review

This one is hard to discuss without spoilers, but I'm going to do my best to be vague. I really enjoyed the writing style, characterization, and word building. The romance built naturally with a little bit of immediate attraction held at bay by just the right tension, and I liked the (somewhat spoilery thing) that caused the hang up between Hugh getting to open up to Grace and how that worked out.
My slight issue is it took so much time with the build up (which was really well done) that it led to the end feeling a little bit rushed. The conclusion was satisfying, but there was a point where "something goes wrong" (being vague) and I wasn't really given time to process it before it led to some major choices on the part of the character but then it was fixed again maybe a little too quickly/easily. I think if the end of the story had gone more at the pace of the first three-quarters or so (given us a little bit of time to process things) I would've enjoyed the end better. It sort of makes up for this by having a satisfying "epilogue" at the end to show how everything settled out, though, so I was left feeling cheated. There was just a moment of "well that escalated quickly" that didn't quite resonate with me. I'd still recommend this, though. The writing and characterization make up for that "plot bump." 



The Bramblewood Werebear

Jennie Walden is a young woman who has written papers for natural science journals, and has corresponded with a fellow naturalist, Oliver Gunnersen, for years. 

When Oliver proposes long distance, Jennie travels to Oliver's home at Bramblewood Estate to wed her mysterious friend. She is astonished at his size and physical strength, yet his adorable shyness remains, if she can see past his imposing exterior. 

Oliver has kept his bear form secret from Jennie, fearful that if she knew that he was a monster, she would flee. But the werewolves of the neighboring city of Grayton have emerged to mingle with the populace. A certain pack has begun threatening him and the treasure he protects on the Bramblewood land. The werewolves know that he cannot tolerate another shifter in his territory ... and threaten to turn Jennie. 

Now Jennie must choose whether to flee, or whether to stick with this bear-man she has grown to love from a distance. The time is coming when their very survival depends on the love of the other.


My Review

This is a mash up book. I don't want to compare it to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, because it's NOT that, but the idea of taking two incongruous things and smashing them together into something fun ... that's what I mean. 
For one thing, with shifter romance, I think people expect high heat levels and bodice ripping ... this isn't that at all. It's a "regency" romance and doesn't get much beyond a little bit of kissing. Everyone is very proper and respectful which is a great contrast to when (various characters, no spoilers) turn into the were-versions of themselves and start rending and tearing and basically making a mess of things.

My one sort of complaint is, for a novella, this has a lot going on. A lot of subplots, a lot of world building to keep track of. I wouldn't say it felt rushed, but there were some points that it felt a little like a speedbump ... I think the people more in it for a detailed fantasy will love that part, but I kind of was in a "fun romp" sort of mood when I read this, and it satisfied that itch, but I may have skimmed a few paragraphs about the economic issues of the wolf people to get to bears bashing in heads then swearing eternal love parts. 

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Random Interview Saturday! Heather Hayden

DISCLAIMER
The H. L. Burke Random Interview is not like other interviews. The questions are all over the place. They have no purpose. Their purpose is their lack of purpose.
There are nine questions because cats, but these nine questions are subject to change without notice, so the questions one person answers may not be the questions answered by the next author.

Our computer screens flash. An adorable face of a computer cat peeks around one side of the screen. We all want a computer cat! We fall in love and start to tell the computer cat everything, not realize it is really a super intelligent AI under the control of our next guest, Heather Hayden!

Heather Hayden

Author biography

Though a part-time editor by day, Heather Hayden's not-so-secret identity is that of a writer—at night she pours heart and soul into science fiction and fantasy novels. In March 2015 she published her first novella, Augment, a YA science fiction story filled with excitement, danger, and the strength of friendship. She immediately began work on its sequel, Upgrade, which continues the adventures of Viki, a girl who loves to run, and her friend Halle, an AI. 

Learn more about Heather on Twitter or her blog, both of which consist of equal amounts of writerly things and random stuff she’s interested in.

The Interview


On a scale of 1 to 10, what do you think your chances are of surviving the zombie invasion? 
4. I'm not great at running or finding food in the forest, but if I fell in with the right group, I might be able to survive. I can cook and clean, and I'd probably be decent with a blade or gun under the right amount of pressure.

Teleportation or telekinesis? 
Teleportation. I'd never have to pay for transport again, and I could always see whoever I wanted by teleporting to wherever they are!

Write me some Vogon Poetry (for those not in the know, Vogon poetry is so awful you’ll want to rip your ears off and eat them. It’s considered a method of torture in many corners of the galaxy. So give us your worst). 
I'd really rather not. It's the third-most awful form of poetry there is, and I don't want to torture your blog readers. They might not stick around for the rest of the interview, otherwise!

If you had the honor of naming something really big (a country, a spaceship, a planet) what would you want it to be and what would you name it?
 A spaceship! And I'd name it the Halle Daneel, in honor of two of my favorite AIs. Then I'd name all of its little scout ships and bombers after other awesome AIs, such as Hart. :D

If you favorite historical era had an ice cream flavor made in its honor, what would it taste like? 
Sweet and sharp, with a bit of a tingly aftertaste... It would be mimicking a steampunk alternate-Victorian era. It would also probably involve some form of dark chocolate, with a nice dash of vanilla bean.

You have to trade places with one of your characters for a day. Which and why? 
Viki, because on top of everything else she's been dealing with, now she's caught a cold and tomorrow's the first day of her track meets! I need to be there in her place. :)  (Though I fear I won't be nearly as fast as she is!)

Which natural element (earth, wind, fire, water) do you feel the greatest kinship with? 
Water. In fact, when my friends and I played a game in our homeschool group (a long time ago!), I was a water goddess called Shark. I'm actually working on a book inspired by our adventures called The Astrals--hoping to publish it some day! Though it's developed and changed a lot from its very early drafts.

If this question were any question in the world, what question would you want it to be and how would you answer it? 
Oh dear, what a tough question! Probably, what is your favorite pastime that isn't writing- or reading-related? The answer is: either doing something active (like biking or running) or gaming--I play Magic The Gathering (the card game), as well as board games (recently got addicted to Mage Wars), and my long-time addiction, Minecraft.



Thank you so much for hosting me! :)