May 10, 2018

Release announcement: Beneath the Earth

I'm excited to announce the release of my newest novel, Beneath the Earth! If you're a fan of "Tremors" or "Jaws" or stories about teenagers who run into something bad while camping, this book is for you!


Description:

Laura and her classmates have been looking forward to their senior camping trip for weeks. Three days on an island paradise, away from school and their parents. What more could they ask for? 

The camping trip starts out well enough. The island is scenic and just the kind of escape to nature that Laura had hoped for. However, cracks soon begin to appear in her plans. Her boyfriend ditches her to hang out with his friends. She has to share a room with one of the teachers. But those are the least of her worries. 

A student disappears, and no one can find him. Soon, Laura and the other students realize that the camping trip is anything but a dream vacation. There’s something else on the island. Something large and frightening. Something that lurks unseen beneath the earth. Something that welcomes the presence of the students because they will satisfy its appetite.  

Beneath the Earth is now available on Amazon for $2.99!

April 21, 2018

Cover reveal: Beneath the Earth

I'm getting ready to release a new book! It will be called Beneath the Earth, and I'm excited to show off the cover for it.


Description:

Laura and her classmates have been looking forward to their senior camping trip for weeks. Three days on an island paradise, away from school and their parents. What more could they ask for? 

The camping trip starts out well enough. The island is scenic and just the kind of escape to nature that Laura had hoped for. However, cracks soon begin to appear in her plans. Her boyfriend ditches her to hang out with his friends. She has to share a room with one of the teachers. But those are the least of her worries. 

A student disappears, and no one can find him. Soon, Laura and the other students realize that the camping trip is anything but a dream vacation. There’s something else on the island. Something large and frightening. Something that lurks unseen beneath the earth. Something that welcomes the presence of the students because they will satisfy its appetite.  

Beneath the Earth will be available in a few weeks!

April 8, 2018

Writing better female characters

 A few weeks ago, I started writing a thriller because thrillers are my second favorite genre to read (after YA speculative fiction). I was pretty stoked to dive into a new genre. Then I heard about the Stanch Book Prize, which is awarded to the best thriller in which "no woman is beaten, stalked, sexually exploited, raped or murdered." I'm not eyeing a Staunch Book Prize, but I thought that was a great thing to recognize because it does seem like every thriller I've read includes harm to women. Looking at the story I'm writing, though, it wouldn't qualify for the Staunch. I was going to follow the same tropes that I've read over and over again, and I was perpetuating the theme in the thriller genre of women as targets to be beaten, stalked, sexually exploited, raped, or murdered. Now I'm trying to figure out how to tell the story I wanted to tell without including those elements. I honestly don't know if I'll be able to meet the Staunch criteria, but I won't be treating my female victims differently than how I would treat male victims.

Shortly afterwards, I read Kameron Hurley's essay, "We Have Always Fought." (I urge everyone to read it. It's short. I'll wait for you.) It talks about what I had been thinking after learning of the Staunch Book Prize. It's easy to believe something if what you read and what you see on TV portrays it that way, even if it's not the truth. As Ms. Hurley says in her essay, "Populating a world with men, with male heroes, male people, and their 'women cattle and slaves' is a political act. You are making a conscious choice to erase half the world. As storytellers, there are more interesting choices we can make."

Finally, to top it off, I learned of the recent meme asking women authors to describe themselves as a male author would. If that didn't drive the point home, how about some examples of how male authors would have described their male characters the way they describe women?


As an author, I write primarily to entertain, especially for readers like myself who would enjoy the types of stories I enjoy reading. However, the longer I've been at it, and the older I've grown, the more I've become aware of the responsibilities of my writing. My words will be read by people I don't know and impact them in a way that's out of my control. I don't get to sit down and explain to them what I really believe or what I really meant by my stories.

YA happens to be a genre with many strong female protagonists, and by writing in that genre, it has made it easier for me to have strong female protagonists in my books. Yet, in reflecting on my own works, I see that I've still been lazy in following some gender stereotypes. Take my Driver series, for example. The protagonist is a teenage girl named Claire, and when I wrote the series, I made sure that she was the one in charge of what happens in the stories. Claire was the agent; she was not a passive bystander or just some guy's love interest or sidekick. Hopefully, I've succeeded in that. However, why is she the Driver? Why is a boy her Protector? There are two Drivers who figure prominently in the series, and they are both women. Their Protectors are both men. I imagined a world in which Drivers can be female or male (or non-binary), and the same goes with Protectors, but what I wrote doesn't support that. I should've done better.

The more I read in my favorite genres and the more I read about gender equality, the more I'm learning about what a true strong female character is like, and the kind of world they should inhabit. Authors have the advantage of not just writing to reflect the real world, but to create our own worlds to perpetuate the themes we want others to believe in. If enough stories are out there that portray women and men equally, maybe that will be the default thinking one day. I, for one, plan to work harder to do that in my stories.

March 23, 2018

National Chinchilla Day Sale

Some holidays don't get enough recognition: National Hat Day, Waffle Day, World UFO Day, and National Chinchilla Day, to name a few. I want to rectify that in a small way by celebrating National Chinchilla Day, which falls on March 23. And what better way to celebrate than by having a book sale! (Book sales make everything better!)


From now through the end of the weekend, YA author M.A. George and I are holding a National Chinchilla Day Sale. You can get all of her books and most of mine for the low, chinchilla-sized price of 99 cents, or in some cases, for FREE! Don't miss these savings. The chinchillas in your life will thank you.

Check out some of the titles available for sale:

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Make sure to head over to M.A. George's site and check out her books as well. You won't be disappointed! Not only is she an awesome author, but her book covers are much prettier than mine!

February 24, 2018

A Spoonful of Stories recap


26 months ago, I got this crazy idea to write 26 flash fiction stories, each titled after a letter of the alphabet. I would publish one story each month over the course of 26 months until I got from A to Z.

Believe it or not, it actually happened. I'm happy to announce that all 26 stories are available to read for FREE on Wattpad! Check out "A Spoonful of Stories" here.

Table of Contents:
  • An Armful of Armadillos
  • A Batch of Bugs
  • A Cornucopia of Candy
  • A Deluge of Demons
  • An Excess of Emotions
  • A Flurry of Footsteps
  • The Gift of Giving
  • A Horde of Horses
  • An Icon of Incorruptibility
  • A Jar of Jokes
  • A Kettle of Kimchi
  • A Labor of Love
  • A Multitude of Mothers
  • A Nexus of Nonsense
  • An Offering to the Ocean
  • A Pile of Parachutes
  • The Quest for Quiet
  • A River of Rain
  • A Smidgen of Sorcery
  • Towers of Turtles
  • An Unprofitable Unicorn
  • The Village of Vampires
  • A Wealth of Weekends
  • Xeniatrophobia on Xmas
  • A Year of Youth
  • A Zest for Zombies
Happy reading!

February 10, 2018

NaNoWriSat

You're probably familiar with NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. Every November, authors attempt to write a novel of at least 50,000 words in 30 days. I attempted NaNoWriMo last year but didn't hit the 50K mark. However, in examining my writing habits that month, I found I wrote a lot more during the weekends than the weekdays, particularly on Saturdays. This makes sense since I work a full-time job during the week. It led to me thinking how I can incorporate a realistic yet productive writing routine into my hectic life.

Which led me to NaNoWriSat: National Novel Writing Saturdays! The name is clearly borrowed from NaNoWriMo, and it's not a national phenomena (yet), but the idea is that, within a year, I should be able to write a 50,000 word novel by writing only on Saturdays. That's about 1,000 words every Saturday, which is certainly a realistic goal for me.

Considering how little I wrote last year before NaNoWriMo, I think this will be a good way for me to continue to produce more new books on a regular basis. I'm getting a late start to NaNoWriSat this year because it's already February, so I'd better go catch up!

January 20, 2018

Between awake and asleep

There is a state between being fully awake and being asleep that kicks my brain into overdrive. It happens at night when I'm in bed but haven't fallen asleep yet or first thing in the morning when I've just woken up. If I'm thinking about a story at that time, I'll come up with lots of great ideas for it. If I'm thinking about work (which is more often the case), it helps me figure out what I need to do for the projects I'm working on.

What is it about this state of mind that fuels creativity? As it turns out, when I did some research on it, there is a word for the period between awake and asleep: hypnagogia. It's also known that hypnagogia is wonderful for creativity. From my experience, it's true that during this state, my mind wanders all over the place, making associations that I wouldn't normally make when I'm fully awake. I think those associations are more freely made because whatever mental filters I have in place during the day have come down, allowing me to think along unconventional lines. What also facilitates creativity during hypnagogia is just the lack of distractions. During the day, I'm constantly aware of my surroundings and trying to multi-task. But when I'm falling asleep or just waking up, the environment is quiet. The reason why I believe distractions play a part is that if I'm falling asleep when there are things happening around me, I don't enter that creative state. I just go from awake to asleep or vice versa.

Here is an article that teaches you how to enter hypnagogia. I haven't tried the suggestions yet, but I prefer doing it the old-fashioned way. Just give me more opportunities to sleep!