Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Author Interview with Emma Carrie

Emma Carrie is a speculative fiction author and opportunist. She’s explored an active coal mine, fired a Gatling gun from a Humvee, examined chromosomes with a scanning electron microscope, hitched a ride in a corporate jet, and wiped out on stage while modeling. Fun moments like those fuel her stories.
Emma loves quirky characters who are driven by unconquerable determination—the encouragement she hopes readers take from her stories.

I see you're independently published. What made you choose that route of publication? What makes it difficult?

I chose indie publishing for two reasons: (1) flexibility and (2) adventure. As an indie publisher I have freedom to manage all aspects of my book, from title and storyline to cover design and pricing points. If I choose poorly, I can correct it. For me, indie publishing is an adventure. I’ve spent years growing as a writer, and I expect that will continue. Now I’m discovering how to market. Each piece is a new opportunity to grow.

Indie publishing is difficult because I started with zero connections. I didn’t know anyone in the publishing business. I didn’t have critique partners or beta readers. I didn’t know any editors or reviewers. I had no fans. It takes time, but I’ve been meeting people all along the way, and I’m enjoying it.

The first book in The Tacket Secret.
Check back on Friday for a review!

What's the most difficult part of the writing or publishing process for you? How do you work through it?

I’m not sure it’s the most difficult part of the process, but a significant challenge has been balancing writing and marketing. I spent years focused solely on writing, and the result is that I have two drafted series. The Tacket Secret is almost completely edited and The Rebel Mission has begun.

Now I’ve turned my attention to marketing, and I’ll go days without writing new fiction. Ideas are log jamming in my imagination. But because I’ve got books almost ready for publication, I’ll focus on marketing for now. Meanwhile, I’ll outline new ideas and scenes for new books until I have more time for writing. Then I’ll flesh those out.

How would you say that your faith influences your writing?

My faith is the reason I write. For years, I’ve written outreach Bible studies, newsletter articles, and discussion questions for my church’s women’s ministries. I love communicating gospel truth, offering eternal life, to others. Fiction also has the power to communicate the hope of Jesus Christ, and I wanted to learn how to do that—particularly for my kids and their friends. However, in a young adult fiction context, a subtle message is more effective, and I’m learning how to do that.

You have a background in engineering. How has that influenced your writing?

Engineering has provided experiences like working for military contractors and experimenting in laboratories that influence the science fiction pieces of my stories. However, engineering’s bigger impact is that I write systematically: outline, first draft, check for logical storyline, check for complete character arc, etc.

Finally, if you were to find yourself in a back alley in the middle of the night and felt like you were being watched, what book character would you summon to help you and why?

Harry Potter. He could share his invisibility cloak, and we could get the drop on whoever was spying on me. Maybe then we could use the wand. That would be fun.

Thanks for taking the time for an interview!

Don't forget to check out Emma's author website.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Friday Fiction Fix: "Fiero One"

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

The Short:

Fiero One
Mantis Force #1

By: R. J. Amezcua

3/5 Stars

What: A starship crew is forced into an unexpected conflict on a foreign planet.

Recommended to those who like: Space opera, loosely Christian, large casts of characters.

The Long:

I have so many thoughts about this book that I’m not even sure where to start. Some parts of it were stellar (pun intended), while other parts left me feeling disappointed.

The crew of the Osparatta is sent on a simple rescue mission that quickly goes awry. Failing ship systems, a short-handed crew,
and the rise of an ancient enemy are more than any of them were prepared for. Will they be able to band together, or will their lack of experience be their downfall?

This book had a rather Star Trek-y feel to it, which I enjoyed. (I’m not a hard core Trekkie by any stretch of the imagination, but I do enjoy the new movies). There’s a large cast of colorful characters who have to work together in order to solve problems and save their ship. Unfortunately, so many characters got launched at me in a short amount of time that I had difficulty keeping them straight. Just when I was getting to where I felt I knew a sub-group of characters, I would get taken to another group who I had to learn to like, then sent to another group, and so on.

The plot proceeded in a similar manner. The author clearly put a lot of effort into creating a multi-layered plot that will eventually tie together. I love plots like this; however, there was just a little too much going on at once. There’s a planetary battle, a ship catastrophe, planetary politics, a virus outbreak, natural disasters, and views from the antagonist going on all at once. As of yet, very few of them have connected, though I assume they’ll intersect later in the series. Some of the sub-plots didn’t seem to connect at all to our crew members and I had a difficult time caring about those plots; it almost felt like I had been sucked into another story.

One aspect of the story that I did enjoy was the world-building. The universe is a complex one with many different belief systems, ideologies, and cultures. Also, the author spends a lot of time talking about food—something of which I approve.

The Bottom Line: This book had a great concept, but there was just too much going on at once for me to really, truly enjoy it.                                                                                                                                                       

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Lost in Editing

Hey, folks. I have a lot going on this week, so I'm just going to drop this quote on here for you to enjoy. I promise I'm working on getting back to a normal posting schedule and there will be a Friday Fiction Fix this Friday. Thanks for your patience!

From MJ Bush on Pinterest

Friday, February 17, 2017

Flashback Friday: Archive Spotlight

Hey, guys. I'm a bit behind on reading at the moment (other than textbooks), so there will be no Friday Fiction Fix today. May I suggest some of the following books from the archives that you may have missed?


Swipe, by Evan Angler: At the age of 13, residents of the American Union are allowed to become citizens, if they pledge allegiance to the government by being Marked by a tattoo. 12 year old Logan Langly dreads the day of his pledge and suspects he’s being followed by a dangerous criminal.


A Star Curiously Singing, by Kerry Nietz: In the future, slaves are termed “debuggers” and planted with a chip in their heads that allows them to manipulate and repair the world’s technology.


The Restorer, by Sharon Hinck: A frazzled housewife finds herself sucked into another world that is startling familiar and yet altogether different.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Reality, Meet Fiction: Weather


This year has been an oddly mild winter for my hometown, which happens every handful of years. For example, last week, we had one day that was 30 degrees (F) warmer than the average. I comfortably wore a short sleeve shirt and jeans while walking the dogs.

The next day, it was an average day. I wore a coat and was considering breaking out my ear muffs and gloves.

Most of the residents shrugged it off. It's not uncommon for us to have relatively extreme swings in the weather. We even make jokes about it--"You know you're from ---- if you have to run the heater and the A/C in the same day." 

On the other hand, the average highs for San Diego, California vary about 10 degrees Fahrenheit all year. 

Let's just say I don't live in California. (That leaves you 49 more states to choose from, if you're trying to track down my secret identity ;) )


Even if you don't decide to unleash a natural disaster on your characters, mundane weather can cause quite the stir and provide an opportunity for conflict amongst your cast. 

If you have a character from a warm climate who has to travel to a cold climate, perhaps they can't find the clothing they feel they need to stay warm. What if they don't know how to use an ice scraper to scrape off their getaway vehicle? What if they don't know how to drive on snow? You can always have them be confused by the buckets of salt/ice melt that are kept by the doors if you need some comic relief.

Conversely, have your cold-weather character confused by why air-conditioning is necessary, or how hot the insides of cars get in the summer sun, or the fact that you can theoretically fry an egg on asphalt--and that there's a town with a festival devoted to doing so.

How do your characters handle sunburn? Windburn? Frostbite? Are these concepts that they're familiar with? 

How does the climate or weather affect the style of housing your characters live in? For example, historic homes in the American South typically have large breezeways so that there can be more airflow on stifling summer days. Areas that receive high amounts of snowfall are likely to have buildings with steeply pitched roofs that allow the snow to slide off. 

How does the climate affect what foods are available to your characters? How about what foods they want? (Ex. a person in a hot climate may be less likely to spend time developing "heavy" meals or stews, but focus on lighter fare instead). 

What's something quirky about the weather where you live?

Friday, February 10, 2017

Friday Fiction Fix: "Leviathan"

The Short:

Leviathan, #1

By: Scott Westerfield

4.5/5 Stars

What: In an alternate history of the outbreak of WWI, an orphan and a young navy officer are put on a collision course.

Recommended to those who like: Steampunk, Middle grade/young teen, Adventure

The Long:

Shout-out to Victoria for recommending this book to me! I enjoyed it and look forward to picking up the rest of the series at some point in the near future.

Europe is divided between two sets of allies. On one hand are the “Darwinists”, headed by Britain and her allies, who make heavy use of genetically-engineered beasts of war. On the other are the “Clankers”, which include Germany and Austria, and who are diametrically opposed to the “godless beasts”. The “Clankers” are known for their great mechanical beasts and walking machines.

An orphaned prince and a young naval officer-in training find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict that’s coming to a head. Will they avoid war? And can they each keep their respective secrets?

This is really only the second steampunk novel I’ve read (the other being Tainted, by Morgan L. Busse), so I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this book. The worldbuilding was fantastic. I mean, how did Mr. Westerfield come up with a flying whale that has bats for weapons? Seriously awesome, especially when combined with the backdrop of the dawn of WWI. I also found the Clanker vs. Darwinist conflict an interesting way of providing an ideological divide between the European powers in a believable manner.

The plot was well written and, while predictable at some points, was interesting enough not to lag at all. Really, the only thing that prevented me from giving this story 5 stars was the characters. I really couldn’t connect to Deryn or Alek very much at all. I’ll also be honest that the girl-disguised-as-a-boy thing has to be played just right for me to like it. This one didn't quite fly for me. 

The book is quite clean and would be suitable for readers as young as middle grade. Adults can probably enjoy the story as well, especially if they’re looking for some unique worldbuilding.

The Bottom Line: This clean book is a good pick for readers who are looking for a fast plot and some great worldbuilding.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

January/February Update

 If you have a guest post idea, I'd love to hear about it! Shoot me an email using the contact form at the left. 


I realize that I haven't updated anyone on my personal writing endeavors lately. Whether anyone wants to know about it or not, I have no idea. But you're getting an update anyways!

So, this month has been a month of editing, though less than I would have hoped. In February, I'm hoping to move it up in the priority list of things that need done. I'm still trying to adjust to "working" 40+ hours a week, cooking my own meals, and handling some other responsibilities that I haven't had up to this point.

I'm currently doing a significant macroedit on Crossroads, the first book in my Christian dystopian series. Once I get that done (hopefully by the end of the month), the plan is to move on to doing an overhaul on the (third) first draft of Crossfire, the second book in the series (I'm planning on a trilogy). If you've been following the blog for very long, you know this is the series that I inevitably seem to return to. My hope is to get on the road to self publishing or querying by the end of the year. But before I do that, I'd like to get Crossroads really well polished, Crossfire so that it actually makes sense, and "Book 3" into a passable first draft. Needless to say, that's a lot of work to get done.


If you want to follow what I've been reading, it's easiest to keep up over at my Goodreads account page. You'll get a preview of what I'll be reviewing on the blog, as well as seeing some things that I don't review on the blog. 

I've recently received some book review requests from self-published Christian spec-fic authors, which is super exciting! The reviews will be going up over the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned for that. I also just finished Leviathan, by Scott Westerfield. I'll be reviewing that steampunk novel this Friday, so definitely check back in for that.


Like many authors, I like to keep my private life, well, relatively private. However, some of what's going on is going to be influencing my blog posting schedule, so I feel it's only fair to share a little. 

Firstly, I'm a college senior this year, which means job searching, professional licensing, interviews, and other crazy, adult stuff. Responsibilities have been popping up in a significantly less predictable manner than they have in years past. (For some reason, adult life doesn't come with a syllabus telling you when life's going to be crazy.) As a result, you may see more short posts, especially between now and summertime as I transition into a different part of my life again. Although I don't want to drop to fewer posts per week, please be aware that I may have to do that for a while, especially as I make editing and creative writing more of a priority. Thanks in advance for your understanding. 


I already covered a little bit on the blog front above, but that brings me to my next point. I'm looking for guest posts for the next couple months (March and April, primarily). If you have any ideas for a post on a movie, speculative fiction book, or writing, I'd love to hear about it. Not only does this help me out, but it's a great opportunity for you! (Look at me, being a salesman). If you're looking at getting into blogging, this is a wonderful way to get your feet wet. It may also be a way to find a handful of new people to follow your blog or just a way to keep your writing up to snuff. 

I think that's all that's going on with me. What's new with you?

Do you like general updates like this?

Friday, February 3, 2017

Sequel Review: "Rebels"

The Short:

(Safe Lands #3)

By:  Jill Williamson

5/5 Stars

What: The Glenrockers must work together with new allies to escape the Safe Lands once and for all.

Recommended to those who like: Christian, Young Adult, Dystopian, and Have Read Books 1 and 2.

The Long:

I was thrilled to find this on the bargain rack at my favorite bookstore, because it gave me the chance to pick it up right away, rather than my budget forcing me to wait until next month. (Okay, let’s be honest; my budget still cried out in terror as I walked through the book store’s doors).
 might have mentioned this before, but I always approach the final installment of a trilogy with a certain amount of trepidation. After all, this book will impact how I remember the series. And if it’s a lousy book (rare, but it does happen upon occasion), then I might end up regretting reading the whole series.

Luckily, this book did not at all fall into the lousy category. Logan is now solidly in my favorite characters file, Omar is still one of my favorite redemption stories, and overall it was fantastic. All of the plot threads were wrapped up nicely. While there were a few surprises at the end, the story also didn’t take some odd turn that left more questions than it answered. Although it wasn’t my absolute favorite book of the series, I’m also quite glad that I read it. I can even hope for a possible sequel series(?) But if it doesn’t happen, I won’t be crushed; the book left off in a very nice place.

As with the previous books, there’s a fair amount of material that would not be suitable for middle grade readers or less mature teens. The series would be appropriate for mature teens and up (grittier PG-13 rating). 

Ms. Williamson did a wonderful job of continuing to present her Christian message without bludgeoning us with it. If you’re someone who has found that Christian fiction doesn’t address real issues, that the books always seem too preachy, or that the characters are too perfect, I would point you to this series. I think it’s a serious step in the right direction for Christian YA fiction.

The Bottom Line: The Safe Lands would be an excellent pick for mature teens/ young adults who are looking for a grittier Christian dystopian read.

What's your biggest pet peeve when it comes to Christian Fiction? What author have you found who avoids that mistake?