When people ask me about myself, the first thing I tell them is that I am a writer disguised as a data processor by day. This usually evokes a wry chuckle. Ha-ha, isn’t that funny. The second thing I tell them is that I am the sixth of seven children. This, oddly enough, elicits a response of raised eyebrows, exclamations of wonder, and further questions into what it’s like to have such a large family. I’ve been asked if we are Catholic (No) or Mormon (No), and do we all come from the same two parents(Yes).
To elaborate, I am the second daughter among seven siblings, five boys and two girls, born over a course of 25 years to the same two parents who married in the year 1950. This means that my parents were old enough to be my grandparents by the time I and my younger brother were born, and so they were often mistaken for my grandparents when attending school functions. This also means that my oldest brother is actually two months older than my mother-in-law. My husband’s grandfather and my father served in the same war. My three oldest brothers, born within the first four years of the marriage, are old enough to be my parents, and have been confused as such before. I have a nephew is only 12 years younger than I.
My parents were born and raised in the era of the Great Depression, and so had a tendency to save and fix, garden and can, raise chickens for eggs and cook homemade meals. I thank my parents for giving me the ability to make brownies from scratch, taste the difference between well-fed beef and supermarket throwback, and for being able to take a torn pair of pants and sew the seam back together as good as new.
Dad supervised power plants that ran on gigantic diesel engines, skills picked up in the Navy in WWII when he served on the USS Lexington. His shop contained a plethora of tools capable of refurbishing old chairs, repairing cars, and metalworking. He tinkered and he gardened, and in the evening, he sat down to watch Wheel of Fortune and Hill Street Blues
Mom was an amazing seamstress, doing alterations and sewing wedding gowns in one room of the house. For extra income, she sought employment as the church secretary during the week, or at the newspaper office, or any number of other part-time jobs throughout her life. Her favorite hobby was reading, and she would consume three or four books a week from the public library, spanning all genres and topics, but especially those dime-store paperback romances.
My family is a melting pot of personalities, raised in different generations, in different towns, and with different means, not that we ever had much in the way of money. The daughters received special attention, for my mother did not want us to repeat her mistakes of giving up a college education to get married or to spend our entire lives raising children. She wanted us to be self-sufficient, make our own ways, travel, do something fun.
I dabbled in fan fiction for a while, practicing dialog, description, and development. I took creative writing in my rural high school with a dozen of my fellow students from different backgrounds, and learned how to take an odd mix-up of ideas and string them together into a meaningful story. This was my first taste of real feedback, when my classmates and teacher admired my work while I cringed at allowing anyone’s eyes to see the words except my own. What a relief to know that I could do something right! This led to receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing.
So here I am, taking what I learned from my mother about being independent and using my skills of description and dialog to create a fictional world, marrying these together and putting my heart on public display. I believe most writers will tell you that publishing a book is like giving birth—it’s exhilarating and nerve-wracking. The difference is that you are guaranteed everyone will tell you that your baby is the cutest baby ever, but they won’t say that about your book!
What I Wrote
The stories began as conglomerations of things I learned reading and watching Science Fiction. I watched a lot, including Star Wars, Star Trek, Blake 7, Doctor Who, and a bazillion other shows and movies. I read Asimov, LeGuin, Pohl, McAffrey and dozens of short stories, looking for a voice and an idea that would grow.
I’ve written a dozen complete short stories, five of which are available to the public in an 85-page collection entitled Through a Window. I put together these five because they are the favorites of my Beta Readers, and one of these earned 5th Place in an international competition judged by Edward Bryant. To add fun, I drew an illustration for each story. Yes, I can draw, too. These are social science fiction looking at the implications of reproduction, faith, and greed from the emotional perspective of human and non-human charcters.
My main work is called Pouring the Cup, the story of a young woman forced into a divine leadership role despite the fact that she ran away from home to avoid it. Axandra becomes the vessel for the Goddess, just as all of her mothers before her, and she is given no choice but to return to her rightful place. In the process, however, she decides that she isn’t going to be used as a puppet by the Goddess and fights for her independence. This is set a few hundred years in the future and on a new world where humans found refuge from a dying Earth and an event referred to as the Great Collapse. They have set up a society based on humanism, where everyone is granted the basics for living as long as they provide a few years of service to the infrastructure.
This is the first book in a series and was published on CreateSpace, Kindle Direct, and Smashwords last October. I chose to self-publish after looking for some time to find a publisher or agent that fit the niche for this book. I sometimes compare the work to LeGuin and Asimov, but it’s truly a bit more unique. Sorry, there aren’t any stereotypical zombies or vampires, and I struck out for a utopia rather than dystopia.
The second book is in process and will be titled, The Dark Days, due out in 2015. I have a few readers who are very anxious to get this second volume, so I am working as fast as I can. You should read Pouring the Cup to find out why they are knocking so eagerly at my door. I’m going through the second draft of Book Two now, tying together the pieces of the first draft and deciding what new characters stay and who goes. Don’t worry, I save all the backstory and tidbits in another file and one day, when I’m famous enough, that will get pulled out into some kind of companion book to go along with the series.
The entire Stormflies Series is based on my belief that human beings can and will learn to live together without always beating each other up about the color of their skin or who they want to marry, and that no one has to go hungry or be homeless if we all look out for each other. It isn’t a perfect utopia, by any means. But the Covenants they subscribe to help ensure that they treat each other and their home with respect. I found that I wrote a lot of myself into my main female character, though she is a tiny bit nicer than I am, and that she ended up looking a lot like my mother in my head. My main male character comes from a large family, which will be explored in greater detail in Book Two.
As I look farther into the future, I am coming up with several different projects, including helping my son write a series of youth-age books based on his invention One-tooth Willy, an enchanted skeleton character who seeks adventure across the world. He is really beginning to throw himself into drawing now that he is ten and he is lucky he still has a wild imagination to go with it.
Why YOU Should Read My Books
“Give me a good reason” is what you’re thinking. You want to spend your hard-earned money on something you’ll enjoy, something useful or meaningful, maybe something to give you hope in the future. I understand this. I work hard, too, at that day job I mentioned above and at writing.
When you read Pouring the Cup, you are going to walk 2800 miles in Axandra’s shoes, trying to make your upended life work out for you. You’ll feel anxious when she’s in trouble, and you’ll want her to be happy. You’ll be pulled into the ever increasing mystery of the Prophets and their intentions. For $1.99(ebook), you are getting 276 pages of heart-felt, affectionate writing that you’ll want to share with your friends.
Love short stories? Through a Window has five between 1000 and 7500 words long. At just $0.99 / £0.77 (ebook), that’s a great value for award winning fiction. All of the stories compiled in this volume have been finalists in world-wide competitions.
And if you prefer a paperback copy, that’s available, too. I love holding a real book in my hands while I read (usually because my digital devices have been purloined by my progeny). Want an autographed copy? Head over to my blog and send me a message or order through my SquareMarket Store (link below). We’ll work out the details.