...and one last interview before we get this party started!
You teach technology to all ages of people. How does teaching computers to children compare to teaching computers to adults?
Both are a joy and a challenge. Children are generally more willing to experiment and try new things. Adults are generally better-behaved and patient. However, I love teaching everyone because of that “light-bulb” moment when someone understands a concept that illuminates their world in a brand new way. When I can help someone gain a better perspective on their own world, I feel I’ve accomplished my job that day.
What do you see as the biggest problem writers have with technology?
Fear. Fear that they won’t do it right. Fear of keeping up. Fear that they won’t be able to fix something if it goes wrong. Fear that someone will take advantage of them. Fear that they can’t learn it. Fear they are incapable of learning. It’s okay to feel fear. What’s not okay is to let that fear keep you from excelling. Writers have so many options available to them these days that it’s overwhelming. My job is to help them pare down the options and figure out what they need to get the job done. You don’t have to have the latest gadgets and be on every social media platform to be a successful author. Little steps still get you to the top of the stairs.
In the future, will all writers have to have a web presence to be successful?
The optimist in me says “no,” but the realist and cynic says “of course, yes!” I think that’s sad on several levels. In my opinion, we lose a bit of our humanity when we email instead of write, text instead of call, buy through the Internet rather than go to the store and talk to the owner, etc. But the digital age is forcing writers—and anyone else who wants to market their wares in this economy—to create a web presence or be left behind. To keep it personal, we have to work even harder to make our brand unique and lasting in the memory of our audience. That, I think, is the key to creating and locking in a devoted following.
Does your job teaching technology lead into your writing of urban fantasy, or are they not at all connected?
Teaching technology has influenced my writing, but not necessarily in the way you’d think. I work in a school with a high ratio of at-risk children: students who are likely to drop out of school, become (or are) victims of abuse, and whose family or social situations hinder their personal development into productive adults. These children have touched my heart deeply and I can’t help but want to write about their needs because no one wants to talk about it in public. That’s part of the vicious cycle. Urban fantasy is often about society’s dark underbelly, revealing things “polite” people don’t want to talk about. If through my writing I can touch a few people and let them know they aren’t alone, they aren’t bad for feeling what they feel, that there is hope somewhere out there, then I’ve done my job as an author in the urban fantasy genre.
In the bio section of your website you state that you are working on a YA novel involving fairy tales. How long have you been at work on that project, and when can we expect to read it?
I’ve been working on Shadow of Redemption for about two years. I plan to finish revisions this summer and send it to a few agents to get rejected. I mean, ahem, have them rave and beg me for the next in the series. ;-) I can only work on it in bits during the school year since my time and energy is limited. I love taking old tropes and skewing them in a way people don’t expect and that’s what this series has done. You think you know fairy tales? You think you’ve heard all there is to hear about the Big Bad Wolf and the Shadows under your bed? Think again. You’ll never trust the Tooth Fairy after reading MY version of history.
You mention that you use online, on paper, and verbal revision steps. Tell us about your verbal revision process.
As a teacher, I’ve done a lot of research on how the brain works. We process different information depending on how it’s presented to us. Did you know that when you read information on a computer screen, your brain processes it differently than when you read it on a physical page? That’s why you tend to find more surface errors—grammar, spelling, and punctuation—online whereas if you have a paper copy you tend to find more continuity and flow issues.
When you read your work aloud, you find other issues. Does your dialog sound natural? Did you miss little connecting words? Do your paragraphs change subject or point of view? It’s like polishing your car after the wax job. If I stumble over a sentence reading it aloud, it’s likely a reader will be thrown out of the narrative reading it silently. That means I need to rewrite it. And if I can’t read a sentence in one breath? Definitely, I need to rewrite it!
Your homepage includes the words “Building Red.” What does this refer to?
In August of 2015, Walrus Publishing, an imprint of Amphorae Publishing Group, will publish Mission Mars: Building Red, a collection of short stories about colonizing Mars. As the anthologist on the project, I chose the pieces and did the first round of revisions with the authors. I have learned more than I expected about editing, publishing, and writing during the process. I’ve created anthologies before, but not with a publishing company. Overall I’ve enjoyed the experience, but having a full-time job AND trying to put this together at the same time has been a challenge.
How did you get started running? Would you consider yourself a competitive runner?
Five years ago I was conned into joining a running class as a social activity with some teacher friends. Within two weeks they had all dropped out, but I was hooked. I’ve since run quite a few 5k’s (3.1 miles), 10k’s (6.2 miles), half-marathons (13.1 miles), two marathons (26.2 miles), one ultra-marathon (50k or 31 miles, but I ended up finishing the day with 40 miles) and an obstacle course.
At first I wanted to beat everyone out there, but now I’m competitive only with myself. I learned that racing isn’t about beating others. It’s about beating that little voice in your head that says, “You can’t. You’re a loser. You’ll always be a loser. You’re too weak. You’re too slow. Give up now and admit defeat.” This is the voice I’ve struggled with all my life and running is helping me to overcome it. Running has made me a better writer in so many ways: Choose the right race. Train hard. Listen to the experts even if you think you know it all. Each step is a step closer to your goal. There’s a time to race but take time to rest. And especially: never, never, never, NEVER give up!
Your bio also refers to world drumming, which sounds interesting and fun! Can you tell us something about that?
I was trained classically as a violinist/violist but had always wanted to branch out into other instruments. A few years into my teaching career, the music instructor at my school lost her assistant director. I asked if I could help and she welcomed me with open arms. I knew nothing about percussion in general and even less about world drumming techniques. She invited me to a couple of workshops that blew my mind! I had been taught one way to count, to read, and to play music and through the programs I attended, I learned that the West doesn’t have a monopoly on cool musical styles! World drumming even inspired me to learn to belly dance! This lesson in perspective helped me see that to be a great writer, I need to view the world from a multi-faceted point of view, not just my own culture’s point of view.