Wednesday, June 26, 2019


I remember as a kid wanting to sneak aboard NASA’s space shuttle and orbit the earth. Then I longed to travel in Dr. Who’s TARDIS. This curiosity to explore beyond our star system led—in no small part—to an Honours Degree in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in Aerospace. 

So you can imagine my delight when I discovered the BRAVE NEW GIRLS anthology series! These collections of sci-fi stories feature brainy young heroines who use their smarts to save the day. Girls who fix robots and construct superhero suits, hack interstellar corporations and build virtual reality platforms. Who experiment with new-fangled devices and tinker with time machines. Who defy expectations and tap into their know-how—in the depths of space, or the bounds of dystopia, or the steampunk-y past, or the not-too-distant future—to solve despicable crimes, talk to extraterrestrials, and take down powerful villains.

I asked the minds behind BRAVE NEW GIRLS, Paige Daniels and Mary Fan to tell us more about them.

What inspired you to create a science fiction anthology series for middle-grade and young adult readers?

Paige: I'd say the lack of material out there. I think the market is better than I was a kid (a million years ago), but still a lot of the YA heroines are these tough kick-ass girls, but you don't see a lot of girls who are straight up smart and really not ashamed of that.

Mary: Paige and I felt there weren’t a lot of YA stories out there about girls who were both brainy and the heroines of their stories. Too often, the girl who was into tech or science was stuck in a supporting role – the nerdy best friend or something. And since fiction can have a huge impact on how you see the world – including your own place in it – we felt the lack of fictional peers and role models might be influencing real-world girls and whether they chose to pursue STEM. So we wanted to fill that gap.

How do you come up with the cool subtitles?

Paige: Uh a lot of brainstorming between me and Mary, that happens at GenCon (aka the Brave New Girls onsite yearly meeting). I think the first couple came fairly easily this last one was a little tougher to come up with.

Mary: Yup, basically a lot of trial and error. Girls & Gadgets (the first one) came to us super easily, and since then, we've been trying to follow the format - something about the girls and then something tech-y. And it has to have alliteration, which is getting harder with each anthology... Hopefully we won't run out of words!

The protagonists are girls with a knack for science, tech, engineering and math. How cool! Tell us about connecting STEM and the stories.

Paige: I think each author has a different process. Personally, I'm not a fan of stories that cram STEM and such down your throat. I like it to be an organic part of the story. Like it's not weird that this girl is interested in STEM or that she's smart. It's just seen as that's they way it should be.

Mary: It’s different with each story, of course, but what we’re looking for in submissions are stories where the main character is into STEM. Sometimes, the whole story ends up revolving around this – they’re using their STEM skills throughout the story. Other times, it’s more incidental – the plot happens, and the STEM skill comes in handy. I think it’s just important that being into STEM is part of who the character is, and that it’s not shoehorned in. Because that’s how I’d like to see it in the real world too. You can be into STEM, and it’s not a big deal. It’s who you are, you’re comfortable with it, and your friends support you.

Each story has a unique illustration. Is there a story behind that? 

Paige: Mary and I both really love book covers and when were first coming up with this idea i think we were both totally on board with the fact that each story HAD to have its own illustration. Personally, it's one of the aspects of editing these books i look forward to the most. We're the first to see the art. We always ooh and aww at it.

Mary: We really spoiled ourselves with the first anthology. Honestly I think we just wanted illustrations because we thought they’d be cool, and after we exceed our crowdfunding goal, we thought, “Hey, why not?” Of course when we decided to do more anthologies, we couldn’t NOT have illustrations in those too. It’s so much fun seeing what the artists come up with each story! And some authors do their own, which is always fun. I actually did my own for the first anthology just to see if I could.

The proceeds from sales are donated to a scholarship fund with the Society of Women Engineers. Can you tell us more about that?

Mary: I’m going to let Paige answer this one!

Paige: When we first thinking of this series of books we wanted to do some sort of outreach / scholarship with it. My day job involves STEM and outreach and engineering. I know all the work that it takes to administer a scholarship yearly and I knew neither of us had the bandwidth to do that. But I am a member of Society of Women Engineers and I knew they had scholarships for girls and they are darn good at being advocates for women in tech so we figured let them do the heavy lifting and we'll donate to them.

When can we get the next installment?

Paige: The ebook is out! Paperback July 2019!
Mary: Yup, we’re targeting July 2019 release! Just around the corner in time for summer reading! We *need* to have paperbacks on hand for GenCon (the biggest event we do each year), and it's at the beginning of August, so come hell or high water, that book will be done...
When you were a kid did you feel a push or a pull away from science and engineering?

Paige: I always loved science. My mom always had me watching shows like Mr. Wizard, Nova, Star Trek, and any other sci-fi we could watch. In sci-fi, particularly, there seemed to be equity in that there were women scientists and engineers (at the time I didn't know what an engineer was), but for me it was like duh that's what I'm going to do. I didn't really know the real world stats on women in STEM at the time. 

Mary: I loved science as a kid and pursued it throughout high school. In fact, when I entered college, the first major I declared was chemical engineering. Sadly, I dropped out of the engineering school after a year. In hindsight, I think it was the way the intro courses were structured. Giant, soulless lectures where you had people of all levels, from total newbies to folks who'd taken the course before but wanted an easy A, in one spot. Problem sets that were graded solely on the answer, not any of the work leading up to it, that gave you no room to learn from your mistakes. Basically, I was left feeling that unless all this came to you easily and naturally, you were a loser who had no place STEM. But the thing is, STEM *is* hard. And it's okay to struggle along the way. I wish I'd realized that as a teenager. And I wish my school had actually cared about nurturing potential talent, instead of creating a Hunger Games-type environment that left people to fend for themselves.

Did any specific authors influence you growing up?

Paige: I think my favorite authors I read as a teen were Terry Brooks and Dean Koontz. Sometimes I think I'm more influenced by movies and TV.

Mary: I loved the Sherlock Holmes books and stories as a kid. The first time I read them, I'd checked out the complete omnibus of all the collected works, so to me, "Sherlock Holmes" is one giant book haha. I think it's why all my books have some element of mystery to them. 

Were there specific stories or characters that you related to?

Paige: Going down the movies and TV path .... Agent Scully was one of my favorites on TV. When I got way older (like married with a kid) Kaylie from Firefly.

Mary: Hmm I don't think I actually related to any characters when growing up. It always felt like an "outside looking in" situation. Maybe it's because of the types of things I chose to read -- old-school "literary" fiction by old or dead white guys. To be frank, the first character I truly related to was the main character of a YA book that came out in 2018 -- Mei from Gloria Chao's American Panda.

You write in other genres as well. What are some of your other books?

Paige: I'm mostly a science fiction girl. I have one series published and a few novellas and novels lying around I'm still trying to figure out what to do with. My published series is Non Compliance.

Mary: My first published series was a space adventure trilogy: The Jane Colt trilogy. It's in the same genre realm as BRAVE NEW GIRLS because it's still sci-fi, but it's not specifically for young readers. I also have a YA dark fantasy series. The first book in the planned trilogy, FLYNN NIGHTSIDER AND THE EDGE OF EVIL, came out in 2018, and there are a few short stories that take place in the same universe (I'm planning to collect them as an anthology). This has no science at all -- it's all dark magic, bloodthirsty monsters, and evil spirits... plus a totalitarian government that uses magic to oppress people. Another book of mine is STRONGER THAN A BRONZE DRAGON, which is a steampunk fantasy that takes place in an East Asian-inspired second world. Warrior girl who teams up with a mischievous thief to defeat the demon king... oh, and there are mechanical dragons and airships.

Any thoughts on the story telling world today?

Paige: Interesting... I think with the POD and e-readers it really has opened the field to have a lot more diverse stories. I think that's a great thing. However, with all good things there's a downside. As reader, it's really easy to get overwhelmed at all the selections there are now. I think at that people tend to shut down and just not choose anything, because they get overwhelmed. But with streaming services (Netflix, Hulu) I really think there's going to be more of chance to get a new set of stories told. It's just if the people with the money want to take a chance on the new stories instead of the same old things we've been seeing for years.

Mary: There's a huge push for diversity in children's literature, and it's having tangible results. Books by non-white authors, LGBTQ+ authors, disabled authors, and more are finally getting published and promoted in significant numbers. Which is amazing, since those authors represent and often depict a whole range of experiences that were left out of books for so long. There's still a gap to be filled, but thankfully, it's narrowing.

Check out the links below to buy the books!

Brave New Girls: Tales of Girls and Gadgets

Other e-book retailers:

Brave New Girls: Stories of Girls Who Science And Scheme

Other e-book retailers:

Brave New Girls: Tales of Heroines Who Hack

Other e-book retailers:

Monday, June 25, 2018

Parallel Destiny

My guest today is Simon Rose, author of many novels and nonfiction books for children and young adults. His latest novel, Parallel Destiny, has just been released.


So tell us about the new book 

Parallel Destiny is the third part of the paranormal Flashback trilogy. The first installment, entitled Flashback, was published in 2015 and the second, Twisted Fate, was published in 2017.

The trilogy features ghosts, psychics, alternate timelines, parallel universes, and Project Mindstorm, a secret operation involving deadly mind control experiments, as Max and Julia investigate events concealed for over twenty years. 

Parallel Destiny takes place immediately after the events depicted in Twisted Fate. Project Mindstorm no longer exists and Kane and his associates no longer represent a danger. However, Max and Julia now have to contend with the sinister Alastair Hammond and his experiments into the existence of parallel universes and alternate realities. Marooned within a bewildering series of multiple universes, Max and Julia are forced to fight for their own survival and to save the very fabric of reality from Hammond’s deadly scheme.

Will there be any more books in the series?

I’m not sure. Right now I’m not planning on any more since the story has reached a logical conclusion. However, Flashback was originally going to be a single novel and I didn't consider sequels until later, so you never know. I think there’s certainly some potential to write something else in this genre featuring the two main characters, but I guess time will tell.

You don’t seem to have any shortage of ideas. Where do you get them all from?

Ideas come from anywhere and everywhere really. Books, movies, TV, online research, out walking the dog, dreams, an overheard conversation, friends and family, history, mythology, and so many other sources. I have a few ideas that may never come to anything, but I still keep them anyway. It’s always a good plan to save them because you never know if, or when, an idea might fit into a story. My first four novels were all very early story ideas and were the first books to be published. However, more recently published novels, such as The Sphere of Septimus and the Flashback series, were also very early ideas. They just took longer to develop. Flashback was also one of my earliest ideas but again it took a while for me to develop the initial story, and consequently the rest of the series. Even if the ideas don’t work right away, they might in the future and you just never know when you’ll get another piece of the puzzle.

What other novels have you written?

I’ve written fifteen novels so far, since the first one came out in 2003. The Sorcerer's Letterbox and The Heretic's Tomb are historical fiction adventures set in medieval England, The Alchemist's Portrait is a time travel story, The Emerald Curse is all about superheroes and comic books, The Doomsday Mask is all about the legend of Atlantis, and The Sphere of Septimus involves the characters traveling into another world and is in the same vein as the Harry Potter series, The Chronicles of Narnia, or Lord of the Rings. Future Imperfect is a technology-driven story featuring mysterious messages from the future and The Time Camera about a mysterious device that captures images of different historical periods, and The Clone Conspiracy features secret experiments into human cloning. The Shadowzone series featuring Shadowzone, Into The Web, and Black Dawn, was published last year. The series involves the discovery of a grim dystopian version of Earth that’s ruled by a totalitarian dictatorship, the threat of a deadly virus, and a race against time to save the lives of millions
I've also written seven nonfiction guides for writers, including The Children’s Writer's Guide, The Time Traveler’s Guide, and The Working Writer's Guide. 

Are these your favourite genres in which to write?

Yes, there are certain genres that I like. When I first read the Harry Potter books, I knew that they were written for the age range, style, and had the level of danger and excitement for young readers that I was aiming for with the many story ideas that I had at the time.

However, as much as I enjoyed all the Harry Potter books, I wasn’t interested in writing my own story ideas on themes like folklore, mythology, magic wands, witches and wizards, or mythological creatures and monsters. Instead, I wanted my stories to be about the sort of things that I enjoyed reading about. These included time travel, fantasy, history, science fiction, lost cities, superheroes, other worlds, parallel universes, and the paranormal, and those are the types of stories I’ve been writing ever since.

So is it true that authors should write what they know?

In some ways yes, although this might sound a little odd because no one actually knows how to travel in time, attend a wizard school, visit other dimensions, have super powers, or go to the edge of the universe, at least as far as we know anyway. But what this term actually means is that it’s much easier to write about what you know or about what you’re interested in. You’ll have far more ideas about your own favorite topics and you’ll also decide exactly what you want to write about and not just try to do the same as everyone else or follow a hot new trend, whether it’s teenage wizards, vampires, zombies, or something else. If you write about unfamiliar topics, you’ll have to do more research for a story or perhaps plan out the story a lot more, rather than letting the ideas from your imagination flow into the computer or onto the paper as the story keeps coming to you. Writing about things that you’re not passionate about will seem much more like work, when writing is supposed to be fun. Write about what you know and love and it’s going to be a much more enjoyable experience.

Have you worked with lots of other authors?

Yes quite a lot over the last few years, in many different genres. This has involved both substantive and copy editing of completed novels, but I also work as a coach for writers with works in progress. Some of the projects I’ve worked on that have subsequently been published are here on my website. You can also see some of the references and recommendations from other clients that I’ve worked with.

What are you currently working on?

I’m always working on something but currently I’m writing a number of nonfiction books and doing quite a lot of editing and coaching work with other authors, helping them with their novels, short stories, or works in progress. I’m also working on a historical fiction novel set in the turbulent era of the English Civil War in the 1640s and I hope to be able to focus on that a little more in the coming months.

Where can a reader purchase your latest book? 

Parallel Destiny is available in paperback and as an ebook worldwide on Amazon, KoboBarnes & NobleiBooks, and Indigo Chapters in Canada, and at many other locations online. Your local bookstore should also be able to order a copy.

You can learn more about Simon and his work on his website at or online at the following social media sites:

·      Facebook
·      Twitter
·      LinkedIn
·      YouTube
·      Google +
·      Pinterest

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Young Explorer's Adventure Guides by Dreaming Robot Press

A friend of mine recently recommended the Young Explorer's Adventure Guides and I immediately fell in love with them. Not only are these stories chock full of excitement and adventure but each character is unique. Whether an alien, robot or human, this collection of short stories will take the reader to new places and inspire us all to remember that we each have our own story to tell. I asked the minds behind the Guides, Corie and Sean Weaver, to tell us more about them.

What inspired you to create a science fiction adventure anthology for middle grade readers?

Corie's friend, who happens to have the most amazing daughter anyone would ever hope to meet, was looking for sci fi books for younger readers with a strong female protagonist who's not out to be rescued or looking for romance. There was a depressing lack of titles that fit those two simple criteria. Corie, being the walking idea factory she is, woke up one morning and said, "We should start a publishing company." Not having had my first cup of coffee, I said, "Of course. That makes all the sense in the world." And so Dreaming Robot Press was born. The next morning, Corie woke up and said, "We should publish an anthology for middle grade readers." The previous day's coffee had long since worn off, and I hadn't gotten around to refilling for that day, so I said, "That, too, makes all the sense in the world. After all, we now own a publishing company." After publishing the first Young Explorer's Adventure Guide, we questioned the sanity of trying to publish an annual anthology
and wondered if there was going to be a second collection. 

Then the emails and letters started coming in from kids and their parents telling us how much they enjoyed the Guide. I'll be honest, both of us were in tears reading the notes from the kids. We decided there was no question, we'll continue to publish the Explorer's Guide until we're old and frail. 

How many books are there in the Young Explorer's Adventure Guides series?

We're publishing Volume Five in December. It's the best one yet. Until Volume Six, of course. 

Are there specific things you look for in a story when putting the Guides together?

It's a cliche, but we're looking for a great story. We want to have fun reading it. We want to be surprised. We really enjoy it when authors read our submission guidelines on our website.

How are you getting the word out about the Adventure Guides?

Each year, we run a Kickstarter campaign to launch the upcoming Explorer's Guide (look for it sometime late summer). Corie also appears on several con panels to talk about the importance of diversity and representation in science fiction and we run ads in various media. We're always so grateful to hear about the word getting out organically; readers enjoying the collection and telling their friends.  

Can you tell us about yourself?

Corie and I (Sean) both have backgrounds in publishing; Corie worked at a small publisher in Santa Fe, and I was in magazines and newspapers for a number of years in Colorado. We've been married for eight years and have five furry kids: two dogs and three cats. We live in a little town in northern New Mexico, Las Vegas, that is quite a bit different than the other more famous Las Vegas. When we're not wearing our secret-identity publisher's capes at night, we both work at a university to keep our real identities secret.

When you were growing up, were there specific authors who influenced you?

One of Corie's favorite writers was Nancy Cress, so we're delighted she has been in most of the anthologies and has been a strong believer in the Young Explorer's Guide mission. Corie says her list of authors is too long and would never fit in a standard interview (she is very seldom seen without a book in hand). My tastes were quite a bit different from Corie's. I read Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath in middle school, which started a love of American modernist literature (I didn't use the term American modernist literature in middle school - I was already picked on enough). 

Were there specific stories or characters that you related to?

I'm going to answer in a way a little different than the intent of your question. Corie and I feel strongly that all readers - girls, boys - from different cultures and backgrounds, of different abilities, carbon or silicone based, should be able to easily find stories where they can identify with the characters. More importantly, readers should be able to identify with characters who are not like them. Studies show people who read or attend the theater have a higher level of empathy than those who don't. We need girls and young people from underrepresented populations to believe they are an important part of our future, and we need young readers who are not part of these groups to believe everyone - everyone - should be able to dream, aspire and achieve. 

Dreaming Robot Press is a cool name! Is there a story behind that?

As a matter of fact, there is! I'll let Corie tell this story: When we started the publishing company, NASA lost contact with the Mars rover Pathfinder. I love the Mars rovers and get completely absorbed by them (Sean's note: she really, really does). So I told myself, “It’s just taking a nap.” In my head, the rovers have had engineers around them, talking to them and putting their thoughts and love into this creature, and then they go off on their missions, break down, and take long naps. What do rovers dream? If they were children, what would they want to read about? It’s not really a Philip K. Dick reference, but that was certainly in the back of our heads. And then we got the logo illustration, and it was exactly what we’d imagined. 

Dreaming Robot Press also publishes middle grade and young adult science fiction and fantasy novels. Can you tell us about them?

We have three books out right now, The Seventh Crow, where a mysterious crow helps fourteen-year-old Rosinda navigate a forgotten world filled with startling revelations, Demon Girl's Song, a young adult tale of Andín dal Rovi, who wants to escape her small town life. Instead of escape, she gets a thousand-year-old demon stuck in her head, and she loses everything – her home, her family and her country, and A Witch's Kitchen, a story of a young witch who can't do magic, but is an amazing cook. When Millie conjures chocolate sauce instead of a transformation potion, her mother gives up and sends her to the Enchanted Forest School, where she’s bullied by goblins, snubbed by an elf, and has her hat stolen. We have two more coming out this year, Twain's Treasure, where Alex April and his friend Bones are haunted into an adventure by the ghost of Mark Twain, and A Pixie's Promise, a sequel to A Witch's Kitchen, where Petunia, lost at home among her bazillion brothers, sisters, and cousins, must figure out how to change the formula to save the Enchanted Forest while living up to all the promises she’s made.

Any thoughts on the story telling world today?

The wonderful thing about stories is they are so ingrained in who we are as humans. Cave paintings from 40,000 years ago told a story. Homer told a story. Shakespeare told stories. Cress tells stories. Each and every one of us tells stories. Every day. The delivery of humanity's stories will continue to evolve through different media, but the core importance of story telling will never change. 

Any advice for aspiring writers?

Several years ago, I worked for a short stint as a studio manager for an artist. One day while we were working, I asked him, "What's the key to becoming a successful artist?" He didn't hesitate. "Stick around long enough to where people take you seriously." It was not the answer I expected, but there was a lot of truth to what he said. It's too easy to give up. Anyone who chooses to follow a creative passion puts herself or himself out to the world and is judged, criticized and rejected. Then they give up. DON'T GIVE UP!!!! If you have a passion for something, chase it. Live it. When you're knocked down, stand up and tell the world it hasn't seen the last of you. Note that you're not giving up. Here's some practical advice: 1) keep writing. It's amazing how many people we've met who call themselves writers but haven't put a single paragraph down on paper (or screen). Writing is a craft and must be developed. You're not going to pick up a guitar and be a rock star the same day. Practice. Every day. 2) Turn off the TV. It's nature's perfect time destroyer. 3) Join a crit group. Not just any crit group. Find a crit group that isn't afraid to tell you the truth (diplomatically, of course). Sure the truth hurts sometimes, but it will make you a better writer. Keep in mind your mother, father, relatives, and dogs are contractually obligated to tell you how wonderful you are (and you are wonderful). Find people who will really make you think about your writing. 4) When submitting, read the submission guidelines. Every publisher has them. They want you to read them. It gives you a leg up. And you don't look silly submitting something that has nothing to do with what the publisher wants to see. 5) Editors are your friends. They live to make your story the best it can be. 6) Be professional. It will help you get to that "stick around long enough to where people take you seriously" a lot more quickly. 

How can we find your books? 

They're on our website at Dreaming Robot Press , on Amazon and can be ordered from any bookstore.

That’s great! Thank you Sean and Corie. And to all life forms, silicone or carbon, or not yet discovered, be sure to check out the the Young Explorer's Adventure Guides!