Month: February 2020

#AMMConnect – Author Mentor Match

I never fail to be in awe of the generosity of the writing community. Author Mentor Match is yet another example: an exciting program designed to help aspiring authors realize their dreams of traditional publication. If selected, a mentee is paired with an experienced author/mentor who has already been through the trenches and has come out the other side, victorious. Yes, I just made it sound like a battle, but like every writer aspiring to traditional publication knows, it is. You have to be prepared to be fully committed, to put in lots and lots of hard work, and when you get rejected or obstacles occur, to keep pushing forward towards your goal. Having help along the way is priceless, and that is where the wonderful folks at Author Mentor Match come in. You can learn more at AuthorMentorMatch and join in yourself if you have a completed manuscript in the genres/age groups they offer – I hope you do!

headshot_lakeI write because it is a part of who I am. It is a natural response to the thoughts rolling around inside of my head, having the potential to become a story that could touch the lives of others in a positive way. I love the quote by Toni Morrison, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” I write the stories I would want to read. I write because I want to share those stories with the world. There are other reasons but for me, those are some of the most compelling. Stories are precious gifts celebrating what it means to be human: exploring every aspect of life in ways that are meaningful to the reader. I am grateful I get to be a part of that. I hope to have a mentor for my 92,000 word science fiction novel for adults. It has been through multiple revisions and beta reading, and lightly queried (I have had 2 requests for first fifty pages from conferences and 1 full from a twitter event). I am not sure I am querying effectively and I am seeking experienced advice, especially about some concerns I have about my first fifty.

headshot_meand horseI wear lots of different hats – I am a wife and mom, I am an engineer, I am a small business owner, I am a teacher and I am a writer. I am also the director of a writing group – we can be found at Carrollton League of Writers and we are a warm and welcoming bunch! I have a passion for learning about people and cultures from around the world and often host international students in our home. I camp and hike, ride bicycles and horses, and create web pages. I enjoy model rocketry and playing table tennis. I have been a Trekkie for as long as I can remember and I always wanted to impress a dragon and fight thread. I am a follower of Jesus Christ.

I also have a great sense of humor – my husband and I created this video when I started receiving phone calls because some of our writers group members were being less than diplomatic when we were critiquing the short stories for our group anthology (something I required for inclusion into the anthology, along with professional editing). Rather than pointing fingers, we decided to make this video (Click on red text below) so people could laugh at themselves and us, and modify their behavior accordingly. I hope it makes you laugh!

CRITIQUING BLUNDERS

CLWbiggroupOne of the greatest joys in my life is also one of my greatest obstacles. As the director of the Carrollton League of Writers, I have been able to nurture and encourage our members, and provide them (and me) with many learning opportunities through guest speakers. I had the privilege of coordinating our effort to publish an anthology for our group which helped many of our members attain their “bucket-list” goal of being published, something they may not have been able to achieve otherwise. Knowing the joy it brought our members made the labor of love deeply satisfying. You can get a feel for our group and see what we have accomplished in our first year by watching this short video at Carrollton League of Writers, but when I originally put out that post in Next Door that started our group, my goal had been to find critique partners that wanted to join me on the road to traditional publication. Regarding our writers group, my main goal has always been to be inclusive and to meet the needs of our group. As it turns out, their goals while extremely worthwhile, are very different from my own. We all enjoy the learning opportunities immensely and love meeting weekly – but while a few engage in critiques, very few share my passionate desire to be working towards traditional publication and those that do, are not able to dedicate time enough to their own writing. Which is why I would be very grateful to have a mentor who understands and shares my writing goals and has the wisdom and experience to help me forward in the process.

I believe I would make a great mentee. I am a hard worker, I am dedicated to improving my craft, I value feedback (even when it hurts) and I am willing to do the work needed in order to get my story traditionally published. I also value relationships and desire to help those around me to be successful. You can see a blog post book review I wrote (I met Kathleen because she was a guest speaker for our writers group and she happens to be a fabulous author) – A School For Unusual Girls. I believe we are all part of the same writing community regardless of genre and should be generous, kind, and helpful to each other.

Back to my manuscript – I call it Alien Neighbors. Here is the text of a query I have written for it:

Neil Armstrong took the first steps on the Moon on July 21, 1969, capturing the imagination of the entire world. As a test engineer for a major semiconductor company and a life-long astronomy enthusiast, I have dreamed of NASA’s return. The Artemis program aims to do just that in 2024, including plans for the first female moonwalker. The quest for extraterrestrial intelligence has long been a preoccupation of the American public. Carl Sagan’s book Contact is an example of the fascination we have for alien life, and the SETI Institute has brought the search to desktops across America. This led me to write Alien Neighbors, a first novel of 92,000 words that brings us back to the Moon in search of helium 3, but finds aliens along with the isotope we need to solve the world’s energy crisis.

All scientist Tom Whitaker wants to do is hide in his lab and work on creating a nuclear fusion reactor to process helium 3 from the Moon into limitless clean energy. When a First Contact occurs, aliens from a planet in the Cygnus constellation reveal they possess the technology Earth needs for working nuclear fusion. At the urging of the White House, Tom very reluctantly agrees to become the liaison between the two races. He finds himself risking his career, custody of his daughter, and possibly his life, in an effort to save Lanjo, his new alien friend, while also attempting to prevent the annihilation of Earth.

My Favorite Martian collides with Armageddon in this human/alien friendship where an introverted human nerd and an alien college professor with an irrepressible sense of humor form an unlikely alliance in an effort to save both their worlds and, ultimately, each other.

Alien Neighbors is set in the near future. It has enough science for geeks like me, yet not so much that the average person feels lost. Subtle themes are intrinsically interwoven into the story, including looking beyond appearance and overcoming bias, second chances, and choosing to do the right thing even though it has high personal cost. With strong female characters including a kick-ass NASA mission commander and Tom’s brave, spunky twelve-year old daughter, Alien Neighbors appeals to a broad audience.

 

Lanjo#4

All that said, if you would like to meet my main character alien, Lanjo, from a planet in the Cygnus Constellation 500 light years from Earth, you can see a graphic artist’s rendition of what I thought he would look like. This was not created with any intent towards self-publishing but rather, a fun exercise that served to inspire me as I worked on my revisions. If you look closely, you’ll see the extra digit on each hand and the friendship bracelet he receives as part of the story 🙂

I am looking forward to make friends with others who share the grand passion of writing. It is my desire to be an encouragement to all I meet on their writing journeys. Mentors – I sincerely hope you will consider helping me on my journey. Best wishes to all involved with #AMMconnect – May all of your literary dreams come true!