All posts by stephaniepqw

My Favorite Thing!

Meeting people who read my books is my favorite thing! Last year, I maintained a booth at the Arizona Family Home Education Convention. It was an awesome experience! I met people of all ages. We chatted about books, education, psychology, history, and reading. Then we talked about my books and about me as a writer. I answered questions like: what inspired me to write, what inspired me to write this particular series, and how many books I intended to write throughout my career.

I had a blast! I love meeting people! By the end of the convention I was exhausted, but it was the best kind of tired. What stimulated and encouraged me the most was talking with kids that were interested in reading my books. I wasn’t so jazzed that they were interested in my books, although I’ll admit that really excited me, it was that they were interested in the history of the setting and the strength of the character! They were intrigued about a new place they could research and that historically a women had been actual warriors and leaders of a rich and strong kingdom.

Of course I had to go back to the AFHE Convention again this year. My experience was even better! I got reacquainted with people I had met from last year, last year’s new readers had become old fans, and several people I’d not met came looking for my booth after having been introduced to my work by their friends!

My new booth design added to my excitement this year. I very special friend of mine created this wonderful thing of beauty!

Gorgeous Adventure
Gorgeous Adventure

If it had not been for the very talented Melissa, I would not have had this fantastic environment to work in.

I’m super excited about next year! New books and new adventures!

Writing Something New

For the past four years I have been publishing an action/adventure series  that takes place in ancient Nubia. There are currently four books in the PRINCESS KANDAKE series and right now I am working on book number five, Decisions of a Queen. It started out as a labor of love for my granddaughter when she asked me one question. “Nana, where are all the beautiful brown princesses?” My research led me to creating one story that turned into a series of five books.

I have truly enjoyed all of the research that has gone into making the stories and culture as real as possible. Along the way, I learned quite a bit about history, African culture, and the rulers of past kingdoms. There were times when I got so caught up in the research that only deadlines could tear me away from the facts and occurrences of ancient times. I was surprised by the number of things in current African American culture that have their roots in ancient times on the continent of my ancestors. But now it is time for me to move on, time for me to return to my first fictional infatuation…science fiction.

Because many of my readers are accustomed to my writing about things of long ago, I determined that it might be helpful to break them in gently to the odd and strange twists of my imagination. So, last year I published a book of short stories entitled Obscura. Each tale is designed to keep the reader thinking, to cause their imaginations to carry them beyond the end of the story.

This year I will be releasing the first book of a new series that is considered contemporary science fiction…and that is only the beginning of my foray into the odd and strange. Switching gears from the old and ancient to all things new and nearly unimagined has been tough, but oh so much fun. My imagination is totally unleashed. Keep an eye out for the strange and obscure, you’re likely to find me lurking somewhere nearby.

Changing Horses in the Middle of the Stream

Everyone has heard the old adage ‘don’t change horses in the middle of the stream.’ It’s been said for good reason, one should find works for them and stay committed to it. Well, I’m ignoring their advice and changing horses, anyway.

I’m switching things up a bit. For the past five years I’ve been writing the Princess Kandake series that takes place in ancient Nubia. I guess you could say that it’s historical fiction and deals with warriors and ancient ways of doing things. I most often describe it as an action/adventure series that takes place in the long ago kingdom of Nubia on the far away continent of Africa.

After spending so much time in research of ancient Nubian and military tactics, writing in current times is definitely something different. And that’s what I’m ready for—something different. So I’m leaving the horse of things historical and ancient and jumping over to the mount of things new and far-flung—science fiction. I’ve flipped my writing around. Right now I’m working on a new series that takes place in current times and has to do with aliens and shape-shifters. The other big difference is that this series has a male main character and is laced with what I call boy-humor.

Science fiction is, and always has been, my first love in both reading and writing, but my audience knows me best for my historical bent. Introducing something so different could be a problem. What if my audience isn’t ready for such a change? What if they grab a book of the new series expecting to find an ancient tale and are disappointed by finding something so different? Both are very real and disastrous possibilities.

So, to break it to my readers gently and help them become acclimated to a different side of me, I have released a small collection of short stories that are all science fiction. My hope in writing Obscura is that my audience is intrigued by my sense of the odd, weird, and strange.

Does this mean that I will never write about the ancient again? Absolutely not. I’m just taking a small break from the past and reaching into the future. My plans are to go wherever the story takes me. And as always, regardless of where the tale leads or which horse I ride, my commitment is to provide the reader with a story well told.

Bringing in the New Year

January 1This is the time of year that many people set their resolutions for the upcoming year. A writer is no different. For the past few days, between celebrating Christmas with my family and visiting with friends, I have been working on my business plan for the new year along with working strategies. I’ve been sorting out what worked for this past year and how I can improve things for 2015. What I know about  me is that if I don’t mix rewards with work I become a bit lazy and procrastinate, almost to the point of endangering deadlines. So here are a list of rewards to keep me going.

  1.  Movie Popcorn! This is my favorite food on the planet. Of course it’s with butter! That means I have to limit the number of times I treat myself. So I’ll save it for larger accomplishments.
  2. Skyping with grandkids. This is reward is perfect for late afternoons after I’ve gotten a good amount of writing done. Knowing I’ll get to see the faces that I adore will encourage me to keep going.
  3. Playing board games with friends. This is so much fun! I love the challenge of the game and the social (chatting) with my friends.
  4. Red Curry from Toy’s Thai. This I will save for celebrations of completed manuscripts.
  5. Floating on the lake in my kayak. This one will be great for Spring. I love putting my boat on the water and watching the eagles soar above me. Watching them helps with ideas and the development of new stories.
  6. A cup of hot cranberry tea. This is a treat that keeps me pushing right on through. When I begin to slow  my pace and begin to get distracted by all that is around me, I can brew myself a nice hot cup of tea to help me maintain my focus. Cranberry is my favorite!
  7. Short bouts of exercise.  I know, I’m the last person to think of exercise as a reward, but it is. If I’ve been sitting at my computer for long periods of time, I begin to get cramps in my back, legs, and hips. Allowing myself to get up, run in place, and stretch is a most delicious treat.
  8. Massage Oh Yes! This one is for that completed project. You know, when you press that button that sends the template to print. This is what I’m looking forward to. I think I need to schedule one for February.

These are just a few of the rewards I have lined up for myself to ward off procrastination and laziness. Are you ever plagued by the great ‘P’? What are some of the things you do to keep the time-eater away?


How to Kill a Writing Schedule

Eruption with Mushroom CloudI’m a writer. I write books of action and adventure for the ‘Tween audience. I generally set a schedule for the many things I have to do and stick to it. This is how things usually look.

I’m currently working on a series that takes place in ancient Nubia about a young princess who is slated to be the next ruler of the kingdom, but the catch is that she’s a warrior and loves it. According to schedule, I began book #4 in the series. I think through my plot and try to pair it with a marketing strategy, but keep in mind that I’m in the process of promoting book #3.

In the midst of this I’m planning a family vacation. Not to worry, it works out fine because we’re traveling in an RV and not only can I continue working, I can also promote my books as we cross the country. Then everything goes nuts.

We leave a little behind schedule because the windshield on the RV has to be replaced. That’s not a problem because I can write while my husband drives. It’s not a problem until we reach Denver late on a Saturday night, in the middle of a thunderstorm, and the windshield is leaking and every repair shop is closed. So, instead of writing I’m packing towels around the seams of the windshield as my husband is mopping up water and searching every cabinet we have looking for caulking.

We arrive in Iowa just in time for the high school graduation of a friend’s daughter and all of the celebrations usurp any time I had set aside for writing. We leave Iowa and head toward Niagara Falls, a place I’ve dreamed of seeing as long as I can remember. We make it as far as Ohio and the drive shaft drops out of the motorhome. We get towed into the repair shop and I think, No problem, I can make up all of the lost writing time. The following day the repairs are made and we’re on the road again.

We make it to the Falls and I get the bright idea to go into Canada. I’m thinking, it’s just a short side trip and I can make a run to Costco to grab some frozen mango for my smoothies, after all we’re running pretty low. We get to the border and the patrol agent asks our reason for visiting Canada. I say, “We’re on a Costco run for frozen mango!” It must have been the wrong thing because now we’re instructed to go to the inspection station while they search the car.

How long does it take to search one Explorer? Apparently, it takes quite a bit of time, especially since they choose to search each box of books, ask me why I’m carrying so many copies of each book, and ask to see a seller’s license if I plan to sell them in Canada?

We finally get to Costco, get the mango, and head back to the US. Have we learned our lesson? No. Did we think to come up with a better reason to tell the agent for visiting Canada? No. And the search is on…again. By the time we return to the RV I am so rattled that any ideas about Nubia, or a princess, or her plans as a warrior have fled and I can’t find them anywhere. This frame of mind continues for several days and I finally give up. I decide to just enjoy the vacation and I’ll write when I get home.

Just so you know, I made it home and finished book #4 of the PRINCESS KANDAKE series. I have plans for next year’s vacation, but you can bet that I will have the next book finished before I leave home.