Monday, October 20, 2014

Blog Ring of Power Presents Sandra Ulbrich Almazan

 Here's a real treat for everyone. One of our hosts has let us pick her brain! She has a new book coming out tomorrow, though you can grab the pre-order today!

I'm doing the first half of the interview and the rest is on T.W. Fendley's Blog

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan started reading at the age of three and only stops when absolutely required to. Although she hasn’t been writing quite that long, she did compose a very simple play in German during middle school. Her science fiction novella Move Over Ms. L. (an early version of Lyon’s Legacy) earned an Honorable Mention in the 2001 UPC Science Fiction Awards, and her short story “A Reptile at the Reunion” was published in the anthology Firestorm of Dragons. Other published works by Sandra include Twinned Universes and several science fiction and fantasy short stories. She is a founding member of Broad Universe, which promotes science fiction, fantasy, and horror written by women. Her undergraduate degree is in molecular biology/English, and she has a Master of Technical and Scientific Communication degree. Her day job is in the laboratory of an enzyme company; she’s also been a technical writer and a part-time copyeditor for a local newspaper. Some of her other accomplishments are losing on Jeopardy! and taking a stuffed orca to three continents. She lives in the Chicago area with her husband, Eugene; and son, Alex. In her rare moments of free time, she enjoys crocheting, listening to classic rock (particularly the Beatles), and watching improv comedy.

Sandra can be found online at her website, blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads
Section #1: About You 
BRoP: How long have you been writing?

Sandra: I wrote a few stories and poems in high school, wrote my first full-length novel (which thankfully will never see the light of day) during grad school/my internship, and finally started writing with professional goals in mind a few years later. 

BRoP: When and why did you begin writing?

Sandra: I started writing in my 20s to tell the stories I wanted to read but never could find the bookstore, the stories that don’t use the typical tropes.

BRoP: When did you first consider yourself a professional writer?

Sandra: I always tried to act professionally from the start, but selling my first short story and receiving the anthology in the mail was a landmark. 

BRoP: What books have most influenced your life?

Sandra: It’s not genre, but Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which I read in high school, affected my attitudes toward science, philosophy, and life. 

BRoP: What genre do you write?

Sandra: Science fiction and fantasy. 

BRoP: What is your favorite theme/genre to write about?

Sandra: I like to write about friendships, especially in groups. My inspiration comes from the four-fold synergy of the Beatles.

BRoP: If you couldn't be an author, what would your ideal career be?

Sandra: A geneticist doing research.

Section #2: The Writing Life

BRoP: Do you follow a regular routine? Do you use pen and paper or computer? Work at home or at the library/Starbucks, etc.

Sandra: I try to follow a routine. I bring my laptop to work and write on my lunch hour. I also write at home in my office after my son goes to bed. Sometimes on the weekend, I’ll go somewhere to write while my husband looks after our son. 

BRoP: How do you balance writing with other aspects of your life?

Sandra: Not as well as I’d like. My son is in second grade, so he keeps me busy. He has to come first, at least while he’s awake. I can generally keep up with cooking and laundry, but the housework sometimes gets ignored so I can write. You can’t do everything at once, but sometimes priorities have to shift. 

BRoP: When do you write?

Sandra: On my lunch hour at work and after my son goes to bed. 

BRoP: How much time per day do you spend on your writing?
Sandra: I probably average between a half hour to an hour. Most days the word count is less than 1000, but since I keep at it, the words accumulate over time. 

BRoP: Other than your family, what has been your greatest source of support?

Sandra: Other writers, especially crit partners. 

BRoP: How do you deal with rejection and/or negative reviews?

Sandra: Rejection and negative reviews do sting, but I remind myself you can’t please everyone and focus on the story at hand.

Section #3: The Creative Process

BRoP: Where do you get your story ideas?

Sandra: Everywhere. I get ideas from everyday situations, from things I read, from things I’m interested in, and even writing challenges. I need lots of ideas because I find the best stories come about when I mash two or more unrelated ideas together. 

BRoP: Do you have a specific writing style?

Sandra: I use too many semicolons for fiction, at least according to my editor. Although I like writing in first person so that I can give the narrator a strong voice, most of my stories are actually in third person. 

BRoP: How do you deal with writer’s block?

Sandra: It depends on the cause. When I first started writing, I sometimes got stuck when I wasn't deep enough inside the characters’ heads. I’m better at that now, but sometimes I don’t know what should happen next in the story. Then I may write out in the manuscript ideas about what could happen and the implications of those events. Writing the ideas down helps me focus instead of frittering away time on Internet games. And sometimes I’m just physically/mentally exhausted and need to recharge. Of course, I tend to get a spurt of writing energy right at bed time. 

BRoP: Are you a “plotter” or a “pantser” (do you plan/outline the story ahead of time or write “by the seat of your pants”)?

Sandra: Although I have tried outlining, I invariably wind up ignoring the outline and pantsing the plot. 

BRoP: Do you use critique partners or beta readers? Why or why not?

Sandra: I was a member of the Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror until earlier this year. I didn't renew my membership because I unfortunately didn't have enough time to keep up with other people's stories. I still use beta readers after I've done as much with the story as I can on my own. 

BRoP: How much time do you spend on research? What type of research do you do?

Sandra: On one level, life is research; I mine everyday experiences, sensations, and emotions for tidbits for my stories. Since I write science fiction, I read a lot of science news stories, looking for ideas I might want to use to extrapolate a future world. I also read a lot of non-fiction to learn about other cultures and settings. The Internet can be handy for looking up specific facts I need on the spot.

The rest of this interview is located HERE

Kron Evenhanded is an artificer, able to enchant any man-made object, but he finds people more difficult to work with. When he visits the city of Vistichia, he encounters Sal-thaath, an extremely magical but dangerous child created by Salth, another magician Kron knew at the Magic Institute. Kron attempts to civilize Sal-thaath, but when his efforts lead to tragedy, Kron is forced to ally himself with a quartet of new deities and their human Avatars. Together they must defend Vistichia as Salth attempts to drain its life and magic. But Salth has Ascended halfway to godhood over Time. Will Kron’s artifacts be enough to protect the Avatars, especially the woman he loves, or will Time separate them?

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  1. Re On one level, life is research; I mine everyday experiences, sensations, and emotions for tidbits for my stories.

    That's a most profound quote. I think if more writers mined from their life experiences they'll find they can create more colorful and layered worlds.