May the Fourth: Bahama Mama Meets Star Wars

For about fifteen years I was airplane phobic. I worked on this fear in several ways because it was important to me our kids could visit their grandparents, who lived 3,000 miles away. Eventually I got past my fears, in part by imagining my flights as “fun,” gradually transferring my love of Star Wars-style space flight to my own flights. Happily, in all those years of flying to grandma’s once or twice a year, we never experienced anything worse than lost luggage. Skip forward to 2012. I now love flying. I’m still able to recall my fears, and occasionally they rear their ugly hydra heads, but mostly I love it. I write my MARS SERIES, about a girl who loves to pilot. Skip ahead to 2015: I’m ready to fully remember and inhabit my old fears, and I start writing Read more…

Writing Edmund, Second Earl of Shaftesbury

First off, writing time travel fiction involves research. Lots of research. Books. Internet. Museums. Rinse and repeat. All those activities informed my writing of Edmund and his world in A Thief in Time. But in another way, writing Edmund was a job I began preparing for when I was just seven. That was the year I saw my first two Elizabethan-era dramas onstage. I don’t remember which I saw first—Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead or The Merchant of Venice—but I was at that golden age of language acquisition, and I soaked up the thees and thous and cansts and wherefores just like they were any other new-to-me words uttered by adults addressing other adults. I was smitten by the rhythm and sound of all those delicious words, chewing them like Halloween candy long after the weekend of play-going was over. At Read more…

When Childhood Dreams Come True

When I was five, I was given three wonderful things: a library card, books to read, and the nickname “Cidney.” When I was seven, I learned that there was a job where you wrote stories. I was sure this was the best job in the world. I was sure it was what I wanted to do with my life. And although I tried on other ideas for anywhere from a few weeks (magician, violinist) to years (actor, costumer), my baseline “what I want to be” was always: AUTHOR. When self-publishing burst into my awareness in 2011, I decided to go that direct-to-reader route, and I’ve never been sorry. I love this method of publishing. I am doing what I always wanted to do: making a living as a writer. I’ve loved it so much that I pretty much shelved the Read more…

High Anxiety

HIGH ANXIETY is a Mel Brooks song/movie some of you might remember. It’s also a common feeling for a writer. It hits at, say, a few weeks before your next book releases. Even with a hyper critical  insightful editor, awesome beta readers, and dedicated ARC readers, I still get anxious before putting a new book out there. Is it funny enough? (Is it funny at all?) Is the romance swoony enough? Are the stakes high enough, menacing moments frequent enough, conflicts sufficiently … conflict-y? So I turned to one of my favorite 20th century products: the sticky note. I started reading through the manuscript again, popping a yellow note wherever I lol’d, a pink one for romantic angst, a green one for menace, and white ones for something harder to describe which I call “heart.” (Maybe “emotional core” is more descriptive? Nah, I like Read more…

The Best Part of Writing Time Travel Fiction

By now, you’ve probably heard my next book is time travel-y. It’s the kind of story I love: 16th century English earl meets 21st century California girl. I’ve always held off writing actual time travel, though, because I was intimidated by the research it would take. I mean, I couldn’t just make stuff up like I do with fantasy. ;o) But it turns out that the best part of writing A THIEF IN TIME has been … (drumroll) the research! 100% the research! Although my story is mostly set in contemporary Santa Barbara, the “time travel” takes us back to the Elizabethan Era. I got to research word use, education, religious practices, funerals, and the price of a tankard of ale (one penny, for the curious) along with a host of other things. And while the bulk of my research took place on my computer or Read more…

This and That

My friends ask me all the time how that writing thing is going and what I’m working on now. (Poor unsuspecting souls! How long do you have to listen?) It’s been almost a year since SIREN SPELL released. So, WHAT HAVE I BEEN DOING WITH MY TIME? Oh, this and that. Since last year, I have: 1) Completely re-drafted a manuscript that is going to agents. 2) Moderately re-drafted another manuscript for the distant future. 3) Done all the research and world-building for a NEW SERIES-YAY!!! (More on that below…) 4) Worked with cover artist Alexander von Ness to update all the Ripple Series covers. Look at the shiny! And I also 5) Worked with my brilliant narrator Sarah Mollo-Christensen to produce the third Ripple Audiobook, and 6) Made a wedding gown! (More shiny!) Also this past year, Dr. Science became interim prez at Read more…

4 x 4: Four Questions Each from an Author and a Narrator

Now that CHAMELEON, Book Two in the Ripple Series is out in audio, I thought I’d give everyone a chance to meet Sarah Mollo-Christensen, my fabulous narrator. Sarah is an actor, dog trainer, and audiobook narrator living in New York City, and I’ve had so much fun working with her on my Ripple series audiobooks. Today you’ll get a sneak peek behind the curtain to see what goes on in the minds of an author and a narrator when they work together on an audiobook. 4 x 4: Four Questions Each from an Author and a Narrator   FOUR QUESTIONS FOR CIDNEY: SARAH: How do you choose a narrator–what are the main things you look for? CIDNEY: First, I’m looking for someone who can bring both descriptive sections and dialogue sections to life, equally. Once I’ve found a few narrators Read more…

Science versus Art: The Ultimate Smackdown! (Or is it?)

Image thanks to cmswire.com I’m so pleased to have Amber Keyser here today. In celebration of Marie Curie’s birthday, Amber agreed to say a few words about science and art. Plus, she’s giving away a hardcover copy of her newest book! Here’s Amber! The more I look at this image, the madder I get! There’s poor old Science in monochome while Art is brilliantly colored. Art gets the word FUN in bright swirly letters. Science gets ANALYTIC. The obvious conclusion? Science = boring. And the two have nothing in common. All my life I’ve heard this dichotomy of science versus art and left brain versus right brain. Worse are the messages that boys excel in science while girls are artistic. It’s like there is some gladiator fight to the death between science and art. Pick your side. Pick your weapon. Read more…

Is Bad Science Ever Okay?

Many of us fell in love with Sci-Fi stories before we were old enough to care about scientific accuracy. For some of us, the results were fantastic! (See Commander Hadfield’s tweet for the ultimate example!) From faster-than-light travel to alien races who speak English to wormholes that transport you without crushing you, anyone who enjoys Sci-Fi has probably engaged in the suspension of disbelief. Even in stories where authors go to great lengths to preserve accuracy, there are usually one or two “cheats” introduced, or sometimes writers engage in something I’ve heard affectionately called “handwavium” where major inaccuracies are glossed over with a wave of the hand. (I like to think of “handwavium” as a nod to both Harry Potter and STAR WARS, A New Hope. Think Hermione Granger uttering a spell while waving her hand like Obi Wan and you Read more…

10 Things To Consider Before Moving to Mars

I’m thrilled to have a guest on the blog today. Fonda Lee is the author of the novel Zeroboxer (Flux/Llewellyn, April 2015). A recovering corporate strategist, when she is not writing, she can be found training in kung fu or searching out tasty breakfasts. Born and raised in Canada, Fonda now lives in Portland, Oregon. I loved Zeroboxer, which has been described as Gattaca meets Rocky. Without further ado: here’s Fonda! TEN THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE MOVING TO MARS So let’s say you’ve watched The Martian and fallen in love with the idea of living in a place with endless red horizons, smog-free skies, and plenty of peace and solitude. You’re ready to sign up to be a Martian colonist. What should you consider before you commit to leaving Earth for less-green pastures? When I was writing Zeroboxer, I spent a lot Read more…