Where Were You on August 5?

I spent the first part of August in California goat-sitting for my sister. Well, honestly, my daughter did most of the goat-y work as well as taking care of the cats, dogs, and chickens. But caring for my sister’s farmyard meant that I was within an easy distance of NASA Ames for the landing of the Mars Science Laboratory CURIOSITY Rover.  Boy, am I glad my sister’s animals needed someone to be there for them. The visit to NASA Ames was one of those highlight-of-your-life adventures. We arrived some four hours ahead of Curiosity’s scheduled touchdown and got to enjoy food trucks and the company of other space geeks as well as an impressive array of exhibits pulled together by scientists at NASA Ames who contributed to Curiosity’s mission. My favorite moments? Watching my daughter and nieces converse with scientists Read more…

Mars Themed Prize Packs!

Well, I had a bit of fun shopping at http://www.thespacestore.com/ and now it’s time to give it all away! (Enter using the Rafflecopter form below.) Five Lucky Winners will receive: A Prize Pack including Astronaut Ice Cream A Saving Mars Bookmark (signed!)     Three Lucky Winners will receive: A Prize Pack including Astronaut Ice Cream A Saving Mars Bookmark (signed!) A NASA Mars Project Patch (yours may vary) A Mars Marble (super cool!)     And there are two Grand Prizes as well.   One Lucky Winner will receive: Astronaut Ice Cream NASA Mars Curiosity Pin Saving Mars Bookmark (signed) Sign with Mileage to Mars One Lucky Winner will receive: Astronaut Ice Cream NASA Mars Curiosity Pin Saving Mars Bookmark (signed) Signed Copy of SAVING MARS (If you win the grand prize and have a strong preference for one over the Read more…

Saving Mars-Chapter One

Have I told any of you lately how grateful I am to have readers? I just paused for several minutes after writing that sentence.  I was trying to find an adequate way to express the big-ness of the gratitude. And words failed me. Not an admirable quality in a writer, but there you have it. My breath gets knocked clean out of me every time I consider that there are thousands of people out there enjoying the books I wrote. Thank you, dear reader, for reading. Thank you so very much. I know that some of you are jumping-up-and-down excited that I have a Sci/Fi series coming out while others of you are side-eyeing the whole idea and wondering why I didn’t stick to something a bit more like Rippler. Well, for both groups, I now present Chapter One of Saving Mars so that Read more…

Writing What You Love-Part Three

I promised the cover reveal in July. Um, so, it’s still July, yes? (Whew!) Here it is, the cover of SAVING MARS. Squee! I’ve thought a few times that I should change the title of this blog series because, as it stands, it sounds like I am giving you advice on How To write what you love. Which I’m not. But, this novel came about because I wrote in a setting and genre I love… I think you get the idea. So, is it okay if I don’t change the blog title? ‘Cause I’m kind of out of words right now after all the revisions and line edits and proofs and…and…and… (Scroll to the bottom for a summary of the book!)   SAVING MARS: When the food supply of Mars’ human settlement is decimated, seventeen-year-old Jessamyn Jaarda, the best pilot Mars Read more…

Writing What You Love-Part Two

When I was small—toddler-small—my dad inadvertently introduced me to Lost in Space and Star Trek. They fascinated me. I remember crouching down behind his recliner so that I could duck and hide when things got too scary. I loved everything about those shows. I remember especially: the music from both shows which sent shivers along my bitty spine; the repeated cries of “Danger, Will Robinson!” spoken by a robot (a robot!); and the strange pastel-colored objects consumed aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise.  Lost in Space went off the air and I didn’t see it again until the 1998 film version released. (The music still gave me shivers.) Star Trek, on the other hand, enjoyed a decades-long era of syndicated re-runs. I discovered this after school one day when I was nine or ten. Once again, I was hooked. For two glorious years, I could Read more…

Writing What You Love

(Part One of a Three Part Series) Writers hear it again and again: write the book you want to read. I’ve been circling closer and closer for years. No, for decades. I’ve always had a soft spot for science fiction. I was a part of the generation who were wakened from cozy beds to watch astronauts set foot on the moon. I remember sitting very close to the TV in an attempt to see the puffy men better. Mom and Dad got us up to see stellar activity as well: constellations, planets that came closer than usual or lined up in a row, and comets, infrequent but lovely visitors to our world. I sat in the front row the day the For Reals NASA Astronaut talked to us in school, and if I hadn’t already fallen deeply in love with Read more…

Fresh From Las Abuelitas Bakery Cafe for You!

I know, I know. It looks like an autographed playing card. Yeah. Um. That’s because it is an autographed playing card. And if you live in the US or Canada, I will totally mail you one of your very own, just for testing this recipe! You can even request a specific card from the deck! Wow! Uber-cool! For those of you not observing a gluten-free diet, I present: A delectable treat from Las ABC! (Which I might have overcooked just the tiniest bit. Allegedly.)     Bridget Li’s Stollen Minus the Yucky Fruit Bits* Dough For Three Loaves (Hey, we run a bakery) 9 2/3 c. bead flour 3/4 c. sugar 1/4 c. PLUS 2 tsp. instant dry yeast 1 1/2 T. salt 5 oz. butter (1 stick plus 1/4 stick) 3 eggs 2 1/2 c. milk 1/3 c. water Almond Filling Read more…

Little Things

Today I said, “Okay,” when my daughter chose a $27 gift for her best friend’s birthday. I also used an entire pound of ground sausage for my lasagna. A year ago, the birthday gift would have needed to come in under $15 and I would have tried to make the lasagna work with a half or maybe three-quarters of a pound of sausage. It’s the little things I’m really appreciating as a result of having an income as a writer. I’m a scrimper in a long line of penny-pinchers, and yet there is something ineffable about being able to use the amount of sausage that the recipe calls for. When I wrote my first novel (which shall never daylight see!) I made my main character’s family wealthy. I still break out in baby goosebumps remembering how fun it was to Read more…

Remembering Why I Write

I try to attend a writer’s conference every three to six months.Writing is a lonely venture. Just me and these imaginary people who talk to me sometimes. I spend most of each day seated behind my desk, typing on my computer. It’s a life I love, but I need to get out every now and again, and conferences provide that opportunity. While the food is usually mediocre and the strange hotel beds creak in ways that wake me early, the workshops and the networking opportunities provide me with a bit of oomph. That is, I come away with  a nugget or two that will help me in either my craft or the business side of being a writer. And sometimes I come away with a bit more–with a reminder of why I write in the first place. (Hint: it’s not for the book signings, Read more…

Author Interview: LISA NOWAK

I’m so very pleased to bring Lisa Nowak here today for an interview as a part of her DRIVEN Blog Tour! Lisa is a fellow member of SCBWI and a very funnyauthor. She’s also one of the most generous and sharing individuals I know. In addition to writing, Lisa is a faculty regular at SCBWI regional events and will present at Willamette Writer’s Conference later this summer. Without further ado, here’s Lisa! Cidney Swanson:When did you start writing? Lisa Nowak:I started writing when I was thirteen. My first book was about a young girl and her telepathic cat who got abducted by aliens. It was all one long paragraph. My school librarian took pity on me and explained that I needed to create a new paragraph every time someone else started speaking. CS:What are some of your favorite books? LN:I Read more…