September 2021

Diverse Author Shout Out

First off, I’d like to congratulate Nakia Cook on the release of her debut novel, Inamorata, a supernatural thriller featuring a black, Muslim protagonist.

It’s such an achievement to get that first novel done and published, her dedication to her stories and her craft is inspiring. Her warm and authentic presence in the online world has been an invaluable addition to the writing community, I’m grateful to have met her. Congratulations on the release, Nakia!

Torn bits of a red dress and a black tulip lead her into the woods. Her discovery leaves her and the police with more questions than answers. One thing is for certain: there’s a killer on the loose.

I enjoy a twisted story—especially if there are jinn, witches and vampires. I’m challenging my readers to imagine a world of diverse Muslim characters caught up in otherworldly situations.

Nakia Cook, Author Bio

Visit Nakia Cook on Instagram to see how she celebrated the release of her debut and to connect with her to discover other pieces she’s written and what she’s currently working on now that Inamorata is out in the world.

Secondly, Katie Zhao’s middle grade Sci-Fi novel, Last Gamer Standing, was finally released in September too! A young video gamer whose real-life identity is hidden from the gaming world is blackmailed by an anonymous troll. They threaten to reveal everything, destroy her reputation and any chance at winning the biggest gaming tournament of her career yet, leaving the prize money to go elsewhere while her family struggle with her mother’s growing hospital bills.

I’m so excited to get stuck into this one with the kids, if her other middle grade novels are anything to go by, Last Gamer Standing will be packed with awesome characters and huge themes too, especially since we’re a gaming family. The kids are getting closer to experiencing the often degrading online world for themselves, novels like this will help give them the strength and knowledge to make choices right for them and what they value despite the toxicity.

Zhao has also just released a YA Thriller, How We Fall Apart, which exploded across my feeds in excitement from readers. Her love for fiction and the characters she writes just pours off the pages of her novels. If you’re not keen on sci-fi, I highly recommend you check out the rest of her work instead.

Sci-Fi Novels

Recently Read

The Longview Chronicles by Holly Lisle was a blast of a ride. The concepts are huge, the characters are inspiring and realistic, the plot is fast paced and the writing is concise and straight to the point. I’m yet to read Cadence Drake’s second story, Warpaint, so there’s still MORE of Holly’s settled space universe for me to explore. Then a third installment, Wishbone Conspiracy, will be released in the near future. Hell yes.

These novels tackle big concepts with heart and ease, bringing the ugly side of humanity to the fore and reminding us how important it is to fight the evil that will always exist among humans. There’s so much beauty in the future, but there will always be an ugly side. We can’t ever let it dampen our determination to advance human civilisations toward a fairer and more just existence among the stars.

Genesis Earth by Joe Vasicek was a quick and fascinating read. It’s an intimate story between two young scientists exploring a brand new frontier in space and how they question and challenge themselves and each other in the face of new and frightening discoveries. I enjoyed Vasicek’s writing style and the concepts he put forth through his characters. I adore science and sci-fi and the very real potential for human space travel beyond our solar system, and this was a thought-provoking read on all these topics and more.

The story could’ve been much longer, a fair part of it felt rushed and the author could’ve played out the tension and stakes much more. It’s fantastic as an intro to the Author’s work however, since I received Genesis Earth free through an email sign-up promotion a few months back, and I’m keen to explore his other works in the near future.

Now Reading

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor is up next for me. I’ve had this on my TBR list for a while now, but a fellow Sci-fi author on Instagram, T.K. Toppin, recommended the series, and I just had to move Binti to the top.

Check out what T.K. had to say about it below:

This science fiction is written like the old classics without the heavy sciency stuff, and with a refreshing new protagonist against a rich backdrop of culture, values, and tradition that gives it that epic space opera feel.

T.K. Toppin on Instagram

We, Robots, a collection of 100 short works on artificial intelligence, edited by Simon Ing. I’ve been slacking on my evening reading before bed, which is when I allocate time for this tome, but I’m still chugging through it, at about 30% now. Still loving every unique piece in this collection.

With the Kids

The Last Gate of the Emperor by Kwame Mbalia and Prince Joel Makonnen, is a fast paced and action packed middle grade sci-fi. Exploring themes of family, friendship, dictatorship and war, it’s written perfectly for young readers, with a balance between thought-provoking concepts and humorous scenes between the three main characters. Their connection offers enough comedic relief to keep kids turning pages with a grin and an eagerness to find out what happens next. We’re nearly finished this one, and it’s been so much fun to share with our three.

Last Gamer Standing by Katie Zhao is next on our list. As a video gamer at heart, and a sci-fi nut, I’m super excited to share this one with them. It’s already bought and available to download via our local library.

Get your novels into libraries! You’re missing out on a huge worldwide audience if you haven’t yet. Since discovering our library’s eBook borrowing service, we’ve been able to access so many more novels than we ever could’ve.

Current Projects – Novel and Flash Fiction Collection

I’m pushing steadily on through the first draft of my novel and I just hit 50k words, which is a little over half way. I’ve enjoyed using the loose line-for-scene plot cards this time around, it helps me focus on one scene at a time, knowing exactly what conflicts need to happen the moment I sit down to write. It takes so much of the doubt out of the equation.

I’m also fangirling a little since I threw a fiction writing question at one of my author inspirations, Holly Lisle, via her Thursday Tips emails and SHE REPLIED.

Her excitement about my question was entirely unexpected and the answer she gave opened my eyes to a huge part of my WIP that’s missing. In order to build the tension and stakes and realism to the proportions I’m hoping for, I need this one humanly-crucial thing, and I’m utterly grateful for her guidance and input. This will change my WIP in ways I wouldn’t have figured out for a long time.

It’ll take work, lots and lots of work, but oh how the work is worth it. I’m not quitting any time soon.

If you’re keen to see how this played out, shoot me your details via the contact page so I can send you a copy of Holly’s reply.

Prior to that email exchange, I’d had a rough week, I felt exhausted and took a break off strength training and writing to rest while the kids were on their two week holiday break before the last term of the year. Still being on lockdown here in Melbourne, Australia has taken its toll, but I finally made time to try No Man’s Sky, as recommended by Holly Lisle, whose short prayer below wholly encapsulates my own love of space:

Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
If I should die before I wake
Please don’t make me go to heaven
Let me go to space.

Author Holly Lisle, Aged 11

No Man’s Sky is a beautiful game focused on space exploration, alien cultures and far future tech. Every time I play (4 times so far), I lose hours to its enthralling worlds and intricately layered interactions and game mechanics. I’ve loved spending the time away from writing, to switch off and thoroughly enjoy something fun and challenging, while still exploring the sci-fi themes my mind craves.

Do you enjoy video games? If so, share your favourites below!

As a kid, my gaming journey started on the Ps1 with Spyro, Crash Bandicoot, Legends of Lagoon and many others. Moving on to their later consoles, with FPS games like Call of Duty and Star Wars. On the PC, I’ve also played World of Warcraft (WoW), Portal, Half Life and more. Recently, I’ve been playing No Man’s Sky on our family Ps4.

My other half – we met on WoW – has also been educating me about the Nintendo classics he grew up with and their modern remakes. Mario Party, Mario Kart and Mario Brothers are family favourites. We’ve spent endless hours playing with the kids, laughing and challenging each other through the highs and lows, and frustrations of competition.

It’s so awesome that they’re old enough now to join in. All of us having ADHD makes video gaming a crucial part of our family life, as both a way to escape and relax, and also to connect with each other in a way that’s meaningful and fulfilling.

If video games aren’t your thing, what do you do for fun?
Do you schedule in time to rest and switch off too?

As for the Flash Fiction Collection, I’m half way through second draft rewrites of each of the first ten stories. I’m choosing to persist with hand-writing since the notebook I’m using is gorgeous and I want to make the most out of it, AND I find my mind works differently when challenged to write by hand instead of diving straight for the keyboard.

I’ve continuously fought back the urge to type them out now that there’s a full draft of each, and I’m discovering entirely new angles of each story through hand-writing them over again.

It’s been an interesting experiment. But as for the exhaustion, sometimes I need to remember to take a break.

We all do.

Since doing so, I’ve come back to writing and strength training this week, feeling powerful and inspired again.

Leave your answers and thoughts below. I respond to each and every comment here on my website. Otherwise, pop over to the contact page and send me an email, I love to hear from readers, writers and creatives – people – of all kinds.

Especially if you’re not human.

Your story, your perspective, is utterly valuable.

For now, remember to:

Explore, create, repeat-

Then thrive.

© 2021 Rebecca Glaessner

If you enjoy the author’s work, please consider supporting via ko-fi.

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