Thursday, May 20, 2021

BOWS 2021 - Making the Tracker220 Cover

Welcome to the first ever Book Owl Word Search (#BOWS2021). BOWS is a fun interactive web search where you get to learn about amazing authors and their books and you collect secret words so you can win cool prizes like books from the participating authors. I'm on the BLUE team. Check out all my teammates below. If you collect my secret word and all of theirs you can enter to win something from every author on the team. Then check out the Purple and Orange teams as well for a chance to win equally amazing prizes from them. For more information on how to play visit the BOWS website.


And without further ado, I've got a really cool post for you, one that you voted for in a twitter poll. I'm going to walk through how I worked with my amazing cover artist, Jennifer Stolzer (she's also a writer so check out her awesome books too) to get to the amazing final product you can see here.

There's so many things I love about the cover and I'll walk you through how I got to this final product. I started with the main premise for the book, a world where everyone has tracking chips in their heads and the main character is 16-year-old Kaya Weiss. I knew I wanted something to show brain activity or neurons as well as the silhouette of a teenage girl. I knew this because when I was writing Tracker220, I often listened to music when I was in coffee shops. And on my ipod, the song superheroes popped up and I happened to glance at the screen and noticed the album cover and thought hmmm something along the lines of this would be cool for a cover for this book. Of course at the time I had no idea if Tracker220 would ever get published.

Now you'll notice some pretty stark differences between this album cover and my book cover. But there's also some similar themes and what really spoke to me was the neural networks within the silhouettes. 

Fast forward many years later and I wanted to post my story on Swoon Reads to get some feedback, but I needed a cover image. Now I'm no artist, the best I can do is epic stick figures. The Swoon Reads site however suggested using stock images, so I went hunting for something that felt like my book. I have no idea what I searched exactly but this image popped up and I instantly knew it was the one.

It had all the right feel to it, so I slapped on some fun fonts and called it a cover. A couple years later when I finally decided to indie publish Tracker220, I knew I had to go back to this image. It just felt right. So I sent it off to Jennifer with some incoherent babbling about a neural network, a tracking chip, and a Jewish star necklace because the main character is Jewish and the way she interacts with the tracking technology causes her to question her Jewish identity. I wanted to represent the effects of the tracker network (yes, you guessed it, my secret word is TRACKER!). Jennifer told me to go find a font and so I did and then a short while after she came back with this rough image.

I was instantly excited. It had so much potential already. And she already took my crazy talk and knew exactly what I was looking for. I told her as much, so she went to work smoothing it out. But before she got to far another image came, with a what do you think of this?

Again super rough, but she came up with the back cover stuff all with what I had given her previously. The next thing I knew she was sending me other images as she smoothed things out and moved things around and before I knew it, the Tracker220 cover was the amazing thing that now wraps around my words. And to this day I can't thank Jennifer enough for taking my fragmented ideas and turning it into a masterpiece.

And now for some more fun. A chance to win some books. I'm giving a way a signed copy of Tracker220, plus signed copies of the Brave New Girls Anthologies volumes 2 & 3 that feature stories with girls who have a knack for STEM (including two of my short stories). Sound like a cool prize? Go fill out the rafflecopter to enter.


Then hop on over to my friend Meredith Tate's site to learn about her awesome books and find her secret word. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Tracker220 is going to the Moon!

You read that right. Tracker220 is going to the moon! My book was selected to be part of the Writers on the Moon project headed up by author and Rocket Scientist Susan Kaye Quinn. Tracker220 is part of a 125 other independent author's content that will be loaded onto a SD card and included in the payload of an Astrobotics lunar lander. The mission is set to launch in July 2021 and will become a time capsule that will remain on the moon to be found at a later date.

And for fun, I also included my two short stories Arch Nemesis and Pyramid Scheme and associated cover art by Jennifer Stolzer from the Brave New Girls Anthologies. If you haven't checked those out, run don't walk. It's a series of multiple anthologies with shorts stories that feature female characters with a knack for STEM. AND all the proceeds from the book go to the Society of Women Engineers Scholarship Fund.

As a rocket scientist, the Writers on the Moon Time Capsule is something right up my alley and combines my love of writing with my career in aerospace engineering. I'm so incredibly excited to be involved in this project.

Be sure to keep an eye out for the upcoming manifest of all the included books.

You can follow along with the journey at the Writers on the Moon website.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Tracker220 First Chapter!


Today is a special day. First, it's my five year wedding anniversary. And while that's an important day for me and my husband (yeah we've lasted five years, have a two year old, and have survived a pandemic without killing each other), I'm sure you came to this blog for other book related reasons.

I can't hardly believe it, but TRACKER220 will be out in the world in 10 days! TEN! That's all and then the world will be reading my book baby. I'm so excited for the world to dive into this story.

And even though it's my anniversary, I have a gift for all of you. Five years is typically the gift of wood, but you know what's made of trees and you know what also comes from trees? Paper. And what's printed on paper? Books... And... oh where was I going with this?

Oh yes, books. So here's your surprise. Tracker220 might not come out for ten more days but you can read the first chapter, in it's entirety right now. Check it out!

Chapter One of Tracker220

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Preorder Tracker220

Tracker220 is available for preorder now!
If you preorder or request that your local library carry Tracker220, you get a swag package simply by submitting proof of purchase/request to this form!

That's it. It's that simple. Buy the book, fill out the form, and you get free stuff including bookmarks, a signed bookplate and more!

Preorder here:
Main Street Books - if you buy from Main Street Books I will sign your copy. 


Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Keep It Real 2020

Wow… Where to even begin. Today’s world is something most of us never imagined. It’s amazing how overnight our lives look completely different. We don’t leave the house except for a walk or a much needed trip to the grocery store or pharmacy. Many of us are working from home, or have lost our jobs, are juggling multiple responsibilities at the same time and we’re all struggling to adjust to the new “normal”. I read and write dystopian fiction, but I never wanted to live in one. But here we are.

I saw a really interesting article that said the thing we are all feeling right now is grief. The loss of life as we used to know it. The ability to come and go as we please, and the ability to see our friends and family in person. All the things we took for granted up until now. And each of us is struggling with something right now.

Despite that, I still find it interesting that we always try to portray our best selves, especially when outward facing to the world. Whether it's real or not. I came to this realization when one my VP’s posted a thread asking folks to show off their virtual working environments, and any tips and tricks they had. Most the pictures that popped up were people with dedicated work spaces, clean desks, multiple monitors, and nice office chairs. I laughed. I legit just lost it. And when I stopped laughing, I constructed my post…

If I could get a picture of my "virtual office" it would be of me sitting on the floor with my toddler rolling all over me, but that's impossible to capture. My tips/tricks, get in work before he gets up, during nap time and on the fly. I've done conference calls while changing diapers, and building block towers so he can knock them over.

I have daily tagups with my team which helps keeps everyone engaged and aware of what's going on. We also do daily brain teasers to get everyone thinking outside the box and to have a little fun. There's also talk of a virtual happy hour, after hours on our personal computers.


As you can see my reality is very different than what most folks posted. But an interesting thing happened after I posted that. More people started sharing the juggling that they are doing, talking about the kids making debuts on conference calls, and their pets barking in the background and even those that previously posted, added comments about the juggling that they are doing as well. It was a much needed dose of reality

It left me wondering why... We all know the world and everyone in it is a mess right now, so why are we still trying to prove to the world we aren’t? I understand the want to portray our best selves, and it's important to post the wins no matter how small, but we should also be able to be vulnerable, show our struggles, and be human. This kind of world event is extremely isolating, and if we don’t talk about the good and the bad, we’re not doing ourselves any favors. We have to be mindful of all our health that includes mental health, especially mental health.

In an effort to keep things real, and show all sides of how this event is affecting us, what are your #KeepItReal2020 moments?

Share in the comments below and if you’re feeling up to it share it online with the hashtag #KeepItReal2020

Stay safe everyone and #KeepItReal2020

Monday, March 9, 2020

Why I Decided to Indie Publish

A lot of you have asked about how I came to the decision to Indie publish. It’s been a long road to get here. The idea for this manuscript started all the way back in 2012. You can read about that journey and how it got to where it is today in this post. And if you are subscribed to my newsletter you got a sneak peek into how the idea for TRACKER220 came to be.

From the moment the idea for TRACKER220 popped in my head, I knew it was special. The words poured out of me. I couldn’t stop writing, and I saw edits and layers to add and change early on. Things just clicked all around.

And although I hit many roadblocks with edits and it was difficult to find a champion I finally did. A LOT of champions. This manuscript more than any other I’ve written so far, gathered hundreds of likes/retweets on pitch contests from agents, and more importantly writers and readers. So many people expressed interest in this story. I had an agent who believed in it enough to take me on as a client and even though she left agenting, TRACKER220 is so much stronger because of the time spent learning and working from her notes.

The market has seen some ups and downs, and unfortunately TRACKER220 with its slight dystopian slant, hit the market at the wrong time for YA Sci Fi. It’s why finding the right agent was a struggle and why the few small presses I queried had wonderful things to say but ultimately passed. YA Sci Fi has a hard time finding a place in the market. Publishers struggle to market it and therefore are extremely picky about the YA Sci Fi they do pick up.

But ultimately there are still readers hungry for stories like TRACKER220. Stories with future technology, abuse of power, nerdy techy boys, young artists, and teens fighting the good fight. Because stories like TRACKER220 were not readily available to me as a teen, I didn't read much. I struggled to find science fiction that was accessible to my reading level. I hope that is not the case for today's generation of teens.

And of course, there’s a desire for more diverse YA fiction and specifically stories with Jewish main characters written by Jewish authors. I’ve been hung up on the lack of Jewish main characters in literature, specifically young adult fiction. There’s many Holocaust stories out there, but not many stories with Jewish characters living their everyday lives. In the YA and even MG spaces, we’re starting to see more #ownvoices contemporary stories with Jewish main characters and some fantasy as well, and it’s exciting. But there’s still very few YA Science Fiction stories with Jewish characters. I think some of this is because YA sci fi is a difficult sell right now, and sometimes in science fiction it can be difficult to weave religion in without beating the reader over the head with it. I know I struggled with this in my own story for a long time. And still struggle with what having Jewish characters in projects I’m currently working on really means.

For all of these reasons I knew Tracker needed to be out in the world. Bottom line, I believe in this story. I know it’s good. And I know people will enjoy it. And honestly, I don’t know if I would have had the courage to step out and take on the publishing piece on my own if it wasn’t for every single one of those supportive tweets, blog comments, write on con feedback, DMs etc. It was the community that cemented the decision for me. I wanted this story out in the world because I want people to be able to read it. They deserve to read it.

Thank you to everyone for following me on this journey. I can’t wait for you all to hold this book in your hands and experience it.