Tag Archives: science fiction

Author Interview: Joanna Volavka

Author Joanna Volauka writes sci-fi, fantasy, and dabbles in horror of the creepy-but-not-slasher variety. She appreciates a good setting description any day of the week and tends to give her pets cameos in the things she writes.  Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

Author Joanna VolavkaHello! My name is Joanna Volavka and I’m a bit all over the place, but I’d say the key things to know about me are that I love animals, I love to travel, and I geek out about things like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Disney! My day jobs have tended to be in conservation or environmental education, and I’m always usually volunteering if I’m not working for an animal place. My first job out of college was as a zoo educator and I still love teaching people about animals!

When and why did you begin writing?

I wrote my first book at the age of four. It was called Silvia the Flower, and I illustrated it as well, then dictated the words for my mother to carefully print onto the pages, which were stapled together. I don’t think I ever really stopped.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

This is a difficult question as there are days where I still don’t think of myself that way! Writing has been a thing that I “do” for a very long time, though. I decided that I wanted to be an author in 7th grade, though.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

My current book is called Threadwalkers, and it’s a time travel story about a girl whose life seems to be unraveling around her until her best friends forget her and her mother vanishes into thin air! She has to find a way to stop people who have gone into her past to try and erase her before they succeed. Think of it like A Wrinkle in Time meets Back to the Future and you’ve got it!

What inspired you to write this book?

This story started as a sort of mental game I play with myself where I follow thoughts along a logical course to come up with an interesting solution—in this case, what type of scientific explanation might there be for ghost sightings? I thought, well, what if we aren’t seeing ghosts in the classical sense, but just thin parts in the fabric of spacetime and are witnessing the same location with living people, just at another point in time? And then what if you could affect things on the other side? The story grew from there.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I am a total word-vomiter and I have no shame in admitting it! I sit down and just dump everything in my head onto the page. My attitude is badly written words are better than none at all—it can all be fixed in editing! And once I get into the mental zone of writing, I find that the ideas just flow naturally, which is nice.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

The title of Threadwalkers is the name of an important group of people in the book, and to which the protagonist belongs. But I don’t want to spoil anything for you if you read it!

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Threadwalkers emphasizes the importance of family and friendships, and of finding yourself in the middle of life feeling like it’s in complete upheaval, which I think anyone who has ever gone through adolescence can relate to.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know or events in your own life?

I have never, to my knowledge, traveled through time, except in the regular way; that is to say, I’ve only moved forward and the usual rate of 24 hours a day.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

I think that we are all combinations of the various books we’ve read, so it’s hard to pinpoint a single style. Authors I admire may not be very similar to me, but I still enjoy them and can learn a lot from them. I love Maureen Johnson’s narrative voice and the way she can set a scene; I admire the way Libba Bray builds worlds that feel so fully developed; I love a good mystery and have devoured everything by Agatha Christie I could ever get my hands on.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

My biggest advice for other writers is to just keep doing it, plugging away bit by bit. I still feel like I have so much to learn, and even just going through the publication process is an education so that I learn more with each stage from the first draft through figuring out what the heck to say when I sign a book. (I’m still looking for creative things to write other than just signing my name, so feel free to make suggestions!) I think the other thing is that persistence really is the name of the game, and don’t take rejections personally. I viewed my querying process for this book a lot like online dating—sure the rejections were discouraging, but if the other person said no, then it wasn’t a good match anyway! I had to wait for the right match.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you all so much for investing in this story! My book sells pretty much by word of mouth alone, and I appreciate each and every one of you who have read the book, written a review, or recommended it to a friend. Thank you. (And a special thank you to those who have sent me your favorite dinosaur. If this applies to you, then you know what I mean.)

threadwalkers-coverJoanna Volavka
San Diego, CA

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Publisher:  50/50 Press

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Flashfiction: SOS by Wendy Van Camp

SOS

SOS
a science fiction flashfiction by Wendy Van Camp

Lola stood on the crater edge, a tablet and stylus in her hand. Her ear itched, but there was use in scratching at it, her head was completely covered by her spacesuit helmet. She bent over and picked up a few of the grey stones and let them tumble from her fingers.

“Lola, have you finished your determination?” Professor McCranky – ahem – Professor McCranston, was tapping his wrist to indicate that time was passing.

“One minute!” Lola toggled the sensors in her helmet and a grid pattern appeared before her. She used the chip in her brain to interface with the tools in her suit to measure the cup-shaped crater. It was around 10 kilometers and had no central floor. A small one, known as an Albategnius C, or ALC. She spun in the light lunar gravity and then bunny hopped back to the rover. Before she entered the rover with the other students, she tapped her tablet to the Professors. He looked at her result and grunted. Then the group was off to the next stop.

Johnny nudged her. It would be a long ride to the next crater example. Topography was a required course at Lunar University. Learning to identify terrain was a survival skill on Earth’s single moon. Through his faceplate, she could see his dark eyes and skin. His father was seldom home on Luna Colony, he piloted one of the supply ships that made the trek between the Moon and Mars and the turnaround time was a long 18 months. That was one of the reasons why he started coming around her home dome, but over time they developed a friendship that had turned into something sweeter than either had expected. However, graduation was approaching. Soon both would need to make a choice about their future.

The rover stopped and the group of students tumbled out into the grey dust. The Professor tapped his wrist and then gestured for the group to spread out. Johnny touched her arm and then bounded off, leaping far too high in the air as if he were Buzz Aldrin exploring the moon on the first moon landing. Showoff. She took smaller steps and found the edge of the new crater in good time. She toggled on the measurement system and scanned the crater. This one she had seen before. She had visited it with her Mom and Dad on an outing years ago. The complex crater had to be close to fifty kilometers in diameter. She did not wish to approach the edge since the inner walls slumped to the bottom floor. Its archetype was isTriesnecker also known as TRI.

There was a crackle in her helmet. “Aiee! The wall is going down.”

Lola froze and then whirled toward where her friend had run off and in horror, she realized that the lip of the crater had collapsed taking her best friend down with it. She ran for the wall, not caring if she was putting herself in danger. Before she could reach the edge, a hand clamped down on her shoulder and stopped her forward motion. It was McCranky!

“It is too dangerous. Stay here. I’m going to send for help from the rangers.” The other students gathered together, their shoulders hunched, helmets tapped together to allow them to talk in private without using the radio. The professor returned to the rover.

Lola felt as if the air had squeezed from her lungs. Disregarding the professor’s instructions she made her way to the edge of the crater, inching forward until she could see over the lip. Down below, on the smooth floor, Johnny lay with his arms and legs spread wide. Was he dead? She sighed. When you’re gone. How can I even try to go on?

There was another crackle in her helmet. “SOS.”

“Johnny! Are you okay?” Her eyes widened and her breath came out in ragged gasps. Her oxygen levels were doing a wild dance. Was he crying out for help? Where were those damn rangers!

“The crater is an isSosigenes. SOS.”

“You asshole! Are you playing me?” Down below, Johnny pulled his legs and arms in and rolled over. He sat up and gazed up the long slope of the crater. He tilted his helmet to one side and shrugged his shoulders.

“Stay where you are, John. The wall of the crater could go down further. This is not a laughing matter.”

“Yes, Professor.”

“Oh, and you are wrong in your determination.” The professor said. “The crater is known as an isTriesnecker.”

“Doh. A TRI? No wonder the wall collapsed.”

“This is why we take you out here to observe the craters. It is for your own safety. Next time, watch your step.” The professor put a hand on her shoulder and tapped his helmet to her for a private conversation. “Be careful, but stay here with him. We’ll get him out of there soon enough.”

“Thank you, Professor Cranston.” Maybe the man wasn’t so cranky after all.


SOS is a science fiction flash fiction. Maybe I was up too late at night studying topography when this little story came to my mind.  This is a little fun one with no connection to a future project.  A little YA adventure.

This story is also available to members of Medium. If you would like to support me as an author, please go to Medium and give my story claps. Clapping lets the Medium system know that my story is popular and it will gain more visibility.

Author Interview: Tim Callahan

Author Tim Callahan is a writer of Space Opera and Superhero fiction with a bit of Science Fiction horror mixed in.  He is a member of the Dragon’s Rocketship Facebook Group.  

Author Tim CallahanHello, My name is Tim Callahan. I work in the IT department of Philadelphia Law firm. I’ve lived, and worked, in Philly most of my life and it’s a place I love. I’m married with two dogs, A pitbull-terrier named Jeffery (Named after a robot in a commercial I liked at the time we got him) and Cocker Spalie/ Black Lab mix named Kenseth. (Named after a race car driver.) Besides writing I enjoy reading, Football, Baseball, and vacationing with my wife.

When and why did you begin writing?

Started writing when I was a kid, probably around 11 or so. I always had way more imagination than smarts and would constantly act out in school, thinking that I saw a ghost or that aliens were going to come and take me away. I also loved to read. Mostly comic books but I eventually moved on to novels. There wasn’t a day where I didn’t have a book in my hand or I wasn’t tucked into a corner of the house reading something. It was during the idle times that the voices, who I later discovered were characters, would just tell me stories about themselves and what they were doing. Eventually, I realized the only way to shut them up was to write down what they were telling me. Didn’t take me long to realize how the act of writing not only shut them up, but it was also a lot of fun.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When I finished my first book, at the age of 13 (It wasn’t a very good or long book.) Even though I didn’t know it at the time, it showed that I could start and finish a story I had written. That’s probably the hardest part for beginning writers, finishing, and it’s something I knew I could do at an early age.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

It’ll be the fifth book in my Evolutionite Chronicles books. Set in the city of Haven, which has the largest population of Evo’s, those born with special powers, it’s going to be about a powerful man with god-like powers returning after everything thought he was dead. A small group of Evo’s get together to try and stop him from destroying the world.

What inspired you to write this book?

My love of comic books and comic book stories. I can’t draw so writing is the best way to get those stories out there.

Do you have a specific writing style?

A lot of writers influenced my style but I really try to emulate the greats like Arthur C Clark, Robert Heinlein along with some of my new favorites, like Tim Pratt, Jim Butcher, and John Scalizi.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Don’t jump to judgment until you have all the information.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you
know or events in your own life?

All my books contain something I’ve experienced, either a feeling, a person, a conversation, or an actual event. In fact, this book will have a scene where a teacher punishes a child for flushing a grapefruit down a toilet in school. (I’m the kid being yelled at because I did that in first grade and flooded the bathroom)

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Probably nothing they haven’t heard before. Write every day. Write what you’d love to read. Don’t worry about what people think. Don’t even worry about what you think while writing. Trust your instinct. Sometimes your writing brain is ahead of your thinking brain and understands the story better than you do.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Keep doing what you love. It might not be writing, it might be drawing, it might be computers, it might be working on cars. I’m lucky in that I get to work on computers all day, something I’ve loved as much as writing, and I get to write when I’m at home. Long as you do what you love and you’ll always find happiness, even in dark times.

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Philadelphia, PA

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Flashfiction: Sanctuary by Wendy Van Camp

Sanctuary

Sanctuary
A science fiction short story by Wendy Van Camp
255 words

“Bandit ship approaching.” Ship’s alarm sounds a warning. Sailors mind stations. Captain Alton Franks nods and grips his chair. Fifth attack this month. A captain had an obligation for his ship. No dying on his watch!

“Aim high off bandit bow. Only a warning shot.”

Midshipman Dustin Jacobs finds focus on bandit ship. Zap! Light zings through void. “Miss!”

“Good job, Midshipman.” What will occur now? Captain waits.

Lights flash on bandit ship. Rust. Black. Grassy. Black. It was a quiz for Captain Franks to work out.

“May I board?” Bandit sounds without warning on comm. It was a woman.

“Who asks?” Captain Franks said.

“I am Laura Quinn, Captain of this Martian Ship Lucidity. I wish to bargain with you.”

“You may board without arms.” Captain Franks nods to Midshipman Jacobs. Midshipman jaunts to airlock with gun on hip. Laura Quinn is brought to Captain’s public room.  A sailor stands guard.

“Sit down,” bids Captain Franks, pointing to a chair. Bandit Quinn sits.

Standing, Captain Franks points a digit at bandit. “Fifth attack this month. Why? What do you want?”

Laura Quinn is nonvocal at first. “Sanctuary from Mars. For my bandits and I. I did no wrong, but carry disfavor.” Quinn said softly.

“Political affair?” Quinn nods. This shifts opinion for Captain Franks, known minor acts can bring about political disfavor on Mars. Pity stirs him.

“I proposition sanctuary onboard USS Goliath.” An alluring grin of Laura Quinn, upon his proclamation, stirs Alton Franks. A worthy mission than thought of at start of his tour.


Sanctuary is a flash fiction from a challenge in one of my science fiction writing groups back in 2016.  We were to write a story without using the letter “e”.  This is not as easy as you might think.  The vowel appears in a great many words in the English language.  I thought mine turned out pleasant enough for a micro-flash.  I hope you will agree!

This story is also available to members of Medium.  If you would like to support me as an author, please go to Medium and give my story claps.  Clapping lets the Medium system know that my story is popular and it will gain more visibility.

WonderCon 2018: A Review

WonderCon 2018 - Convention Exterior

Science Fiction conventions are the lifeblood of science fiction and fantasy authors. We go there to sell our books, meet the readers of our genre, sign a few autographs and participate in panels. Not to mention have a great time soaking in the creative atmosphere of people that “get” us and our crazy love for our genre. The science fiction community is tight knit, they support creatives with passion.

I’ve been a dealer and participant at various science fiction conventions on the West Coast of the United States for over twenty years. I began as an artisan jeweler, selling handmade sterling silver items featuring semi-precious stones and art glass. I was both in the dealer room and in the convention art show, depending on the venue.

In 2014, I published my first novel and began the shift toward less time in the dealer room and more time in programming. I began participating in panels, giving workshops on building a social media platform both as an author or an artist and I shifted my wares in the art shows, not only bringing in my handmade jewelry but also selling a series of art prints based upon my illustrated scifaiku poetry.

WonderCon 2018

WonderCon 2018 - Wendy Van Camp AutographWonderCon is one of the newer incarnations of Comic Con International, put on by the people that organize the huge convention in San Diego. Although I’ve been exhibiting my work at the San Diego Comic Con for almost twenty years, I had never so much as walked the floor at Anaheim’s WonderCon. When Broad Universe, a feminist science fiction writing guild, opened a table at the convention. I decided to attend.

I was assigned five hours at the Broad Universe table to sell and autographic my books. I appreciate everyone who purchased a book from me. It is my readers that keep me going. This year I brought my Regency Historical “The Curate’s Brother” and copies of “Murder They Wrote”, a horror anthology in which my short story “We Can Rebuild Him” is published.

After my autograph time was over, I left the table and went out to see what WonderCon was all about.  My goal was to make a solid determination if this was a venue that I might return to or not as an author. I will outline my personal impressions of the convention below.

Small Press

The table I was assigned to during my autograph session was in Small Press. This is where all the authors were located. The section is on the far left side of the convention, the furthest area away from parking and furthest from programming. Many of the authors had paired up at the tables and fully half of them were promoting graphic novels. There were plenty of dead times in Small Press when foot traffic disappeared, but the authors were stoic and kept a smile on their faces.

I noticed that the major Indy bookstore in our area, Mysterious Galaxy, was relegated to the rear back corner of Small Press next to the area set aside for the authors of programming to do their autographs. Normally, Mysterious Galaxy has a prime location at the science fiction conventions I attend, so it was odd to see them in this low traffic location. Of all the areas in the convention, this was the slowest and least attended place at WonderCon.

Exhibition Area

WonderCon 2018 - Exhibition HallThe Exhibition area was the largest of the convention. The vendors had full 10×10 spaces or larger. The majority of the vendors were from media, software, gaming, or popular artists. I counted three extra large booths that sold artist supplies at discounted prices. Being a sketch artist, I drooled over the selections of fine paper notebooks, pens, and inks. If you are a painter or sketch artist, this is a great place to stock up on art supplies for the year. Curiously, I did not see booksellers in the Exhibition area. If they were there at all, they were tucked away from the main areas and I did not encounter them during my four or five passes through the place.

The Exhibition area was packed with people at all times. It is located under the location where programming takes place on the second or third floors so it would be easy for attendees to pop in between panels and do a bit of shopping. I personally did not find anything to purchase beyond the art supplies, but I imagine if you were into software games, science fiction films/TV or collected Disney pins or bobbleheads, you would find something to please you.

WonderCon 2018 - Artist Alley Composit

 

Artist Alley

This was one of the larger artist alleys that I’ve ever encountered. It rivals the one at the San Diego Comic Con. The artists were all top notch. Most were sketch artists whose work would be comfortable gracing a comic book, but all styles were represented in the science fiction genre. There were plenty of graphic novel authors there as well. I spent some time chatting with various artists to get a feel of how they felt about the convention. Most were delighted with the attendance and traffic to their tablespace. Artist Alley was the place to be at WonderCon.

Art Show

There is no art show at WonderCon. I find this surprising since almost every science fiction convention offers one. An art show is a boutique showing art from artists from all over the country. They mail in their art or drop it off in person and the art show handles the sales. Afterward, the unsold art is mailed back and the artist receives a check for their sales minus a small commission to the art show and any sales taxes owed to the state the show takes place in. It is an inexpensive way for an artist to gain exposure for their work without having to attend the convention. For a venue that seems to support artists in all other ways, this is a glaring exception.

Panels

WonderCon 2018 - Panel 1Personally, I was disappointed by the panel selection at WonderCon. As an author,  I did not find panels about writing except for one or two late on Sunday.  As a sketch artist, I discovered many art-related panels. The panelists offered good basic information for budding sketch artists or digital art creators. While the panels were all of good quality, they were clearly designed to be of benefit to artists, gamers, or filmmakers.  Writing books was not a focus of the main panel topics, it was more of an afterthought.  However, the one or two writing panels that I saw were well attended and offered quality information.

Cosplay

The costumes were in full force at WonderCon. The majority were wearing comic book themed characters. The cosplay participants wandered the halls of the convention, but many clustered outside in the courtyard near the food trucks. There was a bevy of professional photographers taking pictures. I asked about the media attention and discovered that the photographers were not connected with the convention officially, but had been brought in by the cosplay people. Although they had access to the professionals, I found that the people in costume were happy to pose for regular people such as myself. You should make a point to politely ask first. This is part of the collection of photos I gathered to enjoy after the convention.

WonderCon 2018 Cosplay Composite

 

Why WonderCon is more for Artists than Authors

In the end, I am forced to conclude that WonderCon is not a good venue for authors.  Most science fiction conventions have full writing tracks, rather like a mini writing conference, to give beginning science fiction authors genre-specific information. They also allow published authors time to hold readings and autograph sessions in the more traffic intensive areas of the convention. WonderCon did not offer this.  As an author, I felt shunted aside.

However, WonderCon seems to be a great place for artists to be seen and network. While there were fewer professional tutors to review your work and give career advice as San Diego Comic Con offers to new artists, there was still more than enough panels and exposure for an up and coming artist to find value. If you are a science fiction themed artist, WonderCon should be on your list of consideration for an artist alley table. I don’t believe that you would be disappointed, even if you need to travel to attend.  I spoke with many contented artists during the weekend, many of whom have been returning to WonderCon for years to showcase their graphic novels, art books, prints or imprinted 3D items.

I hope this review of WonderCon is helpful to you, either as an artist or an author.  As always, if you can attend a convention to “walk the floor” in person before purchasing a table, that is always the best policy to follow.