Please tell us a bit about yourself:
Fascinated by physics, multiple timelines/multiverse concepts, alien life and psi phenomena, family relationships, world affairs and the environment, and unrequited/requited love, I have incorporated all of these themes and topics into my sci-fi novels.
I am a practicing Buddhist meditator, feminist, swimmer, singer/pianist, feminist, dreamer, and mother/ sister/ aunt/ daughter/ cousin/ friend. I have an adult son who lives in New Hampshire.
I am a published, nonfiction author (ACTING OUT裕HE WORKBOOK: A Guide to the Development and Presentation of Issue-Oriented, Audience-Interactive, Improvisational Theatre, co-written with Mario Cossa, Jennifer Russell and Lauren Glass) and a produced playwright (children's theatre, Crystal Dreams, part of "The Atlantis Project," co-developed with Mario Cossa and Grading System, a full-length adult-audience play). I have also published and presented educational research, some short stories and articles and other nonfiction short pieces related to my work. I have co-written, edited, and proofread many nonfiction books and worked for a couple of magazines. I also write unrecorded songs, corny lyrics, and mediocre poetry.
In my "other" professional life, I have worked as an educator and upper-level, nonprofit manager in colleges, universities and private nonprofits for over thirty-five years in New England (every state), New Mexico and the Bay Area (where I now live). I have a BA, master's and doctorate in education (Ed.D.).
My website, http://www.sallyember.com/spanners, has the first fourteen chapters of Volume I, as do authonomy.com and wattpad.com. I also posted excerpts on my series' Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/THESPANNERSSERIESbySALLYEMBER. Follow http://www.twitter.com/sallyembered and please Tweet about this book and series! I am also on LinkedIn as Sally Ember, Ed.D.
I blog many times per week, sharing stories about my Buddhist meditation practice retreats, personal philosophies, science topics, writing tips and whatever else strikes me as interesting: http://www.sallyember.com/blog
My Pinterest boards (http://www.pinterest.com/sallyember) are mostly devoted to The Spanners Series and to help readers get to know me. I would love to get readers following me there or on Facebook and commenting there or back on my website or tweeting me about their experiences.
Tell us about This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series:
I talk about TCE like this:
After several millennia of mostly secret visits and contact with Earthers, members of the Many Worlds Collective (MWC) Council decide that a liaison, dubbed the Chief Communicator (CC) must be contacted and that this contact must be made public in order to avert multiple types of disasters on Earth. The visiting members of the MWC come in hologram form to the selected CC (Clara Branon, 58, living in northern California) for the first time on December 21, 2012. Clara is closely modeled on me, so I know how she thinks and feels very well!
As a “Spanner,” Branon is one of millions of “Baby Boomers” who survive across two centuries and bridge the divide (hence, “Spanners”) between nonpublic and public contact with the MWC and many other major changes that occur during these decades.
Because most Earthers are not prepared to accept this type of reporting or storytelling as nonfiction, this first and some other volumes of the series are of the realistic fiction/science fiction/fantasy genres. Many of the characters, events and locations are actual; some are not, or haven’t happened (yet) at the time of first publication.
In This Changes Everything are: a love story, spanning about 35 years; dialogue and scenes of the relationships among the CC and her mother and siblings; communications between the CC and her adult son; dialogue between the CC and some friends; info about the selection and identity of the chosen media contact for the CC, with excerpts from her journal; news stories about the CC and the MWC events from Earth media as well as MWC media; background about the CC and the reasons for her being selected; excepts from minutes of meetings of the InterGalactic Council of the MWC; and much more.
In the novel, after the MWC educational resources and information become widely available, in 2013, all time is now known to be simultaneous. Writing from any point in time and timeline is means that the love story and other aspects are depicted in multiple versions. Readers will have to decide: do Branon and her Future or Fictional Husband get to be together? Which Re-set of the Transition After Public Contact prevails?
The tone is humorous/serious; the mode is utopian. I really dislike reading the endless stream of dystopian futuristic sci fi. I decided to write the books I want to be reading!
The narrative is unique in that it includes history, poetry, literature, music/lyrics, science and technological advances, paranormal skills, law and government, Buddhism and other religions, meditation, social-emotional intelligence, time and space travel, interspecies communication, and social/futuristic depictions of the Earth, post-MWC public contact.
This Changes Everything is the first of The Spanners series, which chronicles the public contact between the CC and the MWC and the impact of these contacts on Earthers and the MWC over the over 30 years that Branon is the CC. Chapters are written from several perspectives. Some Volumes in series are purported to be nonfiction or have nonfiction sections, as Volume I does. Even-numbered Volumes are narrated and written from the perspectives of young adults, teens, and new adults exclusively; odd-numbered Volumes are mostly written from Clara's and other adults' perspectives.
I place these novels in the sci-fi romance/speculative fiction genres, targeting adult, YA, New Adult audiences.
What inspired you to write this particular story?:
I'm not sure exactly what "inspired" me to write this series. One night in February, 2012, I was awakened by a very clear voice that said: WRITE. I went to the computer, hearing sentences and seeing scenes in my mind. Five hours later, most of the first Chapter, all of the summaries for all the Volumes, and the Chapter outline for Volume I were drafted. I kept going from there and finished the first draft of Volume I, over 80,000 words, in 8 weeks.
TCE went through 19 other drafts via my own ideas, consults with friends and family, and letting it "sit," over an 18-month period to reach the final version. During that time I started Volumes II, IV, and V and sketched out parts of the others as well.
I feel very driven. Part of the reason is that I identify a lot with Clara. The line between fiction and nonfiction is very blurred in these Volumes, intentionally, and my life seems that way sometimes as well. I'm curious as to what the readers will decide is "real."
I also strongly believe that Earth is in serious trouble, politically, economically, environmentally, socially: in every way. I do wish we could be rescued by stronger, more intelligent, compassionate, capable beings!
Please share a favourite snippet from your book:
From Chapter One, This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series,in which Dr. Clara Ackerman Branon, Ph.D., first meets the visitors from the Many World Collective:
…my mind is racing through possibilities. They are aliens! I am feeling excited and intensely interested. I assume that if they meant to harm me, I’d be harmed, already, so I am rapidly becoming less scared. Brimming with questions and curiosity, I go right over to them.
My upbringing kicks in, maybe because they are around my dining table, and I ask them kind of automatically,"Would you like some tea or something cold to drink? Are you hungry?” Then, I laugh, and they make some noises that must be their ways of showing amusement; they aren’t here; they are holograms. They can’t eat or drink anything. Duh.
I sit down in my chair which they seem to know is mine because it isn’t blocked or occupied. I look towards them, expectantly, and realize I don’t know where to look. Only one of them has anything resembling “eyes,” and the other four do not even really have anything I would call a “face.” Still, reflexively, I guess, I keep my focus on their upper bodies’ uppermost sections and on the zeppelin’s middle.
I ask, “How may I be of service? Why have you come to see me?”
Which comes first for you – a character's looks, personality or name?:
Probably a combination of personality and function come first for me. My story needs characters, and it doesn't exist without them. How they look or what they are named definitely comes later because these are not as important to the plot, usually, as the function and personality.
Any tips for aspiring authors?:
I still consider myself an "aspiring author," I suppose! The tips I provide and use myself are usually having to do with the types of perspectives I bring to first drafts vs. subsequent drafts and revision, and each requires a different point of view, in my opinion.
Being wide open, allowing it all to flow and not self-censoring for first drafts work best for me. Except for typos or wrong words, I just write and do not revise. Then, I usually let is sit for a little while and write other things before returning to it for a first look at the first draft from a revision point of view.
My drafts go through many revisions,as I said,but some are very minor. Some are major. At several points, I re-arranged almost all the chapters: working with multiple narrators, timelines and topics allows me to do that.
I tend to write backwards a lot, meaning, the best or most importart of a sentence or section, or even the book, are not written first or initially placed at the beginning. I am now in the habit of "flipping" sentence pieces, chapter sections, entire chapters, until I find the right sequence.
Another tip: if you know your grammar, sentence structure and/or spelling are not up to professional standards, you HAVE to get a professional editor. I can't tell you how many uploaded excerpts, even titles and blurbs, I stop reading because of typos, poor grammar and just bad writing, even though I enjoy or think I would like the topic, plot or characters.
Important: Don't use sexist, racist or outdated language: there is no excuse for "kike," "nigger," "mankind," "mailman," or "girl" (for a woman 18 and older), and other exclusive, pejorative terminology in 2013, IMHO.
What is your favourite book? (aside from one of your own!):
Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land was pivotal in my life as a reader and a writer. Read it when I was 15; re-read a few times since. Not knowing that, one of my reviewers, Alexander Crommich, compared TCE to that and just about made me fall off my chair in delight!
Favourite genre and why?:
I love well-written, uplifting, inspiring sci fi, sci-fi/romance, and speculative fiction veering into fantasy (but without a lot of techno-speak, gnomes, elves, and dragons and definitely not a lot of battles). I like to visit other worlds, other versions of this world, and other universes that are written so well as to be captivating, seemingly "right here" in my life.
Thanks to every author who has that gift, which I strongly aspire to acquire.
Upcoming news and plans for the future?:
Volume I, The Changes Everything, has been uploaded in e-book format via Smashwords and is available there and on iBooks, nook and Kobo for pre-orders 11/5- 12/19 at half-price ($1.99). Release date at full price ($3.99), to all retailers, is 12/20/13. Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, narrated by young adults and new adults exclusively, is in the final revision stages and set to release Spring, 2014. Volumes III - X are in various draft stages.
I change my books based on readers' suggestions! Also, I would be delighted to visit your Book Club or class if you are using one or more of the books in The Spanners Series. Ask me to co-develop curricula, projects and activities for your group/class members!
I am experimenting with CROWDCREATING sections or entire upcoming Volumes of The Spanners Series. If you'd like to participate, please email firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com and tell me a little about what Volume or portion you'd like to help create! Put "CROWDCREATOR" in the subject line.
I'm being interviewed LIVE on BlogTalkRadio's SciFi station, by Will Wilson, 11 AM EDT, 12/27/13, and available in the archives after that: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/indiebooks
Please write a review and give This Changes Everything a rating on SMASHWORDS, iBooks, Kobo, nook, whatever retailer you use for ebooks, as well as many other sites that bring readers to this book: http://authonomy.com/books/55074/this-changes-everything