My Books

First Lines

unreal reality

There are readers (and book-writing gurus) who want the first few words of the story to grab them so hard that they can’t let go until the end. I thought I felt a little this way too, so I started to pay attention to the first sentences of the books I read. Strangely, most were quite plain. It took time to get into the story, to fall in love with it. Some books, which I absolutely adore, required my attention for at least the first few chapters before love blossomed. That felt contrary to every writing advice I’ve read. But I did notice that while falling in love with the story might take a bit of time, strong dislike can be achieved in just a few sentences! We might relate to stories the way we relate to people. There is a ton of research that points to the human ability to judge one another — we can tell if the teacher is any good in the first 30 seconds! And our opinions don’t change, staying quite stable after an hour, a day, a week, and even after a year’s worth of instruction. That’s an evolutionary advantage — it’s good to…

Finding Inspiration

Experiment Z by Daywish

Books are not just a collection of words on a page. It takes time to birth a story. When I write, I do a lot of research. In addition to reading, annotating, and creating bibliographies on the science in my science fiction novels, I also collect images. For years, I had folders and folders of mood boards for each of my stories. I took photographs of the actual locations mentioned in my books. I made scrapbooks… I love my books illustrated, so I’ve even illustrated some of my books. But for those of you interested in seeing some of my photo research or just simply inspirational images from various artist that matched closely to what I saw in my head as I wrote the stories, I’ve created book boards on Pinterest. I’m not going to give summaries of each story I wrote here, but instead, I will say something of why the images you will see if you follow the links below speak to me and my stories. Enjoy! Suddenly, Paris Suddenly, Paris was my first science fiction book. It was first published in 2009 and then again (after a serious re-edit) in 2015. It deals with several locations that…

Of Food, Fun, Family, and Fiction

Becoming Animals Cards

I’ve stopped eating three times in my life… well, there might have been many other times — food intake is the easiest thing to control when life feels in turmoil — but those three times had very well defined triggers and so are easy to examine, evaluate, judge even. The first, let’s just call it the first for ease of telling, was when I was about ten. There were several schools in Leningrad that served its talented children and required admission process to get in. I’ve gone to a few of those: The Conservatory of Music — I’ve attended that one as a four or five year old, studying piano mostly; The Hermitage School of the Arts — I’ve started that at the same time as the Conservatory of Music; Leningrad School of Music — did time there as well until I rebelled by the end of third grade, if I remember correctly (piano, musical composition, chorus); A small art school not too far from the Hermitage on Fantanka street — for four years, I’ve spent three nights a week there studying drawing, art history, ceramics, watercolors; and it was my favorite even if very far away from home; And…

Searching for the story…

Stain Glass Window

I’m in the middle of two books now — one finished and ready for the fifth round of editing; and one that requires me to finally write an ending. Endings are hard… even when you know how things are going to end. But here’s a few insights from the book I’m finishing right now: God of Small Affairs. (No it’s not the first title I came up with… not even the tenth. Names are hard.) The Beginning I’ve started this particular story thinking it was just a short story, 5000 words max. By the time I got to about 17,000, I knew it was a book. But that was a surprise. This is not a first time a book surprised me into making me write it. The FATOFF Conspiracy was originally a short story too… and Twin Time. Short stories are very different from novel-length works. From the structure point of view, there are fewer characters, no subplots, and a lot less description of the setting and the characters populating the story. A short story simply doesn’t have room for world building… obviously. You grab the story with the first few words and don’t let go or digress for a…

New Book: Lizard Girl and Ghost

Lizard Girl & Ghost

This is probably the strangest story I’ve ever written. The idea for the book came from reading endless articles on “singularity” — what would it really mean to pour one’s soul into the machine? What are some implications? What would it feel like? So this story is a cyberpunk adventure into life beyond death as we know it. I hope you’ll give it a try. Here are the first few chapters.