Thoughts about Monsters

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This past weekend, I was a presenter and panelist at LTUE (Life the Universe and Everything Symposium). Among other events, I was on a panel about monsters, and I thought I would write a few of my thoughts down.

First off, I love me some monsters. I’m a huge fan of the Universal Monsters movies of old. I love zombie stories. I love creepy imagery with subtlety. I love tragic monsters that don’t want to be villains or monstrous. Still, it is there nature to be so.

So, I thought I would share some of my favorite monsters. First up, as a content creator, this is the reaction your monsters should evoke.



If you can pull that off, you’re winning. The monster is from Orphan Black:

Helena is one of my favorite monsters. She isn’t quite a human monsters in the traditional sense of say Hannibal Lecter. She’s the monster you hope is on your side, one capable of anything and you just have to direct her against the bad guys. Helena exhibits one of the traits that monsters give you when you are creating content. They allow you to surprise your audience. Oh, so many ways to surprise them. In this scene from Orphan Black, Helena is wearing a wedding dress covered in blood. She looks creepy and has a knife. She just killed the man that had Sarah tied up. What is she going to do? Is Sarah next? Based on the horror on Sarah’s face, she thinks terrible things are going to happen? But…

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She hugs her. Surprise!

At the panel, we were asked what monster we wished we’d created. I went with the Shadow King from the TV show Legion, but not this face:

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Terrifying yes. But it is supposed to be frightening. I could point to this:

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I figure this wouldn’t be quite as fantastic without Aubry Plaza in the role, as she bring everything to this face of the monster, so I could hardly hope to claim credit to a masterpiece such as this. So, the face of the Shadow King that I found they creepiest is the Angriest Boy in the world:

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It starts out as just a drawing in a children’s book–a disturbing book, sure. But then we see it in the wild, and it chases us:

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That is the monster I wish I had created. So awesome!

My LTUE Schedule for 2018

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Here is where you can find me at the Life, the Universe, and Everything Symposium on February 15-17, 2018. Here’s a link to my class and panel schedule. Here’s a rundown:
I’ve attended LTUE a lot over the years, and the whole experience is fabulous. Now, I’ve achieved my goal and am sitting on the other side of the table as an instructor and panelist. I can’t wait to share my take on this writing adventure!

My first LTUE appearance

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Nearly one year ago, I sat in the audience at Life, the Universe & Everything Symposium. I vowed then that next year I would be on the other side of those tables, sharing my own thoughts and vision on writing, monsters, science fiction, and fantasy. Well, I made it!

I will keep you updated on all the times I’ll be presenting as the schedule is finalized.

About LTUE

Life, the Universe, & Everything: The Marion K. “Doc” Smith Symposium on Science Fiction and Fantasy is a three-day academic symposium on all aspects of science fiction and fantasy. I attended my first LTUE as a kid for the board games aspect, but I slunk away from my brothers and hit the writing panels. LTUE is chocked full of panels and presentations on writing, art, literature, film, and gaming. The focus is on speculative fiction, but the writing advice shared is well worth the small price tag for any writer. This convention is a must attend for any aspiring writer near Utah.

All the Podcasts…

Over the last two months, I’ve been on three podcasts talking about writing, mad science, and my book, Devil in the Microscope. In case you missed them, here are the links. Thanks to all of the hosts for being awesome and for listening to me ramble about stuff that I love. I had fun at each one.


Dungeon Crawlers Radio

I talked with the awesome DCR crew about the choices I made writing Devil in the Microscope, including why I chose a teen girl as a protagonist, why my story takes place in Florida, and why I chose mad science as a backdrop. They had excellent questions and were entertaining.


StoryHack Podcast

Bryce and I had a great conversation about all the fun stuff I love: board games, mad scientists, writing, and my book. Bryce is also a writer and runs the StoryHack magazine. Check it out.

StoryHack Podcast: Interview with Ryan Decaria


r. r. campbell has a great voice and a excellent format in his podcast. He grilled me on my mad science and science fiction in general. We discussed whether the science in science fiction needed to be realistic and accurate or whether it is better to treat it like magic.

Writescast 018 – Mad Science in Science Fiction with Ryan Decaria

And if you not sick of listening to my sultry voice, you can also head over to Meeple Nation to listen to me gush about all the awesome board game action.

Meeple Nation

May I recommend episode 177. We talk about mechanics and themes that we are suckers for in a board game.

It’s alive. It’s alive!

Devil in the Microscope is alive and out into the world. I hope you have as much fun following Anika’s science fantasy adventures as I did when writing it.


Read more reviews on Goodreads:

Here’s a highlight:

Buy the Kindle version on Amazon right now. The print copy will go up for sale in a few days.

Thanks to Immortal Works for believing in my creation, and to everyone who helped in the process of bringing my book to live.

I hope you like it.


My author page at Immortal Works Press and Goodreads

Here are some awesome links:

My author page:

Immortal Works:

My Goodreads author page:

Devil in the Microscope on Goodreads:

If you use Goodreads, please Follow me and mark Devil in the Microscope as a Want to Read!


Submitted the draft of my manuscript to my editor!!!

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As I progress through this process of getting a book published, I’m grateful that my manuscript is going through an editor. I know people who have a love/hate relationship with this part of the process, and even though I’m a bit nervous about the editing comments I will get, I am thrilled to be getting them. I love the story I created that is inside my head. I don’t know if I’ve translated that story onto paper as effectively as I hoped. An editor it going to help me achieve that vision.

Let’s make some wierd science!

The best bit of correspondence between me and Immortal Works, my publisher, other than “we want to publish it” is as follows:

“I’m really excited for this book, and together I know we can make Devil in the Microscope a success!”

Thanks Jason!

I’m excited too.

Check out my book announcement at Immortal Works

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It’s officially announced at Immortal Works. My mug is there staring back at you. My book’s description is there for all to read. See it all at Immortal Works.immortal-works-logo


So, what am I doing now? I’m editing like mad, hoping to provide a slick copy for my edit to really sink his or her teeth into, so we can make my book’s words as fantastic as the story is in my head. I should be assigned an editor soon. When I hand off the manuscript, I’m going to dive head first into another project, probably the sequal, but I have another novel that is already 50,000 words long and a complete story. I still have a lot of work to do on that one before it will be ready to send out. Will it be about a mad scientist? You’ll have to wait to find out.


In other news:


My book is going to be published

After many queries to agents and publishers, my book is going to be published. I just signed the contract with Immortal Works Press to publish my novel, Devil in the Microscope.

Devil in the Microscope follows Anika as she moves in with her scientist father in a town he built around his mysterious genetics laboratory. Most of the town are scientists employed by her father, and Anika discovers that the whole town is literally mad, mad like Dr. Frankenstein mad. Anika navigates her way through high school, fending off wayward science projects, vindictive evil geniuses, and the possible threat that her father might be using her for his grand experiment.


Anika finds allies at her new high school, other kids also being experimented on, and they unite around Anika to defeat the mounting threats to their lives. Anika relies on her scientific skills, her wits, and the unusual talents of her new friends to survive.
I love this story and these characters. I’m just starting the editing process, but I can’t wait until I can get my story into people’s greedy hands. It’s coming…