Monday, September 10, 2012

Writing What You Love

Hello Beardies, 

When I did an Author Spotlight on Cidney Swanson--complete with an interview--back in June, I thought I'd take a chance and ask her if she would be willing to do a guest post on the blog from time to time.  I was thrilled and honored when she agreed!

Much to my surprise, I opened my inbox the other evening to find an email from Cidney, who was curious as to what type of guest post I would like her to write for The Bearded Scribe.  After a couple of emails back and forth, I received an email from her saying that she had already completed and scheduled a post.  And I must say, it's a doozie of a guest post!  I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I did!

Writers hear it again and again: write the book you want to read.  I’ve been circling closer and closer for years.  No, for decades.  I’ve always had a soft spot for science fiction.  I was a part of the generation who were wakened from cozy beds to watch astronauts set foot on the moon.  I remember sitting very close to the TV in an attempt to see the puffy men better.  Mom and Dad got us up to see stellar activity as well: constellations, planets that came closer than usual or lined up in a row, and comets, infrequent but lovely visitors to our world.

I sat in the front row the day the For Reals NASA Astronaut talked to us in school, and if I hadn’t already fallen deeply in love with books and writing, I’m certain I would have tried for work at NASA.  As I grew older, I tagged along when my dad went to lectures on space, stars, UFO’s, and one very special time, to a talk delivered by Ray Bradbury, who shook my hand, treated me like an adult, and signed my book.  (He paused for a peppermint first, telling me his breath tasted like six dead rats—a phrase I have never forgotten.  Why six? Why dead? Why rats? Oh, what wonderful things you can do with words!)

In middle-school, I checked out science fiction books, asked my nerdiest teachers to recommend more authors, and hid the book covers so my girlfriends wouldn’t sneer.  Heinlein I liked, Asimov I didn’t understand, and Bradbury terrified me, but I couldn’t stay away!  My own writing at this time always veered quickly to the speculative, although again, I hid it from everyone but a few teachers.

Eventually I discovered The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of NarniaThe Sword of Shannara and the Prydain books.  Stories with an epic villain and heroes who didn’t all die in the cold vacuum of space at the novel’s close.  I liked this better—these hope-filled endings—and set aside my search for written Sci-Fi, enjoying doses of screen Sci-Fi instead.

I’ve only started reading Sci-Fi again in the last few years (and death-by-the-great-vacuum-of-space is still popular), but I’ve maintained a soft spot for attenders of Star Trek conventions and get tears in my eyes riding Mission: Space in Florida.  (The part where Gary Sinese tells me it’s okay to feel a little scared and he’s proud of me? OMGZ—where’s my Kleenex???)

You must write the book that only you can write.  You must write even when you are scared to death everyone will hate it but you.  You must write what you love.  These words echoed in my head for decades, a Grecian chorus of voices, insistent.  And right, too, I knew.  But for so very long, I wasn’t ready to share anything Sci-Fi that I’d written.  Something about recalling too clearly the snickering when classmates saw my copy of THE MAKING OF STAR TREK.  (I know.  I know.)

Well, I’ve done it now.  I’ve gone and written the first book in a science-fiction series.  I’m terrified.  Will the cool kids still be laughing?  I think it might be the best thing I’ve ever written.  It’s the kind of book I love to read—with a cause worth fighting for and flying through the stars and love and loss and in the end, hope.  And I do hope, dear reader, that some of you have a soft spot for science fiction as well.  Anyone feeling brave enough to confess?



Was I not right??  Great advice from a great writer!

I can't thank Cidney enough for her genuine kindness--not only with originally agreeing to be subjected to an interview, but also for her agreeing to be a part of the blog.  Stay tuned, as well, for details on an upcoming giveaway featuring Cidney's latest title, Saving Mars.

Do I dare mention that, as I typed these bracketing paragraphs, I started out with the sights and sounds of Aliens playing in the background, only to follow it up with a marathon of the Science Channel's series called Alien Encounter.  So yes, Cidney, to answer your question: I am brave enough to confess that I, too, am a nerd with a soft spot for science fiction!  :)

Happy Scribing,


  1. Again, Cidney, I cannot thank you enough for your generosity, your friendship, and the inspiration that is you!

  2. Awwww, shucks! You're entirely welcome!

  3. Oh, my gosh, how did you know how badly I needed to read these words? From the bottom of my heart, thank you. And for the record, I wholeheartedly agree. Saving Mars is amazing, and I cannot wait to read more of that story.

  4. I am SO jealous of you meeting Ray Bradbury. I first read some of his short stories in grade school, and they've occupied a permanent corner in my subconscious ever since. And I have an entire shelf of Heinlein in my main bookcase- I knew there was a reason why Saving Mars reminded me subtly of Podkayne of Mars!

    And I have to say, the "write what you love" strategy clearly worked for you. :)

  5. Hi Joshua!

    I've been following your blog for a while now, but this is the very first time I commennt. (Hangs head in shame...)

    I decided to drop by and see what you were up to here, and...lo and behold, I encountered an article about writing SCIENCE FICTION. Well, of course I had to take a closer look, because I, too, "have a soft spot for science fiction"!! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this genre!! (And others, too, such as fantasy and romance.)

    I greatly enjoyed Cidney's article! Everything she wrote is so true! She's an engaging writer, as well. I was totally pulled in! And I can't believe she actually met one of my author idols in person....oh, lucky girl!!! (Yes, he terrified me, too, but WHAT a writer!!)

    Well, I'd like to thank you, Josh, for bringing us this wonderful guest post, and Cidney, thanks to you for such an entertaining, fascinating article!!

    Now I'm going on to the giveaway!!! Beam me up, Scotty!!! : )

    1. Hey Maria!

      I just want to first say "Thank You!" for following the blog! And no worries about this being your first comment--all is forgiven ;) I just hope it's not your last!

      I adore Cidney and her writing, so it was definitely a treat to have her talented abilities showcased on the blog. It was a first--and an honor--for The Bearded Scribe to host such a wonderful guest post, but I truly hope I can say that it, too, is not the last!

      P.S. Thank you, as well, for the Facebook follow! :)

  6. Oh, I'm glad I'm forgiven! Lol. You may be sure I'll be commenting more! You're very welcome for the FB follow! Hope you bring us more terrific guest posts like this one!! Have a GREAT weekend!! : )


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