A Promotional Opportunity for The Andromeda’s Ghost

This month I was invited to participate in a roundtable discussion hosted by Fellowship of Fools, a well-respected website that features all things science fiction. Along with other BHC Press science fiction authors, I answered several interview questions centered around the current divisive political situation and how it could potentially affect speculative fiction. I also submitted a two minute video of myself reading an excerpt from The Andromeda’s Ghost.

It was nerve-wracking, recording myself as I read, realizing that the end result would be posted online for the whole world to see. I was equally anxious as I answered each question, fearing that I would offend someone. But the whole experience was extremely cool. It left me feeling like a pro. Plus, it was an opportunity to promote The Andromeda’s Ghost, for which I was very grateful. If any of you are interested in reading the interviews or watching the excerpt readings, click here to be redirected to the Fellowship of Fools website.

Aside from our interviews and excerpt readings, there are a lot of other cool things on the Fellowship of Fools website that anyone would be interested in. You’ll find interviews with producers and actors, articles concerning popular TV shows, movies, and books, as well as teaser trailers. Check it out!

On a completely different note: am I the only one who really hates the changes that have been done to WordPress recently? It took me three tries to get this post looking the way I wanted it to. There was nothing wrong with the other format! All right, I’m getting off the soapbox now…

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The Arrival of Princess Lydia

On Thursday, August 13th, I came home from work and told my husband, “I have a good feeling about this weekend. This is the weekend baby Lydia will be born.”

I went to sleep Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night with anticipation. I just knew my water was going to break some time in the night, like it did with my first born. I had my overnight bag ready and Lydia’s bag was packed. The only thing we needed to do was install the car seat (which my husband neglected to do, saying that we still had “plenty of time”). As Sunday came to a close and I was still very pregnant, I was overcome with melancholy.

“What’s wrong?” my husband asked as I heaved a big sigh.

“I just really thought she was going to come this weekend,” I replied.

“The weekend’s not over yet,” he said.

At 11PM that night, I was awakened by a slow trickle that I knew wasn’t pee. Despite my excitement, I managed to sound sort of composed as I woke my husband. He leapt out of bed to get me a towel. I proceeded to waddle onto the bathroom tile and make my phone calls while he gathered his things. My grandparents came over to watch our son. My parents in California were alerted; my mom promised to head over first thing in the morning. Then it was off to the hospital.

My experience was much like the first one except that I had to wear a mask the whole time and I felt a lot more pain. The gal who put my IV in dug around for a while, looking for my vein, before she pulled the needle out and tried again. Try as they might (and, boy, did they!) the nurses couldn’t find my cervix or determine which position the baby was in. Thankfully, they were able to find an ultrasound tech who answered that question for us without shoving her whole arm up my woo-ha. Lydia was head down and ready to go but I wasn’t dilated in the slightest. So they put me on that wonderful pitocin to get things started.

The anesthesiologist, as professional and courteous as he was, stabbed the epidural needle into my spine before I was numb. I couldn’t eat anything because the epidural made me nauseous (I had a headache so I washed down some tylenol with a bit of apple juice I couldn’t even keep that down!). After twelve hours of laboring, my epidural seemed to lose its potency. I was given a control that would blink at me when it was okay for me to administer more of the epidural to myself and I was smashing the button at every opportunity. And I still felt every contraction, especially in my lower back. It was pretty miserable. Thank God, it only lasted thirty minutes or so.

Then my OB came in and pronounced me ready to push. That was the best part. All I had to do was give three good pushes and it was over. Kicking and wailing, Lydia Grace Fox made her entrance into the world.

My husband raced out of the hospital to get us some Chipotle as soon as we were left alone. We took turns holding our baby girl while feasting on our long awaited burritos. Eventually, we were moved out of the birthing suite and into a recovery room which was where we stayed for the next three days and two nights.

Feeding was rough. Like her brother before her, Lydia didn’t take to the breast very well. We had to supplement with formula until my milk came in and I could pump enough to satisfy her. (Unlike her brother, Lydia has a healthy appetite.) After countless tests, many doctor and nurse visits, a breast feeding consultation, and a discharge class, we were finally allowed to go home.

My mom stayed for the first week, cooking, cleaning, and helping care for the children so that I or my husband could sleep/eat/shower. My mother-in-law came next, racing to get here from her home in Wisconsin. She’s taken over my mom’s duties these past two weeks. She leaves tomorrow morning. Then the real work will begin. Bennett could always count on one of his grandmas to play with him when Mommy or Daddy were otherwise occupied. I could always count on one of them to run to the grocery store for me or throw in a load of laundry. My husband can help when he’s not working but for those hours when I’m alone…it’s going to be rough.

Thankfully, I do have family and friends in the city who can step in if I need a break. And I know everything will be okay once we develop a routine and once Bennett has gotten more acclimated to having a baby sister. Lydia won’t be up every three hours forever. Life will go back to normal. Until then, we’ll endure. In the midst of the sleep deprivation and constant activity, there are sweet moments. There are times when it still doesn’t feel real. I’m still just a kid myself; how can I be raising kids? It’s scary and wonderful all at the same time.

The Creation of New Sol

To get you all excited about my newest release, I thought I’d tell you a little bit about this new solar system I created.

This being my first attempt at science fiction/fantasy, I started with what I already knew: our solar system. It’s the only one we’ve discovered so far that can sustain organic life. So I created something similar. New Sol consists of a cluster of four stars–Noorah, Fos, Leggero, and Irridiate–with ten planets orbiting around them, eleven if you count the asteroid field where Osmopeth used to be. (Fun fact: I originally added this asteroid field on the off chance I needed a cool chase scene through moving asteroids but I haven’t used it yet. It’s become more of a flavor factor, a mysterious piece of New Sol’s history that I might one day explore.) Six out of the ten planets have their own moons; some have multiple moons just because I thought it would be cool. Playing with vowels and constants, saying gibberish out loud until I’d developed words that sounded “right,” I named these planets and their moons.

The two planets closest to the suns, dubbed Fotia and Huletenya, are uninhabitable. The third planet, Cartiss, is where the bulk of The Andromeda’s Ghost takes place. When I first got the idea to write this book, it was supposed to be a post-apocalyptic type story with a sci-fi twist so Cartiss needed to be “dying” in a sense. I started brainstorming as to different reasons for the planet’s condition and ended up going with terraforming gone wrong. In my novel, humanity is fairly new to this solar system, to surviving in space in general. The concept of terraforming has always sounded extremely complex to me. I imagine there would be lots of room for errors as humanity worked out the kinks. That’s when the “what if”s came into play. I asked myself, “What if tampering with the atmosphere negatively affected the wildlife on Cartiss? What if the human scientists tried to change the animals and plants so that they could survive on their new oxygenated planet? And then what would happen to these genetically modified plants and animals if the terraforming machines malfunctioned or broke down? What would happen to the people who had volunteered to colonize the planet? What would happen to the planet itself?” Answering these questions brought about more questions and I continued down the rabbit hole until the condition of Cartiss was dire enough to suit the story’s needs.

Jurthaan IV is the fourth planet away from New Sol’s main sources of light and energy. It’s the largest planet in this fictitious solar system that can naturally sustain human life so it quickly became humanity’s new home world. Next in the orbiting line is Palnach, the Mireling home world. Then we have Yuraniuu, Statine, and Zirconscope, which are just as mysterious as the asteroid field of Osmopeth. They each have their own unique type of indigenous aliens, atmospheres, and histories but they aren’t expanded upon in The Andromeda’s Ghost. In the third book of the series, we explore them a bit more as Taren and the crew travel farther into their own solar system. The last two planets are Aleediam I and II, so called because they are the same distance away from the suns, have the same orbit around the suns, and are less than two parsecs away from each other. By all logic, they should crash into each other at some point but they haven’t gotten any closer in the hundreds of years that New Sol has existed. I added this as a tribute to the mysteries of space, all of which I believe will be impossible for us to fully comprehend no matter how long we study them. (Seriously, what is dark matter?)

As for populating these planets, I started off slow. It would only stand to reason that so many planets and moons would host a dizzying number of different alien species, but due to the fact that The Andromeda’s Ghost mostly takes place on two planets, I decided to cut myself some slack and limit the types of aliens I introduced in the story. As a reader, I often find it frustrating to keep track of too many new species; this also played into the decision to stick with three or four main species, at least for the first book in the series. Besides, even with the ability to space jump, I figured most aliens would like to stay on their own planets given the different atmospheres of each planet.

I gave Cartiss three main species: the Tilia’Cun, the Danto’Sal, and the Cerotivis. I’d like to say that I came up with the ideas for these aliens all on my own but that would be a lie. I sifted through tons of concept art online to get inspired. Once I found alien types that I liked, I altered certain things about them to make them more my own. Then I took the two earthen animals I thought they resembled the most and combined the scientific names of those animals to create the alien species’ names. This is also how I created and named the interloping aliens on Cartiss, the rare ones that Taren only runs into once or twice in The Andromeda’s Ghost.

For Jurthaan IV, I stuck with one indigenous species: the Folinar. They have unvarying body types and a simple, almost primitive culture, which is why they needed humanity’s help in order to win the first war against their enemies, the Mirelings. Now, the Mirelings are the only type of alien on the planet of Palnach and they are the polar opposites of the Folinar: no two are alike physically and they strive to be as scientifically advanced as possible to gain the upper hand in any combative situation. From the beginning stages of this story’s creation, I knew these two species would be the cause of the main conflict, which is why I gave them more thought and why I made them so different from each other. 

The creation of this solar system and its inhabitants was a lot of fun. It took time and several sessions of just talking things out with my husband or my sister, fellow writer and fiction lover. In the end, I guess you could say it was a group effort. I hope you enjoy reading about New Sol as much as I enjoyed writing about it!


Interested in an excerpt? Click here.

Check out the book’s page at BHC Press for links to purchase. It’s available at all your favorite retailers!

“…interesting, some good nifty gadgets and some very interesting interplanetary politics.” — Amina Ismail Onia, NetGalley Reviewer

“I am always picking up random sci-fi novels hoping they will be great, and I am almost always disappointed. Not this time, though! I loved it. Interesting characters, just enough world building and descriptions that it didn’t bog down, and more action than I expected. I would recommend this book!” — Erika, LibraryThing Reviewer

“Fox has crafted a competent and engaging novel. If the book interests you, it should prove to be an easy and entertaining read.” — PennAdams, LibraryThing Reviewer

“Wow. Where do I start… The world building in my opinion is exceptional and details were well researched. I love the characters. I love the heart warming moments that appear at just the right time.” — Lavender Knight, Goodreads Reviewer

“…a well written, and interesting book.” — Mary’s Book Corner

“…an exciting book with various twists that I didn’t really see coming…a fun sci-fi read with suspense and action that kept me wanting to know what happened next.”
— Kristy Penner, NetGalley Reviewer

“I enjoyed this book. It has potential for a good series. Good writing, storyline, dialog and action. I recommend checking it out.” — John Piper, Goodreads Reviewer