Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Guest Post with Julie E. Czerneda - Spectrum

Photo Content from Julie E. Czerneda

Canadian, biologist, award-winning author/editor Julie E. Czerneda shares her curiosity about living things and optimism about life through her science fiction and fantasy, published by DAW Books, NY. The 20th anniversary edition of her acclaimed SF novel, In the Company of Others, will be released fall 2021 (Philip K. Dick Award finalist; winner 2002 Aurora for Best English Novel). Out next is Spectrum, continuing Esen’s misadventures in the Web Shifter’s Library series, featuring all the weird biology one could ask. Julie is represented by Sara Megibow, of KT Literary. 


Your Favorite Quotes/Scenes from Spectrum
For those unfamiliar, the main character of the Web Shifter’s, Esen, has a favourite alien form to be, a Lanivarian, which might pass for a dog. If a dog stood on two legs and had fingers. And how about those large lovely ears?

From Spectrum
  • * Paul, my first and best friend, lifted a judgmental eyebrow. Behave, that meant. I dipped my ears in mild protest.
  • * My ears perked up. Paul pointed a finger. Down they went again.
  • * Paul, who rarely complained, had given me dour looks for two days and refused to scratch my ears.
  • * We were in trouble. We being me. “We’d best get back,” I confirmed, ears sagging.
  • * Both Humans turned to look at me. I set my ears at trust me.
  • * I lifted my ears to show I accepted Paul’s statement and honestly wouldn’t need a follow-up refresher on ship design.
  • * Lionel attempted to quash me with a frown. As if that had ever worked--I responded with an ears-up eager grin.
  • * I angled my ears to concede Paul’s point.
  • * “Of course.” I kept my ears up, the essence of professional decorum from nose to tail.
  • * I angled my ears in apology. “Sorry, Ally.”
  • * Choosing to remember the fun, I lifted my ears.
  • * They’d laughed until I scrambled out, ears flat and fangs showing. Humans.
  • * …some of it’s your fault, Old Blob.” “Mine?!” My ears shot up in protest.
  • * I lifted my ears to a more conciliatory position, the wind trying to bend the tips.
  • * I silenced Paul with a warning dip of my ears.
  • * I leaned forward, ears flat in emphasis. “We know we can prevent war and extinction because we’ve done it before.”
  • * My ears shot up. “Do you have parties?”
Ten Ways You Get Inspired to Write
1. Going to Bed. If I’m not careful, the instant my head hits the pillow every brain cell kicks into high gear and I get the ideas I wish I’d had before going to bed. For the last few decades, I’ve kept scrap paper and a pencil where I can reach them and scribble notes to myself in the dark, tossing them to the floor where (usually) no one slips on them. The good thing is by scribbling said notes, I apparently remove the idea from my brain, calming the urge to WRITE IT NOW. The bad news is if I miss the paper with the pencil, I’ve no idea what I was trying to tell my morning self.
Oh, the “if I’m not careful” part? The more exciting the point in the story that grabs my brain, the more likely there’ll be a dozen notes interspersed with determined and unsuccessful periods of pretending to fall asleep, at times keeping me from sleep for hours. Non-optimal for morning self.

2. Waking up. Not as often, but if I’m awake first and choose to lie quietly rather than disturb my dear partner of almost 45 years (mostly I make a great deal of noise, start the coffee, and dance, but Roger’s used to it.), I will think about what I might put in the story that day. Might scribble a note.
More likely, I get madly excited, make noise, start the coffee, and we’re off.

3. Lying down. If I’m trying to choose between options in a story, or find myself dithering, I’ll lie down on the floor and think a moment. Works wonders. (I don’t recommend lying down on the bed. Works naps.) This also applies to yoga. I’ve learned to bring paper and pencil to the mat. Ideas will arrive during the most inconvenient pose.

4. Being active. I’m usually up and active for an hour or so before writing. Yoga, gardening, walking, swim/canoe when weather permits. Etc. Usually, because sometimes the story lures me into my office with an extra cup of coffee and I’ll write feverishly until the coffee’s gone—or cold—then I’ll get active. Doing something physical is also what I do if I catch myself staring at the screen for more than ten minutes, or if I’m yawning. A learned habit I enjoy.

5. Time limits. AHHHH! I confess to being a person who works most efficiently under pressure. Time’s the easy one. Do this by supper. AHHH! Do this before production whimpers at you. AHHHH! Do this because Roger’s invited you out for coffee and the writing’s suddenly going fabulously well and AHHH! (Addendum: the writing suddenly goes well because I’m down to 15 minutes with a reward pending.)

I set my own deadlines, in consultation with my editor-dear (Sheila Gilbert of DAW), and most of the time manage to meet or better them. (Addendum: probably because by novel #22 I should know how long I need. Addendum-um: But I can be surprised.)

I admit, during the pandemic, my deadlines worked for the majority of my writing. Oddly enough, not so much for the New Project, my current work-in-progress. I’m glad I was suspicious from the start and gave myself a second, longer one.

6. Uncomfortable places. WHOOO! Stick me in a stinky bus station on a hard bench and words will pour out. I have come close to missing my rides before now for that reason.
Or in a waiting room. The dentist’s is very inspiring. I’ve a feeling it’s that combination of “nothing else to do” and “I don’t wanna be here” at play.

7. New information. Oh yeah. Every writer I know is the same. Show us what we didn’t know before and every brain cell flares with lust. MINE! MINE! It’s easy to seek it out, too. I’ve a good-sized non-fiction library in the other room for starters. I’ll grab a book that’s tangentially relevant to my WIP and start flipping through. Always find a tidbit worth using. There’s also the wealth of info on the telly. I’m a PLANETS junkie. Oh, and I take any chance I can to watch skillful people do skillful things. Then ask them for the Words they use.

8. Witnessing the creativity of others. Art galleries. Gardens. Live music and performances. CONVENTIONS! All a little hard to do right now. I have found virtual readings and panels do inspire. Not with quite the same frantic buzz of being there in person, but close.

9. Getting wet. Yes. I write and edit in the bathtub. With bubbles. I’ll also save my jump into the shower for when I’m slowing down as I write. Always helps.
And yes, that’s why I started using a pencil in the first place. Doesn’t matter if it gets damp.

10. Starting something new. I love this one. The sense that a new amazing story is sneaking up on me and if I don’t look too soon and scare it away, it’ll perch on my desk and be annoying until I pay attention. The blank page. The fresh new world to be built. The characters I don’t know yet. Even taking familiar characters and worlds into new directions. It’s like the first Monday of spring with sunshine coming in the window and migrating birds flying past. Follow me!

The third book in the Web Shifter's Library series returns to the adventures of Esen, a shapeshifting alien who must navigate the perils of a hostile universe.

Here Be Monsters

Something malevolent lurks in deep space, something able to pluck starships from their course and cause their crews to vanish.

It has a purpose: to use those ships to mark an unmistakable boundary. A warning.

It has an interest: Botharis, the planet where Esen and Paul have established the All Species' Library of Linguistics and Culture. Home to Veya Ragem, whose ship was the first to trespass.

Esen and Paul will need every resource, every friend and even foes, if they're to discover who--or what is behind this before more are lost. Once they do, Esen plans to use her abilities to comprehend and reason with this new species. What she doesn't know? There truly are monsters. And they wait for you in the dark.

Just ask Evan Gooseberry.
You can purchase Spectrum at the following Retailers:

1 Winner will receive a $10 Amazon Gift Card.


  1. Last weekend we visited with my grandchildren

  2. "What did you do last weekend?" Boogied. Did the hula hoop. Took up jazz piano. Studied ancient Greek and Latin.

  3. Last weekend I did a bunch of Spring cleaning at my house.

  4. Last weekend I went bike riding with my daughter.

  5. Went to my nieces birthday party.

  6. i just hung out at home and watched movies

  7. I did some cleaning, laundry, gardening and watched some movies.

  8. I watched TV and read. I also got to FaceTime with my grandson!

  9. I did some yard work cleaning out the flower beds.

    abfantom at yahoo dot com

  10. Ontario is still in lockdown so all I could do was stay at home and watch TV

  11. I went swimming.
    Thanks for the contest.

  12. Last weekend I watched Svengoolie on ME TV and stayed home.

  13. I went to my sister-in-law to help her get some things done to her house

  14. Sent mail and worked on care packages and my Etsy store.