Thursday, May 14, 2009

Fantasy: Emma Lai's Fantastic Frontier

Star Date: TGIF

Captain's Log: Emma Lai's Blogging with the newbies!

The Galaxy of Romance is a vast system of sub-genres and none so intriguing as that of Fantasy. Creating a world of where no man has gone before is a speciality for Mama Writer, Emma Lai.

With her new release HIS SHIP, HER FANTASY teleporting to avid readers everywhere Aug 12th, Emma was kind enough to 'beam us up-to-date' on the process of writing a futuristic novel.

Get comfy because we're going warp speed ahead!

1) If you were a book, what would your blurb be?

What a fun question!

Burned by love more than once, Emma Lai sought only contentment. She directed her energy to school and a career in Electrical Engineering, specifically writing computer software to interface with specialized electronic components. Even though her career soared, discontentment swirled. The only thing that saved her was her friendship with CJ, a fellow engineer.

Seeking something, but not knowing what, Emma made the decision to go to law school when CJ quit to pursue an MBA. As her first year of law school ended, CJ went off to New York for a summer internship. Needing to get away, Emma travels to New York to see her best friend and love blossoms between them in the sleepless city.

Their life together since has been an endless adventure filled with love, laughter, and travel.

2) Tell us a little about how you got started in the romance writing industry? Were you a fan first? Do you think a writer has to be a fan in order to write romance?

I do think you need to be a fan in order to write romance. Reading provides much needed information on what is going on in the market. It also exposes you to different publishing houses as well as genres and even ideas.

I have always been a fan of romance. I even tried to right a young adult romance when I was in elementary school, but what does an eight year old know? After the one abortive attempt, I gave up writing, turned to more scientific and mathematical pursuits, and avidly read romances for fun and distraction.

Despite my love of science and math, I stayed fascinated with relationships, which led to my pursuit of a Masters in International Relations. After completing all of my coursework, I needed some down time so I started writing a sci-fi/fantasy story to entertain my husband and myself. My mother-in-law came for a visit, got a hold of a copy and encouraged me to finish it and submit it.

A hurricane and the need to study for my comprehensives distracted me from continuing the work. However, one day I had an idea for a sci-fi romance and could not resist the urge to write it down. It quickly transformed itself into a short story, which I sent off to my mother-in-law to read. Once again, she encouraged me to submit. So, I found a publishing house that took shorts and sent it off. Amazingly, I heard back from them within the month and now His Ship, Her Fantasy is due out in August!

3) You write fantasy/futuristic- What are some of the processes you use to create ‘your own little world?’

I have always been a big fan sci-fi, starting with the first Star Trek television show and continuing to…well… the most recent Star Trek movie. I also read lots of sci-fi/fantasy. Combining those interests with my background in engineering makes it relatively easy for me to envision a futuristic world.

Each story though starts with its own premise. For my young adult fantasy, it was what happens if a young girl with an inherent talent, but different from everyone else, is forced to follow a path of society’s choosing? Where did her talent come from? Why is she different from everyone else? What challenges does she face? For His Ship, Her Fantasy, it was what happens if an intelligent, female engineer falls in love with a ship? Does her rational side prevail?

4) How do you schedule your day? Do you try to hit a certain word count or page count?

Pre-pregnancy, I was writing anywhere from 2500 to 5000 words a day. I could put out 10,000 polished words a week. Of course, this was with me doing nothing but writing.

Now that I’m pregnant, I’m still trying to work out a schedule. I’m happy if I can get in 4 hours of work a day. I just finished polishing an erotic Regency short in 8 hours over the course of 3 days. (I keep a spreadsheet to track my work.) The polishing resulted in the addition of 2500 words.

*TLN is not responsible for objects thrown at computers screens due to jealous rages. lol*

5) Jamming to your favorite band or ensconced in silence- What works for you when writing? How do you control “the gremlins” that distract you?

I cannot write in silence. If I don’t have a movie or a show on the television, I’m listening to a mix on my i-Pod. This helps me track time as well. For example, I put in a load of laundry and I know in 40 minutes that it will be ready to move to the dryer. So, maybe I’ll go inside and do dishes for 10 minutes and then sit down and write or edit for 30. I tend to do things in 30 to 50 minute intervals and then take a break anyway; I might as well take care of chores.

My current gremlin is hunger. Needless to say, it currently takes precedence over everything else. I’ve never been a big net surfer, but I have become addicted to blogs. I try to limit myself to an hour a day for blog reading. Most of the time I succeed.

6) Your new release HIS SHIP, HER FANTASY, your character is enraptured with a ship. Did you have to do any special research to create Ellie’s ship? (for the technical side- description, ect.)

Not really. I could just picture the ship in my head and described it. Of course, the picture was probably inspired from some show or book somewhere, but I honestly couldn’t say which one. It rather reminded me of a submarine, which I have been on once…so maybe that helped.

7) Are you a Pantzer or a Plotter?

Definitely a pantzer, but I’m seeing the benefits of plotting. My stories just unfold and so I’m never able to write more than two or three chapters without taking a break. However, with a series like the Mates of the Guardians, I have found that the later stories reveal details that would have made the earlier stories stronger.

8) HIS SHIP, HER FANTASY is due out Aug 12, 2009- Do you have any advice for new writers trying to get their new book out there? Any publishing tips?

There are two big pieces of advice. One is you have to submit. If you don’t submit, you’ll never be published. However, before you do that, make sure your manuscript is polished.

How do you know when your manuscript is polished? I personally have a critique partner and two readers. They all offer great insights into making the story stronger. My critique partner tells me what’s missing and my readers catch grammatical errors as well as story flow issues.

As for publishing tips, well all I can say is there are numerous publishing houses out there. Make sure you understand the submission guidelines for the house you are submitting to and follow them. Most importantly, be polite to anyone who contacts you.

9) Any current projects? What are some of your goals for the future?

I have many current projects. I’m working on edits to His Hope, Her Salvation, the second contracted story in the Mates of the Guardians series. There are also two or three others in the series in progress as well as a spinoff. I also have a contemporary romance sitting on the shelves while I try to determine whether it’s worth the rewrite effort and my young adult fantasy.

My goal is to finish and submit the Mates of the Guardians series and figure out what I’m doing with my contemporary romance before mid-September. Anything on top of that is just a bonus!

Thank you, Emma, for orbiting with us and giving out some stellar advice!

Thanks for inviting me, Sarah!

Here's a blurb from HIS SHIP, HER FANTASY:

Ellie Woods is in love…with a ship. When an argument with the ship results in a bump on the head, she finds herself in the strong arms of Alastair. But, who is he, and where did he come from?
Alastair has loved Ellie from afar for years, but duty has kept him from revealing himself to her. When a grave threat reveals his true identity, he hopes that Ellie will choose reality over fantasy

Excerpt to tantilze:

She fought to stay aware by focusing her gaze on the intriguing cleft in her rescuer’s chin. After a few moments, she tried to tilt her head back to get a look at the rest of his face, but the action made her dizzy once again. She gave up with a sigh and relaxed against his firm, broad chest.

She shrugged. Chances were she would not recognize him anyway. Over two hundred people served on the ship. She knew the dozen or so engineers who worked the first and third rotations and maybe another dozen crewmates by sight, others who worked the same rotation and happened to eat their meals in solitary silence at the same time she did. She would guess from the fact that he had to ask her name that he was not any of those two dozen individuals.

Maybe she should not have told him her real name. At least that way, when he talked about finding a woman helpless in the bowels of the ship, no one would have known who it was. Yeah, right, whom was she trying to fool? She was the sole person assigned duty to this area during fourth rotation. Her breath caught, and she stiffened in his arms. Who was he, and what was he doing in a restricted area?

“Relax,” he said.

“Who are you?” She tried to sit up in his arms, determined to get a look at him and an answer to her question.

He lifted her higher in his arms, which wedged her head between his head and shoulder and prevented her from getting a good look at his face. “Alastair.” His warm breath fluttered against her forehead and cheek.

Emma's Lai's HIS SHIP, HER FANTASY will be release Aug 12th from The Wild Rose Press.

THANK YOU to everyone cruising this neck of the cyberspace! I wonder if I can 'beam me up' a margarita? lol TGIF!!!


Kaye Manro said...

Nice interview Sarah! And I love this story idea, Emma. You sound like me-- Star Trek and beyond.

Here's hoping everyone will get hooked on R/SF after reading His Ship Her Fantasy, Emma! Good luck.

Emma Lai said...

Thanks Kaye! I love the most recent Star Trek movie. I'm hoping there's a t.v. show or other movies coming in the future.

Emma Lai said...

Sarah, I love what you did with the intro!

I hope no one damages their computer screens after reading my comment about my work week! I had a really productive week and would hate to be responsible for such destruction. I managed to get my edits submitted for the sequel to His Ship, Her Fantasy titled His Hope, Her Salvation. It's more of a time travel, set in Georgian England, but still featuring Guardians. I also heard back on my erotic Regency...they requested a full manuscript. Now the wait begins! But, I'm energized and hoping to hammer out the next two stories in the Mates of the Guardians series over the next couple of weeks!

Debra Kayn said...

Great interview, Sarah!

Emma-The title of your book caught my attention right away. Very catchy. Sounds like a great read. :-)

Emma Lai said...

Thanks Debra! I love coming up with titles and character names.

Ashley Ludwig said...

Emma - my daughter's name is Ellie - short for Elizabeth. Did I ever tell you that?

I'm so excited for you and can't wait to read your full story. I've always been a huge sci-fi/fantasy fan. Well done, kiddo. You're going to be an amazing mama, and I love your personal blurb. :)

So glad to know you! Well done! PS - I promise to have a margarita in your honor tonight. FYI - make yourself a virgin margarita, like I do for my girls! Lemonade, a splash of Perrier, and salt, or sugar, on the rim, of course.

Thanks for sharing your heart with us! and thanks, Sarah for the great interview!!!


P.L. Parker said...

Hi Emma/Sarah:

Great interview. I am also a die hard sci-fi fan. I've already seen the new Star Trek movie (Friday night) and my favorite TV channel is the Sci-Fi Channel.

Enjoyed this!

P. L. Parker

Skhye said...

Sarah, this really is a creative approach to interviews! You deserve an award. And, Emma, great answers. :) But where's the deepest darkest secret section??? And I want to know if you've written about those hunky triplets yet? No were-penguins please!

Mary Ricksen said...

How romantic to be carried in his arms. Ahh. Great excerpt.
Had to stop by to see you Emma!
The more I learn about you the more I like you!

Emma Lai said...

Ashley...your recipe for a virgin margarita sounds absolutely delicious! We have a Vietnamese drink...soda chanh...that is very similar and is one of my favorites.

Emma Lai said...

Patsy, I love the Sci-fi channel as well. I happen to be a big fan of bad animal horror flicks and that channel rocks for those.

Emma Lai said...

Skhye, I think deepest darkest secrets always tend to be disappointing for others to read in the end. Still working on the hunky triplets. I'll keep you posted!

Emma Lai said...

Thanks for stopping by Mary! I'm glad you liked the excerpt.

Savannah Chase said...

Great interview, thank you for telling me about this great book...adding it to my list

Sandy M said...

Great interview, Sarah and Emma. Really enjoyed it. And love the excerpt!

Cari Quinn said...

Hi Sarah and Emma! Such a fun interview! Definitely adding His Ship, Her Fantasy to my list, Emma. Best of luck with your upcoming releases...and especially, with your most important impending release! ;)

Helen Hardt said...

Emma, I loved the blurb for your life! That was a great question, Sarah!


Emma Lai said...

Thanks for stopping by Savannah, Sandy, Cari, and Helen!

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Emma
Great interview. His Ship, Her Fantasy has a gorgeous cover, interesting excerpt, it certainly caught my attention.


Cate Masters said...

Great interview, Emma and Sarah! Emma, wonderful personal "blurb" - sounds like a story waiting to be written as well as lived. And wow, you're still prolific under the spell of the pregnancy brain? Really impressive!
Best of luck with your release!

Emma Lai said...

Thanks, Margaret! I LOVE my cover!

It's all smoke and mirrors, Cate. I actually just started writing again. My pregnant brain was in hibernation for a few months.

Sarah Simas said...

I know I'm late...*sigh* LOL But thanks Emma for letting a newbie pick your brain! And thanks everyone for stopping by!