Tag Archives: Sarah Hoyt

Interview: Cedar Sanderson

This week we interview Cedar Sanderson. Not only is she a skilled writer and artist, she was very helpful to me when I was first starting this process. I’m really honored to have her join us here.

Interview: Cedar Sanderson
Lab Gremlins Cover
Lab Gremlins Cover

What is your quest?

My quest is to write the stories in my head, so I can shut them up. Mostly joking, but since I was a young girl, I’ve had stories I told myself. I’ve written some down, badly at first, and discovered that the act of telling them, or writing them, emptied my brain out so I could fill it up with new stories.

Much, much later in life I realized I could create things and people would pay for them. This tangible feedback was amazing, and I still get a rush when I make a sale, whether it’s a book, art, or whatever. So there’s that, but it’s not quite as simple as ‘I’m a mercenary wench’ because there are a lot of other influences on what I do, and why.

My husband, who is also my First Reader, was the genesis of my most popular series because I started writing it to make him laugh. My mentors and inspirations in the writing world, Sarah Hoyt, Dave Freer, and Larry Correia, influenced how I carved out my own independent little business niche, because I saw publishing through their eyes. The fact that I’d already been running a successful small business made it a no-brainer to simply open my own publishing imprint – which I am in the middle of rebranding, and need to rename, if anyone has a suggestion.

What is your favorite color?

My favorite color is green, my favorite pastime is reading, or photography, or painting, or writing… depends on the day. And that’s something else. I have so many things I am interested in, and want to do, I’ll die with a to-do list a mile long. I think that because of my broad curiosity, I bring a depth of bits and pieces to each book, each piece of art, and blend them together into something unique. You can’t write well if you don’t read a lot. You can’t make art well if you don’t open your eyes and really look at the world around you.

What is the average flying speed of an unladen paint brush?

Hah! Well, next time I feel really frustrated and start throwing them, I’ll see about measuring. Maybe we could set up a high-speed camera? The more important question is, which is the paint water cup, and which is the coffee cup? How do fully-loaded bristles change the dynamics of a thrown paint brush? These are important questions, and I’ll work on them next time I’m blocked on writing.

Frustration? Not being able to write. Last year (2018) I made a career change, we moved into a new home, two of my children started attending college (but not driving, so I was commuting them to and from school and work), and it all added up to a a lot of frustration even though my career was taking off and the kids were growing great and the house is fantastic.

What did I do? Well, we have this little house we own, can’t sell because the area isn’t great, but it’s convenient to my day job. So now it’s my office, and I can go there to write. I’ve written, um, 17,000 words this month, since starting daily goals and office time.

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

Early on, one of the things that really helped me was writing challenges – you get a prompt, you have a week to write. Doing those got me writing quick, on demand, and whimsical since you don’t have time to worry about being literary. I’m doing this now with an ART365 challenge, where I make a painting or drawing every single day. It gives me permission to be bad. It gives me momentum – and that’s carrying over into my writing as well, since I am using the Wordly app to track my daily wordcount, and it sends me reminders to write, or to finish reaching my modest 1K words a day goal.

I’m a part-time writer, and a full-time scientist, so that’s all I can manage right now. But doing it every single day is really helping my productivity.

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? Beaker
  • Crunchy or Creamy? Crunchy toffee and creamy chocolate pie. MMM
  • Cake or Pie? Why not both? I can make you both.
  • Lime or Lemon? Key lime pie and Lemon meringue.
  • Favorite Chip Dip?  Bacon horseradish. Heavy on the horseradish
  • Wet or Dry? Excellent question! Dry brushes introduce some amazing organic irregularities into your painting, but for smooth blending you really need wet. I’m more a dry brush girl myself.
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? Tartan Terrors. Bagpipes, Rock, fantastic stage show. Yummy performers.
  • Whisky or Whiskey? Depends on the character’s dialect.
  • Favorite Superhero? Captain America.
  • Steak Temperature? Blue. If I’m grilling it. Anyone else? Rare.
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? Uh. I’m going to have to take a pass. I grew up without a television so my pop culture is a touch rusty.
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Spring. Flowers, warmth, hope renewed after the bleak abyss of winter.
  • Favorite Pet?  Our dog, Tricksy. She’s a good girl, even if she does drive me nuts.
  • Best Game Ever? Just one? Really? Ok, the one I’d play again in a heartbeat with my kids is Robo-rally
  • Coffee or Tea? Coffee in the morning, tea in the evening. Mocha anytime.
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Why not both! Both is always a good answer.

What question(s) would you like to ask me?

So what is your favorite strangest historical event, and why?

Rob’s Answer: Hmmm. I’m not sure, there are so many. The easy answer is the one I know the most about, the Martin Koszta Affair. It’s filled with a number of fun things like riots prompted by prostitutes withholding their services from Austrian sailors, heroes arriving in the nick of time, and a delightful letter threatening to open fire at a certain time concluded with the phrase, “I have the honor to remain your obedient servant.” It’s not only fun and strange, it’s also a fantastic start to an alternate history I’ll write one of these days.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

And where can we find you?

  • In 2019 I will be at LTUE in Provo, UT from Feb 14-16 presenting and on panels as well as generally hanging out with friends.
  • I will also be a guest at LibertyCon in Chattanooga, TN from May 30-Jun 2 but if you don’t already have tickets for this year, I’ll catch you next year!

Do you have a creator biography?

Cedar Sanderson is an author, artist, and a scientist. Her varied career lends extra flavor to her works of art, and her insatiable reading appetite once led her to run out of reading material and start writing her own. She hasn’t stopped yet. Perennially inquisitive, she wants to know more about everything and will ask strange questions if you stand still long enough to let her. Works in print include her popular urban fantasy (with very little urban) Pixie for Hire series, her space opera Tanager’s Fledglings, and her young Adult series Children of Myth, as well as a couple dozen shorter works that would make this bio too long to name them. Her cover art and design grace the covers of other authors as well as her own, and her cute dragon character appears in his own coloring book, Inktail & Friends.

Final question for you: What should I have asked but didn’t?

You didn’t ask the classic questions like ‘what’s your favorite author’, for which I thank you, because choosing just one is painful, and besides that, my answer changes depending on my mood, what I’ve been writing, and the weather.

What am I working on now?

Well, artistically speaking I have a fun Valentine’s commission piece, but it’s a secret. Authorial, I’m working on a novella that has delusions of novel, and wants to drag romance into what was a perfectly good paranormal police procedural.


Thanks to Cedar for taking the time to answer my questions.

If you have any suggestions or comments about this interview format, let me know so I can keep tweaking it.

Also, thanks to you for reading. If you’re interested in any of the other interviews I’ve done, you can find them all here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?cat=326. If you are a creator, especially an independent creator, and you want to be spotlighted in a future interview, email me at rob@robhowell.org.

Finally, if you want to join my mailing list, where I’ll announce every interview, as well as what’s going on in my life, go to www.robhowell.org and fill out the form (Name and Email Address) or drop me an email and I’ll add you.

Have a great day.

Rob Howell

LibertyCon AAR

I started this on July 4th, a perfect time to celebrate LibertyCon XXX. And celebrate we must. LibertyCon is the best-run science fiction and fantasy convention out there and I had a great time.

I arrived at the Chattanooga Choo Choo fairly early on Thursday, having broken the trip up in multiple sections thanks to friends who have offered me crash space. I knew I was going to push myself pretty hard during the weekend, so I did my best to ensure I was as fresh as possible after the drive.

The big event of the weekend for me was on Saturday, where I had a joint release party for Where Now the Rider and For a Fistful of Credits, the new Four Horsemen Universe Anthology. Thursday evening I did some pre-planning and moving of stuff around to figure out the best arrangement of beverages and food.

After I got pretty much all I could do done,  I went to ConSuite, which was not technically open but was still the gathering place. There I hung out with a few people and listened to Sarah Hoyt do a reading from a book that shall remain nameless. They say that traumatic events can cause selective amnesia. It was awful. All I can say is that it wasn’t written by anyone at the con. Oh, I can say one other thing. We laughed a lot.

Most of Friday was spent organizing stuff. I decided on the layout in the room and arranged things as best I could. I also went to the Opening Ceremonies and got reacquainted with old friends. I didn’t have panels on Friday, so mostly I lounged around during the afternoon.

My main thing on Friday was my stint on Author’s Alley from 8pm to 11pm. Basically, I moved all my books and set up in front of the rooms where panels were being held. I sold a few, while meeting a number of potential readers. It’s a lot of work, but it needs to be done, and in the long run it’s worth it.

After that I was tired but had enough energy to enjoy some room parties and hang out with some friends. I especially enjoyed hanging out by the pool with Aaron Mays, Jonny Minion, and a couple of others.

As I was getting a beer from my cooler, I ran into Sarah, Dan, and Robert Hoyt. It turns out that Roberts around the world like IPAs, so I got him one and we stood around chatting. It was my first time actually having a chance to chat with Sarah. Her at LibertyCon is like me at Pennsic, only with a much smaller site and a correspondingly higher chance to find another conversation.

Saturday was a really long day. At 11am I was part of a panel discussing various ways to get your plot unstuck and overcoming writer’s block. There are a ton of possible ways to do this, but it all boils down to finding what works for you. Whether it’s changing the environment, taking a shower, driving around, or something else, it’s the kind of thing that varies for everyone.

At 2pm was a panel I was very much excited to join: The Middle Ages as Inspiration for Epic and High Fantasy. Thanks to my grad school work, I anticipated I’d have lots to say, and I did. I enjoyed it quite a bit, and hope to do it again. I could have gone on for a while.

I then had several hours before my reading with Dave Schroeder at 6pm. There were a couple of very interesting panels to attend, but I chose wisely and took a bit of a nap, arranged my books and display for the party, and got as much prep done as possible.

I did not have time to create a 20-minute long reading from Where Now the Rider, so my reading at 6pm on Saturday was one from I Am a Wondrous Thing that I have done before. It’s a scene where Irina is convinced to give up the title of Velikomat and the immediate aftermath of her stepping down. It’s an emotional one for me, and I always cry when I read it. It’s a powerful section, and I get a pretty good response from those that listen. Dave read a bit from his new fantasy series, the Congruent Apprentice, which sounds interesting but which I’ve not yet read, and a small bit from his Xenotech Rising series, which I have read some of and really like.

The Four Horsemen Universe is a series of stories about humans discovering that interstellar mercenaries are their best export good. It’s a large sandbox created by Chris Kennedy and Mark Wandrey and many fantastic mil-sf authors are joining in. I am looking forward to reading these stories, just as much as I’ve enjoyed the novels in the universe. Oh, and I just might be working on a short story for the next anthology.

However, this party was to celebrate the release of their first anthology, as well as my newest book. The writers of the anthology brought all the food and I brought nearly all the beverages. As usual, I am coming home with about the same amount as I took out, but at least we didn’t run out of alcohol. Many thanks to Kacey Ezell, one of the contributors to the anthology, who also contributed her cooler to help organize the drinks.

Which is a good thing because we were packed. It was a great party and I sold a goodly number of books, as well as added to my mailing list. Basically, we went four solid hours with guests.

Around 12:30, the crowd dissipated, and with the help of Aaron and a few others we transported the leftovers over to the ConSuite and shut the party down. I was toast. So toast that it took a while for me to relax enough to get to sleep.

I was still tired Sunday, but I had expected that. I started the day at the Kaffeeklatsch. I had a great conversation with the Science Guest of Honor, Dr. Elisa Quintana and Dr. Tom Barclay, who is also a scientist. They study exoplanets and we discussed the most efficient ways we can get humans in space. Well, I asked questions and they taught me stuff, which was wonderful from my perspective.

Immediately after that was my turn at the signature table, where I joined Gray Rinehart and Charity Ayres. The signature table can be packed if a David Weber, David Drake, or John Ringo is sitting there, but for us was fairly quiet. I think we all sold a book or two, with signatures, but mostly the three of us had a great conversation.

One of the joys of LibertyCon is comparing notes with other professionals, because there is such a high percentage of professionals to fans. LibertyCon caps its attendance at 750, and over 150 attendees are professional writers, artists, scientists, or something else relevant. Also, I would bet that a large number of the remainder are people like me at my first LibertyCon, those who want to become professionals. It’s a great chance for us all to learn, and over the years I’ve learned a ton.

Anyway, my last panel of the weekend was Cooking Out of this World. This panel went off the rails. At least we were funny, but we were all a little tired and we strayed from the topic early and often. Todd McCaffrey did ask one interesting question that we talked about a bit but not enough, and that’s what are the environmental factors that will affect the way things taste in space? Obviously, things taste differently on airplanes, which is something airlines are already dealing with, but will be an issue for interplanetary and interstellar travel.

The last session of LibertyCon is the Bitch at Brandy session. Brandy Spraker is the chairman of the con, and she does a fantastic job. The closing ceremonies each year are a chance for people to suggest things that could be improved. Once everyone has had their chance to make comments, good and bad, about the con, she officially closes the con. They take these suggestions seriously, too, and I have seen some implemented in the four years I’ve gone.

Much of the rest of Sunday involved me finishing cleaning up after the party and doing most of my packing. I have learned that I want to stay  overnight on Sunday and leave Monday morning, but I basically pack everything but Monday’s clothes and shower stuff.

I got that done in time to join about 35 of us at a Brazilian steakhouse. I had the fortune of sitting next to a few people I knew, but had never really talked with, including Miriam Ringo, the wife of one of the best mil-sf writers around, John Ringo. What a fun and generous person she is. She had a bracelet on that I admired and thought Giulia would also like. Miriam immediately removed it and handed to me as a gift. By this point were about 3 minutes into our conversation. I was stunned by her generosity then, and still find it amazing and admirable now. Then we had a long and wonderful conversation.

Actually, everyone at dinner had a great time. It has been decided that this will be a LibertyCon Sunday evening tradition.

Following dinner was something that is already a LibertyCon tradition, the Dead Dog party. Basically, those who stay on Sunday evening eat drink as much of the leftovers as possible and play games or hang out.

Again, I had some incredible good fortune. Steve Jackson, of Steve Jackson Games, the inventor of Munchkin and a bunch of other great games, was playtesting some games and I got to join in. Steve is a wonderful and fun guy, and the rest of us had a blast tossing out ideas and picking them apart.

Getting to toss out suggestions on games, even bad ones, to a legend like Steve Jackson is definitely a highlight for me.

Around 12:30, we called it a night, and therefore the end of the con. I went to bed and left for a fairly smooth drive back. The only real excitement was seeing a collision about a half-mile ahead of me in the oncoming lane. The truck driver did a great job and controlled his 18-wheeler in the median so our lane never had to worry.

As I’ve mentioned, LibertyCon is a different beast from other cons. I will be going back there every year, though there’s some question as to when and where the next one will be.

For the four years I’ve attended, it has been at the Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel, but the hotel has sold off about 80% of its rooms to make apartments / condos. Basically, while the convention space is fine, there are only rooms for about 20% of the con goers. This means many are off in the Marriott, which is not far but still puts a crimp in the con experience. Part of the fun of cons is going to room parties which are elsewhere in the hotel. Have fun, drink a few beverages, and then trundle to your room. No travel logistics to speak of. Even free shuttle buses are not a great solution, though of course those were provided.

In short, the Choo Choo simply cannot work anymore. Unfortunately, convention sites are notoriously difficult to find at times, and Brandy and her folks are casting about for a solution. I heard a rumor that a new convention hotel is getting built in Chattanooga, but will not be fully ready by summer 2018. I’m not sure if that’s true, but while they aren’t at all sure of time and place next year, or even if they might take a year off, they all seemed confident that things would be fine by 2019.

Whatever they come up with, I’ll be back.