The Science of Sci-Fi, Tick Style: Pt. 1

Simon says,

“They’re called botheads!”

I have been thinking for some time about writing a post about the scientific research that went into Tick, but found that the information (and the many connections to my book series) was an intimidating amount, too much to add into one block. So, I have decided to break them down into more readable chunks so that I can share with you the science behind the science fiction in my debut YA series, Tick.  This post commences Part One.

Let’s go back a bit. I honestly can’t say exactly where the inspiration came from for my YA sci-fi series, which is, in short, about Josephine Bristol, a teenage girl desperate to become an artist in a drone-surveyed Los Angeles where neuroscientists permanently “fix” people with brain disorders, a task perhaps not so daunting were she not plagued by a violent mental and emotional dysfunction. I have mentioned in quite a few interviews that my main character’s “tick” — as she calls it — bears resemblance to issues of my own adolescence, although not in the “art imitates life” sort of way that has caused readers to question my husband’s safety (people are worried!). Jo’s tick is rather a dramatized representation of my years suffering from a deep and dark depression and the journey I have taken to finally write a book about it. In my series, the use of these brain-adjusting doctors is a futuristic evolution of psychiatry, and I am in awe of how many readers have noted the possibility that sometime in the near future, neural brain adjustments can become something not only used for medical purposes, but for personal advance as well.

I didn’t just make this concept up. Scientists are in the process of targeting specific neurons in the brain to inhibit or assist the movement of signals between synapses, thus altering certain cognitive functions. The purpose for this research is hoped to be applied in treating brain disorders such as schizophrenia and depression, but it takes no stretch of the imagination to see how easily this technology could be used to “fix” people of minor inflictions, like their compulsion to drop $20 at a fancy coffee shop every day. The science is called optogenetics, and I’ll get to the specifics of it later in this post, but first I want to get into how I even learned about optogenetics in the first place. Continue reading

5 Things I Learned From My First Book Signing

just sitting here selling myself... err, my books

just sitting here selling myself … err, my books

Yesterday, I had the privilege of partaking in a Local Author Signing Day in South Pasadena. My fellow authors included Koji Steven Sakai and Dennis Sanchez (who is my dad, and also my writing inspiration). For my very first event, it went swimmingly. I sold a fair amount of books, got to hang out with some great people, and also received some valuable publishing advice.

But of course, there is always more going on behind the scenes than meets the eye. Every moment is a learning experience, is it not? Here are five things I learned from my first book signing, and I hope you can take something out of it too.

5. Selling yourself is as hard as it sounds

I had this plan to ride my bike to the South Pasadena Farmer’s Market and pass out fliers for the signing. I thought it would be easy, considering the city is populated by educated and eclectic residents, so of course they would want to support local authors. I thought it even might be fun because I would get to talk to people about my book. But when I pulled those fliers out of my bag … I froze. I am a social person for the most part, but not amongst hundreds of people I don’t know. My initial spiel included my introduction, who I was representing, and a run-down of the event. Most people sat politely while I interrupted their afternoon for that whopping 30 second lecture, but after the fifth group, I nearly gave up right there. Not only did I feel like an ass for jumping in the middle of their conversations, but I felt that I was wasting my time. After anxiously texting my husband that I was failing miserably, he suggested I shorten my spiel to “Support local authors!” and basically shove the fliers in unsuspecting hands. That was even less do-able. I am not one to take immediate rejection easily, and less people are willing to take anything from a peddler shoving things in their faces. Needless to say, I went home early.

As it turns out, I’m not as good at this self-promotion thing as I thought. I still have people telling me “I didn’t know you wrote a book!” because I’m just not that good at talking about myself. I am a writer and an artist, but I’m now also a salesman. It is a frightful combination. I’m still trying to figure that part out. Continue reading

It’s All In My Head

fuel for the mind, circa 2002

People often ask me, “Have you always been an artist?”

“Of course I’ve always been an artist,” I say with an undertone of resentment for the fact they didn’t already know this. “Just because this is the first time you’ve ever seen me paint something, doesn’t mean I’m making it up right here on the spot. I didn’t become an artist overnight.”

That last bit is never said out loud, of course, because I’m not an asshole, and it’s not really their fault they don’t know what I do when I’m not pretending to be a respectable citizen.

Even while I internally fume about how still — even in my adult age — so many people have a terrible misconception of who I am, I understand why. Outwardly, I don’t give off the “artist vibe”. I’m not covered in tattoos, I dress fairly conservatively, I don’t spend my days yammering about artsy things. Quite frankly, I don’t find most meetings to be appropriate for such conversations, but given the right time and place, and I’ll talk your ear off about music or books or movies or politics. I didn’t gain an interest in those topics overnight, either; I simply choose to not talk about them all the time.

Perhaps the reason why I don’t expose myself as an artist in my daily life is because I’ve learned to compartmentalize those versions of myself. Growing up, most people in my life didn’t understand that I had such an incredible need to express myself. I channeled my emotions through any medium I could — music, art, graphic design, poetry, storytelling, anything — because the real world did not offer me the platform to truly speak my mind. Both my parents have artistic backgrounds (my dad is a writer, my mom has done fine art for decades), yet both their lives followed a path that halted their progression as artists. You know … the real world. So when it came time for me to graduate high school and decide what the hell I was going to do with my life, the voices of family members and friends alike resonated through my head: “You won’t make money as an artist. Pick something else.” Continue reading

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

tick at Vroman's Bookstore

We all dream of being on a bookstore shelf

Good news, everyone! You can now purchase Tick at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, at either their Pasadena location near Old Town or at their Hasting’s Ranch location. If you don’t see it on the shelf, ask one of their lovely booksellers to stock more. It’s only available for a limited time, so get your copy today!

This is very exciting news for me, as I have dreamed of seeing my name stocked on a bookstore shelf. Vroman’s is a very well-known place in the Los Angeles area, and hundreds of people go through those doors every day … I am fortunate they offer this opportunity to local authors.

In other Tick-related news, I have several events coming up:

First, I have been asked to write a guest blog post where I will be answering questions about myself and my book, to be posted on March 30th. Stop by and leave a question in the comments section!

Second, on March 29th, I’ll be a guest on the Good Nerd Bad Nerd podcast, for which I will do my best to not embarrass all you nerdy people (I may not be that nerdy, but I’ll try to pretend). The podcast will most likely be posted the next Monday (March 30), but I’ll keep you posted on that.

Lastly, Charlie’s Coffee House in South Pasadena has offered to host a local author signing day on April 22 at 4pm. I will be joined by a few other local authors, so stay tuned for more details on that.

That’s all for now, lovelies!