So Many Reasons to be Grateful

Happy Thanksgiving! In the midst of autumn, families gather to enjoy a meal together and recount their blessings.

A couple of days ago alumni outreach from my alma mater, The University of Texas at Austin, called me. The senior I chatted with asked me if there was any advice I’d offer someone about to graduate.

Now, I don’t think of myself of an age to offer life advice, but, as we spoke, a pattern from my life emerged.

Give Thanks


This year I’m reminded of something else to be grateful for: the chances I’ve been given to do something special, something different or unexpected, and how those chances have paid handsome dividends in my life.

Even from simply deciding to go to Austin for my degree, for pursuing engineering instead of something else, the choices I made and the chances I took created unique consequences. If I’d chosen differently, I’d have ended up somewhere else. With a different degree, I’d have worked at some other company for my first job, likely in a different city, and I would have gained entirely different skill sets.

Instead of moving to Houston and accepting a transfer from that first job to Baton Rouge, there’s no telling where I would have ended up or who I would have met along the way. And while moving to a new city can be daunting, moving to a new place after that where you know no one is even scarier. It’s certainly true that it’s harder to make friends after college.

But because of those moves, I made friends and got to expand my world view. As a big city girl, moving to Baton Rouge was extreme culture shock. Then to experience the impact of Hurricane Katrina and the storms that came after… Let’s just say that I now follow hurricane season every year with a greater understanding and concern than if I’d stayed away from the Gulf Coast.

Even the way I write is affected by choices I’ve made. Because I’m an engineer, I like to think about the way things work. If you haven’t checked out my series on Why Engineers Shouldn’t Watch TV, you’ll find that logic and fact are important to telling good stories. So as I build worlds and explore the inexplicable, finding a plausible (if fictitious) reason for why things work the way they do is a way that I make things feel more real even within the realm of fantasy.

Perhaps if I hadn’t studied science and fed my fascination for understanding how to build or fix things, I wouldn’t consider that a lack of magic in Worvanz would lead to infrastructure breakdowns, as in Dark Empire, or the need for mermaids to have highly transmutable cells and the impact of their biology on their lifestyle, as in the Sea Deception series (coming soon!).

The choices I’ve made impact me in much more personal ways, too. I look around the table at my family, at the man I married and the children we share, at the home we live in, the food we eat, the things we choose to discuss and the books we decide to read, and I realize that all of these small choices add up to build who we are as people. Anytime we go a different path, the effect of that choice may be profound.

And today, as I think about the season of Thanksgiving, I am especially grateful that I have no regrets about the way life is turning out for me. I’m blessed with a family to love, with friends, with a home and a career, and a passion for storytelling that fuels my soul.

Wishing you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Previous years: 2017 2016  2015  2013

Long-Awaited Synopsis of Book 2

After working hard on NaNoWriMo to write up the draft of Book 2, I’m pleased to announce my efforts have borne fruit. Various plot points caused me plenty of trouble, but I labored through. Without further ado, the synopsis of Free Worvanz: Book 2 is as follows:

On her way back to Parrel, Captain Del is abducted by a herd of piratical space cows keen on finding endless new sources of hay. After using her magic to learn to maneuver their spacecraft, Del slays the herd’s bull and lands on a deserted grassy moon. She liberates the herd, continues back to Worvanz with the spaceship, and defeats the Emperor using the spaceship’s intergalactic lasers.

She and Tolemius marry and serve filet mignon at their wedding feast.

Since Tolemius and Del now have so much experience flying spacecraft, their next goal will be to defeat the Worvani Emperor on a moon of his home planet. Along the way, they will get sucked into a wormhole and end up on a different side of the galaxy, where they will discover some very unusual new allies and enemies.


Image credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/University of Bonn/G. Schellenberger et al; Optical: INT

Since the best part of writing science fiction is actually pursuing some science, I’m curious about the types of species they are going to encounter. Maybe some tree-people or some water world creatures.

During my last trip to the Georgia Aquarium, I learned about river-dwelling fish that can shoot poison at prey above the surface of the water. Can you imagine how cool it would be if we could do that, or what application that might have to a creature on a sci-fi world?

Related Posts: Thoughts on Star Wars: The Force Awakens