Sandra Ulbrich Almazan started reading at the age of three and only stops when absolutely required to. Although she hasn’t been writing quite that long, she did compose a very simple play in German during middle school. Her science fiction novella Move Over Ms. L. (an early version of Lyon’s Legacy) earned an Honorable Mention in the 2001 UPC Science Fiction Awards, and her short story “A Reptile at the Reunion” was published in the anthology Firestorm of Dragons. She is a founding member of BroadUniverse and a long-time member of the Online Writing Workshop for Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror. Her undergraduate degree is in molecular biology/English, and she has a Master of Technical and Scientific Communication degree. Her current day job is in the laboratory of an enzyme company; she’s also been a technical writer and a part-time copyeditor for a local newspaper. Some of her other accomplishments are losing on Jeopardy! and taking a stuffed orca to three continents. She lives in the Chicago area with her husband, Eugene; and son, Alex. In her rare moments of free time, she enjoys crocheting, listening to classic rock (particularly the Beatles), and watching improv comedy.
What inspires you to write?
I drew the inspiration to start writing from the Beatles. Their unique friendship gave me the idea to create a group of four magicians who must work together to save their country. This story isn’t available yet, but I do have a complete draft that needs to be reworked before it’s ready to publish. The Beatles also gave me the inspiration for Lyon’s Legacy, what turned out to be the first book in my science fiction Catalyst Chronicles series.
Other stories come about by putting a fantastic spin on ordinary events or by combining two unrelated ideas. I also find that the more I wrote in a series, the more ideas I get for spinning off secondary characters and events into stories of their own.
Tell us about your writing process.
I’m a pantser. I start with a few ideas about the characters, the world, and the plot, along with the beginning, ending, and a few points in between. The rest I work on as I go along. This often means that it takes me a couple of drafts to get the story right, but I’m trying to reduce the number of drafts needed.
If I get stuck, I start writing down character sketches or write down questions about what’s going to happen next, and why. This helps me get going again.
I write every day, mostly on my lunch hour at work or after my son goes to bed.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I generally don’t talk directly to my characters, but I daydream about them and put them into different situations. This helps me get to know them better. Even when I’ve been writing about my characters for a while, they’ll still come to me with surprising revelations.
What advice would you give other writers?
Read a lot, not just in your favorite genre, but others.
Write a lot. When you finish a story, take a break from it before revising it.
Make your story as good as you possibly can before sending it to beta readers or crit partners. You want them to find the issues you can’t see instead of being distracted by typos or grammar problems.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I had two projects which were very important to me but didn’t fit very well with traditional publishing. One was a novella, while the other was a full-length novel. Self-publishing gave me the ability to put both stories out at the lengths I thought best for them. Self-publishing allows me to keep control of my work and write the stories that resonate with me without worrying how to get them past the gatekeepers.
I would recommend new authors learn as much as they can about traditional and self-publishing first, but in the end, I would recommend self-publishing as a long-term better path for authors.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think traditional publishing will shrink but not disappear. I think there will be fewer intermediaries between author and reader, and I see that as a good thing.This is a great time to be an author.
What do you use?
Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?
Science Fiction, Fantasy
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print