Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Don't mind the smoke from the engines....

Updates are being added to author features here, and Jaleta's turn came up today. I had to laugh. Still with no new book to mention - 'Priestess of the Eggstone' is moving towards publication - Jaleta manages to stay busier than me, at living life. Her blog (mentioned below) has regular author interviews; recipes every thursday; whatever comes to mind that she wants to post, at the speed of light. She even took time to talk to Alexander M. Zoltai in his recent blog post.  Heck, this week she attended a convention in Seattle.

A short time ago she gifted me a print copy of 'Rotting Tales' (also mentioned below) and it is filled with gruesome fun. Jaleta is still too busy, and still wonderful. Read on ***

Can you be busier than God? I believe so.
                                     Jaleta Clegg surely is, if anyone can do it. I know she tutors Him on how to schedule things.

I was compelled to interrupt this post, to inform you of something Jaleta admitted in the comments...she gets through her day with liquid help. Most of you would be pushing out your glass for a sip, but she puts hers on her head, not in a glass. She wrote the admission for Darcia, who is likely not grossed in the least. I am.
You see, I love Mary Poppins. Always have.
But so does Jaleta. Just snatches the old girl by the umbrella, and squeezes!
Ewwwww! Ewww! Ewwww!
God gives us Angels to help us...Jaleta grins and pulls their wings..... :)

She would be my kids' FAVORITE teacher for sure. Hell, she would be my favorite teacher too; Jaleta likes to blow things up. She helped design some of the mission programs for the Utah Space Camp; honest to goodness Starship Simulators, that kids enter - to boldly go - and in her words "..the Klingon attacks just got added in...for fun and excitement."
I wanna go. PLEASE, I wanna go!

This darling powerhouse has a full house, just of her own family, but 'her kids' number in the hundreds. They know her as the Klingon Lunch Lady; hundreds of squealing kids in Utah know Jaleta as one of those really cool adults. That is precisely the woman I have come to know. One of the really cool adults.

No, I don't live in Utah, but closely enough that I may someday give way to the urge to drive over and meet the author who created one of my favorite characters in fiction; Captain Dace. It is through that book, 'Nexus Point - The Fall of the Altairan Empire', and the dozens of online sites that she haunts, that I was introduced to God's busiest human. Jaleta has 49.32 seconds of spare time - a year.

Captain Dace may be Jaleta's alter-ego; a consciousness which can escape the boundaries of gravity and distance. Jaleta truly belongs in space. It is a realm she embraces with joy and wonder, just like a kid. That is the key to being a cool adult; just ask any third-grader. Dace, the most accident-prone ship's captain in the Empire, does not exist in only a single book. I believe there are 11 books in that series. The second is nearing publication in this next year. I have read it. Neener neener neener! All the rest will appear when Jaleta tutors her publisher in proper scheduling. I am first in line for every book now.

I will inform you, my Dearest Dace spends very little time in space in Book One. But that is simply how this massive story begins, she bumbles into a situation that will play out over nearly a dozen books.  Every moment she spends stranded, grounded, is very important to the whole. In Book Two, strap in and be quiet; Dace flies, and she has skills that will amaze you. Jaleta Clegg knows spaceflight, and we get to come along, like excited little kids.

But, I need to sit down, strap in, and be quiet like a good citizen. Dace's Mommy has a lot to say:

Your daily schedule astounds me, but you jumped into the NANO challenge last month. How many times have you written a November novel?
I entered Nano last year, but only got 25,000 words before the end of the month. This year, I'm within spitting distance of the finish line. Except I'm writing answers for you instead of writing my novel. (Update: I still managed to squeak through the deadline and get my 50k in. (she hit 50,005) Now I just have to finish the story, probably another 100k.) Most of the time, I do my heavy writing during the summer and school holidays. I can lock myself in my bedroom without having to worry about carpools or cooking or laundry or personal hygiene for days on end. I just tell my older kids they have to deal with the younger ones. And if anyone disturbs me, there had better be flames or gushing blood...

Go ahead and tell everyone what it would be like to follow you around all day…
You really want to go there? I'm just a normal housewife. *innocent smile* I get up in the morning, stumble into the shower after taking my first dose of medication, then wake up my kids and get on my computer to check my email. I suddenly realize school starts in five minutes, scramble through the house for keys and phone, then chase my two youngest kids into our monster van. It seats 15 if we put all the seats in. It's my car. We head for the school where they have class and I work.

I spend most of my morning impersonating my boss on the phone and his email. If I'm really lucky, I spend the morning teaching kids about space and gravity and Isaac Newton. Occasionally I get to play in our planetarium and make them really motion sick by zooming in and out on cool things. Or hitting the fast forward button too many times. "Oops, kids, we've jumped a week ahead. Anyone need a happy bucket?"

I usually make it home for lunch. If I'm really lucky, my 22yo son cooks it for me. I take a break, checking email and watching the noon news, while I eat. Then on to work at home until it's time to pick up kids from the Jr. High. I do graphic design, work on promotion, editing, submissions, paying bills, writing my blog*, and sometimes, write new stories. If I'm really organized, I load up the crock pot for dinner.
*Jaleta recently interviewed two people seemingly connected to the Nestor Maronski incident. Her blog link takes you to that interview.

Then it's the rounds of carpools and after school yelling fest, otherwise known as chores & homework. I only have my youngest four in school. The older four are adults and on their own. After dinner, I might have a few minutes to watch TV with my husband before he heads to bed. If it's a good day, kids are tucked in and mostly quiet by 9 pm, but I'm bushed. I'm not as young as I used to be.

On Fridays, I get to wear my Star Fleet uniform. Nobody even bats an eye at the school. They're used to us there.

If it's a special day, I might get to fly one of the simulators at work. So much fun listening to kids scream and panic as the Klingons attack. It's storytelling on a whole different level. Want more info? Yeah, it's my day job.

You call a group of fifteen for Thanksgiving ‘small’ ?
Fifteen is nothing. My kitchen table seats twelve without crowding. My summer job at work is cooking for their space camps, sixty to seventy people at a time. I am the kitchen queen. I used to put on themed dinners for 100 people for a local con. I've got five crock pots and they aren't small. Don't mess with me when it comes to food. And don't you dare get between me and my chocolate stash. People have lost limbs over that.

You are a Sci-Fy master. Don’t blush or dispute it. But, you play quite lovingly with zombies, too. Where does that ghoulish streak come from?
Watching too many old horror movies. The Brain that Wouldn't Die! The Cockroaches that Ate Cincinnati! Damnation Alley! Planet of the Apes! Anything made-for-SyFy! My kids and I laugh ourselves sick over the movies. I do horror, but only the silly stuff. I'm never serious about zombies.

You are partnered in how many anthologies on Pill Hill Press?
Two so far - Rotting Tales (great-aunt Tildie returns from the dead to steal her great-niece's groom and her wedding day in 'Always a Bridesmaid' ) which is now on sale, and Wretched Moments (picture those evil porcelain dolls with the big eyes and onion heads, yeah they're evil as Mary's school finds out in 'Mary Had a Possessed Li'l Lambkin' ). I've got more serious work in The Last Man Anthology from Sword & Saga Press. And a silly vampire story coming soon in Fangs, from L&L Dreamspell. 'The Effect of Degraded Food Supplies on Indigenous Populations'. Sparkling only happens when the werewolves get involved.

I've got a full list of all my stories, in magazines and online sites and anthologies, on my website. You can also check out my novel there, too. Book 2 is coming soon.

Aren’t you also the bane of hundreds with your online gaming skills?
I think you have me confused with my kids. I don't play much online. I do slaughter orcs and entire civilizations on my computer for therapy. I'm also the queen of Tetris.

You had a character bring you nightmares, until you rewrote him, didn’t you?
That's in book three, which is still in the pile waiting edits and other such fun stuff. Lucas Verity made my skin crawl. I reworked the book and toned him way down. He still gives me the creeps.

Boxers or briefs?
A lady doesn't tell. *cheesy grin* I don't care, as long as they're under a uniform, preferably one with the Patrol logo on the front.

What is the favorite meal in your crowded household?
That depends on the day. They rarely complain, mostly because they know that if they complain, I make them cook dinner. It works for me. They love my soups, usually. Anything doused with enchilada sauce is the current favorite. Or bacon.

What food will your clan refuse to eat?
Pickled okra. Most of them refuse to eat mushrooms, but not all.

Have you been surprised at the number of migraine sufferers in the group of authors you’ve met?
Not really. Writing causes massive brain damage which leads to migraines. Right? This topic has come up at several SF cons I've attended lately. It seems writers tend to suffer from depression, fibromyalgia, migraines, pink eye, tuberculosis, etc, etc, etc. I don't know if writers as a whole are sicker than the population, speaking physically, or that we're just more in touch with our inner illnesses.

That's all said with tongue firmly in cheek. I have great sympathy for everyone who suffers from chronic illnesses. It isn't easy to live with. Speaking from my own personal experience. I have a list of chronic illnesses as long as my arm. But that's life.

You’ve said that, as an author, you are somewhere oddly between the traditional and self-publishing camps. Could you explain what you mean by that?
I'm with a small press. So I don't get any of the publicity or marketing that the big NY publishers offer.

I've had Indie authors dump on me for selling out to the establishment. I had one call me stupid for accepting a contract at all and not doing it all myself. But I'm happy with my choice. I have a wonderful editor and a great publisher. Editors don't get the praise they deserve. I let the publisher deal with a lot of the paperwork and things like distribution. I do whatever promo I can. And I get to see my books on shelves. Small press is really a great way to go, if you understand where you're going.

Now if only I'd understood all of this *before* I got published. I went in blind, but ended up with a good choice that works for me through blind luck. Too many aspiring authors have too many misconceptions about the publishing world. Until they get involved. It's changing so fast, it's hard to keep up. Do your homework and know where you want to go before you start submitting. And never ever pay anyone to publish your book for you. If you're self-pubbed, please pay an editor. But don't fall for a vanity press and their promises to "publish" your work.

Quote your favorite Sci-Fi film, and let’s see which comment can identify the movie title…
Oh, goody! One of our favorite games at my house. Let's see how utterly obscure I can get...

"We have blood loss here, Earther."
"Let's see who needs a galaxy hopping garbage man today."
"Do they have any missing limbs? I hate it when they have missing limbs."
All from the same movie. #3 is a giveaway for anyone who's seen the movie.
(answer - for the uncool)

You know Arthur C. Clarke’s birthday, without Googling it, don’t you?
You're kidding, right? I don't even remember my own birthday most years. With the number of family members I've got, I lost track a long time ago. I only know my kids' birthdays because I've had to fill out way too many forms. I do have to stop and make sure I have the right child with the right birthday.

Why don’t you give less than three stars in your reviews?
It's just cruel. If I honestly didn't like the book and wouldn't recommend it, I won't review it. I give three stars if I have reservations or have issues with the book. Four stars if I liked it, five if I just couldn't put it down. Those five-stars are rare anymore. A book has to be really, really good to keep me reading past my bedtime. I'm old and need my sleep.

Could you write a Samurai novel?
Sure I could, but some historical accuracy nut would rip it to shreds. So, as long as I can put my samurai in space or on an alternate reality world, I could do it. Then I don't have to be historically accurate. I can have all the zero-g sword fights and ninja attacks that I can fit into the story.

Is there a clear division between Sci-Fi , and Sci-fantasy? Which camp do you fall into?
All those divisions of genre and sub-genres confuse me. I write what I want to read, which usually involves lots of fights, chases, explosions, fires, explosions, big weapons, chases, and explosions. Did I mention I like watching things blow up? Nexus Point is space opera, which means the adventure is the main focus of the story and that romance will show up somewhere, but only a little. The science is based on real science, though extrapolated into my futuristic universe. As long as most people find it believable, I'm good. It's about the story, first and foremost.

Isn’t Utah the most perfect State to be a geologist? What is your favorite day trip?
Okay, I admit. I have a BS, so I can shovel it deeper.

I graduated from BYU many moons ago with a degree in geology. Utah is a marvelous place to study rocks. First, it's a desert so the rocks aren't covered by trees or other plants. Second, Utah has every kind of rock. Metamorphic in the mountains east and north, sedimentary in the south and east, volcanics all through the west. Part of BYU's program is a 4-credit class. You spend two weeks driving all over Utah, south into Arizona (have to catch the Grand Canyon), and north into Idaho.

There's a reason Utah has so many national parks and state parks - Zions, Arches, Bryce Canyon, Lake Powell, Canyonlands, Goblin Valley, Capitol Reef, the Uintah Mountains, the Great Salt Lake, and on and on. You want mountains with tall pines? Got it. You want deserts? Got it. You want sandstone cliffs? Got that, too. Utah is a beautiful state. Plus it has lots of BLM land, which means you can collect rocks without looking over your shoulder for a park ranger. I know where to find topaz, apache tears, wonderstone, jasper, granite, sandstone, and a whole lot of other fun rocks. My kids love rockhounding. We had to make the rule that when your pants start sliding down, you're done picking up rocks. At least until you empty your pockets.

Favorite day trip really depends on the season. Spring and fall are perfect for rockhounding in the desert. Summer, we head up the canyons and into the mountains. Winter we usually stay home and huddle by the fire.

Do you ‘dress’ for the fantasy conventions you attend?
Yes, I dress up as an author. Oh, you meant do I wear costumes? No, I save those for work. I do sew costumes, but not for myself. I prefer to see other people wearing them.

Name someone who is a MUST for cryogenic preservation.
If I believed it worked, I'd have a huge list. But I don't think it will ever really be viable, at least not in my lifetime. People I would like to see virtually preserved, mostly so I can meet them at least once, include Andre Norton and Isaac Asimov. Think how much fun it would be to sit down to dinner with Gandhi or Mother Theresa or Carl Sagan. What interesting conversations you could have. Current living people? Hmm. I'm too out of touch. Most of the ones I want to meet I already have.

How many books are in your ‘Altairan Empire’ series.
Eleven. All under contract, so they will be published. My publisher said one a year, but I'm still waiting for book two to make it through edits. And yes, book eleven really does end the series. Once you save the universe, everything else is anticlimactic. Oh, did I just give away the story?

Will you admit this for us - are you Dace?
Nope. I've never been an orphan. I did not grow up in an orphanage under a repressive regime. I have never attended the Patrol Academy, even though I would love to. I definitely have never flown my own starship, much to my eternal disappointment. And I've never kissed a Patrol Enforcer, though I'd really like to someday.

Oh, you mean metaphorically. She has a lot of traits and values in common with me, but she isn't me and I'm not her. It's a weird separation, especially since I wrote her story in first person, as if she were telling it. But she lives in a different space in my head than I do. Please don't send the men in white coats, I promise I'm just an author and this is normal for us. I have lots of people living in my head and yes, they do talk to me. Dace had a lot to say, once I finally got her to open up and trust me.

Aren’t you guilty of editing yourself to death? I’ve beta read ‘Princess of the Eggstone’ and it is brilliant. Why on earth would you be editing in that sequel to ‘Nexus Point’?
Thanks. *blushing* I'm still waiting for my editor's comments. I already did the initial edit on the book, mostly to clean up the writing style and make sure I didn't leave a red herring in chapter three that I never resolved. I hate those pesky plot bunnies. I learned a lot working with my editor on book one. I applied that to book two. We'll see what she thinks.

And by the way, it's "PRIESTESS of the Eggstone". Dace isn't princess of anything. She'd kick you in the teeth if you insulted her that way. She'd probably just kick you in the teeth anyway, for asking so many questions. She hates questions. (I adore that she smacked me for that goof!)

‘Nexus Point’ was far from the first thing you had written. Has that series become your love now?
It will always be one of my favorites. I lived with that story and those characters for over a decade. They are more real to me than some of my family members. My favorite story is whatever I'm writing at the time. I have to fall in love with the story or I can't write it.

The first draft of Nexus Point was the seventh full-length novel I wrote. The final version came in somewhere around eighteen. I lost track somewhere in the middle. I count it as a full novel because I chucked the entire first draft, reworked the plot, and rewrote it from scratch. I like it much better than the original.

I know of a book, which contains ‘Mask of the Red Death’ by Poe; ‘The Last Hours’ by D.H. Lawrence; ‘There Will Come Soft Rains’ by Ray Bradbury – and your story, ‘Omega Museum’ shares pages with those astounding names. Did you submit for that honor, or were you selected?
I saw the call for submissions and dreamed up a story that fit. I sent it in the last week of submissions. I was tickled that they accepted it. I've read the anthology and I am very impressed. It's an honor to be included with so many of the great names in science fiction, fantasy, and horror writing. The Last Man Anthology is a great read. Pack some tissues for it, though. It is all about the end and the last. Sad, heart breaking, but beautiful.

Thank you Missy! This won’t be the last you hear from me. I love to tweak things during the weeklong feature. I’ll ask something else, or make something up!
Bring it on, Joel. This has been fun.
Let me know if you want any pictures or links. I'm happy to send them on.
And if you want to ask about hobbies - I make Lego Winnebago’s (with machine gun turrets, trebuchets, and full kitchens), Sunbonnet Cthulu pieced/appliquéd pillows, and bizarrely named foods. Among other things.

Told you guys...she is busier than God.


  1. Wow! You are a busy lady, Jaleta. A very fun interview, Joel :)
    I enjoyed finding out more about our Ultimate Queen of the Galaxy!

  2. Thanks, Maria and Joel. This interview is one of the most fun I've done. And yes, my boss did say I could officially be Ultimate Queen of the Galaxy.

  3. I just read Jaleta's daily schedule. Now I need a nap. Only an alien could accomplish so much in one day. :)

  4. Wanna know my secret, Darcia? I have Mary Poppins in a bottle in my back pocket. Any time I need to be more efficient, I just pull her out and squeeze a bit more Poppins juice over my head. Poof! I'm good for even more stuff.

  5. I blame my boss. He's the one convinced that Mary Poppins is from another world with a whole story that we don't know...


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