Ask a writer: Cecilia Dominic

MountainsShadow-The72lgToday's prompt for Blog Like Crazy is to do a Q & A with someone I admired. Cecilia Dominic is that person; as a clinical psychologist by day and fiction writer by night, she has committed to her passion by writing every day. This year, her first book was released by Samhain Publication. Called The Mountain's Shadow, this novel features Joanie Fisher, a research scientist who studies an amped up version of ADHD titled Chronic Lycanthropy Syndrome. When her grandfather disappears and his will is read, she inherits the family's manor. The house and sprawling grounds come with a catch: the nearby town's children disappear during every full moon...and her butler turns into a werewolf. After a months' long hiatus from reading fiction, I tore through The Mountain's Shadow in a few hours. Its smart writing and thoughtful dialogue are complimented by Dominic's scientifically precise descriptions. When I spoke with her, she was between sessions with patients at work. Her book is available through all major e-book retailers.

Clair McLafferty for See Clair Write: How did you get started writing?

CD: Apparently I wrote my first story when I was two. I dictated it to my mother, and apparently it was about a bunny. Speaking of, I need to ask her to dig it out because reading it now would be hilarious. After that, I wrote little stories on and off during school. I only got serious about it during graduate school when I needed something to keep me sane.

SCW: What made you choose to write fantasy?

CD: That’s just kind of how it happened. I love to read fantasy, and I really love urban fantasy. I think I always wanted the world to be more interesting than it is.

SCW: How did you connect with your publisher?

CD: It was a slush pile submission. One of the representatives from a publication house, Samhain Publishing, had come to talk to the Georgia Romance Writers. I sent in my sub about six months later, and it ended up on my editor, Holly Adkinson’s, desk. We went from there.

SCW: When did you start blogging?

CD: I started blogging almost six years ago in 2008. In 2007, we had gone through cancer treatments with one of our cats that were intense and eventually unsuccessful. They lasted from March to December, after that whole ordeal was over, I was feeling the need to take care of something. We could either get a dog, have a baby or start a wine blog. We decided that the wine blog would be the most feasible.

SCW: What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

CD: I would say that once you write your first book and are sending it out, don’t wait to write your second book until that one is published. Just keep writing. With every book, you’ll learn something that you can take back and use to revise earlier drafts.

There are things I wouldn’t do again. By the time my first book had gotten accepted, I had written three more. It was great because I thought that made the manuscript better, and when the publisher said that they wanted another one within six momnths, I had the process down. It saved me a lot of stress to know that I could do it.

SCW: Anything I missed or that you’d like to add?

 CD: I am still in search of the perfect writing cocktail.

Have a cocktail for Cecilia? Leave it in the comments!

A pocket-sized practice

Ocean sequenceWhen I told Carla Jean Whitley that my chiropractor had strongly suggested I do more yoga, she said, "I like your chiro." A few minutes later, Carla Jean suggested the Pocket Yoga app. She is an avid yogi, so I took her word that the app was solid and paid my $3 for the download. For its price, the app's offerings are substantial. Since it is a phone-based app, the location of its use is only limited by your phone's battery life. The user can select the duration and difficulty of each of the five preset practices. Each sequence is accompanied by soothing background music, and more difficult poses are shown  from different sides for the user to better imitate the stance.

A list of poses organized by type of movement, difficulty or name is also available. Each physical position and its benefits is described in detail. This app is most useful for people who have taken a couple professionally led classes and are passingly familiar with the basic poses. So far, it has provided variety to my practice while my budget tightened.

However, the app does have a few downsides. The narrator's intonation of "inhaaaaale" and "exhaaaaale" is mildly annoying. Part of each sequence I've tried has an extended period where the user alternates between two poses. The repetition builds core and back strength, but can be tedious after a while.

Most busy yogis can find time for a 30 minute practice at home even if they do not have time for an hour-long class at a local studio. With the cost of both transport and the classes themselves, this app can be a good supplement to a regular group practice.

Disclaimer: All opinions expressed in this review were my own. I was not compensated for writing it.

Monks, manuscripts and movies (reblogged from Postscript)

Find the original post here. Everyone loves a good book-turned movie … but sometimes novels just shouldn’t make the switch to screen. A longtime lover of both books and movies, Clair McLafferty explores which pages should (and shouldn’t) make it to the silver screen.

For years, I assumed that Walter M. Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz was a work of modern philosophy, not science fiction. Once, I even opened a copy to look at the table of contents. Its three parts are titled in Latin, and I became even more suspicious that it was probably something pretentious.

But a month ago, the copy on my boyfriend’s bookshelf got the better of me. Pretentious or no, I was curious. Several hours later, I was halfway through the second section, “Fiat Lux.” The premise and prose had captured my attention.

Most of the story centers on a monastery in post-nuclear Colorado, where the monks collect the remnants of science along with relics of the traditional Catholic God. This quasi-feudal society formed after purges of scientific documents, books and scholars wiped out most of the scientific records of the past 2,000 years.

As a result, the monks only have bits and pieces of the original documents, which include calculus textbooks and engineering diagrams. These manuscripts are copied and recopied, sometimes embellished, and sometimes made into art. They also include some of the theoretical developmental work on the atomic projects, which allow generations of scientists to focus on weaponizing technology instead of searching previous generations’ work for understanding.

Thankfully, the only screen adaptation was the 1993 BBC attempt which only covered the first two sections. With the advances in special effects that have been made since, the tendency might be to focus on creating the landscape and its mutant inhabitants rather than on the purpose of the story. Because the story spans millennia, visual adaptations might sensationalize the differences between the times. This change runs the risk of focusing on the differences among the time periods rather than the similarities in their stories.

Basically, the magic of this book lies in its subtleties. In the rush to sell movie tickets, the beauty of Miller’s world would probably be lost in explosions and hacked dialogue. Stay back, Disney. I will defend this story like its monks defend their scientific knowledge.

Clair McLafferty lives and reads in Birmingham, Alabama. Author photo by Mary Katherine Morris.

Purchase a paperback copy of A Canticle for Leibowitz from Church Street Coffee & Books by clicking the Order Books link on the left of their website. Or pick up a copy at your local independent bookseller.