Christine Amsden has been writing fantasy and science fiction for as long as she can remember. She loves to write and it is her dream that others will be inspired by this love and by her stories. Speculative fiction is fun, magical, and imaginative but great speculative fiction is about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations. Christine writes primarily about people and relationships, and it is in this way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone.

At the age of 16, Christine was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, which scars the retina and causes a loss of central vision. She is now legally blind, but has not let this slow her down or get in the way of her dreams.

Christine currently lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success. In addition to being a writer, she’s a mom and freelance editor.

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About the Book: 

Apparently, life doesn’t end when you get married.

When a couple freezes to death on a fifty degree day, Cassie is called in to investigate. The couple ran a daycare out of their home, making preschoolers the key witnesses and even the prime suspects.

Two of those preschoolers are Cassie’s youngest siblings, suggesting conditions at home are worse than she feared. As Cassie struggles to care for her family, she must face the truth about her mother’s slide into depression, which seems to be taking the entire town with it.

Then Cassie, too, is attacked by the supernatural cold. She has to think fast to survive, and her actions cause a rift between her and her husband.

No, life doesn’t end after marriage. All hell can break loose at any time.

INTERVIEW: 

Why don’t you begin by telling us a little about your writing background?

I’ve been writing, or at least making up stories, since I was a small child. My first short story, featuring Cabbage Patch Dolls, was completed when I was about eight. Since then, I’ve learned a few things. 🙂

Frozen will be my ninth published book and my seventh book in the Cassie Scot series. This novel is a particular triumph because I’ve had a recent shift in attitude about writing after a long period of burnout. Frozen was one of my healing projects.

Tell us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write it.

Frozen begins a new chapter in the life and the world of Cassie Scot. I intended for the series to be over in four books. Then Madison and Kaitlin, Cassie’s best friends, asked for spin-offs. Then I thought I was done. Actually, then came that burnout I mentioned. Cassie talked to me a bit during this period, but I kept telling her to shut up and go away because writing Frozen wasn’t the right move for my career. I needed a new series to attract a new audience.

Finally, I realized that writing is a labor of love, one that comes with no business guarantees. To reconnect with my muse, to find the joy in writing again, I had to write what was in my heart to write. Even if it didn’t always make the most business sense.

What was your goal when writing this book?

“Apparently, life doesn’t end when you get married.” This is both the tagline and the first sentence. Cassie still had some things to say about life after marriage, and I wanted to help her say them.

Agatha Christie got her best ideas while eating green apples in the bathtub. Steven Spielberg says he gets his best ideas while driving on the highway. When do you get your best ideas?

I get my best ideas when my life is in balance, and I’m taking care of myself. I mentioned that shift in attitude – it was hard won, believe me. Now I know that I have to take care of myself first, before I can take care of anyone or anything else, including my stories. I walk, do yoga, and meditate every day.

Describe your working environment.

I work in my finished basement, which I designed myself. There’s not a lot of light, but there is a small window and anyway, I love the cavelike feel of the room. Makes it cozy.

When I write, I get a mug of tea and light a candle every time. This cues me that I’m in writing mode, and helps me focus.

How do you divide your time between taking care of a home and children, and writing? Do you plan your writing sessions in advance?

Most days, I write second thing in the morning. I need a bit of time to ease into the day, but then I’m awake and alert, and ready to go. I set myself a daily word count MAXIMUM of 1,500 words so that I focus on quality rather than quantity. This shift in attitude is profound, and has ironically helped me produce finished drafts faster.

After I write, I allow 2-3 hours per day for freelance editing, when I have a job, and 1-2 hours a day for marketing. I also have to fit that self care in (yoga, walking, meditation). It can be tight, but it works.

The kids get home from school at 3:30 and after that, I’m theirs.

What is your opinion about critique groups? What words of advice would you offer a novice writer who is joining one? Do you think the wrong critique group can ‘crush’ a fledgling writer?

My opinion is that if you want to be a great writer, and you don’t happen to have a professionally published author in your pocket, willing to mentor you, then you have two other choices:

  1. Join a critique group.
  2. Spend many, many thousands of dollars on professional editing.

I list these out because, as a freelance editor, I have found myself working with amateur authors willing to go down road #2 and as I’m taking their money, it’s beyond me to judge them for that choice. I have the right touch when it comes to guiding new authors through draft after draft as they learn first one skill, then another. It’s almost as much psychology as writing know-how, because you’ve got to be supportive and constructive rather than destructive. Lying and false flattery are right out, but on the other hand, you don’t have to tell a new author EVERYTHING that’s wrong with their book. You can pick a few things and start there.

Coming back to critique groups … that’s how I got started, but it is certainly true that many critiquers are terrible. You end up with two groups, each equally destructive in its own way:

  1. The false flatterers. The ones too scared to hurt your feelings to tell you anything useful to help you improve.
  2. The hyper-critics. The ones who seem to have nothing at all nice to say, who maybe don’t even try to say anything nice and don’t understand the point of saying nice things.

Somewhere in the middle, there are plenty of adequate critiquers who, for the low price of time as you exchange critiques of your own, will help guide you.

You really have little choice, unless you’re independently wealthy. You have to take the risk and know that it is a risk. That you might face the hyper-critics. And it hurts. Believe me, I know! We all know, those of us who have tried. It’s that unavoidable.

You need to learn how to say, “Thank you” and then move on to another person or group.

Frozen (Cassie Scot Book Seven)

Print Release: July 15, 2018

Audiobook Release: TBA

Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective (Cassie Scot Book One)

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