Pamela K Witte

Getting Personal! Gate Crashers’ Author Interviews

Said | Oct 21 2014


click the pics for cool links

If isn’t personal what the heck is it?

Author Interviews That Rock

Introducing Debut Author

Shallee McArthur

And her thrilling sci fi adventure


Okay Shallee, here we go!

Tell us a little bit about yourself.  

I’m a writer of things fantastical and futuristic, fan of Africa, frequent changer of hairstyles, and am apparently fond of alliteration. 

Tell us about your new book. What is the blurb on your book cover or your quick synopsis?   

Here’s the quick synopsis: A girl who’s genetically enhanced to store her memories in external objects must hunt a memory thief with the help of the only person she’s ever forgotten. 

Just to get us started, how long have you been writing? In one sentence (it can run on) tell us how it felt the moment you learned your book would be published?

I’m the type that’s been writing since childhood, but I didn’t start writing full novels until college. As for the moment I learned this book would be published, it was sort of AHHHHHH! and WUT? and SQUEEEEE! and ij$%@fdjoi?!?! 

What inspired you to write THE UNHAPPENING OF GENESIS LEE? 

A world where some people can remember everything with the help of Link bracelets… Where did this fantastic premise come from?

My husband had the idea of storing our memories of a special object IN that object. He thought it would be a cool fantasy, but my brain had already twisted it into a sci fi premise. It took a lot of thought and research to figure out a scientific way for it to be in the realm of possibility! I found it fascinating how our central nervous system—brain and spine—and our peripheral nervous system—everything else—do and don’t work together. That’s where I came up with the idea to have to nervous systems hook together in a new way, so the brain sent memories through the peripheral nervous system into something the person touched. It opened up a whole host of potential and problems I needed to solve, and I find that the best parts of a story usually exist in the problems! 

Why science fiction? 

Sci fi is what I’ve grown up reading, watching, and writing! I love all the possibilities available in dreaming of the future. I’m also a mega science nerd, so I love using real science in my books.

What attracted you to the idea of a futuristic mystery?

When I first got the idea of story memories in external objects, I immediately started thinking what conflicts would come into play. And, duh, it’d be so easy to get memories stolen if they were outside your brain! That lead into the mystery, and the idea involved technology we don’t have yet, so futuristic it was. 

Did you do special research on memory and the ability to retain/lose it?

Absolutely. I researched a lot of the basics of what we know about memories, and read a lot of articles and journals about current memory research. It’s really important to me to be able to extrapolate from real science!

How did you choose the unique setting for this story?

My setting is based on southern Utah and northern Arizona. I love red rock desert, and I had an idea for a scene early on where Gena, my main character, is dancing in a red rock canyon. So that’s what the setting became! And that scene is in the book, and it’s one of my favorites. 

If your villain could give one piece of advice to your readers, what would it be?

As the villain says in the book at one point, “Bitterness stunts vision.” I love my villain in a lot of ways, because s/he (ha! Not even giving you a gender hint!) has been through some real crap, and in a lot of ways, survived admirably. But s/he also scares the heck out of me, I won’t lie!

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?

My freshman creative writing teacher in college said there are only two things you need for writing: have a take, and don’t suck. And really, that’s the basics of it. Have a unique take on an idea, one that readers find interesting and new, and then write that story so it doesn’t suck!

What is the most important thing for a writer to remember?

To trust your instincts. Instincts are very quiet, so you have to train yourself to hear. They aren’t the loud shouts of “you suck at this” or “oh my gosh, this is so horrible”—that’s insecurity, not instinct. I’ve found that I often have a vague uncomfortable feeling about certain things in a story, but it’s so vague, I tend to barely notice it. Nine times out of ten, my crit group nails that thing as something that’s not working. And then I realize I already knew that, I just didn’t pay attention to those instincts. I’m slowly learning to be more aware of those feelings.

Just for kicks… What are some of your favorite TV shows, movies?  

I heart Netflix for giving me access to my favorites, because they’re old! I love Star Trek: TNG, The X-Files, Fringe…it’s no wonder all my story ideas involve weird science!

 Other than writing, what do you like to do for fun? Hobbies?  

I live right smack-dab in the middle of the most gorgeous mountains. One of my favorite things is to gather up my family and go up the canyon. We hike, we wade in the river, we roll in the grass, we ride bikes along the river trail…it’s just as blissful as it sounds!

 As a kid what was your favorite book? 

I adored The Giver by Lois Lowry, because it taught me that a book could change the way you saw the world.The-Giver

I also devoured Anne of Green Gables, because I wanted to be just as imaginative and fun as Anne, and the next best thing was living in her world. 

Any closing words of wisdom for author-wannabes out there?  

Everything in our writing world seems to shout that you have to get published now, you have to write that book now, you have to write faster, you have to query more, you have to run run run or the publishing train will leave you behind, and if the traditional publishing train doesn’t show up, you should self-pub this very minute.

Don’t. Don’t do any of that. Stop running after publishing, and start embracing your writing. You don’t HAVE to query your first book—or any book. You don’t HAVE to self-pub just because you hate to put that book in a drawer. You don’t HAVE to do anything. Writing is hard, yes, but it can be a joy, too. Find the joy in it. Find the story you love, and write it. Write that one and the next one and the next one, because it takes a long time to develop your skill and your voice. Let it take a long time. Let yourself love it, let yourself improve. Publishing will still be there when you do, and then you’ll have even more to offer than you ever dreamed.

And there you have it! Personal and Real with Shallee McArthur! Thanks for the super-cool, insightful interview, Shallee

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lisha cauthen

Tech Yourself: QUIP: Sync, Share, and Discuss–All in One iPhone App

Said | Oct 09 2014

Instead of our usual list of apps which are variations on a theme, today we’re looking at one fab app in depth.

whale swimming

quip iphone app for writers icon

Quip – Docs, Chat, Spreadsheets

MIT Technology Review published 10 Breakthrough Technologies in 2014 a few months ago, including “Mobile Collaboration”. And the app MIT Tech Review chose to highlight, was Quip.

Quip is more than document-sharing, it’s an entire productivity app.


  • Link to your email, which gives Quip access to your contacts. Choose which people you wish to collaborate with, and send an invite to get them on board.
  • Go to DESKTOP and hit the icon on the upper left to create a folder.

quip screenshot

  • After the project folder is created, a screen pops up listing your contacts. Add the people you want to work with. If they’re not already members of Quip, once you save your choices, the app will compose an email you can send to invite them. You can add or leave out anyone you choose, on each folder.

quip screenshot 2DOCUMENTS

  • Now we get down to business. At DESKTOP, poke the project folder you wish to work on. Hit the dotted square with the + sign. Quip gives you the option to create a document or import one from Dropbox, Google Drive, Evernote, box or iCloud.

quip screenshot 3

  • If you’re importing, select the document you need. Once Quip syncs, hit SHARE>ADD PEOPLE AND FOLDERS and choose where you want your info to go. Then SAVE.
  • Now, everyone privy to the project folder can edit and/or comment on the document, or create a new document and stick it in the folder.
  • Changes show up on everyone’s phone and laptop simultaneously.



  • Sometimes a comment about an edit isn’t enough. Quip surpasses the other document-syncing apps with the addition of chat. Right in the folder. An archived thread. Not kidding.

quip iphone app screenshot 5

  • And notifications when there’s activity on a project.
  • Lastly, when everyone has stuck their fingers in your project pie, export as a Word document, PDF, or a link. Or go straight to the printer.

Quip is one nifty syncing and collaboration tool. A great app to use all by yourself, but stellar to use with others.

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lisha cauthen

Tech Yourself: Six Apps That Will Teach You Everything

Said | Sep 13 2014

Writers don’t know everything, but they have to look like they do. When you’re tappa tappa tapping along and suddenly find your main character fixing a hole in his roof, you better know how to lay a shingle. Where oh where can you turn? Your iPhone, of course.


wiki how app iconwikiHow

Like Wikipedia, this site is curated by the public. Over 150,000 articles, instructions and videos. Everything from plumbing to travel to how to raise your kids. App is free. FREE




snapguide app icon Snapguide – How-tos, Recipes, Fashion, Crafts, iPhone Tips and Lifehacks

How-tos from cars to makeup, clear steps with supply lists and photos. Many are authored by professionals, but anyone can submit. Including you. App is free. FREE




instructable app iconInstructables – DIY How To Make Instructions

All sorts of DIYs, from building a battery to wedding favors to catching worms with walnuts. (Yes. That is a real Instructional.) Contributed by the sort of person who goes to Maker Faire.  Fun, supportive and mind-bending community. The spirit of invention is strong in this one. Also, cutest icon. App is free. FREE




learnist app icon Learnist: Experts Curate Lessons to Share Their Knowledge

Information is curated on Learnboards. Anyone can put together a Learnboard, using links to text or videos on the web. Most are free, but there are a few Premium boards authored by experts that cost .99 cents. App is free. FREE/PAID




curious app iconCurious

Learn things academic, techie, crafty and more. Contributed by professionals who want to sell you lessons, most tutorials offer the first lesson for free. If you want to really delve into a subject and don’t have the time or money to attend a full-blown class or workshop, this might be for you. The app is free. FREE/PAID



helpout app iconHelpouts

By Google. Actually live connecting with living human beings to–wait for it–HELP OUT. All sorts of categories, the app only shows Helpers who offer at least the first consultation for free. App is free. FREE/PAID




Don’t sidestep a scene just because your main character needs a skill you can’t provide. Grab your phone and get informed.

simpsons text classroom


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lisha cauthen

Tech Yourself: 5 iPhone Apps That Will Get Any Kid in Trouble

Said | Jun 23 2014

The iPhone apps we’re talking about today are real. They are free. And they can get your main character–and also, your real-life self or kids–in trouble.



snapchat icon Oh, Snapchat. You are the post-Facebook way to ruin a teenaged life. The messages and pictures supposedly disappear after they’re read, but THIS IS THE WEBTUBES, PEOPLE. NOTHING EVER COMPLETELY DISAPPEARS FROM THE INFORMATION HIGHWAY.

The recipient can take a screenshot of that topless selfie you sent, and then forward it to everybody you know. And so on. And so on.



2. KIK

kik iconSet up a username and text your friends, or when you meet someone you’re not too sure about, give them your Kik name instead of your phone number. Sounds nifty-safe, right? It is, unless Feckless Teenager texts a creep. And unlike the native iPhone text app, there will be no record of the texts on your provider account, in case you suddenly disappear. And no way to see who you’re actually talking to in the first place.



3. ASK.FM iconShould be renamed the Bully At Will app, by Anonymous. Kids have committed suicide over it. Supposedly, the app team has put safety checks in place. But anyone can sign up, use any name, and “ask” anyone a “question”. Like, “Do you never take a shower?”






tinder app iconSo. Post a flattering picture of yourself and away we go. Tinder finds people geographically close to you and offers them for your perusal–you can say yay or nay. Then chatting happens. And who knows what else. As you can imagine, you got no idea who the heck you’re REALLY talking to. And when you meet ‘em somewhere–well, it’s too late. Tinder really and truly is not meant to be used by teens, but hey. How ya gonna keep ‘em down on the farm?



yik yak app icon Post something, anonymously, of course, and the 500 users geographically closest to you can see it. This is one of the   big apps being banned by schools.  For bullying and terrorist threats. Oh. And it’s an excellent way for sexual predators to find teens close to them.




This is by no means every app that is dangerous in the hands of naive users. There are apps that resemble chatroulette, encourage users to post their deepest secrets, hook users up for–whatever, and give people a place to let loose their basest instincts.






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lisha cauthen

Tech Yourself: 4 Writer’s-Block-Busting iPhone Apps

Said | Jun 10 2014

C2PqHbC - Imgur

Out of good ideas?

Well, my little dumpling, you know where to turn:









CREATIVE WRITER-INSPIRATION TOOL FOR WRITING-Write a story, take notes, capture ideas, compose poems, rap, lyrics, love letters, messages or prompts

Fun app that helps you build sentences to jangle your mind. As you type, word clouds pop up to choose your next word from. Really different.




Sometimes, other’s words inspire our own. This app from the Poetry Foundation is chock-full of old and contemporary poems, new ones are added each month. Browse by poet, subject or mood. Very handy.









A friend of mine, Barb Stuber, takes her writerly inspiration from art. She works at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art as a docent, which is a pretty smart thing to do. If you can’t work in a museum, the next best thing is an app. WikiArt has over 110,000 pieces of art from all over the world to inspire you. Searchable.









But don’t stop at art museums, natural history museums hold lots of interesting tidbits and secrets to springboard your stories off of. This app has photos and information from some of the most popular and interesting items in the Field Museum.


There are lots of art, word and museum apps available in the app store–many are free. Give yourself time to dream up something new.



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    • On I&A: Getting Personal! Gate Crashers’ Author Interviews
      about 1 month ago
    • On I&A: Tech Yourself: QUIP: Sync, Share, and Discuss--All in One iPhone App
      about 1 month ago
    • On I&A: Tech Yourself: Six Apps That Will Teach You Everything
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