I've known Natalie for many many years. She was the third in a line of Andersons who walked the Space Center's halls and found meaningful and profound ways to shape the program for the better.
Natalie recently retired from active starfleet service to focus on her next best love, writing books; and she has written more than one as you'll read in her post below. I tried writing a book once and got as far as a few pages and gave up. I created too many characters to keep track of, there were too many plot holes I didn't have the patience to fill, and far too many words needed to be written - so my hat is off to Natalie.
Aleta Clegg (Micah Clegg's mother) is another retired Space Center legend and author. She uses the name Jaleta Clegg for her writing. A quick search of her name on Amazon will bring up her books. I mention this to illustrate the fact that the Space Center is the nesting ground for many great storytellers.
And now, without further ado, may I invite you to enjoy Natalie's post on her life as an author writing exclusively for The Troubadour in traditional style.
Like the myriad of NASA launches that have been delayed for one reason or another, this post too has been put off. Perhaps it is because I feel strange writing about my own work. Or I fell into a pit of procrastination. But if I’m telling the truth, I forgot where I put my pass to get on the train back to the Imaginarium. A travesty, I know.
The train in question. The conductor is very particular about train passes. Not sure why they don’t use tickets. At least then I could lose them without consequences after the ride. I used to keep extra passes on my person at all times, in case I lost one or I needed to bring a guest or something like that. Unfortunately, my extra passes were lost the last time my reactivation clause beacon was activated. I won’t go into the details, but if anyone finds a bit of blue luggage floating around the peak of Olympus Mons, please let me know.
In any case, I have since found my pass, thank goodness. Otherwise, I’d have to hitchhike all the way to the secret post box on Wondrium Avenue to get this mailed to the Imaginarium Chief of News and other Fiddly Things.
It has a habit of moving between alleyways making it quite difficult to find. It’s only red when it wants to be red, and that’s usually only when it knows for certain that you’re looking directly at it. If your eyes skip past it, you’ll never find it. Be confident and stare at every brick and eventually it’ll work for you.
What? You think we just email him? Psh. Never.
Now onto the actual news: I wrote a book! Actually, I’ve written several, but when my first books came out, I was still looking for my train pass. I suppose I’ll tell you about them too! My first series is called Constantine Capers and is a historical mystery about a detective with short term memory loss. Every day he wakes up and can’t remember the day before. I wrote much of the first one, The Pennington Perplexity while I was on sabbatical in England, France, Rome, and apparently, Mars.
This is the cover for the first book. My publisher’s cover designer did such a good job!
The second one, Flashes of Memory, I wrote once I was called back into service of Starfleet. And the third one (There Comes a Midnight Hour) I’ve been working on since I’ve entered my real retirement. This book is not done yet but give it a week or two. (Will there be a fourth? Probably. Don’t ask me about the fifth.)
And here’s book two. It’s my mom’s favorite. I think my favorite is the one I’m writing. But that’s only until the writer’s block kicks in.
The first two were finalists for the Whitney Awards, (if you know what that award is, we can be friends. If not, we still can be friends).
My second series makes a lot more sense when you consider that I was practically raised at the Space Center. The series is called The Thirteenth Zodiac and the first book is called Keepers of the Zodiac. It’s a sci-fi/fantasy series that could be described in this way: Take Avatar the Last Airbender, smush it into Star Wars, and then sprinkle in some Indiana Jones for good measure.
Here’s the cover for that book. Ain’t it pretty? Since I self-published this book, I actually designed this one and I’m really proud of it.
Another description could be: “What would happen if falling stars gave you magic powers?” But perhaps the best description is the one I wrote for the back cover:
Within the white marbled halls of the Zodiac Palace, the Great Dragon waits. At the dark chaotic maw of the abyss, the Divine Augury watches.
And on the top of the cascade in nowhere Nevada, the next Keeper of the Zodiac wishes. Serena Morelli had plans. Good ones. Finish the semester, become an astronaut, and watch another meteor shower.
In no particular order.
Now she has a fallen star in her pocket, lightning at her fingertips, and a man named Pharos Everleigh on her doorstep.
Thrown headlong into an interstellar realm of mystery, magic, and tyranny, can Serena find her place in the Universe before she needs to save it?
Or for you more visual people, here’s a short trailer for it:
Pretty good, huh? I like it in any case. So, last month I decided to publish it. And what better place to showcase a science fiction novel launch than in the Planetarium at the Christa McAuliffe Space Center? James Porter was very kind in letting me rent the planetarium for the evening and we had a pretty good turnout. Talked about the book, showed a teaser for it on the big dome, and then finished it off with a good, old-fashioned planetarium show. My mother was instrumental for distributing hot chocolate outside afterwards whilst the snow made it impossible to see the brightest meteor shower of the year.
A pretty good turnout indeed! Pictures courtesy of my mother.
Something about the dome distorts photography. I promise that’s me.
I’d never done a book launch in person before, and it was an absolute blast! Honestly, even with some things not going entirely according to plan, I couldn’t have planned it better. I’m hoping to do five books for this series, so maybe if I keep a hold of my train pass, I’ll announce the next launch before it even happens!
I’m really excited to be officially announcing my books to the loyal Troubadour readers! If you want more information on my books and what I’m up to, I have a website at www.nataliebrianne.com. In fact, if you scroll down on the first page, you can access some short stories you can read for free! (The Ferengi would be so mad at me).
At the end of the day, I doubt I’d be writing books if it wasn’t for my time at the Space Center. That intoxicating feeling that comes from storytelling using the discipline of wonder is not something that quickly leaves the system. And I’d not have it any other way!
Anywho, I’d best finish this up so I can catch that train and get to the post box. I just hope it hasn’t moved. Again.
Natalie (Brianne) Anderson
Emeritus Set Director of the Odyssey
Flight Director Extraordinaire
Voice Actress in the Order of the Silver Microphone
And Apparently an Author. Who Knew?
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