“Don’t write what you know; Write what you want to know!”
By Romina Russell, YA author of Zodiac
When I was in middle school, I was obsessed with exploring our universe and imagining what might exist beyond Space; but since science has never been my strong suit, I worried I would never make it out of Earth’s orbit.
Even after I started writing fiction, I still didn’t trust myself enough to tackle a Sci Fi book because the same trite advice kept echoing through my head: Write what you know, write what you know, write what you know. And science was always something I definitely didn’t know.
I spent too many years trying to write stories that were deeply rooted in my own reality, but that familiarity also made it harder to envision different possibilities for my characters. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago, when I finally decided to experiment with something different, that I landed my first publishing contract.
ZODIAC was completely new territory for me. I wanted to water down the science by crossing Sci Fi with high fantasy—only it backfired when I realized I knew as little about astrology as astronomy. After thoroughly researching the Zodiac signs, I found that my ideal main character was nothing like me: Rather than an obsessive and analytical Virgo, Rho is a selfless and intuitive Cancrian. It was my first experience writing what I didn’t know, and it brought me right back to why I originally fell in love with writing—so I could follow my imagination anywhere.
What’s most magical about a book is that it can be anything: a spaceship that launches us into the stars, a microscope that magnifies our mind’s depths, an inter-dimensional device that transports us to alternate realities. Regardless of genre, we write to explore the world around us and the worlds within us.
So with that much possibility, why would we ever want to limit ourselves to what we already know?
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Zodiac (Zodiac, #1)
At the dawn of time, there were 13 Houses in the Zodiac Galaxy. Now only 12 remain….
Rhoma Grace is a 16-year-old student from House Cancer with an unusual way of reading the stars. While her classmates use measurements to make accurate astrological predictions, Rho can’t solve for ‘x’ to save her life—so instead, she looks up at the night sky and makes up stories.
When a violent blast strikes the moons of Cancer, sending its ocean planet off-kilter and killing thousands of citizens—including its beloved Guardian—Rho is more surprised than anyone when she is named the House’s new leader. But, a true Cancrian who loves her home fiercely and will protect her people no matter what, Rho accepts.
Then, when more Houses fall victim to freak weather catastrophes, Rho starts seeing a pattern in the stars. She suspects Ophiuchus—the exiled 13th Guardian of Zodiac legend—has returned to exact his revenge across the Galaxy. Now Rho—along with Hysan Dax, a young envoy from House Libra, and Mathias, her guide and a member of her Royal Guard—must travel through the Zodiac to warn the other Guardians.
But who will believe anything this young novice says? Whom can Rho trust in a universe defined by differences? And how can she convince twelve worlds to unite as one Zodiac?
Embark on a dazzling journey with ZODIAC, the first novel in an epic sci-fi-meets-high-fantasy series set in a galaxy inspired by the astrological signs.
Wandering Star (Zodiac, #2)
Orphaned, disgraced, and stripped of her title, Rho is ready to live life quietly, as an aid worker in the Cancrian refugee camp on House Capricorn.
But news has spread that the Marad–an unbalanced terrorist group determined to overturn harmony in the Galaxy–could strike any House at any moment.
Then, unwelcome nightmare that he is, Ochus appears to Rho, bearing a cryptic message that leaves her with no choice but to fight.
Now Rho must embark on a high-stakes journey through an all-new set of Houses, where she discovers that there’s much more to her Galaxy–and to herself–than she could have ever imagined.
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*Update Giveaway Is Over*
So not only has Romina graced us with her words of wisdom, she is also remarkably generous by offering advice for one lucky aspiring writer!!
One lucky winner will receive a critique of the first 5 pages of their MS by Romina along with a critique of an agent query letter!!
A huge “Thank You” to Romina Russell for taking the time to write this insightful post. You have been so thoughtful by interacting and giving back to your readers.
As always, thank you to everyone who has/is participating in this feature! You are making large strides in helping new writers become the best that they can be. We so appreciate all of your effort to support our community and the voices of the next generation!