Aveyana’s world will never be the same. After an unexpected attack claims her mom, seventeen-year-old Veya is forced to abandon the only home she's ever known and the only boy she’s ever loved to make a new life on Pangalax, a US space station. Heartbroken, angry, and homesick, she resents her dad’s decision to move and his demand to hide her unique abilities. As she suspected, appearing normal proves to be nearly impossible, especially around Kye, a way-too-handsome officer who is determined to break through her walls. But can he be trusted? Can anyone be trusted? As Veya uncovers the deep, dark secrets of Pangalax, her very existence becomes threatened. Only one person can save her. Is she willing to forget the past and trust him with her life?
This is a great, unique, and interesting young adult read. I liked that this book brings something different to the sci-fi genre for this age group. I enjoy books about vampires and werewolves, but its nice to have something fresh. The characters are interesting and the plot moves along at a good rate, keeping you engaged and wanting to know what is going on in Pangalax. The book is an interesting dichotomy of coming of age and sci fi which I found really refreshing. Its written in first person so you are seeing things from Veya’s POV. The book creates a very interesting world and while its sci fi and set in the near future, its very believable. While its geared towards young adults, readers of all ages will likely enjoy it since the focus isn’t on the typical YA tropes.
SM Koz was born in Michigan, but moved to North Carolina for college and never left.
She enjoys traveling, camping, hiking, photography, reading, spending time with foster kids who temporarily call her house home, and learning new things. When she’s not creating online training for pharmaceutical companies (her day job) or writing, Koz can be found at the local community college taking courses on various topics ranging from digital art to HTML to desktop publishing. Next in line are auto mechanics and cake decorating.
Being trained as a veterinarian, it’s not surprising that Koz and her husband were recently told they have a mini-zoo with their two dogs, fish, cockatiels, and foster cats. In the past, they have also had parakeets and a snake. Other than the fish, all the animals were acquired through rescue organizations, something Koz wholeheartedly supports.
Koz has written five novels, but only two are currently published. Breaking Free is a YA contemporary romance/realism story about a teenage girl who struggles with cutting, while Pangalax is a YA romance/light sci-fi story about a girl forced to abandon her homeland and make a new life on a US space station. Koz has also written Hunger Games fanfiction, which can be found online.
Koz loves interacting with readers and other authors, so check her out on FB, Twitter, or Goodreads.
Twitter Handle: @SM_KOZ
Goodreads Author: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8188377.S_M_Koz
Q: What has been favorite part about writing and publishing books?
My favorite part has been interacting with readers, bloggers, and other authors. Everyone has been so nice and supportive. Even when my novel isn’t someone’s preferred type of book, they still provide me with encouraging words and helpful feedback. It’s been absolutely wonderful, and I’m so happy I’ve been able to share my work with others!
Q: Who are some of your favorite authors?
As far as mainstream authors, I’m a huge fan of Janet Evanovich, Stephenie Meyer, Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Suzanne Collins, Nicholas Sparks, Robin Cook, Richelle Mead, and Patricia Cornwell.
As far as indie authors, I enjoy Cassie Mae, Sara Mack, Penny Reid, and Jennifer Lane.
Q: When you’re not writing, what do you like to do for fun?
I like to be outside with my husband, our foster kids, and our pets. That can be hiking, camping, taking nature photos, jogging, or going to the dog park. I also like to travel. Visiting every continent is on my bucket list and something I hope to someday accomplish, although I still have a long way to go.
Q: In 10 words or less can you tell readers why they should read your books?
You’ll cry, laugh, smile, be heartbroken, and inspired!
Q: Where are you from?
Q: Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a veterinarian/consultant/writer who has been happily married for 10 years to a wonderfully supportive husband. We’re foster parents and also have a small zoo with two dogs, cockatiels, and a few goldfish. I grew up in Michigan, but moved to North Carolina for college over 20 years ago and never left. My parents instilled a love of reading in me from a very early age, so they played a huge, if not the greatest, role in me becoming a writer.
Q: When and why did you begin writing?
Technically, I first started writing about nine years ago. The story was a murder mystery that took place on a cruise ship and one of the main characters had an English bulldog named Penelope. I wrote two pages, realized it was too hard, and then never looked at it again for five years. After my husband and I moved to a sleepy little village, I found myself with a lot of free time. One day while I was cleaning up computer files, I ran across my story with Penelope and was somewhat impressed by what I read. Having lots of time on my hands, I decided to write a full-length YA novel. That one was about a girl who moves to the beach to live with her older sister for the summer and falls in love with a boy as they help a stranded dolphin, named Maurice, recover from a mysterious disease. That one will never be published, but it’s kind of fun to go back and see what my first attempt at a novel was like! Since then, I’ve been writing about one book a year, some fanfiction and some original.
Q: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I posted Breaking Free, my debut, on Goodreads. I’ve had a number of actual and virtual friends read my stories in the past; however, I was still nervous about publishing. But, ultimately, I knew I had to do it with Breaking Free because it’s a story I believe in. I felt like it may help others. With the positive reception Breaking Free received, I was much more comfortable publishing Pangalax.
Q: Do you have a specific writing style?
I think I’m still developing that. I like fast-paced, action-filled stories with romance, but the emotional component of Breaking Free came surprisingly easy to me as I was writing. I feel like I may have found my niche and will be exploring this more in upcoming projects. One thing is for sure, though—my writing is fairly bare bones. I write to get the story across more than as an artistic expression of words. So, if you’re looking for something literary and poetic, you won’t find it in my works J. If you’re looking for a suspense-filled story with plot twists, then check out my novels.
Q: How do you come up with titles?
I really struggle with titles. Titles may actually be my least favorite part of writing. I always want something short, snappy, and interesting that helps set the tone of the story while tying into an integral plot point. Breaking Free came loosely from one of my favorite songs. Whenever I listen to it I think of Kelsie, so I made sure to work those words into the story when she’s at her lowest point and feels that breaking free from her life may be the only answer. For Pangalax, it’s the title of the space station where Veya ends up—not very creative, but it does set the sci-fi mood.
Q: What books have most influenced your life most?
I’d have to say Gorillas in the Mist by Dr. Dian Fossey because I wrote about that book for my Duke University entrance application. Luckily, I got in and my four years at Duke really shaped who I am. Being an alumna also led to meeting my husband J.
Q: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I haven’t really had an individual author serve as a mentor. I am part of Authonomy, a website for writers to gather, critique works, and share stories. That has been incredibly valuable in finding plot inconsistencies, identifying when I’m telling rather than showing, and finding faults with my characterizations. My books are always much better after a few months on Authonomy.
Q: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Author Sara Mack. She’s been a close friend for over 30 years and started writing three years ago. She took the plunge first and self-published her Guardian Trilogy last year. She is one of the main reasons I decided to self-publish my first book and has been a huge help, not only while I’m writing, but also while navigating the crazy world of indie authors.
Q: Do you see writing as a career?
No, writing is definitely a hobby for me. It would be great if I could someday make enough money to consider it a career, but that day is not here yet. Until then, I’ll continue to hold down a day job and write in my spare time.
Q: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your books?
I find little things to tweak every time I read through them, but, overall, I’m happy with the major plot points and characters.
Q: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I’ve always been an avid reader and daydreamer. I used to make up stories in my head, but it wasn’t until I was suffering from complete boredom one day that I decided to write the story down. It was much harder than I expected, and I didn’t end up trying again for another five years!
Q: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Characterization can be difficult for me. I want authentic characters, but it’s hard to be authentic when you’re creating characters who have vastly different values, backgrounds, and cultures than yourself. For this reason, all of my stories so far have been told in first person from a teenage girl’s POV. That helps me feel somewhat grounded since I was there. Even if her life or personality is much different than mine, at least I have some insight into the teenage female mind. I’m always impressed when authors are able to write from the opposite gender’s POV in a believable way. I don’t think I’m there yet.
Q: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I love Stephenie Meyer for what she was able to accomplish: a stay-at-home mom who wrote four books that billions of people worldwide fell in love with. Although she had an English background, she had no experience writing. Furthermore, her stories have been torn apart by critics, world-renowned authors, and millions of anti-fans. People can tear apart her writing style, but it worked. Isn’t the ultimate goal of writing to have readers fall in love with your story? It seems to me like she succeeded even if she didn’t follow the typical writing standards of the day. I like that. She went outside the box and it worked. I think it’s a good example of how literature, like everything, is constantly evolving.
Q: Who designs your covers?
Me. Since this is just a hobby, I don’t have much of a budget to hire someone to do it for me.
Q: Do you have any advice for other writers?
For aspiring writers, I say just keep writing. And keep everything you write, even if it’s just a page or two. Eventually, you’ll write something that when you look back at it, you’ll be impressed by yourself. Pair that with a really good writing buddy and that will be all the motivation you’ll need to finish a full-length book.
Q: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
First, thanks for reading! Second, please write reviews of whatever you read. Authors depend on them! Whether you love or hate the book, telling us your feelings and the reasons behind those feelings is very helpful to our growth as writers.
Q: Do you remember the first book you read?
The first chapter book I read was Bobbsey Twins. I fell in love with the series immediately and devoured all the books, often reading under my covers with a flashlight. The first adult book I read was Watchers by Dean Koontz when I was in seventh grade. I’m still a huge Dean Koontz fan to this day.
Q: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I love to spend time outside hiking, camping, taking photos, or just playing with our foster kids.
Q: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I know I’m weird, but I don’t watch much television. Evenings tend to be my time for hobbies so I’m usually writing, reading, or editing photographs. Once a month, I might take a night to veg out in front of the TV. When I do, I usually turn on something from HGTV or TLC. I love movies, but we’ve had a toddler in foster care for the past year so we haven’t had many opportunities to watch those either. In general, I love chick flicks, mysteries, and action-adventure films, though.
Q: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
I love ice cream and dark chocolate. If the two are combined, even better! My favorite colors tend to change with the seasons, but right now I’m on a blue kick. My favorite bands are Muse and The Killers. I could listen to them all day, every day!
Q: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Well, writing is just a hobby for me so I spend most of my time working as a consultant who creates online training for pharmaceutical companies. I was actually trained as an aquatic veterinarian, though. My plan was to rehabilitate marine mammals or work in fish farming. That got a bit side-tracked with my husband’s career, but ideally, I’ll get back to that at some point. Writing will always remain a hobby, though, no matter what my day job is. It’s my escape from the stress and routine of everyday life.
My body jerks upright.
I feel like the air has been knocked out of my lungs. I gasp, sucking in as much oxygen as possible as I survey my surroundings. I’m sitting on and being bombarded by snow. By the accumulation on my arm, I must have been here a while.
Taking a deep breath, I try to ease my light-headedness, but once realization of what’s happened hits, I start to panic. I must have passed out and McAllister threw me outside into the toxic environment.
No, no, no, I think as my breathing becomes more labored. I won’t last long out here. I need to come up with a plan. I glance behind me and see a door. It must be how they deposited me outside. With a sigh of relief, I crawl to the door and drag myself up. I look into the black security box and wait for the telltale swoosh. Nothing happens. I slam my hand against the door, hoping someone inside will hear me, but again, nothing happens.
There’s a small dark window so I peer inside. What I find is some sort of mechanics bay with absolutely no one inside and no lights on. There’s no one there to help me. My panic becomes even worse.
I continue pounding on the door as my breathing turns more haggard and my strength diminishes with each passing second. In no time, my muscles give out and I crumple to the ground, assuming the worst is in store for me—I will pass out within seconds and someone will find my body tomorrow morning. I hope they break the news to my dad gently. We’ve had our ups and downs but he does love me and this will crush him. I wish I had a pen, so I could write him a note, just to tell him how much I love him.