Tuesday, June 10

Posted by Laurel Garver on Tuesday, June 10, 2014 8 comments
Today special guest C.M. Keller is here to share insights into writing series and to tell us more about her latest release, Screwing up Alexandria. If you like learning about history, and also love an adventure story with a touch of humor and fantasy elements, you're sure to enjoy C.M. Keller's Screwing up Time series.

Could you tell us a little about Screwing up Alexandria?

Screwing Up Alexandria is the third book in the Screwing Up Time series. Here’s the blurb:

Time traveling has never brought Mark Montgomery anything but grief. And then, things get worse.
When Mark comes home from Babylon with a coded tablet, he never dreams someone would be willing to kill to get it. But they are.  So Mark and Miranda kidnap an ancient cryptographer named Nin and take her to the Library of Alexandria to decipher it.

The search for the truth of the tablet takes all of them to the most dangerous time on earth. And when Nin ends up on an altar surrounded by blood-thirsty crowds, only Mark can save her. But he’s blind.

What inspired you to set this book in Alexandria? 

I’ve always dreamed about the amazing library at Alexandria, where they tried to collect all knowledge of the ancient world. Can you imagine walking the halls? Reading the scrolls? Talking to the researchers?

What discoveries surprised you most when researching this book? 

While much of this novel takes place in Alexandria, Mark and Miranda also travel to the future and to ancient Uruk. I didn’t know much about Uruk when I started the book, but it’s a fascinating place and is known as “the Venice of the ancient world.”

Who were your favorite characters to write in this book?

I love Mark and Miranda, of course. But this book had a new character, Nin. And she was wonderful to write—she’s witty, clever, and always sure of herself, even when she’s wrong.

What was the hardest part of writing this book? 

So many difficult things were going on in my “real life” when I wrote this, and often I felt weary and worn-out. But writing the book was a wonderful opportunity to escape and relax.

What was the most fun? 

I loved writing Mark and Miranda’s interactions with Nin. Their repartee was a delight.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 

I don’t really think about a message as I write a story because I let the characters tell their stories. But I know that the things I value are part of the characters’ stories. So issues like truth, perseverance, forgiveness, and doing hard things all figure into the plot.

What specific challenges come with writing a series?

One of the biggest challenges is keeping the stories fresh. But writing time travel it great because it gives me opportunities to explore new cultures and new people. In book one, Mark explored the Middle Ages and got to meet Miranda. In book two, he and Miranda went to Babylon and met Niri. In book three, Mark explores Alexandria, Uruk, and the future while meeting Nin and a whole host of secondary characters including a zoo keeper (until I started researching, I didn’t know that the library at Alexandria had a zoo) and a Jack Sparrow lookalike.

What piece of advice has helped you most as a writer?

I have two favorite writing quotes. One is from Jack London: “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” And the other one (I don’t know who originally said it) is “A first draft is a celebration of everything that can go wrong on a page.”

These quotes really inspire me to sit down and do the work. Stories don’t write themselves. And they aren’t easy—they involve blood, sweat, and tears. And to alter a quote from The Princess Bride, “…anyone who says differently is trying to sell you something.” And yet, using your gift even though it’s difficult and messy, is a celebration and so much fun.

What is your background? 

I grew up all over the United States. I’ve lived in California, Illinois, Georgia, Hawaii, Connecticut, and Tennessee. I have a degree in English literature and worked at Harcourt. My husband and I have four kids, a black Lab, and a hamster.

How can readers connect with you?

I have two blogs. (Where you can be added to the Screwing Up Time mailing list, if you’d like.) http://screwinguptime.blogspot.com/ and http://connies-pen.blogspot.com/
My Twitter handle is @CMKellerWrites.
And I have a Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/C-M-Keller/145636898869893

Get it now

Screwing up Alexandria is available at Amazon

Any other questions for Connie?


  1. I love time travel stories and this series sounds fun. What age is it for? Where do you plan to send them next?

  2. Hi, Sherrie,
    As for the age range, I think ages 12 through adult.

    Right now, I'm keeping where they're going next a secret. (But it's really hard--I'm so excited about it.)

    1. When you get closer to release with #4 you can always do a guessing-game contest. :-)

  3. Thank you so much for hosting me, Laurel!

    1. You're most welcome. Thanks for giving us a window into your fun series.

  4. Love that London quote - it's always been one of my favourites :)
    Love the idea of time travel - and it sounds like these would be great books - thanks for the tip! :)