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Adam Interviews...Carlotta Berry!

Let's get right back into it with someone who puts the science in sci-fi! Well, maybe not, but she sure brings some impressive credentials to her books.

Carlotta A. Berry is a Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. She is the 2021-2024 Dr. Lawrence J. Giacoletto Endowed Chair for Electrical and Computer Engineering. She has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Spelman College, bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology, master’s in electrical engineering from Wayne State University, and PhD from Vanderbilt University. She is one of a team of faculty in ECE, ME and CSSE at Rose-Hulman to create the first multidisciplinary minor in robotics. She is the Co-Director of the NSF S-STEM Rose Building Undergraduate Diversity (ROSE-BUD) Program and advisor for the National Society of Black Engineers. She was previously the President of the Technical Editor Board for the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) Computers in Education Journal.

She has a special passion for diversifying the engineering profession by encouraging more women, marginalized and minoritized populations to pursue STEM degrees. She achieves this purpose with robotics education, engineering education and human-robot interaction research to bring more people to STEM. Her strong service record has garnered her multiple accolades and awards including 2023 IEEE Undergraduate Teaching Award, Society of Women Engineers 2022 Distinguished Engineering Educator Award, 2022 Distinguished Educator Award from the American Society of Engineering Education Electrical and Computer Engineering Division, 2022 Open Source Hardware Trailblazer Fellow, 2021 TechPoint Foundation for Youth Bridge Builder award, one of 30 Women in Robotics You Need to Know About 2020 by, Reinvented Magazine Interview of the Year Award on Purpose and Passion, FIRST Indiana Robotics Gamechanger Award 2020, Women and Hi Tech Leading Light You Inspire Me Award 2018 and Insight Into Diversity Inspiring Women in STEM.

During 2020, she worked with colleagues around the world to start two nonprofit organizations, Black In Engineering and Black In Robotics. They have a mission to bring awareness to systemic racism and inequity in STEM, build community, advocate for diversity, equity, inclusion and connect with allies and sponsors. Her research interests are in robotics education, interface design, human-robot interaction, and increasing underrepresented populations in STEM fields. She has a special passion for diversifying the engineering profession by encouraging more women and underrepresented minorities to pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees. She feels that the profession should reflect the world that we live in in order to solve the unique problems that we face.

Website with bio at link:

Social media links here: @drcaberry on most social media,

Star Trek or Star Wars? I'll say Star Trek since I've never seen Star Wars and barely know anything about Star Trek other than Uhura the engineer

DCU or MCU? I had to google Black Panther and since it is Marvel I will say Marvel

A book you’re looking forward to release (by someone else)? Anything by Alexandria House or Christina C. Jones, also recent loves are Farrah Rochon and Katrina Jackson

A book that pleasantly surprised you? "Office Hours" and "Sabbatical" by Katrina Jackson, Teach Me by Alexandria House (resonate with the Black Woman professor in me),

The Boyfriend Project, The Hookup Plan, The Dating Playbook by Farrah Rochon (resonate with my Black STEM Romance vision for my books) When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? Since I am a professor I have been writing technical papers and books since I started by PhD program in 1997. Once the pandemic hit, I discussed with other Black women engineering professors the need for a paradigm shift to market STEM and engineering to a more diverse population and we decided fictional books was a way to do that So the Black STEM Romance genre and fictional book writing was born in 2020. My first book baby was the technical textbook, "Mobile Robotics for Multidisciplinary Study"

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books? Surprisingly, a lot from social media, daydreaming during the day or in my dreams. I play on social media a lot and it really inspires me. I also pull a lot from my and my friend's persona life experience. There is a little bit of me in all of my books you just have to figure out where it is.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing? Since I am a full time engineering professor, finding time to write is very difficult. My writing mentor, critique partner and book bestie, Tiffany Christina Lewis, helped me to get more disciplined with that by writing outlines first so that I can get more done with my limited amount of time. Since I am off between June and August, I try to write one book in July during Camp NaNoWriMo and one book during NaNoWriMo in November. I would love to eventually scale up to 3 books per year but no clue how to squeeze it in since I typically teach 7 classes over 3 quarters per school year on top of mentoring, service, and other projects.

When did you write your first book and how old were you? As a little girl I wrote stories but no clue when that started so I will say Mobile Robotics for Multidsicplinary Study was in 2011 when I was 41.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? I am super busy so not much time but read other African American romance novels, cross stitch, Sudoku, and do my engineering professor work tasks, research, teaching, mentoring, service, work with the two organizations I co-founded during the pandemic as well, Black In Engineering, Black In Robotics. Is there a trope you find yourself going back to in multiple works? Or one you avoid? Not really. Whatever resonates with me at the moment.

What does your family think of your writing? They are really proud of me and support it!

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books? That technical writing is nothing like fictional book writing and it was more than a notion to switch over. It required studying a new art of writing and also mentoring and coaching.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite? I just finished my second fictional book, Breaking Point: Chandler's Choice so it is currently my favorite.

Do you have any suggestions to help someone become a better writer? If so, what are they? Definitely write an outline and know the parts of a book and how they must connect together from beginning to end. I did not do this for my first book and that is why that one has not seen the light of day yet. Know the craft and structure of writing. Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say? So far most have loved Elevated Inferno: Monet's Moment which was my first Black STEM Romance. Most of my readers new me first from my Black STEM work on social media. As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up? Be a high school math teacher, engineering professor is not too far off thought. What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry? I don't know about unethical but I wish it was easier to see more voices of Black women writers with primary Black characters without having to give up and self-publish after a long query journey.

Does writing energize or exhaust you? It energizes me.

What is your writing Kryptonite? Procrastination.

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? I did and I do! I write under Carlotta Ardell so my fiction books don't get mixed up with my technical work.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want? I try to write the books that I do not see in my fictional book reading journey so I hope that is what at least some readers want as well. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer? Tiffany Christina Lewis is my main author friend, she is also my critque partner, writing mentor, book bestie and helps me with indy publishing through Rebellion Lit.

Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you building a body of work with connections between each book? I have several book series living in my head but the books will still work if read individually.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing? I learned that when I plan and outline a book I can write it in 1 month and a half instead of over a year.

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power? My New York Times Article, "They Call Me Dr. Berry" garnered strong positive and negative responses from people. Do you write novels, novellas, short stories, episodic fiction, poems, screenplays, or something else? Novels and hopefully novellas soon. Fiction. Romance, Black STEM Romance.

What is your preferred format? I like Kindle and Audible.

Are you traditionally or self published? Or both? Do you feel there are advantages to one over the other? I have self published so far because it is hard to get query interest on my Black STEM romance or children's books.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? About 3.

What does literary success look like to you? People buying, reading, and reviewing my books and embracing my vision or my work.

What’s the best way to market your books? Definitely social media.

What do you have coming next? Breaking Point: Chandler's Choice, will be released on 7/21/23

Chandler Gray never imagined during her journey to earn a nursing degree, she would encounter a distraction, in the form of firefighter, Moses Lawson. With the chaos of supporting her mother after her father’s passing and completing her internship and practicum, Chandler had no time for a relationship. However, Moses’ persistence, charisma, and rugged good looks made her think again. Perhaps a summer fling with no strings attached was just what the doctor ordered.

Unfortunately, their situationship became much more than she bargained for. Now Chandler wants Moses to switch things up to be in a committed and monogamous relationship. His response causes Chandler to react in ways she may come to regret.

Years later, when their paths cross in very different circumstances, Chandler will have another decision to make.

Can she look beyond her own hurt to give of herself and heal another past their breaking point?

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