#Heroika: Skirmishers – Interviews – Sean Poage and His Characters #Meetanauthor

Name (Mandatory) Sean Poage

Give us a brief synopsis of your story – A Handful of Salt

At the dawn of the fourth century, BC, Cyrus the Younger hired an army of ten thousand Greek mercenaries to challenge his brother for the throne of the Persian Empire. His Greeks were victorious, but he was slain and the Greeks were stranded deep inside the Persian Empire without supplies. Their only way home was to fight their way north through the mountains of eastern Turkey to the Black Sea, as described through the eyes of one of their leaders, Xenophon.

It is considered one of the greatest feats of military history and has often been recounted and reimagined, but never through the eyes of their adversaries, the Persians, or the ancestral tribes of eastern Turkey. One event, in particular, is haunting and tragic. Today we struggle to understand the mind-set of ancient cultures, often making the mistake of seeing their world through the filter of our own values. This story is an attempt to understand a heroic perspective alien to our own.

  • Why did you choose that time period/group of people to write about?

I love ancient history and the Anabasis is fascinating, but there is not much left to say about it from the Greek side of the story. However, no one has done a piece from the point of view of the Anatolian tribes that the Greeks encountered as they struggled to get home. Why did these tribes continually attack the Greeks? Why did one village commit mass suicide when the Greeks came too close?

  • What research did you do for the story?

I always do a lot of research for my stories. The Anabasis, of course, is the primary text. I also had to determine the most likely route, which is still in dispute. Then I had determine the most likely location for the events of my story, determine the tribe that lived there, what they called themselves, how they related to their neighbours, to the Persians and so on. I love this stuff.

  • How would you define a Skirmisher?

A skirmisher is typically a lightly armed soldier who relies on speed and manoeuvrability to be effective in battle, rather than heavy armour and weapons. While the goal of heavy infantry is to come to close battle with the enemy and slog it out, skirmishers try to outmanoeuvre the enemy, hit and run, break up enemy formations, wear down the heavy soldiers and win in the long game.

  • What are the challenges in writing historical fiction/fantasy?

For me, it is getting each detail right. I can’t bear to bend history to my story. If I include it, it must be factual, or at least plausible to history.

  • What is your usual genre?

Historical fiction, so far, though I intend to do more in fantasy and scifi, eventually.

  • How do you define a hero?

To me, a hero is someone who freely and knowingly risks his or her own welfare for the benefit of another, without thought to any reward.

  • What did you want to be when you grew up?

Originally an astronaut. I was certain I would be NASA’s first kid in space. Apparently, they didn’t have my correct address. I wanted to write stories from my teens, but not much came of it. Now I am finally indulging that dream.

Character Section

1) Name Gocha

2) Tell us a bit about yourself

I am a seasoned warrior, husband and farmer. My wife and I have shared a difficult life, full of sorrows as well as blessings. Our circumstances in life have fallen low, but we have a fine heifer, two asses, some sheep and goats. But no children, anymore.

3) How do you come to be on this adventure?

Invaders from a distant land threaten our homes, so I must do my duty to protect them, and try to impart my experience on our young warriors.

4) Tell us a bit about the society in which you live

We are an ancient people, attuned to the rugged mountains of our ancestors. We sing, dance, tend our farms and pastures and raise our children to respect the ancient ways. We have no towns larger than a few dwellings, but impenetrable strongholds on the mountainsides. We wage no wars on those who leave us be, but we fight unto death against any who threaten us. The Taochi Never Submit is our creed, and never have we been conquered.

5) Are you brave?

What is bravery? Is it the thoughtless lack of fear? I have known dreadful fear, but have never shrunk from my duty.

6) How do others see you?

I do not care.

7) Do you believe in a god?

Of course. They have little to do with us mortals, but our ancestors are with us, always. They watch over us, judge us, and if we are worthy, will welcome us to their company when this life ends.

8) Do you love anyone? Do you hate anyone?

I love my wife, Bedisa. She is wise, kind, and stronger in spirit than anyone I have ever known. I love my loyal friend, Temur. I love my daughter, who I may not name since she has become a handmaiden to the Wife of the Dead. Or perhaps the Wife, herself. I love my three sons, who have already joined our ancestors. I hate no one.

AUTHOR BIO (short)

Sean Poage, has had an exciting and varied life, as a laborer, soldier, police officer, investigator, computer geek and author. Travelling the world to see history up close is his passion.

These days he works in the tech world, writes when he can, and spends the rest of the time with his family, which usually means chores and home improvement projects, with occasional time for a motorcycle ride, scuba dive, or a hike in the beautiful Maine outdoors.

 

 

Heroika: Skirmishers

Conflict is a constant. When force on force is inevitable only the intrepid need come forth. Summon the Skirmishers to their eternal purpose, to face a foe who must be opposed at all cost. Gird yourself and join the brotherhood of ‘do or die.’ HEROIKA: SKIRMISHERS is an anthology of desperate struggles in far-flung time-scapes, the age-old smell of battle and death. SKIRMISHERS –Tales for the bold among you!

https://www.amazon.com/Heroika-Skirmishers-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B085N7XZLZ/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Heroika-Skirmishers-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B085N7XZLZ/

Dirty Dozen – Author Interview – Amanda Schmidt

Welcome to Amanda Schmidt

I have published thirteen books.  I have two stories that are two books (Taken, Solace), one trilogy (The Shadow Dragon), one story that will be two books (Rise of Ansea), and the rest are all stand-alone books (Not Human, Heart of the Emperor, The Huntsman’s Daughter, Project 21, and Adventurer’s Spirit).  They are all fictional adventure stories with a love story entwined.  Each story has two main characters: a strong – or will become strong – female and a male that eventually is the perfect compliment to her.  My published stories so far tend to take place on other worlds because I love using my imagination, although some of my stories talk about Earth, or start on Earth, but only one of them completely takes place only on Earth.  I have one story (my trilogy) that is true fantasy – with dragons, swords, magic, lords, wizards…   The books I publish contain the elements that I like to read: action, adventure, twists and turns, love, heroes, vicious enemies, fighting (weapons and hand to hand combat).

What prompted you to publish your work? My oldest son was about ten when he caught me writing.  He was smiling from ear to ear after I confessed what I was doing and he said, “You’re going to be famous.”  I didn’t believe that, I mean, I was hiding that fact that I was writing.  However, his excitement dwelled in my mind and I began to consider maybe I could publish.  I eventually allowed people to read my manuscript and they encouraged me to publish, which clearly I did.  It only took two years for me to gain the courage to do so.

What have you found the most challenging part of the process? Finishing/not having enough time.  I am constantly being bombarded with a new idea, and the ideas do not wait until I’ve completed the previous idea.  So, I’m constantly changing what I’m working on.  Which takes me even longer to finish a story.  Plus, I don’t read as fast as I’d like, so revising takes forever and then, again, another idea pops in for something not related to this story.  It’s a vicious cycle really (but I love it).

Are you a ‘pantser’ or a plotter? Definitely a pantser.  I have never been able to write an outline.  When I had to write papers in school, I usually did it after I finished the paper/story – or had to change the outline when I was done.  When I sit down to write, the moment I begin typing, the story plays out in front of me, and not always in chronological order.  For example, at least three of my books, I wrote the first chapter after I finished writing the rest of it.

What are your views on free books? I’m personally on the fence about that one.  I do not think it demeans the author or his/her work.  Getting your stories out there is an important part of being a writer, especially as an indie author since all marketing falls on the author.  Free books seemed like a great idea when I started.  I was told to make book one free and then they’ll come back for more.   They didn’t, and I struggled again with the idea that maybe my stories are not “good”.   One day someone said to me that they download free books all the time, and they had read very few of them.  However, they did read the ones they paid for… because they paid for them.  And my numbers seemed to reflect the idea that they probably weren’t that far off the mark.  I’ve never had much luck with selling my ebooks for free, and getting sales off my other books, so I stopped.   However, I do tend to give out my paperbacks, because I have made a few fans that way.

How do you deal with bad reviews? I always take my reviews to heart, even the bad ones.  However, depending on what is said, is how I react to it.  I honestly don’t expect everyone to like my stories, because I don’t like all the books I read either.  A review is a person’s opinion and they’re allowed to have one.  I usually take the bad review as constructive criticism, sometimes I can see their point.  Like with the “Huntsman’s Daughter”, I unpublished it and am trying to find the time to tend to the issues that my “editors” and I missed.   However, there have been times where the review kind of hurt, like when they attacked something about a character.  I wanted to be able to defend that character against whatever it was that they were attacked for, but alas I cannot.  Those are the times I make myself warm cookies, grab a glass of milk, and get back to writing.  Or I talk to a friend and vent a little.  The last time I did this my friend said: “writing with your heart again, I see.”  I shrugged, and let that sink in.  Then I realized that person didn’t understand my character’s behavior because they hadn’t experienced a similar situation to what my character was dealing with – or if they had, they dealt with it differently –  and that allowed me to not be so frustrated.

Order of importance?

Great Characters – If I get attached to the characters in a book I will finish reading that book guaranteed.  If the main characters don’t draw me in, I will stop reading the book.   So yes, when I write, character development is huge to me.

Good Plot – If the characters and their development are great, I will be more forgiving of the plot.  I will finish the story and if there’s a sequel I’ll probably read it as well.   As a writer, plot isn’t something I’ve struggled with, I actually don’t think about it too much because the characters tend to write the plot for me.

Technically perfect – I’m not saying it has to be perfect, but if there’s too many technical issues – then I will stop reading it.  I’ve put down a book before because there were a ton of short sentences and my brain was so fixated on the all the periods that it was not picking up any of the story.  I am pretty lax on typos, and am proud of myself when I catch a homophone error, but I am not a grammatical Nazi by any means.  As long as the errors are not overabundant and don’t pull me out of the world the author created, I will continue to read the story.

Awesome world-building – This is not necessary for me as a reader.  I’ve come to realize there are two types of people, those with active imaginations and those who need to be told what to see.  Which type am I?  I’m the type who gets annoyed if there’s too much description.  I have a very active and strong imagination so I don’t need pages of details to see something.  Give me an idea of what you see and my brain will do the rest unless it is important to the story.   Even when I take the time to read all the details an author is giving me, my brain pictures what it wants.  I would much rather the words be used for moving the story along or building the character than telling me about a tree that has little if any relevance to the story.   As a writer, I do draw the scenery, but I’ve had times where my friends have had to remind me that they are not in my head, so I go back and write to help them see what I see.

 

How is storytelling influential to our culture? I believe storytelling is very influential to our culture.  It helps to inspire and motivate people, it gives people a way to escape this world for a while, it gives something for people to relate to.  My older son was not a strong reader, he hated it when he was in early elementary.  We introduced him to comic books and by the time he was in sixth grade he was reading above his grade level, but more importantly, it inspired him to make better choices.  We had a discussion the other day, and he looks at me and says, “Mom, tragedy helps build character.  It sucks, but it’s the truth.  Look at Batman.  His parents were killed, and that’s horrible I know, but look at who he became, look at all the good he did and people he helped.  If his parents hadn’t died he would not have become that incredible man.”   And if you think about Star Trek, and all those devices they used that inspired people to figure out how to create things that were similar… like cell phones.  Storytelling invigorates the mind and encourages us to think differently than we did before.

What is your writing space like? My writing space is anywhere I can sit with my laptop.  In the summer I like to write outside under the trees, but when it’s not nice, I’ll sit on the floor, in my bed, on the couch.  I’ve sat in bleachers waiting for wrestling meets to start, in my car waiting for my kids to get done with class, at the library, at a coffee/tea shop.  I’m really not too picky about my writing space because as soon as I start typing, this world falls away.  Although sometimes if there’s too much talking or the TV is loud, I usually plug in headphones and I’m good.

Tell us about your latest piece.

My most recent story I’ve published is “Adventurer’s Spirit”.  It takes place on another world where two different races of people exist.  Alyxzandra belongs to a people who are in touch with the world they live on, and Jared’s people do not think twice about the planet.  Alyxzandra and Jared meet in the woods when they are young – she was playing a game and he was hunting.  They should have seen each other as enemies, but the moment they saw each other they only saw someone who didn’t deserve to die.  Jared should have killed her that day, and she should have let Jared die when he is attacked by a Zurgala, but instead they keep each other alive not knowing that these two incidents would change everything.  This story follows their journey of friendship as they do their best to protect each other, their sacrifices, and the impacts it has on them and the world they live on.

What’s your next writing adventure? I am always working on more than one thing, but currently I’ve been a bit obsessive over Story 20.  I’m almost 150,000 words in, and the ending is almost complete.  This is an adventure story taking place far from Earth.  It is a story of unexpected love, betrayal, and survival.

Is there a message in your books? I don’t set out for there to be, but they do seem to fall in line with my beliefs that nature is important, that love knows no bounds, that you’re stronger than you know, that men and women are equal and a complement to each other, and survival is possible even in our lowest/darkest moments.

How important is writing to you? The only thing more important to me than writing are my kids.  And they will attest to the fact that when I don’t write it affects everything about me.  I become forgetful and dumb – we joke around that I can’t think straight because of the voices in my head (the story ideas are taking up too much space).  Irritation and sadness tend to take over my mood more easily, and my focus goes out the window.  I love writing, stopping isn’t an option.  It’s my solace, my happy place, my space to challenge myself to think outside the box and become more than I thought I could be.

Links:

Blog: It all started with a dream…: https://amandaschmidt09.blogspot.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/amandaschmidt09/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AmandaSchimdtFans/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AmandaSchmidt09

Bio

I graduated from Eastern Michigan University and live in Rochester, Michigan. I am a single mother of three amazing children who have helped me rediscover my love of writing. I started writing in 2009 and discovered there were many stories within me that I wanted to share. With the help of my family, friends, and fans, I have gained confidence in myself and in what I love, allowing me to live my dream to be an author who finds inspiration everywhere: my past, listening to music, in laughter, and even random moments while out hiking or practicing Tai Chi.

I discovered the hard way how important believing in yourself and your dreams is. With each story I write, I hope to take my readers into a world that will captivate their attention. I hope my stories remind you to believe in your dreams, allowing you to think outside the box and become more than you thought you could be.

A Day in the Life of Jo Elizabeth Pinto #Uniqueauthors #Meetanauthor

Welcome to Jo Elizabeth Pinto

I was born in Chicago in 1971 and grew up in Brighton, Colorado. I was part of the first generation of disabled students who integrated the public schools in the late 1970’s. In 1992, I graduated from the University of Northern Colorado at Greeley with a degree in Human Services. While helping disabled students learn how to use adaptive computer technology, I earned a second degree in 2004 from the Metropolitan State College of Denver in Nonprofit Organization Management. Blind since birth, I am currently self-employed as a braille textbook proofreader.

As an author, I know the importance of entertaining my readers while also giving them food for thought. Whether I write fiction, nonfiction, or poetry, I draw inspiration from my own experiences with the ultimate intention of showing my audience that hope is always just an action away.

I live in Colorado with my husband and my daughter, my yellow Labrador guide dog Anlyn, two cats named Sam-I-Am and Andy, and a parakeet called Rocket. In my free time, I enjoy baking, growing flowers, and listening to music.

I’m an author, as I’ve wanted to be since I first figured out as a little girl that words could be written down in books and enjoyed over and over again. But I’m also a freelance braille proofreader, mostly for clients across the country who produce textbooks that will be used by blind children in kindergarten through high school, and a few random college students and library patrons now and then. I’m a wife and mother, a daughter, a friend.

What that means in practical terms is, I write in bits and pieces. Sometimes I get up and write in the dead of night when the house is quiet. Sometimes I write for ten minutes while the spaghetti bubbles on the stove and my daughter works out a long division problem at the kitchen table. Sometimes I shove work aside, switch off my conscience, and write for an entire morning with undone dishes piled up in the sink because I’ll explode if the characters don’t get themselves out of my head and into the world.

My writing space is a beat-up old computer desk in the corner of my dining room. When my daughter was little, she plastered the lower drawers and cupboards of the desk with colorful stickers. The upper cabinets are hung with bead necklaces, old track meet ribbons, and other childhood trinkets. When I lived alone, I was organized to a fault. But having a family has taken care of that problem. My desk is always cluttered, often with random items that, for the most part, don’t even belong to me.

My computer is fitted with text-to-speech (screen-reading) software that repeats the words I type and allows me to listen to emails and navigate the Internet. Using that software, I’ve written and self-published two books. The first, “The Bright Side of Darkness,” is a novel about a group of kids from the projects and how their lives change because of mentoring. The second, released this last July, is a nonfiction book about my adventures as the blind mom of a sighted daughter.

My daughter is delighted to have been featured in a book, but she isn’t quite old enough to understand the point the stories about the two of us are trying to make. Her dad is a staunch supporter of my writing. He owns a watch and clock repair shop, and I’ve sold many books locally out of his store.

Working from home, writing and running a business, raising a child—it can all be overwhelming at times. The lifestyle works for me, especially because I found a sustainable way to make money as a freelance proofreader and be home when my daughter is. I would recommend my chosen crafts, with a caveat or two. First, a person has to be a self-starter. When you take up writing or work from home, there won’t be anyone standing over your shoulder, nagging you to improve. There will be a million things waiting to take up your time, and writing takes hours, weeks, and years of practice. Those who persist, prevail. And second, join a group of like-minded people—real live people are best, but online is okay if necessary. Writers need other writers to support them, challenge them, and keep them writing.

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Please check out my author Website, where you can find many relevant links:

https://www.brightsideauthor.com

“The Bright Side of Darkness” is my award-winning novel, Available in Kindle, audio, and paperback formats.

http://www.amazon.com/author/jepinto

The paperback version of my novel is available at Barnes & Noble here:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-bright-side-of-darkness-j-e-pinto/1122183259?ean=9781512344943

Please see my author page on Facebook here:

https://m.facebook.com/authorjepinto/?ref=Footer

Please see my author blog, “Looking on the Bright Side,” on Goodreads here:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14120336.J_E_Pinto/blog

Please see my Bookbub profile here:

https://www.bookbub.com/profile/j-e-pinto

To read guest posts about parenting in the dark, please click here:

https://blindmotherhood.com/?s=Jo+Pinto

To read guest posts on a variety of topics, please click here:

https://campbellsworld.wordpress.com/

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Swift Six – Author Interview – Queenie Black – Erotic Romance

Interview with Queenie Black. @queenieblackwr1 #authorinterveiw #amreading #eroticromance

Name: Queenie Black

What attracts you to the genre in which you write?

I’m fascinated by love in all its variations and I particularly love the power play behind the D/s dynamic. I’m intrigued by submission and how something that seems to be a weakness is, in reality, strength, and also the degree of trust and caring required to make such a relationship work. Writing about these sorts of situations is a way of exploring many different scenarios – more than I could live in a lifetime.

What piece of writing advice do you wish you’d known when you started your writing adventures?

Hmmm, interesting question. There are two I can pinpoint. One is write everyday. Make it a discipline and don’t wait for inspiration. The other is to be true to the story and don’t try shaping it for a ‘market’ or a publisher.

If you could have dinner with any famous person or character who would you choose?

The Greek Goddess Athena who gave her name to the Greek city of Athens. She was awesome. First-off her symbol is an owl, right? Who can resist owls? Her second symbol was the olive tree – long-lived, useful and beautiful trees that symbolise peace. Finally, she was kick-ass strong but clever with it, independent and known as the goddess of wisdom, warfare and handicraft-three things every woman should be proficient in. I reckon if we could get past the language barrier we’d hit it off and I’d learn a lot!

Who has been the greatest influence on your own work?

There are three women who have helped me get to this point in my writing. My auntie, who tried to write a Mills and Boon when I was about nine. I remember her talking about it and showing my mum these pages and pages of blue pen. This made me realise that it would be possible for me to write a book. My mum who never scoffed at my auntie or at my efforts throughout my childhood and was always supportive. Finally Jane Holland, an author who writes many different genres under many different names – Beth Good, Elizabeth Moss, Jane Holland, Victoria Lamb. Her writing discipline, output and dedication made me realise that being a writer is 80% hard work, 10% talent and 10% inspiration with a salting of luck.

Do you think the e-book revolution will do away with print?

Never.  Print books may become more of a luxury and we may see books going back to being works of art or they may be printed on recycled or bamboo paper and become more tree-friendly and disposable, but there will always be print books.

Which 3 books would you take to a desert island and why?

Only three? Eeek.

Well then let’s see…in no particular order, it would have to be:

  • Agnes and the Hitman by Crusie and Mayer, for sheer hilarity and uniqueness (the heroine has anger management problems). Think an old house, mafia, a wedding, hitmen, a dog with a jewelled collar, a flamingo, and murder with a barbecue fork.
  • Julie Anne Long’s What I Did for a Duke, also for hilarity, sharpness of dialogue, a May September romance that is totally awesome and for twisting tropes,
  • Finally…..drum roll……Cherise Sinclair’s Edge of the Enforcer. Let me just say, feisty heroine, sexy, sexy, did I say sexy? hero, insurmountable odds, a kink club and BDSM. ‘nuff said.

Check out the rest of the tour here

Author bio and book synopsis

Hard-Pressed Blog Tour Button.png

Please introduce yourself (250 words or so):

I’ve always loved writing and I won my first prize for a short story when I was still at primary school. I’m an avid reader of romance and erotic romance and if I’m not writing I can usually be found with my nose in a book. The dynamics and sheer variety of human relationships fascinate me, and this is what I like to explore in my writing. I live in North Yorkshire with my husband, cat and five hens and I enjoy running and Tai Chi. I’m currently working on a sequel to Hard Pressed (watch this space) and on a romantic suspense novel.

Tell us about your book(s) – title, genre etc (short)

My latest release, Hard Pressed is out now.

Master Lucien has one night at Club Hard.

One night…to show bodyguard Rose Dainty that he can be the Dom she needs,

One night…to show her that submitting to him doesn’t make her weak, that true submission requires strength and trust.

Will pushing Rose to her limits prove to her she can trust him with her body and heart, and can she let go of her deepest fears long enough to enjoy her surrender? `

They both have everything to prove and everything to lose.

Buy links:

Amazon USA: https://amzn.to/2lXpCSP    

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2kswibm  

Evernight:  https://www.evernightpublishing.com/hard-pressed-by-queenie-black/    

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/958783  

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/hard-pressed-18  

iBooks: https://books.apple.com/gb/book/hard-pressed/id1480423303

Social media :

Twitter: https://twitter.com/queenieblackwr1

Website: http://www.queenieblackauthor.com/

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/queenieblackauthor/

 Giveaway

Hard-Pressed-3D-eReader

 

 

 

 

Dirty Dozen Author Interview – Judith Starkson #Histfic #Hittites #Meetanauthor

Author Name: Judith Starkston

  1. *Please tell us about your publications.

I’m the author of three books of historical fantasy based on the Bronze Age Hittites—an empire of the ancient Near East nearly buried by the sands of time. My books take “a quarter turn to the fantastic,” to borrow Guy Gavriel Kay’s phrase, and give full expression to the magical religious beliefs of these historical people. My first book, Hand of Fire, is set in the Trojan War and told from a woman’s viewpoint, Briseis, Achilles’ captive. Currently, I’m writing a historical fantasy series based on a Hittite queen. The first book in that series Priestess of Ishana is available FREE Oct 2-6. The second book, Sorcery in Alpara, launches Oct 14.

  1. What first prompted you to publish your work?

When I was researching my first book and figuring out the Trojans, I made a startling side discovery—a queen I’d never heard of who ruled for decades over an empire I’d barely heard of, despite my training and degrees as a classicist. It was the Hittite empire, of which, it turns out, Troy was a part. The queen was Puduhepa (whom I call Tesha in my fiction–the Hittite word for “dream” because she had visionary dreams). I’m particularly interested in the theme of women as leaders, so I was hooked. The Hittite empire could be called the forgotten empire, but fortunately, recent archaeology and the decipherment and translation of many thousands of clay tablets have filled in parts of the lost history. We now have many Hittite letters, prayers, judicial decrees, treaties, religious rites and a variety of other documents, but overall our knowledge still has huge gaps in it. I use shifted names in my series, such as Hitolia for the Hittite empire, to cue my readers to how much I have to fill in imaginatively from those fragmentary records. It also gives fair warning to the magic that I give free rein to, the rules of which derive from Hittite practices, but I do let the story go where a good story should and that means a lot of fantasy. It was that juicy primary source material, an extraordinary female ruler, and an intriguing ancient world that prompted me to write Priestess of Ishana and Sorcery in Alpara.

  1. Are you a ‘pantser’ or a ‘plotter’?

I outline my novels in a couple different ways before I start writing, but those outlines are subject to change whenever the story and characters take me into new realms I hadn’t imagined at the start.

I use a couple approaches to outlining and organizing my manuscripts. One is very character/theme/pacing driven, Libbie Hawker’s book Take Your Pants Off. The other, very plot and pacing driven, is a storyboarding technique that means I’ve got each of my books laid out on a three-sided board like we used for our school science projects. It’s explained in Alexandra Sokoloff’s Screenwriting Tricks for Authors. You’ll notice in both the word “pacing.” I found as I learned the craft that pacing was both the hardest part to get right and the most essential. If readers aren’t compulsively drawn through my story, it doesn’t matter how beautiful my writing is and all the rest (though I work hard to get all that nailed). A good story is hard to put down—that’s something we all intuitively know. The corollary is that if a story is hard to get through, it isn’t very good!

  1. What piece of advice do you wish you’d had when you started your publishing journey?

Write at least a little bit every day and give yourself permission to write “bad words.” What do I mean by that? Just write and don’t worry whether it’s crap or not. Later you can go back and edit or trash if need be. I find that it is often the days when I think I’m writing the worst that I discover on later read, I’ve written some of my best. And you can only fix words that are actually on the page.

  1. If you could have dinner with any literary character who would you choose, and what would you eat.

I’ve never gotten over my fascination with Achilles in the Iliad. He’s maybe legendary rather than literary, but I’d like to sit down and listen to him (probably admire his physique also…). He’d probably want lamb roasted on spits spiced with garlic and cumin, and I love that also, so I’ll go with that. Some fresh flatbread right off the hot stones to go along with it!

  1. What are your views on authors offering free books? Do you believe, as some do, that it demeans an author and his or her work?

I’m using this technique—offering free my first book in the series, Priestess of Ishana, from Oct 2-6. I’m doing it right before the second book comes out, so I’ll see buy through and get paid that way. I think it’s a viable marketing strategy. I don’t think reaching new readers is demeaning. It’s what you do as an author, and putting books into people’s hands seems like a good thing overall. If I was expected to give away books for free all the time, that would be silly. But accessing a lot of new readers I wouldn’t have any other way? That sounds smart to me. So do download a copy of Priestess of Ishana, and then if you really enjoy it, buy Sorcery in Alpara.

  1. What are your views on authors commenting on reviews?

I spread the word when I get a particularly strong review, especially from someone I really respect. When someone writes a bad review, I see no reason to react one way or the other, certainly not comment on it. I let my fiction, my author notes, all the background material on my website speak for itself when someone has a wrongheaded idea in a review. Reality has a way of coming through over time, so I don’t sweat it. If someone points out a perceptive way to improve in a review, I go to work in my next book and make sure I fix that. I’m happy to learn from all sources.

  1. How much research do you do for your work? What’s the wildest subject you’ve looked at?

I have gone deep into the research, both the book/reading part (years of that) and the travel. I’ve gone to the archaeological sites, landscapes, and museum collections in Turkey that are the source material for my world-building. I contact the dig directors and museum curators so that I can talk with them and learn first-hand from the people who really know. I spent a whole day at the site that we think was Tesha’s hometown that I call Lawaza, but was called Lawazantiya by the Hittites. It’s the archaeological site of Tatarli near the city of Adana in Turkey. The key reason they think it’s her hometown is that the dig mound (with Bronze Age ruins of the right kind) is surrounded by seven springs. The Hittite records from the capital of the empire describe this town as having seven springs. The dig director took me to each of the springs–one of them appears in a key scene in Priestess of Ishana and I could never have gotten the atmospherics of that scene right if I hadn’t been there. One of the wildest subjects I’ve run across is the Hittite magical rite to remove a curse that I use in Priestess of Ishana. It involves chickpeas. Who knew that the way to get the demons out was via garbanzo beans? The Hittites were obsessed with curses and they believed sorcerers caused all kinds of evil with them. If you had to remove a curse from someone, you baked a loaf of bread with chickpea paste in the middle (basically humus) so that when you touched the bread to the cursed body while saying the right spell, the paste would absorb the pollution. I couldn’t make up this stuff in a million years, but the Hittite culture hands it to me. I just have to write it into compelling page-turners.

  1. If you could be any fantasy/mythical or legendary person/creature what would you be and why?

I’m having a lot of fun writing griffins into my series, so I’ll choose that mythical creature to be. It turned out, much to my surprise as I wrote, that griffins, or at least the ones in my books, have a very dry sense of humor. And they are wickedly good warriors and can soar into the heavens, and yet they have a big soft spot for their cubs who are allowed to climb all over the grownups, so I suspect hanging out as a griffin for a while could be very entertaining.

  1. What is your writing space like?

I’m very lucky and have a big window in front of my workspace that looks out on my garden. I write on a lovely inlaid wooden writing table with a comfortable armchair. So I’m all set to keep my butt in that seat for a good stretch every day.

  1. Is there a message in your books?

My fictional Tesha, based on the historic Queen Puduhepa, provides a worthy model for leadership—particularly the value of female leaders, which we’ve been thinking about lately, so this seems timely. She certainly wasn’t perfect, and some of her actions are hotly debated among historians as possibly self-serving or politically motivated rather than ethically driven. She gave me nuanced material to work into my hero’s character. But, despite that human complexity, or perhaps because of it, she had brilliant skills as queen in many areas: diplomatic, judicial, religious and familial. Most famously, she corralled Pharaoh Ramses II of Egypt into a lasting peace treaty. The surviving letters to Ramses reveal a subtle diplomat with a tough but gracious core that made her able to stand up to the arrogant Pharaoh without giving offense. She also took judicial positions that went against her own citizens when the truth wasn’t on their side. Fair justice wasn’t something she was willing to toss overboard when it was politically inconvenient. Her equal partnership with her husband was a much-admired model even in the patriarchal world of the ancient Near East. I’m enjoying working in these themes from a real woman into my historical fantasy series, one book at a time.

  1. How important is writing to you?

I love the long hours at my desk spent lost in the world that I write and in the company of my characters. I enjoy it every day. It’s my fulltime occupation.

Links

Newsletter sign up (for a free short story and book deals): https://www.judithstarkston.com/sign-up-for-my-author-newsletter-for-books-news-special-offers-and-freebies/

Website  https://www.judithstarkston.com/

Priestess of Ishana  https://amzn.to/2DXpdXt

Sorcery in Alpara  https://amzn.to/319vuIj

Hand of Fire  https://amzn.to/2KOb6a0

 

Bio

Judith Starkston has spent too much time reading about and exploring the remains of the ancient worlds of the Greeks and Hittites. Early on she went so far as to get degrees in Classics from the University of California, Santa Cruz and Cornell. She loves myths and telling stories. This has gotten more and more out of hand. Her solution: to write historical fantasy set in the Bronze Age. Hand of Fire was a semi-finalist for the M.M. Bennett’s Award for Historical Fiction. Priestess of Ishana won the San Diego State University Conference Choice Award.

 

Dirty Dozen Author Interview – Robert D. Sollars #Uniqueauthors

Author name: Robert D. Sollars

Please tell us a little about yourself. What makes you a #Uniqueauthor (or artist)?

I want to save lives and entertain people. My personal belief is that if I can help save someone’s life through my training and consulting or achieve success by getting published as a writer themselves…my mission is complete and accomplished.

Do you think the written word (or art) bring power and freedom? Absolutely it does, depending on the political persuasion and how well it is documented, without omissions or lies, then a work of non-fiction or fiction can literally change the world. Having said that, you must research and discover for yourself what is being said and the facts presented and not necessarily take the given facts as the facts…statistics and facts can be massaged by omissions and not reporting of the entire set of facts.

As a disabled author how do you overcome the extra challenges involved with producing your work? I am very fortunate that I have several people who can help me with technological issues with the computer, which is usually the only issues I have. My wife, best friend, and others all help me get over the inaccessible websites and when I can’t access websites and other items I need for the books.

What have you found the most challenging part of the process? Do you think the publishing world is disability-friendly? The publishing world is definitely not disabled friendly. They have tried, but despite federal laws that require that websites be accessable many, far too many, are not…still. There are numerous barriers in submitting your work such as one popular site where it is nearly impossible for a blind writer to submit their own work…someone has to help us do it or do it completely themselves…and then there are other issues with trying to sign up for webinars and stuff and the sites won’t let you do it…coming back to forcing you to have someone else do it for you if you want to listen.

What piece of advice do you wish you’d had when you started your publishing journey? Write what you want when it comes to fiction and with non-fiction write what you are passionate about. I would far more successful if I had learned that before going blind in 2003.

And how hard it was to raise the greenbacks to self-publish books like mine and how hard it is to get people interested in your topics. Most of the media outlets, I’m sorry to say, are mired in their own sensationalism to report real facts and research.

What’s your greatest networking tip? Get out there and mingle with other writers, editors, publishers, publicists, and the myriad of others who may be able to push you forward with your career.

How much research do you do for your work? What’s the wildest subject you’ve looked at? The wildest subject I’ve ever looked at? I’m not a wild and crazy guy in my non-fiction, LOL. I’ve researched BDSM and other fetishes for fiction

As for my speciality…I look at all the pertinent facts, papers, reports, and etc. for anything I put into my books. The only one I didn’t do any research for was my customer service book in 2018…it was all based on personal experience and things I’ve learned in 40 years in the security field.

I don’t generally have to do a lot of research for my non-fiction books, since it is my work speciality. As for fiction, I create my own worlds and fill in the blanks along the way and if I have to, I’ll go back and revise it to keep a proper perspective on it so it doesn’t distract.

How influential is storytelling to our culture? Everyone tells stories, whether they believe they do or not. Story-telling is a tradition that dates back hundreds of thousands if not millions of years. It is a way to pass along information and to entertain. If we stop telling stories, usually for entertainment purposes then we as a culture will die of asphyxiation.

Our culture began with storytelling. Long before language, the written word, and alphabets, we had storytellers. They were known by different names to whatever culture you were in but they were all storytellers. It was a way to stay abreast of the news, stories from far away, and entertainment.

What’s the best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? Write what I want to write and don’t worry about the critics.

From Tim Allen “Never give up. Never Surrdender!”

What’s the worst piece best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? You’re not a college graduate. Go to school and learn the book way of doing things and you’ll be better off.

No one wants to read that crap (speaking of security). Write something interesting if you’re smart enough. This from a former publicist.

*Please tell us about your publications.

 I have 4 books out since 2009. The first one was so poorly edited I won’t even discuss it.

The 2nd one was “One is too Many: Recognizing & Preventing Workplace Violence” (Amazon 2014)

“Murder in the Classroom: A Practical Guide for Prevention” (Amazon 2018)

“Unconventional Customer Service: How-to Break the Rules to Provide Unparalleled Service” (Amazon 2018)

What first prompted you to publish your work?  I’ve been writing for nearly 40 years, ever since high school. I’ve published innumerable articles and blogfs but never a book, which was always my dream. I started working on the One is too Many & Unconventional Customer Service nearly 2 decades, but after going blind…I had the time, expertise, and knowledge I decided now as the time to do it.

What have you found the most challenging part of the process? Knowing when to stop writing and say enough is enough so as not to confuse the reader! All experts in their field can talk all day about it but the trick is to know when to leave without the reader wishing they’d picked it up…in other words, make it readable and not like a textbook.

Are you a ‘pantser’ or a ‘plotter’? I would have to say a pantser with fiction but not really a plodder with non-fiction. I pick out the facts and research I need to utilize, not hiding anything of course, and then decide where in the book it needs to go. Sometimes the same facts appear in several plaes in the books…just depends on the topic.

Fiction is definitely pantser…I get my ideas from my dreams and let the characters tell me what the story is, including their names. When I get up in the morning…voila the story nearly writes itself and is, most of the time anyway, not bad.

If you could have dinner with any literary character who would you choose, and what would you eat. Al Giordino or Dirk Pitt from Clive Cussler…the beer and burger guys, not the fancy smancy cuisine that they can eat.

What are your views on authors offering free books? Do you believe, as some do, that it demeans an author and his or her work? Well, while it is expensive, if the author is proud of their work and think that people will enjoy it…then give away a few free copies! You don’t want to break the bank doing it, but if you get it into the community and around your region, state, or city, then people will start talking about it and hopefully, it will generate sales. I try to give away copies to those who helped me in some way during the proves…whether it be advice, computer issues, or anything else. Others I give away and have gotten some sales from doing. I just have to remember that talking about death & destruction in real life is not a sexy topic and people don’t like discussing it in ‘polite company’.

What are your views on authors commenting on reviews? If an author doesn’t comment on a negative review, then they can open themselves up for even more ‘abuse’ from the reviewers. If they respond without getting nasty and refuse the ‘invitation’ to be as nasty as the reviewer, eventually those trolls will go away and you can delete their reviews.

If the comment are good, a simple “Thank you. I appreciate your review on my book.” (and you could add if you desire…Please pass your comments along to friends & family)

How do you deal with bad reviews?Answer them with politeness, courtesy, and professionalism.

Sort these into order of importance:

  1. Good plot
  2. Great characters
  3. Awesome world-building
  4. Technically perfect

If you could be any fantasy/mythical or legendary person/creature what would you be and why? Jim Qwilleran on the “The Cat Who” series by Lillian Jackson Braun. The reasoning is this simple. A simple man who happens to be a reporter falls into billions of dollars because of an obscure family relationship. He then stll lives simply but begins benefitting the small rural community and county he is now a resident of.

I want to give away that kind of money to help innumerable organizations but alas…no billions for me!

Which authors have influenced you the most? Rod Serling, Clive Cussler, Lillian Jackson Braun, John Scalzi, Diane Carey, & A.C. Crispin.

 What is your writing space like?  I have my desk in a spare bedroom against the wall, a window on my left, where my cat spends her time watching me and the birds. The door is on my right, my wife’s desk behind me and surrounded by filing cabinets & shelves…some would call it cramped but why do I care? As long as I can type…

Tell us about your latest piece? I am in the process of doing the final editing on several pieces, including “Murder in the Office: A Practical Guide for Prevention” and a series of novellas based on sci fi and fantasy “Three for Victory” & “The Cat”

What’s your next writing adventure? After I finish those above, I intend to begin finishing all of the other writing projects I’ve had hidden away since getting cancer last winter…a ton of novels, novellas, and other things that are just languishing at this point.

What was the last book you’ve read?“The Cat Who Blew the Whistle”

Is this the age of the e-book? Are bricks and mortar bookshops in decline? Yeah, well, but the brick & mortors are still there and probably will be for a very long time. I worry about the possibility of an EMP and the fact no one knows to read a book without a screen any more.

With the influx of indie authors do you think this is the future of storytelling? Absolutely, so many wonderful stories out there. Fantastical worlds filled with wonder, awe, & cataclysmic destruction. Then it resets and you can read another!

Are indie/self published authors viewed with scepticism or wariness by readers? Why is this? They used to be, but with the advent of so many independent publsihers such as bookbaby, and several others, anyone can write and hae a bookpublished. I do have to say though a quote from Ambrose Bierce is very appropritate in these times “The covers of this book are too close together!”

Is there a message in your books? I would like to say that, even in my security books, everything has hope to it and you just have to keep working towards it is all. I try to convey that but whether I succeed or not…

How important is writing to you? Let me put it this way…I’ up and at the computer by about 3:30 every morning (mon-fri) and usually don’t quit until about 4:00, taking time for the news and lunch if necessary.

Links

www.facebook.com/robertdsollars

dldbooks.com/robertdsollars

@robertsollars2

Bio

A somewhat strange 58-year-old blind guy with what has been called weird, unique, quirky, and ddown right stupid ideas, Robert has been blind since moving to the Phoenix area in 2003, 6 weeks after getting there. He lives with his wife, lover, a cat, and a volatile sense of volcanic anger and hostility.

Irritating the hell out of most people. he follows his grandfather’s habits of going to bed early (by 1800 hours) and rising between midnight and 0200. Coffee is drank black and he has more than a few health issues to fight along the way…cancer, kidney transplant, intestinal issues, and too many to mention.

Dirty Dozen Author Interview – Joan Myles/Poet #Uniqueauthors #Meetanauthor

Author name: Joan Myles

Please tell us a little about yourself. What makes you a #Uniqueauthor? I am a poet. But poetry is not just what I do. Poetry is how the world speaks to me–musically, in “pictures” of the heart, in whispers of insight, and throbbings of connection. And if I succeed, the words I configure will do more than relate what I perceive. They will nudge readers to experience these marvels for themselves.

Please tell us about your publications/work. My first book, One With Willows is a collection of what I call “spiritually playful” poetry.  You see, childlike wonder is my lens for viewing the world, childlike wonder and a sense of the Divine. And all my writing is meant to be a kind of footpath for readers into that place of delight, to help them awaken their own childlike wonder, perhaps to find Divinity for themselves.

What first prompted you to publish your work?  I started publishing by way of my blog, http://jewniquelymyself.com

At first, however, creative writing was not my focus. My blog was an attempt to spread the word about Yismehu, the nonprofit I founded in 2010 to bring free distance Jewish learning to blind adults nationwide. Until Yismehu closed in 2017, I wrote about being a blind Hebrew teacher of sighted 6th graders, of learning yoga, of life with a guide dog–all meant to highlight the abilities of people like myself, people who live and work and have families even as they deal with issues related to blindness. 

As my teaching responsibilities shifted, I used the blog to share other things such as book reviews, and eventually, original poetry.

One With Willows came about because friends read my work, and nudged me to publish.

Do you think the written word (or art) bring power and freedom?  Oh, yes. Words have magical power, you know. They create and destroy worlds, inspire and teach, and sometimes even reveal what we already know. The freedom to share words is vital currency between people.  Words are the soul’s breath, the expression of the heart’s yearning, the means for bringing people together, or sadly, of dividing them.  

As a blind writer, words may take a different, more tangible, shape on the page for me, but they are no less magical. In fact, beneath my fingers, Braille words reinforce the wondrous nature of Creation. I can hold words in my hand, touch them, experience their curves and angles–yet these are the flashes of sound and thought which bubble up and seem to fly away into space!  So what is the true nature of reality after all? Is human existence spiritually rich and multi-layered as I perceive, as words demonstrate to me?

As a disabled author, how do you overcome the extra challenges involved with producing your work?  Putting words on the page is not a problem for me. When inspiration comes, I gather ideas with my Braillewriter or my ChromeBook. The ChromeBook has a wonderful screen-reading feature, and even stores my writing. When it comes to other matters, like problems with my blog or uploading my book, I am fortunate to have sighted help from family members.

What have you found the most challenging part of the process? Do you think the publishing world is disability-friendly? Navigating the ins and outs of social media is quite challenging to me. But I am not sure whether this is due to the mechanics of social media, or the nature of marketing itself. 

I think publishing these days is much easier for writers with disabilities. Computers and the internet provide tools of connection and information which were inaccessible before.  Social media has helped connect disabled writers and broadened the discussion to include parents and other family members, even spilling over into more general social circles.  The unique perspective of writers and characters with disabilities is being heard, and that is good for everyone.

What’s your greatest networking tip? My best advice is to write. Write something every day and don’t be afraid to have others read what you write. Writers need to share their work, their ideas, their inspirations.  They need to find other writers, other readers, anyone who is open to the world of ideas and creativity. But this is not just to sell their work. Writers must keep their creative juices flowing, and immersing oneself in idea-sharing does just that.

If you could have dinner with any literary character who would you choose, and what would you eat? I would love to have dinner with the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland. We would dine on a few fresh greens–spinach and broccoli, perhaps–munch on carrots and tomatoes, and delight in berries galore for dessert. And I would remind him to chew slowly, thoroughly, and hopefully, at last, I would nudge him to slow down, to take notice of the world around him, to breathe deeply, consciously, and to experience each moment. And I wonder, what shifts in Alice’s adventures might result from such a dinner?

How much research do you do for your work? My poetry is born of silence, of meditative moments spent in my garden, of breathing in the sweetness and bitterness of Life, of time spent interacting with loved ones and friends.

How influential is storytelling to our culture? Storytelling is vital to bringing people together, and even to self-discovery and development. Human beings constantly “talk” to themselves about what they perceive in the world, about the people they encounter, and what befalls them. And it’s not only the impressions upon our physical senses that build these stories. It’s what we tell ourselves about these impressions, whether we interpret them through the lens of ego and self-centered interests, or with wonder and compassion. Because these interpretations affect everything we say and do, story-telling  is important to culture and social progress.  

Which authors have influenced you the most? I love discovering new poets, but my absolute favorites are  Mary Oliver and Roberto Juarroz. Somehow they manage to find simple, accessible language to relate the mysterious and spiritually intimate aspects of human experience. In fiction, I read those who speak deeply from their hearts and souls such as Pearl Buck, Victor Hugo and Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

What is your writing space like? Naturally, my writing space reflects who I am so books are a prominent feature. Braille books and print books fill my shelves with thoughts on religion and spirituality,  as well as works of poetry and biography. The room’s large window looks out on the garden where day lilies and irises sweeten the air, and hummingbirds flitter just outside at one of three feeders. My desk is small to keep things tidy, but on the floor around my chair, I can’t help scattering a volume or two after reading, keeping them close at hand just in case.  

Is this the age of the e-book? Are bricks and mortar bookshops in decline? I can’t help believing there will always be actual, tangible books to read. There is something so intimate, so physically, humanly satisfying, in holding a paper book in one’s hands. And, too, there must always be a place for book-lovers to gather, to share ideas with one another, and with writers. 

What is your greatest success? Writing is all about speaking heart to heart. So success for me is knowing somone has read my work and benefitted by it somehow. A young man told me recently that he has recommended my book to fellow Veterans because it has brought him such a sense of peacefulness and wonder. And members of a local synagogue have installed two of my poems as part of their annual Holocaust Remembrance service as a statement of hope. I feel so honored, and so humbled.

How important is writing to you? For me, writing is a natural response to what I experience. So just as I must exhale with every breath I take in,  I must translate what I perceive into word images. And just as dwelling among other human beings enables me to thrive and grow, so sharing my work expands my poetic vision and deepens my understanding of Life.

BOOK: ONE WITH WILLOWS…

One with Willows is a collection of spiritually playful poems which invites you to step out of the everyday world, to catch your breath, even to catch a glimpse of what really is.  There is magic in light that turns hummingbirds into rubies. Wonder and delight wait for you in a garden, bid you to sit beside a young child at the piano, and may even lead you to stumble upon holiness where you least expect to find it.

You will want One with Willows on your bookshelf when you need a friendly reminder that things can get better. It will sit with you on the edge of the bed when you are weary, and revive your sense of hope when you need a boost.

 

Purchase links:

Print:

One With Willows – Print

Kindle:

One with Willows – ebook

One with Willows cover

BIO…

Joan Myles has always been a child of wonder as well as a spiritual seeker. When she lost her sight at the age of 12, these qualities and writing poetry saved her from despair. And what’s more, once blind, her spiritual seeking took on a deeper, richer dimension. No longer was Divinity somewhere out there, hovering just out of reach. She felt God to be with her, a whisper away, a breath, a sigh, a longing inside her, an expression of wonder and delight and most emphatically, Love.

Joan earned a BA in elementary Education, a Master’s in Jewish Studies, and spent 15 years teaching Hebrew and Judaics to third through 6th graders. During that time, she also founded Yismehu, a non-profit organization which provided free Jewish learning to blind students nationwide via distance learning, and served as both textbook developer and instructor for 7 years.

Joan and her husband raised four children together. They currently live in Oregon, where she continues to delight in the wonders of Life Divine, and in the magic of words.

Connect with Joan online at the following link:

http://www.jewniquelymyself.com

 

 

 

A Day in The Life Of… #UniqueAuthor Phyllis Campbell #Meetanauthor #Authorpromo

A Day in the Life Of and Questions with Phyllis Cambell. Welcome.

Bio:

Phyllis Staton Campbell was born in Amherst County, in a small village similar to those featured in her books. She had two sisters and one brother, all of whom are now gone. She and her sister were educated at the Virginia School for the Blind. She has worked as a teacher of the blind, private music teacher, accompanist at a ballet academy, peer counsellor and youth transition specialist. She married Clarence (Chuck) Campbell, in 1967. She says it was a good marriage, lasting almost forty-six years. During his last months, she was his only caregiver except for a visit from a Hospice worker to take care of his bathing and shaving. She says the hardest thing she ever did was sign the Do Not Resuscitate order. She promised to walk with him to that final door we call death, and she has every idea that he will be there waiting on the other side of that door.

Are you writer, publisher or designer? Writer

Do you write primarily,  fiction or nonfiction? Fiction

Do you restrict your work to a single genre? Yes

How long have you been writing? Since the 60s.

Are you self-published? Traditional published? Both

Thank you. Please tell us more.

  1. If you write more than one genre, what are they, and why? I’m interested in a number of genre. What I write and when, depends on my mood. When I’m in the middle of a project, I often have to use self-discipline to keep from wanting to start a different project. No, I’ve never abandoned one project for another.
  2. Are your characters, real people? No, but I think most writers slip in character traits even speech patterns of real people.
  3. Do you ever become tired of a book, while working on it? Absolutely. After I’ve worked over several drafts and edits, I’ve often never wanted to see the thing again.
  4. Have you as a blind person had an unpleasant experience with a publisher or agent. Explain. I once had an agent tell me that no publisher would even look at a book featuring a blind person.
  5. If the answer to the question above is yes, how did you handle it? I ignored her. Even if I had insisted, and she had represented me, we would never have had a satisfactory relationship.
  6. Do you use any special equipment to aide in your writing? I use a computer with screen reading software, and a braille device, The Braille-Note Touch, for proofreading.
  7. When you submit your work to a publication, do you tell them that you’re blind? If characters in the book or short story are blind, I do to verify authenticity.
  8. Does your environment or work experience ever feature in your writing? In what way? I have worked as a teacher, peer counsellor, and youth transition specialist. People with disabilities often feature in my writing, as do small towns and rural areas, environments I’ve lived in most of my life.
  9. Do you use anything to set the mood for your writing? Yes, I often use music to create the atmosphere.
  10. Have you ever become discouraged about your writing, and if the answer is yes, what did you do about it? All writers become discouraged, and some go through what might be called a dark time. I try to step back and think about what has discouraged me. Usually, it’s a rejection slip from somewhere that I had felt would give me an acceptance. In my case this usually passes in a day or two.

 

Do you work at another job? If so tell us about fitting in the writing/cover design/editing. I am a church organist. I have a schedule allowing time for practice and writing, varying sometimes if one needs more attention than the other.

Do you have a family? What do they think about your job? I do not have a family. When my husband was alive, he was very supportive. Do they assist you?

How do you fit in ‘real life’? Actually, my writing and my music are real life for me.

Do you have a particular process? No

Are you very organised? Yes, but not so organized that I can’t change when it becomes necessary or desirable.

What time do you get up/go to bed? My ideal day starts around six AM, and ends around ten PM when I read in bed, until I fall asleep.

Do you find it hard to fit everything in? Like most people some days things demand more time, but in general, I finish what I’d planned.

What is your ideal working environment? A quiet place with few interruptions.

What do you eat for breakfast? It varies, according to my schedule. If I’m in a hurry it’s something like a frozen English Muffin with a filling of egg and sausage. Otherwise the usual, eggs bacon etc.

Give us a brief rundown of your average day from getting up to going to bed. I wake around six, and make a cup of coffee with my Keurig in my upstairs bathroom, take the coffee back to bed to listen to the weather and news. Shortly before seven, I come down, and go through email, taking care of anything that requires attention. I get breakfast, following which, I work on my writing and any publicity. If it’s close to the time for my columns, I do research. Lunch. Practice at the organ, and braille music if necessary. Following this, I do chores such as laundry, straightening the kitchen, unloading and loading the dishwasher. I listen to music,  and/or read.

Prepare dinner, following which I may visit with friends on the phone, visit with friends online etc. This, of course, for instance, I get my hair done to go out to lunch etc.

Would you recommend your chosen craft to those interested in doing it? I certainly would, but would urge them to understand that to become a professional they must learn disappointment and patience.

Check out Phyllis’s author page here https://www.amazon.co.uk/Phyllis-Campbell/e/B001KC40ZI

https://www.amazon.com/Phyllis-Campbell/e/B001KC40ZI

Swift Six Author Interview – Felicia Fredlund – Fantasy/Eclectica

Name: Felicia Fredlund

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What attracts you to the genre in which you write?
I write in several genres, but I mostly write fantasy. When I write I want to go on an adventure, to somewhere different and interesting, and perhaps a bit dangerous. Wonders like magic can exist. I love the idea of going on an adventure.

What piece of writing advice do you wish you’d known when you started your writing adventures?
Entertain yourself / have fun. Keep the fun and when it starts to go away, cut away the worries and fears and keep seeking the fun. Writing as a way of making a living means a lot of work with no guarantee of money at the end of all that effort. So to make the effort always worth it, fun is the needed ingredient.

If you could have dinner with any famous person or character who would you choose?
So I’d have different answers depending on what I’d want to achieve with the dinner! For just a fun and interesting time, I’d probably pick Aly from the Tricksters series by Tamora Pierce. As a fine spy, I bet she knows all kinds of interesting things. But, I guess she might not be famous. Ops!
The writer Nora Roberts would be another pick. I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting her but I think it would be fun and I could learn a lot from her. I really love her In Death series under her open pen name J.D. Robb.

Who has been the greatest influence on your own work?
For the genre I write (fantasy) and the mainly female main characters I create, I guess I can thank Tamora Pierce and her book Alanna: The First Adventure, which is the book that made me fall in love with reading and featured a girl want to be a knight. I loved that book as a kid. As an adult I favor the last book in series more (Lioness Rampant).

Do you think the e-book revolution will do away with print?
Considering we are about a decade into the revolution and print is still strong? Probably not for a while yet. Do I think we will always have print books like we do now? Probably not, we don’t use papyrus much anymore. My point being that technology do change over centuries and millenniums.
But do I think print will disappear anytime soon? It doesn’t seem likely at the moment, but that could change tomorrow.

Which 3 books would you take to a desert island and why?
Only 3 books? Does my kindle count as one book? Because I’d take that, haha.

The Deeds of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon, because it is an excellent fantasy adventure book (trilogy that is always sold as one book nowadays so I’m counting it as one!). It just hits all the notes for me to make a great fantasy book and it goes dark without going into horror.

Eat. Pray. Love. by Elizabeth Gilbert (I’m sensing a trend in author names…). I didn’t read it for the first time when it got famous. I read it a few years later when it showed up on my radar for some reason I can’t remember. I love Gilbert’s writing, what I’ve read of it I mean. It is a story of a physical, emotional, and mental journey that I already know I’ll want to come back to periodically (I’ve reread it once so far).

The Redemption of Althalus by David and Leigh Eddings. Constraining me to three books means I have to make different choices than I might otherwise. I wanted another fiction book on the list, another meaty one preferably, but since it could only be one, I couldn’t choice any of my favorite series that I might have chosen otherwise. This is still a great choice. Another fantastic adventure, with a lot of humor this time, so more light-hearted than Paksenarrion. A more comfortable ride, which is what is needed when life throws too many hard balls.

Author bio and book synopsis
Please introduce yourself (250 words or so):
Felicia Fredlund writes fiction about entertaining adventures and emotional journeys of interesting people. She currently lives in Japan after a period of traveling.
She writes one series, a dark fantasy series called Sorceress Islands. Her short stories have appeared in several Fiction Rivers.
She also edits. She edited Fiction River: Last Stand with Dean Wesley Smith.
Learn more about her on her website www.FeliciaFredlund.com, and join her newsletter for up-to-date information about all her books.

Tell us about your book(s) – title, genre etc (short)

My story in the Eclectica bundle is Dear Brother, which is a contemporary short story about dealing with grief. A young man has lost his brother and is trying to come to terms with it.
Another contemporary short story of mine is At the Traffic Lights. And for more fantasy (the main genre I write), there is A Soul Calling (urban fantasy), You Can’t Walk Your Rabbit Without a Leash (humorous fairy tale), and Sorceress Islands series (dark fantasy).

Links: www.FeliciaFredlund.com, https://www.feliciafredlund.com/newsletter/
Social media (I don’t use it).

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Hell Week 2018 – Lady Gemini/Andrew Weston

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Who are/were you?

I am the Lady Gemini, Daemon Grim’s newest Hell Hound. In life, people knew me as Marie-Anne Charlotte de Corday d’Armont, (l’ ange de l’assassinat) – or simply, Charlotte Corday – the assassins angel. Born 1768, in France to a minor aristocratic family, I was executed by guillotine while still only twenty-four years old for the murder of Jacobin leader, Jean-Paul Marat.

Who is your ‘lover’ in Hell?

Though it’s unrequited, I’ve fallen for my boss, Daemon Grim. A bit of a sticky dilemma as he’s only recently lost his soul mate, Strawberry Fields, who he destroyed utterly in self defense.

Love in hell, isn’t that a contradiction? How does this work?

In a nutshell? It doesn’t! Not for the damned masses, anyway. But now I’ve risen to the ranks of the elite, I’ve been told I may express my desires in any way I see fit . . . so long as it’s away from the public eye and knowledge of such freedom isn’t bandied about for all and sundry to hear.

Many of the denizens of His Satanic Majesty’s realm have a curse – what is yours?

Though I have a nubile form, exquisite grace and speed, and am extremely athletic, I’ll never be beautiful again. Before my elevation, I complained once too often and am condemned for all eternity to wear a face of two distinct halves . . . as you can see in my picture.

Gemini-lady (1)

It makes smiling quite a chore, I can tell you. (And helps explain the ingenious name I’ve been labeled with)

Who are your friends/allies here?

I have very few, but they all count. After my fall from grace, I became an assassin of some repute throughout all the levels of infernity. That put me much in demand, at the cost of acquaintances. Regardless, since my inauguration into the Ancient Disorder of Hell Hounds, I’ve gained the closest thing you can get to family, and am determined to protect that treasure with all my strength.

Describe your home/environment in Hell.

I live in a suite situated on one of the top floors of Black Tower, in what you mortals would call the Tower of London. Here in the underverse, we called that ancient edifice the Den of Iniquity—or the Den for short. As with your topside version, it’s located at the center of the sprawling slum that was Olde London Town. By hell’s standards, it’s abject luxury. But we’re expected to get results. If not, well . . . what happened to the previous Lead Hound – Nimrod, and the former Chief Inquisitor – Strawberry, serves as a stark reminder how easy it is for the most privileged of the damned to fall again.

Hell covers all eras and technologies, there are many hells within Hell. How have you adjusted to this strange world?

I’ve been very lucky. As an assassin, I was allowed access to all sorts of weaponry and technology, and I didn’t really have to pay a diablo. Those who commissioned my services often footed the bill for the gadgets I needed. Gadgets I got to keep as part of the successful conclusion of a contract. Needless to say, that involved travelling to some of the remotest, most backward parts of the underworld. I got used to it pretty quickly. And when I became a Hell Hound? Wow! You ought to see the crazy stuff we have hidden away in the dungeons here at the Den.

What is/are your greatest fears here?

To fail. I’ve witnessed firsthand what happens to the privileged elite who do.

 

Author Spotlight

Name and bio.

Andrew P. Weston

Andrew P. Weston is a Royal Marine and Police veteran from the UK who now lives on the beautiful Greek island of Kos with his wife, Annette, and their growing family of rescue cats.
As creator of the critically acclaimed IX Series, and Hell Bound & Hell Hounds, (novels forming part of Janet Morris’ Heroes in Hell universe), Andrew also has the privilege of being a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, the British Fantasy Society, and the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers.
When not working, Andrew devotes some of his spare time to assisting NASA with one of their remote research projects and supporting charities. He also writes educational articles for Astronaut.com and Amazing Stories.

Tell us about your story for this edition.

In The Devil’s Trull, Daemon Grim and the Lady Gemini travel to the Kigali homeland, Ki-gal, in search of information pertaining to the machinations of two of the biggest thorns in the flesh ever to cross the Reaper’s path: the infamous scientist, Nikola Tesla; and the renowned composer, Frédéric Chopin, who it is feared have trespassed upon Kigali territory in order to further their revolutionary aspirations.

Along the way, they discover just how ingenious the diabolical duo have been in fomenting rebellion, and how too the Sibitti have been at play, sowing seeds of doubt and mayhem in preparation for their final play against latterday hell’s most potent champion.

What inspired you to use the character(s) you’ve chosen?

It was twofold really. My contribution to the shared universe involves leapfrogging my individual novels regarding Daemon Grim’s adventures with the anthologies. This story is a natural progression of a bigger picture. However, it gives me an opportunity to peel open a particular juicy segment of Daemon Grim’s personal life. As fans of Satan’s Reaper will know, he recently lost two of the closest souls to him: Nimrod – his best friend; and Strawberry – his long-time lover.

Their relationship had been rather complicated in the events leading up to The Devil’s Trull. Because of Grim’s inability to bring all the fugitives from injustice to heel, Satan had punished Grim. Firstly by denying him a corporeal form, and secondly, by stripping him of the privilege of intimate contact with the only one he has ever loved. Grim couldn’t even touch Strawberry without her suffering the fate of the masses – who succumb instantly to the Reaper’s “death touch.”

At the end of Hell Hounds (the novel preceding this particular anthology), Grim was forced to execute both Nimrod and Strawberry, actually obliterating them from existence. So he’s hurting. Not only does he have to contend with deep personal anguish and hurt feelings, but he’s battling to hold his head above water against an ever-increasing tide.

Gemini is the only suitable candidate he could find to offset the shortfall in his ranks. And sure enough, because of her own demons, Gemini has also been denied the comfort of companionship too. Just look at her face! In such a close-knit, high-pressure environment – one in which Daemon Grim has been returned to his devilishly handsome pseudo-human form – romance was bound to blossom.

And of course, the phantoms of past relationships and failures loom large . . . compounded by the fact that Tesla and Chopin seemed determined to stick the knife in. And of course, there are the Sibitti. . .

How did you become involved with this project?

Like everyone else, I was invited to write by Janet Morris a few years back. And I haven’t stopped enjoying myself since.

What are you currently working on?

I’m just rounding off the third and final book in the Author’s Cut version of a new supernatural action-thriller series – The Cambion Journals (The Rage of Augustus; The Kiss of the Succubus; and – just completed, The Embrace of the Incubus). I can’t wait to find out what people think of the series, as Augustus Thorne is bound to be popular with the ladies.

Name the last two books you’ve read – tell us about them.

I’ve not long finished Cruiser Dreams by Janet Morris, and Convergence, by Matthew S. Cox, in collaboration with J.R. Rain.
The blurbs for the books are as follows:

Cruiser Dreams. . .

She is heir to an empire beyond all imagining, where interstellar cruisers have become increasingly sentient and man’s role among the stars is transformed.

In this epic of political treachery, interstellar security, human passion, and artificial intelligence, Morris continues the saga of the fiery girl Shebat, stolen away from a decaying and primitive Earth to be the adoptive heir to the Kerrion Empire. Moulded to serve the designs of the Kerrion state, Shebat instead becomes the harbinger of change sweeping the civilized stars.

Against the chaotic background of simultaneous social and technological revolutions, Shebat finds that the man she loves is her implacable enemy, that the man she reluctantly married is perhaps her single ally, and that her space-faring cruiser may be her only true friend.

***I really enjoyed this story, as it explores the minefield of human relationships and especially – if it can be imagined – the relationship between man and machine . . . ‘machine’ with an ever-evolving artificial sentience. If you want to find out more, see my blog for a more in-depth review. It’s a truly thought-provoking read. ***

Convergence. . .

Intrepid reporter Solstice Winters has spent most of her life halfway between normal society and that of her magical parents. However, when getting caught between two worlds becomes more than metaphorical, being able to summon light or open locks might not be enough.

Neither her love life nor her professional life are going anywhere in a hurry. Her boyfriend is successful and handsome, but she constantly has to compete with his job for affection. At thirty-two, she works as a photojournalist for The Spiritualist, a small paper dedicated to magic and the supernatural―that most people regard as a tabloid. Desperate for that ‘one break,’ she’ll do almost anything to get that big story and get into a ‘real’ media outlet.

Years of always not quite fitting in begin to make sense after an error at a particle physics laboratory alters the dimensional alignment of the world, strengthening magic and revealing an unexpected truth to Solstice: She’s not even human.

*** This was an entertaining little journey into relationships of another kind. Magical beings are suddenly appearing all over the Earth, and Solstice doesn’t even realize she’s one of them until it’s too late! Of course, she ends up in the middle of a monumental mess that makes her wish that ‘big story’ she’s been after all her life would just go away. Fun. Down-to-earth. And thoroughly entertaining. ***

If you could pick any quote about Hell which would be your favourite?

I like Daemon Grim’s quote: “Your life has been a stage, and hell is the curtain call.”