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.

Dirty Dozen Character Interview – Nicodemus Etalo – Sci-fi

Name: Nicodemus Etalo: Please, call me Nick.

1) Tell us about yourself.

Well. I have an older sister and younger brother.  My parents are no longer together.  I work for the Trintaty Military.  I work with a team to rescue people who’ve been taken by the scum of the universe.  I get aboard the ship and defeat whoever thinks they have a right to make people do things against their will, and then we get the survivors back to our ship and help them get their lives back.

2) How did you end up in the situation you’re currently in?

We had intercepted a Krutan ship to rescue those whom it was holding prisoner.  When I found the Krutan, I also found a woman in a room with him.  He threw her across the room, and she hit the ceiling, which subsequently fell on top of her.  I rescued the woman, Zehána, and we blew up the ship.  It should have been over at that point, however it was just the beginning.
3) Do you have any regrets?

No way.  Zehána had endured more torture than any of the people I had helped rescue so far.  That alone stands that I made the right choice.
4) Is your life now as you envisioned it?  If not, then why?

Absolutely not.  Twice, I had envisioned the rest of my life a certain way and neither time I was right.  The first vision I had wasn’t a positive one.  I was a young child, I didn’t realize I had an option of how I was supposed to live, so I thought I’d always live my life with this… broken heart so to speak.   You know that heavy feeling you get when you’re not living the life you were meant for.  With my mother having once been in the Trinataty military, we lived a good life, had lots of things – whatever we wanted and then some.  However, I learned the hard way that we were not allowed to help others.   I had researched about the Trinitaty Military when I was older, and I left home the moment I could because I did not want to live that life.

The second time was when I met Zehána.  I had been serving the Military for a long time, and I had it down to a science.  Find the scum of the universe, rescue the people, get them home or to base, and then on to the next ship of universal filth.  It was the perfect life for me.  I lived and breathed my job.  However, the day I rescued Zehána everything changed.  I had convinced myself it was because of the circumstances I had found her in, and then she was not treated like the other survivors.  My need to protect her became above and beyond what was normal, especially for me.  Nothing in my wildest dreams prepared me for what came next.

5) Do you believe in monsters?

I certainly do.  Working for the Trinitaty Military, I have seen my fair share.  It’s why I continue to do what I do.

6) Do you have a moral code?

Yes.  I’m usually a good soldier, I do what is expected of me.  Unless I feel that it isn’t the right thing to do.  As I told my friend, Connor, “Sometimes you have to think for yourself, question the motives of your superior.  Sometimes you have to break the rules to do the right thing.”

7) Would you die for someone you love?

That’s an easy question since death is always a possibility when you’re saving people from monsters.  I wouldn’t even bat an eye.

8)  Who is your greatest enemy? 

Before this particular adventure, I don’t think I would have known the answer.  However, the Krutan, whom Zehána calls “the beast”, has definitely showed me what a real enemy looks like.  Highly intelligent, calculating, and patient.

9) Tell us about your family?

My mother disappeared after I left home, although I’ve heard rumors that she went back to work for the Trintaty Military.  We are not close in any way.  My father still lives on Zynast, the planet I’m from, but we don’t keep in touch.  I have a younger brother who is a mediator for the Trintaty Military, whom I see from time to time, and my older sister… well, she’s been through a lot.   She works at the base so I see her every time I come home.

10) How would you describe yourself?

An average guy who wants to do the right thing.  I suppose you could consider me a workaholic, but honestly, I just love my job.  Being able to save people who have been kidnapped from their homes, feels good.  I’m a little stubborn which sometimes gets me in trouble, but I always think things through.

11) How do others see you?

I suppose it depends on who you talk to. Martin, the captain of the ship I travel on, thinks I’m a pain in the as— butt, however, he knows that I am very good at my job – which allows him to bask in the glory of a skilled team.  My friend Connor gets annoyed with what he sees as my lack of respect for the rules and stubbornness, but he knows I’m an intelligent guy, trying to do good in the universe.  My sister sees me as a hero, but she thinks I can be difficult at times, and maybe a bit overprotective.  And Zehána, she sees me as someone she can trust, and honestly that’s good enough for me.

22) Do you think you will be successful in your quest?

I sure hope so, because Zehána’s life is in my hands.  And this is one point in my life I do not want to fail.

Project21cover

 

Amanda Schmidt – Nick’s creator can be found here

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

 

Dirty Dozen Author Interview – L L Thomsen #Meetanauthor #Fantasy

Author name: L. L. Thomsen

*Please tell us about your publications.

I write character-led high medieval fantasy with a good slash of epic. I am working on a series titled, The Missing Shield – originally one large book that has been split into 11 episodes in order to make the workload more manageable. The 8th book (titled: All in a Day’s Work) is out now, and I am currently working on book 9. What you get in my books is lots of flawed characters that you may not feel quite sure about in the beginning. There’s magic, mystery, darkness, crime, plots, romance, backstabbing, manoeuvring, different races, and an end-of-the-world kinda deadline & quest.  I enjoy painting an immersive picture of the world I write about, so expect lots of depth and world-building. I try not to hold back and I try to write as close to real life as I can get. I also wanted to write something a little different from the mainstream so the story has quite the lyrical slant, but it is written with an adult/mature market in mind. This is not YA.

What first prompted you to publish your work? To begin with I wasn’t really sure that I would publish. I started writing my high fantasy book as I somehow got inspired – but it was always just something I considered a pastime whilst the kids were babies and I was at home anyway. Then I realised that I was getting more and more passionate about the job and I felt that I ought to publish at the end of the day because I wanted to share my work with an audience and I wanted to award myself by proving that I could complete the process.

What have you found the most challenging part of the process? Going it alone. Everything was a learning curve. Particularly when it came to figuring out the Amazon instructions and uploading my manuscript. Formatting is not as straight forward as I always imagined it to be. Furthermore, once you’re on the other side, and have successfully published your book, I cannot believe how difficult it is to get anyone to even look your way. I guess I never really got the ‘build yourself a social media following’ – I’m a little too private and old school.5 book promo picture.jpg

What piece of advice do you wish you’d had when you started your publishing journey? Be tenacious! I knew it would not be easy, but I gave up on finding myself an agent way too soon and in return, it left me literally on my own with the whole load. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a freedom in being your own boss and maybe that’s partly why I went my own way so soon, but having said that, I think there’s lots to be said for getting yourself aligned with someone who’s on your side, has your best interest at heart and who knows the business: where to go, how to do it, and when.

If you could have dinner with any literary character who would you choose, and what would you eat. I’d love to treat my character Solancei to a meal – she’s in for a bumpy ride and I think she deserves some TLC. I’d also love to quiz her about everything that happens and the world she lives in.  I know a lot (wink – of course) but there are always secrets! I think we’d have pizza and wine, and I’d try and stop her from killing me for writing her such a hard, complicated destiny.

Sort these into order of importance:

Good plot

Great characters

Awesome world-building

Technically perfect

For me there is no question of ranking these in order. They are each an integral part of the book you write and I feel that the author should pay equal attention to each.  Since I write fantasy – and epic at that – I’m very much for world building because that’s a must for the genre, but that in itself is nothing if it’s not backed by the other three.  What’s a good plot with flat/un-inspiring characters and vice versa? A technically perfect book is what we all strive for (as in a professional end-product) but I do believe that the interpretation of ‘perfection’ may vary depending on who you ask. Also, it may be technically perfect, but what good is that if the readers cannot engage with the story or the characters. It’s the snake that bites its own tail. It must come full circle.

How much research do you do for your work? What’s the wildest subject you’ve looked at? I research as and when. It may be just a small thing like the components of a saddle or the belief system of various ethnic groups. I try and keep it factually correct even though I write fantasy – this means that even if the herb is made up, I’ll still look up how to brew tinctures for headaches, for example – or I might watch a YouTube video on sword fights.  The most extreme I’ve looked up will probably be stuff to do with injuries and the effects of various weapons/conditions.

How influential is storytelling to our culture? I think it’s hugely influential but maybe not through the original media anymore. I do feel that we love a good tale, whether it be a story is reported in the papers, or how TV channels adapt historical events to create entertainment.  We are always looking for something to catch and hold our interest – particularly after the rise of social media – and stories speak to us. They help us feel part of society and may sometimes even give us a sense of belonging too.

What’s the best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? Keep at it.  Keep growing and developing.

What’s the worst piece best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? Don’t write your story like that – write it like this.

If you could be any fantasy/mythical or legendary person/creature what would you be and why? Maybe a phoenix. I like the idea that you can rise from the ashes and be reborn.  That you can try again.

Tell us about your latest piece? Around 6 weeks ago I released my 8th book in The Missing Shield series. It carries on from number 7, where one of my main characters – the rather naive and slightly annoying Princess Iambre – has decided to try and locate her missing friend and bodyguard despite her security chief and beau having told her that she must take heed and leave it to them.  In book 8 she finds herself alone and lost after a string of unfortunate events almost killed her and worse – but as luck would have it, she finds the very place she’d been looking for.  She wants to attend a clandestine meeting that might shed light upon her missing friend and now follows a series on incidents that has the Princess quaking in her boots.  Nevertheless she is reunited with certain other characters only to learn some devastating news.  However, before she can process this, she and her group are betrayed and they must flee or fall into the very hands of the enemy they are investigating and fear.

Are indie/self-published authors viewed with scepticism or wariness by readers? Why is this?

I’ve found that indies are very much considered ‘the second-hand citizen’ of the author world. It’s unfair but I guess that the indie route has given rise to many poorly executed books – and unfortunately people remember the bad ones far longer than the good ones. I’ve talked to readers who do not consider indie books ‘real’ works of writing. Fortunately, there are also those who have delved into the fray and have found gold, so swings and roundabouts. The common reason that readers list for not wanting indie works are: poorly formatted, bad grammar, no edits or badly edited, homemade, cheap covers, poor storylines, rip off storylines, over-priced, they should be free…

I think it worth mentioning that it’s not always because the indie books are not worthy that they have not been traditionally published. Agents are very fickle with what they are looking for (and rightly so).  In 9:10 times you need an agent to approach a publishing house, so it does mean that some decent manuscripts may be overlooked because the agent may feel that they are in the market for ‘something else’. It cannot be helped, but readers rarely see that side of the industry.

Links

llthomsen@themissingshield.com

https://www.amazon.com/L.-L.-f/e/B07B8K4J6S

https://books2read.com/u/47xdvR

https://www.facebook.com/linda.thomsen.12979

https://www.facebook.com/themissingshield/

https://twitter.com/LLThomsen1

https://www.instagram.com/llthomsen/?hl=en

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/llthomsen7589/

https://www.goodreads.com/LLThomsen

 

Bio

Armed with a love of fantasy, a slightly geeky mindset, and an unleashed wild muse, L. L. began the new journey into writing relatively late in life but was inspired by her long-repressed urges to write ‘something’ – and once she began, she never looked back.

“I regret I took so long to find my ‘calling’. The truth is that when you have an idea it just has to be set free,” she says, adding, “My somewhat unorthodox approach to style and flow has been a way for me to test my personal, individual voice. It’s a fluid thing, however. In the future, it might alter to match the shape of new projects.”

Linda currently lives in the UK, Nottinghamshire, with her husband, two kids, a cats and one dog. As with her writing, she approaches life with a nod to the saying: ‘fear nothing, respect everything’. She enjoys horse riding, sci-fi movies, travelling, reading fantasy (but not exclusively), Pilates, and has a strange fascination with swords.

Her first published fantasy novel, ‘A Change of Rules’, kick-starts the 11 ‘episodes’ of The Missing Shield – a new adult high fantasy series, with a touch of mystery, intrigue, romance and darkness. ‘The Missing Shield’ is the forerunner to ‘The Veil Keepers Quest’ series.

Me and Leo (2).jpg

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 – De Kenyon – Bundle/Fantasy/Horror/Kids – Blood Moon Bundle

Welcome to De Kenyon

What first prompted you to publish your work? Jealousy.  An indie author started publishing his work, and rather than hate him forever 😛 I decided to follow suit.

How did you become involved in book bundles? Would you recommend it? I got invited.  It’s fun and I very much recommend it.

Are you a ‘pantser’ or a ‘plotter’? I vary.  Sometimes I pants, and sometimes I plot.  Sometimes I’ll even write up a full synopsis first (most writers hate them!).  But I rarely stick to whatever plan I came up with in the first place!

What is your favourite mythical creature? Why is this? The Fae.  I’m the kind of person who always wants to see behind the stage, under the basement, and the other side of the mirror.  The fae are always sneaking around, slipping through the cracks between worlds.  That speaks to me.

If you had to pick 5 books to take to a desert island which 5 would it be? How long am I going to be stuck on this desert island, anyway?

Assuming that a) they have to be paper books, and b) that I don’t want to use one of my choices as something like How to Survive on a Desert Island, today I’m going to say:

  • The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox by Barry Hughart, because that’s my go-to book for terrible days.
  • Journey to the West, the bawdy tale of a monk’s journey toward enlightenment, because it’s super long (2500 pages) and I’ve been meaning to read it.
  • St. Augustine’s Confessions, because I hate that book and would gladly use it to start fires, for toilet paper, etc.
  • Can I put the Internet in a paper book?  No? Okay, then the collected works of William Shakespeare (Riverside Edition).
  • The collected Anne of Green Gables series, or, if I can’t get that (it’s not available in a single collected edition), H is for Hawk.  Both of them are nerdy comfort reading.
  • And, finally, a blank book and a beeeeg box of pencils, which I will sharpen on rocks…

My favorite books are the Alice in Wonderland books by Lewis Carroll, but I think I could probably write them from memory!

If you could have dinner with any literary character who would you choose, and what would you eat? I don’t want to eat with a literary character.  I want to have dinner with Edgar Allan Poe and get the scoop on exactly how he died!  Okay, literary character…I’m going to pick Hannibal Lecter.  He doesn’t kill indiscriminately, after all, and he’s a gourmet.  A lot of my favorite characters would be real pills at the dinner table, they’re such picky eaters.  What would we eat? Whatever M. Lecter wanted…

Sort these into order of importance:

Good plot

Great characters

Awesome world-building

Technically perfect

 

How much research do you do for your work? What’s the wildest subject you’ve looked at? I try to do a lot of background research for historical pieces, and fairly similar amount for sci-fi elements.  I grew up reading a lot of folktales and mythology, so most of the time when I draw from those elements, I just need a refresher.  My big thing lately is about researching real-life homicide detective procedures for some of my adult mystery stories (under another pen name).  WOW.  I don’t really even want to say some of the things I’ve researched for that.  It gets gruesome.

Tell us about your latest piece? “Beware of the Easter Moon” is a short middle-grade creepy adventure story about a boy who discovers that his family isn’t exactly normal.  It was inspired by me suddenly realizing, completely out of the blue, that Easter always falls on or just after a full moon.  The reason the Easter celebration moves around so much is that it’s the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the spring equinox.

So…obviously there needed to be werewolves.

What’s your next writing adventure? My next adventure as De Kenyon is going to be London in the 1880s, infested by cats, rats, and tentacled things coming out of the sewers!

With the influx of indie authors do you think this is the future of storytelling? How about a future of storytelling?  It’s not like indie authors are the future of storytelling if they’re happening now.

The interesting question is, to me: what happens after this?  If indies bring a major challenge to the big publishers, and they do, how do the big publishers respond?  Do they shrink?  Do their corporate over-bosses force them to shift course?

And what about collective groups of indies, or indies organized under other indies?  I ghostwrite for some indie authors (who shall remain unnamed) who seem to be making the shift from indie authors to indie publishers.

Will the big publishers start trying to buy out those indie publishers?  I mean, I would.

Are indie/self-published authors viewed with scepticism or wariness by readers? Why is this? We are, but less than we used to be.  I think it helps that readers are noticing that big publishers aren’t doing the level of editing that they used to do, and have stopped assuming that traditionally published books are perfect.

I think it also helps that it’s easier and easier for readers to pick indie books with a reputation for quality behind them, by both recommendations and algorithms, so they tend to end up with the better books now, instead of a deluge.

Is there a message in your books? If I have a message, it’s “Beware of bullies! They aren’t always obvious.”

Blood Moon Bundle.

When the sun has set, when the moon is full, the shapeshifters gather—wolves, cats and totemic creatures, nightmares and revelations.

Seeking answers, seeking revenge, seeking a cure to affliction, seeking blood, seeking answers or seeking love—a gathering of beasts abounds. Dare you walk beneath the moonlight?

Blood Moon Box set

https://books2read.com/BloodMoonBundle

https://bundlerabbit.com/products/detail/beware-easter-moon

De Kenyon.jpeg

Dirty Dozen Author Interview – Abbie Johnson Taylor #Uniqueauthors #Memoir #Poetry

Author name: Abbie Johnson Taylor

Please tell us a little about yourself. What makes you a #Uniqueauthor (or artist)? I’m the author of five books: two novels, two poetry collections, and a memoir. My stories and poems have appeared in various anthologies and journals. I’m visually impaired and live in Sheridan, Wyoming, where for six years, I cared for my totally blind late husband who was partially paralyzed by two strokes three months after we were married. Before that, I was a registered music therapist and worked for fifteen years in nursing homes and other facilities serving senior citizens. I taught braille, facilitated a support group for blind and visually impaired adults, and served on the advisory board to a trust fund that allows the blind and visually impaired to purchase adaptive equipment. To learn more about me, please visit my website at http://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com.

Please tell us about your publications/work.

My latest book, The Red Dress, a novel, was published in 2019 by DLD Books. In 2016, my memoir, My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds, was released, also by DLD Books. In 2014, That’s Life: New and Selected Poems, was published by Finishing Line Press. In 2011, another poetry collection, How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver, was published by iUniverse. In 2007, my first book, another novel, We Shall Overcome, was released, also by iUniverse.

As a disabled author, how do you overcome the extra challenges involved with producing your work? Because of my visual impairment, I use text-to-speech software on my computer that reads to me what’s on the screen and tells me what I’m typing. I also use a braille tablet, both as a display with my computer and as a stand-alone device for email, word processing, and other tasks. I read print with the help of a closed-circuit television reading system.

What have you found the most challenging part of the process? Do you think the publishing world is disability-friendly? For me, the most challenging part of being a writer is marketing my work. Because I don’t see well enough to drive, I can’t just hop in my car and drive around my state or country, selling books. I have to rely on others to take me places. So, I’m limited in what I can do to promote my work.

However, I’m fortunate to have discovered Tell It to the World Marketing, a business that promotes authors mostly through social media. I recommend them to any writer or business owner needing help with publicity.

The publishing industry is not friendly toward disabled authors. Many sites like Amazon are a challenge to navigate for a visually impaired person with screen reading computer software. Traditional publishers like Finishing Line Press have proofs in formats that are not accessible and stringent requirements that make publishing a book difficult for a visually impaired writer.

Thank goodness for DLD Books. They help authors with editing and format manuscripts for publication through Amazon, Smashwords, and other online retailers. Their rates are reasonable, and they do great work. What’s more, they contract with Tell It to the World Marketing so you’re not paying extra for those services. I recommend them to all authors.

What piece of advice do you wish you’d had when you started your publishing journey? Too late, I learned that if a piece is published on a website or blog, it’s considered previously published, and most journals and anthologies don’t accept such work. If I’d known that when I first developed an online presence in 2005, I would never have posted so many of my short stories and poems on my website and blog.

What’s your greatest networking tip? Start a blog and post regularly. I post to mine at https://abbiescorner.wordpress.com three days a week. It’s also important to categorize and tag your posts so readers can find topics of interest and search engines can more easily discover you. You’ll be amazed at how much traffic you’ll draw when you do this.

What’s the best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? I’ve been told to eliminate adverbs and elaborate dialog tags when writing fiction. Although other authors, even bestselling ones, don’t follow this advice, I’ve discovered, over the years, that my writing flows more smoothly as a result.

What’s the worst advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? Get an agent. In the summer of 2005, when I was ready to publish We Shall Overcome, on the advice of my sister-in-law and a writer she knew, I researched agents and sent queries. Most were rejected, and I didn’t even hear back from some of the agents I queried. I also contacted some publishers directly with similar results. A year later, I decided to self-publish the book with iUniverse.

If you really want to be a bestselling author, find an agent or traditional publisher. Good luck. If you just want to get your work out there, don’t bother. Self-publish instead.

Which authors have influenced you the most? Danielle Steel has influenced me but not in a positive way. After reading her work, I’ve figured out how not to write. Although she tells compelling stories, and I’ll continue to enjoy her books, her habit of providing too much description in her narrative drives me up the wall sometimes.

What is your writing space like? My office contains a three-corner desk which holds my computer, printer, closed-circuit television reading system, and other odds and ends. Behind me is a smaller desk I use for labelling and stamping envelopes. In one corner is a stereo I rarely use. I play music on a smart speaker while working. I sometimes write in my recliner or outside when the weather’s nice.

Tell us about your latest piece. The Red Dress is a work of women’s fiction about how such a garment is related to the lives of three generations of women. Here’s the synopsis.

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

What’s your next writing adventure? Several years ago, I started a collection of short stories set in my home state of Wyoming. Reading a similar collection by Ann Beattie inspired me to do this. Her stories are set in Maine.

Links

Blog: https://abbiescorner.wordpress.com

Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/ybmouz5y%20

Website: http://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Abbie-Johnson-Taylor/e/B00GDM1BWK/#nav-tophttp://

 

Bio

Abbie Johnson Taylor is the author of two novels, two poetry collections, and a memoir. Her work has appeared in various journals and anthologies. She lives in Sheridan, Wyoming. Please visit her website at http://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com.

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

 

 

 

Dirty Dozen Author Interview – Trish Hubschman #Uniqueauthors #Meetanauthor

Author name: Trish Hubschman

Please tell us a little about yourself. What makes you a unique author (or artist)? I live on Long Island, New York, US, with my husband, Kevin and dog Henry.

Please tell us about your publications/work. I write the Tracy Gayle mystery series, Stiff Competition (a Miss America mystery) and Ratings  Game (Talk Show Queen).  Tracy is a Long Island private detective. Her sidekick is a rock and roll musician. She was hired by Danny Tide to find out who set his band’s summer tour bus on fire. They became close friends that eventually developed into more.

What first prompted you to publish your work? I love these characters and this series. I created Danny Tide in 1998. Tracy came years later. They came together by accident. The chemistry between them was wonderful. One mystery/eventual romance led to the next. I had to share it with others. Right now I’m working on the prequel to the series

As a disabled author how do you overcome the extra challenges involved with producing your work? Let me start out by saying I’m deafblind.  I’m not a tech genius. I do what I can do on the computer and I’m learning little by little. I can’t do promotional things like podcasts and book signings are very difficult. I love to write and I want people to read my work but I don’t like being that heavily in the spotlight because of my disabilities. I use a screen-reader and magnification. I do everything by email, talk to people, interviews, handle publishing, etc.

What have you found the most challenging part of the process? Do you think the publishing world is disability-friendly? I don’t disclose my disabilities in my author bio. I’m not ashamed of who I am, but I want to be counted on my merit , not my disabilities. I have a wonderful publisher, DLD Books in Denver. They work with disabled authors. They do everything, edit,  formatting, cover,  They put the book on all the sites, etc. The most challenging part of writing for me is the synopsis.

What’s your greatest networking tip? I’m on facebook.  I have a timeline and a special page for my books where I showcase my writings, short stories and essays. I still have a lot to learn about  Facebook, blogging, websites, technology, but I’m doing my best.

How much research do you do for your work? What’s the wildest subject you’ve looked at? The world of music, rock and roll is a lot of fun, but it’s also hard work.  I know musicians, so I can ask questions, and my husband is a music encyclopedia.

What’s the best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? Just do it and don’t give up. A lot of the roads along the way are rocky. Don’t let them stop you.

Which authors have influenced you the most? I love reading mystery/romance.  My favorite author is Lisa Gardner. I love her Boston cop series. I’m into women cops and detectives and macho man FBI agents

What is your writing space like? I’ve got a 27-inch computer monitor, a nice clean raised button keyboard, headphones attached to a stereo box and a bottle of water on my desk.

Tell us about your latest piece: Ratings Game, it’s about my hero, Danny Tide’s, second wife. Blair Nelson is a popular New York talk show hostess.  She ingests a drug overdose but survives. Somebody is trying to kill her. Why would anyone want to kill the Queen of daytime TV? Tracy will assist the police again in finding out who.

What’s your next writing adventure? I’m working on the prequel to the series,  Tidalwave  (That’s Danny’s band’s name). It’s how Danny and Tracy met and the first mystery   they’re involved with together

Are indie/self-published authors viewed with scepticism or wariness by readers? Why is this? I think the traditional publishing world feels that self-publishing is somehow second-rate. As they see it, we’re not putting forth legitimate stuff.  DLD  does not allow typos in their work. My book covers are so incredible.

What is your greatest success? Holding the two books I published side by side and knowing that they’re top of the line.

How important is writing to you? Writing is all I do, creating stories. It’s my life.

RATINGS GAME (TALK SHOW QUEEN)

by Trish Hubschman ((c) 2019)

In print ($9.50) and e-book ($2.99) from Amazon, Smashwords, and other online sellers.

The e-book is text-to-speech enabled.

Cover image, free text preview, buying links, and more:

http://www.dldbooks.com/hubschman/

Ratings Game

Trish Hubschman has three previous Tracy Gayle mysteries in print: The Fire, Unlucky Break, and Stiff Competition (Miss America).

Synopsis of Ratings Game:

The Danny Tide story continues.

Somebody’s trying to kill the rock star’s second wife, talk–show hostess Blair Nelson. Danny and Tracy, now a couple expecting a baby, get pulled into it because Danny finally agrees to do an interview with his ex–wife. She’s been bugging him for a while.

That evening, after a draining day at Blair’s studio, when Danny and Tracy are home in bed, Danny’s phone goes off. It’s his and Blair’s daughter, Liz, announcing that she found her mother unconscious on her bathroom floor. Blair ingested a drug overdose.

Who would want to eliminate the talk show queen, and why? Could the perpetrator be Blair’s housekeeper? Her personal assistant? The owner of the television station? The show’s producer? Even Danny and Liz are on the suspect list.

Everyone had opportunity, but no one has a motive. They’re all devoted to Blair. They need Blair to wake up and give them some answers.

Editing, cover design, print layout, and e-book conversion are by DLD Books Editing and Self-Publishing Services, www.dldbooks.com. Cover photo is by Joshua Hanson on Unsplash

Dirty Dozen Author Interview – Phyllis Staton Campbell #Uniqueauthors #Meetanauthor

Author name: Phyllis Staton Campbell

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

I was born blind in Amherst County Virginia, the youngest of two sisters and a brother. We moved to Staunton, Virginia, when I was seven, where my sister and I attended the Virginia School for the blind. Reading has been an important part of my life, since I can remember. I sold my first short piece in the sixties, and have been writing professionally ever since. I have published six books, both in the traditional market place and self-published. In addition, I did a true-crime book, under contract to the family of the victim. My latest book is “Where Sheep May Safely Graze” inspirational. I’m currently working on a sequel.

 Please answer 12 of the questions/discussion points below.

What first prompted you to publish your work? Writing is, hard work, if enjoyable. I felt that that effort should be put into something to share with others, and perhaps bring some tangible reward to me.

As a disabled author how do you overcome the extra challenges involved with producing your work? I faced many challenges in the beginning. There were no computers, no braille aware devices, permitting ease in proofreading. The first piece I sold was written with the slate and stylus, meaning that the braille dots had to be punched individually by hand. I lacked the money for a proofreader, meaning that I had to work very hard, first doing the work in braille, and then painstakingly typing it to send out for consideration. Today, I feel I have few challenges after that.

What have you found the most challenging part of the process? Do you think the publishing world is disability-friendly? Like most things that can be answered with both “yes” and “no”. Some publishers are friendly, some not. The real challenge there, is knowing which. Some will claim interest and then say they’ve taken on their quota for the year. Have they? Others such as Barbara Brett of Brett, will go beyond the last mile for the disabled writer.

What piece of advice do you wish you’d had when you started your publishing journey? The public taste in books varies greatly. Study the market carefully before submitting to be sure that you’re meeting the needs of that publication.

If you could have dinner with any literary character who would you choose, and what would you eat. Harry Potter, and we’d have pumpkin pasties.

How much research do you do for your work? What’s the wildest subject you’ve looked at? I write three columns, so I do a lot of research. Years ago I wrote a piece on vampires, not the interesting ones in popular literature, but the real thing. Well, those who believed themselves to be real, and acted accordingly.

How influential is storytelling to our culture? It has been influential to all cultures, but I feel it is perhaps less today, because of TV.

What’s the best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? Study your market and be persistent.

If you could be any fantasy/mythical or legendary person/creature what would you be and why? A sphinx I like cats!

Which authors have influenced you the most? For my current series, Jan Karon, and Janice Holt Giles. For my early stumbling efforts, Lucy Montgomery, Gene Straton Porter. In other words, they’re tied to what I’m doing, and where I am in my writing journey.

What is your writing space like? My writing space was once a dining room with a door to the kitchen, and French doors on either side of the chimney, leading to the living room. My house is quite old, and when I sit quietly, I can feel the echo of all of those who have lived and died here.

Tell us about your latest piece? “Where sheep May Safely Graze” is the story of Pastor Jim, who was blinded serving in Iraq, and his wife, Amy. It tells of his struggle to adjust to his blindness, her struggle to adjust to her new role as his wife, and their struggle against the prejudice of the wealthy church where they both serve. They are further challenged when they go to serve in a rural town.

What’s your next writing adventure? I’m working on “Goin’ Home, a sequel to “Where Sheep May Safely Graze.

Is this the age of the e-book? Are bricks and mortar bookshops in decline? Brick and Mortar shops are definitely on the decline, witnessed by how many large chains have closed.

Are indie/self-published authors viewed with scepticism or wariness by readers? Why is this? Some people will always be wary of self-published authors, but this has changed drastically. One reason is those self-styled writers, who pay little attention to proofing and editing, and who, in many cases, have no real story to begin with.

What is your greatest success? To this point, my greatest writing success has been “Friendships in the Dark” published in hard cover, paperback, large-print in the US, and translated into Chinese, as well as publication in the British Isles, all by a traditional publisher.

How important is writing/art to you? Writing is a large part of my life.

 

Dirty Dozen Author Interview – Alexandra Brandt #Fantasy #HerebeMerfolk

Brandt

Author name: Alexandra Brandt

Please tell us about your publications, specifically the story in this bundle:

I am a short fiction writer, especially science fiction and fantasy. I have three stories published in the Fiction River Anthology series, and a collection of short stories (plus a bunch of standalones) published independently.

“We, the Ocean” might arguably still be the best story I have ever written. It was also my first professional sale. It was for Fiction River’s No Humans Allowed–the theme wanted a very alien viewpoint–and I decided to write a collective mind, whose only pronouns were “us” and “them,” because I wanted to try things I’d never done before. So I committed grammatical sins. I wrote darker and stranger than I’d ever written. And the story took me in places I hadn’t even begun to anticipate.

Then the series editor of Fiction River singled it out in her foreword, calling it ““inventive, heartbreaking, and wholly original.” I’d never had risks pay off like that before. It was just what I needed.

What first prompted you to publish your work?

It took a long time to get here. Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith taught me that I could. And then that first professional sale taught me that other people might actually want to read my stuff. It still took me until 2016 to work up the gumption to put my other stories out there, but actually being invited to contribute to a “Haunted” bundle provided the push I needed to start publishing in earnest. That same year I also decided to give my mother–one of my biggest fans–a special Christmas present: a five-story collection of light contemporary fantasy stories. It was pretty liberating to stop dragging my feet and finally do something with the stories.

How did you become involved in book bundles? Would you recommend it?

Oh, I guess I jumped the gun on this question when I mentioned the Haunted bundle, didn’t I? The editor, Jamie Ferguson, actually emailed me and personally invited me to it. I’d heard about book bundles in passing but hadn’t considered participating before. And now I love them–sometimes they inspire me to write something new, and other times they are a chance to breathe new life into an old story. Most importantly for me, they offer a chance to connect with other authors and discover new people to love.

What is your favourite mythical creature? Why is this?

I love many mythical creatures. When I was wee, I decided I was a “fairy princess bride angel mermaid.” My friends and family still call me a mermaid, partially because I wrote a story about one (more or less) and apparently also because I love to sing–my roommate, who has had to listen to my singing off and on for years, started calling me that and it just kind of stuck. So now I have a bunch of mer-themed paraphernalia from friends. My favorite is a tote bag featuring a mermaid whose back is tattooed with “Misandrist.” It makes me cackle every time I see it.

All that said, I think my favorite mythical creatures are actually dragons. They can be terrifying and savage, or noble and wise and awe-inspiring, but most importantly they just look darn cool.

What does writing bring to your life?

An outlet for the daydreams and stories inside my head. My childhood nickname was “Wandering Cloud” because I would drift away from whatever I was supposed to be doing and tell myself stories instead. I wanted to be a writer pretty much the instant I discovered that books were written by real human beings. It still took me a really long time to be able to finish anything I started, though–I still struggle with my inner Wandering Cloud, even/especially when I am writing.

If you had to pick 5 books to take to a desert island which 5 would it be?

Assuming this is one of those situations where I am marooned indefinitely rather than vacationing, I would want to bring:

  • A meaty tome like Shakespeare’s complete works, so I’d have plenty to occupy my mind. (I might skip through Titus Andronicus, though. That one gave me nightmares as a teenager.)
  • A really big blank notebook with an attached pencil to write all my thoughts.
  • Something by Stephen Hawking–not sure which one, because I haven’t read any yet (but keep meaning to, which is the point of including it).
  • The Hamiltome so I can memorize all the songs at last. Plus bonus pictures! And treasures from Lin-Manuel, who is one of the best humans alive.
  • K. Jemisin’s Inheritance trilogy because she is one of my all-time faves and I own a single book that includes the whole trilogy plus a novella, so ha! four books in one!

…Or maybe replace one of the above with a nice, detailed book on how to survive on a desert island?

Nah. I stand by my choices.

Sort these into order of importance:

Good plot

Great characters

Awesome world-building

Technically perfect

***

1.) Great characters

2.) Awesome world-building

3.) Good plot

4.) Technically perfect (I mean, does such a thing even exist)

How influential is storytelling to our culture?

We humans live and die by stories, whether we’re avid readers or not. If something has a story, we connect to it. And anything can have a story–if I hadn’t been consuming books my whole life, my marketing job alone would have taught me that. Storytelling can help us understand and process truths about our world, or it can obfuscate and manipulate. It can build or destroy connections between humans. As a writer I believe I have a responsibility to bring good things into the world, to open minds and hearts and promote empathy and compassion, because that’s what reading stories has done for me.

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

I would love to be something very wise and far-seeing. And beautiful in some way–I love beautiful things. So maybe the wise kind of dragon, or a sphinx. No wait, scratch the wisdom thing–I want to be a dryad. I love forests so much, and I would love to learn to connect with both the life and the stillness in them.

Tell us about your latest piece? 

If we’re talking most recently published, the Fiction River anthology Feel the Love just came out last month. “Lifeblood,” the story I sold to them, was initially inspired by a thought experiment–no, let’s call it what it actually was: fan-fiction–where I tried to figure out what kind of mutant I would be in an X-Men universe. But along the way I realized I could ask questions about what it means to love selflessly–questions I still don’t know how to answer. I don’t think the story answers them, and I don’t think it should.

But I sure did enjoy finding a nerdy way to explore them.

What’s your next writing adventure?

I’m working on a story that was originally intended to peel back the layers of some classic fairytale tropes and ask what this would really feel like for the people involved. As expected, the story ended up taking on a life of its own, and now I have four great characters with all these inner conflicts and desires and damages to overcome. I think it’s a novella? Or a trilogy. Or something in between. Who even knows at this point. Anyway, it’s a quest story that will hopefully take some emotionally-resonant twists and turns.

Is there a message in your books?

Oh, probably. Or at least some common themes. Of course, I really want to promote empathy and compassion in my writing, so I always try to dig deep into the emotions and inner lives of my characters. I am still working on writing more diversely, but one theme I’ve noticed in a lot of my stories is “how women relate to each other.” If I have two main characters in a story, chances are they will both be women (and I’ve also been learning how to write non-binary characters, inspired by my wonderful writing partner Rei Rosenquist).

Sometimes there’s a love story, but not always–there are just so many ways to explore deep relationships beyond the usual heteronormative romances. Within the trappings of fantasy and science fiction, of course, because I am just that kind of person.

 

Links

http://www.alexandrajbrandt.com/

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

 

Bio

Alexandra Brandt spent most of her childhood dressing up in fairy wings and parading in front of the mirror telling stories to herself. Not much has changed: she still loves a good costume, and tells herself stories every day.

Her short fiction appears in Fiction River and other anthologies, and has made it onto Tangent Magazine’s 2017 and 2018 Recommended Reading lists. “Ellen Double Prime,” her story in Fiction River vol. 28: Wishes, was double-starred and described as “a strong and powerful story” by Tangent Magazine.

When not yelling at her computer, reading, or debating worldbuilding details with her writer husband, Alex functions as a copywriter, content marketer, and graphic designer for a medical practice. She also does freelance book cover design for fellow authors. She occasionally sings in a choir, and always welcomes any excuse to sit down and play tabletop games—from D&D to board games to cards.

OceanStory.jpg

Alexandra’s story can be found in Here Be Merfolk

Bundle Rabbit https://bundlerabbit.com/b/here-be-merfolk