Welcome to the first in the ‘Day in the Life of…’ interviews – a new feature for 2018. Find out the daily challenges and successes of writers, characters, and other professionals involved with the writing process.
Welcome to Lynne Cantwell
Please give us a brief outline of who you are. I’m the author of about 20 books, mostly urban fantasy novels. My biggest and best-known series is the Pipe Woman Chronicles. Before that, I worked as a broadcast journalist; I’ve written for Mutual/NBC Radio News and CNN, among others. If you add up my years as a journalist and this indie author thing, I’ve been writing and editing professionally for nearly 30 years. I’m also on the staff at Indies Unlimited, a superblog for indie authors. [www.indiesunlimited.com]
Do you work at another job? If so tell us about fitting in the writing/editing. My day job is at a big law firm as a legal secretary. Fitting everything in is tough, especially now. I used to be able to get some author tasks done during my downtime at work, but the firm has locked down access to a lot of things on the internet due to security concerns. So I used to be able to sit at my desk at work and check my home email, instant message people, browse for cover art (I usually do my own covers), post photos on social media, etc., but I can’t do any of that now. It’s frustrating.
Do you have a family? What do they think of your job? Do they assist you? I have two daughters. Kat is 31 and Amy is 29. They’re very supportive. In fact, Kat has a degree in creative writing – she’s one of my editors. Amy consults on various things from time to time.
How do you fit in ‘real life’? When I’m writing the first draft of a novel, I don’t fit in “real life” at all. I tend to write them NaNoWriMo-style; that is, I spend every available free minute writing for three or four weeks straight. Editing is a lot less intense for me. Once I get to that point, I’m fit to be with people again!
Do you have a particular process? As I said, I tend to write first drafts in a burst. Weekends are ideal – I can shut the door, put my phone in a drawer (or even in another room!), and immerse myself in the story for several hours straight. I’m able to do this because I write a beats-style outline for the book first. That way I always know which scene I’m writing next. I don’t slavishly follow the outline, but I don’t let the story get too far off-track, either.
Once the first draft is done, I let it sit for two or three weeks, and then reopen the file and start editing it.
Are you very organised? You’re hilarious. I mean, I write the outline, and I keep my research in file folders in OneNote and in manila files at my desk. And I have a dry-erase calendar above my desk that I use for keeping track of events in the book. I guess that’s pretty organized. But there always seems to be something that I end up kicking myself for because I’ve forgotten to make note of it.
What time do you go to bed? On weeknights, my phone nags at me to get to bed by midnight, but I’ll happily ignore it if I’m writing. Most days, though, I turn out the light by 12:30am or 1:00am. On work days I’m up at 7:15am, so staying up much later is not a good look for me the next day.
What do you have for breakfast? I’m experimenting right now. My go-to for decades was cereal and milk, or oatmeal. Lately, though, I’ve been having eggs every morning. I’m also limiting my caffeine intake these days, too, to one cup in the morning – although it’s a big cup. But I don’t drink coffee all day long. I’m also weaning myself from soda because soda is bad for you. Being a grownup stinks sometimes.
Would you recommend your chosen craft to those interested in doing it? Absolutely. It’s not very lucrative, or at least not for most of us. But it has its own rewards. You’ve heard of a runner’s high, right? Well, when I’m writing and really getting into the story and things are really clicking, it’s like I’m on a writer’s high. It feels so great — and the best part is that I don’t have to get all sweaty.
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/lynnecantwell
It’s sizzling where I live – I am hoping for autumn to arrive quickly lest I melt to goo. But it’s good weather to laze with a book or seven. Smashwords are having a summer sale and I have entered some of my books. Check out the comments below for other books in the sale.
Running July 1-31st.
The Watcher – A Jack the Ripper Tale is free with code SS100
Shattered Mirror – A Poetry Collection is free with code SS100
Tales of Erana: Just One Mistake is free with code SS100
Outside the Walls is free with code SS100
The Light Beyond the Storm Book I is only $1.50 with code SSW50
The Shining Citadel is only $1.75 with code SSW50
The Stolen Tower is only $1.62 with code SSW50
And by my alter ego
Title: Tales of Erana: The Warrior’s Curse
Author: A. L. Butcher
Genre: Fantasy/Mythic/Dark Fantasy/Short Stories
Main character description (short).
“I am Saelth and I have come to slay your monster,” he announced. His words were bold and his demeanour bolder. Behind him rode the fiercest of his band, axemen and archers, trackers and swordsmen. A mean crew indeed and feared about the land; fur-clad and blooded, they were blades for hire.
Synopsis: He who bargains with monsters beware! A hero forges an unholy bargain with a witch and learns magic never forgets.
In a land of forbidden magic, a mysterious cave holds both riches and danger for three adventurers who discover a mighty treasure and a terrible secret.
Tales of Erana: The Warrior’s Curse Excerpt
© A. L. Butcher
On the nights when the moon rose to its fullest, its light a silver sheen upon the roof of the Great Hall, a terrible monster came. His voice was like the rasping of flesh on a blade, his countenance blighted and ugly, twisted like melted flesh with great weeping sores and a putrid smell. Many warriors had tried to vanquish this foul creature, and now their bones lay with the prince’s in the barrow to the east of Eadsham, the settlement that had been forged by blood and toil by the first king, Aedwin. Widows were aplenty and many children made fatherless from this awful beast. Doors were bolted and barred, and not even the lord himself dared to face it. Such was his shame.
The king grew ever older and wishing to marry a man of bravery and honour to his daughter messengers once more rode out north, south, east and west in search of a hero, one with the fortitude to face this cursed beast, as they had done so many times before. On a night when clouds covered the moon’s light and rain fell in drops the size of marbles, the sky was rent with lightning as a great human warrior rode to the gates of the village. “I am Saelth and I have come to slay your monster,” he announced. His words were bold and his demeanour bolder. Behind him rode the fiercest of his band, axemen and archers, trackers and swordsmen. A mean crew indeed and feared about the land; fur-clad and blooded, they were blades for hire.
“We have slain creatures from nightmare and beasts that made grown men piss their drawers. Your curse will be lifted if the price is right!” His band nodded, for their rates were high indeed so that only lords and kings could afford their blades.
“No weapon forged by man can vanquish it! You’ll simply earn your place in the Hall of the Dead,” someone called.
Saelth looked around for the one who had spoken. “Then I shall go to the Halls of the Dead a hero, not one who cowers behind the table, or beneath the bed. I am no coward, nor simpering woman. Nothing is all powerful, or unable to be vanquished, save the gods.”
Why should readers buy this book?
The Warrior’s Curse is a tale of greed, adventure, monsters and the price of magic, set in a dark fantasy world. But it’s also a tale of people, their weaknesses and what some will do for power. It is a story within a story, as we start with a group of adventurers plundering a cave and learn of dark deeds and unholy bargains.
If you like mythic style fantasy, fast-paced adventure with a twist then you’ll love this.
Universal Link – all the major e-book stores) https://www.books2read.com/WarriorsCurse
Amazon.com audio http://amzn.to/2Ei0EGe
The Warrior’s Curse also appears in Here Be Monsters
I am delighted to announce the latest in the Myth, Monsters and Mayhem series of fantasy bundles. Here Be Monsters is now available on preorder.
Here Be Monsters
We love to fear them and fight them. Monsters come in many forms, from the monsters within to the monsters outside and under the bed. Dare you venture into the caverns and the castles? Dare you enter the darkness of an accursed soul?
An eclectic collection of dark creatures and those who fight them. You have been warned.
Here Be Monsters features 19 tales of myths, monsters, and mayhem.
Universal Link books2read.com/HereBeMonstersBundle
Barnes and Noble http://bit.ly/2JBwvUY
- Monster Town” by Steven Savile
- “The Magic of Fabulous” by Michele Lang
- “A Murder of Crows” by DeAnna Knippling
- “Minotaur” by DJ Chamberlain
- “Tales of Erana: The Warrior’s Curse” by A. L. Butcher
- “Blackbeard’s Aliens” by Robert Jeschonek
- “Caught Between Monsters” by Stefon Mears
- “Night Terrors” by J.A. Pitts
- “Beasts of Tabat” by Cat Rambo
- “Demon Daze” by Deb Logan
- “A Knot of Trolls” by J.M. Ney-Grimm
- “The Stolen Tower” by A. L. Butcher
- “The Maker, the Teacher, and the Monster” by Leah Cutter
- “One Red Shoe” by Russ Crossley
- “Dawn of the Chupacabra” by Kyle Bergersen
- “To Be a Monster” by Jamie Ferguson
- “The Beast of Talesend” by Kyle Robert Shultz
- “Children of the Monster” by Russ Crossley
- “The Genie’s Secret” by Robert Jeschonek
Beneath the Knowe
This is a rich and lyrical short story of fairyland, glamour, one woman’s courage and magical music.
Maeve is a resourceful young woman who wants more from life than marriage to a man she barely knows, and the mundane existence of her kin. She has music within, a glorious melodic soul that yearns to be heard, but women cannot be bards. When the fairies who ‘protect’ the clan take the chieftain’s baby son, Maeve’s nephew, nothing is to be done. Such is the bargain. Eventually, the menfolk challenge the fairies, and are sent home beaten and ashamed, minus the human infant.
It takes a woman, and a magical, musical soul to challenge the great Fairy King on his own turf -Maeve, and her music. Of course, bargaining with fairies has its price.
I loved this tale, with its vibrant imagery, innocent yet determined courage and a glimpse of the power of Anthea Sharp’s writing. Although this tale is short, it is enough of a taster to want more of this author’s work. I will definitely be venturing into fairyland with Ms Sharp again.
Name: Simon Williams
What attracts you to the genre in which you write?
I guess I’ve always been attracted by escapism, something that I think is more important than ever (for the sake of one’s sanity) in the age in which we live. The fantasy and sci-fi genres allow for a broad template of speculation and imagination which I think is unparalleled.
What piece of writing advice do you wish you’d known when you started your writing adventures?
Probably the advice I received a while back, to do my own thing and be master of my destiny rather than to try and write books that I think publishers might want. I think for an author finding your true voice and writing according to that (in other words, writing what you feel you’re best at and which you feel happiest doing, rather than trying to chase some rather nebulous commercial tail) is essential. Luckily I decided about seven years ago to do just that.
If you could have dinner with any famous person or character who would you choose?
I think I’d choose a character from one of my books (either Nia or Vornen, from the Aona books). If I chose a famous person I’d probably spend the whole time worrying about not being interesting enough to hold their attention at all. Whereas, meeting your creator… you’d hope that would be interesting for characters. Or maybe not…
Who has been the greatest influence on your own work?
Authors as diverse as Alan Garner, Clive Barker, Cecilia Dart-Thornton, Tad Williams, CJ Cherryh and others – it’s difficult to pick one, but the author who made me decide I had to follow this curious path was Alan Garner, when I was aged about 9 or 10.
Do you think the e-book revolution will do away with print?
I think it obviously affected sales at first, but there will always be people (myself included) who prefer print copies. In fact I believe sales of print copies of my new book have been slightly higher than Kindle versions so far, which is a pleasant surprise.
Which 3 books would you take to a desert island and why?
I’ve been meaning to read Clive Barker’s Great & Secret Show and Imagica for a while so it would be a good opportunity to chill out and be absorbed in his unique universe for a while. I think the other might be CJ Cherryh’s Chronicles of Morgaine, which I read as a teenager and loved.
Author bio and book synopsis
Please introduce yourself (250 words or so):
I’m a UK-based author of fantasy, science fiction and horror (usually a blur of all three in one form or another). I wrote the five-book Aona dark fantasy series which is now complete, and YA fantasy / sci-fi adventure Summer’s Dark Waters, followed by its sequel The Light From Far Below, which was published in Spring 2018. I also write short stories on occasion although not that often, and compiled some of these into Disintegration, an anthology I brought out a few years back.
I try not to be bogged down by the limitations of genre and often start books from scraps of ideas and dreams, concepts and characters. Somehow, sooner or later the whole thing gels into a more cohesive plot and I work from there. I think strong, multi-faceted characters are essential and endeavour to make them central to whatever I happen to be writing.
Tell us about your book(s) – title, genre etc (short)
The Light From Far Below is the sequel to my YA fantasy / sci-fi adventure Summer’s Dark Waters. It’s set a year and a half after the events in the first book and things have moved on for the two central characters, Joe and Amber. So has the world itself. It’s difficult to go into detail without giving too much away but this sequel is more epic and darker in tone and deals with some of the uncomfortable truths about humanity – all seen from the eyes of two young teens.
The Light From Far Below:
(US): Amazon author page
There’s a spring bundle sale!
Spring Surprise will be on sale for $2.99 until 28th April
Immortals will be on sale for $2.99 $2.99 from 24-Apr-18 through 30-Apr-18
Here Be Dragons will be on sale for $3.99 from 1-May-18 through 5-May-18
Author name: Charles E. Yallowitz
My two biggest publications are Legends of Windemere and War of Nytefall. The former is a 15 book adventure series that takes place in the fantasy world of Windemere. I published the final book in December and I’ve just released the first volume of my vampire series, which takes place in the same world. Both series have plenty of action, humour, and colourful characters.
What have you found the most challenging part of the process?
As strange as it sounds, I find the most challenging part to be the later editing stages. I’m always having a blast with outlining and writing the first draft, but I’ve found that I hit an odd mentality when I’m doing my 3rd or 4th readthrough. I begin making changes for the sake of making changes, which makes it difficult to do a true editing run. So, I guess the biggest challenge is my own insecurity and doubt here.
Are you a ‘pantser’ or a ‘plotter’?
75% plotter and 25% pantser. I used to be more of the former, but I realized that so many of my character bios and outlines didn’t survive the first draft. So, I come up with a general idea of what I’m doing and key points that I want the plot and characters to hit. Everything in between is up to what strikes my fancy while I’m writing.
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 used to think the Perma-Free idea was a mistake. Not that it demeaned the author or the work, but that it didn’t serve a purpose. It wasn’t until I sat down to think of ways to help promote my own series that I realized a free Volume 1 could help get people into the rest of the books. Creating a low or no risk introduction is a great way to attract readers, especially those who might not normally read your chosen genre.
How do you deal with bad reviews?
I eat an entire cartoon of ice cream and yell at myself in the mirror. Kidding since I can’t do that without making myself sick these days. I read the bad reviews to see if there are any good points that I can use to improve myself. If not then I shrug, talk to a few friends about it, and move on. You’re not going to please everybody, especially in this business.
Sort these into order of importance:
This is a lot more difficult than I thought it would be. I’m going with Great Characters, Awesome World-Building, Good Plot, and Technically Perfect, but they’re all coming in very close. I think the first three on the list influence each other too much to really put one above the other. A good plot can stem from a great character while helping to forge an awesome world. With the technically perfect part, you do need to get close to that, but I think you’ll also always get someone pointing out mistakes. Then again, I’m a Present Tense Third Person author, so my entire style is sometimes called a typo.
How much research do you do for your work? What’s the wildest subject you’ve looked at?
With my fantasy books, I don’t do a lot of research beyond monsters and weapons that exist in the real world. Most times, I find myself looking things up in the spur of the moment because a scene doesn’t feel believable. This happens a lot when I have a character who uses poisons or I’m trying to make a monster act like a certain real world animal. As far as the wildest subject, I’ve had to look up a lot of anatomy to see if a character will survive certain blows and to make sure a villain that enjoys torture knows what they’re doing. With that second thing, you’d be surprised how quickly it can go from cringe-worthy evil to groan-inducing comedy.
How influential is storytelling to our culture?
I think it’s more influential than people realize. We run into stories every day that cause us to think and act in response to them. It isn’t always a grand tale of adventure or the in-depth story of a real event. Some stories are nothing more than a person telling you about their day. They might not have the same impact as a fantasy adventure, but people who listen will walk away with something new in their heads. That can lead to changes in the culture, especially if the story reveals an area of society that needs to be worked on.
If you could be any fantasy/mythical or legendary person/creature what would you be and why?
Rip Van Winkle because I could use a good night’s sleep. Seriously, I think I’d like to be a griffin, but the more docile kind that will allow people to ride on their backs. That way I won’t be seen as a threat and I can still fly around whenever I want to. As much as I hate heights, I like the sense of freedom that I feel when I imagine flying without a plane. Almost like you’re part of the world, but still isolated with your own thoughts until you return to the ground. Typing on my laptop might be rather difficult, so I’d have to go with a human who can transform into a griffin.
What is your writing space like?
I switch between two writing areas because I don’t have a designated spot to call my own. One is sitting on my bed with my laptop and notebooks while the other is the dining room table. The second choice doesn’t have as much privacy as the first, but it’s easier on the back. I’m hoping to have an office one day, but I work with what I can get for now.
Tell us about your latest piece?
My latest work is called War of Nytefall: Loyalty and it’s the first volume of a new series. It takes place in the magical world of Windemere like Legends of Windemere, but a few hundred years earlier. The Great Cataclysm has just struck and changed the entire world, including transforming a vampire named Clyde. Having been buried for fifty years, he has returned to discover that his people have been in an endless war against the hunters and sun priests. It is not long before Clyde realizes that the strange events that buried him also gave him unique powers. He no longer loses his strength in the sun and physical strength that surpasses even the vampire nobles, which he fears will make him a target. As he fights in the war alongside his old friends, he starts to uncover more changes, including one that kicks of a vampire civil war between the Old World Vampires and the newly arrived Dawn Fangs. As with my previous series, there’s a lot of action and colourful characters to drive the plot along.
Are indie/self published authors viewed with scepticism or wariness by readers? Why is this?
I think there is still a stigma about indie authors being of low quality and it might never go away. Many readers think indie authors refuse to edit or are so unskilled that no publishing company will touch them. A lot of people also look at the indie author scene as easy money and crank out a simple book to make a few bucks, which seems to get more attention than the majority who take the trade seriously. Those who are sceptical of the self-publishing world will always point to the lower quality works as examples of the whole too. It really comes down to the exposure one has to the indie scene and where the majority of attention goes to. If the community is painted in a negative light then the stigma will remain, but if you have a positive reputation then it will go in the other direction.
How important is writing to you?
Writing has been an important part of my life for a long time. It’s how I relax and what I love to do. If I’m not working on a full-length book then I’m fiddling with my outlines. Some days the only time I feel like I have any control over things is when I’m writing, so it acts as a stabilizer in a way.
Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn’t working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. Truthfully, his tales of adventure are much more interesting than his real life, so skip the bio and dive into the action.
Here Be Fairies Bundle
Universal Link https://books2read.com/HereBeFairies
Amazon UK https://amzn.to/2HvhsYD
Barnes and Noble http://bit.ly/2EFK3rd
Fairies, fair folk, imps, trolls, and pixies—they haunt our myths from Ireland to Iceland and everywhere else. Join in the fairy fun, or fairy fear, as good, bad, and mischievous they show themselves. Dare you take the trip to Fairyland? No one who returns is ever quite the same.
A 13 -book fairy bundle.
Flower Fairies by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Bride Thief by Brigid Collins
Feyland by Anthea Sharp
Phouka by Liz Pierce
The Giving Year by Alexandra Brandt
Summerland’s Paladin by Diana Benedict
Real Girl by Leslie Claire Walker
The Troll’s Belt by J.M. Ney-Grimm
The Clockwork Fairy Kingdom by Leah Cutter
The Kitchen Imps by A. L. Butcher
Faerie Fruit by Charlotte E. English
By Winter’s Forbidden Rite by DeAnna Knippling
Dark Dancer by Jaleta Clegg