Interviews from Hell – Black Annis/Andrew Weston

Welcome to the Infernal Interview Service. Pull up a chair in front of the fire… oh wait that’s every chair.

Today my guests are Black Annis and her writer Andrew Weston

Character Spotlight – Black Annis

About yourself:

Who are/were you?

I am figment of English folklore and your fears made manifest. I am the personification of things that go bump in the night. The wraith seen in the corner of your eye. The tingling sensation on the back of your neck. I am the monster under the bed and the fiend, lurking at the back of the cupboard who snatches children from their cots and the unwary, too brave for their own good. I am Black Annis. Hag, bogeyman, witch, beauteous pagan legend and mystic rolled into one.

What puts you above all the other self-proclaimed ‘mystics’ in Hell?

I am one of only six of His Infernal Majesty’s vassals who serve within his secret inner circle. Only we possess the knowledge and skill to manipulate the Third Way – or as adepts call it, the Tether – an exceedingly potent celestial residue left behind from the Time of Sundering, when Holy Spirit polarized into its two current forms: God’s Grace and the Bãlefire. When you consider that two of my five associates are none other than Satan’s Reaper, Daemon Grim and the polymath, Heinrich von Nettesheim, you begin to appreciate the caliber of our tiny, very select cadre.

Why do YOU think you’re in Hell?

I know why I’m here: because I wanted to be. As mankind, topside, progressed and drew together in greater numbers in towns and cities, the woodlands and caverns in which I prefer to reside grew evermore Spartan. My reputation also grew, and it became harder to remain concealed from the world of man. Satan – curse his black heart – saw my plight and my potency, and made an offer I couldn’t refuse. So here I am, free to hunt my prey and consume all I desire, in return for a purity of debased service few can match. Yes, this is my home now, and there is nowhere else I’d rather be.

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

I can only eat necrotic pseudo-flesh. Preferably taken from those recently, or about to be reassigned. And I keep their skins too, the only material from which I am allowed to fashion my extensive wardrobe.

Describe your home environment in Hell.

In my downtime, I am the proprietor of the Come Right Inn, a small establishment situated deep within the Greshwin Weald. Or as it’s better known by those inhabiting New Hell, the Sable Swathe. The Weald is a dark, near impenetrable expanse filled with flora and fauna, and hideous miscreations shunned by weak-willed humans. We like to keep to ourselves, though when anyone is foolish enough to stray into my domain, they are given a most special welcome.

Author Spotlight

Name and bio.

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

Tell us about your story for this edition.

One of my stories in this edition is called, The Come Right Inn, a tongue-in-cheek play on words, detailing what can happen to the most cautious of damned souls when they stray into places they shouldn’t go.
Here’s a short blurb to give you a taste of what’s in store:
“In The Come Right Inn, we meet one of Satan’s most secretive agents. A charming woman with a finger – and most other body parts – in every pie. It’s a simply delicious, snack-sized tale you’ll enjoy devouring in one sitting.”

What inspired you to use the character you’ve chosen?

Believe it or not, Black Annis was inspired by Daemon Grim himself. Wherever you go, people have heard of the Grim Reaper. He’s the stuff of myth and legend. A character who, since his introduction to the Heroes in Hell universe, has carved out a niche following. As fans of the series will have seen, he’s a potent dark protagonist with strong traits who needs a stimulating cast to keep him on his toes and bring out the best – and worst – of what he has to offer. I’m constantly searching for fresh ideas, and this new character helps me do just that. Though different, Black Annis is just as close to His Infernal Majesty as Daemon is. Even better, she is a more proficient wielder of a power Daemon Grim has only recently discovered: The Tether, or Third Way. We’ve met her before, in passing, in Hell Hounds. But here, in The Come Right Inn, we get a proper introduction to someone who will be a worthy addition to Heroes in Hell, and Daemon Grim’s ever evolving adventures.

For those of you who would like to find out more about the legends surrounding this blue skinned, raven-haired hag, then delve into some of the pseudonyms she goes by: Black Annis; Black Anny; Black Agnes; the Celtic goddess, Anu; and the English hermit, Agnes Scott.

It makes interesting reading, and she provides a wealth of potential to add to an already volatile mix.

Tell us why you chose this story to tell out of so many possible options?

As I mentioned, I’d already used this character – as an unnamed and extremely secretive associate of Heinrich von Nettesheim – in a previous Heroes in Hell novel, Hell Hounds. What was interesting is the fact that her contribution gained a life of its own, and she ended up continuing to grow in substance the further the overall story arc surrounding Daemon Grim evolved. So I thought I’d better give her a history, and a proper means by which to officially introduce her to the Heroes in Hell fan base. As readers will see, we learn much more about Black Annis in The Come Right Inn, which sets the scene for her later appearance in the Reaper’s own contribution; The Sorcerous Apprentice.
And true to form, you’ll meet her again at a later date in a much more ‘up close and personal’ recurring role. (Be patient). . .

What are you currently working on?

I’m completing the preparations for the final novel of a new “Ascension Trials” trilogy. (Which I hope to start writing within the next few weeks). I’ve been developing the series during the time we’ve been on lockdown so that the storyline is polished and tight before I submit the first book for consideration. And I’ve also been tinkering with a fresh story arc for Daemon Grim himself. Being who he is, it’ll never be a good time for him to hang up his scythe, eh?

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

The last two books I’ve read are part of the Mistborn Series by Brandon Sanderson: The Alloy of Law and Shadows of Self. In a nutshell, (And so I don’t give anything away), they are part of an epic story line set on the world of Scadrial, a place where gifted individuals can access magical powers through ingestion of certain metals. (The powers manifested being dependent upon what metal is burned and their reaction with that person’s own physiology).

I’ve found it a rather innovative series, as the magical system is unique, the narrative down-to-earth and engaging, and the sweep grandiose indeed. (You get to cover thousands of years of history at an easy pace). Even better, Sanderson’s world isn’t stagnant. It moves with the passage of time, developing technology and industry as it goes along, allowing its characters to evolve along with it.

If that sounds like something you might enjoy, be sure to start with the original trilogy: The Final Empire; The Well of Ascension; The Hero of Ages. It’s great stuff, and you won’t regret it.

 

Interviews from Hell – Ernst Haeckel/Seth Lindberg

Welcome to the Infernal Interview Service. Today we feature one of the characters and his writer from the acclaimed Heroes in Hell series. Ernst Haeckel (and his writer Seth) feature in Mystics in Hell.

Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919), biologiste allemand. ©MP/leemage AA095104 dbdocumenti 241 317 300 2844 3744 Scala di grigio

 

Character Spotlight

*Who are/were you?

 

EH: Ich heisse Ernest Haeckel, renowned evolutionist, artist, and philosopher. From German descent, of course. You have heard of my contemporary Charles Darwin, no doubt? I coined the term ecology and am famous for my beautiful drawings of lifeforms.

Why do YOU think you’re in Hell?

EH: Well, my Kunstformen der Natur (Art Forms in Nature) was universally adored. However, my embryological montages unexpectedly drew anger from my fellow scientists. They deemed I embellished too much. Yet, I stand by my depictions of embryos and the notion that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny. You look confused, no doubt because  of your retarded ancestry. Just understand my proposition that embryos express shapes of all their lesser, ancestral forms as they develop. So before your embryo matured into a human form, it expressed features of a pig and even a fish. I think I am in Hell to finish my census of life, to gather more evidence to support recapitulation theory.

What is are your greatest fears/desires here?

EH: I have no doubt I will find data to further support recapitulation theory. I fear that I will be stuck in Hell so the Royal Society and greater humanity will not learn about the truth.

What puts you above all the other self-proclaimed ‘mystics’ in Hell?

EH: Some consider me a mystic, but I am more of a scientist who searches for spiritual truths (I am certain you have read my treatise The Riddle of the Universe at the Close of the Nineteenth Century). Lately, I am wrapped up with mystics of the hierophant and alchemical type. See, there is a gold rush in hell! King Midas swallowed the Philosopher’s Stone and transmutes food into gold. He’s minting the promising new gastro-currency: buttcoin. I know, that sounds absurd, but the economy and nature of Hell is cruel. Anyway, the damned Forty-Niners are digging through excrement in attempts to get rich. The imprisoned Thoth, the Egyptian god of mysticism, has charged me to retrieve the Philosopher’s’ Stone. With it he can regain control of the afterlife, rescue me from Hell. So there is hope for me.

Who are your friends/allies here?

EH: I am more interested in acquainting myself with biology than making friends, but if you mean “human allies” then there is my fellow Caucasian Howard Carter. Note, Howard is not a naturalist. He is fascinated with antiquities and material artefacts. That is why he is in hell. So, he wants the Philosopher’s Stone too, but not to escape from Hell….just to profit while he is here. Our partnership is fragile.

Author Spotlight

Name and bio.:

SEL: S.E. Lindberg here. I reside near Cincinnati, Ohio working as a microscopist. Two decades of practicing chemistry, combined with a passion for the Sword & Sorcery genre, motivates me to write adventure fictionalizing the alchemical humors (including my independently published “Dyscrasia Fiction” series). With Perseid Press, I write weird tales infused with history and alchemy (Heroika: Dragon Eaters & SkirmishersPirates in Hell, Lovers in Hell, Mystics in Hell). I’m a Managing Editor at Black Gate and co-moderate the Sword & Sorcery group on Goodreads.

Tell us why you chose this story to tell out of so many possible options?

SEL: Strange muses have had inspired my creativity for decades. I’m fascinated with the intersection of science, art, and spirituality (alchemy essentially) and have turned toward writing as a medium to learn. Since 2014, I’ve also interviewed authors on the topic Beauty in Weird Fiction to explore how others approached such inspirations. By education and trade, I am actually a chemist. For Perseid Press, I’ve contributed five alchemy-inspired tales to date (three for the Heroes in Hell series and two for Heroika).

For Mystics in Hell, my muses motivated me to highlight alchemical mysticism via:

  1. The Egyptian god of mysticism Thoth, also known as Hermes, and perhaps the root of “Hermes Trismegistus”, champion of the alchemy-inspired philosophy Hermeticism.
  2. King Midas, who was purported to turn elements into gold (a side-goal of mystical alchemists infatuated with controlling nature’s elements).

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

SEL: I’ve adopted the duo of Howard Carter (renowned archaeologist and looter of King Tutankhamun’s tomb) and Ernst Haeckel (discredited evolutionist and original ‘ecologist’) as tour guides. Their motives contrast: Carter adores material, artificial wealth as much as Haeckel is fascinated with nature’s riches. They roam the Egyptian world of the dead, Duat.

Tell us about your story for this edition.

SEL: “Fool’s Gold” in Mystics in Hell is the third to feature the duo of Howard Carter and Ernst Haeckel. The stories are stand alone, but they all tap into conflict: Carter values human wealth and artifacts above all, and Haeckel values natural life. Their adventures and links to previous Hell Weeks are detailed here:

  • “Curse of the Pharaohs” in Pirates in Hell: In the Egyptian realm of the dead of Duat, many pharaohs wait to be judged by Anubis; yet, he has been in absentia for centuries. As the piratical Sea People threaten to come ashore, the meddling duo of Carter and Haeckel unearth Anubis’s Hall of Two Truths. Eleven anxious Rameses risk leaving the shoreline unprotected to chance judgment (and a chance to exit Duat!). Read this teaser interview to learn more: Ernest Haeckel Interview (Hell Week 2017, Pirates in Hell).
  • “Lovers Sans Phalli” in Lovers in Hell:  Surviving Pirates in Hell’s “Curse of the Pharaohs”, the lovers Hatshepsut and Senenmut depart Duat toward hell proper, Anubis having removed their hearts and broken their toy phallus. They find Osiris, missing the penis he requires to retake the realm from Satan’s influence. Carter and Haeckel quest with the Egyptians, seeking to make everyone whole again by stealing genitalia from the Undertaker’s Mortuary. Read this teaser interrogation of Carter and Haeckel as higher powers seek out the location of a stolen artifact: the phallus of the Egyptian god of rejuvenation, Osiris: Hell Week 2018 – A Day in the Life of Haeckel and Carter.
  • “Fool’s Gold? in Mystics in Hell: The Egyptian god of mysticism, Thoth, seeks conspirators to retrieve the Philosopher’s Stone; with it, Thoth could usurp Satan’s control of the realm of Duat. Taking up the charge is Carter and Haeckel. They discover that King Midas’s alchemical ability to transmute flesh into gold relies on the stolen Philosopher’s Stone, and Midas is producing hell’s new gastro-currency: buttcoin. Yes, rejoice, there is a gold-rush in hell! Mine for a price. At your own risk.

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

Seth E Lindberg (SEL):  

“It is OK to go to Hell at any time.”

There is a lot to say about Hell, more specifically about the Heroes in Hell series. New readers need to be assured that it is always okay to explore any edition. I defer to several authors from the Doctors in Hell anthology in which they formed an informative death-panel. They offered many quotes about the series (key quotes highlighted in the link) and the post serves as welcoming introduction to the Heroes in Hell series. Check it out:  Death Panel Convenes on why it is OK to go to Hell at any time.

What other books/short stories have you written?

SEL: For Perseid Press’s Heroika series, I track the mystical Emerald Tablet (a.k.a., the Philosopher’s Stone) through time.  You’ll see that Thoth and Osiris make appearances here too. Read these and experience the birth of chemical warfare. 

  • “Legacy of the Great Dragon” in Heroika 1:Dragon Eaters: Legacy of the Great Dragon fictionalizes the Hermetic Tradition, presenting the “Divine Pymander–Great Dragon” as being the sun-eating Apep serpent of Egyptian antiquity (a dragon who ate the sun each day from under the horizon, in the underworld). Thoth, physician of the gods (the Father of Alchemy), helps Horus to find power to avenge the death of his father, Osiris, at the hands of Set. This is a wild piece, with a cosmically huge dragon and gods fighting inside of it.  Learn more: Library of Erana Interview.
  • “The Naked Daemon” in Heroika 2:  Skirmishers: “The Naked Daemon” pits the mystic Apollonius of Tyana (deceased ~100 CE) against zealots who destroy what remains of the Alexandria Library. In life, his principles had been aligned with those of the pacifist gymnosophists (a.k.a. naked philosophers); hundreds of years past his death, Apollonius finds himself reborn as a daemon empowered with Hermes’s Emerald Tablet. He observes the Roman oppression over pagan scholars and is challenged with an urgent need to defend knowledge. Will Apollonius rationalize war by unleashing the power of alchemy to do harm? Will he become an angel or demon? How will alchemy transform The Naked Demon? Learn more: Heroika: Skirmishers – Witness the Birth of Alchemical Warfare

Mystic Madness!

Join the doomed on their vision quests in eleven stories by the damnedest writers in Perdition: Janet Morris; A.L. Butcher; Joe Bonadonna; Andrew P. Weston; Gustavo Bondoni; Seth Lindberg; Tom Barczak; Michael H. Hanson; Louis Antonelli; Christopher Crosby Morris.

https://books2read.com/MysticsInHell

 

 

 

Author Interview – Rita Lee Chapman #Crime #Mystery

 

Welcome to Crime author, Rita Lee Chapman.

Please tell us about your publications/work.

There are four books in the Anna Davies Mystery Series: Missing in Egypt, Missing at Sea, Missing in London and Missing in France.

I have also written two crime mysteries – Dangerous Associations and The Poinciana Tree.  I have also written a book for horse lovers, from teenagers upwards, Winston – A Horse’s Tale. 

I decided the beautiful Poinciana tree would make a great cover for a book, so I started with the cover and then built a story around it.

Most of my books also come in large print editions.

Do you think the written word (or art) bring power and freedom?                 

I believe learning to read and write empowers everyone and should be a basic human right. 

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

I was actually given this advice by a wise, local bookshop owner.  “Don’t expect to become rich from your writing.”  Perhaps I should have taken more notice!

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

I think I would choose Kate Moreton, a local Australian author, who writes so beautifully.  I would like to have oysters natural for entrée, followed by roast pork with crackling and real apple sauce accompanied by roast vegetables, finishing with a decadent chocolate dessert.  There would, of course, be French champagne to drink.

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

For some of my books, the research has already been done, i.e. I set the book in a country I have visited.  Other books require quite a lot of research.  For The Poinciana Tree I researched in formation on, and read books based in, the Sudan.  The wildest research I have done was on rohypnol, the rape drug, for Missing at Sea.

What’s the best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing?

Write more books!

What is your writing space like?

Quiet!  I’m lucky to have a study, lined with book shelves.

Tell us about your latest piece?

Missing in France is Book #4 in the Anna Davies Mystery Series.  Like the others, it is a stand-alone book, although I have recently combined the four books into the Anna Davies Mystery Series e-book.  Here is the blurb:

When Mike accepts a two-year contract in France, Anna is delighted at the prospect of spending time in Paris and Marseille.  She doesn’t anticipate being drawn into yet another mystery, one which puts her own life in danger. 

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 don’t offer books for free.  I believe your time and energy deserve at least a small payment.  I also think a lot of free books are downloaded and never read, because that reader has downloaded so many free books, with the best of intentions but lack of time to read them.

Sort these into order of importance:

Good plot

Great characters

Technically perfect

Awesome world-building

With the influx of indie authors do you think this is the future of storytelling?

I think there is room for both indie authors and traditionally published authors.  It is the writing that counts, not the form of publishing.

Is this the age of the e-book? Are bricks and mortar bookshops in decline?

I think online shopping has affected all shops, especially during Covid.  There is no doubt that bookshops have declined in number and many are much smaller in size, which mean they are limited in the number of books they can display.  I am confident, however, that there will always be a call for bookshops.

What did you want to be when you ‘grew up’?

I wanted to be a show jumper, but as I lived in London, this was never likely to happen.  I was fortunate to go riding at a local riding school once a week and when I moved to Australia I rode all week-end for many years.  The show jumping bit never happened though.

Links to book

Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08WZ4KCN3/

Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08X69SNJZ

Large Print: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08X63F2BN

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08X63F2BN/

Bio

Rita Lee Chapman was born in London and moved to Australia in her early twenties.  It was only when she retired that she wrote her first novel, Missing in Egypt, the first in the Anna Davies Mystery series.  This was followed by Missing at Sea, Missing in London and Missing in France. All can be enjoyed as stand-alone books.

Winston – A Horse’s Tale was written for horse lovers like herself.  “It was the book I had to write.”

Dangerous Associations and The Poinciana Tree are crime mysteries. 

When she’s not writing or reading, Rita enjoys playing tennis, walking and entertaining.

Website: www.ritaleechapman.com

 

 

 

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Dirty Dozen Author Interview – Anthony St Clair

Author name: Anthony St. Clair

 Links to book: https://rucksackuniverse.com/books/the-lotus-and-the-barley/

 Bio: Anthony St. Clair, a freelance writer and entrepreneur, is the author of over 500 fiction and non-fiction works, including novels, short stories, articles, and more. Library Journal calls Anthony’s storytelling “reminiscent of Terry Pratchett,” and his fiction has been celebrated for its “quirk, wit, travel, and magic.” In addition to his global travels, Anthony spent fifteen years in media and business before turning full time to writing in 2011. Together with his wife, son, and daughter, Anthony lives a life of everyday adventure at home in Oregon and on the road anywhere. For more information, see rucksackuniverse.com and anthonystclair.com.

 Tell us a silly fact about yourself: Much to my children’s ongoing amusement, I’m incapable of blowing up a balloon.

Please tell us about your publications/work. My Rucksack Universe series revolves around people who seek to know themselves so that they understand their place in the broader world, be that with a social group or a place they want to live in.

The core of everything I write is an exploration of how we make the decisions that shape our destinies. What are the rules we are told about life and living? How many of those rules help us do what we consider meaningful? What rules deserve to be followed—and which rules should we break or get rid of?

We go through this life trying to find our way, searching out how we fit in. Sometimes we have to push back against presumptions and notions from family or culture, so we can understand and live our own personal truths about the world. My Rucksack Universe series is all about people making those choices.

Do you think the written word (or art) bring power and freedom? Even when we don’t realize it, the written word is all around us. Books and articles are obvious manifestations, but even “visual” mediums such as video have an underlying script or teleplay written element that guides what happens and what’s said. The written word is similar to the atmosphere: All around us and essential, yet easy to forget it’s there.

How did you become involved with bundles? (For Bundle Authors) I got to meet Chuck Heintzelman at Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s and Dean Wesley Smith’s Business Master Class in 2017. I’d been aware of his BundleRabbit platform, but especially after meeting Chuck was so impressed with how BundleRabbit was helping authors develop and participate in ebook bundles. Bundles are such a great way to help readers dive in deep on different variations on a theme, topic, etc., and it’s so fun to work with other authors on new ways to put our work in the world.

 How much research do you do for your work? What’s the wildest subject you’ve looked at? Travel has always been a big part of my life, and my fiction centers around people who travel as a lifestyle. I include destination research and draw from on-the-ground experience as much as I can too, so I can really evoke that feeling of “being there.”

For my novel THE LOTUS AND THE BARLEY, I drew on my own travels to London, my background covering Oregon’s craft beer industry, and a “what if?” mindset that helped me imagine a London that had built itself up in a different way, but based on landmarks that could be familiar to us in our world.

The beery touches were especially fun. My work has brought me on many a tour of breweries, so I got to bring all that experience together not only into my pro brewer and homebrewer characters, but the beer itself is its own character.

What is your greatest success? Marrying well. I had the good fortune and the good sense to know when I had found my soulmate. Jodie and I met in 2005, got married in 2009. From business to parenting, we bring out the best in one another, and I’m grateful every day that I found her.

Which authors have influenced you the most? If there is one author I wish I could have met, it’s Terry Pratchett. Discworld titles such as Thud! and Witches Abroad are books I re-read and re-read. Pratchett’s characters have to channel other feelings into meaningful action, and his sense of humor and satire is a candy coating that helps us swallow some tricky truths.

What is your writing space like? My wife and I currently share a “corner office” in our house. I usually use the office in the morning for writing and client work, and she uses it in the afternoon for teaching violin lessons. At other times I’ll be set up at our front table, with a MacBook Pro, a mouse, and an external keyboard. It helps me be both focused and flexible—and reminds me that I can work anywhere.

What’s the best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? If you want others to value your work, time, and expertise, then make sure you show that you value them too.

It’s not uncommon for writers to undervalue their work and underestimate the time and energy it takes to do their work. When I went full-time as a  freelance writer in 2011, I made sure to track my time on projects, agree fair rates with clients and editors, and, above all, to make sure that I always got paid. Writers do work that other people wish they could do—the power and value in understanding that is without equal.

 Tell us about your latest piece? My 2020 novel, STRANGE RIDE, brought me an interesting challenge. The setting was in a walled city full of skyscrapers, and drew heavily on labyrinths, mythology, and the five stages of grief: depression, anger, bargaining, denial, acceptance, collectively referred to as “DABDA.” I had to extensively research labyrinths. Plus, the city where I live—Eugene, Oregon—is home to many indoor and outdoor labyrinths, so I also got to have some contemplative introverted fun going to different labyrinths around town and walking them.

STRANGE RIDE focuses on a 10-year-old girl named Soarsha. She lives in this giant walled city, in a high-rise apartment with her dad. They lost her mother years ago, in the wasteland beyond the city. We meet Soarsha on her tenth birthday, and see her get bullied by her classmates. She seeks refuge in her Wandering Heroes comic books, and in hanging out with her dad. It’s not necessarily a great life, but she has some good things going for her. Until, the next day, she comes home… but her father doesn’t. She sets out to find him, but winds up discovering truths she didn’t even know she was looking for.

What’s the worst piece best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? There’s this ongoing discussion that it can be really difficult to publish ebooks to different retailers—you know, upload to Amazon, to Draft 2 Digital, to Apple Books, to Kobo, etc.—because you have to enter the same information over and over. The problem isn’t the process, it’s whether or not the writer is organized to handle the process in less time.

 I independently publish my work, and I distribute ebooks to all the channels: Amazon, Kobo, Apple Books, Google Play, Nook, you name it. I keep a spreadsheet with all the details about every release: publication date, Patreon release date, links to stores, prices for different markets, even the color codes for my cover’s primary color. Once that info is set up, it’s a simple copy and paste job. I can set up a title across multiple channels in less than an hour.

Writers get hung up on the number of stores. That’s not the problem. Most of your time and energy goes into getting the details ready. Actually setting them up is a much smaller fraction of the time it takes than we often think it is.

 What’s your greatest networking tip? There’s an easy way to be remembered by pretty much any presenter at any event. It’s based on a simple principle: Everyone likes knowing their work is appreciated, looked forward to, and will help someone.

Before going to any sort of writing conference, take a few minutes to research presenters whose talks or workshops you plan on attending. Then, contact them—through their website’s contact form, their email, or a social network—and leave a short and simple note, such as “Hi, I’m FIRSTNAME LASTNAME, and I’ll be attending your talk on SUBJECT at NAMEOFEVENT. Just wanted to let you know I’m really looking forward to it.”

Anytime I’ve done this, it’s led to useful connections and worthwhile conversations. Plus, the moment I introduce myself, they say something like, “Oh, I got a note from you, thank you so much!”

It’s a simple but powerful way to help yourself stand out.

Sylvie Denied – Blog Tour and Guest Post

Sylvie Denied
by Deborah Clark Vance
Genre: Women’s Fiction
As she enters adulthood in the turbulent 1970s, Sylvie thinks the way to change a violent world is to become a peaceful person. Yet she slowly sees how a childhood trauma thwarts her peaceful intentions and leads her to men with a dark side – including Enzo, the man she marries. Even as his behavior becomes increasingly volatile, she believes she can make things better with love and understanding. But finally living in terror. Sylvie must find a way to escape with her daughter and a way to claim her place in the world.
Originally from the Chicago suburbs, Deborah Clark Vance has lived throughout the US and in Italy. While raising her children, she earned a living by teaching piano lessons, selling her original artwork, editing a health journal, translating Italian, writing freelance articles and textbook chapters, working on a children’s educational TV series, teaching in a day treatment program for adults with mental and emotional illnesses, creating garden designs and teaching as a college adjunct. After completing a Ph.D. in Communication and Culture at Howard University, she taught and served as Chair of the Department of Communication & Cinema at McDaniel College in Maryland. Although she also contributed articles and chapters to academic publications, those only earned her a modicum of prestige rather than income. She’s keenly interested in the natural world as well as in social justice, spirituality and women’s issues. “Sylvie Denied” is her debut novel.
Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!
$20 Amazon

What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?

It’s more circular than linear. I write in snippets as ideas occur, then build until I have enough to start organizing into chapters that I keep in separate computer files so I can I play around with the order. When I have enough, I troubleshoot and adjust the story—is it what I planned? is it becoming something else? – and make some decisions.

What makes a good story?

A story needs to be about someone who learns something, someone who starts out with a lack and acquires it, or maybe has something and loses it and in the losing acquires it. I think stories were invented to teach about a lifespan – we’re born, we live, we die = beginning, middle, end. But how do we change during that time? If there’s no change in awareness, there’s not really a story, though it could be an anecdote or just a joke.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

This is an interesting question. I think I’ll say no and here’s why. I write because I have a lot to say. Maybe some days I don’t feel like talking or thinking or even writing. Or maybe I really don’t have anything to say because I’m tired, empty, distracted, otherwise engaged. Or it could be I’ve started writing something and it isn’t turning out as I expected so I quit going that way.

Describe your writing style.

There’s a certain compactness to my writing that comes from my trying to find the strongest most perfect words to convey what I want to say. And there’s humor – my sense of humor is very dry and subtle so people don’t always pick up on it.  I get a kick out of people, even ones I don’t personally want to hang around with, so I try so share my amusement by showing their quirky ideas, behaviors and speech mannerisms.

Advice you would give new authors?

When I was learning to drive, my older brother said, “it’s great that you know the rules of the road and how to operate a car. But it’s most important to know how to get where you’re going.”

I’d amend that slightly and say an author should know what they want to say. For instance, Mary Shelly wrote the first book in the horror genre, but she wanted to say that humans aren’t ultimately in charge and shouldn’t be messing with the creation of life. There’s something unique we’ve all been learning in our life’s journeys and everyone has a perspective to share. Find that something and then figure out the best way of saying it. There’s nothing better for creating a sense of urgency and passion that keep you going.

What made you want to become an author and do you feel it was the right decision?

That’s like asking me whether it’s a good decision to breathe.

 

 

 

 

Bridge of Magic Tour – Guest Post Robert E Balsley Jr. #Author Interview

Welcome to Robert E. Balsley Jr.

Author of  Salvation of Innocence

The Bridge of Magic Trilogy Book 1

by Robert E. Balsley Jr.

Genre: Fantasy

 

What are your top 10 favorite books/authors? 

The Dragon Riders of Pern series/Anne McCaffrey.

The Sword of Truth series/Terry Goodkind

The Foundation Trilogy/Isaac Asimov

The Game of Thrones series/George R.R. Martin

The Belgariad and the Malloreon/David Eddings

The Deryni series/Katherine Kurtz

The Black Company series, Garrett P.I. series/Glen Cook

Destroyermen series/Taylor Anderson

The Dresden Files/Jim Butcher

Drizzt series/R.A. Salvatore

What book do you think everyone should read?  I’d like to say The Salvation of Innocence, but that’s kind of selfish. In truth, I can’t think of a book that has had, or has, more of an influence on people than the Bible. If this is a standard answer, then that would be because it’s the truth.

How long have you been writing? Books? Since late 2014. Dungeon and Dragon games? Since the mid-nineties.

 Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write? Most come to me as I write. Mostly because the storyline demanded it. 

What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book? I haven’t really done any research before I write. Since I write in the fantasy genre, there’s not a lot of fact checking I need to do before I start. However, I do research as I’m writing. For example, in The Salvation of Innocence, a sea voyage was required. Instead of glossing it over, I research the construction, parts of, and manning of ships from the 1700’s, particularly British ships of the line. I studied combat strategy and envisioned how to apply that past philosophy to fight off a dragon. I also researched land combat tactics from the medieval age as well as the different types of army units and their strengths. As for the Marines I have in my trilogy, I pretty much use modern-day U.S. Marines as my guide.

Do you see writing as a career? No. The people who are successful writers have several things in common… they have talent and they either have connections or provided a story that caught the public’s imagination. I call that catching “lightning in a bottle”. I don’t think my talent level is on par with successful writers, though I may be selling myself short.

What do you think about the current publishing market? Hard to crack. I consider myself lucky that Dove and Dragon Publishing decided to take me on. But that doesn’t mean my chances at success are guaranteed… just somewhat better. Demand dictates how well my novels are received… and there’s a lot of material out there to satisfy that demand.

Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre? I do, though not as much as I used to. Too many other things to occupy my time. My favorite genre is fantasy, but I also enjoy science fiction, horror, sometimes crime, and books about WWII.

Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why? If I understand the question, I write with noise. I love writing with new age music (like Enya) in the background. Most weekdays, however, I write with FOX Business in the background. When I was writing games for my D&D sessions, I listened to classical music on my CD player. Sometimes the music inspires, sometimes it calms, sometimes it picks me up, particularly if I need to figure just exactly where I want my storyline to go (or how, which is just as important).

Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time? My books seem like they are several going at one time. I use many different storylines and characters to get from Point A to Point B. But the direct answer is one at a time.

If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose? I think it would be the Lord of the Ring series. Those books pretty much set the standard for future fantasy books and D&D games and books.

Pen or typewriter or computer? Definitely computer. It spell checks as I write, allows me to cut and paste if and when I decide a particular storyline, paragraph, or sentence, allows me to save my work using several different formats, allows me to insert illustrations, checks basic grammar, etc, etc, etc. I know that some writers consider pen as the only pure form… but all that ever does for me is hurt my wrist, not to mention it’s slower which means my mind is always three ideas ahead.

Tell us about a favorite character from a book. I love ‘em all, but perhaps the one character I like writing about best is probably is Azriel. He’s a dwarf turned sylph who’s a bit outlandish. What I like about him is his lack of filter on both his thinking and his talking. He’s brash, short-tempered, and very opinionated. Yet he has a good heart and is willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good.

What made you want to become an author and do you feel it was the right decision? I’m retired, so I’m not earning a living with my writing, so there isn’t the financial pressure. But the decision to write was definitely the right decision. I enjoy it immensely.

A day in the life of the author? Up at about 0800-0830, depending upon when my dogs decide when it’s time. Prepare for the day, get the dogs out and make the coffee. At 0900 I turn on the FOX Business Network (Varney and Co.) and watch while getting caught up with emails and Facebook. At 1000, downstairs to my space… man cave… where I surround myself with dragons, spaceships, castles, D&D miniatures, airplanes, etc. Turn on the TV (back to FOX Business) and get started writing. I stop around 1230 for lunch and some afternoon TV. (I’m gotten to where I like to watch old-time westerns like Gunsmoke, Big Valley, Bonanza). Break for time on the treadmill, then back upstairs for a shower. Feed the dogs, watch evening TV while reading or, too my horror, get on Facebook. I call it a day around 0100. (These are just the days I stay home, which, I must admit, I really, really like.)

Advice they would give new authors? Don’t quit your day job. Being a successful writer (money wise), regardless of talent, isn’t a guarantee. It’s a fact of life. Take care of your fam

The Salvation of Innocence

The Bridge of Magic Trilogy Book 1

by Robert E. Balsley Jr.

Genre: Fantasy

A young woman embarks on a harrowing journey to save her world’s last vestige of magical healing in Robert E. Balsley Jr.’s epic new fantasy novel, The Salvation of Innocence.

Althaya, the goddess of healing, wishes to share her ability to help those in need, providing “empaths,” which give clerics the means to magically heal others-a means that some people fear and wish to destroy. In response, a dark magic known as the Purge is created to seek out and eradicate all empaths.

But one lone survivor remains, spirited away by Althaya and hidden in a magical stasis field. There, the last empath must remain alive until the time comes for rescue-but the Purge will not rest until the last empath is found and killed.

Three thousand years later, Kristen Rosilie Clearwater is only beginning to realize her destiny. Having been brought to the island of InnisRos as an orphan, she has long felt a “tug” toward something she can’t quite understand. But when she begins experiencing the dreams of a young child, Kristen knows that the two are somehow connected-and that the fate of the world, and the future of healing magic, rests on.

Add to Goodreads

Amazon * B&N

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25928961-the-salvation-of-innocence-a-bridge-of-magic-novel

Buy Links

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2KZuFPB

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-salvation-of-innocence-robert-e-balsley/1132833811?ean=2940164643256

The Struggle For Innocence

The Bridge of Magic Trilogy Book 2

In this suspenseful sequel to The Salvation of Innocence, the war against evil rages on. This time good must fight on two fronts to stop a great evil-one strong enough to commit genocide-or their world will be changed forever.

After barely escaping death at the hands of the vampire Lukas, Emmy still faces an even greater threat. The Purge is approaching. Emmy and her comrades’ only chance is to get help from the sentient city of Elanesse and commit the first assault.

Far way, another conflict is brewing. Father Horatio Goram must face off against the power-hungry First Counselor Mordecai Lannian, whose demonic concubine pushes for war, but the odds are against him. Emmy’s fate rests on this struggle, and this determined priest will do anything to win.

In a realm where healing magic relies on a single emissary’s ability to commune with the gods, Emmy’s death would have wide repercussions. This sensational thriller reveals the destructive power evil will use to achieve its dastardly ends-and the depths to which good must go to stop it.

Add to Goodreads

Amazon * B&N

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33906479-the-struggle-for-innocence

Buy Links
Amazon:
https://amzn.to/38b53bo

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-struggle-for-innocence-robert-e-balsley/1138246051?ean=2940164474416

The Loss of Innocence

The Bridge of Magic Trilogy Book 3

War has come to InnisRos!

The Ak-Séregon Stone, stolen by the demon Nightshade, has been used to force open a corridor between Aster and the Svartalfheim, the home world of the Dark Elves. The Dark Elf army, led by Nightshade’s father, Aikanáro, marches on InnisRos. Only Father Goram and his allies, with Queen Lessien’s army, can close down the corridor and break the stranglehold the Dark Elves have on the island of the Elves of Light.

But the Dark Elf invasion of InnisRos is only one phase of Nightshade’s design. To ensure InnisRos’ human allies stay on their side of the world, she blackmails Lord Ternborg, leader of the Draugen Pesta, the Black Death, to invade the mainland from the east. Forced to collaborate with the mercenary cities of HeBron and Madeira, Lord Ternborg reluctantly leads three armies into the Forest of the Fey and the surrounding valley to capture the sorcerer stronghold of Havendale. Tangus, Kristen, Emmy and the humans now have their own war to fight on the mainland.

Meanwhile, deep below the surface, a new threat arises. The sylph are awake and moving from the depths with one goal in mind… destroy all life on Aster.

Add to Goodreads

Amazon * B&N

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55884064-the-loss-of-innocence

Buy Links
Amazon:
https://amzn.to/3hBnQQb

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-loss-of-innocence-robert-balsley-jr/1138282120?ean=2940164575175

Dirty Dozen Author Interview – Rebecca Miller

Welcome to Rebecca Miller

Please tell us about your publications/work.  My writing credits include being a freelance journalist for The Inquisitr, The Weekly Register-Call, The Daily Camera, and the Earthkeeper. My books include Libertine Awakenings: A Psychosexual Odyssey under my pen name, Cat Ravenelle, and Being Max’s Mom under my birth name. These were self-published through IUniverse and KDP, respectively. I also did transcription work for President Obama. The Whisper is my latest novel.

 Do you think the written word (or art) bring power and freedom? Absolutely. Writing The Whisper was incredibly empowering for me and helped me heal from the traumas I’d witnessed as a hospice nurse as well as attending my brother’s death. Writing shapes history facilitates change, educates, and informs. It’s cliché, but the pen is mightier than the sword.

 What piece of advice do you wish you’d had when you started your publishing journey? Buy a she-shed and hide from your family members. Seriously, if I had a nickel for every time I’ve been interrupted….

 What’s your greatest networking tip? The Power of Three. Tell three people three times a day about your book. That can be in a post or a conversation—it’s a bit exhausting, but it works. 

 If you could have dinner with any literary character or author, who would you choose, and what would you eat. Judy Blume. I’d take her to Le French and have some wine and a Salade Nicoise. 

 How much research do you do for your work? What’s the wildest subject you’ve looked at? WELL, since you asked. For this book, it was my life, so that part was easy, BUT for my erotic fiction, I actually went to swingers clubs and observed. I had a notebook in my purse. It was pretty interesting, and no, I didn’t participate. I’m too much of a germaphobe for that type of behaviour. I found the lack of hand sanitizer and protection disturbing. 

 How influential is storytelling to our culture? It’s essential to the survival of us as a species. We are doomed to repeat history…as evidenced by our current situation. We need to tell our ancestors’ stories to continue that lineage and tell our own stories. As I’ve aged, I’ve noticed how life does spin in a bit of a spiral. Right now, I’m having my students read part of The Decameron and thinking about how they’ve survived our recent lockdowns. We are not that different from our peers in 1300 in how we deal with forced isolation and an invisible enemy.

 What’s the best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? Don’t give up. And don’t be afraid. You can’t please everybody. Like I’ve told my friends, I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, but I am someone’s double vodka. 

 What’s the worst piece best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? Just publish and don’t worry about being perfect—it was referring toward just barfing words on a page and hitting send. Whereas I can get behind the idea of writing drunk, edit sober, you need to edit again and again—but not get crippled. Finally, letting go of my manuscript and giving it to the world is…was…right this moment, terrifying. 

 If you could be any fantasy/mythical or legendary person/creature, what would you be and why? Wonder Woman. Spin in a circle, and BAM. Outfit changed. 

 Which authors have influenced you the most? Judy Blume was the first author who I blame for my desire to become a writer. I read a TON of feminist lit in college. Books by Ram Dass and Pema Chodron sit on my shelf. All hail Virginia Woolf. 

 What is your writing space like? I have a desk in a shared home office, and I literally have a screen I put up in a vain attempt to send the message to leave me alone. It doesn’t work. I have headphones, and I have to listen to low-fi to block out the noise. I can track my writing sprints by how many coffee cups, diet Coke cans, and wine glasses are balanced around me. I’ve tried writing in coffee houses, my bedroom, even sat on the floor in my bathroom, but they STILL find me. Hence, the request for a she-shed. Might have to put up an electric fence. Too many kids….

 Tell us about your latest piece? The Whisper is a story about love and absolution. More than that, it’s my story. I worked as a crisis hospice nurse for four years. I am Rose McWhorter. Everything in the story is true but written in a way that protects my patients’ identities. In The Whisper, I tell the story about what it’s like to be a hospice nurse and what happens when we die. While it’s not intended to be a religious book, it is spiritual. The whisper I heard to become a nurse, to the final whisper that told me my work was done came from God. I didn’t know it at the time, but my life profoundly changed. I learned self-forgiveness, trust, regained my family and fell in love with being alive.

 What’s your next writing adventure? Probably try to work on Book 2 of Libertine Awakenings. I have it on jump drive but never continued. 

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? Nah. It’s like dark chocolate. If I get it for free, I’m still going to appreciate it. And, if no one eats it, no one gets to experience the sweetness of it. Which reminds me, I have some in my desk drawer.

 My son and I do art shows showcasing young people with autism. The thrill these kids get having their art up for display reinforces my stance on the free book. If no one sees your art, no one can enjoy your art or be influenced by it. I’m delighted to have my work shared. 

 What are your views on authors commenting on reviews? Depends. If someone is a troll, I think you have the right to defend yourself. 

 How do you deal with bad reviews? Weep bitterly and grab my voodoo doll. 

 Sort these into order of importance:

Good plot 2

Great characters 1

Awesome world-building 3

Technically perfect 4

 With the influx of indie authors, do you think this is the future of storytelling? I think it’s great. It’s freeing. The idea of the “vanity press” is an act of, well, vanity is long gone. I think it helps contribute to the diversity of authors and that diversity can show us the world through someone else’s eyes. 

 Is this the age of the e-book? Are bricks and mortar bookshops in decline? As long as there are dinosaurs like me and hipsters like my son, the bookstores will survive. 

 Are indie/self published authors viewed with scepticism or wariness by readers? Why is this? It’s all about myth-busting. So I didn’t get picked up by Penguin. Does that make me any less than a writer? Usually, if I get this type of snark, I’ll ask them about their latest publications. Crickets. To write, and then to publish takes guts. And time. 

What is your greatest success? Being Max’s mom—he is the light of my life. He’s changed me in ways that I cannot monetize. I learn from my son every single day, especially now during COVID. He’s taught me how to use Google Classroom so I can teach my students. 

How important is writing/art to you? During this crisis I have learned that art and music are essential. Writing kept me going. The arts are what makes us human.

What are your hopes for the coming year? Try to survive the last push of COVID19 and all its trimmings, attempt to salvage my son’s senior year of high school, and hopefully get a couple trips in once it is safe to move. I’m not sure what my next move is writing wise. 2020 taught me that plans can change, so go with the flow.

Tell us a silly fact about yourself. I still compete in beauty pageants and I’m a highland athlete. Weird combo.

What did you want to be when you ‘grew up’? Not a nurse! I wanted to be a writer. I ended up a hybrid, that’s ok.

Links to book

The Whisper on Amazon.Com

The Whisper on Amazon.Co.uk

Links —I think you already have them.

Bio I live in Denver, Colorado and I work as adjunct faculty for my local community college teaching nursing arts, anatomy and physiology, and medical terminology. Writing is my side job while I’m on sabbatical. My love, Dennis, and I share our home with three boys, two cats, and have adopted a feral cat named Darryl who lives in our backyard catching mice and chasing bunnies. 

For fun, post-COVID, we look forward to traveling overseas, skiing, taking the kids to Disney, supporting the local arts, but during the pandemic, we love working in our garden, supporting local biz via takeout, and firing up the smoker. We are grateful.

Dirty Dozen Author Interview – L. J. Kerry – Dystopian/New Adult

Author name: L.J. Kerry

Are you a ‘pantser’ or a ‘plotter’? I’m definitely a ‘pantser’

What piece of advice do you wish you’d had when you started your publishing journey? Don’t give up, self-publishing is an option if no literary agents want you.

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? To each their own to be honest. I don’t think it demeans an author’s work, I find this can entice somebody to actually purchase a book and some do see it as a marketing magnet.

How do you deal with bad reviews? It depends on the review’s content. If it is a critical review that can help me grow as a writer, I will take those comments on board and implement them into future work. However, if it doesn’t help me as an author I ignore it.

How much research do you do for your work? What’s the wildest subject you’ve looked at? I do a lot of research for my books, it takes a huge majority of my time. The wildest subject I’ve looked at is how much weight a bird’s nest can hold before it breaks, turns out not that much.

What’s the best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? Just write. Ignore it if it’s bad you’ll clean it up later.

What’s the worst piece of advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? Don’t pay for an editor.

Tell us about your latest piece? My debut novel LISTED is a New Adult Dystopian novel about Judas Wells defying his country’s ruthless regime to rescue Nadine Ellis from her execution. This leads them both into a desperate situation and a fight for their survival.

What’s your next writing adventure? My next writing adventure is LISTED’s sequel REBOUND. Following on from the events of book one, my main characters are finding the past repeating itself but with a much more sinister twist.

With the influx of indie authors do you think this is the future of storytelling? Definitely, especially with the recent loss of publishing houses making competition in the traditional world even more difficult. Hopefully in the future we can see more indie authors in bookstores.

Are indie/self published authors viewed with scepticism or wariness by readers? Why is this? Yes self/published authors are viewed with a lot of skepticism and I think that is because of the stereotype that we publish poor-quality books that are either cheesy, and riddled with errors. I know there is a large majority of the poor-quality work in the self-publishing world but there are some self-published works which challenge traditional publishing.

Is there a message in your books? There is light in a dark time

Links

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram – @ljkerrybooks

Website: www.ljkerrybooks.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20632594.L_J_Kerry

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/l-j-kerry

Bio

L.J. Kerry was born and raised in Sheffield, England. She has always loved to read and write from a young age, some of her favourite genres are Urban Fantasy and Dystopia.

Now living in Derbyshire, England. L.J. Kerry likes to spend her free time (aside from reading or writing) playing video games, travelling and learning new languages/cultures.

Dirty Dozen Author Interview – Miriam F Martin – #Fantasy #Romance #LBGTromance

Author name: Miriam F. Martin

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

Thanks for including my book in the Rainbow Romance bundle. My real name is David Anthony Brown and I write under the Miriam F. Martin pseudonym, and I created the Siren’s Garter branded erotica books. I created the Miriam pen-name to hide my erotica titles from prying coworkers at the day job. It’s not a well kept secret, so I don’t worry about sharing my real identity. (And if somebody at work discovers my erotica, then whose fault is that?)

Rainmaker, included in the Rainbow bundle, is a short lesbian erotic novella set in a fantasy sword-and-sorcery world. I was very much influenced by Xena: Warrior Princess when writing this one. Like a lot of viewers of that show, I found the chemistry between Xena and Gabriella incredibly hot and wondered why they were never more than just friends. While Alana and Paige (the protagonists in Rainmaker) are not Xena and Gabriella, they are both strong, resourceful women who know what they want and are willing to fight to protect those they love.

What first prompted you to publish your work?

I totally went down this path for money. But my path to publication was not a straight forward one. I dabbled with writing in my teens and early twenties, especially after I earned my bachelor’s degree. Writing became a career for me in 2008, because I had a career I didn’t enjoy anyway get wiped away in the Great Recession. I couldn’t see myself working in a “normal” job for the rest of my life and stay sane, especially if everything got flipped upside down again in another recession. So naturally I started writing fiction.

I didn’t jump on the indie bandwagon until after the ebook gold rush was already over. My first indie publication was in 2012, which was a small collection of fantasy and horror short stories. Since then, by my last count, I have over 70 publications including short novels, short stories, and collections.

Are you a ‘pantser’ or a ‘plotter’?

I’m very much a pantser, though I prefer Dean Wesley Smith’s metaphor of “writing into the dark.” I often start with little more than a working title and a character’s name, and make up everything as I go. For me, writing a story is like exploring a dark cave with nothing more than a flashlight—I discover a little bit at a time, often take wrong turns, and have no idea where the story will ultimately take me.

The goal for me is to enjoy the story I writing as if I’m the reader. If I don’t know where a story is going while I write, neither will the readers. If I manage to pleasantly surprise myself, my readers be surprised too. So I never think about the plot beforehand.

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

Two pieces of advice, but they sort of go hand-in-hand.

One, talent is a myth. Nobody is ever born to be a writer. You reach a point in life where you feel ready to take the leap, but the leap is just the beginning of a long journey. If you ever for one second believe you’re “special” or “talented,” you’re done as a writer. You’ll never learn new craft techniques. You won’t take risks. You probably won’t even produce all that much fiction. Writing is a skill learned over many, many years of practice. Talent is just a measure of your current skill level. Everybody pretty much starts at the same place.

Second, be patient with yourself. Nobody expects an undergraduate psych major to be any good as a psychologist. That profession requires a doctoral-level graduate degree and years of experience in the field. Writing is not much different, except instead of going to a college you have to cobble together your own education. It takes years to develop the skills needed to entertain an international audience of millions. So, be patient and keep learning and practicing and publish everything you write.

How influential is storytelling to our culture?

They say history is told by the winners, and that’s true enough, but I’d add that history is told by storytellers. Often what we think we know about ancient cultures comes down to us through stories. Homer was definitely more interested in giving his audience compelling stories that would make them feel good—so in the Iliad and the Oddessey we get tales of men with super-human strength and cunning, though not necessarily historically accurate versions of events.

Storytelling is part of human nature. Whether it’s sharing office gossip or getting lost in a new favorite book, we are all born with an innate desire for story. Story is part of our identity as a culture, and it feeds a deep individual desire for adventure and heroism.

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

Technically, not a lot. But then, after a few of years of focusing mostly on erotica, I haven’t had a book that required deep research. I’m a geek for history and science though, so I spend a lot of time studying subjects that may or may not be ever used in a story. So I’m a bit of a trivia nerd and sometimes that comes in handy when layering in a bit of color to make a story feel right.

Mostly I do five-minute research to find the one detail I need for a story. For example, when I wrote the short novel Never Marry the Femme Fatale, I spent five or ten minutes looking through online gun catalogs to find the sort of gun the main character would carry in her purse. Not real sure if I even used the name of the gun in the book, mostly I just wanted to know what it looked like and what bullets it fired.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time research sex toys. Which is probably why Amazon gives me a lot of strange recommendations.

What’s the worst piece of advice you’ve received about writing/publishing?

Write sloppy. Yeah, I know, this one gets passed around so much it’s cliche and just about everybody believes in it. But I believe writing a shitty first draft harms the story telling process.

Like I mentioned above, I write into the dark and make up the story as I go. What I’ve discovered is that the little details can often change the course of a story in surprising ways. I used to be the type of writer who would bracket things I needed to write later—for example [WRITE SEX SCENE LATER], and then in a second draft come back through and add a sex scene.

The problem with that is the actual sex scene I write might be entirely different from the sex scene I imagined. Plus, especially with sex scenes, the characters often discover things about each other or themselves that become major plot points. I can’t discover those plot points for myself without writing the scene. And if I wrote the scene in a second draft, I might have to change the entire book to accommodate the new discovery. So it’s far, far easier to simply write each detail and each scene as I need it and let the story organically build on itself. My first drafts come out a lot cleaner too, which makes editing go smoother.

Tell us about your latest piece?

On the erotica side of my publishing business, I recently released two new short story collections—Sexy Unusual and Date Night. The first is erotica that features ghosts—the living having sex with the spirits of former lovers and ghosts having ghostly fun. The other is, of course, all about couples having sex after (or during!) a hot date.

Lately, I’ve been busy writing fantasy and science fiction short stories. The plan is to write a three volume short story series called Stay at Home Fiction and publish them by the end of 2020. I’ve got the first volume nearly complete.

What’s your next writing adventure?

I’d been thinking a lot about Rainmaker before you offered to include it in the Rainbow bundle. You see, I always intended Rainmaker to have sequels set in the same world but with new characters, which is why the book is subtitled A Femme Elemental Erotic Novella. I have a bunch of false starts with the sequels, where my creative voice said, “Nope, that’s not the story I wanna tell.”

Now, nearly three years after releasing Rainmaker, I feel ready to write Fire Dancer, the next book in the series. No clue what it will be about, but I recently had an idea for how to open the book, which made me chuckle. For me, chuckling is a good sign I’ve found a story I want to tell.

No promises on when Fire Dancer, or any of the other sequels, will be finished.

What is the last book you’ve read?

Narrate and Record Your Own Audiobook, by M. L. Buchman. It’s exactly what you think it’s about, and I’d recommend it to any indie writers wondering about audio editions. (Personally I’m not ready for audio. Just researching.)

The last fiction book I read… I’ve been really digging Kristine Grayson’s Charming series, and just recently finished the first trilogy omnibus.

Is this the age of the e-book? Are bricks and mortar bookshops in decline?

Tricky questions to answer, and the covid-19 pandemic makes everything in the near future unknowable. E-books are here to stay, but I think it’s safe to say that readers will still demand paper editions for some time yet. Publishers can now use print-on-demand to produce high quality paper books for low cost, without needing a warehouse to store inventory, and allow the reader to purchase the physical book on demand and have it shipped directly to them.

If brick and mortar bookshops continue to exist, they may not ever be the same. It’s not enough to rent a space in the shopping mall and fill bookshelves. All retailers need an online presence in addition to physical presence (whether they sell books or clothes). It’s certainly possible to run a small bookstore that also sells books online (via their own store website, as well as Amazon, E-bay, etc). Is it economically feasible? Maybe not… Only time will tell which businesses survive the pandemic. Personally I think most bookstores will be online, and they’ll sell both paper and e-book editions, but part of me wants to see brick and mortar stores continue to thrive too.

With the influx of indie authors do you think this is the future of storytelling?

Before 2010, books like Rainmaker weren’t possible. It would’ve been too short for a traditional publisher, too long for a short story magazine, and has too much sex for many of the romance imprints. I could’ve pitched it to places like Samhain and Ellora’s Cave, neither of which exist anymore. Rainmaker might’ve been licensed to an erotica e-zine for three cents a word and then forgotten entirely. Or at worst, tossed into a trunk and never seen the light of day.

Being indie, I’ve been able to give the book both paper and electronic editions. I’m in control of the cover design, the sales blurb, where copies are distributed, etc. The book will never go out of print. And now, three years after I wrote it, I can still make money from it. I can still write the sequels if I choose. Also, if needed, I can rebrand the cover design, rewrite the sales blurb, and license it to wonderful bundles like Rainbow. I love that kind of freedom.

The covid-19 pandemic will almost certainly devastate the Big Five traditional publishers in the United States, who depend entirely on paper sales and have way over-priced their e-book editions. But the indie publishers like me will be fine. My entire business exists on a MacBook and operates on a shoe-string budget. And my stories continue to earn me money through the pandemic, and will do so into the future. Being a newer and non-bestseller writer, if I were tied to the Big Five, I’d be going down with the corporate ships. Indie is the most viable way to earn money as a long-term professional writer. Except for sending short stories to magazines, I can’t imagine ever playing in the traditional publishing system.

 

Links

SirensGarterErotica.com Home for everything related to Miriam F. Martin and Siren’s Garter.

danthonybrown.com Main website and blog for David Anthony Brown.

Contact the author directly at david@danthonybrown.com.

Bio

Once upon a time, Miriam F. Martin was a princess who ruled a planet Earthlings call Mars. Her reign ended when somebody decided women were really from Venus. Confused about her identity, she ended up between worlds. Putting away her tiara and scepter forever, she now flattens her ass in a cushy chair while writing smutty erotica. You’re welcome.

Miriam F. Martin is a pseudonym created by David Anthony Brown. He owns Hermit Muse Publishing and writes fiction in other genres, including science fiction and fantasy. He lives in Minnesota.

Dirty Dozen Author Interview – Kari Kilgore – Suspense/Crime/Thriller #Bundle #Author

Author name: Kari Kilgore

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

BundleRabbit happened to start up around the same time my first novel came out, so I’ve been in since the beginning. I make sure everything I publish goes in right away.

I’d absolutely recommend making your stories available for bundles! It’s a wonderful way to work with other authors you may not otherwise meet, and to introduce your readers to other great storytellers. And if other writers introduce you to their readers as well, that’s a bonus.

Are you a ‘pantser’ or a ‘plotter’?

I’m a pantser through and through. I love the adventure and discovery of telling myself the story. I truly do keep writing so I can find out what happens.

What does writing bring to your life?

The adventure of getting to live different lives, to get inside the perspective of different people. Sometimes they’re not even people! I’ve unconsciously explored things that bothered me through writing, often upsetting things from my past. I usually don’t realize what I’ve done until someone points it out. I’ve consciously approached difficult things in writing as well. Setting out to deal with a situation, or try to figure something out.

But most of all, it’s just the fun and joy of telling myself the story. That truly is the best motivation and the best reward for me. I’m delighted to bring happiness, a thoughtful moment, or escape to readers as well.

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

Most of the time, I take a pause in writing, look up the one thing I need, and get right back into the story. I’m not a big fan of noting things to look up later, because whatever new information I learn about that seemingly trivial item often changes the course of the story. I’ve gotten more and more in the habit of trusting that little voice in my head that wonders “How does that work?” That voice is driving the writing engine, and she knows what she’s doing.

I don’t know how wild it is, but I recently spent a few minutes reading about poisonous plants in North America for a story. I was shocked by how many there are, and the huge variety of symptoms they can cause.

How influential is storytelling to our culture?

I think it’s an integral part of our culture, one of the ways our civilisations have risen and fallen, grown and changed. We use it for exploration, for healing, for cautionary tales, for escape, for adventure, for teaching. Heck, we tell ourselves stories all night long when we’re dreaming. And the fun thing is I can’t even say it’s a human-only trait. I’ve seen our dogs and cats dream constantly. And have you ever watched cats or dogs or other critters playing? Your cat knows that bottle lid skittering across the floor isn’t actually a mouse, and your dog knows the squeaky toy isn’t alive. But they tell themselves that story so vividly.

What’s the best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing?

There are two that I’ve reminded myself of so often that they’ve become second nature. Write the next thing, and have fun.

For me, immediately jumping in and writing the next thing gets me out of the trap of worrying about the thing I just finished or submitted. If I’m deep into the new story right away, I don’t have time for fretting or stress. And, by the time the response comes back on a submission, I’m far enough into the new story that it doesn’t cause me trouble whether the news is good or bad.

And the whole point of telling stories for me is having fun. Otherwise, there are SO many other ways to make a living. I want to always be writing a story that I’m eager to get back into. If I’m forcing myself to sit down and get started, I’m going to turn what should be all kinds of joy and excitement into drudgery. I figure there’s enough of that in life already.

What’s the worst piece best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing?

Someone told me more than once that my creativity would dry up, and I had to be prepared for that. From this person’s history, they meant for years and years at a time, and potentially forever. To me, that’s such a negative self-fulfilling prophecy, to expect that to happen and spend all kinds of time dwelling on it. The idea of trying to convince other people to think that way for some reason really bothers me, too.

Of course, we all have challenges, and times in our lives when writing or other forms of creativity are difficult or quite reasonably impossible. Personal or family illness, job changes, moving, deaths in the family or among friends. We’re all living through some major challenges all over the world right now that have affected many of us when it comes to our productivity.

But I don’t see any of these slowdowns or even stops in my own creative life as permanent. In fact, the more often and the more routinely I get words on the page, the easier it is to do the same thing day in and day out. In my experience, creativity is like a muscle. Sure, I may need to rest during times of illness or injury. But most of the time, the more I use that muscle, the more I can use it. During times like 2020, I’m grateful every single day for that escape from reality!

Tell us about your latest piece?

I’ve been writing all kinds of Romance in 2020, probably because the guaranteed Happily Ever After sounds extra good right now. At the moment, I’m a way into a Romantic Suspense novel set in one of my fictional towns. All the other stories set there have been light-hearted. It’s so much fun seeing the settings and people in a different mood and light. There’s a heavy dose of Mystery and darker elements, but I still expect that happy ending.

What’s your next writing adventure?

For novels and novellas, I have a few series-in-progress that are ready for sequels, so I think now would be a great time to jump into those. They range from near-future Science Fiction to Dark Fantasy to Romantic Suspense to Space Opera, so all kinds of fun ahead. As far as short stories, I have a long-term Mystery project going, so I’ll be doing a lot more crime writing of all kinds.

What is the last book you’ve read?

I just finished Of Blood and Bone by Nora Roberts, book two in The Chronicles of The One. It’s a treat to read the work of such a skilled and prolific writer, and the story is right up my alley for sure. With someone as great as Nora Roberts or Stephen King or Dean Koontz, I always read for pleasure of course. But it’s well worth the time to go back through the stories and see what all I can learn.

Is this the age of the e-book? Are bricks and mortar bookshops in decline?

I happen to be an avid e-book reader. I have an e-reader and a tablet, but I’ve gotten firmly into the habit of reading on my phone. I love having a story to read in my pocket at all times. That way whenever I have downtime or I’m in line or waiting for whatever reason, I can escape.

That being said, the answer about brick and mortar bookshops has gotten far more complicated because of COVID-19. I don’t think print books are on the way out, no. I have a good number of sales on the print side, especially Large Print editions. I’ve even had a surprising number of sales of print versions of short stories, in-person and online. I think the big, traditionally bookselling industry has taken a major hit here in 2020, and the structure will likely have to change. But I believe print will endure well past all of this.

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

I haven’t experienced this at all, and other indies I know who are getting high-quality, professional work out there haven’t either.

The truth is readers are interested in great stories, most of all. And since indies can deliver great design and reading experiences that are much more fairly priced to go with great stories, what’s not to like? We also have the flexibility to write in a huge variety of genres and subgenres and cross-genres that are often not available through traditional channels.

Of course, quality matters. Clean copy that tells an entertaining or thought-provoking or scary story matters. Covers and good readability in print and electronic matters. Indies can do all of this, with more and more tools available to us every day.

 

Kari Kilgore bundle

Links

www.karikilgore.com

www.spiralpublishing.net

Bio

Kari Kilgore started her first published novel Until Death in Transylvania, Romania, and finished it in Room 217 at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, where a rather famous creepy tale about a hotel sparked into life. That’s just one example of how real world inspiration drives her fiction.

Kari’s first published novel Until Death was included on the Preliminary Ballot for the Bram Stoker Award for Outstanding Achievement in a First Novel in 2016. Until Death was also a finalist for the Golden Stake Award at the Vampire Arts Festival in 2018.

Kari’s short myth The Spider Who Ate the Elephant placed 2nd in fiction in the 2019 Virginia Writers Club Golden Nib contest.

Her professional short story sales include several to Fiction River anthology magazine and three stories in a holiday-themed anthology project with Kristine Kathryn Rusch due out over the holidays in 2020, as well as one for Valentine’s Day, due in February of 2021. Her first professional publication was Fiction River: Superstitious in 2019, and she has three more Fiction River stories on the way.

Kari writes first and figures out the story’s genre later. That’s resulted in fantasy, science fiction, romance, contemporary fiction, and everything in between. She’s happiest when she surprises herself. She lives at the end of a long dirt road in the middle of the woods with her husband Jason A. Adams, various house critters, and wildlife they’re better off not knowing more about.

Kari’s novels, novellas, and short stories are available in ebook, paperback, Large Print, and hardcover formats at http://www.spiralpublishing.net, which also publishes books by Frank Kilgore and Jason A. Adams. For more information about Kari, upcoming publications, her travels and adventures, random cool things that catch her attention, and The Confidential Adventure Club, visit www.karikilgore.com.