Author Interview – Danielle Williams – Fantasy/horror/Scifi

 

Author name: Danielle Williams

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

I write wonder (sci-fi/fantasy), horror, and humor. The Witching License came out of a self-imposed challenge I did back in February 2019—I wanted to write one short story a week for a month, using a different prompt each week. From that challenge, I got The Witching License, plus an upbeat goat-intensive fantasy adventure called The Capramancer Next Door, and the sole short story to actually come out of the exercise: the dark fantasy Hello, Wizard.

The prompt that produced The Witching License was “regret.” But even though it’s a bittersweet story, I don’t think it’s too dark–I was playing Just Dance for exercise around this time, so the song Land of 1,000 Dances worked its way into the story, along with my (admittedly faded) memories of Venice.

What first prompted you to publish your work?

It was November 2016. I’d finally finished my ginormous science fantasy epic Steel City, Veiled Kingdom.

So I’m sitting there with this manuscript that’s just as long as The Lord of the Rings or The Name of the Wind, and realizing I now have to try and sell it to an agent, who will probably make me chop it up into little pieces and rewrite it to be more “marketable”, even though I’m happy with it as-is, and know it’s meant to be one big book.

And all this would probably take years.

I didn’t want to do that, but I didn’t know what else to do with it! I went a little ways into the traditional publishing process—I even wrote a chapter-by-chapter synopsis and a query letter, intending to submit them to agents.

Then I discovered the posts on Dean Wesley Smith’s blog, Killing the Top Ten Sacred Cows of Publishing and  Killing the Top Ten Sacred Cows of Indie Publishing. They completely changed my life!

Reading those, I realized I didn’t need a publisher to get Steel City out to readers. I came to the table with years of experience in HTML, CSS, illustration, and graphic design–a perfectly solid talent stack for going into indie publishing with a $0 budget.

Fast-forward to 2021: the Steel City, Veiled Kingdom ebook has been out for over a year now. The print volumes are being released this year. And while it was in production, I’ve had a whale of a time writing and publishing three other novels, plus other shorter stories!

If writing is a thing you want to do, don’t let anyone stop you!!

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

I discovered the practice of book bundling through Chuck Heintzelman’s ebook The Author’s Guide to Ebook Bundling. I think bundles are a huge win-win for both authors and readers!

Bundling is like…anthologizing for the digital age: a bundle curator gathers stories from various authors and sells the collection online. Readers who buy the bundle get to sample a variety of authors who are already writing stories about things they like—and at a discount, to boot.

Meanwhile, authors split the profits from the bundle and gain exposure to new readers. And since bundling is relatively easy for authors on the back end, they can spend more time writing new stuff for their readers! Like I said, win-win.

What other bundles are you involved with?

I have stories in Cat Tales Issue #2, Cat Tales Issue #3, Cat Tales Issue #4, Thirteen Stakes, (all curated by Steve Vernon) and now Here Be More Magic. Hooray!

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

My scriptures

Harry Potter (all 7 books count as one unit don’t @ me)

Watership Down by Richard Adams

The Last Book in the Universe by Rodman Philbrick

…and a blank book to write and draw in.

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

This is not very literary at all…but I think it’d be fascinating to have dinner with Artemis Fowl’s bodyguard, Butler (from the Artemis Fowl series). Being a military man, I’m sure he’d have a ton of entertaining stories on tap (even just training stories, man!), PLUS all the Butlers are trained chefs so whatever he fixed, you can bet it’d be delicious!

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

I tend to randomly come across interesting things, and then those interesting things make it into my work…If I don’t know a fact, I Ducky it (use Duck Duck Go search engine).

The wildest subject I’ve researched so far was on body decomposition times for my noir love story Out Where the Sun Always Shines. But one of the most interesting things I’ve researched into is the effect of lightning strikes on living creatures for a scene in Steel City, Veiled Kingdom.

How influential is storytelling to our culture?

Sometimes storytelling reflects culture, but storytelling also shapes culture, there’s no doubt in my mind! It’s been the primary way to transmit information, social mores, histories, etc. throughout time. And storytelling can be so deep!

Look at “The Good Samaritan”–on the one hand, there’s the surface level of the parable, about helping a man on a road, but there’s also deeper meanings and emotions and instructions there that can reach differing people based on their own knowledge and life experiences.

I also subscribe to acting teacher Ed Hooks’ notion that artists are shamans; at our highest level, we tell stories our tribe needs to hear. Or, as he puts it:

“To the artist: Your genealogical roots are in shamanism. It is your job to talk to the tribe, to help them get to survive a tough winter and to celebrate victories. Animation is not only a fun thing to do — It is an honorable way to spend your life.” (From https://magazine.artstation.com/2020/01/acting-for-animators-with-ed-hooks/ )

 

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

Dragon, hands-down. Flying + flaming + I could be tall. It would be epic.

Tell us about your latest piece?

The last novel I published was The Capramancer Next Door. In it, a down-to-earth mage and her magical goats protect their new neighbor when he crosses an angry fairy. The lead goat’s name is Elvis, which should give you an idea of the book’s tone.

Also, GoatsLive.com called it “a wonderful read!”, and if that endorsement doesn’t convince you that I have written the Great American Fantasy Goat Novel, nothing ever will.

What’s your next writing adventure?

I’m currently finishing The Guests of Crooked Neck, a direct follow-up to Steel City, Veiled Kingdom…but they’re almost reversals of each other. Where Steel City had a single hero’s viewpoint and spanned four worlds of adventure, Crooked Neck’s events are seen through the eyes of multiple characters in a single small town.

What is the last book you’ve read?

The last book I completed was A Horse and His Boy, by CS Lewis. I would’ve reread the rest of the Narnia series, except I want to read them in paperback and I only own two or three. Sometimes reading on a screen is the last thing I want to do!

I’m currently reading The Heist, by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg, because a friend lent the hardcover to me. I’m enjoying it, even if I hear everything Nick says in the voice of Lupin the Third!

 

Links

www.PixelvaniaPublishing.com

Bio

Danielle Williams is the author of (so far) four novels and nearly a dozen other tales of wonder, horror and humor, including science-fantasy epic Steel City, Veiled Kingdom, creepy apartment caper The Girlfriend Who Wasn’t from Delaware, and the beloved children’s Christmas novel A Gingersnap Cat Christmas.

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.

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 – Alexandra Brandt #Fantasy #HerebeMerfolk

Brandt

Author name: Alexandra Brandt

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

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

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

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

What first prompted you to publish your work?

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

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

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

What is your favourite mythical creature? Why is this?

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

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

What does writing bring to your life?

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

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

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

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

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

Nah. I stand by my choices.

Sort these into order of importance:

Good plot

Great characters

Awesome world-building

Technically perfect

***

1.) Great characters

2.) Awesome world-building

3.) Good plot

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

How influential is storytelling to our culture?

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

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

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

Tell us about your latest piece? 

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

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

What’s your next writing adventure?

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

Is there a message in your books?

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

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

 

Links

http://www.alexandrajbrandt.com/

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

 

Bio

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

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

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

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Alexandra’s story can be found in Here Be Merfolk

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

 

Book Spotlight – Rider – Fantasy

 

Title:                     Rider, Book One of the Tracker Series

Author:                Diane J Cornwell

Genre:                  Fantasy

Main character description (short).

The main character is Dallas, rider of Swift, a pure bred tracker horse who can manipulate magic energy called ichur, and communicate by sending images to the mind of any human that can see and manipulate ichur.

Dallas can create spells using the magic energy, even though he did not train at the Convane academy, and by law will be brain wiped if he is caught creating spells.

Synopsis:

Never admit to seeing ichur, the silvery residue of magic spells. Not if you want to stay under the radar of the Councillors of Convane.

Swift, a pure bred tracker horse who can smell the smallest trace of ichur, can also remove the magic energy from any human or talisman.

Dallas, rider of Swift, knows how to create a spell without leaving residue, even if he is not a trained mage.

Neither Dallas or Swift admit to seeing and using the magic energy. If they did, Dallas would have his ability to see ichur removed, and Swift would be given to an approved mage by order of the council.

A new fantasy series including mages, dragons, tracker horses and more.

 

Brief Excerpt 250 words:

Dallas stopped Swift outside an adobe brick single story house with a lean-to on the side filled with bales of hay. He guessed the building was over two decades old, because of the different coloured patches of straw covering the roof.

The two foot high woven twig fence had also seen better days, but, even though parts of the fence leaned inwards over weed filled flower beds, it still served the purpose of stopping children or small animals from entering the yard anywhere but on the path at the open gate.

A small framed male dressed in tattered clothes raced out the open front door, followed by a dark haired plump women waving a broom. “Stop! Thief!”

Swift took four paces to the right, and stopped at the end of the dirt path, blocking the male from leaving the yard unless he was prepared to jump over the twig fence. He did not see Swift or Dallas until it was too late, because he was focused on keeping out of reach of the female’s broom.

Dallas raised his staff and cracked the male over the side of his head, just above his ear. The male dropped to the ground and did not move.

Swift lowered his head and sniffed, even though Dallas could not see any silver glow around the now unconscious male.

“Thank you, sir.” The female poked the thief with the straw end of her broom, and when he did not move, she bent down and retrieved a small bunch of feathers from inside his shirt. “Not his!”

 

Why should readers buy this book (50 words max)?

If readers love stories of individuals fighting for the rights of all citizens, including mages, dragons, and tracker horses, they will love these stories, which are suitable for readers of all ages.

 

 

Tracker1EBookCover-3Web (1)Links etc.

Publisher:            https://tiftpublishing.com/books-available/rider/

Author:                https://dianejcornwell.wordpress.com/

 

 

Swift Six Character Interview – Fairchild #Sci-fi #Bundle

Swift Six Character Interview

Character Name (Lady Danielle Cooper) Fairchild

Which book/world do you live in? Fairchild by Blaze Ward

Tell us about yourself:

I just want to fly, man. Nothing else. That adrenaline rush of free-jumping from 20,000 meters with nothing but a bodysuit and thermals, racing to capture a flag fifty kilometres away.

What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?

I suppose my greatest strength is that drive. It got me out of my father’s house, and out from under his thumb. If he cut me off, I have friends, and we’ll have far grander adventures than anyone sitting in a boring corporate boardroom.

Weakness? The darkness. It’s in me. Deep. Infecting my dreams and my days. Sometimes, it gets so close that ending it would only take a few ounces of pressure on a trigger.

Name three important people/creatures/institutions in your world (such as lovers, pets, government institutions, leaders, gods etc).

The Michigan State University Department of Planetology and Xeno-Geology. (Thanks for the ride and the t-shirt, Chike.)

My brother Rudy, who lets me borrow his vintage ground vehicles with internal combustion engines. And doesn’t bitch too much about my driving.

Eleanor, who was programmed to be my minder, and turned into my friend. I’ve alive because she never gave up on me.

What does ‘heroism’ mean to you?

Coming out the darkness on the other side. Not everyone has the will to do that. I’ve known too many friends spiral down into drink, or drugs, or darkness. It scares me that I might follow them.

What do you think of your ‘creator’?

When are you going to write the next book, you bastard? I wanna go fly Fairchild’s Golden Eagle.

Give us your favourite piece of advice:

Buy the damned concert tickets and go see your favourite band before they’re all dead.

Links to book

Sci-Fi Bundle – July

 

Amazon dot com

AmazonUK