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 – 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 Character Interview – Judas Wells and Nadine Ellis

CHARACTER NAMES: Judas Wells / Nadine Ellis

  1. Tell us a little about yourself.

Judas – I’m 23 and come from the country of Denmé, the oldest brother of my two younger siblings Gabrielle and Michael. There’s not much else to say, I’m not allowed hobbies aside from my government mandated tasks.

Nadine – I’m 21 and come from the country of Olympia and the youngest sibling in my family. I like photography, going to the gym and hanging out with my best friend Payton on weekends. 

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

Judas – You’ll have to read the book.

Nadine – I know how Judas got in his, but yeah read the book.

  • Is your life now as you envisioned it? If not – then why?

Judas – HA! No. I lost my freedom when I was six years old, and have been a puppet since. My dad always told me how great the old country was, and wished I grew up there.

Nadine – Yes and no. Life takes us on weird journeys.

  • Have you committed a crime? What was it? If not, what circumstances would cause you to commit a crime?

Judas – Yikes. Erm, read the book.

Nadine – I got a DUI once from drinking cough medicine

  • Do you have a moral code? If so what might it be

Judas – Act how you expect to be treated, treat others like poop get it in return.

Nadine – I second that.

  • Would you kill for those you love?

Judas – Who’s to say I haven’t already?

Nadine – Depends who

  • Would you die for those you love?

Judas – Yes

Nadine – Again depends who

  • Who is your greatest enemy?

Judas – Our Leader, hands down.

Nadine – President Sanchez or Our Leader as Denmé citizens call her.

  • Tell us about your family?

Judas – I have my mum, my younger sister Gabrielle and my youngest brother Michael

Nadine – I live with my mum and dad, and older brother Wyatt.

  1. What is your greatest skill/asset?

Judas – I think the government mandated tasks have made me a man of all trades

Nadine – My dad taught me self defense since I was a child

  1. Do you believe you will be successful in your quest?

Judas – Hopefully

Nadine – Let’s kick ass! Ha, ha, ha!

  1. What do you think of your author/creator?

Judas – If you take my mental health and run over it with a train and then a second train that is what my author has done to me. Seriously, why?

Nadine – I think they’re great, we were promised pizza for going through with this…still waiting for that pizza.

For the author

Books in which this characters appears:

LISTED by L.J. Kerry

Links, short author bio…

L.J. Kerry 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.

www.ljkerrybooks.com

https://amzn.to/3o9b3WX Listed on Amazon

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 Bundle Author Interview – Michele Laframboise

Author name: Michèle Laframboise

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Figure 1 My first novel

What first prompted you to publish your work? The desire to right wrongs, imagine other futures. Often, a gut reaction to a very bad novel led me to create endearing characters that are not stereotypical heroes. For instance, in my Jules-Verne series, the entire narrative POW is from a very shy Martian woman with brittle bones, which gave her a peculiar voice.

How did you become involved in book bundles? Would you recommend it? Bundles allow us to discover new writers: buying for our favourite writers in the lot, then discovering new ones in the same genre. Bundles are a way to mutually enhance our reader’s platforms, doing amiable coo-petition. It is important that the bundle has a shared specific theme that will appeal to readers, and prompt them to try the authors they don’t know, because of the subject.

Are you a ‘pantser’ or a ‘plotter’?

Figure 2  Getting stuck in a plot loop

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I had had my heavy-plotter period, outlining, erasing, outlining again, rewriting, and still getting me in a stuck in a corner!

My first novel took 12 years to complete this way. My last novel was longer, but took me about two months.  Now I’m a pantser for most of my works, but I usually have a good idea of what’s cooking ahead, like when you walk in the dark with a flashlight, seeing a few steps ahead. Some times I do not even write my scenes in order. If I’m stuck, I manage to back up and find a way out.

Figure 3 Finding a way out

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What does writing bring to your life? First: I love sciences. I graduated in two fields and did research. Alas, the “publish or perish” saying is true, especially for a shy woman.

Academia spat me out like an alien body.

As a “failed” scientist, I discovered I could tell stories and share my enthusiasm for sciences and nature, and also, invent other types of societies.

What piece of advice do you wish you’d had when you started your publishing journey? Do not spend months polishing a text. Perfection can never be attained. Stop worrying.

Do your best, correct a few typos or get someone to read the text over, and move on to the next story.

Beware of the tiny, high perched signing tables (yes, I fell from those!)

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Figure 4 Those high tables are dangerous!

Sort these into order of importance:  Awesome world-building / Great characters / Good plot

(very far after the three first)

Technically perfect

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

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Figure 5 Researching for my SF novels

As an ex-scientist, I used to spend far too long researching a novel. Now I do it on the fly, because science changes fast. The specialised research I did 20 years ago for my first novel is totally outdated today. When a new publisher took up the story, I had to redo the research and make some change in the plot.

Subjects:

Ecological space lifts (there’s one described in my SF series)

Black holes and membranes

High-altitude sickness

What’s the best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? Get a copy editor, and a first reader.

What’s the worst advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? You must absolutely get an agent to get published.

Tell us about your latest piece? Ice Monarch follows a lonely cyber-butterfly as he drifts over a planet scarred by climatic changes. A former scientist transplanted into an immortal body, he serves powerful masters from former fossil energy companies. He has to live with the consequences and sacrifices of his past choices, while survivors scrape a miserable existence from the earth. He may get a chance to redeem his past mistakes. But can he? It has been prompted by my long-standing involvement in ecological sciences, and I imagined what a distant future could look like.

What’s your next writing adventure? I am writing the first in a series of steampunk-dystopian SF novels. And I am taking narrative risks, so it can go both ways. My two first readers liked it.

What is the last book you’ve read? The Murderbot Chronicles, by Martha Wells. Just for the title character’s voice!

Are indie/self published authors viewed with scepticism or wariness by readers? Why is this? There were a lot of quality issues in 2010, when electronic books were rare. Now there are millions, and the first wave of get-rich-quick hopefuls have left the field. The quality level is getting better and better, as many writers looking at bad contracts from trad-publishers choose to go indie.

Four of my publishers have gone down in the last five years. I created my own publishing company, Echofictions (dot) com, to get my backlist available for my readers, and to control the publishing process. I love to do the graphical design of my covers.

Ad Astra

Figure 6 My table at the last Ad Astra convention in Toronto (pic by the author)

Echofictions specializes in fun and sweet (sometimes bitter-sweet!) stories in multiple genres, from short form to novel-length. Most of my stories have been previously published in pro/semi-pro magazines, so the professional editing/revision steps have been done. The quality is not in question, the challenge is getting the public to discover my brand of satiric and (generally) upbeat SF&F stories.

Links

Author website https://michele-laframboise.com
Echofictions https://echofictions.com
AMAZON author page https://www.amazon.com/Mich%C3%A8le-Laframboise/e/B00JFGLMPM/
 
SundayArtist blog https://sundayartist.wordpress.com
Patreon http://patreon.com/sundayartist

Bio

A science-fiction lover since childhood, Michèle Laframboise sprinkles coffee grounds on her tomato plants to help them achieve consciousness. Beside gardening, Michèle has published 18 novels and more than 45 short-stories, earning some reticent recognition among the literati. You may taste her fiction in magazines like Solaris, Galaxies, Fiction River, Compelling Science Fiction, Abyss&Apex.

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Figure 7 A fun picture of me in a first contact situation!

(credits: Gilles Gagnon)

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A face pic with my steampunk goggles!

(Credits: Sylvie-Anne Jeanson)

Michele’s story features here:

Worlds on the brink of apocalypse, or already there.

Nature’s wrath and dominion over humanity, and humanity’s folly incarnate.

Dark magic, terrifying tech, greed, ravaged environments, rare courage and grim hope in lost cities and fallen worlds.

Brave new worlds or last best hopes — Dare you glimpse the future?

https://books2read.com/HereBeBraveNewWorlds

ML BNW

Dirty Dozen – Author Interview – Amanda Schmidt

Welcome to Amanda Schmidt

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

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

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

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

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

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

Order of importance?

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Tell us about your latest piece.

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

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

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

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

Links:

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

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AmandaSchmidt09

Bio

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

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

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

Author name: Joan Myles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BOOK: ONE WITH WILLOWS…

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

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

 

Purchase links:

Print:

One With Willows – Print

Kindle:

One with Willows – ebook

One with Willows cover

BIO…

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

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

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

Connect with Joan online at the following link:

http://www.jewniquelymyself.com

 

 

 

Dirty Dozen Author Interview – Trish Hubschman #Uniqueauthors #Meetanauthor

Author name: Trish Hubschman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RATINGS GAME (TALK SHOW QUEEN)

by Trish Hubschman ((c) 2019)

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

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

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

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

Ratings Game

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

Synopsis of Ratings Game:

The Danny Tide story continues.

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

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

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

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

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

Dirty Dozen Author Interview – Alexandra Brandt #Fantasy #HerebeMerfolk

Brandt

Author name: Alexandra Brandt

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

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

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

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

What first prompted you to publish your work?

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

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

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

What is your favourite mythical creature? Why is this?

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

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

What does writing bring to your life?

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

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

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

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

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

Nah. I stand by my choices.

Sort these into order of importance:

Good plot

Great characters

Awesome world-building

Technically perfect

***

1.) Great characters

2.) Awesome world-building

3.) Good plot

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

How influential is storytelling to our culture?

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

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

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

Tell us about your latest piece? 

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

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

What’s your next writing adventure?

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

Is there a message in your books?

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

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

 

Links

http://www.alexandrajbrandt.com/

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

 

Bio

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

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

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

OceanStory.jpg

Alexandra’s story can be found in Here Be Merfolk

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

 

Dirty Dozen Author Interview – Lynda Maye Adams – Bundle Author #HereBeMerfolk

image Linda Maye Adams

Author name: Linda Maye Adams

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

My story is “Dark, From the Sea.” It was part of a Writing in Public feature I ran on my blog—I wrote a scene each day and posted it until the story was finished.   It was partially inspired by Japanese pearl divers, and also by some research I did on lighthouses.

I’m also the writer of the GALCOM Universe series, which is about a woman who leaves Earth for the first time because the military pays her to deal with alien ghosts.  There are three books in the series, and a fourth coming that’s got a lot of action.  I get to blow things up!

What other bundles are you involved with?

I was in the 2018 Military Science Story Bundle curated by Kevin J. Anderson with the first book in my GALCOM series, Crying Planet.  My short story “Watcher” Ghost is in the BundleRabbit Short Flights (of the Imagination), and my Desert Storm memoir, Soldier, Storyteller was in the Remembering Warriors BundleRabbit.

Are you a ‘pantser’ or a ‘plotter’?

I’m a pantser, though I don’t particularly like the term.  I just don’t plan anything out for my stories.  I don’t even know how it ends until I get there.  It’s sort of like taking a road trip without a planned destination.  You hop on the road and follow it.  There’s this sign…looks interesting.  You pull in and it isn’t quite what you thought, so you pull out of the rabbit hole until you find something else—and that one you spend a lot of time following.  It’s a lot of fun writing like this because it makes the story unpredictable.

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

That description is not a bad thing.  That gets mispresented a lot in writing books and shows up on top ten lists for “don’t do a lot,” instead of learning how to do it.

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

I start with subjects I’m already familiar with, so I don’t have as much research to do. My GALCOM series came out of my military experience.  I’m also working on a mystery in 1940s Hollywood.  I grew up in Los Angeles in the 1970s and devoured everything on Hollywood I could find.  So the majority of my research tends to be on the spot—how cold is it in space (over 450 below zero)?  What is it like in zero-g?  What causes an aurora?

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

It’s to have fun (which is from Dean Wesley Smith).  Writers can get so focused on getting published that they forget that writing has to be fun.

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

That you must outline.  I started out writing when I was eight, and it was natural to me to put pen to paper and simply write.  Everyone around me thought I was doing it wrong because I wasn’t outlining.  There’s such a lot of pressure on pantsers—everyone looks at how we write and they don’t understand how it can be done like that.  It scares everyone, and they try to convert the pantsers over to outlining.  I always cringe when I see “I’m a reformed pantser,” because it makes me wonder if that person is still writing.

Tell us about your latest piece?

I just finished Last Stand, the fourth book in my GALCOM Universe series.  Colonel Graul catches a contagious flu and ends up in quarantine on a space station.  Then disaster happens and the space station is attacked!  So it’s a lot of action, and I blow up spaceships.  The aliens look like creepy bugs I saw when I was growing up, potato bugs.  Fitting that they are aliens. We never thought they looked real.

What’s your next writing adventure?

 Non-fiction: Writers Toolkit: Research on the Go For the Fiction Writer.  This book blends my experience as a travel administrator and how to research when you travel.

Golden Lies: The first book in my Al Travers Mystery series.  He’s a private eye in 1947 Hollywood, at the point where the studio system was about to collapse.  He’s also a veteran of World War II, and his secretary was a nurse over there.  So they both have the effects of the war as they try to find a missing actress.

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

It has to be.  Traditional publishing is going to run out of writers.  When they gutted the mid-list writers, they cut off the water supply.  Those writers could be developing the skills to become best sellers in the future, and they’re either indie or no longer writing.  That only leaves the current best sellers.  One day, those writers going to start dying off.  There’s a lot of disruption, and traditional publishing is pretending like it’s 1980 and everyone will go back to the way it was. By the time they come around, it’s going to be too late.

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

While I still hear from a few people who think of the old days when you self-published a book because you couldn’t get published, I think most readers just want good books to read.  They don’t care where it comes from.

Is there a message in your books?

I don’t do message stories.  As a reader, I don’t want to be lectured to.  If I smell it from the description, I won’t even buy it.  I’m all about escapist fiction…grab the popcorn and sit down for a good read.

Bio

Linda Maye Adams was probably the least likely person to be in the Army—even the Army thought so!  She was an enlisted soldier and served for twelve years and was one of the women who deployed to Desert Storm.  But she’d much prefer her adventures to be in books.  She is the author of the military-based GALCOM Universe series, including the novel Crying Planet, featured in the 2018 Military Science Fiction StoryBundle.

Connect with Linda Online:

https://lindamayeadams.com/how-to-contact-linda/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LindaAdamsVA

Pintrest: https://www.pinterest.com/garridon/

Linda’s fiction site: https://lindamayeadams.com/

Dark, From the Sea features in Here Be Merfolk

boxset merfolk

Part of the Here Be Bundle Series

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