Please introduce yourself (250 words or so): Hi! My name is Cassie, and I write fantasy. Mostly urban fantasy, but I do have fun in other sub-genres, epic and portal if you want to know specifically.
Tell us about your book(s) – title, genre etc (short): I have two series out right now. One is the Penchant for Trouble series, an urban fantasy about a fae girl being raised in the human foster care system, and a portal series, called the Arnath Chronicles.
When did you start your writing adventure? What was the inspiration for it? As a kid, I read through every book at our library that I found interesting, and most of them twice! So I started writing my own stories.
What writing plans do you have for the future? I have so many different projects in the works right now. A sea monster story coming out in a Mythicological Creature anthology, an epic fantasy story in a collection of dragon stories called Dracos, and book 4 in my Penchant for Trouble series.
What do you like to read? I’m all over the fantasy/sci-fi spectrum when it comes to reading. I also enjoy a mystery occasionally, or a contemporary story.
What piece of advice do you wish you’d had when you’d started your writing adventure?
Just stick with it. You’ll find people who love your work, and it will make you keep on even when it’s early mornings and late nights, just to put a smile on someone’s face.
Author bio and book synopsis
Cassie Greutman is a small town Ohio girl who has always loved stories in any form. You can usually find her typing away at her computer or playing out in the barn with her ponies.
A fae girl in the human foster care system has to fight against her own Council to stay with the only people who have ever cared about her. Her foster parents.
Ultimate edition. Includes map of Seventh-Realm Earth, character and creature list.
“Not darkness, not light, perhaps something in between, and is claimed by the darkness…as theirs. Though being saved by the light, that which is saved must in turn save the world…”
Darshun Luthais has never experienced the Nasharin Frenzy—the unbending will to challenge a stronger opponent, no matter the cost. He doesn’t know what he will transform into, has never bonded with an elemental crystal and has never seen any of the unearthly creatures his father talks about. Even though he’s an infant in Nasharin years, his life consists of nothing but constant training, striving to unlock the sleeping power his so-called accursed race is born with.
But all that changes when he is pursued by a Dream Assassin in the dead of night. What he witnesses will forever change his outlook on life and lead him on a quest only the strongest can complete.
The Wizard Crystals of the Elements have fallen into the hands of the Demon Lord Abaddon, reshaped to evil and forever corrupted they no longer can serve the Light. Abaddon now patiently waits in his northern kingdom for the coming of Saruinkai—the evening when the greatest spirits of Darkness rule the skies, and when he will unleash the power of the crystals against their own elements, sweeping destruction across the earth.
The Light’s hope now lies in the young Nasharin warrior Darshun Luthais—the chosen Guardian, for he is the key to stopping Abaddon’s black magic and end the war once and for all. But to do so he must cross over into Abaddon’s kingdom, and that means destroying the one who guards the border, a fallen angelic Throne—the secret to Asgoth’s three-hundred-year Rule and invincibility.
Led by the elvish lord Caelestias, Darshun and his companions must seek out and destroy the Throne, encounter a witch, and a horde of other vile creatures, only to stir up the entirety of Asgoth, coming face to face with them, a battle that will determine the fate of the world.
“…a sign to tell this overruling darkness that the Light is coming. Let them be the ones to try and pass through us for once. Their ungodly Rule and ways of cruelty has gone on far too long. Let them feel the terror they love to inflict in others…just this once…” ~Darshun Luthias~
While the Demon Lord Abaddon prepares to cast the Spell of Destruction and wipe out the glories of the earth for his own void of evil, Darshun Luthais, after a long oppressive journey, attempts to eradicate the source of his dark magic, the sacrificial Unholy Altar. But when the Dragon Gods unleash their barricade of fire the Delibious—a mystic realm of darkness, flames and witchery—Darshun must find a way through without tearing his soul from existence and save the earth from the coming annihilation.
J.W. Baccaro is the author of Prophecy of the Guardian and Blood Dreams. Always a lover of creativity, from works of literature to writing music with his electric guitar; even baking and cooking. When not working on his next story or lost in a good book, J.W. enjoys kicking back with a couple of tasty craft beers and binging on Kaiju movies, 80’s action flicks, Japanese animation and slasher films (particularly the one involving a hockey mask). Heck, he even enjoys a good romantic comedy. He lives in upstate NY with his wife Melissa, his son Alexander, his German Shepherd and his three cats.
Hi, I’m D.L. Gardner, a fantasy author and screenwriter. I live in the Pacific Northwest USA and am a nature lover, hiker, and painter. I have seven adult children, sixteen grandchildren and two great grandchildren. I love epic fantasy and believe stories should last from one generation to the next.
Tell us about your book(s) – title, genre etc (short)
Darkness Holds the Son, a noblebright epic fantasy which is a stand alone spin-off novel to the Sword of Cho Nisi series.
When did you start your writing adventure? What was the inspiration for it?
I began writing novels in 2011 and have 16 titles published. I began writing Darkness Holds the Son last year shortly after I finished the Cho Nisi Saga. It’s hard to leave a fantasy world once you start building it, and it seems the construction is never quite finished, nor are the characters completely fleshed out. I wanted to do another book in the series that had nothing to do with the completed arc of the first three books, but still kept us in the world with the same adventurous atmosphere.
What writing plans do you have for the future?
I want to complete another stand alone book to the same series, and then finish Ian’s Realm and somewhere in between do a sequel to Hoarfrost to Roses, which is a Victorian era mystery/romance with a touch of the occult.
What do you like to read?
I like long involved sagas such as Wheel of Time and Lord of the Rings, but I also enjoy magical realism like Night Circus and historical fiction. I suppose any book with an exciting plot and endearing characters.
What piece of advice do you wish you’d had when you’d started your writing adventure?
Begin while you’re young and keep going. I waited far too long to do this. I have so many books in me! Time is valuable.
I write Noble-bright fantasy fiction for those who like a tall tale and fast-moving adventure. I’ve written ever since I was a youngster and have led an unusual life after that, having grown up in the sixties, lived in the desert for nearly 30 years in a mud hut, raising horses, sheep, goats, chickens, and seven children.
Much of my life experience has morphed into my stories in the form of other worlds accessed through portal travel. I’ve released twelve novels spanning all sub-genres of fantasy and one historical fiction based on a relative’s WWII letters.
Winner of two Book Excellence Awards for my series, Best Urban fantasy at Imaginarium Convention, and a host of screenings, trophies for my historical fiction screenplay Cassandra’s Castle, and six Screenplay awards for my story Dylan.
Storytelling is my passion and I especially love to collaborate with other artists in the Indie Film making realm. I believe a story should endure time and be good enough to hand down from one generation to the next.
Darkness Holds the Son
Darkness Holds the Son takes us to a small village named Tuluva where Jareth, an unemployed mercenary, and his wife and two children are raising goats to sustain themselves. Things go well for them until the land-baron of Ogress raises their taxes, forcing Jareth to pick up his crossbow and return to the battlefield. Jareth has an even more pressing problem than keeping his family out of debtor’s prison, though. His son Crispin has seizures that are caused by magic and if Jareth doesn’t find the source soon, it could be fatal as the boy hears voices instructing him to kill his father. On Jareth’s quest, he discovers that the same affliction is haunting all the children in the kingdom.
Join Jareth, his wife, and King Barin in this new adventure as they search the Neverworld and half of Casdamia to find and destroy that which has taken the youth of their world captive.
A fantasy epic adventure of heartbreak, hope and rebirth — Birth of Fae: Locked Out of Heaven. The book was born from my time working as a nurse and treating a patient who needed some distraction during long I.V. treatment sessions. I jump into the realm of angels, fairies, dragons and mermaids retelling their origins from a new perspective .
How did you become involved with bundles? (For Bundle Authors)
Stephanie Rabell my PR rep.
Do you think the written word (or art) bring power and freedom? Yes it levels the playing field and gives people a voice.
What piece of advice do you wish you’d had when you started your publishing journey? so much, there are scammers just waiting to pounce, don’t doubt yourself. The whole “if you write it they will come.” line doesn’t work. YOU have to work at it. The publishing world is a game like anything else and you need to learn it.
What’s your greatest networking tip? Book clubs, and the bookstagram community are phenomenal be appreciative of them.
If you could have dinner with any literary character or author who would you choose, and what would you eat. Shannon Mayer or Laurel K. Hamilton. I have to know how Laurel writes her sex scenes and how Shannon can write so many different characters and tie her universe together she is truly prolific. A food old fashion Italian family style dinner.
How much research do you do for your work? What’s the wildest subject you’ve looked at? I have done a lot of religious text research and looked at tons of conspiracy theories for book four. So probably the shadow government stuff dealing with the supernatural was pretty weird.
How influential is storytelling to our culture? It’s ingrained in our culture when you think about it, storytelling was our first real source of verbal entertainment.
What’s the best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? Be yourself.
What’s the worst piece best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? Change for your audience.
If you could be any fantasy/mythical or legendary person/creature what would you be and why? A Fae.
Which authors have influenced you the most? Ann Rice, Laurel K. Hamilton, for their fearlessness. Jim Henson and Walt Disney for their ways of showing how to craft a story.
What is your writing space like? I handwrite all my books first so my space is anywhere.
Tell us about your latest piece? I am editing book four, but we are getting ready to release Book two in which the Fae will see what happens when you can’t remember why you started a war and how it has affected their kin and their human worshippers. We will see the Fae in the end of Tudor England and the beginnings of Queen Mary the first.
What’s your next writing adventure? In book Four the Fae will be in the 21st century and I am currently editing book four and about 25 chapters into book five.
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? NO I think the more people who read the better, price and money should never be an obstacle, reading is not a privilege it is a right that everyone has.
What are your views on authors commenting on reviews? Depends. if the review is inaccurate and coming from a nasty place and the author feels they are being demeaned it is up to them same if it’s a touching review and they want to say thank you they should.
How do you deal with bad reviews? I am working on dealing with the reviews. I negate the best and the worst, together. Each review has merit. The ones that bother me are when its clear the person has a bias because I am a female author. An example is the subject of romance; I have had reviews about people wanting more romance. I have said book one has no romance. But because I am a female author they feel I should have romance. The reviews are bad because it is someone else’s opinion about me as a female author and their assumption. The book does not really get a fair shot. I have also had a few people have issues with the religious subject matter so I have warned people of the religious undertones some are offended by that and the violence which once again coming from a woman colours their view and the book. The reviews usually say something like “the religious stuff doesn’t bother me but…” and they go one to pan the book. It is clear the religious subject matter was an issue or “The violence is not appropriate for YA readers.” but my book is not listed for YA, I had someone write “for a woman she is angry and violent.” I am a world-class martial artist of course I write great fight scenes! Those are the types of reviews which bother me but, I am learning to deal with them. Everyone in entitled to their opinion and I respect it.
Sort these into order of importance:
With the influx of indie authors do you think this is the future of storytelling? I hope so, I think the big publishing machine has controlled and limited the voices long enough it is time for a change.
Is this the age of the e-book? Are bricks and mortar bookshops in decline? no I don’t think physical books are in decline but the way we shop is changing, the versatility of e-books can’t be denied. I think to each their own, I love the way a book feels in my hand and the magic of opening it.
Are indie/self published authors viewed with scepticism or wariness by readers? Why is this? I believe there is still a stigma and lack of validation that a big publisher did not “chose” you to publish so readers are still unsure to spend their hard earned money on you as an author which is unfair, many indie publishers have educated themselves on the ins and outs of the publishing world and do not want to be anchored to the contracts and want control of their works.
What is your greatest success? Sitting down to write and having the guts to introduce my version of the Fae to the world.
How important is writing/art to you? it has become like air.
What are your hopes for the coming year? To have more readers enter into the Veil and perhaps forget their reality for a little while. The greatest joy for an author is to be someone’s tour guide into the world they have created.
Tell us a silly fact about yourself. I dressed up as Wonder Woman every year for the first 10 years of my life every Halloween. Then I went to see Lynda Carter perform a few years ago in concert and I dressed up as Wonder Woman because it was a few days before Halloween. Guess what I was the only one dressed up.
What did you want to be when you ‘grew up’? Wonder Woman I wrote essays about it
*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?
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:
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!
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.
The Black Company series, Garrett P.I. series/Glen Cook
Destroyermen series/Taylor Anderson
The Dresden Files/Jim Butcher
Drizzt series/R.A. Salvatore
What book do you think everyone should read? I’d like to say The Salvation of Innocence, but that’s kind of selfish. In truth, I can’t think of a book that has had, or has, more of an influence on people than the Bible. If this is a standard answer, then that would be because it’s the truth.
How long have you been writing? Books? Since late 2014. Dungeon and Dragon games? Since the mid-nineties.
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write? Most come to me as I write. Mostly because the storyline demanded it.
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book? I haven’t really done any research before I write. Since I write in the fantasy genre, there’s not a lot of fact checking I need to do before I start. However, I do research as I’m writing. For example, in The Salvation of Innocence, a sea voyage was required. Instead of glossing it over, I research the construction, parts of, and manning of ships from the 1700’s, particularly British ships of the line. I studied combat strategy and envisioned how to apply that past philosophy to fight off a dragon. I also researched land combat tactics from the medieval age as well as the different types of army units and their strengths. As for the Marines I have in my trilogy, I pretty much use modern-day U.S. Marines as my guide.
Do you see writing as a career? No. The people who are successful writers have several things in common… they have talent and they either have connections or provided a story that caught the public’s imagination. I call that catching “lightning in a bottle”. I don’t think my talent level is on par with successful writers, though I may be selling myself short.
What do you think about the current publishing market? Hard to crack. I consider myself lucky that Dove and Dragon Publishing decided to take me on. But that doesn’t mean my chances at success are guaranteed… just somewhat better. Demand dictates how well my novels are received… and there’s a lot of material out there to satisfy that demand.
Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre? I do, though not as much as I used to. Too many other things to occupy my time. My favorite genre is fantasy, but I also enjoy science fiction, horror, sometimes crime, and books about WWII.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why? If I understand the question, I write with noise. I love writing with new age music (like Enya) in the background. Most weekdays, however, I write with FOX Business in the background. When I was writing games for my D&D sessions, I listened to classical music on my CD player. Sometimes the music inspires, sometimes it calms, sometimes it picks me up, particularly if I need to figure just exactly where I want my storyline to go (or how, which is just as important).
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time? My books seem like they are several going at one time. I use many different storylines and characters to get from Point A to Point B. But the direct answer is one at a time.
If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose? I think it would be the Lord of the Ring series. Those books pretty much set the standard for future fantasy books and D&D games and books.
Pen or typewriter or computer? Definitely computer. It spell checks as I write, allows me to cut and paste if and when I decide a particular storyline, paragraph, or sentence, allows me to save my work using several different formats, allows me to insert illustrations, checks basic grammar, etc, etc, etc. I know that some writers consider pen as the only pure form… but all that ever does for me is hurt my wrist, not to mention it’s slower which means my mind is always three ideas ahead.
Tell us about a favorite character from a book. I love ‘em all, but perhaps the one character I like writing about best is probably is Azriel. He’s a dwarf turned sylph who’s a bit outlandish. What I like about him is his lack of filter on both his thinking and his talking. He’s brash, short-tempered, and very opinionated. Yet he has a good heart and is willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good.
What made you want to become an author and do you feel it was the right decision? I’m retired, so I’m not earning a living with my writing, so there isn’t the financial pressure. But the decision to write was definitely the right decision. I enjoy it immensely.
A day in the life of the author? Up at about 0800-0830, depending upon when my dogs decide when it’s time. Prepare for the day, get the dogs out and make the coffee. At 0900 I turn on the FOX Business Network (Varney and Co.) and watch while getting caught up with emails and Facebook. At 1000, downstairs to my space… man cave… where I surround myself with dragons, spaceships, castles, D&D miniatures, airplanes, etc. Turn on the TV (back to FOX Business) and get started writing. I stop around 1230 for lunch and some afternoon TV. (I’m gotten to where I like to watch old-time westerns like Gunsmoke, Big Valley, Bonanza). Break for time on the treadmill, then back upstairs for a shower. Feed the dogs, watch evening TV while reading or, too my horror, get on Facebook. I call it a day around 0100. (These are just the days I stay home, which, I must admit, I really, really like.)
Advice they would give new authors? Don’t quit your day job. Being a successful writer (money wise), regardless of talent, isn’t a guarantee. It’s a fact of life. Take care of your fam
The Salvation of Innocence
The Bridge of Magic Trilogy Book 1
by Robert E. Balsley Jr.
A young woman embarks on a harrowing journey to save her world’s last vestige of magical healing in Robert E. Balsley Jr.’s epic new fantasy novel, The Salvation of Innocence.
Althaya, the goddess of healing, wishes to share her ability to help those in need, providing “empaths,” which give clerics the means to magically heal others-a means that some people fear and wish to destroy. In response, a dark magic known as the Purge is created to seek out and eradicate all empaths.
But one lone survivor remains, spirited away by Althaya and hidden in a magical stasis field. There, the last empath must remain alive until the time comes for rescue-but the Purge will not rest until the last empath is found and killed.
Three thousand years later, Kristen Rosilie Clearwater is only beginning to realize her destiny. Having been brought to the island of InnisRos as an orphan, she has long felt a “tug” toward something she can’t quite understand. But when she begins experiencing the dreams of a young child, Kristen knows that the two are somehow connected-and that the fate of the world, and the future of healing magic, rests on.
In this suspenseful sequel to The Salvation of Innocence, the war against evil rages on. This time good must fight on two fronts to stop a great evil-one strong enough to commit genocide-or their world will be changed forever.
After barely escaping death at the hands of the vampire Lukas, Emmy still faces an even greater threat. The Purge is approaching. Emmy and her comrades’ only chance is to get help from the sentient city of Elanesse and commit the first assault.
Far way, another conflict is brewing. Father Horatio Goram must face off against the power-hungry First Counselor Mordecai Lannian, whose demonic concubine pushes for war, but the odds are against him. Emmy’s fate rests on this struggle, and this determined priest will do anything to win.
In a realm where healing magic relies on a single emissary’s ability to commune with the gods, Emmy’s death would have wide repercussions. This sensational thriller reveals the destructive power evil will use to achieve its dastardly ends-and the depths to which good must go to stop it.
The Ak-Séregon Stone, stolen by the demon Nightshade, has been used to force open a corridor between Aster and the Svartalfheim, the home world of the Dark Elves. The Dark Elf army, led by Nightshade’s father, Aikanáro, marches on InnisRos. Only Father Goram and his allies, with Queen Lessien’s army, can close down the corridor and break the stranglehold the Dark Elves have on the island of the Elves of Light.
But the Dark Elf invasion of InnisRos is only one phase of Nightshade’s design. To ensure InnisRos’ human allies stay on their side of the world, she blackmails Lord Ternborg, leader of the Draugen Pesta, the Black Death, to invade the mainland from the east. Forced to collaborate with the mercenary cities of HeBron and Madeira, Lord Ternborg reluctantly leads three armies into the Forest of the Fey and the surrounding valley to capture the sorcerer stronghold of Havendale. Tangus, Kristen, Emmy and the humans now have their own war to fight on the mainland.
Meanwhile, deep below the surface, a new threat arises. The sylph are awake and moving from the depths with one goal in mind… destroy all life on Aster.
Welcome to the first in the ‘Day in the Life of…’ interviews – a new feature for 2018. Find out the daily challenges and successes of writers, characters, and other professionals involved with the writing process.
Welcome to Lynne Cantwell
Please give us a brief outline of who you are. I’m the author of about 20 books, mostly urban fantasy novels. My biggest and best-known series is the Pipe Woman Chronicles. Before that, I worked as a broadcast journalist; I’ve written for Mutual/NBC Radio News and CNN, among others. If you add up my years as a journalist and this indie author thing, I’ve been writing and editing professionally for nearly 30 years. I’m also on the staff at Indies Unlimited, a superblog for indie authors. [www.indiesunlimited.com]
Do you work at another job? If so tell us about fitting in the writing/editing. My day job is at a big law firm as a legal secretary. Fitting everything in is tough, especially now. I used to be able to get some author tasks done during my downtime at work, but the firm has locked down access to a lot of things on the internet due to security concerns. So I used to be able to sit at my desk at work and check my home email, instant message people, browse for cover art (I usually do my own covers), post photos on social media, etc., but I can’t do any of that now. It’s frustrating.
Do you have a family? What do they think of your job? Do they assist you? I have two daughters. Kat is 31 and Amy is 29. They’re very supportive. In fact, Kat has a degree in creative writing – she’s one of my editors. Amy consults on various things from time to time.
How do you fit in ‘real life’? When I’m writing the first draft of a novel, I don’t fit in “real life” at all. I tend to write them NaNoWriMo-style; that is, I spend every available free minute writing for three or four weeks straight. Editing is a lot less intense for me. Once I get to that point, I’m fit to be with people again!
Do you have a particular process? As I said, I tend to write first drafts in a burst. Weekends are ideal – I can shut the door, put my phone in a drawer (or even in another room!), and immerse myself in the story for several hours straight. I’m able to do this because I write a beats-style outline for the book first. That way I always know which scene I’m writing next. I don’t slavishly follow the outline, but I don’t let the story get too far off-track, either.
Once the first draft is done, I let it sit for two or three weeks, and then reopen the file and start editing it.
Are you very organised? You’re hilarious. I mean, I write the outline, and I keep my research in file folders in OneNote and in manila files at my desk. And I have a dry-erase calendar above my desk that I use for keeping track of events in the book. I guess that’s pretty organized. But there always seems to be something that I end up kicking myself for because I’ve forgotten to make note of it.
What time do you go to bed? On weeknights, my phone nags at me to get to bed by midnight, but I’ll happily ignore it if I’m writing. Most days, though, I turn out the light by 12:30am or 1:00am. On work days I’m up at 7:15am, so staying up much later is not a good look for me the next day.
What do you have for breakfast? I’m experimenting right now. My go-to for decades was cereal and milk, or oatmeal. Lately, though, I’ve been having eggs every morning. I’m also limiting my caffeine intake these days, too, to one cup in the morning – although it’s a big cup. But I don’t drink coffee all day long. I’m also weaning myself from soda because soda is bad for you. Being a grownup stinks sometimes.
Would you recommend your chosen craft to those interested in doing it? Absolutely. It’s not very lucrative, or at least not for most of us. But it has its own rewards. You’ve heard of a runner’s high, right? Well, when I’m writing and really getting into the story and things are really clicking, it’s like I’m on a writer’s high. It feels so great — and the best part is that I don’t have to get all sweaty.
Some of these are tricky and have more than one answer, and if you asked me next week the answers might be different. Yes, I am fickle.
Count of Monte Christo/Phantom of the Opera/I, The Sun/Lord of the Rings/Dune/War of the Worlds
Dead Poets Society/The Empire Strikes Back/Stardust
Favourite Cartoon Character
Earl Grey tea
Phantom of the Opera/Les Miserables
Favourite Mythological Creature/Entity
British-born Alexandra Butcher (a/k/a A. L. Butcher) is an avid reader and creator of worlds, a poet, and a dreamer, a lover of science, natural history, history, and monkeys. Her prose has been described as ‘dark and gritty’ and her poetry as evocative. She writes with a sure and sometimes erotic sensibility of things that might have been, never were, but could be.
Alex is the author of the Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles and the Tales of Erana lyrical fantasy series. She also has several short stories in the fantasy, fantasy romance genres with occasional forays into gothic style horror. With a background in politics, classical studies, ancient history and myth, her affinities bring an eclectic and unique flavour in her work, mixing reality and dream in alchemical proportions that bring her characters and worlds to life.
Her short novella Outside the Walls, co-written with Diana L. Wicker received a Chill with a Book Reader’s Award in 2017.
(Links to where books may be found are at the end of this interview.)
Note: Alexandra prefers to utilise a mix of her book cover images etc. in place of an actual profile photograph. (She is not alone.)
Please tell us a little about yourself.
British-born Alexandra Butcher (a/k/a A. L. Butcher) is an avid reader and creator of worlds, a poet, and a dreamer, a lover of science, natural history, history, and monkeys. Her prose has been described as ‘dark and gritty’ and her poetry as evocative. She writes with a sure and sometimes erotic sensibility of things that might have been, never were, but could be.
Alex is the author of the Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles and the Tales of Erana lyrical fantasy series. She also has several short stories in the fantasy, fantasy romance genres with…
*Please tell us about your publications. I enjoy writing both short fiction and novels. I have a series of science fiction novels published by Tyche Books (Alberta, Canada) (The Nearspace series: One’s Aspect to the Sun, Dark Beneath the Moon, and Beyond the Sentinel Stars); a middle-grade fantasy from Dreaming Robot Press (New Mexico, USA) (The Seventh Crow); and a self-published urban fantasy/mystery (The Murder Prophet). I also have two collections of previously-published short stories, To Unimagined Shores and The Cache and Other Stories.
What have you found the most challenging part of the process? I feel somewhat frustrated that I don’t write faster—in the current publishing climate there’s a certain pressure to publish consistently and often for greatest success. I see many authors publishing three or more books a year, and I just don’t seem to work at those speeds. Last year I had a short story collection, a new novel, and a couple of short stories come out, and that seems like a lot for me. I know it’s usually not a good idea to compare oneself to other writers, but I would like to be able to work a little faster. I’m not a perfectionist—but I am a bit of a procrastinator. Maybe I need to work on that!
Are you a ‘pantser’ or a ‘plotter’? I’ve always been a pantser, for sure. A long time ago I tried outlining a novel, and then found that I was no longer interested in writing it; the fun of “discovery” seemed to have disappeared during the outlining process. Lately, though, I’ve begun to find a middle ground—I’ve discovered that minimal outlining actually helps my writing process and reduces the chance that I’ll run out of steam/ideas on a project. So now I guess I’m a hybrid between pantser and plotter. Plantser?
If you could have dinner with any literary character who would you choose, and what would you eat. I think I’d have to choose Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe to have dinner with. No doubt he’d wax forth on some fascinating topic for dinner conversation, and of course the meal would be superbly prepared by his chef, Fritz. We might have corn, “roasted in the husk in the hottest possible oven for forty minutes, shucked at the table, and buttered and salted,” since Wolfe considered that to be ambrosia. It’s probably cheating, but I expect Archie Goodwin would also be there for dinner, so I’d get two characters for the price of one. If I were particularly fortunate, Wolfe would show me his orchid collection after dinner. The perfect literary character interaction!
What are your views on authors offering free books? Do you believe, as some do, that it demeans an author and his or her work? I think that offering some work for free can be a valuable promotional tool for writers who would like to find new readers. Many readers are wary of taking a chance on a new-to-them writer, and most of us watch how we spend our hard-earned dollars these days. It’s also a way to introduce a new reader to a series or character. I don’t think it’s demeaning to authors or their work when it’s done sensibly, professionally, and as a promotional choice.
Sort these into order of importance: Good plot, Great characters, Awesome world-building, Technically perfect. For me, the characters come first. Sometimes a character arrives on the doorstep of your mind with a suitcase in hand and not even a name, but they have a story they want you to tell. You can’t turn them away. I think most of the time, we keep reading a book or put it down forever because of the characters. If you love the characters, you can forgive a lot of other sins in a book. Plot comes next—the smooth, flowing experience of reading a well-plotted book is such a rewarding experience for a reader, I think we should always strive to create that as writers. World-building is important, of course, and sometimes the world can even be like another character in a book—but the most fabulously-imagined world can’t carry a book if the characters and story are not strong. Technical perfection—I’m not convinced it exists. I do some work as an editor, with two co-editors, and even working as a team I don’t think we’ve ever ended up with a technically perfect work. It’s important to create the best work you can, but striving for perfection might mean no-one else ever gets to read it. I think we have to learn when our work is “close enough” to perfection, and let it go.
How much research do you do for your work? What’s the wildest subject you’ve looked at? I write many flavours of both science fiction and fantasy, so I’ve done research on topics from medical nanomachines to particle accelerators to how magic might be fueled by different minerals. One of the most interesting things I researched lately was the question of how two machines/computers, each created by a different alien species, might learn to communicate. I learned a lot of fascinating things about both computing and language acquisition!
Which authors have influenced you the most? I read a LOT, and over the years I think there have been many authors who’ve influenced me in my writing. I love to write humour and humorously convoluted situations, so the influences of Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, and Connie Willis are there. I love science and the future, so Nancy Kress, Jack McDevitt, and classics like Arthur C. Clarke and Frederik Pohl have left their mark. And I love to work with the wide reaches of imagination in fantasy, so Dave Duncan, Maggie Stiefvater, and Elizabeth Bear have made an impression. So many more I could name!
What is your writing space like? I’m very fortunate to have a small but wonderful office at home. I have a normal sitting desk and also a treadmill desk, where I try to spend at least part of each writing day. Too much sitting is not good for me! The walls of my office are covered with overflowing bookshelves and inspiring artwork, and I have a large southwest-facing window that gets lots of light and houses many plants. There’s one extra chair so a friend or family member can come in and visit. This sounds idyllic, but now add in lots of notes, maps, knickknacks, filing cabinets, binders—and some folks might find it too cluttery! For me, it’s inspiring and comfortable, though, and although I might sometimes write elsewhere in the house with a laptop, I always come back to my office as my main creative space.
Tell us about your latest piece? Coincidentally, one of the projects I’m currently working on is another Olympia Investigations story, featuring Acacia Sheridan, the main character from “The Goddess Problem.” Acacia is a private detective with a special gift – she can communicate and interact with supernatural creatures of all sorts. Her clientele includes ghosts, demons, fae, and many more denizens of the otherworld…which makes for some interesting cases. In the new story, her client—who is also a suspect in a series of murders—is a vampire, so I’m having some fun playing with traditional vampire-story tropes.
What’s your next writing adventure? I have another Nearspace book underway, and several other partially-finished projects trying to get my attention. I’ve also seen a few interesting calls for short story submissions in the past few weeks, so ideas are percolating for those as well. I may write slowly, but there’s never a lack of things to write!
What is the last book you’ve read? I just finished listening to the audiobook of Blade Runner by Philip K. Dick. Although of course I shouldn’t have been surprised, I was struck by how much deeper the book is than the movie (although I’ve always loved the movie) and what themes and ideas did not make it into the movie, despite being central to the book. I never expect movie adaptations to be particularly true to a book—the demands of the media are completely different, after all—but the book gave me a lot to think about in terms of choices made at the time concerning what to include and what to leave out. How do we decide what’s vital to a story? Can you separate out certain themes and still have a complete tale? Lots to ponder.
Sherry D. Ramsey is a speculative fiction writer, editor, publisher, creativity addict and self-confessed Internet geek. When she’s not writing, she makes jewelry, gardens, hones her creative procrastination skills on social media, and consumes far more coffee and chocolate than is likely good for her.
Her books include the Nearspace series from Tyche Books, One’s Aspect to the Sun, Dark Beneath the Moon, and Beyond the Sentinel Stars; the middle grade fantasy The Seventh Crow; The Murder Prophet; and two collections of short stories. With her partners at Third Person Press, she has co-edited six anthologies of regional short fiction and a novel. A member of the Writer’s Federation of Nova Scotia Writer’s Council, Sherry is also a past Vice-President and Secretary-Treasurer of SF Canada.
Sherry lives in Nova Scotia with her husband, children, and dogs. You can visit her online at www.sherrydramsey.com, find her on Facebook, and keep up with her much more pithy musings and visual life on Twitter and Instagram @sdramsey.
Sherry’s book The Goddess Problem features in Immortals