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

Author name: Kari Kilgore

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

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

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

Are you a ‘pantser’ or a ‘plotter’?

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

What does writing bring to your life?

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

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

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

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

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

How influential is storytelling to our culture?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tell us about your latest piece?

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

What’s your next writing adventure?

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

What is the last book you’ve read?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Kari Kilgore bundle

Links

www.karikilgore.com

www.spiralpublishing.net

Bio

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Author Interview – Simon Williams #Fantasy

Author name: Simon Williams

 *Please tell us about your publications.

I’ve written the five-book Aona series, as well as two novels for all ages (Summer’s Dark Waters and The Light From Far Below) and Embers Drift, a standalone metaphysical fantasy work.

Are you a ‘pantser’ or a ‘plotter’?

Definitely a pantser- I start with a collection of concepts / ideas and situations, a few characters, and then I work on it and see where it goes. The plot is determined by how it all turns out, not the other way round.

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

Don’t bother trying to get noticed by the big publishers and well-known names. Unless you’re incredibly, unbelievably lucky, they won’t notice you and they won’t care about you. If you believe in your work and your creations, stick at it and carve your own destiny.

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?

Whilst I don’t think authors should (or need to) offer all their works for free, there’s nothing wrong with offering a few of your books (e.g the first in a series) for free if it helps readers to discover you.

What are your views on authors commenting on reviews?

One word: don’t! Everyone is entitled to their opinion and not everyone is going to like your creation.

How do you deal with bad reviews?

Generally, it isn’t for authors to “deal” with reviews at all, good or bad. If a review is misleading, offensive or makes categorically untrue statements then you can contact the people who run the medium, whether it be Amazon, Goodreads or whatever else, and ask that it be removed. But if a review is simply by someone who doesn’t like your work- leave it alone. I refer you to my answer above.

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

To keep going until you’ve found your “voice” i.e your particular style and method- and if you’re comfortable with it, then stick with it.

Which authors have influenced you the most?

Alan Garner, Clive Barker, Cecilia Dart-Thornton, C J Cherryh, Tad Williams,

Tell us about your latest piece?

Embers Drift is a standalone novel of metaphysical fantasy / mystery with elements of sci-fi and psychological horror, in an industrial / slightly dystopian setting. But although it bridges many genres, it’s conceptually consistent and is really about the lives of four main characters- specifically, the parts of their lives that they’ve forgotten.

 I’m happier about the result than I’ve been with any of my previous works. I reworked it a number of times until I realised that- at last- I was telling the exact story I wanted to tell. So I’m relieved to have finished it but also very satisfied.

 The process of creating was different to the Aona books, largely because they were more complex on a practical / logistical level. But at the same time the process required more effort in other ways- because there’s an overarching concept to Embers Drift which requires some explaining, and my goal was to do this through the lives of these four main characters. It wasn’t easy but in the end it was very rewarding.

What’s your next writing adventure?

So many! Well, several.

 I’m part of the way through writing the first in a new dark fantasy series which will probably seen as more “traditional” fantasy but which will have a number of unique features to it. It explores the nature of magic and of conflict and there isn’t going to be a clear-cut “good vs evil” thing going on- I’m not a fan of such absolutes, I want to explore characters’ motivations, whether or not most people think of them as acceptable. What made them this way? Are they able to change- either for the better, or worse? It’s that aspect that interests me.

 I also have another standalone book in progress- this is more a sort of cosmic horror about three demonic beings who have existed in a vast city for hundreds of years, weaving mischief and woe wherever they go, and a young man from an ancient family of magicians and thieves, who is the only one to suspect their existence.

 Lastly, I’m also working on a somewhat leftfield YA magical realism novella- I’m not entirely certain how this one will turn out but I’m pleased with some of the concepts involved so this may see the light of day shortly.

 What was the last book you’ve read?

The last book I finished was Scar Night by Alan Campbell, which I greatly enjoyed. Industrial, violent fantasy with angels. I’m currently reading The Witchwood Crown by Tad Williams and it’s as good as all his other books.

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

I think shops of most kinds are in decline, but in my experience, the number of paperbacks sold has stood up pretty well. I think about a quarter of my sales are paperback, which I don’t think is too bad.

How important is writing to you?

Very. It’s the only thing I’m any good at really, so if I didn’t do it I would truly be a non-entity.

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Heroika Skirmishers – Cas Peace and her Character #Fantasy #HistoricalFiction

Author section

  • Name: Cas Peace

Give us a brief synopsis of your story: Britain is a country rich in legends and myths. Any writer seeking inspiration for a story concerning battles, skirmishes, mythical creatures or heroic deeds could do worse than research the many wonders of our misty Isles. For my second Heroika story, “Black Quill”, I did exactly that.

I’m from Hampshire, southern Britain, and soon unearthed the legend of a cockatrice that reportedly lived near a local abbey. When I also discovered that this abbey had connections to Queen Ǽlfrida, mother of Æthelred, called the Unready, I simply had to combine the two stories.

Queen Ǽlfrida became the prioress of the abbey after her husband, King Edgar, died, and she reportedly had Edgar’s son killed so her own son, Æthelred, could inherit the throne. Æthelred, whose nickname ‘the Unready’ is a derivation of ‘unraed’, or poorly-advised, forced his mother to give up her powerful status as queen and become prioress of the abbey as penance. And it seems that tragedy and sly dealings dogged the former queen because before Edgar married her, he sent his best friend, Æthelwold, to check her out. Æthelwold fell for her and married her himself, and Edgar was so furious when he found out that he had Æthelwold killed. What a family!

In my story, “Black Quill”, the life of a disabled farm girl becomes irrevocably entwined with the fates of both the abbess and the cockatrice—producing a denouement that is anything but simple.

What are the challenges in writing historical fiction/fantasy? I find the main challenges revolve around invoking a realistic, visceral atmosphere, enabling the reader to immerse themselves in the story as fully and naturally as possible. In many ways, I find it easier to achieve this with a historical fantasy rather than one which comes purely from the writer’s mind, because there will be readers already familiar with the chosen setting. The hard work comes in the research which, if thoroughly and successfully carried out, enables the writer to surround themselves with ancient sights, sounds and smells, allowing the writing to flow seamlessly, already imbued with the ambience of the time. Solid historical facts play their part too, although in fantasy, of course, facts can be twisted and adapted, providing hours of fun for playful writers and readers alike.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? When I first started writing I was definitely a pantster, mainly because I hadn’t intended to become a writer and certainly didn’t know what I was doing! I was simply filling a few bored hours by writing out a little scenario I’d had in my mind since watching a kids’ TV show in the ’70s. Wow, did that open some floodgates! Before I realized it, I’d written around 300,000 words, and those words eventually became my first Artesans trilogy. The second and third trilogies were written in a similar way; although this time I understood more about my craft. Since that heady, exciting, scary and immersive time, however, I have learned the pleasures of plotting, very necessary seeing as I’m writing a prequel to the events in that first trilogy. But I’ll admit that I still crave that incredible, irresistible feeling of words desperate to be written, rushing through my mind and onto the page.

What did you want to be when you grew up? When I was a kid, I really had no idea what I wanted to do. I was average at most things scholastically: best at English, abysmal at anything to do with numbers (still am!). The exams I took were generic, and I only achieved good passes in English, Biology and Art. I did toy with the idea of going to art college to study fabric design, but throughout my childhood my heart really belonged to horses. My parents couldn’t afford for me to have one and neither could they really afford to send me to college, so I finally found a good school of equitation and enrolled as a working pupil. This meant you had living accommodation and meals provided, and received a clothing allowance for work clothes, but there was no wage and you worked with the horses in return for lessons in equitation and horse care. It was a good arrangement and I had a great group of co-workers around me. I passed my initial exams to become an Assistant Instructor, and remained at the establishment for several years as a wage-earning instructor. Now, I incorporate horses into my writing, as my love for them has never waned.

Character Section

Name: My name is Gytha

Tell us a bit about yourself: I am the daughter of Rathgar, a farmer. I had a twin sister, Larna, who was killed. My father took another wife, Anice, after my mother died and she gave him two more children: Anice cared nothing for me. They call me the cursed girl because I saw great evil but didn’t die like Larna did. They say I caused her death, and that evil is sure to find me again.

How do you come to be on this adventure? My father had to find a place for me because my crippled legs mean I cannot work on the farm. I was useless to him and no one would wed me. But I am quick and clever with my hands and so he sought a place for me at the Benedictine abbey, where I might learn to copy manuscripts and scrolls. The abbess, who once was Queen Ǽlfrida before her son forced her into the abbey, took pity on father’s sorrow over the death of my sister and eventually agreed to take me. That is the reason I was here when the evil finally found me.

Tell us a bit about the society in which you live: Our Anglo-Saxon society is structured and ordered. Our countryside has been formed into areas called hundreds, and shires. We have laws and government. The language we speak is known as Old English. We worship the Christian God and there are many abbeys and monasteries throughout the land. Although there are also kings, the bishops, abbots and priors wield great power. We have been relatively peaceful for many years but recently there has been an increase in Viking raids on England. The Danes are keen to take back the land King Edgar took from them—land they first stole from us. But these are matters for kings and leaders. I come from a line of simple farmers; all we can do is farm and try to survive.

Are you brave? Is it brave to run from a monster? Is it brave to leave your twin sister to a horrific fate? Is it brave to survive being crippled, faced with a useless life? If so, I am very brave, for I have done all these things. Larna’s voice in my mind tells me all will be well, and so I endure for the sake of my sister.

How do others see you? I am called the cursed girl—I am the girl who survived seeing the devil, the girl who should have died instead of her sister. They see my twisted, ruined legs; they never see my nimble, clever fingers. They hear me speak of Larna’s voice in my head and hear madness. They would much rather not see me at all and, in the abbey, they do not have to.

Do you believe in a god? I believe in the Christian God. Most of England believes in the Christian God—the bishops and abbots make sure that we do. Yet we also believe in the ancient evils, and there are some in the countryside who still practice the old rites, the forbidden rites, the druid rites. There are hedgewives and witches still and, of course, there are Danes who refuse to spurn their pagan beliefs.

How do you define a hero? I have never met a hero. I suppose a hero would be a great warrior, someone like King Edgar who subdued the Danes in England. Or maybe a hero would be someone who rescued people from disasters, who gave up his life to save others. I am a simple girl with no life—what do I know of heroes?

Do you love anyone? Do you hate anyone? I adore my twin sister, Larna. I speak to her all the time and she speaks to me, even though she’s dead. She is my only friend. I love my father, even though he gave me to the abbey. It was not his fault; he could not afford to feed a crippled, cursed girl. I don’t really hate anyone, although I don’t like father’s second wife, Anice. Anice only cares for her two young children.

What do you REALLY think of your author? I am not sure why she decided to tell my story above all the others she could have chosen. But I am grateful to her, because she has given my useless life some meaning.

Do you have a moral code? Father taught us to be honest, to be kind to others, and to respect others’ property—especially Seyerd, the farmer who owns land next to ours. He grows delicious fruit and father says we’re not supposed to pick it without permission. But if the branch grows across father’s side of the hedge, why should we not? The abbey where I now live has strict rules, and everyone must obey the abbess.

If you could have three wishes what would they be? The first would be that my sister had not died. The second that I was never crippled. The third that father had never wed Anice.

How do you view yourself? I was a happy, cheerful, helpful child before the monster came. After, I was quiet, because I was shunned by people who thought I was cursed. I became sad, fearful that father would send me away because no one would wed me. At the abbey, I work hard and make no trouble because I need the shelter the abbey provides.

What is your favourite thing? My favorite thing in all the world is to hear Larna’s voice in my head. It is my redemption, my promise that all is not lost, that I will one day be with her again.

Do you think you make a difference in your world? Of course not! What difference could a useless girl like me make to the world?

 

AUTHOR BIO (short)

Amazon UK Bestselling author Cas Peace lives in the lovely county of Hampshire, southern UK. Originally, she trained and qualified as a teacher of equitation. She also learned to carriage-drive. She then spent thirteen years in the British Civil Service before moving to Rome, Italy, where she and her husband Dave lived for three years.

As well as her love of horses, Cas is mad about dogs. She currently owns two rescue lurchers, Milly and Milo. Cas loves country walks, working in stained glass, growing cacti, and folk singing. She is also a songwriter and has written and recorded songs or music for five of her Artesans of Albia fantasy novels. They are available to download free from her website.

As well as being a novelist, Cas is also a freelance editor and proofreader. Details of her Writers’ Services and other information can be found on her website: http://www.caspeace.com.

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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 – L L Thomsen #Meetanauthor #Fantasy

Author name: L. L. Thomsen

*Please tell us about your publications.

I write character-led high medieval fantasy with a good slash of epic. I am working on a series titled, The Missing Shield – originally one large book that has been split into 11 episodes in order to make the workload more manageable. The 8th book (titled: All in a Day’s Work) is out now, and I am currently working on book 9. What you get in my books is lots of flawed characters that you may not feel quite sure about in the beginning. There’s magic, mystery, darkness, crime, plots, romance, backstabbing, manoeuvring, different races, and an end-of-the-world kinda deadline & quest.  I enjoy painting an immersive picture of the world I write about, so expect lots of depth and world-building. I try not to hold back and I try to write as close to real life as I can get. I also wanted to write something a little different from the mainstream so the story has quite the lyrical slant, but it is written with an adult/mature market in mind. This is not YA.

What first prompted you to publish your work? To begin with I wasn’t really sure that I would publish. I started writing my high fantasy book as I somehow got inspired – but it was always just something I considered a pastime whilst the kids were babies and I was at home anyway. Then I realised that I was getting more and more passionate about the job and I felt that I ought to publish at the end of the day because I wanted to share my work with an audience and I wanted to award myself by proving that I could complete the process.

What have you found the most challenging part of the process? Going it alone. Everything was a learning curve. Particularly when it came to figuring out the Amazon instructions and uploading my manuscript. Formatting is not as straight forward as I always imagined it to be. Furthermore, once you’re on the other side, and have successfully published your book, I cannot believe how difficult it is to get anyone to even look your way. I guess I never really got the ‘build yourself a social media following’ – I’m a little too private and old school.5 book promo picture.jpg

What piece of advice do you wish you’d had when you started your publishing journey? Be tenacious! I knew it would not be easy, but I gave up on finding myself an agent way too soon and in return, it left me literally on my own with the whole load. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a freedom in being your own boss and maybe that’s partly why I went my own way so soon, but having said that, I think there’s lots to be said for getting yourself aligned with someone who’s on your side, has your best interest at heart and who knows the business: where to go, how to do it, and when.

If you could have dinner with any literary character who would you choose, and what would you eat. I’d love to treat my character Solancei to a meal – she’s in for a bumpy ride and I think she deserves some TLC. I’d also love to quiz her about everything that happens and the world she lives in.  I know a lot (wink – of course) but there are always secrets! I think we’d have pizza and wine, and I’d try and stop her from killing me for writing her such a hard, complicated destiny.

Sort these into order of importance:

Good plot

Great characters

Awesome world-building

Technically perfect

For me there is no question of ranking these in order. They are each an integral part of the book you write and I feel that the author should pay equal attention to each.  Since I write fantasy – and epic at that – I’m very much for world building because that’s a must for the genre, but that in itself is nothing if it’s not backed by the other three.  What’s a good plot with flat/un-inspiring characters and vice versa? A technically perfect book is what we all strive for (as in a professional end-product) but I do believe that the interpretation of ‘perfection’ may vary depending on who you ask. Also, it may be technically perfect, but what good is that if the readers cannot engage with the story or the characters. It’s the snake that bites its own tail. It must come full circle.

How much research do you do for your work? What’s the wildest subject you’ve looked at? I research as and when. It may be just a small thing like the components of a saddle or the belief system of various ethnic groups. I try and keep it factually correct even though I write fantasy – this means that even if the herb is made up, I’ll still look up how to brew tinctures for headaches, for example – or I might watch a YouTube video on sword fights.  The most extreme I’ve looked up will probably be stuff to do with injuries and the effects of various weapons/conditions.

How influential is storytelling to our culture? I think it’s hugely influential but maybe not through the original media anymore. I do feel that we love a good tale, whether it be a story is reported in the papers, or how TV channels adapt historical events to create entertainment.  We are always looking for something to catch and hold our interest – particularly after the rise of social media – and stories speak to us. They help us feel part of society and may sometimes even give us a sense of belonging too.

What’s the best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? Keep at it.  Keep growing and developing.

What’s the worst piece best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? Don’t write your story like that – write it like this.

If you could be any fantasy/mythical or legendary person/creature what would you be and why? Maybe a phoenix. I like the idea that you can rise from the ashes and be reborn.  That you can try again.

Tell us about your latest piece? Around 6 weeks ago I released my 8th book in The Missing Shield series. It carries on from number 7, where one of my main characters – the rather naive and slightly annoying Princess Iambre – has decided to try and locate her missing friend and bodyguard despite her security chief and beau having told her that she must take heed and leave it to them.  In book 8 she finds herself alone and lost after a string of unfortunate events almost killed her and worse – but as luck would have it, she finds the very place she’d been looking for.  She wants to attend a clandestine meeting that might shed light upon her missing friend and now follows a series on incidents that has the Princess quaking in her boots.  Nevertheless she is reunited with certain other characters only to learn some devastating news.  However, before she can process this, she and her group are betrayed and they must flee or fall into the very hands of the enemy they are investigating and fear.

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

I’ve found that indies are very much considered ‘the second-hand citizen’ of the author world. It’s unfair but I guess that the indie route has given rise to many poorly executed books – and unfortunately people remember the bad ones far longer than the good ones. I’ve talked to readers who do not consider indie books ‘real’ works of writing. Fortunately, there are also those who have delved into the fray and have found gold, so swings and roundabouts. The common reason that readers list for not wanting indie works are: poorly formatted, bad grammar, no edits or badly edited, homemade, cheap covers, poor storylines, rip off storylines, over-priced, they should be free…

I think it worth mentioning that it’s not always because the indie books are not worthy that they have not been traditionally published. Agents are very fickle with what they are looking for (and rightly so).  In 9:10 times you need an agent to approach a publishing house, so it does mean that some decent manuscripts may be overlooked because the agent may feel that they are in the market for ‘something else’. It cannot be helped, but readers rarely see that side of the industry.

Links

llthomsen@themissingshield.com

https://www.amazon.com/L.-L.-f/e/B07B8K4J6S

https://books2read.com/u/47xdvR

https://www.facebook.com/linda.thomsen.12979

https://www.facebook.com/themissingshield/

https://twitter.com/LLThomsen1

https://www.instagram.com/llthomsen/?hl=en

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/llthomsen7589/

https://www.goodreads.com/LLThomsen

 

Bio

Armed with a love of fantasy, a slightly geeky mindset, and an unleashed wild muse, L. L. began the new journey into writing relatively late in life but was inspired by her long-repressed urges to write ‘something’ – and once she began, she never looked back.

“I regret I took so long to find my ‘calling’. The truth is that when you have an idea it just has to be set free,” she says, adding, “My somewhat unorthodox approach to style and flow has been a way for me to test my personal, individual voice. It’s a fluid thing, however. In the future, it might alter to match the shape of new projects.”

Linda currently lives in the UK, Nottinghamshire, with her husband, two kids, a cats and one dog. As with her writing, she approaches life with a nod to the saying: ‘fear nothing, respect everything’. She enjoys horse riding, sci-fi movies, travelling, reading fantasy (but not exclusively), Pilates, and has a strange fascination with swords.

Her first published fantasy novel, ‘A Change of Rules’, kick-starts the 11 ‘episodes’ of The Missing Shield – a new adult high fantasy series, with a touch of mystery, intrigue, romance and darkness. ‘The Missing Shield’ is the forerunner to ‘The Veil Keepers Quest’ series.

Me and Leo (2).jpg

Dirty Dozen Author Interview – Judith Starkson #Histfic #Hittites #Meetanauthor

Author Name: Judith Starkston

  1. *Please tell us about your publications.

I’m the author of three books of historical fantasy based on the Bronze Age Hittites—an empire of the ancient Near East nearly buried by the sands of time. My books take “a quarter turn to the fantastic,” to borrow Guy Gavriel Kay’s phrase, and give full expression to the magical religious beliefs of these historical people. My first book, Hand of Fire, is set in the Trojan War and told from a woman’s viewpoint, Briseis, Achilles’ captive. Currently, I’m writing a historical fantasy series based on a Hittite queen. The first book in that series Priestess of Ishana is available FREE Oct 2-6. The second book, Sorcery in Alpara, launches Oct 14.

  1. What first prompted you to publish your work?

When I was researching my first book and figuring out the Trojans, I made a startling side discovery—a queen I’d never heard of who ruled for decades over an empire I’d barely heard of, despite my training and degrees as a classicist. It was the Hittite empire, of which, it turns out, Troy was a part. The queen was Puduhepa (whom I call Tesha in my fiction–the Hittite word for “dream” because she had visionary dreams). I’m particularly interested in the theme of women as leaders, so I was hooked. The Hittite empire could be called the forgotten empire, but fortunately, recent archaeology and the decipherment and translation of many thousands of clay tablets have filled in parts of the lost history. We now have many Hittite letters, prayers, judicial decrees, treaties, religious rites and a variety of other documents, but overall our knowledge still has huge gaps in it. I use shifted names in my series, such as Hitolia for the Hittite empire, to cue my readers to how much I have to fill in imaginatively from those fragmentary records. It also gives fair warning to the magic that I give free rein to, the rules of which derive from Hittite practices, but I do let the story go where a good story should and that means a lot of fantasy. It was that juicy primary source material, an extraordinary female ruler, and an intriguing ancient world that prompted me to write Priestess of Ishana and Sorcery in Alpara.

  1. Are you a ‘pantser’ or a ‘plotter’?

I outline my novels in a couple different ways before I start writing, but those outlines are subject to change whenever the story and characters take me into new realms I hadn’t imagined at the start.

I use a couple approaches to outlining and organizing my manuscripts. One is very character/theme/pacing driven, Libbie Hawker’s book Take Your Pants Off. The other, very plot and pacing driven, is a storyboarding technique that means I’ve got each of my books laid out on a three-sided board like we used for our school science projects. It’s explained in Alexandra Sokoloff’s Screenwriting Tricks for Authors. You’ll notice in both the word “pacing.” I found as I learned the craft that pacing was both the hardest part to get right and the most essential. If readers aren’t compulsively drawn through my story, it doesn’t matter how beautiful my writing is and all the rest (though I work hard to get all that nailed). A good story is hard to put down—that’s something we all intuitively know. The corollary is that if a story is hard to get through, it isn’t very good!

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

Write at least a little bit every day and give yourself permission to write “bad words.” What do I mean by that? Just write and don’t worry whether it’s crap or not. Later you can go back and edit or trash if need be. I find that it is often the days when I think I’m writing the worst that I discover on later read, I’ve written some of my best. And you can only fix words that are actually on the page.

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

I’ve never gotten over my fascination with Achilles in the Iliad. He’s maybe legendary rather than literary, but I’d like to sit down and listen to him (probably admire his physique also…). He’d probably want lamb roasted on spits spiced with garlic and cumin, and I love that also, so I’ll go with that. Some fresh flatbread right off the hot stones to go along with it!

  1. 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’m using this technique—offering free my first book in the series, Priestess of Ishana, from Oct 2-6. I’m doing it right before the second book comes out, so I’ll see buy through and get paid that way. I think it’s a viable marketing strategy. I don’t think reaching new readers is demeaning. It’s what you do as an author, and putting books into people’s hands seems like a good thing overall. If I was expected to give away books for free all the time, that would be silly. But accessing a lot of new readers I wouldn’t have any other way? That sounds smart to me. So do download a copy of Priestess of Ishana, and then if you really enjoy it, buy Sorcery in Alpara.

  1. What are your views on authors commenting on reviews?

I spread the word when I get a particularly strong review, especially from someone I really respect. When someone writes a bad review, I see no reason to react one way or the other, certainly not comment on it. I let my fiction, my author notes, all the background material on my website speak for itself when someone has a wrongheaded idea in a review. Reality has a way of coming through over time, so I don’t sweat it. If someone points out a perceptive way to improve in a review, I go to work in my next book and make sure I fix that. I’m happy to learn from all sources.

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

I have gone deep into the research, both the book/reading part (years of that) and the travel. I’ve gone to the archaeological sites, landscapes, and museum collections in Turkey that are the source material for my world-building. I contact the dig directors and museum curators so that I can talk with them and learn first-hand from the people who really know. I spent a whole day at the site that we think was Tesha’s hometown that I call Lawaza, but was called Lawazantiya by the Hittites. It’s the archaeological site of Tatarli near the city of Adana in Turkey. The key reason they think it’s her hometown is that the dig mound (with Bronze Age ruins of the right kind) is surrounded by seven springs. The Hittite records from the capital of the empire describe this town as having seven springs. The dig director took me to each of the springs–one of them appears in a key scene in Priestess of Ishana and I could never have gotten the atmospherics of that scene right if I hadn’t been there. One of the wildest subjects I’ve run across is the Hittite magical rite to remove a curse that I use in Priestess of Ishana. It involves chickpeas. Who knew that the way to get the demons out was via garbanzo beans? The Hittites were obsessed with curses and they believed sorcerers caused all kinds of evil with them. If you had to remove a curse from someone, you baked a loaf of bread with chickpea paste in the middle (basically humus) so that when you touched the bread to the cursed body while saying the right spell, the paste would absorb the pollution. I couldn’t make up this stuff in a million years, but the Hittite culture hands it to me. I just have to write it into compelling page-turners.

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

I’m having a lot of fun writing griffins into my series, so I’ll choose that mythical creature to be. It turned out, much to my surprise as I wrote, that griffins, or at least the ones in my books, have a very dry sense of humor. And they are wickedly good warriors and can soar into the heavens, and yet they have a big soft spot for their cubs who are allowed to climb all over the grownups, so I suspect hanging out as a griffin for a while could be very entertaining.

  1. What is your writing space like?

I’m very lucky and have a big window in front of my workspace that looks out on my garden. I write on a lovely inlaid wooden writing table with a comfortable armchair. So I’m all set to keep my butt in that seat for a good stretch every day.

  1. Is there a message in your books?

My fictional Tesha, based on the historic Queen Puduhepa, provides a worthy model for leadership—particularly the value of female leaders, which we’ve been thinking about lately, so this seems timely. She certainly wasn’t perfect, and some of her actions are hotly debated among historians as possibly self-serving or politically motivated rather than ethically driven. She gave me nuanced material to work into my hero’s character. But, despite that human complexity, or perhaps because of it, she had brilliant skills as queen in many areas: diplomatic, judicial, religious and familial. Most famously, she corralled Pharaoh Ramses II of Egypt into a lasting peace treaty. The surviving letters to Ramses reveal a subtle diplomat with a tough but gracious core that made her able to stand up to the arrogant Pharaoh without giving offense. She also took judicial positions that went against her own citizens when the truth wasn’t on their side. Fair justice wasn’t something she was willing to toss overboard when it was politically inconvenient. Her equal partnership with her husband was a much-admired model even in the patriarchal world of the ancient Near East. I’m enjoying working in these themes from a real woman into my historical fantasy series, one book at a time.

  1. How important is writing to you?

I love the long hours at my desk spent lost in the world that I write and in the company of my characters. I enjoy it every day. It’s my fulltime occupation.

Links

Newsletter sign up (for a free short story and book deals): https://www.judithstarkston.com/sign-up-for-my-author-newsletter-for-books-news-special-offers-and-freebies/

Website  https://www.judithstarkston.com/

Priestess of Ishana  https://amzn.to/2DXpdXt

Sorcery in Alpara  https://amzn.to/319vuIj

Hand of Fire  https://amzn.to/2KOb6a0

 

Bio

Judith Starkston has spent too much time reading about and exploring the remains of the ancient worlds of the Greeks and Hittites. Early on she went so far as to get degrees in Classics from the University of California, Santa Cruz and Cornell. She loves myths and telling stories. This has gotten more and more out of hand. Her solution: to write historical fantasy set in the Bronze Age. Hand of Fire was a semi-finalist for the M.M. Bennett’s Award for Historical Fiction. Priestess of Ishana won the San Diego State University Conference Choice Award.

 

Dirty Dozen Author Interview – Abbie Johnson Taylor #Uniqueauthors #Memoir #Poetry

Author name: Abbie Johnson Taylor

Please tell us a little about yourself. What makes you a #Uniqueauthor (or artist)? I’m the author of five books: two novels, two poetry collections, and a memoir. My stories and poems have appeared in various anthologies and journals. I’m visually impaired and live in Sheridan, Wyoming, where for six years, I cared for my totally blind late husband who was partially paralyzed by two strokes three months after we were married. Before that, I was a registered music therapist and worked for fifteen years in nursing homes and other facilities serving senior citizens. I taught braille, facilitated a support group for blind and visually impaired adults, and served on the advisory board to a trust fund that allows the blind and visually impaired to purchase adaptive equipment. To learn more about me, please visit my website at http://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com.

Please tell us about your publications/work.

My latest book, The Red Dress, a novel, was published in 2019 by DLD Books. In 2016, my memoir, My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds, was released, also by DLD Books. In 2014, That’s Life: New and Selected Poems, was published by Finishing Line Press. In 2011, another poetry collection, How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver, was published by iUniverse. In 2007, my first book, another novel, We Shall Overcome, was released, also by iUniverse.

As a disabled author, how do you overcome the extra challenges involved with producing your work? Because of my visual impairment, I use text-to-speech software on my computer that reads to me what’s on the screen and tells me what I’m typing. I also use a braille tablet, both as a display with my computer and as a stand-alone device for email, word processing, and other tasks. I read print with the help of a closed-circuit television reading system.

What have you found the most challenging part of the process? Do you think the publishing world is disability-friendly? For me, the most challenging part of being a writer is marketing my work. Because I don’t see well enough to drive, I can’t just hop in my car and drive around my state or country, selling books. I have to rely on others to take me places. So, I’m limited in what I can do to promote my work.

However, I’m fortunate to have discovered Tell It to the World Marketing, a business that promotes authors mostly through social media. I recommend them to any writer or business owner needing help with publicity.

The publishing industry is not friendly toward disabled authors. Many sites like Amazon are a challenge to navigate for a visually impaired person with screen reading computer software. Traditional publishers like Finishing Line Press have proofs in formats that are not accessible and stringent requirements that make publishing a book difficult for a visually impaired writer.

Thank goodness for DLD Books. They help authors with editing and format manuscripts for publication through Amazon, Smashwords, and other online retailers. Their rates are reasonable, and they do great work. What’s more, they contract with Tell It to the World Marketing so you’re not paying extra for those services. I recommend them to all authors.

What piece of advice do you wish you’d had when you started your publishing journey? Too late, I learned that if a piece is published on a website or blog, it’s considered previously published, and most journals and anthologies don’t accept such work. If I’d known that when I first developed an online presence in 2005, I would never have posted so many of my short stories and poems on my website and blog.

What’s your greatest networking tip? Start a blog and post regularly. I post to mine at https://abbiescorner.wordpress.com three days a week. It’s also important to categorize and tag your posts so readers can find topics of interest and search engines can more easily discover you. You’ll be amazed at how much traffic you’ll draw when you do this.

What’s the best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? I’ve been told to eliminate adverbs and elaborate dialog tags when writing fiction. Although other authors, even bestselling ones, don’t follow this advice, I’ve discovered, over the years, that my writing flows more smoothly as a result.

What’s the worst advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? Get an agent. In the summer of 2005, when I was ready to publish We Shall Overcome, on the advice of my sister-in-law and a writer she knew, I researched agents and sent queries. Most were rejected, and I didn’t even hear back from some of the agents I queried. I also contacted some publishers directly with similar results. A year later, I decided to self-publish the book with iUniverse.

If you really want to be a bestselling author, find an agent or traditional publisher. Good luck. If you just want to get your work out there, don’t bother. Self-publish instead.

Which authors have influenced you the most? Danielle Steel has influenced me but not in a positive way. After reading her work, I’ve figured out how not to write. Although she tells compelling stories, and I’ll continue to enjoy her books, her habit of providing too much description in her narrative drives me up the wall sometimes.

What is your writing space like? My office contains a three-corner desk which holds my computer, printer, closed-circuit television reading system, and other odds and ends. Behind me is a smaller desk I use for labelling and stamping envelopes. In one corner is a stereo I rarely use. I play music on a smart speaker while working. I sometimes write in my recliner or outside when the weather’s nice.

Tell us about your latest piece. The Red Dress is a work of women’s fiction about how such a garment is related to the lives of three generations of women. Here’s the synopsis.

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

What’s your next writing adventure? Several years ago, I started a collection of short stories set in my home state of Wyoming. Reading a similar collection by Ann Beattie inspired me to do this. Her stories are set in Maine.

Links

Blog: https://abbiescorner.wordpress.com

Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/ybmouz5y%20

Website: http://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Abbie-Johnson-Taylor/e/B00GDM1BWK/#nav-tophttp://

 

Bio

Abbie Johnson Taylor is the author of two novels, two poetry collections, and a memoir. Her work has appeared in various journals and anthologies. She lives in Sheridan, Wyoming. Please visit her website at http://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com.

Dirty Dozen Author Interview – Robert D. Sollars #Uniqueauthors

Author name: Robert D. Sollars

Please tell us a little about yourself. What makes you a #Uniqueauthor (or artist)?

I want to save lives and entertain people. My personal belief is that if I can help save someone’s life through my training and consulting or achieve success by getting published as a writer themselves…my mission is complete and accomplished.

Do you think the written word (or art) bring power and freedom? Absolutely it does, depending on the political persuasion and how well it is documented, without omissions or lies, then a work of non-fiction or fiction can literally change the world. Having said that, you must research and discover for yourself what is being said and the facts presented and not necessarily take the given facts as the facts…statistics and facts can be massaged by omissions and not reporting of the entire set of facts.

As a disabled author how do you overcome the extra challenges involved with producing your work? I am very fortunate that I have several people who can help me with technological issues with the computer, which is usually the only issues I have. My wife, best friend, and others all help me get over the inaccessible websites and when I can’t access websites and other items I need for the books.

What have you found the most challenging part of the process? Do you think the publishing world is disability-friendly? The publishing world is definitely not disabled friendly. They have tried, but despite federal laws that require that websites be accessable many, far too many, are not…still. There are numerous barriers in submitting your work such as one popular site where it is nearly impossible for a blind writer to submit their own work…someone has to help us do it or do it completely themselves…and then there are other issues with trying to sign up for webinars and stuff and the sites won’t let you do it…coming back to forcing you to have someone else do it for you if you want to listen.

What piece of advice do you wish you’d had when you started your publishing journey? Write what you want when it comes to fiction and with non-fiction write what you are passionate about. I would far more successful if I had learned that before going blind in 2003.

And how hard it was to raise the greenbacks to self-publish books like mine and how hard it is to get people interested in your topics. Most of the media outlets, I’m sorry to say, are mired in their own sensationalism to report real facts and research.

What’s your greatest networking tip? Get out there and mingle with other writers, editors, publishers, publicists, and the myriad of others who may be able to push you forward with your career.

How much research do you do for your work? What’s the wildest subject you’ve looked at? The wildest subject I’ve ever looked at? I’m not a wild and crazy guy in my non-fiction, LOL. I’ve researched BDSM and other fetishes for fiction

As for my speciality…I look at all the pertinent facts, papers, reports, and etc. for anything I put into my books. The only one I didn’t do any research for was my customer service book in 2018…it was all based on personal experience and things I’ve learned in 40 years in the security field.

I don’t generally have to do a lot of research for my non-fiction books, since it is my work speciality. As for fiction, I create my own worlds and fill in the blanks along the way and if I have to, I’ll go back and revise it to keep a proper perspective on it so it doesn’t distract.

How influential is storytelling to our culture? Everyone tells stories, whether they believe they do or not. Story-telling is a tradition that dates back hundreds of thousands if not millions of years. It is a way to pass along information and to entertain. If we stop telling stories, usually for entertainment purposes then we as a culture will die of asphyxiation.

Our culture began with storytelling. Long before language, the written word, and alphabets, we had storytellers. They were known by different names to whatever culture you were in but they were all storytellers. It was a way to stay abreast of the news, stories from far away, and entertainment.

What’s the best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? Write what I want to write and don’t worry about the critics.

From Tim Allen “Never give up. Never Surrdender!”

What’s the worst piece best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? You’re not a college graduate. Go to school and learn the book way of doing things and you’ll be better off.

No one wants to read that crap (speaking of security). Write something interesting if you’re smart enough. This from a former publicist.

*Please tell us about your publications.

 I have 4 books out since 2009. The first one was so poorly edited I won’t even discuss it.

The 2nd one was “One is too Many: Recognizing & Preventing Workplace Violence” (Amazon 2014)

“Murder in the Classroom: A Practical Guide for Prevention” (Amazon 2018)

“Unconventional Customer Service: How-to Break the Rules to Provide Unparalleled Service” (Amazon 2018)

What first prompted you to publish your work?  I’ve been writing for nearly 40 years, ever since high school. I’ve published innumerable articles and blogfs but never a book, which was always my dream. I started working on the One is too Many & Unconventional Customer Service nearly 2 decades, but after going blind…I had the time, expertise, and knowledge I decided now as the time to do it.

What have you found the most challenging part of the process? Knowing when to stop writing and say enough is enough so as not to confuse the reader! All experts in their field can talk all day about it but the trick is to know when to leave without the reader wishing they’d picked it up…in other words, make it readable and not like a textbook.

Are you a ‘pantser’ or a ‘plotter’? I would have to say a pantser with fiction but not really a plodder with non-fiction. I pick out the facts and research I need to utilize, not hiding anything of course, and then decide where in the book it needs to go. Sometimes the same facts appear in several plaes in the books…just depends on the topic.

Fiction is definitely pantser…I get my ideas from my dreams and let the characters tell me what the story is, including their names. When I get up in the morning…voila the story nearly writes itself and is, most of the time anyway, not bad.

If you could have dinner with any literary character who would you choose, and what would you eat. Al Giordino or Dirk Pitt from Clive Cussler…the beer and burger guys, not the fancy smancy cuisine that they can eat.

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? Well, while it is expensive, if the author is proud of their work and think that people will enjoy it…then give away a few free copies! You don’t want to break the bank doing it, but if you get it into the community and around your region, state, or city, then people will start talking about it and hopefully, it will generate sales. I try to give away copies to those who helped me in some way during the proves…whether it be advice, computer issues, or anything else. Others I give away and have gotten some sales from doing. I just have to remember that talking about death & destruction in real life is not a sexy topic and people don’t like discussing it in ‘polite company’.

What are your views on authors commenting on reviews? If an author doesn’t comment on a negative review, then they can open themselves up for even more ‘abuse’ from the reviewers. If they respond without getting nasty and refuse the ‘invitation’ to be as nasty as the reviewer, eventually those trolls will go away and you can delete their reviews.

If the comment are good, a simple “Thank you. I appreciate your review on my book.” (and you could add if you desire…Please pass your comments along to friends & family)

How do you deal with bad reviews?Answer them with politeness, courtesy, and professionalism.

Sort these into order of importance:

  1. Good plot
  2. Great characters
  3. Awesome world-building
  4. Technically perfect

If you could be any fantasy/mythical or legendary person/creature what would you be and why? Jim Qwilleran on the “The Cat Who” series by Lillian Jackson Braun. The reasoning is this simple. A simple man who happens to be a reporter falls into billions of dollars because of an obscure family relationship. He then stll lives simply but begins benefitting the small rural community and county he is now a resident of.

I want to give away that kind of money to help innumerable organizations but alas…no billions for me!

Which authors have influenced you the most? Rod Serling, Clive Cussler, Lillian Jackson Braun, John Scalzi, Diane Carey, & A.C. Crispin.

 What is your writing space like?  I have my desk in a spare bedroom against the wall, a window on my left, where my cat spends her time watching me and the birds. The door is on my right, my wife’s desk behind me and surrounded by filing cabinets & shelves…some would call it cramped but why do I care? As long as I can type…

Tell us about your latest piece? I am in the process of doing the final editing on several pieces, including “Murder in the Office: A Practical Guide for Prevention” and a series of novellas based on sci fi and fantasy “Three for Victory” & “The Cat”

What’s your next writing adventure? After I finish those above, I intend to begin finishing all of the other writing projects I’ve had hidden away since getting cancer last winter…a ton of novels, novellas, and other things that are just languishing at this point.

What was the last book you’ve read?“The Cat Who Blew the Whistle”

Is this the age of the e-book? Are bricks and mortar bookshops in decline? Yeah, well, but the brick & mortors are still there and probably will be for a very long time. I worry about the possibility of an EMP and the fact no one knows to read a book without a screen any more.

With the influx of indie authors do you think this is the future of storytelling? Absolutely, so many wonderful stories out there. Fantastical worlds filled with wonder, awe, & cataclysmic destruction. Then it resets and you can read another!

Are indie/self published authors viewed with scepticism or wariness by readers? Why is this? They used to be, but with the advent of so many independent publsihers such as bookbaby, and several others, anyone can write and hae a bookpublished. I do have to say though a quote from Ambrose Bierce is very appropritate in these times “The covers of this book are too close together!”

Is there a message in your books? I would like to say that, even in my security books, everything has hope to it and you just have to keep working towards it is all. I try to convey that but whether I succeed or not…

How important is writing to you? Let me put it this way…I’ up and at the computer by about 3:30 every morning (mon-fri) and usually don’t quit until about 4:00, taking time for the news and lunch if necessary.

Links

www.facebook.com/robertdsollars

dldbooks.com/robertdsollars

@robertsollars2

Bio

A somewhat strange 58-year-old blind guy with what has been called weird, unique, quirky, and ddown right stupid ideas, Robert has been blind since moving to the Phoenix area in 2003, 6 weeks after getting there. He lives with his wife, lover, a cat, and a volatile sense of volcanic anger and hostility.

Irritating the hell out of most people. he follows his grandfather’s habits of going to bed early (by 1800 hours) and rising between midnight and 0200. Coffee is drank black and he has more than a few health issues to fight along the way…cancer, kidney transplant, intestinal issues, and too many to mention.

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

 

 

 

A Day in the Life of… Author Trish Hubschman #Meetanauthor #Mysterywriter

My  name is Trish Hubschman. I live on Long Island, New York with my husband, Kevin, and the new dog, Henry. I’m deafblind.

Do you work at another job? If so tell us about fitting in the writing/cover design/editing. No, I left my job on Disability in 2006. I was a typist for a New York State agency.

Do you have a family? What do they think of your job? Do they assist you? We don’t have children. My husband proofreads all my writing. He helped with the cover design of my last book, Ratings Game. He also helps me on the computer a lot.

Kevin and my mom are very proud of me and like my writing

Are you organised? In a way, I guess I am. I need to know where things are so I can find them again. That holds true with things on the computer too.

What time do you get up/go to bed? I’m an early bed, early to rise person. 8 pm or so at night, 6 am in the morning.

Do you find it hard to fit everything in? Definitely, there aren’t enough hours in the day.

What is your ideal working environment? I need quiet, no TV or music on. I wear headphones on the computer and I can’t stand distractions for many reasons. The ringing phone drives me nuts.

What do you eat for breakfast? Coffee first, then maybe scrambled eggs or cereal and a second cup of coffee.

Give us a brief rundown of your average day from getting up to going to bed. Coffee first, then I go into my computer room to  flip on the PC and put on my shoes,  eat breakfast, then the  exercise bike for 20 minutes, shower, then  check my email and Facebook, I might play with the  dog a bit, let me him out, take a nap, but I always go back to my PC to work.

Would you recommend your chosen craft to those interested in doing it? I love to write. It gives me a feeling of wholeness. Yes, I would recommend it.

Find out more here:

About the Author

Trish Hubschman has published three books with America Star Books: a short story collection of time travel and romance stories called Through Time and the first two books in the Tracy Gayle/Danny Tide series: The Fire and Unlucky Break. Trish attended college at Long Island University’s Southampton campus, earning a BA degree in English with an emphasis in writing. She lives on Long Island with her husband and two dogs.

A Romantic Suspense Novel

Stiff Competition (Miss America): A Tracy Gayle Mystery

by Trish Hubschman

In e-book ($2.99) and print ($9.50) on Amazon and other bookselling sites.

227 pages in print.

Cover, free text sample, author bio, direct buying links, and more: https://www.dldbooks.com/hubschman/

About the Book

America’s favorite rock band, Tidalwave, is playing the Miss America pageant. Band leader Danny Tide is emceeing the event.  All is going according to schedule. The judges have picked the 10 semi–finalists. Suddenly, everything comes to a halt. Miss New Jersey is missing. Nobody knows what happened to her or where she is. Danny calls his longtime PI friend, Tracy Gayle, and asks her to come down to Atlantic City to help figure things out. In need of her best friend for personal support and eager to get to another case, Tracy agrees. There’s an all–out search of the hotels on the boardwalk. They find Miss New Jersey, but it’s not good. Her kidnapping leads to another assault and murder. The big star and the lady PI work together on this one, so that the Miss America pageant can continue as usual.

Stiff competition