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

 

 

 

Book Spotlight – The Forestal – Fantasy/Poetry

Basic Book Spotlight

Title: The Forestal

Author: Blaze Ward

Genre: Epic Fantasy Poetry

 

Links etc. – http://www.knottedroadpress.com/book/the-forestal/

www.blazeward.com

 

“The opening”

Outcast

first: The Dawn of Hope

 

So many times I wanted to call you up

to apologize for everything

But there was always something else

to add

to the list of sins

 

One morning it was simply too much

I could no longer bear the weight

of the world

on my shoulders

when I had done so little

 

One mistake

became ten thousand

But when I sought to cry out

to end the farce

It became ten million

 

The only recourse left me

was to climb the highest mountain

Where you could not follow

and there find a kind of escape

Where the sins of mankind

were not mine alone to suffer for

 

You told me once

that you cared about me

In this dawn of a new year

I wonder if it might not be an end

to the night of madness

A dawn of hope

where the mistakes of yesterday

can be forgotten

In hopes of starting anew

without yesterday’s crimes

 

I had climbed the mountain in desperation

but looking back I see no path up

So I think I am safe here

where no one can follow

 

If we cannot end

this night of madness

I shall leave to make my own dawn

and forget you

to your high tower

and your troll

For I see the old desert

suddenly stretched out before me

It is

my own dawn of hope

Beginning

Forestal_600x900

 

Book Spotlight – Catching Snowflakes And Other Poems – Tori Zigler

Title: Catching Snowflakes And Other Poems

Author: Victoria Zigler

Genre: Poetry

Synopsis:

“A collection of poems of different lengths and styles – some with a hint of humour, others of a more serious nature – exploring a variety of themes, such as animals, nature, emotions, and the world around us.”

Brief Excerpt:

“Catching Snowflakes

Hand held out to catch the snow,

While a bitter wind doth blow,

Making falling snowflakes swirl;

See them dance, and spin, and twirl!

There, for just a moment, in your hand,

The most delicate thing in all the land.”

Why should readers buy this book? “If you’re a fan of poetry, especially poems exploring nature and the world around us, this book is for you.”

Author links:

Website: http://www.zigler.co.uk

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/toriz

Facebook author page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Victoria-Zigler/424999294215717

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/victoriazigler

Book links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34947667-catching-snowflakes-and-other-poems

Smashwords: Catching Snowflakes on Smashwords

 

Coming soon to other retailers, with a paperback version planned for the not-too-distant future too.

Catching Snowflakes And Other Poems Cover 1 - 1600x2400

Shattered Mirror – Now in Audio

Hurrah! #Shatteredmirror #poetry

I’m delighted to announce the release of Shattered Mirror: A Poetry Collection in audio format. Narrated by Rob Goll – also my narrator for Tales of Erana: The Warrior’s Curse The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles Book I and Perseid Press’ Heroika: The Dragon Eaters, the poetry collection is another fine example of this narrator’s versatility.

It’s short, less than 20 minutes, so ideal for a coffee-break, or commute listen. Filled with ‘gritty’ poems on politics, war, and the vagaries of life the collection is dark and somewhat dystopian.

Check it out here:

Or from audible. If you buy from audible, don’t forget if you’re not a member you can join their membership scheme and pay monthly – to get a credit – usually this works out far cheaper than some of the more expensive books there.

shattered-m-square-audio1

 

Returning Author – Tori Zigler

I’d like to welcome back author Victoria Zigler, or Tori, if you prefer.

Please recap briefly about your books:

Most of my books are fantasy stories, fairy tales, animal stories, or some combination of those, but I’ve also written books in other genres too.  Regardless of genre though, my stories are aimed at children.  I happen to know that some adults have really enjoyed them too, however, and I’m not just talking about adults who are family members or friends either.

Not all my books are children’s stories.  I also write poetry, which is generally suitable for any age level, and has also been enjoyed by adults and children alike.

Plus, I have a fantasy story published in the “Wyrd Worlds II” anthology.

What has changed since you last visited? Tell us your news!

The last time I was interviewed on here, I was about to release the final book in my “Kero’s World” series, and had ”Vinnie The Vegetarian Zombie” due for release the following month.  Since those titles came out, I’ve published another 14 titles.  Two are poetry books, four are the books for my “Zeena Dragon Fae” series, and the others are more stand alone stories.  My most recent releases are a poetry collection called “The Ocean’s Lullaby And Other Poems” which was released in early July, and my first ever science fiction story “Jeffrey The Orange Alien” which was released in late August.

Also, at the time my last interview went live, I was only doing my books as eBooks, but now I have them all available as paperbacks too.  The eBooks are still published via Smashwords, and distributed to all eBook retailers Smashwords distributes to (such as Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, Kobo, etc) so are available in multiple formats to work across a variety of eReaders and other devices.  The paperbacks are published via CreateSpace, and distributed to all the retailers CreateSpace distributes to (such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc).

Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be?

Yes, I do.  For some reason, people got it in to their heads that self-published translated in to “not good enough to be published” – despite the fact that there are many reasons why a traditional publisher might not want to publish something, and most of those reasons have nothing to do with the quality of the work in question.  Unfortunately, the fact that some self-published authors put their work out in to the world before it’s really ready (in other words, before it’s been properly edited, proof read, etc) has led to some poor quality work being on the market, which has only served to encourage this view.  Opinions are starting to be swayed by some self-published authors who have managed to make it big, and show the world that a self-published book can be as good as a traditionally published one for quality, but I think it’s going to be a while before everyone is willing to accept this new viewpoint – if they ever do.

Do you read work by self-published authors?

Yes, I do.  I also accept books from them in exchange for posting a review.  Personally, I don’t care how an author has published their work.  If it sounds like a book I’ll enjoy, I’ll read it whether it’s self-published or traditionally published.  I use the same criteria for deciding if I want to read a book regardless of the publication method, and don’t give the method of publication a single thought when rating or reviewing a book.

What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews?

Reviews are very important.  They’re useful for authors sometimes, because some contain helpful information on what an author could have done to improve the story, which can potentially help to improve the author’s next piece of writing.  However, reviews are mostly important for other potential readers, since they tell those readers that someone has read the book, and give some insight in to what they thought about it.

Authors can “like” a review, or thank a reviewer for a good review, if they really insist on interacting with reviews.  But that’s it.  An author should NEVER comment on negative reviews, especially not to disagree with the reviewer.  By all means read them, and privately take note of any constructive criticism contained in them, but don’t comment.

What are your views on authors reviewing other authors?

I don’t see anything wrong with author’s reviewing work by other authors.  I’m an author, but I was a reader first, and the same is true for all authors, which means there’s no reason an author can’t assume the role of an average reader while enjoying the work of another author.  Plus, it’s a bit silly to exclude someone from being allowed to review a book just because they’ve written one of their own.  As long as an author leaves an honest review, and isn’t leaving a good review on the work of another author just in hopes of getting one in return, or leaving a bad review because they got a bad review from that author, there’s no problem.  I mean, there’s nothing wrong with author’s doing review swaps, as long as they’re done with the understanding that the review should be an honest one based on your opinion of the book in question, rather than one based on how good or bad the review the other author gave you was, if you know what I mean.

I quite often review books, and rate those I don’t review.  Whether I’ve just picked up a book randomly, or have been given a copy by the author or publisher (or both, in the case of most self-published books) in exchange for a review, I always try to be honest in my reviews and ratings, whether the author has reviewed my book(s) or not, and regardless of how good or bad any review the author left for me was.

Looking back what do you wish you’d known when you started writing?

Since I started writing as soon as I learned how to, I don’t think there’s anything.  Honestly, I don’t remember much from the time before I started writing for pleasure, since I learned to read and write early, and was quick to learn the pleasure of writing.  Plus, I think you learn more about writing by actually doing it, and never stop learning.

Although, if you mean before I started writing professionally – in other words, before I started publishing my books back in 2012 – the answer is different.  The thing I wish I’d known then was that an already established online presence would help my writing career, rather than hinder it.  I’m not really sure why I got it in to my head that continuing to blog would take too much time away from my writing.  After all, I’d been blogging regularly – usually at least once a day – for about six years when I published my first book, and had been doing plenty of writing in that time, even if I wasn’t mentioning most of it on my blog.  But I became convinced for some reason that if I wanted to make a career out of writing, I should stop blogging publicly.  I still kept my blog, and posted a few things on it with it set to “private” just for my own benefit, but I stopped allowing others to see my posts, and stopped visiting the blogs of my friends.  Huge mistake! Not only did it cost me several really good friends – friends who I miss, because they were a great group of people – but it also meant I lost several potential opportunities for sales, as well as potential people who might have helped me to spread the word about my books.  I only had my blog private for about a year, but that year was enough time for me to lose touch with most of the people who had been regular readers and commenters on my blog, most of whom still don’t appear to realize I’m blogging again, even though I’ve been doing so for around three years, and am doing so on my original blog, which I’ve now made public again.  I’m trying to reconnect with as many of the people as I can.  Not just for the potential networking opportunities, but also because I miss them.  Unfortunately, success on this front has been limited.  In short, the choice to stop blogging publicly was a bad one, which I regret, both from a personal and professional point of view, and if I’d known then what I know now, I never would have even considered stepping away from the blogging world.

Do you have any unpublished novels under the bed/in a folder anywhere which you thought were awesome at the time, but now will never see the light of day?

Nope.  I mean, I did have some stories that were… Well, let’s just say they needed a lot of work.  I also had several poems that needed a little work.  But I hated to see them go to waste, so I took the time to rewrite them, and later edited and published them.  All I have unpublished now – that I have copies of, anyway – are poems I’ve written since my last poetry collection was published (which will go in my next one) and the stories I’m in the process of writing.  There were probably others that I didn’t get to re-write, but no copies of them exist anymore, since they’ve been lost in moves and computer crashes, and I don’t think it counts if the only record of them is a vague memory I have of having written other stories and poems.

How have you progressed as a writer since you started?

Since, as I said when answering a previous question, I was really young when I started writing, I would hope I’ve progressed a lot.  I know my grammar skills have improved, I’ve learned more about sentence structure, I’ve learned about different poetry styles and tried a couple of them out, etc… All the stuff you learn as you progress with education.  Beyond that, I’ve learned not to assume that because I know something my reader will.  In my early stories, I often assumed I didn’t need to describe things because I knew what they were, but I now know descriptions are important, and not everyone will recognize even some everyday items I take for granted, since different places have different names for some of them, and others aren’t actually available in other countries.  Luckily, I learned about this before starting to publish, so have done my best to take this in to consideration in my re-writes, as well as in my newer stories.

What aspect of writing do you least enjoy? Why might this be?

When it comes to the actual writing process, there’s nothing I don’t enjoy.  I enjoy research too, since I enjoy learning about different things, and if it wasn’t a topic I was interested in I wouldn’t be writing about it, which would mean I wouldn’t be researching it.  The only part about being an author I don’t enjoy very much is the marketing.  Don’t get me wrong, I love connecting with my readers on social media and such, but I hate the part where I have to spend ages doing the posts that are essentially just different ways of saying “please buy my book.”  Unfortunately, since I want to be able to share my stories with the world, I have to do that part as well as the writing and research.  I try to focus more on finding interesting things to share and post about, as well as interacting with others in places where I might get sales, rather than actually posting “please buy my book” type messages, which makes the marketing stuff a bit more fun.  It’s probably more fun for potential readers that way too.  At least, I hope it is.

Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it?

The last book I finished reading was a children’s story by a fellow self-published author.  The book’s title was “Oh Grandad!” and the author’s name was Stephanie Dagg.  It was, as I said in the short review I put up for it on Smashwords, an amusing and fun read.  Actually, all the stories I’ve read by Stephanie Dagg have been entertaining and enjoyable reads.

Do you have a favourite movie?

“Practical Magic” and “The Craft” are my favourite movies.  However, I’ve been a bit obsessed with the movie “Frozen” since I first saw it towards the end of last year, so I might have to add that one as a third favourite from now on.

What are your plans for the future? When will we see your next book?  Tell us about it.

I’ve got my first ever historical fiction story due out in October, which is a story based on the Battle Of Hastings.  I’ve already written several new poems towards my next poetry collection, so I’ll hopefully have a new poetry collection out next year too.  I’m also working on a couple of other stories, one of which is a Christmas story involving a giant, the others I can’t tell you more about just yet, because I don’t know much myself; I’m a pantser, and I’ve not long started working on them, so right now I don’t know exactly where they’re going, nor even exactly which genre they’ll all be in as it stands at the moment.  Like I said, I rarely know much at this stage myself.  One time, for example, I had a story I thought was going to be a mystery, only for it to turn out to be a fantasy.  Anyway, I’m not yet certain what the future holds beyond that.

If you had to pick five books to have on an island which five would you pick?

I’d rather not be limited on my choice of books, but if I had to pick, I’d want “A Little Princess” by Frances Hodgeson Burnett, “Matilda” by Roald Dahl, “Strings” by David Estes, “The Complete Sherlock Holmes” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and something that will be useful for telling me how to survive while waiting to be rescued.  Either those five books, or just that last one, plus my Kindle and some kind of solar powered charger, that way I could have the time to read all the books waiting on it for me to read them.

How do you think fantasy is portrayed in the media?

Though it’s not always the case, for the most part, from what I’ve read and watched, fantasy is generally portrayed as being a mostly male dominated genre, with vicious dragons and weak women making regular appearances, while mighty men rush in to save the day.  I want to see more vegetarian dragons and strong female characters, maybe with some men needing to be the ones rescued for a change.  Not just in children’s books and movies, but in general.

 

Links etc.

Website: http://www.zigler.co.uk

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/toriz

Facebook author page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Victoria-Zigler/424999294215717

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/victoriazigler

Blog: http://ziglernews.blogspot.co.uk

Shattered Mirror: A Poetry Collection – New Release!

I’ve diverged a little from fantasy for my latest release. Shattered Mirror is a collection dark poems covering themes such as war, politics, nature, fantasy, and the vagaries of life.  These have been written over a good number of years and some do feature in other anthologies but, for the most part, they have not been published together before.

Poetry, I think, is one of the deepest and most personal mediums, and often shows a good deal about the writer. For me, it helps me deal with the darkness and idiocy of the world in general, a way of trying to make order of the chaos you might say. Poetry tends to be a marmite genre – either you love it or hate it. I wonder why that is. Perhaps poetry is akin to music – something which resonates in our souls (or not). The epic storytellers of old, the bards and the minstrels used it to recount the great deeds, and the soldier poets of the First World War told used it to recount the great dead.

One of the favourite books from my childhood was an old book of poetry, which my father would read to me. Kipling, Masefield, Wilfred Owen, and so many more. Inspiration from history, from soul and heart were they as I heard those words, then later, read them for myself.

Anyway I digress!  Currently the book is only on Amazon but will find it’s way to the other stores shortly.

Shattered Mirror: A Poetry Collection

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01IL6L8FK

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01IL6L8FK

(cover art image via fotolia (c)Bonezboyz)

Shattered Mirror1

D-Day – remembered

I don’t often post my poetry up but having spent the weekend with some military veterans I’ve been reminded of the sacrifice many paid, and still pay so that I may live in a country which is free.  Both my parents served in the military, and my father was wounded in action and still carries the scars (physical and otherwise). Admittedly this was not from the WWII but there are few lives in Europe that weren’t touched in some manner by that war.  The Normandy Landings were a masterstroke of planning and strategy but it’s hard to imagine, at least for most of us, what went in then and the price paid on those beaches.

There were nearly 20000 casualties (from both sides), including very many dead. Many argue this was the turning point of World War II.

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/06/06/d-day-landing-sites-pictures_n_5458026.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normandy_landings

Originally written in 2004 for the 60th anniversary of D-Day – it’s now 12 years on and still rings true.  To those who fell, and those who survived – this is for you.

 

 

D-Day Remembered

They stand abreast, so proud, so sombre.

Old men now, some blind, some lame,

Upon chests of valour medals gleam.

 

They reflect upon the past,

Comrades buried beneath the serenity.

They ran on that day, they fell. They died. For our future.

 

They charged into the mouth of hell,

Upon that summer day.

Numbers dwindling then as now.

 

Men of such honour,

Heroes of our time.

All time.

Then, now and forever.

(c) A.L Butcher, 2004, 2016.

Author Interview Eighty Nine – Bret James Stewart

Welcome to Bret James Stewart

Where are you from and where do you live now? I am from and currently live in Brevard, North Carolina, a small town near Asheville, in the western mountains of the state.  It’s a great place to live with lots of hiking and other outdoor activities.

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. I am an eclectic writer and work in various genres.  I particularly love fantasy and poetry, especially fantasy poetry!  I write non-fiction and fiction, poetry, plays, and role-playing game material, so I have a wide spectrum of things going.  Currently, I have a fantasy novel out entitled The Dragon’s Lullaby.  Later this year, I will release a book entitled Codex Rosmanicus:  Twelve Tales of Enchantment compiled by Jaren the Traveller.  It is a mixture of short stories, poems, and a play, all of which are fantasy themed.  Much of my non-fiction is hiking trail related.  My company, Blue Ridge Hiker, has a website, and I write almost all the material for it.

Where do you find inspiration? Everywhere.  The only thing I have not yet been able to work myself into inspiration with is poetry.  If I start working with something else, I can generally write long enough to gain inspiration.  Fortunately, because I write in various genres, I am usually inspired in one or more of them at any given time.  Also, as I immerse myself in my work and the work of other authors and artists, I tend to be in an inspired or nearly-inspired state all the time.  I live in that middle world between the real world or men and the realm of the fantastic, thank God, so I rarely feel mundane.  If I do, I can work on something routine or technical such as editing until I am again inspired.

Are your characters based on real people? Yes and no.  Certain characteristics of real people are incorporated into some of my characters.  This is a normal procedure I would imagine most authors use.  This adds an important element of realism to the descriptions and actions of the character.  Other times, though, my characters are not based on anyone in particular.  It just depends on what I am doing.

Have you ever used a person you don’t/didn’t like as a character then killed them off? No.  But this is an intriguing idea…

Is there a message conveyed within your writing?  Do you feel this is important in a book? Sometimes.  As I mentioned before, I write in various genres, and some of my works are designed to convey a message.  For example, I am a Christian minister, and some of my works in this genre are written to convey some sort of spiritual and/or environmental message.  Other works are created to convey an idea or what might be called a philosophical point.  Others are written merely for entertainment and contain no conscious message.

Is it important?  Again, sometimes.  It is very important in books designed to convey one or more messages.  However, I do not think it is necessary that a book contain a message as I think that simple entertainment is sufficient reason to write a work.  That said, I think a work of any length is going to contain some sort of message that crept in, if only subconsciously, on the part of the author.

In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) Are you intending to expand these and if not, what is the reason? The Dragon’s Lullaby is available as an e-book and print.  It will be available in audio form, too.  I do not have it in large print, predominantly because I’ve never thought about that before.  I would imagine large print will be a no-go as the e-book has adjustable font and the audio won’t need it.  Only those buying a print book who would also want large print would matter, and I imagine this segment of the market would be too small to justify doing it.

Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? I do self-edit.  I edit as I go and periodically thereafter, generally using a milepost of some sort such as a word count or chapter.  I find this helps me focus as I am distracted by errors.  This also results in a very clean manuscript.  For works longer than a short story, I also use a professional editor as you skim over some errors in your own work because you know what you’re trying to say and your mind puts the pieces together.  A fresh set of eyes also involves a different set of values, opinions, and ideas.  Professional editing is expensive, but it is well worth the price.

Do you read work by self-published authors? Yes.  Probably around one-quarter of the books I read are self-published.  The ratio would be higher except I read a lot of classics, and I am in school earning my Masters of Divinity, so I read several (text)books each semester for my classwork.

When buying a book do you read the reviews? Sometimes.  I read the reviews more for non-fiction than I do for fiction to get a feel for the strengths and weaknesses of the material.  Fiction is much more a matter of opinion, so I am less interested in reviews that are opinions.  Still, I do sometimes use them, especially if they offer comparisons to other authors or works.

Can you name your favourite traditionally published author? And your favourite indie/self-published author? My favourite traditionally published author is J.R.R. Tolkien, but he’s everybody’s favourite.  I also like Poe’s stuff and Weis and Hickman’s Dragonlance Chronicles.  I like the English Romantic and Victorian poets such as Tennyson, Keats, and Coleridge.  My favourite self-published author is Bret James Stewart!  Seriously, I like the work of Karen-Ann Stewart, who writes New Adult Romance, Kay Iscah’s Seventh Night and related books, and The Labyrinth Wall by Emilyann Girdner. I think all three of these ladies have a fine career ahead of them.

What are your views on authors offering free books? I am torn over this one.  Many, many authors claim that you must give away some books to get reviews in order to get your works out there and help you sell books.  Others (the minority, it seems) claim that giving away books is basically senseless.  I tend to think it is a bad idea.  I have not yet given away any books, running on the theory that reviews, etc. will come organically.  I have not had enough time to test this theory out, so I have no idea as to its accuracy.

Do you have any pets? I currently have one feline companion, Petit-Leon le Chronicleer du Fay.  We read and write, sing and dance, and hang out.  We’re buds.

Book links, website/blog and author links:

My website:   http://www.bretjamesstewart.com/

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

Tsu:  https://www.tsu.co/BretJamesStewart

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Dragons-Lullaby-Bret-James-Stewart/dp/0692333711/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1430351764&sr=8-1&keywords=bret+james+stewart

Smashwords:   https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/530989

Kobo:  https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/the-dragon-s-lullaby

Blue Ridge Hiker: http://www.blueridgehiker.com/

The_Dragon's_Lullaby_Cover_for_Kindle

Review – Poets In Hell – Fantasy

Review of Poets in Hell (c) Janet and Chris Morris 2014.

Where could one find Shakespeare, Marlowe, Homer, Diomedes, Frank Nitti, Victor Frankenstein, Emily Dickinson, Mary Shelley and Merlin in one place? The answer is Janet and Chris Morris’s shared world of Hell. Aspiring authors, renowned poets and playwrites vie for attention, fame and recognition, with the odd exception most fail in many diabolic ways.

The stories range from the deeply moving, to the heroic, to the downright amusing as the denizens double and triple cross one another, form uneasy alliances, and try and outwit Satan, not to mention try to win the poetry slam….

Although written by a variety of authors the stories flow well, and the characters complement each other. Dark and delicious, devious and deadly with devilry aplenty in the darkest realm – is a perfect summing up of this instalment of Heroes in Hell. Most certainly fantasy at its darkest and wittiest!

To meet some of the characters please see the Hell Week Character Interviews.