Happiness is…


Sunday Surprise


And it’s a guest! That Diabolic Shrimp who likes to help authors like himself and gift readers with great books! I did promise he’d show up, didn’t I? Ladies and gentlemen, I proudly present you Joshua Grant!

Where do you live and write from?

I live and work in the beautiful city of Colorado Springs (United States). We have a bunch of mountains. They’re pretty. Something about them helps me write better.

Why do you write?

I typically write when I run out of cool stuff to read or watch. I also love to entertain people. So basically a blend of boredom and my need to be a goof have driven my writer’s bug.

When did you start writing?

Ironically, I started writing when I was 15 after I just finished a big standardized test. I needed something to do and we were allowed to free write so that’s what I did. Haven’t stopped since (writing, not standardized testing).

What genre(s) do you write?

I’ve published a Horror novel, but I also write Sci-Fi and Fantasy (mostly Young Adult). Horror was kind of a fluke for me, especially since I’m kinda a big scaredy cat, but I think it’s my best writing. I also like to scare people.

What does your writing routine consist of?

I’m not really sure I have a routine. I sharpen my pencils, sit down, and just start writing. I make sure I write at least a little everyday. I do everything long hand, then type it up when its finished (It’s my one chance to listen to music and sort of veg out), and then spend many months revising it.

What do you feel are your strengths as a writer? How have you developed these qualities?

My strengths as a writer mostly fall in the overall story. I’m good at coming up with a lot of unique ideas and mixing in a bunch of twists. I’m also really good at the description piece (I sometimes have to pull back on the description since I like to do that a lot). I think my creativity came from my over active imagination, which I’ve never turned away from. I’m a very visual person as well, so my ability to describe comes from my ability to visualize things.

Where do you find your inspiration? Do you put yourself in your stories?

I typically find my inspiration from other things I’ve watched and read. I also love to take some deep moral issue and build a compelling story around it. My Horror novel Pandora is an example of this. It’s built around the idea of finding hope in a hopeless dark situation. I actually don’t typically write myself into my work. Most of my characters are pretty different from me.

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?

I have a pretty solid outline for my work, but I never write it down. I keep all the outlines in my head. Whenever I write an outline down, I feel like I already wrote the book and don’t have any push to write it. When I actually get to writing though, I’m pretty fast. It’s the post rough draft part that takes me 8 million years to complete.

Tell us about your latest book (add link if published)

I’ve only published one book so far (I’ve got two more coming this year). My horror novel Pandora is about a cruise ship that goes missing. It re-emerges a week later transmitting a single word—Pandora—prompting an investigation by a Special Forces team. This book was tons of fun to write. I tried to capture all the frantic action, grotesque creatures, and hapless heroes of films like Aliens and The Thing from my childhood. Check it out at Amazon if you’re interested!

Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?

I used to be dead set on traditional publishing until this past year. Now I’m an Indie author and I love it. Traditional publishing is a nice way to go if you don’t like the business and marketing side of things. As I got into the business, I learned that I love the marketing piece. I love meeting people and supporting other authors. It’s been a lot of fun being in charge of every part of the process.

Any other projects in the pipeline?

I’ve finished the next book in my horror series, Jericho. This one involves a father and his son trying to survive the evil creatures that have infested the small mountain town of Shadow Pines. I also have a zany fun fantasy epic coming called Silly Tales from Albanon. I’ve decided to turn this one into a graphic novel which I’m pretty excited about. And as always, I’m hard at work growing my author support site Diabolic Shrimp. I support other authors through the site so if anyone’s interested, head to www.diabolicshrimp.com to check it out.

What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?

My goal as an author is three pronged. I intend to reach one million readers over the course of my writing. I’m currently pushing towards a thousand so I’m about a thousandth of the way there and I’ve only just begun! My second goal is to publish two books a year. Right now I’m on track to accomplish that one, but we’ll see how much Jericho keeps wrestling with me! And finally, my goal is to support at least 10,000 other authors through Diabolic Shrimp. My personal goal was to get 100 authors on Diabolic Shrimp within the first year of its existence (which we’re well ahead of schedule so far). Then next year I’ll expand that to 1,000 authors, then jumping to 10,000 the following year.

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?

Great writers write.

_______________________

Find Joshua online

webpage

Goodreads

Random Friday


A little bit of random randomness. I’m not on Twitter but on Facebook some friends commented on the little bird’s trend #italiansareblack. Besides showing the usual American ignorance of history (the normans conquered Sicily in the 11th century, taking it from the Moors, and in Sicily there are blond and blue-eyed people) I’m still not sure what the fuss is about.

They usually have to ask me where I come from and then gape at me because I’m tall and blue-eyed (I wouldn’t count the blond hair, since it’s colored, LOL!). And where I speak the language (ex. France) they don’t even notice I’m not local.

I actually love different skin tones and racial features, since we’re all beautiful in our own unique ways. In the 80s there was a magazine who pasted together women’s best facial features (I don’t remember who were the beauties of the time except for probably Brooke Shields and definitely Farrah Fawcett’s hair – Charlie’s Angels original TV series rules, LOL!) and the result was… meh. Yuk. You get the point.

I was lucky enough to grow up in an international environment (Geneva) where there were children from all over the world and of all colors. But I already did a post about it six years ago.

Oh, and Mattel is now making different Barbie dolls and even different Ken dolls… glad I got a boyfriend for my Barbie Miss 1974 before this and that the princesses don’t need boyfriends with modern clothes or man-buns! 😀

the whole bunch

Anyway, back to the present. A friend of mine has become a citizen of Asgardia after reading a CNN article. And even though the concept is interesting, I’m kind of bummed… a Kingdom… in space? I don’t care if it’s a constitutional monarchy, it’s still a kingdom! In the 21st century!

So I’m still debating if I could write a story about it or join that off-world nation, albeit in a virtual way. I’m also gathering my research for the next novel even though it’s set more or less in one country (and its neighbors), where people have brown skin or so they say. I honestly don’t notice.

I’ll end with a link to Paul Mc Cartney’s idea for a song and  list of my non-caucasian favorite actors whom I find particularly handsome. In no particular order… Aissa Maiga, Djimon Hounsou, Ziyi Zhang, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Arjun Rampal, Omar Sy, Zoe Saldana, Barbara Mori, Indira Varma, “older” stars Victoria Abril, Denzel Washington, Hiroyuki Sanada, Rekha – and Da Muses, of course! 😉 Have a  great weekend! 😀

Writer Wednesday


Aaand… here we go!

Star Minds Next Generation

It’s available for pre-order on all retailers and will come out soon! So you’ll have both fantasy and sci-fi for your summer reading! 😉 I’m very happy with the authors in this bundle – this time I have met most of them personally.

You have a great variety – from my Goodreads friends Steph Bennion and Ubiquitous Bubba, who were interviewed on this blog for Wyrd Worlds, some workshop buddies I met on the Oregon Coast (Rebecca Bates, Michael Lucas, Russ Crossley, Blaze Ward, Robert Jeschonek), to the man who made us meet (Dean Wesley Smith – the kind of writer I want to be when I grow up) and a few more that I found browsing the awesome content marketplace at BundleRabbit.

So I’m still riding the fantasy bundle, reading all the other books, and already I’m starting a new journey, a trek to the stars with these wonderful fellows. I made a book trailer for it and it will come out on Independence Day (which, by the way, is the birthday of my Australian friend, maybe she’d like one as a gift? 😉 ), so stay tuned…

The indie community is really great. Because there’s no such thing as a self-published author – that’s so 20th century thinking! 😉 And also this small post on negotiation is a good way to remind us that traditional publishing is still tricky. And if we want to tackle the audio market independently it’s getting easier every year. Now Draft2Digital offers audiobooks as an alternative to ACX…

It’s really a great time to be an author. Final wordcount for this month in July, but know that I finished and sent out the first novel of the challenge. Onward to the vampires novel that must be finished by the end of July… have a great week! 🙂

 

Happiness is…


Sunday Surprise


Some words of wisdom, writers on writing, whatever you want to call it before the next batch of guests – if any! 😉 Have a great Sunday! 😀

So my advice to you is ignore what society tells you that you must do, ignore what friends tell you that you should do. Do what you want. So when you get to my age, you might be having as much fun as I am.

Ain’t easy, but it is worth it.

Dean Wesley Smith

But here is my point: you need to set goals that are realistic for you under the circumstances that you find yourself in.  If writing a page a day is all that you can manage with a busy schedule, it will still get a novel draft done in a year.  Setting goals that are difficult or impossible to reach will just stress you out, making it more difficult to write, and they’ll take a toll on the finished product.
Writing fifty pages of unusable prose in a day is no better than writing nothing at all.

David Farland

You have to surrender to your mediocrity, and just write. Because it’s hard, really hard, to write even a crappy book. But it’s better to write a book that kind of sucks rather than no book at all, as you wait around to magically become Faulkner.

No one is going to write your book for you, and you can’t write anybody’s book but your own.

I’m not really a sports person, but there’s that saying, ‘Keep your eye on the ball.’ I would imagine it’s easier to hit something if you’re looking at it, right? Well, in writing you have to keep your eye on the ball too, but some people mistake what the ball is. The ball is not the New York Times Bestseller List; the ball is not even publication. Your writing is the ball. Focus on writing your very best – your writing, and nothing else. Because no matter how brilliant your work is, there will always be some people who are going to hate it and tell you it sucks, so focus on making your work important to you, and at least to some people, and that’s perfectly good enough.

Cheryl Strayed

You go up the mountain of your idol, but when you get to the top, you realize they’re already there, and that mountain is never going to belong to you. So, you go do your own thing and it’s more of a shit-pile than a mountain at first, but it’s yours. It’s your shit pile. And that’s not nothing.

You can’t run from who you are. Not your brain, not your inclinations, or your experience. So accept your shit – run toward it, use it.

George Saunders

And so, my fellow aspiring-literary-superstars, if Cheryl Strayed’s advice boils down to “surrender to your own mediocrity” and Saunders’ advice is “go with your natural mode,” then my advice will be this: if you write, be brave enough to call yourself a writer, out loud and not just in some dark corner of your brain. It reaffirms what you’re here to do, what you love, what you’re working for, and what you should be doing instead of watching all those cat videos on YouTube (I just had to force myself to deactivate my Wi-Fi in order to finish this conclusion, I feel your collective pain). Because if Genius George Saunders says I’m a writer, then you sure the fuck are too, and I want us all to achieve greatness together.

Wes Janisen

Random Friday


The heat is already frying my brain, so I don’t have much to say. I go out in the morning, come back for lunch time and just write.

So I’m just going to post this short comic about me and Da Muse and his stupid hats.

To see the original that prompted this, go to his Facebook page (or Twitter, or Instagram, or whatever… I’m only on Facebook, so…). Still have no idea if and when you’ll be able to read Da Strip! 🙂

Oh, and I watched ABCD, and recognized teacher Vishnu from ABCD2. Great choreographies, story okay. I haven’t seen the Hollywood equivalents such as Step Up, so I can’t compare…

Prepping for the weekend, lots of publishing stuff to do! Have a great weekend! 🙂

Writer Wednesday


So, it’s official, I’m in the Worldcon Programme! I can’t be more specific right now, but stay tuned for days and times. Great panels coming ahead, really great panels. Looking forward to them! If you happen to be in Helsinki for Worldcon 75, let me know! 🙂 I will post my schedule closer to the dates…

Aaand… three months after the Anthology Workshop, I made a sale! My first professional sale! So, time for a little happy dance! 😀Ahem! Where was I? Ah, yes, the novel challenge. Probably three-quarters done, but I’ll need to go back and add the meat during the weekend. Some things never change, some things do. I still have to print it out and make the additions on paper. At least I don’t do the first draft longhand anymore! 😉

A good reminder that writers (or any kind of creative person) are the worst judges of their works (besides giving it away for free or cheap, that is). I currently think my novel is a mess, but I’ll let the first reader and proofreader be the judges.

For a good laugh, how to fail as a writer – let’s not forget writing by committee. If you don’t write by committee, you’ll never make it! And on a more serious note, what makes a $100K Author (don’t look at me!). I am currently running an Amazon ad, but so fare it’s only expenses and no sales. Will report after I complete 3! 😉

I shall leave the announcement for the next bundle for next week… when I’ll have changed the pictures on the Facebook page! 😉 But if you want a hint, just head there! 🙂 Have a great week! 😀

Happiness is…


Sunday Surprise


And this is the last author interview for the fantasy bundle. Stay tuned for more author interviews and more bundles. Ladies and gentlemen, last but not least, please welcome Lee French!

Where do you live and write from?

I live in Olympia, WA, the wacky heart of the Pacific Northwest. My workspace is a beanbag next to a coffee table and a large window with a view of the incessant rain. Sometimes, the sun comes out. It’s disturbing and distracting.

Why do you write?

I write because not writing is harder. After a few days without writing, unless I’ve been doing physically exhausting work, I get cranky and weird(er). At this point, I’m more or less unable to work at a regular job anymore because my writer brain muscles are so strong.

When did you start writing?

Shortly after I started reading. I was a late bloomer, not really grasping the whole letters make words thing until the later parts of first grade. Once I got it, though, I got it. In second grade, I won an honorable mention in the local Scholastic Book Fair for my entry Adventures in the Mean Old Man’s Backyard. In high school, I wrote a novel-length piece of crap that fortunately no longer survives, and I kept dabbling all over the place. In my early 30s, I started playing D&D online, in a message board format and really found my writing voice. After doing that for several years, I discovered NaNoWriMo and wrote a few horrible novels before finally producing something worth sharing about five years ago.

What genre(s) do you write?

I have trouble sticking to one subgenre and currently have over a dozen titles across epic fantasy, sword & sorcery fantasy, young adult urban fantasy, superhero science fiction, and cyberpunk. I enjoy writing all of them, and have plans for more subgenres in the future.

What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?

My goal when I started in this business was to become a member of SFWA. After achieving that as an indie last year, my new goal has become to make a decent living at this crazy job. The biggest challenge, as with any author, is marketing. So far, my path involves working conventions about half the weekends of every year. I have events scheduled for every weekend of May and October, plus 1-2 every other month of the year. It’s tiring and takes away from writing time, but it works decently well. In fact, I’ve done so much of that my booth partner and I wrote a book about how to hand-sell books at conventions, called Working the Table: An Indie Author’s Guide to Conventions.

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?

It’s a job. Treat it like one. Writing may be an art form, but earning a living from art works the same as earning a living from any other pursuit. Put in the hours, get things done, give your best effort, and treat your customers well.

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?

I like the term “plantser,” a portmanteau of planner and pantser. My process is generally to write up half an outline, settle on an end point, and start writing. Experience tells me I will almost always go far enough off the rails with cool ideas by the midpoint that outlining that deep into the book is worthless. My writing speed is on the faster end because I do it full time. Last year, I had 4 book releases, 1 novella release, 4 anthology appearances, plus a 3-in-1 release of a trilogy (with bonus material also written last year). This year will have less because I’m editing an anthology for the first time, along with having various personal issues in my real life.

Tell us more about your book in the bundle.

Al-Kabar is Mulan meets Arabian Knights for grown-ups. The story is one of a collection of standalone novels that will eventually have eleven. Each book follows a different woman in a different culture of my fantasy world, Ilauris, while she deals with problems common to women. The first book of this non-series series, Damsel in Distress, dealt with domestic violence, and this one delves into the strictures society places on women, especially regarding profession. The main character, Fakhira, pretends to be a man to accomplish her goals.

Tell us about your latest book.

My newest release is the fourth book of my young adult urban fantasy series, Spirit Knights. Ghost Is the New Normal continues the story of Claire, a teenage girl whose favorite way to solve problems is punching them in the face. She’s a veteran of foster care in modern Portland who wound up becoming the first female inducted in an ancient, secretive order of knights tasked with hunting ghosts.

Any other projects in the pipeline?

I’m currently working on book 5 of The Greatest Sin, a second cyberpunk novella, book 5 of Spirit Knights, the next Ilauris book, a new book for my superheroes universe, and a handful of short stories for various venues.

Yes, I really am working on all of them at once.

______________________

Lee French

Fantasy & Science Fiction author

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