author interview

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Sunday Surprise

Published 23/07/2017 by Barb

And it’s another Sci-fi July author! And I even met him three years ago, yay! Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome Michael W. Lucas!

Where do you live and write from?

I live in Detroit, Michigan, and write from my authorial garret above my family home. As garrets go, it’s pretty nice. I have running water and a view of the power lines.

Why do you write?

Because I love doing it. I love telling stories. Good writing is clear thinking, and while my brain is usually full of mud writing forces me to sieve away the muck and produce clarity.

When did you start writing?

I was four when I discovered that books were not a gift from On High. They were produced by people–real people, not, like, TV stars or Presidents. People like me.

So I started writing books. And annoying my relatives and schoolmates with them. Now I get to annoy the world at large.

What genre(s) do you write?

As Michael Warren Lucas, I write SF and crime novels. I’m probably best known for the Immortal Clay books: a play off of Carpenter’s amazing The Thing, but set after we lose. I write just about anything as short stories.

As Michael W Lucas, I write nonfiction technology books. Nonfiction provides
some interesting storytelling opportunities. My fiction and nonfiction writing each feeds off the other.

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

I am always looking to become a better writer. Every book I write, I’m practicing a particular skill.

Writing is my full-time job, so I have business goals too. I’m looking to boost the share of my income that comes from fiction. Each novel I write sells better than the last, so the solution is pretty clear: write more novels.

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

Writing advice is a weird thing. What’s great advice for a beginner is terrible advice for a medium-stage author and irrelevant for an advanced author.

The best writing advice I’ve ever been given actually isn’t writing advice, it’s life advice: “Listen to the people who are doing the thing you want to do, the way you want to do it.”

Hanging around with other writers and talking about writing is great fun. I’m thrilled to hang out with more experienced authors, and I’ll happily chat with writers that aren’t as far along as myself. But I’m really choosy about whose advice I listen to.

Many people who can’t do a thing talk a really good game about the thing. That guy in your writing group who is full of comments about your use of passive voice and how you break up paragraphs, but who has never sold a dang thing?  He’s not providing useful information.

When someone tells you how your work made them feel, though: that is ALWAYS valid and useful. Always. It’s the most useful writing advice you’ll ever get.

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?

I always have an outline. Permit me to present the complete outline for my crime thriller “Butterfly Stomp Waltz.” It’s utterly full of
robbery and bloodshed and vengeance.

Anthony Bourdain:

  • Atlanta
  • Portugal
  • Myanmar

Yep, that’s it. Food and travel shows are great for researching foreign places. If you can make the reader taste the food in that little town in the back of the Myanmar jungle, they’ll believe you’ve been there.

My writing speed depends entirely on the project. The novel I’m currently writing, a sequel to BSW called Terrapin Sky Tango, is being difficult.

Tell us more about your book in the bundle

In the Montague Portal series, the Montague Corporation has figured out how to leap into alien universes with different natural laws. Unfortunately, not all of those universes like humans.

More unfortunately, we bring human nature with us.

Mind rotting from an incurable prion disease? Go to a universe where the disease cannot progress, and get attacked by aliens (No More Lonesome Blue Rings). Or be among the first to visit a universe, solve a robbery, and save the world. (Sticky Supersaturation). There’s a universe where density varies linearly and there’s no ground… more specifically, no grounds for murder. (Forever Falls).

Montague Portal is kind of Star Trek, but every story has a built-in excuse to change how everything works.

Hydrogen Sleets is set in a universe exactly like ours, but it’s only about half a billion years after the Big Bang. The universe contains only hydrogen atoms screaming past at half the speed of light and a 1960s-style space station made of spinning concentric rings. It’s not just a SF mystery where our heroine needs to figure out why people are going insane and attacking the station; it’s a corporate procedural, where the frustrations of working for a company form part of the story. With laser guns, and forbidden shwarma.

It’s a perfect book for the Sci-Fi July Bundle. I was thrilled to be asked.

Tell us about your latest book

I describe git commit murder as “If Agatha Christie ran Unix cons.” If you work in the computing industry, if you’ve ever been to a computer conference, this book is for you.

Any other projects in the pipeline?

I’m currently writing a sequel to Butterfly Stomp Waltz, called Terrapin Sky Tango. Yes, I’m watching a few Anthony Bourdain episodes for that one. Plus a new, big nonfiction book.

Thanks for the chance to chat!

Non-fiction Author

Fiction Author


Sunday Surprise

Published 10/01/2016 by Barb

And it’s a guest! She was kind enough to interview me on her blog, so I thought I must reciprocate! Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Mercedes Fox!

01.3 book ipad 2Where do you live and write from?

I live in Colorado and write from here as well.

Why do you write?

I’ve always wanted to be an author since childhood.

What genre(s) do you write?

I write horror. I’m toying with the idea of trying out a mystery but I feel like a fish out of water if there isn’t guts splashing all over the place.

Do you put yourself in your stories?

I do use people I know for some characters. Though I change their names and don’t make it obvious. It is to me. In my second book Life After: Werewolf Domination some of the characters, okay, all of the characters are friends and family at the core.

Tell us about your latest book

My latest book is Poaching the Immortal: Vengeance of the Werewolf book 2. Like it’s predasscer this book is violent and bloody. It deals with Ted, a character from Vengeance, who goes on a hunting trip only to find out the other hunters are hunting him.

Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?

I’m an indie publisher for a few reasons. First, I can get my book out right now. Second, I don’t have to seller my rights to a big publisher who then guts my work. Third, I don’t want to deal with publisher rejection.


Author Photo NEWwhere to find Mercedes:







Book Link: Poaching the Immortal


Sunday Surprise

Published 27/09/2015 by Barb

unnamedAnd it’s a guest! From the upcoming Ink Slingers Halloween Anthology (I go the Smashwords link yesterday and no time to start reading it, so stay tuned for more), ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Russ Towne!

Where do you live and write from?

I live in Campbell, California, USA. It is near San Jose and San Francisco. I write from wherever I might be at the time the seed of an idea is given to me and begins to grow.

Why pg27do you write?

There are actually several reasons I write. I write because I must. I’ve learned story ideas are precious gifts and to gratefully document and share them. I believe it would be selfish of me to horde or ignore them. Sometimes when I’ve tried the latter it was as though a great and growing pressure built inside me to the point where I could no longer think or function until I let the ideas out and shared them with others. So, I write to function and survive.
I write to provide a greater balance my life. I’m a wealth manager at a firm I founded in 2003. I spend much of my days using the logic portion of my brain. Writing helps me to maintain greater balance by allowing me to use the creative portion of my brain.
I write because to do otherwise would be to ignore the whispers of my heart. I’ve found ignoring my heart is always a bad idea.
I write to remind myself and readers of the greatness and goodness within ourselves and others.

51Td18sEtuL._AA160_When did you start writing?

I was over fifty years old and had convinced myself that I didn’t have a creative bone in my body. Then, about four or five years ago a friend named Denis Loiseau invited me to co-write a song with him. We had so much fun working together that we collaborated on several songs that were picked up by music industry executives from Nashville and Hollywood, and an invitation to go to Nashville to meet some music executives. Although we are receiving royalties for some of our songs, we are far from having made it to the Big Leagues of songwriters, but it has been a fantastic adventure and a whole lot of fun. Songwriting led to writing poetry, which led to writing children’s stories, and fiction and non-fiction stories, which led to writing three anthologies of my own stories, and compiling three anthologies featuring the work of forty or fifty other writers. It has been an exciting four or five years.

51-GufbUMHL._AA160_What genre(s) do you write?

Children’s stories, non-fiction stories, poetry, and fiction and flash fiction in a wide variety of genres including adventure, action, science fiction, speculative fiction, crime, thriller, paranormal, western, gold rush, utopia and dystopia.

What does your writing routine consist of?

The writing routine that works best for me is no routine. I write when the words flow so forcefully that I’m pretty much unable to think or do anything else. Sometimes the flow keeps me writing all night (which is less than ideal during the work week), and at other times I go months without writing a thing. I’ve learned if I’m patient the flow will return. Sometimes it starts as a trickle and grows, and at other times it’s a flash flood removing everything else in it’s path. I’ve tried to write without the flow but it feels too much like work, is frustrating, is rarely (if ever) productive, and wastes precious time. I love to have fun when I write or do anything else, and I have the most fun writing with the flow rather than trying to write in its absence. My favorite time and place to write is outdoors, especially at night in the Spring, Summer, and Fall. I especially love writing in the rain as I sit at a covered table with the rain splashing overhead and all around. I’m a bit of a Goldilocks writer in that I enjoy writing night or day in all kinds of weather, except when it’s too hot or too cold, but when it’s just right, I write. My Chocolate Lab Duke is nearly always at my feet keeping me company.

vg_cover-2What do you feel are your strengths as a writer?

I believe readers experience and feel a greater connection with my heart and spirit, the hearts and spirits of others, and most importantly, to their own. I often hear that something I wrote made a reader cry tears of joy or healing tears. I consider that the ultimate compliment, and am honored and humbled by such heart-felt feedback.

How have you developed these qualities?

I listen to the whispers of my heart. It is my North Star as a writer. It won’t lead me astray.

41fckWLZF7L._AA160_Where do you find your inspiration?

Inspiration often comes to me at the most inconvenient times and places, such as when I’m in bed preparing to sleep, in the bathroom, working outside, or driving. It is when my brain has calmed down a lot that I’m able to hear the heart whispers.

Do you put yourself in your stories?

Sometimes, especially for non-fiction, but often my fiction stories begin with an actual event or experience and I just let my imagination lead me from there. I believe starting from a real event enables me to more authentically describe all I felt and experienced.

41nFuaEKKEL._AA160_Outliner or improviser?

Yes. I do both depending on my need at the time, but even my outlines are often only created in my head. My favorite is free-form writing where I just start a story and let it take me where it needs to go. I’m often amazed at the ending and what I’ve experienced along the way. To me it’s like an incredible adventure on a mighty, fast-flowing, uncharted river in the jungle. I never know what is around the next bend or when my journey will end.

Fast or slow writer?

Fast. I get bored with long projects. I love for ideas to flow as water from a fire-hose and the challenge of capturing all I can as fast as I can.

for CSTell us about your latest book:
In the next five or six weeks I’m releasing four or five books and re-releasing one, so it’s tough to choose. They are children’s books except the re-release which is titled Touched. The latter features many of my speculative stories and flash fiction. I’m proud of all these books, but I’ll go with Touched as it probably reveals more glimpses of my heart and spirit in a single book than the others. Most of the stories are uplifting though often the protagonists have to go through harrowing experiences to survive. It is a celebration of the human spirit expressed in many ways and genres.

Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?

I began with Indie, but I recognize advantages and disadvantages of each, so some day may choose another path.

61mGm8f6TwL._AA160_Any other projects in the pipeline?

Beyond the several being released by October 31, the seeds of several other stories are sprouting in my brain. I plan to give to them more of the attention I believe they deserve after I get through releasing the ones I’ve already written.

What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?
My goal is completely selfish, simple, and aligns with my personal definition of success: To do what I love and to do it with love (for as someone once said, doing anything else is a wasted opportunity). That is success to me as a writer or anything else.

51Ukcy9ln7L._AA160_What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given? “

Write would you want to read, what would touch and entertain you.” I attempt to do that every time I write. I figure that over time like-hearted people will discover my stories and quickly feel at home. In reality, they’ll simply be feeling a greater connection with their own loving, beautiful, and compassionate hearts and spirits, and those of others, hopefully including mine.


61PwxwKuucL._AA160_Russ Towne lives with his wife in Campbell, California. They’ve been married since 1979 and have three children and three grandsons. In addition to enjoying his family and friends, and his dual passions for investing and writing, Russ loves to spend time in nature, especially near rivers and streams that run through giant redwood groves, and near beautiful beaches. He enjoys watching classic movies, reading, and tending to his small fern garden and redwood grove. Russ manages the investments of the wealth management firm he founded in 2003. He has published fourteen books, eight of which are children’s books, with five more scheduled for release by October 31, 2015*.
Russ’s books can all be found on His Amazon Author Page can be found at
Books for Young Children:[
Purple Fox and the Heebie Jeebies*
The Grumpadinkles*
Zach and the Toad Who Rode a Bull*
Misty Zebracorn*
V. G. and Dexter Dufflebee*
The Duck Who Flew Upside Down
Clyde and Friends
Clyde and Hoozy Whatzadingle
Clyde and I Help a Hippo to Fly
Rusty Bear and Thomas Too
Clyde and I
Children’s App Based on Characters from His Clyde Books:
Clyde and Friends children’s app developed by Gail Nelson using characters from Russ’s series of Clyde books: scheduled for release via the Apple Store by October 31, 2015.
Russ’s Blog:
Clyde and Friends —
Stay updated on Russ’s latest children’s books, apps, songs, and merchandise (featuring the animated characters that appear in his stories). Readers get sneak previews of special stories, background information about where his story ideas come from and how they are developed, and opportunities to help Russ prioritize the order in which his stories and books should be published, the look, and sometimes the names of some of his characters.
The titles of the books he has written or compiled, published, and released include:
From the Heart of a Grateful Man
Reflections of a Grateful Man
Slices of Life An anthology of the selected non-fiction stories of several writers.
Palpable Imaginings An anthology of fictional short stories by several writers in various genres.
Touched Short stories and flash fiction
Heart Whispers An anthology of the selected works of over 20 poets.
Books for Young Children:
Clyde and I
Rusty Bear and Thomas Too
Clyde and I Help a Hippo to Fly
Clyde and Hoozy Whatzadingle
The Duck Who Flew Upside Down
Clyde and Friends
Russ has four blogs:
A Grateful Man (nonfiction uplifting posts)
A Grateful Man’s Poetry
Imaginings of a Grateful Man (fictional short stories)
 Clyde and Friends (About writing children’s stories)
Why Russ Writes
Russ hopes readers experience truth and kindness in his writing, to remind everyone of the greatness and goodness within ourselves and others.

Sunday Surprise

Published 19/07/2015 by Barb

And it’s a guest! Smashwords Authors group monthly feature on Goodreads! Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Elizabeth Grace Foley!

Corral Nocturne eBook CoverWhere do you live and write from?
I’ve lived my entire life in upstate New York.
Why do you write?
Perhaps…because I can’t help it? I’ve been making up stories in my head ever since I was a little girl, and as I grew older, the impulse to write them down and refine them into real, carefully-crafted fiction grew stronger and stronger. It’s just something that I love to do.
LeftHandKelly-eBookWebWhen did you start writing?
Technically, my first fiction writing was done on sheets of paper stapled together to make “books” almost as soon as I learned how to write. I was always writing something and occasionally daydreaming about being an author someday, but I really began to get serious about writing and developing my craft about seven or eight years ago, I think.
What genre(s) do you write?
Everything I write comes under the heading of historical fiction. I’ve written in several sub-genres or variations on the genre, though—Westerns are my main interest; I also write historical mystery, and I’ve written a few short stories set in other periods (i.e. the Civil War and Great Depression).
Mrs. Meade Volume One Front CoverWhat does your writing routine consist of?
My daily routine isn’t carved in stone; I like to do most of my actual sit-down writing in the morning when my mind is freshest. My projects have a basic routine, though—I handwrite the first draft, then type it and edit as I go. After having some family members and beta readers read it and give feedback, I do several rounds of edits as needed, both on paper and on the computer.
What do you feel are your strengths as a writer? How have you developed these qualities?
Well, I’ve been told by readers that my writing has an old-fashioned feel and authentic-sounding dialogue for historical fiction. If that’s so, I credit reading plenty of older literature all my life, which is great for making that sort of thing second nature. Personally, I think creating interesting, likable characters may be one of my strengths, possibly because it’s one of the things I enjoy most. Almost all of my stories begin with characters that I build the plot around.
RanchNextDoor_smallWhere do you find your inspiration? Do you put yourself in your stories?
To answer the first part of that—well, pretty much everywhere. Books, movies, history, life in general. History is one of my biggest inspirations. To the second part—ah, that’s the trick question for a writer! I’ve never deliberately based a character off myself, but I know bits of my personality and ways of thinking must creep into all different characters and stories inadvertently.
Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?
I outline longer works to give myself a sense of where I’m going, but not too rigidly. For short stories I usually just make a list of scenes. And slow writer, definitely!
Wanderlust-Creek-smallerTell us about your latest book (add link if published)
My most recently published book is Wanderlust Creek and Other Stories, a collection of Western short stories. My personal favorite of the collection is the title story “Wanderlust Creek,” which is about a young rancher and his wife struggling to hold onto their land and their dreams in the face of adversity from without and within.
Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?
Indie. I learned about indie publishing at just the right time, after I’d been trying to find a way into the traditional short story scene, but struggling unsuccessfully to find markets that accepted the kind of story I was writing. A lot of things about it appealed to me: the aspect of creative control, the favorable royalty system, and no need to search for those markets.
Some+Christmas+Camo+Final+MediumAny other projects in the pipeline?
The fourth entry in my Mrs. Meade Mysteries series, The Silent Hour, will be releasing this fall. Right now I’m working on revising a historical/Western novel manuscript, but I know it’s going to need a lot more work, so there’s no timeline for its release yet. One day!
What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?
I’m better with short-term goals than I am with long-term. But my ambition has always been to write a novel, so the one big step I’m working toward is to make that a reality. I’d like to write any number of historical novels; I have plenty of ideas stored up. Right now I’m just working steadily away on the manuscript that I hope will be my first full-length novel, trying to make it the best work I know how to do.
War-Memorial-SmallWhat is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?
I’ve occasionally been plagued with doubts over whether what I was writing was “serious” enough or meaningful enough, especially compared to what other writers were doing. Then one day I saw this tweet by Austin Kleon, author of Steal Like an Artist: “Whenever I have tried to do what I thought was ‘serious’ it has thrown me off the scent of my own talents.” That was a big encouragement and relief to me—it’s encouraged me to focus on my own writing strengths and do what I find most enjoyable and meaningful, and not compare my work to others’ so much.
Author blog
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Sunday Surprise

Published 08/03/2015 by Barb

sog advertAnd it’s a guest! And an old friend, since her first interview came out with her first book that I loved (and it came out before more famous shades of gray was published – and it’s a completely different genre!)! So, here we are again, almost five years later, another six books for a great series I keep recommending whenever someone asks me. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome back fellow indie author and beta swapper Joleene Naylor!

Where do you live and write from?

We recently moved back to southwest Iowa, which is where I grew up at it. There are things I miss about southern Missouri, like the warmth, but there are things I’m enjoying. Like autumn was much autumn-ier here. The change of location hasn’t had any impact on my writing, except that the moving and house renovations put me behind.

Why do you write?

Hmmm. Everyone asks this question and I usually give one of the standard answers, but the truth is I don’t know. I took a writing break for a few years and I got back into it because I wanted to join a Harry Potter fan fiction/role play group. Then I started the vampire series because I wanted to write something dark…I guess I write because I can.

When did you start writing?

I used to write “books” when I was a kid, which went into my teenage and early adult years. (I have several novels stacked up in notebooks) but as I mentioned above I quit for a while and it was the Harry Potter Fans Around the Globe Yahoo group that got me going again. Wow, looking back on it those first few posts were terrible! It just shows if you don’t use it, you lose it.

CoL advert1What genre(s) do you write?

Speculative fiction. I have vampire series Amaranthine, but I have been considering doing a second fantasy series on the side if I ever get time, and then there is the meg project I have with a co-author. We may never finish it but by God we’ve made a go at it.

What does your writing routine consist of?

I need a routine, but alas it’s all very random. Everything I do is random. Sometimes I think a schedule would be great, but I never manage to stick to one.

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

I’m good at torturing characters. I’d actually like to torture them more than I do, but I try to stay lower key. I think that’s why the unpublished Patrick prequel had issues from beta readers – because I torture him a LOT.

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

This is where I am supposed to tell you about all the vampire series I read, but truth is I’m bad and I don’t. Most of my inspiration comes from anime. I’d love to see the Amaranthine series as anime or manga.

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?

Improviser most of the time. If I do an outline I feel like I’ve already written the book. And I’m slow. Mind numbingly slow. Probably because I lack that writing routine…

CoL for amazonTell us about your latest book

Clash of Legends is the seventh book in the series. It’s the end of a story arc and wraps up a lot of things that readers have been waiting for. Or I hope they’ve been waiting for it. For new readers, it could be read as a standalone if you don’t want to invest in six previous books.

The explosive seventh installment in the Amaranthine series brings blood, ruin, despair, and hope, for even in the darkest night there is still a moon.

After the battle in Indonesia. Katelina wakes in Samael’s domain. Though her memories are tattered, she knows someone is missing: Jorick.

Her vampire lover gathers an army to save her from the ancient, but his master Malick interferes. For five hundred years Malick has manipulated and ruined Jorick’s life. When he leaves Katelina broken and bleeding in the bowels of his oasis, it’s the final straw.

While Malick sets up his glorious war with a living legend, Jorick plans the ultimate taboo: to kill his master. He’s tried before and failed. Will this be different, or will he and Katelina be crushed in the carnage of a greater battle, between two whose blood goes back millennia?


amazon –

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Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?

Indie. I like to control everything, and this way I can.

Any other projects in the pipeline?

I’m planning to rework that Patrick sequel I mentioned and give it away to people on my mailing list (you can sign up at ), There’s a short story collection I’d like to finish (Tales of the Executioners), and then the eighth book, of course. There are some people who think I should quit the series after the next book because it’s too many books for one series. What do you think?

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

I’m going to be honest again. I don’t ever expect to make a living from my books – it was hard before and is only getting harder. Many traditionally published authors don’t make a living wage, and there are even fewer indies who do. I just want to know that there are people who enjoy my stories. Sure, I’d like there to be hundreds, but you know what? When I had seven fans I was happy, too. So as long as people are enjoying it I’ll keep plugging along.

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

That’s a tough question. I guess the best is to never give up and not to expect too much. Having goals is great, but none of us will be the next Stephen King just by putting a book on Smashwords. Be realistic, and then work towards whatever your goal is, whether it is to be the next Stephen King or just to entertain people.

joleene naylor 2About Joleene

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Sunday Surprise

Published 02/11/2014 by Barb

d40388e226a77c7ce70c8ceee77644540f223979_resizeAnd it’s another Wyrd Worlds author! Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome back Neil Shooter!

Where do you live and write from?
I live a quiet suburban life not too far from Toronto. Far enough away, you might say. I love the hilly rural region to the NE of the city, and I love that it is accessible to me “at this end of town”.
I usually write right here, on my couch, laptop on my, well, lap, and clicking away incessantly. But sometimes it just feels better to have good old pen and paper, and then I can be anywhere: front porch, back yard, lake front park, coffee shop, passenger seat, bed, kitchen table, toilet, or, indeed, right here on my couch.
When did you start writing?
I can’t remember when I started writing, because it’s something I remember doing, and enjoying, since I was very small. I didn’t pursue writing seriously, because it seemed to me that I was supposed to get a degree, and a job, and a house, and a car. But that kind of life was never suited to me, nor I to it, and I would find myself scurrying outside on my breaks to jot down a few words, or running to the washroom with a scrap of paper hidden in my pocket and my trademark pen on my ear (a habit carefully cultivated so as to never draw suspicion).
When I finally realized I had my priorities wrong, I made sweeping lifestyle changes, and began self-publishing. I still have to work for a living, mind you!
What genre(s) do you write?
I write science fiction or fantasy, or some combination of the two. I am very disappointed by the science accuracy level in most science fiction movies, and so I have always strived for realism in all my writing. Even if there is magic, or super alien technology, people are still people, and the world still has to be internally consistent.
The simple modern world usually fails to grasp my imagination, and so very little of what I write is set in the real world of today. I’ve tried to expand my horizons, but not with any great success. I simply enjoy what I enjoy, I suppose.
Where do you find your inspiration? Do you put yourself in your stories?
I find inspiration all the time. If I’m without pen and paper, I can make notes on my phone, but usually I am prepared. The down-side is that I can’t read anything without finding inspiration from it. Or watch anything. Put me in front of a documentary, and I’ll be scribbling away, taking notes like in class. Even dramas can trigger something. Most of my inspiration, though, comes from things that I read, from news, to surfing the internet, to novels, to the local newspaper. You never know when it will strike!
I’ve been looking through a box of 25 year old newspaper clippings, and some of them are real eye-openers. Yes, I’m the kind of person who can move from one continent to another, and still manage to bring boxes of newspaper clippings with me…
There is a little bit of me in every story, I must confess. There’s also a little bit of the people I know in every story. My own emotional experience can illuminate a character, and I’ve always been good at playing devil’s advocate, or seeing things from other people’s point of view.
Do you have a specific writing routine?
One day I hope to have that luxury, but right now I have a day job that pays my bills. That said, I have a gentle start to the day, browsing news stories, doing some light research, or noting down an “important” dream. Almost every day I have the chance to sit for an hour or two by myself and just focus on the ideas in my head. I enjoy having the kind of job where you can let your mind wander to an extent. For me, this mental calm of being physically occupied contrasts nicely with the focus of reading and writing. The trick is to be able to remember your train of thought hours later when you have opportunity to get things on paper!
I’m more creative at night, I suppose because of a day’s worth of thoughts bubbling about in my brain, unless that time of day is simply the time that everything else has been done, and I can sit and think? I like silence, or occasionally some soothing mood-building music.
Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?
I think I’d be a fast writer if I simply had the time, or the opportunity, to write more, but on average I’m quite slow. I’m kind of hot and cold, because no two days follow the same schedule.
I find that improvising gets me a certain distance into a story, and then I get lost. But on the other hand if I plan everything out, it seems to take all the juice out of it. I’ve been trying to find a kind of hybrid way of doing things, so that there is enough of a framework to keep me going in the “right” direction, but enough for me to discover as I go that I stay interested! I’ll let you know if it works out.
Tell us about your latest book
My latest story was “The Visitor”, published exclusively in the “Wyrd Worlds 2” anthology, but it will also be in my “Annual 2014” (hopefully in December 2014).
“The Visitor” is a mysterious stranger who loiters outside an average looking house on a cold, wet, and windy night. The house contains a visitor who must depart before the stranger can make his approach.
It’s a story about time, and family, and aspects of it are highly personal, but I still really enjoy reading it – and that is how I judge my own stories!
Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?
To be honest, I’ve never tried traditional publishing, and I’m not sure if that is a strength or a weakness on my part. I’ve also never tried a “Small Press” indie publisher. I’ve chosen to self-publish on the internet in order to retain control over my own work, but I wonder if a set schedule and an advance might spur me on?
The hardest thing about self-publishing is finding people whose opinions you trust, who can be proofreaders, beta-readers, editors, and artists. I’ve tried to be all of these things for myself, but, if my sales are anything to go by, I haven’t been very successful.
I think that is where the future of self-publishing lies: in the building of communities of authors who can help each other become better, and providing a framework for author-related services that, in a traditional publisher, would simply be done for you.
Any other projects in the pipeline?
Always! My third instalment of “The Causality Sequence” is called “Gravity”, and is still plotted out scene by scene, but remains half-written.
In a similar state is a new story called “The Edge”, which is about a pair of scientists running an astronomical array in the outer reaches of the Solar System.
And another new story that is probably near the top of the pile is not yet written, but buzzing around in my mind every day recently, is “The Linguist”. It’s about a translator called to a hospital to deal with a mysterious patient who speaks no English, and no recognisable language, but speaks something.
The story “The Kinnon Gate” is the beginning of a story called “The Last Bastion”, where a bunch of otherworldly heroes unite to defend the last human city in a world ravaged by war and destruction. I’m hoping against hope that this will be released some time in 2015!
There’s more, of course (there always is!), but these are the things you are most likely to be able to read any time soon.
What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?
My goal is to write, to find time, every single day, to write something, while at the same time juggling my family and my life. Ideally I’d like to be fabulously wealthy, a man of leisure, and able to write as much as I wanted, but in the meantime, I do what I can (most of the time).
I’m trying to keep one eye on the things that distract me, that take me away from writing. Some can’t be ignored, like work, or sleep, but others can be shuffled, or moved around on the list of priorities. I have to figure out how to not feel guilty about sitting by myself while there are people who want to spend time with me. I suppose it’s all about finding the right balance!

Connect with Neil Shooter online




Also by Neil Shooter:

The Causality Sequence:

1. Causality (Causality appears in the anthology Wyrd Worlds)

2. Probability

3. Gravity (coming soon)

Homeless (Homeless also appears in the anthology Wyrd Worlds II)

The Visitor (Available exclusively in the anthology Wyrd Worlds II)

The Kinnon Gate appears in the anthology: The Battle of Ebulon

Sunday interview – Cara McKenna

Published 26/08/2012 by Barb

I read excerpts of Curio during Six Sentence Sunday last year and was so intrigued by those short excerpts I ended up downloading the book from Amazon. It’s sweet and funny and hot and I couldn’t put it down… where can I find a Didier? 😉 I even learned a new word (I thought Curio was a name, LOL) and when I finished it, I had to interview the author. And she’s even having a giveaway (what a generous author!), so skip to the end of the post if you want that! 🙂 But then come back and read the interview…

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Cara McKenna! 

1. Where do you live and write from?

I live just north of Boston on the coast, in a condo comprised of the slopey-ceilinged top floor of a very old house. When I moved in with my now husband, I took over the front room and painted it chartreuse and turned it into my office. I do ninety-five percent of my writing here, sitting on a yoga ball chair as I am now, typing on a desktop Mac. My front window looks out onto the cove, and on a lucky summer day I’ll see egrets and herons, or in the winter, legions of hardy bufflehead ducks.

2. When did you start writing?

I started writing seriously on July 4, 2008. I was up in Maine visiting my parents for the holiday when I first opened a blank Word document and decided to start writing a romance novel. I finished it about four months later—writing on weekends and in the morning before work, and during my lunch breaks at the office where I did graphic design. I was possessed, madly in love with this new hobby and the thought I might one day be able to do it professionally—get paid to be creative on my own terms, which wasn’t something I was getting from design. I joined RWA in August, I believe, using the Golden Heart as my very first deadline. I didn’t final that year, but I did the next. That first book was never published, and with good reason, but it was the book I used to put all the writing advice I’d absorbed into practice, the book that both taught me to write and proved I could finish a 100,000-word manuscript. I realize now that it kind of sucked, but I’ll always treasure it. That’s my advice for people who tell me they want to write a novel. “Write a shitty one first. It’ll teach you everything you need to know.”

3. What genre(s) do you write?

Contemporary steamy romance, erotic romance, and straight-up erotica. My erotica typically promises a happy-for-now ending or better, but not always. I’ve written vanilla stuff and kinky stuff, menage and male/male and rape role-play, all kinds.

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

Usually, the hero comes first. Either a face will spring to mind, or a personality, or even something as simple as his job. Once I know who he is, I ponder what kind of woman would be both the best and worst partner for him, to make him confront his myriad issues (my heroes usually have a lot of issues, some of them clinically diagnosable.) Occasionally I’ll come up with the heroine first, but not typically. I don’t put myself in my stories…not consciously. I’m sure all of my heroines have a healthy dose of me in them, in their worldview or their sense of humor or their quirks and biases, and some more than others. But I’ve never modeled a heroine on myself, or anyone I’ve met, or someone else’s fictional character. They just show up on their own, chuck full of opinions.

5. Do you have a specific writing routine?

I do. I’ve been writing full-time for the past three years. Typically I try to sit down at the computer by 7:30, and unless I’m mired in editorial revisions, I write until lunchtime (with a break to go running, most days), banking 2,000 or 3,000 new words and smoothing over the previous session’s work. I self-edit as I go. I wish I could write straight through at break-neck speed as some authors can, but that’s not my process. Creatively I’m useless after about 1:00, so I switch to admin tasks or freelance design or real-life chores in the afternoon. Or sometimes I get sucked into a vortex of reality TV and wind up watching Hoarders on Netflix Instant Watcher until it’s time to make dinner.

6. Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?

My answer is the same for either question—both. When I start a book, especially if it’s for Harlequin Blaze, a line with reader expectations I have to be mindful of meeting, I usually latch on to a basic story idea, figure out how the hero and heroine meet, and get writing. By the third or fourth chapter, I have to hit pause and figure out where the story is going to go, so I can get myself on track to wrap things up within the given word count. I hammer out how the book needs to end—who needs to be redeemed and how, what the essence of the black moment should be, how the characters need to change and what complications could spur that change—and then I get back to writing, with a bit more of a map. But I never know exactly what will happen. Finding out is half the fun, and it keeps me going, wanting to know what’s coming next. As for speed, it depends on the day. Some rare mornings I can bang out 4,000 words by ten o’clock without breaking a sweat. Other days I have to tweeze each and every word out of my brain like a splinter, and flick them onto the page in a nonsensical pile. Days like those, I’m lucky if I get 500 words written, and even luckier if half are salvageable. But most days are somewhere in between. Decent flow, moderate count, neither euphoric nor torturous, just enjoyable and challenging and steady.

7. Tell us about your latest book

The next book I have coming out, on August 29, is called Coercion.  It’s the first of the five Curio Vignettes, a series of short, follow-up novellas to my 2011 book Curio, which is about a virgin heroine and a Parisian male prostitute hero. This first sequel is a little kinky, and has the characters experimenting with forced seduction role-playing. Sort of quirky and atmospheric, romantic and filthy at once. I love writing those two characters. I’m in the middle of the fifth and final Vignette, and I’ll be sad when I say goodbye to Didier and Caroly. They have such interesting, off-beat views of sex and love and the world at large. It’s fun visiting inside their heads. And beds.

8. Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?

A mix of both. My first sale was to Ellora’s Cave, and I’ve now sold them about fifteen original books, plus some anthologies. I’ve had a great experience with them, and they let me write just about anything I want, theme-wise. Lots of creative freedom. I also write romance for Samhain, and enjoy a healthy combination of freedom and structure there, since romance has more boundaries than straight-up erotica. And Harlequin is the most challenging of all, as series romances need to conform enough to make good on the promises each line makes to its readership. But I enjoy the challenge. There’s still plenty of room to play within the line’s structure, and it makes me a more controlled, disciplined writer, coloring (mostly) inside the lines.

9. Any other projects in the pipeline?

Yes, lots! Between August and December, I’ll have a new Curio Vignette out each month. I also have a stand-alone Blaze out in January called The Wedding Fling, which is about a runaway B-list Hollywood bride and the unscrupulous pilot who flies her to a tropical island for her honeymoon getaway, sans groom. Then I have three more Blazes releasing as a series, with the first book, Making Him Sweat, out in March. Those take place between a matchmaking franchise and the boxing and MMA gym located right beneath it, in Boston’s Chinatown. Hopeless romantics and bruised, sweaty fighters in endless, unlikely combinations. In April I have a romantic novella out with Samhain, part of five-book series on the theme of “Strangers on a Train” with four of my favorite author friends. My story strands its heroine and hero in a subway station overnight in the dead of winter—romantic, huh? And I also have some other top-secret stuff in the works, but I can’t talk about it as of the time of this interview. Maybe by the time it posts, the cat will be out of the bag 🙂

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

Just to keep writing, keep getting better, keep evolving, and keep exploring new kinds of characters and stories and avoid boredom. It’s beyond my control to plan that I’ll make this list or that, or earn a certain amount as an advance, or be the next so-and-so. I can only control what stories I write, and whether or not I sit down each morning and get the words on the page… Though I would like to keep making enough money for this to stay a viable day job, since I’ve never been happier. Thank goodness I opened that blank Word doc, four years ago! I didn’t know what I was missing.

If you’d like a chance to win a copy of both Curio and Coercion, just say so in the comments, by noon EST on August 29! I’ll pick a random winner that afternoon. And if you’ve already read Curio, I’m happy to send it to a friend of your choosing instead, if you win.

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