All posts tagged guest post
Posted by Barb on 19/02/2017
And last but not least the lady who started it all! Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Steph Bennion!
Where do you live and write from?
I quit the big bad city of London last year and moved to Hastings on England’s south coast, so you can blame me for the idea of writing themed stories about the eponymous battle. This part of Sussex is known as ‘1066 Country’ and as you might expect there are all sorts of events planned to mark the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings.
Why do you write?
I write stories to scratch the itch that is the urge to create, but also with the hope that readers will be entertained! A big part of it is to pass on the love for the stories I read in my youth: books by Arthur C Clarke, Robert Heinlein and the other masters of science fiction.
When did you start writing?
I started writing and submitting short stories to various publications when I was in my teens, albeit with erratic success, so I’ve been at it for thirty years now. My first few novels were truly terrible and now live in a darkened drawer somewhere. I came close to giving up writing fiction and for a while concentrated on music instead (I was a songwriter and bassist in a weird folk-rock band), but then had an idea for a tongue-in-cheek adult fantasy novella which I managed to sell to a niche publisher. That royalty cheque gave me the boost I needed to persevere.
What genre(s) do you write?
I write mainly space opera on the hard sci-fi side, for young adults and adults young at heart. My Hollow Moon novels centre around working-class folk who find themselves battling the consequences of upheavals caused by those in power; stories of friendships and how people come together in times of need. I read a lot of science fiction and have a fondness for planet-hopping tales that keep the human element firmly in focus, preferably with a few spaceships thrown in. Science fiction at its best takes contemporary issues and shines new light on them outside their normal context, all against a background of adventure, mystery, humour and thrills. What more could you want?
What do you feel are your strengths as a writer? How have you developed these qualities?
I like to inject a dose of humour into my writing – not in a ‘comic novel’ way in the vein of The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy or the Space Captain Smith books, but space opera is often so overblown I find it hard to resist poking fun at science-fiction tropes or turning a plot device on its head. I like to think it makes the space opera I write a little bit different. What I will say is that comedy is deceptively hard to write.
What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?
My main goal is to complete the Hollow Moon series; by my latest reckoning there’s at least another two or three novels to write before the main story arc is concluded. I’m sure I’ll be distracted by other writing projects along the way…
What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?
Writing is a craft that can be learned: it’s important to read widely and study the masters. Oh, and don’t give up the day job…
What is your story around the Battle of Hastings about? How did you come up with the idea?
The Battles Of Hastings is taken from the journal of a headstrong young time traveller who, after she and fellow time travellers realise they each come from a future with a different past, embarks on a journey through multiple realities to try and put history right. While I was researching the events of 1066 it struck me how incredibly close King Harold of England came to winning the battle. Exploring this through a tale of parallel universes seemed the obvious way to go. The challenge for me as a science-fiction writer was that the second law of thermodynamics pretty much prohibits time travel into the past, but I still wanted to offer an explanation of how a time machine might work.
Any other projects in the pipeline?
Time-traveller Jane Kennedy, the narrator of The Battles Of Hastings, also features in an unpublished novella of mine called Catastrophe Jane, which is set in an alternate-history version of my native Black Country during the industrial revolution. I never got to grips with the time-travel science in this earlier work and so put it to one side, but writing The Battles Of Hastings resolved many of the issues I had with this so hopefully there will be more of Jane’s adventures to come. I’m also tentatively outlining a synopsis for book four of my Hollow Moon series, as well as the usual festive tale for December. The seasonal short stories are generally sci-fi spoofs of classic fairy tales and a lot of fun to write!
Posted by Barb on 21/10/2016
Barb: I’m away, so I’m leaving the blog in good hands! I want you all to welcome Martin Rinehart, author of the forthcoming Explicitly Sexy books. Tell us about your books.
Martin: It’s really just one novel. The story of three married women who want to have honeymoon-strength marriages. They meet after aerobics, twice a week for cocktails and girl talk, usually about their relationships, often about their sex lives. It’s about 240,000 words. A trilogy in print, an heptalogy in ebooks.
Barb: You were telling me about your characters writing their own dialog. Care to elaborate?
Martin: My first try I realized my characters were all talking the same way. I had about a third of a full-length novel but I threw it out. Took each character out for a nice long lunch and really focused on the way she spoke. Tried again. It was better.
After they each started speaking in their own voices I began getting the strange feeling that my characters were writing their own dialog. They were talking to each other and not paying much attention to me. I posted about this in a writers’ forum. The response was overwhelmingly, “Me too!” Seems that some characters will openly revolt and spoil your plot. “No,” she said, “I’d never do that. I’m not that type.”
Barb: So could I interview your characters?
Martin: Sure. Why don’t you talk to them right after the end of the novel. That ends on Friday, June 17, 2005. They’ll probably want to get together again the following Tuesday.
Barb: Unfortunately I’m not the one who is able to jump around time and space and chat with characters. It’s Samantha who does the interviews for this blog. So I shall let her take over if you don’t mind. And since it’s a nice long chat, let’s spread it out throughout the week, shall we?
Coming next: interview with the Explicitly Sexy heroines part 1 and part 2.
Posted by Barb on 17/08/2016
Since I gave up on the challenge that should have ended today (started April 1, end should have been April 8) and spring is killing me (cool mornings hot lunch times, gaaaaaah), I thought I’d just sort of pass. About Kaylyn update, I’m about 17K in and the plot keeps changing under me, so I don’t think I’ll manage to finish it by the weekend, but hopefully by next week yes.
Just an announcement for a reading Friday. Grab this bundle while you can, it’s shorter reads (between 10K and 35K I’m told) that can keep you company when you have a short trip. And now I’m leaving you with the words of others – words of wisdom, writers on writing, call them what you want. I’m already tired from typing this, so I better use my energies to take Kaylyn to her next destination. Have a great weekend!
Things change in this industry every day. If you’re like me, you probably find it bewildering at times. But take heart. Some things never change. The most important thing that will never change is that books are magical containers for delivering stories and knowledge. You create magic.
The industry will change – players will go out of business and others will rise and fall and rise again – but books will always remain. Authors will always remain. You are the captain of your personal adventure in publishing, and the course you chart is rife with opportunity.
Luck plays a factor as well, but only for those who implement best practices first. Best practices prepare you to capture lightning in a bottle when luck strikes. Luck strikes all the time. It’s word of mouth. It’s a blog post or a tweet or a Facebook mention or a review that recommends your book.
The books you have in you are important. Your books are important to the future of book culture and humanity. Don’t let anyone or anything discourage you from putting your book out into the world.
But if you want a career as a writer, if you don’t want to have a day job, if you only want to write, then it seems to me the safest path to take is the indie path. You’ll have more opportunity. You can work hard and publish a lot and make money doing so.
Will every indie writer make six-figures per year? Hell, no. Nor will every traditionally published writer. But what this particular Author Earnings report shows is that if you want the chance of making six-figures or more per year with your writing, the best publishing path is indie.
(Provided you continue to learn your craft, are a damn fine storyteller, have excellent covers, do the right amount of marketing… and on and on and on.)
I made a comment at some point over the last few days that bothered a number of people. I said I could always tell if a person was going to make it. I did not mean in their storytelling skills. I meant in their drive and persistence.
Anyone can learn how to tell a good story. Persistence over years is impossible to teach.
Making choices to write is always a key indicator. How often do you make the choice to write when others are doing something that sounds like fun?
– Dean Wesley Smith
(On getting to the typewriter)… “For me, a lot of times the real barrier to get to work – to get to the typewriter or the word processor – comes before I get there. I had one of those days today where I thought to myself: “I’m not sure if I can do this.” I have a lot of days like that. I think it’s kind of funny really, that people think: “Well, you’re Stephen King, that doesn’t happen to you,” as if I wasn’t really the same as everybody else.”
In the past year, I’ve had so many friends feel burned out. Tapped out. Done. Finished. Writing became this chore that they had to do to keep up with… what? Financial obligations. Reader expectations. Personal goals….
When I start to get burned out, it’s usually because I haven’t had enough creative time. It’s because I’m focusing on the publishing and selling aspects of this business and not on the writing parts. I NEED the writing. It’s still my most-fun-thing. My escape. My happy place.
Posted by Barb on 08/04/2016
I’m Samantha and I come from another world – the original, old Silvery Earth, where people are immortal and never grow up. When I’m not switching bodies at will, I travel to other universes, especially books or movies. That’s how I met Rajveer the vampire, for example!
So, I’m taking over the interviews on this blog! And here I am, meeting people from other books/universes/whatever!
Soo! Tell me a little about yourself.
My name is Dii – Dii’Athella is the longer version. It’s elven. I’m told it means Flower of the Dawn. I’m about twenty-five summers – although I don’t know my exact age. I was taken from my true mother as an infant and given to a human family. They did not take me to raise me as their own, I was a Kept – a slave. I’m an elf – elves have no rights, no liberty, no justice in Eranan law.
Ugh. I already hate your world. Describe your appearance in ten words or less.
Female, red hair, tattoos, elven, midnight blue eyes.
Lovely! Do you have an enemy or nemesis? If so, who are they and how did they become an enemy?
My Keeper Joset Tremayne. He’s the one who stole me from my mother’s arms. Although I do not know how my mother ended up in the Enclave. Joset used me….Please do not ask me the details. Let’s just say he’s very unpleasant, he’s cruel and unfeeling. He beats all his servants and slaves. By law he does nothing wrong. I was property – to be treated as he wished but surely property does not think, does not feel or hurt.
I am a sorceress – which made me doubly forbidden. The Order of Witch-Hunters rule the land, and by their law magic is illegal. Anyone caught using it can be taken and imprisoned or executed. There is no trial – I think that’s what you call it in your land. Magic is just there, it infuses the land, some people are born with it. Magic does not know it’s forbidden. How can it be forbidden – it just is. Like the sky, the sun, the moon and the gods.
I know exactly what you mean. I do have my own share of magic people of other worlds don’t understand. Would you kill for those you love? And would you die for them?
Yes. And yes.
So tell me more about your world.
I now live in Tremellic, which is a valley community at the far edge of Erana. The Jagged Peak mountains look upon us and the Shimmering Forest guards our border.
Are you involved in a relationship? If so, with who and what is it about them that you find appealing?
Lord Archos. He is kind, clever, powerful and charming. He’s an excellent lover, a courageous fighter and a shrewd businessman. He is also a mage, our magic met and now we are more powerful together. He loves me for what I am, what I was, and what I can be.
Sounds like a dream man! What is the biggest challenge you face in the story?
I get a lot of answers like that, I wonder why… Do you have a family? Tell me about them.
Archos is my family, and his friend Olek. Olek is like the brother I never really had. Ozena lives with us too. She’s an elven huntress from a local elven community which was destroyed by slavers. It’s nice to have a female companion about the manor. My Keeper had a son – Ulric – who was sometimes kind to me. Mostly he was his father’s son and could not see me as anything more than a pretty dalliance, someone to warm his bed. He cared for his own pleasure, and the honour of their house. He was not a man. He was a child, and a petulant one at that.
Most men are – I think it’s called Peter Pan syndrome somewhere… Please give me an interesting and unusual fact about yourself.
I have a tattoo which spirals from my cheek to my thigh.
Whoa, neat! What 2 or 3 questions do you wish I’d asked and what are your answers to them?
Oh gods, I do not know. Perhaps why I visit the Enclave in Varlek when I know it is a terrible place?
Varlek, one of the largest cities has an elven Enclave. I suppose in your world it would be called a ghetto. All elves must live there – unless they live in the house of their masters. It’s a terrible place, there is much disease and poverty. The Enclave is another tool of the Order of Witch-Hunters – to keep the humans and elves apart. Highlight our differences you might say. Elves and men are really not that different, there are a few cosmetic differences – elves have different ear shapes, we are slightly smaller and our features more pronounced. But elves and humans can interbreed – any child thereof is classed as a half-elf and subject to the restrictions of all elves. Even if it’s father is a lord of the land. Why did we visit the Enclave? Ozena’s sister was taken from Szendro, and often such elves end up in the Enclave, the slave markets or worse. As it happened the elves we found were not of Szendro. That’s another story – and you must read my adventures to find out who they are.
I’d not dare to enter the Enclave alone, but some humans do feel pity for the elves and bring medicine or extra food. Officially it’s not allowed but a starving, sick elf cannot work and besides disease can spread to the humans. The Witch-Hunter guards turn their eyes away if the payment is large enough. Money can buy freedom, of a sort. Or at least pity and mercy.
Archos tells me it depends on the particular guards – some turn aside. Others do not. Some of the merchants pay to the temple. The priestesses are allowed in the Enclave to give alms, bring herbs and prayers. I suppose it keeps order. Vestiges of the old religions linger and not even the Order often dare to defy the gods. It’s more, I think, they ignore it, or perhaps feel that angering the gods helps no one.
Any mage knows the gods are real, or at least were. Many do not walk the lands now, the magic is not as Powerful as once it was and so although the beliefs do linger they are often not strong. Do I believe? Yes, of course. When one has nothing but hatred and fear one looks beyond the mortal for hope. The gods are there, getting their attention – that’s another matter entirely.
Another question? What are my hopes for the future? I’m an elf – and even within Tremellic where elves are treated well it’s hard to believe we will ever be truly free. For now the Witch-Hunters ignore Tremellic – Archos pays vast bribes to keep it so but the more we interfere the more likely they are to come. My hopes for the future are to live with the man I love, and to be safe and happy. I hope for the elves to be free, but I know that is a dangerous hope. We cannot simply sit back and do nothing but for every elf we save, for every mage we help the risk of Order ‘pacification’ increases. My hopes are that we live to see another sun rise, another moon rise. I will say this – despite my fear I will never again become a prisoner of the Order. I will live as freely as I can or die trying. The Order think they rule this land, think they rule magic. Magic does not agree.
Well, thank you for your time, Dii’. I see we have another guest… Tell me a little about yourself, my good lord.
Ulric Tremayne, son of Lord Joset Tremayne of Reldfield. I am heir to the lands, and all its chattels. I am twenty-five or so. Really does it matter? As yet there is no Lady Tremayne. My mother is father’s…concubine. She is a mage – but that is of no matter. In our lands she has protection. Have I a wife? Not yet, I do not need the burden of a wife and my father is still young enough to have many years left to him and perhaps if he takes another mistress there will be another son.
I like the company of women. I am the master’s son and so if I command they warm my bed. Then there is Dii. Such a sweet creature, poor soul. But of course she’s a Kept. Property. I suppose Mama is too, if I think about it. There is no point in taking Dii as any more than the whore she is – any offspring would be half-elven bastards. Dii brings me pleasure but it can never be more than that. Describe your appearance in ten words or less.
Black hair, young and handsome.
What is your role in the story?
I’m the son of Lord Joset Tremayne. When Dii runs away I go to seek her. Father has a temper, he does not treat her kindly and so if I can return her to the household I may be able to pacify him. Dii is his prize Kept, she has certain….skills, and charms. Dii brings us a goodly amount of coin. Besides it is dangerous world for a young elven woman. Dii knows nothing of it. She is safer within our house.
What is your relationship with the protagonist?
I suppose you could almost say Dii is my foster sister. Mama certainly tries to treat her as a daughter. My mother had a true born daughter once – stillborn. I don’t recall her, I was either very young or not yet born. I try and tell mother Dii is just a Kept, an elf but it doesn’t help. I worry for them both. Father could easily end his protection and Mama would have nothing, perhaps end in the Enclave prison, or worse. Dii is an elf and a mage. The Order do not look kindly on her type.
Where do you live(world/town/whatever)?
I live in Reldfield. It’s a town West of Jaeden and the city. We have other holdings but that is where my father chooses to reside.
Are you involved in a relationship? If so, with who and what is it about them that you find appealing?
I can take any girl I choose in the household or from among the Kepts. Dii is my favourite but I am a young man, I take my pleasures where I wish.
What is the biggest challenge you face in the story?
Finding Dii. The foolish girl ran from our protection. You’d not think it so hard to find one red-haired elven girl but she’s clever. She finds herself a protector. Dii has something about her, an allure. Many men find her irresistible.
Do you have a moral code?
I wish to protect the honour of the House of Tremayne, and of course our interests. I don’t think I’m cruel but well, elves are elves aren’t they? The law is the law.
Please give me an interesting and unusual fact about yourself.
I have an attraction towards red-haired women, but I can’t think why.
*to herself* Glad I’m a brunette! *back to Ulric* What 2 or 3 questions do you wish I’d asked and what are your answers to them?
What will I do with Dii when I find her?
I’ll bring her home. I know she fears my father but I’m sure I can placate him. At least I think so.
What do I think of the Order of Witch-Hunters?
They can be….heavy handed at times. I mean one hears stories but rumours are just that rumour. Erana can’t be an easy land to rule – there are many factions after all. They leave us alone – in fact now I think of it some of my father’s cronies wear the colours of the Order. It helps to sweeten them, after all my mother is a mage. I try and stay out of their way but I know mother and Dii fear them. The law is the law.
These characters appear in Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles.
The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles series – an adult fantasy/fantasy romance series, with a touch of erotica.
The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles – Book I
In a dark world where magic is illegal and elves are enslaved a young elven sorceress runs for her life from the house of her evil Keeper. Pursued by his men and the corrupt Order of Witch-Hunters she must find sanctuary. As the slavers roll across the lands stealing elves from what remains of their ancestral home the Witch-Hunters turn a blind eye to the tragedy and a story of power, love and a terrible revenge unfolds.
Also available as a paperback on Createspace and Amazon.
Posted by Barb on 03/04/2016
And it’s a guest! He’s author of the month on Goodreads, so if you don’t have enough with these, go ask him questions on the Smashwords Authors group as well! He’s just completed NaNoWriMo! Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Albert Yates!
- turn on computer open up current manuscript
- open web browser and click through a few pages of reddit
- find playlist or band that I think will want to listen to
- re-read the last couple of paragraphs that I wrote
- go back to reddit and see if there’s anything new
- type away on the keyboard
Posted by Barb on 06/12/2015
Words of wisdom, writers on writing, whatever you want to call it… here’s some food for thought! Have a great Sunday!
What most writers need is to believe in their own work. The writers need to finish a first draft, spellcheck it, and hand it to a trusted first reader who is not a writer.
Let me repeat that. The last thing you want is a writer as your first reader.
A writer will critique. A reader will tell you if the book is a good read or not.
Will the reader be able to tell you how to fix the book? Hell, no. That’s not a reader’s job.
Generally, if the book fails, especially in areas like pacing, then the best thing the writer can do is start over. From scratch. Without looking at the previous manuscript.
Because we’re storytellers, not writers. A manuscript is the coded tool that we use to tell stories across great distances.
I get a lot of questions about how I write so much. (And takes weeks at a time off as I am doing now.) My response lately has been that I never look back. I never fix or rewrite. I do the best job I can do when writing a story or novel, then when a story or novel is done, it is done. Period.
I march forward and move to the next story or novel. So while others get a few books done because of all the rewriting and trying to make a book perfect, I get a dozen simply because I am stepping forward all the time. I write clean and the best I can the first time through.
So I will repeat my general answer to various questions about what to do with old work, meaning finished work.
When in doubt, write the next story.
Q: So how do we survive this awful situation?
Joe sez: Easy.
1. Write good books. Books that readers love. Books they recommend to others.
2. Experiment. Try new things. If you aren’t failing, you aren’t trying.
3. Innovate. Start your own ebook company. Certainly some of you have ideas. Go do something about it.
4. Share what you know. That’s the point of life. Learning is only half the equation, you also have to pass it along so others can benefit.
If you don’t like how the way things are, do it yourself, and do it better.
Now I’m going to go back to writing. I suggest you do the same.
I want to wake up one morning and know how to write page one, or page 10, or page 250. But I never seem to know how to do it. Every book is different and takes a different structure, style, process, etc. And relearning how to write is where the insanity comes from.
– Sarah MacLean
True glory consists in doing what deserves to be written; in writing what deserves to be read
– Pliny the elder
The more you reason the less you create.
― Raymond Chandler
Posted by Barb on 18/10/2015