Sunday Surprise


And it’s a guest! I did announce it, didn’t I? Here’s the first of the Holiday visitors to this blog! I met her in Edinburgh (where I unfortunately missed her tarot readings) and she was kind enough to answer my writerly questions… Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Marielle S. Smith!

Tarot for Creatives: 21 Tarot Spreads to (Re)Connect to Your Intuition and Ignite That Creative Spark (Creative Tarot Book 2) Kindle EditionWhere do you live and write from?

I grew up in the Netherlands, raised by a Scottish dad and Dutch mum, but I now live and write from Cyprus, a small island in the Mediterranean Sea.

Why do you write?

I don’t feel right when I don’t. Nothing aligns or makes sense, I’m all out of sorts, and become impatient with life and everything and everyone in it. It’s not pretty… I have stories and knowledge inside of me and I just need to let it out.

When did you start writing?

I was always making up stories and writing little poems and such. I don’t know when it started; it was always there. I don’t know myself any different. The only thing that has changed over the years is that I no longer keep it a secret.

What genre(s) do you write?

I write mostly nonfiction at the moment, which springs from my day job as a writing coach and editor. I also co-write LGBTQ+ romance under a pen name, and I’m working on a YA fantasy series.

What does your writing routine consist of?

I try to write first thing in the morning, but depending on how much other work I have on my plate, it might become the first thing I do after dinner. Aside a few exceptions (because life happens), I do something writing related every day, whether that means writing new words, editing old ones, working on a cover or blurb. To me, it all counts, and as long as I get an hour a day in at the least, I am very happy.

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

Seeing the bigger picture and then bringing it all together, which is one of the reasons most of my editing work consists of developmental editing. I do a lot of outline critiques and it’s so easy for me to see how similarly separate story aspects can be linked.

Honestly, I have no idea how I developed this specific quality. My brain has always seemed wired to connect the dots. I used to become impatient during meetings of whatever kind because it often took an hour for the entire group to reach the conclusion that I already envisioned about fifteen minutes into the meeting. The moment I have all the necessary pieces of a puzzle, I’m there. It’s the same reason I spent most of my school-going years bored. And why I tend to win at Rummikub, I guess.

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

My nonfiction inspiration I get through my coaching and editing work, and through journaling about my own writing practice. It’s all about listening intently and then providing what is needed (or trying to). That said, I have certain principles and beliefs about the world we live in, and a particular way of understanding our place within this world, and those are present in my work. The same goes for my fiction. I might not always explicitly comment on what’s going on in the world right now, but I will write the kind of world or society I would love to belong to.

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?

I am a pantser turned plotter, but I’m not a rigid plotter: I always leave room for the story to surprise me. I’m either fast or slow, depending on the project. I’m fastest at nonfiction, and slowest at fantasy. And no, that doesn’t surprise me at all 😊

Tell us about your latest book

The 52 Weeks of Writing Author Journal and Planner is my latest project. In it, I’ve brought together everything I’ve learned over the past few years as a writer and writing coach. It’s the ideal tool for the writer who is tired of being in their own way and ready to start digging for some honest truths about their writing goals and practice. It’s designed to help you get clear about your writing through consistent reflection, planning, and tracking. It also provides a safe space where you can figure out how to set goals that honour both your dreams and the reality of your day-to-day life.

Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?

For me, indie publishing is the way. The freedom is everything to me. It’s not for everybody and that’s OK, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I can write whatever I want and publish whenever I want. What’s not to love about that?

Any other projects in the pipeline?

Yes! I’m working on a new book in my Creative Tarot seriesSet Yourself up for Successwhich will be published the first of January. I’m also working on a book on imposter syndrome with fellow editor and writing coach John Robin, and I am aiming to finally finish a project called Representation Matters in 2020, which will be a book aimed at writers who want to include more diverse characters in their work. I’ve taught university courses on representation for almost ten years before I left academia behind, and it’s about time I put all that knowledge into something useful for fellow writers.

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

To leave a legacy I’m proud of, by publishing only books that are aligned with me and what I have to say.

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

Claim the title. If you write, you’re a writer. If that title feels too much for now, claim the verb. Tell the world you’re writing. You don’t have to share your work with anyone yet, but do yourself the honour and let them know you write.

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Find Marielle online:

Website

Instagram

Amazon Author Central

Book links to all Amazon shops can be found on this page

Sunday Surprise


And it’s a guest! A fellow fantasy author! Many of the new followers probably already know her, but I’m delighted to introduce her to everybody else! Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome A.J. Flowers!

banner-820x320.gifWhere do you live and write from?

I live in Detroit and I typically write in a comfy chair looking at the snowy landscape (or active squirrels!) – This is also my cat’s favorite pastime. Sounds peaceful? I forgot to mention I’m usually tuning out my husband’s videogames or TV shows lol.

Why do you write?

I have an inexplicable urge to be creative. I tried art, photography, and while I was decent at those, writing held the most freedom. I can create entire worlds with the only limit being my imagination! It’s the best pastime there is!

When did you start writing?

Like most writers, as soon as I could pick up a pencil! I wrote poetry and stories throughout high school, and I wrote my first novel in college.

What genre(s) do you write?

Fantasy and most of its subgenres.

What does your writing routine consist of?

I write, or work on writerly tasks such as editing and marketing, pretty much any free moment I get. That means fifteen minutes in the morning, fifteen at lunch at my day job, maybe an hour when I get home, and then as many hours as my husband can handle on the weekends! I love writing and I’ll never get enough.

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

My main strength is that I don’t suffer writer’s block like I see from many other authors. My problem is I have too many stories in my head to write and I have to pick one (or three). I focus best when I make a daily schedule and make a plan of what I’m going to be working on for the next few months. That keeps me focused rather than getting caught up in a hundred different storylines.

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

I just sit down and start writing. No inspiration necessary, although I do enjoy the occasional Skyrim soundtrack to get me in my own head. I wouldn’t say I put myself in my stories, but every writer will take and borrow from their own life. I’d say that in my first novel, Fallen to Grace, I relate to Azrael and her struggles of being so different from everyone else, and learning that being different could mean she could make a difference in the world for the better.

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?

I used to be a pantser, but after trashing over 100k in words, I started doing a hybrid method of loose, bulletpoint outlines paired with letting the words take me. I have gotten faster at writing. I target 1-2k words on a workday, and 10k words on a weekend.

Tell us about your latest book

My latest book would be Rise to Hope, book two in the Celestial Downfall Trilogy. This is really a trilogy from the heart. Most of the reviews are readers completely taken aback. They didn’t expect this story and praise how unique and broad the world-building is. I love books from Robin Hobb and Mercedes Lackey, but I wanted to write that kind of magic system in the style of Unearthly or Angelfall. So my angel fantasy was born and I just love it. I’m glad readers seem to love it too!

While this is a difficult niche to market, I don’t regret writing it. I’m constantly trying out new strategies to get my work in front of readers. I’ll be hosting an Angels & Magic boxed set with 15 other authors this summer, so I’m super excited to see how it turns out!

Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?

Indie published all the way. I had a traditional publisher interested in my angel series, but once I looked at the pros and cons, I realized I wanted to go indie. Angel fantasy is a small niche and difficult to market, and publishers didn’t hide the fact they had no plans to help me market—yet they’d take 90% of my royalties. I can hire my own editors and cover designers, so if a publisher isn’t going to support my visibility, I don’t see the benefit.

Any other projects in the pipeline?

I’m wrapping up the Celestial Downfall Trilogy of course, but I’m also writing a bonus standalone novel with it! I’ve had a beautiful cover commissioned and am already shoving it off on it’s long-term pre-order.
Link: https://www.books2read.com/ManorSaffron

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

My goal is to improve as a writer with each book I write and to get my work in front of readers who will love it. I studied writing for two years before I took the plunge into publishing. I constantly am reading craft books, listening to marketing podcasts, and am delving into the community of indie authors to learn from them, as well as support them too. It’s a great community and I love being a part of it. I can’t wait to see what 2018 holds!

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

There are so many successful authors out there that sometimes it can get intimidating. The best advice I was given was to “keep my eyes on my own paper.” I write at my pace, and I write what I love. I have a small, but strong, readership and it is growing every day. Last year, no one knew who I was. This year, I received a comment on my blog from a lady who was in a lot of pain and said my stories were the only thing that helped her to escape from it. It made me cry! So it just goes to show, I’m doing something right, and I’m going to keep doing it!

AJ-flowers.com

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