Sunday Surprise


Meet some authors of Witches: Cutter’s Final Cut – Issue 4 from Knotted Road Press on Facebook – the bundle Witches Wands and Wanderers is in its final week, grab it now or lose it forever!

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And now, here’s an interview from one of the authors of the Cutter’s Final Cut: Witches anthology!

You’ll find the Witches anthology as part of the story bundle, Witches, Wands, and Wanderers.

How long have you been writing?

About forty years, off and on. During some of that time I went back to school, held day jobs not compatible with writing and just basically lived.

What is your favorite work? Tell me a little about it.

The Urban Fantasy series I’m currently working on. It’s about five witches, the McMahon Sisters who live in a magical Queen Anne style house in the nearby city of Everett. The story is told through five novellas, one by each sister, about their war with a distantly-related cousin and the demons he controls. Some of whom are controlling him. Over the five novellas the sisters form a network of witches, shamans and demonologists who help them. Along with magic, love and a pooling of resources, the story is about building community.

What was one of the most surprising things you’ve learned while writing?

The most important thing is to trust my gut instincts. They’re always right.

What was the inspiration for this book or story?

This story is set in the same world as my McMahon Sisters novellas but the inspiration came from my volunteer work. Every week I work at a local animal shelter, The Noah Center, with cats. I clean their spaces and feed them. But mostly, I talk to them, socialize them and give them lots of attention. It’s absolutely rewarding to see them go out the door with their new person. And also heartbreaking sometimes. I want to take too many of them home with me but our house is full.

What was the hardest, as well as the easiest, parts of writing this book or story?

The hardest part was getting started. So many distractions and my life is always complicated. The easiest piece was describing the cats. Or perhaps I should say – the most fun.

Tell us one thing about your character that we don’t learn from the story, maybe a secret from their past or a hidden aspiration.

Maggie got burned badly by several bad friendships in high school. Ever since, she’s been a loner. She’s just now taking the first tentative steps towards making friends.

What sorts of superstitions or odd writing habits do you have?

I’ve come to believe that the less I talk or think about a story beforehand (besides building the world and figuring out a character), the more likely I’ll finish it. If I talk to people about it, I no longer feel the urgency to write it. I write to find out what happens during the character’s journey and at the end.

Do you believe in magic?

Absolutely. Magic surrounds us all the time. Most of us are simply too busy to notice or don’t believe in it.

What’s the question you always secretly wish someone would ask, but they never do? And how would you answer?

Can I give you a million dollars? Why yes, you can. No really, I can’t think of anything. I generally volunteer info on my own.

What are you currently working on, and what’s coming out next?

I’m working on the fourth McMahon Sister novella, which will be coming out in January. And then it’s on to the fifth one.

Where can people find you and your work?

www.lindajordan.net

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Today’s interview is with the lovely Burdock! I’m never sure what story I’ll get from them, but it’s always powerful. They’re a contributor to the Cutter’s Final Cut: Witches anthology, which is part of the current Witches story bundle!

How long have you been writing?

I have been writing since about 5th grade. I can remember showing bits if story to my parents, quite proud of my work. I have, shall we say, matured in style since then. I was lucky enough to be a Borders manager for about a decade (during undergraduate and some graduate years), and in the process of working with and becoming fast friends with an incredible collection of authors, I started to take my writing much more seriously. Having a bunch of local authors on hand for an informal writers group was perfect. I first published under my maiden name, and it has been a marriage, going public with my gender, and a name change since. It honestly, cliché aside, feels like forever.

What is your favorite work? Tell me a little about it.

A little over a decade ago I lost my sister. I wrote a story about it. Then I revised it for a few years, shifting it from personal narrative to mythic retelling of tragedy and forgiveness. You can find a version in Pole to Pole Publishing’s Re-Enchant collection. It is a story that still has sharp edges for me, and I don’t reread it often. But of my work, it is the favorite.

What was one of the most surprising things you’ve learned while writing?

It took me ages, but I have finally learned that I do not need to tie my writing up into neat boxes. I can leave things unexplained. I don’t have to have a reason for how and why everything is. Some things just are. And they are allowed to be that way. I sometimes think that is a more important aspect of the ‘show don’t tell’ directive. Show how things are. Show what they are. I don’t have to tell why. That happy little rebellion against the sort of formal forms I studied while earning my MA of English has been great for letting me get nice and cozy with writing the weird and surreal that I love.

What was the inspiration for this book or story?

Once upon a time I found a tiny, starving, recently pregnant, little cat while on a walk in a local swamp. We immediately decided she was a witch, but we took her in anyway. I tried to write a bit of whimsy about it and it was terrible so I stuffed it in the ‘maybe later’ folder. About a year later a very good friend uttered the words ‘grieve and release’ while suffering a deep loss. Those words and the intent behind them hit me perfectly. That story came back to me, and I poked at it and ‘Grieve and Release’ was written. I am still trying to take the advice of my friend, when it comes to the content of that title. I think the characters in the story manage it a bit better.

What was the hardest, as well as the easiest, parts of writing this book or story?

My notes, having been from a previous bit of writing, were a mess. My tenses were all over the place. I think I changed POV at least once. The messy backend of trying to work on something over a long period of time. But once I stuttered my way through re-creating the beginning, the rest was much easier. I knew what I wanted to do. I am always worried that it makes sense in my head, but not for anyone else, so there was also some extensive reading and commenting from an author friend that helped me smooth out the wrinkles.

Tell us one thing about your character that we don’t learn from the story, maybe a secret from their past or a hidden aspiration.

She never gave me her name. She never really let me know what she looks like. She is very present in the story. She has a colorful past that twists through and drives everything. And hopefully she will now have a colorful future. I didn’t even realize until I looked at this question that she was never named. I should name her.

Her name is Izzy.

What sorts of superstitions or odd writing habits do you have?

I have always had to fit my writing in around everything I have to do (job, school, farm), so I have had to learn to be able to write at the drop of a hat and take advantage of the bits of time I have. That said, I apparently like to find weird little nooks to write in. A hammock chair next to the pond. Up in the tree house. Middle of the woods. I like to be out away from all the things I get so easily distracted by. If I am really settled in for some writing it can be a bit of a pain to find me. If I have to write indoors (hello, NY winters), I must write to music. And I need coffee or tea on hand.

Do you believe in magic?

Of course. I am an inclusive heathen, and have been active in pagan communities for a couple decades at this point. Mine is an earthy magic. Land wights, the spirit of place, shifts of the seasons, toes in water, hands in the dirt. I keep a statue of Bragi near my main computer.

What’s the question you always secretly wish someone would ask, but they never do? And how would you answer?

People always ask why I would want to live out here in the middle of nowhere. I wish, for once, someone would ask why I would want to live anywhere else. My husband and I are particularly suited to living in the middle of nowhere with our land and our animals and our gardens. I like noticing the shape of the seasons. The way bird song changes between May and August. I love the sound of the wind and shape of the snow when we have nowhere to be but here by the fire. We joke that we have gone a bit feral. But really we are just content and happy with being out on the land here as opposed to doing the sorts of things people assume we want to be doing (movies, drinks, parties, dinners, shopping). It isn’t perfect. We miss a good dinner we didn’t have to cook that does not involve an hour of driving, and we definitely crave the ease of delivery. But not nearly enough to give up all of this for convenience.

What are you currently working on, and what’s coming out next?

I am always tinkering with short stories, and looking for anthologies to participate in. So chances are I will keep popping up in anthologies that way. I am hoping to get myself organized enough to get a collection of my work out within the next year or so.

The story that is currently demanding my attention is full of crows.

Where can people find you and your work?

I have a web presence at https://www.aprilsteenburgh.com/

I can be found on FB, https://www.facebook.com/fireun/ and I have an author page on Amazon.

Should anyone be interested in natural soaps and such, I have a storefront and Facebook and Instagram page for Twigloo Farms.

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Today’s interview is from Dayle A. Dermatis, who has both a collection of stories in the Story bundle, as well as a short story in the Cutter’s Final Cut: Witches anthology!

How long have you been writing?

Well…when I was in 3rd grade I wrote a story in which I invented GPS…although it included the element of being able to beam anywhere as well, because I was already a Star Trek geek. I started my first novel at age 12, received my first professional rejection slip at 16, and at 17 I submitted my first completed novel to NY publishers.

What is your favorite work? Tell me a little about it.

Of my own? Isn’t that like asking me which of my cats I love the most?

Probably the one that I’m currently working on…or the one that’s currently sitting in my lap.

What was one of the most surprising things you’ve learned while writing?

How much my subconscious already knows about the story. I’ll just be typing along and suddenly something happens that even I didn’t expect.

That said, one of the best pieces of advice I’ve received about writing is that if I knew everything that was going to happen, it wouldn’t be a surprise to readers either.

What was the inspiration for this book or story?

The bundle coordinator asked me for a collection of witch stories, and I had three stories in each of two serieses about witches.

What was the hardest, as well as the easiest, parts of writing this book or story?

I got a lot of positive feedback when I wrote the first “Desperate Housewitches” story, and for a while that made writing the second one difficult—was it as funny? Would it be as “good” as the first one? So I had to shut those voices down and just trust my subconscious again.

Tell us one thing about your character that we don’t learn from the story, maybe a secret from their past or a hidden aspiration.

Holly, in my Portland Hedgewitches series, has a prickly personality, but inside she has a soft spot for her beloved sister, Willow. And possibly other people.

What sorts of superstitions or odd writing habits do you have?

None that I can think of. I tend to write in an easy chair in a cozy, slope-roofed little room attached to my office, but in truth, I can write just about anywhere. I often get a lot done on planes.

Do you believe in magic?

Absolutely.

What’s the question you always secretly wish someone would ask, but they never do? And how would you answer?

Hm… I’ve answered this from the perspective of my erotica-writing nom de plume, Andrea Dale, but I’ve never really considered it for other fiction. I suppose it would be, Would you like an historic cottage in Snowdonia, Wales, to which I would reply, Yes, please and thank you.

What are you currently working on, and what’s coming out next?

I’m currently finishing up Shaded, book 2 of my Nikki Ashburne series about a former Hollywood party girl who briefly dies and when she’s brought back, can see ghosts. (Also, she’s very snarky.) My plan after that is to dive right into book 3, Spectered. I’ve got a story forthcoming in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, I believe in the November/December 2022 issue. I also publish a story a month, available at all the major retailers.

Where can people find you and your work?

My work:

DayleDermatis.com (where you can sign up for my newsletter and receive free fiction).

Patreon.com/Dayle (where you can get my monthly story for a modest donation).

Me:

• Rambling around the Pacific Northwest or the Adirondacks in New York.

• At a Styx concert.

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There are a few more coming out on the Knotted Road Press Facebook page, so mace sure to follow them! Have a great Sunday!

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Wednesday Weekly Roundup


Last week I wroke almost 8K, but also spent two afternoons hanging out with a visiting screenwriter friend I hadn’t met in almost 15 years. It was wonderful to see her again and show her my favorite places in Rome.

One day I’ll be able to gather all my writer friends somewhere and we’ll have some fun – a writing retreat with likeminded people sounds heavenly! 😉

Did you get the Witches, Wands and Wanderers storybundle yet? On the Knotted Road Press facebook page there are interviews with all the authors… including people like me who wrote a story for Witches: Cutter’s Final Cut – Issue 4. I will do a special post with all the interviews for the anthology I’m in soon.

Meanwhile, here’s mine, that came out yesterday:

Today’s interview is one of the authors in the anthology, Cutter’s Final Cut: Witches, which is part of the Witches story bundle!

https://www.storybundle.com/witches

How long have you been writing?

My first official story (including handmade illustrations) dates from the summer of 1978. The two-part story about an underwater glass world was “recycled” in a couple of Silvery Earth novels in 2011 and 2012. I’ve been constantly writing since, in my mother tongue (Italian) until the early 21st century, then mostly in English since I started indie publishing in 2011. I like to say I’m married to Mr. Writing! 😊

What was the inspiration for this book or story?

I wanted to write an older protagonist (older than myself, since I’m not 60 yet) – with a grandchild the age of my nephew who could help his fairy grandmother with modern “magic” we call technology. A Boomer and a Zoomer can make a good team, don’t you think? 😊

What sorts of superstitions or odd writing habits do you have?

I used to write the first draft longhand until 2015 (despite being a typist since 1984), and it was always a very clean draft. I did it again this year during a vacation sans laptop. I bought a pocket notebook and wrote a story in the spare time – that I promptly typed and expanded on the laptop when I got home!

Do you believe in magic?

I do believe in fairies and house elves, and I have a collection of tarot cards, although I used only one to read cards back in the 90s when I started the collection. And I write mostly fantasy because I prefer magic to technology!

What are you currently working on, and what’s coming out next?

I’m not 100% sure what I’ll be working on when this anthology comes out, probably a sci-fi novel in Italian for a national contest (Urania, winning it means being published by Mondadori, The Big One Italian publisher who distributes even to newsagents). Meanwhile I’m publishing my latest mini-series of medieval fantasy, started in September, with the last book, a collection of shorter stories (including the one I wrote on vacation), coming out in November. Immortaland Dragons is set in a different world from my other secondary world/high fantasy, Silvery Earth, with different rules in the magic system and different kinds of dragons. Also, while Silvery Earth is made of standalone books, Immortaland Dragons are numbered.

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I can now happily confirm that I’m currently writing social sci-fi in Italian, although I probably won’t send it to that contest, but more probably to a small publisher. Unless I opt for indie publishing, of course. I’ll ask my first readers what they think first.

This week I’m off DayJob and hope to finish that story in Italian so I can consult with some first readers next week. Hopefully in November I’ll get back to writing in English, since I have a couple of anthologies I want to write for. So, short stories, unless they turn out to be the start of novels, LOL!

I’m reading, so my recommendations on Bookbub are growing, but I feel I’m still too slow. But I’m almost done with whatever I had on old K.K., so soon I’ll have to charge and fire up the new Kindle. With dozens of new ebooks to read. Not to mention the non-fiction paperbacks. Sigh.

I guess that’s all for today! Have a great week! 🙂

Wednesday Weekly Roundup


And Book 3 of Immortaland Dragons is out! Thanks you for whoever is following me on Amazon and buys it as soon as it comes out, I hope you’re enjoying the reading! I thoroughly enjoyed creating this smaller world with less creatures and skin tones than Silvery Earth, but a much stronger magic system.

Last week I wrote almost 13K on the italian social sci-fi story, and I hope to finish it this week, so I can go through it and decide what to do with it. I will probably submit it to a publisher first, then indie publish it if they don’t want it.

Meanwhile I’m reading, so I’ll be able to write a few more stories in English before the end of the year. I have a few anthologies I want to submit to. And speaking of anthologies, I have a story in the one below!

Witches is part of a storybundle at this time, and you can find it here. For the visually impaired, the blurb is below.

Witches: Cutter’s Final Cut – Issue 4

Witches. Who doesn’t need more witches in their life?

These pages contain stories of witches, big and small.

There to save a baby’s life. Or perhaps a town. Or searching for a helping hand, a friend, or even a very special book.

If you’re looking for upbeat, contemporary stories with just that little bit of extra sparkle, you need this anthology!

Issue Four of Cutter’s Final Cut: dedicated to pushing the boundaries of genre fiction.

Be sure to pick up the whole series today!

My story is about an elderly witch and it’s very different from my other contemporary urban fantasy. Yes, this is the year of experimenting new subgenres of fantasy, LOL! And I’m still not sure what my next big project will be, but I’ll make further experiments also in sci-fi soon – well the Italian story is already an experiment, since I haven’t written much social sci-fi to date, except Soul Thieves.

In case you have no idea of what I’m talking about, here’s Wikipedia’s explanation:

Social science fiction is a subgenre of science fiction, usually (but not necessarily) soft science fiction, concerned less with technology/space opera and more with speculation about society. In other words, it “absorbs and discusses anthropology” and speculates about human behavior and interactions.

So there, now you know! Have a great week! 🙂

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