Sunday Surprise


And it’s a much revered guest! One of my first Goodreads friends! A lovely British gal I had the honor to meet in person after Loncon – she didn’t make it to Helsinki, but hopefully we’ll meet again in Dublin 2019. Or in London, whatever comes first, haha! Anyhow, she has a new book out, so check this interview! Ladies and gentlemen, please welcom J.A.Clement!

Where do you live and write from?

I live in the UK; I’m from the rural North but live in the South and work in London as my husband’s family live on the South coast.

Why do you write?

I write because I get twitchy if I don’t. I can only go so long without writing. Sooner or later it all bubbles up in me and life goes dull until I’m writing again. Then the gleam comes back.

When did you start writing?

I’ve always written, as far as I can remember. The first lengthy piece of writing I can remember was when I was eleven. My English teacher set us the task of writing three interlinked short stories. My friends did half a page each and grumbled about how hard it was. I didn’t dare tell them that mine were about twenty pages each and I’d had to ask for a new exercise book!

What genre(s) do you write?

Mostly fantasy, though I write contemporary humour under another name which I’m not going to tell you (as people will insist that they know who my characters are based on. I try to take that as a compliment that they seem so real, rather than being irritated. They’re not, but still…)

What does your writing routine consist of?

I write in my lunch hour when I get one, so it’s all a bit piecemeal. Sometimes in summer if I’m not too tired I write on the train instead of sleeping. If I’m really compulsively in the flow, I email myself bits of text while I’m in the lift or waiting for the kettle to boil or while tea is cooking. You’ll understand why editing is quite an important bit of the process for me!

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

My latest release is due tomorrow. A few years ago I wrote a Christmas story called A Sprig of Holly, about a girl called Greta. Recently I decided to revisit Greta for a novella called The Holly & the Ivy, which takes place a few years after when Greta’s daughter goes missing in a storm, and Greta finds out a little more about the help which came to her in the course of that first winter.

http://mybook.to/sprig_series

It’s almost fairytale /adventure style in tone – my other stuff is hardly the full grimdark but bad things happen to good people, whereas this is a lot lighter; gripping, I hope, but more like the sort of adventure story you used to get before everything went a bit dark and Nordic. A bit of light relief from an increasingly grimdark world, perhaps.

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

Write the most excellent book you can, and then move onto the next one. It’s easy to get tangled up in self-doubt and over editing, but when it comes to it, you have to trust yourself and your editors, and release your book to the lions, so to speak. Readers will make up their own minds. In the meantime you need to not be wasting time doing stuff like hitting refresh in case a review comes up. There is so little time in this life to actually write, you just need to squash it in wherever there is two minutes spare, and get on with it. Once it’s written, the editing and polishing is time consuming but not generally outrageously difficult, but first you need to write it completely to the end or you’ll be perfecting chapter four for the rest of your life and never publish the damn thing at all.

Blog: http://jaclement.wordpress.com

fb: http://www.facebook.com/jaclementwrites

Author Central

Goodreads

Sunday Surprise


And it’s a guest! Unexpected but welcome! Please, ladies and gentlemen, welcome Suzanne Kovitz!

Where do you live and write from?
Reisterstown, MD

Why do you write?
I wrote a novel entitled, “Enemy Self” because it was a form of escapism from life and I have a message of perseverance.

When did you start writing?
I began soon after college. The idea was founded in a dream.

What genre(s) do you write?
This a work of fiction with cross-over genres including sci-fi, fantasy, and YA.

What do you feel are your strengths as a writer? How have you developed these qualities?
I enjoy getting the reader right into the story without much intro and description. I also inserted inside voices as a narrative.

Where do you find your inspiration? Do you put yourself in your stories?
From life’s experiences. My story is more like a movie inside my head.

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?
Neither. I’m a slow hobby writer.

Tell us about your latest book

Enemy Self

Jessica Wheaton, a sweet and innocent high school girl, suddenly finds herself transformed into the body of her bully, Denise Bower.

She lives Denise’s life and experiences all the struggles Denise endures including child abuse, incest, drug experimentation, failing school grades, and dangerous relationships with men.

Finally escaping from an abusive home, Jessica (in the body of Denise) goes on a tumultuous journey of violence, drug addiction, rape and prostitution. She is in an endless search for love and true identity.

Will Jessica ever find a way to return to her body? Will she ever experience true love? How can she possibly defeat her enemy if she is her enemy?

Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?
Indie author. The traditionals wanted tried & true. Being an Indie author I can be in control of the book and its creative process.

Any other projects in the pipeline

Working on a memoir entitled, “Walking on Eggshells”

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

I would like to make my book available internationally. There are many and growing opportunities for indie authors now-a-days, including social media and podcast.

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?
NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP

also known as Galaxy Quest’s motto “Never give up, never surrender” LOL! Thank you for stopping by! You can find Suzanne here or on Author Central.

 

 

Sunday Surprise


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

Where do you live and write from?

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

Why do you write?

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

When did you start writing?

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

What genre(s) do you write?

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

What does your writing routine consist of?

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

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

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

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

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

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?

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

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

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

Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?

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

Any other projects in the pipeline?

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

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

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

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

Great writers write.

_______________________

Find Joshua online

webpage

Goodreads

Sunday Surprise


And it’s a guest! Someone who dared asking  for it! And then answering the writerly questions! How cool is that? Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Jelterow Mckinnie, Jr.!
Why do you write?
To entertain readers – I want the reader to leave the story with a new way of thinking about something that is probably quite common.
When did you start writing?
At college – I had a very nice professor (Dr. Firestone) who was very generous in his reviews of my writings and he always encouraged me to save them and publish them one day. He always assured me that there was an audience for them, somewhere.
What genre(s) do you write?
Mostly fiction – however, I look forward to getting into more nonfiction one day.
What does your writing routine consist of?
I try to write at least one chapter of the book at a time. But, I do that over and over until the chapter is built up the way that I want it to be. For example, when I was writing Diary of a Teacher I went through each of the chapters and first put the things that I wanted to convey into them. The points that I want to get across. Sometimes, there will not even be characters – only the ideas that I want the reader to walk away with. Then once I’ve done that for all of the chapters – I go through the chapters again, this time putting in the conversations that I want to have take place and begin to put the main characters where they need to be. Then I’ll go back through the chapters and include the traits and tags that I want the characters to have and convey to the reader. This process continues over and over and over until I’ve added all the elements of the story needed to convey the message behind the story to the reader. So, I guess I’d say I write the story in layers!
What do you feel are your strengths as a writer? How have you developed these qualities?
My strengths are a God given vivid imagination and the God given ability to write the fiction in such a way that it seems and feels real to the reader.
I did not develop these qualities – God gave them to me and I thank Him and give Him all the praise for them, in Jesus Mighty Name!
Where do you find your inspiration? Do you put yourself in your stories?
Sometimes I will see something strange or something quite practical and just let my imagination run away with me. Other times, while talking somebody will say something or I will say something and we agree that it would make a nice story. Most recently, on the current book I’m writing, Jairus, I was listening to Kenneth Copeland preaching about developing your faith and he was speaking about how God had him visualize how determined both Jairus and the woman with the issue of blood were to get through that crowd to Jesus. Then, praise God the Lord allowed me to have the idea to put it into a story so that those struggling to visualize it on their own could.
I don’t put myself into the stories too often; but on occasion I have. What I do is merge various people’s personality traits and create the character that I want or need for the story to move along. However, Live, Laugh, and Love the Golden Moments of Life does have a lot of myself in it; primarily because it is about my grandfather and I – all the fun we had in Liberty City (Miami, Florida).
Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?
Outliner – the last time I tried it the other way I reached halfway and didn’t like the story.
Personally, I think I write slowly – but there are those who claim that I write very fast. At the end of the day it takes me about three months to finish a story that I’m diligently working on.
Tell us about your latest book (add link if published).
Currently I’m working on Jairus – this will be my first official piece of Christian Fiction and I pray that the Lord uses it to help people build their faith! The book will provide the back story for the miracle that took place for Jairus and the woman with the issue of blood. After all, Jairus was a Pharisees in charge of a synagogue at a time when most of the Pharisees were against Jesus. Just how did he come to a point in his faith that he turned to Jesus for help and had enough faith to get the help for his daughter? Likewise – the woman with the issue of blood, what is here story? She’s important enough to include and she has very strong faith; but, she’s given no identity. People, to this day, wonder about who she is and what obstacles she had to overcome in her life. The book addresses these issues – it’s going to sell millions of copies!
Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?
Indie – the technology supports it and I don’t have to go about the place begging somebody to publish me. The cost are a lot lower and Amazon’s reached the point where they can bring a print on demand paperback to market for under $10, which is a milestone! That said, one day the traditional publishers will reach out to me and we can definitely work some type of a deal at that time.
Any other projects in the pipeline?
Spreading the Gospel – Jesus is Lord!
What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?
Sell books! While praying the Lord instructed me to start asking for more author interviews and reviews – and I have; and praise God, you are one of the wonderful people facilitating my request; and, I thank you very much and pray that you are wonderfully blessed!
What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?
Dr. Firestone’s advice to go ahead and do it!
Social Media: Google me (Jelterow Mckinnie, Jr.) – that’s probably the best way for the reader to use the method they like the most to get in touch with me.

Random Friday


Last November an excerpt was posted on Unusual Historicals. It was the start of a chapter of Kaylyn that promised an interview and a giveaway. Neither ever went live, so… here you have the interview that wasn’t posted on Unusual Historicals. And yes, the giveaway is still valid too… Leave a comment before Sunday 8 January 2017! 🙂

Tell us a bit about yourself

I was born in the boot-shaped country dripping into the Mediterranean sea, but having lived abroad at a young age, I currently feel international, a woman with no country that sometimes is quite sick of the whole crazy planet. I love history, especially the Middle Ages (11th to 13th century), and making up stuff, although I learned the value of research even for the craziest idea – be it fantasy or science fiction. I write mostly SFF these days, having exhausted any will to talk about current events and today’s people.

What is your story about? How did you come up with the idea?

I have this new series of Vampires Through the Centuries that I started last year with Rajveer the Vampire. I’m publishing one novel a year plus shorter related stories, thus I have four titles by now.

The very first idea came noticing how a few actors had pointed canines and my obsession with Bollywood took me to think about a Desi vampire. Combining researches on vampire lore and history, I came up with the series.

This year I even traveled to India to gather more material and now I have a pile of non-fiction books to study for the next installments!

What prompted you to write this one?

Kaylyn is Rajveer’s sister-in-darkness, meaning they have the same maker, Bran the Raven. She was seen through Rajveer’s eyes in the first novel and I looked forward to telling her story. Some events overlap, but her book expands on the mythology of European vampires, while in Rajveer it was mostly him against the slightly different Asian vampires.

Next book will see Rajveer’s fledgling, Shashank, and cover the five centuries neither could actually see for different reasons… no spoilers, though!

How much research was involved?

For Kaylyn only for the non-European parts. She travels quite a lot and even if I had studied 12th century Europe and the crusades for a shelved historical novel, I had to research the other centuries and countries, reading about Marco Polo’s travels, the Black Death, the first European explorers to cross the Atlantic… and I’ve only touched the surface!

What was the most fascinating thing you learned from this experience?

Traveling through the centuries is fun and I look forward to doing it more in the next books. The final vampires war will be in the present, but there’s still a lot of history to explore and write about before I reach the 21st century setting!

What other books have you written?

Three more Vampires Through the Centuries (with more to come next year), a science fantasy series called Star Minds and then there’s my fantasy world of Silvery Earth… lots of titles, but also lots of collections and mostly standalone! Full list here.

I shall use this space for a huge promo – over 100 books at 99cents – for a weekend that includes Rajveer the Vampire. After the release of Kaylyn the Sister-in-Darkness, the first novel of the series will be on sale for a few days. On Monday Nov.7 both titles will go up at 6.99$…

Go get this book now and choose among the many more available at Patty Jensen’s promo! (note: there’s no book from yours truly in the promo at this time, but check them anyway)

And I will give either a coupon for a free download of your preferred format from Smashwords or your preferred ebook format of Kaylyn the Sister-in-Darkness to one lucky winner… The giveaway is international.

 

Sunday Surprise


And it’s a guest! She’s Author of the Month at Smaswords Authors group on Goodreads, so feel free to drop by over there and ask more questions!And even if she doesn’t mention it in the interview, she has Some Brief Advice  for Indie Authors! Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Sharon E. Cathcart!

25908261Where do you live and write from?
San Jose, California

Why do you write?
Honestly, there are stories in my head that won’t shut up. I write because I have to.

When did you start writing?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I made up stories and plays with one of my best friends starting in elementary school, and started writing short stories in junior high school. I’ve never really stopped.

What genre(s) do you write?
Primarily historical fiction, which is my favorite genre. I’ve also done a couple of steampunk tales that will be in an anthology next year, as well as one dark comedy.

What does your writing routine consist of?
I wish I had the discipline to call it a routine! One of the challenges I face is that I live with an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto’s disease. The primary effect of it is utter exhaustion (the disease kills your thyroid). So, some days all of the energy I have goes to managing my day-to-day life (including the proverbial day job). I write when I can, and for as long as I can.
25357892Because my preferred genre is historical fiction, I also spend time doing research (primary sources whenever possible). I want to make sure the details are right, and I’ll halt production if I’m not happy with how things are going.

What do you feel are your strengths as a writer? How have you developed these qualities?
I think one of my greatest strengths is putting atypical characters into my stories. My protagonists are not perfect people. In my Seen Through the Phantom’s Eyes series, for example, my heroine is approaching 30 years of age and is not a virgin … which is not what you typically see in historical fiction. I have people in my books who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, physical deformities, etc. In the case of my newest work-in-progress, Bayou Fire, one person lives with Hashimoto’s disease.

31432511Where do you find your inspiration? Do you put yourself in your stories?
I have found inspiration in a variety of places. The inspiration for His Beloved Infidel came from reading a memoir by the first social worker in Iran, for example.
I don’t put myself in my books, but my characters sometimes know things I know. For example, Claire Delacroix (the aforementioned heroine) is an equestrian. At the time I wrote the book, I was still an equestrian athlete myself and so I was able to put my knowledge onto the page.

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?
Improviser, for sure. I have a general idea of where I want the book to go, but I find that sometimes the characters have different plans. There is a character in the Seen Through the Phantom’s Eyes series, Gilbert Rochambeau, who made it very clear that he was not, in fact, going to be the minor character I had initially planned for him to be. His role became very important indeed.
I tend to be a slow writer just because of my preferred genre. I am meticulous about my research and that adds time to the process.

Tell us about your latest book
I’m currently working on my first historical paranormal. This is the blurb:

Diana Corbett’s childhood was plagued by unceasing dreams of smoke and flames. The nightmares went away, until the noted travel writer’s first night on assignment in Louisiana … when they returned with a vengeance. Could the handsome Cajun, Amos Boudreaux, be the key to unlocking the secret of BAYOU FIRE?
Award-winning author Sharon E. Cathcart presents her first full-length historical paranormal tale, set against the backdrops of modern-day and 1830s New Orleans.

What’s unusual about this book is that it contains elements of reincarnation. So, I had to study both modern-day and historic New Orleans, as well as the bayou country, Creole plantation life, and more. I just returned from my second research trip this year.

31432417Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?
I’m hybrid published these days. I have stories in three traditionally published anthologies. The rights to my three traditionally-published full-length works have reverted and I’ve released them again myself. I like having control over every aspect, from the interior design to the cover. I have even discovered some design talents I didn’t know I had!

Any other projects in the pipeline?
I am going to redesign, re-title, and re-issue my music business memoir. That will come out early in 2017.

What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?
For years, my goal was to publish a novel. Then, it was to win an award. I’ve accomplished both of those a few times over. So, I’m focusing on continuing to meet and greet my fans, get new work out, and hopefully delight my readers!

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?
It’s the same one I was given years ago: Even if it’s shit, get it on the page. Editing is for later.
author-head-shotThank you for the opportunity to participate on your blog! Readers may find me on social media here:

Blog: sharonecathcart.wordpress.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sharon.e.cathcart

Twitter; @sharoncathcart

Website: http://sharonecathcart.weebly.com

Martin Rinehart part 1


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.

Martin’s book if you’d like an ARC.

Sunday Surprise


And it’s a guest! One of my Goodreads friends, a very sweet author in need of new readers! Check her out! Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome J.Ellyne!

3e6c04fea2955a530a1c898107f455ae97056801Where do you live and write?

When I moved from North Carolina to Florida in 2008, I kept my North Carolina home and bought a second cheap home in Florida during the post-Madoff economic collapse. The Florida home became my primary residence. Both houses are very small, 2,500 square feet combing them both. I love Florida the most because my central Florida east coast hometown is in the subtropics where it hardly ever goes below freezing. There is no such thing as ice or snow here. Even in the winter, daily highs usually go above 70 Fahrenheit, (beach weather). The beach is only a five-minute drive from my house and I think it’s the most beautiful beach in the world. It has playful surf and pristine sand. Pelicans fly in formations of 20 to 40 low over the beach. Dolphins play in the trough between the coral reef and the beach. In the spring sea turtles waddle ashore to lay their eggs in the sand. Sometimes I find a baby having trouble figuring out which way to go to the water and I help it. The local chamber of commerce calls my town “Florida’s undiscovered paradise” because few tourists come here and there are no condos on the beach. Near my small city, there are five uncrowded county beaches on the Atlantic Ocean, each only a few miles from the next. I’m not telling the name of my town because I prefer it to stay undiscovered. However, if you do happen to discover it you will be welcomed by friendly natives unlike what happens farther south in the Miami area. I go to my North Carolina home reluctantly after it gets too hot to stand in the Florida summer. The house in North Carolina is under tall shade trees at 3,000 feet elevation in the Blue Ridge Smokey Mountains. It never gets to 80 degrees there and the mountains are beautiful. The closest neighbors are deer, wild turkeys, and bears. It’s very quiet and peaceful. Both places are good places to write.

And they both sound like heaven on Earth (even for someone like me who couldn’t care less about the seaside – might change my mind if I ever visit, LOL!). Why do you write?

I was born an entertainer. I have the talent for it. I’m an artist. I’m not bragging. I’m not getting rich from entertaining. My father was a poor music teacher and an orchestra conductor. My mother was a poor pianist with perfect pitch. My grandmother was a poor opera singer and a painter. I learned to read music before I learned to read words. I went to music school to follow the family tradition but, after graduation and a one-year experiment with teaching, I took a detour into computer programming. It paid more money and, unlike my father, I didn’t care for teaching or being poor. I sing with a local semi-professional group these days and often take the lead. One thing I believe strongly is, no matter how good you think you are as an artist, there is no art without an audience. The purpose of art is to entertain and enlighten the audience. Writing is the same as music to me. I know I have a talent for both. I write and sing to entertain and enlighten my audiences. I wish I had more readers, larger audiences, not for the money, but so the art would be more widely enjoyed.

I write and draw, hence the “creative barbwire” name… When did you start writing?

In high school, I was fortunate to have two superb English teachers, one as a sophomore and the other as a senior. As a sophomore, I wrote more than a dozen short stories. My teacher deemed all of them best in class. She made me stand in front of everyone and read my stories to the class. I loved it; it was a performance. As a senior, I took an honors class in English. The school only admitted students in the top 10% of grade point averages. The teacher was very tough. Here was this class of 20 college bound students and she never gave out As because she said an A meant perfection and no mortal could ever do anything perfectly. She gave Bs, Cs, Ds, and even Fs. I got Bs and was proud of them. I learned more from her about writing than from any other teacher or workshop coach. We wrote all kinds of things, not just fiction. In college, I also had a few good teachers. I always loved when a teacher based a course grade mostly on a long essay term paper, whether it was a history course a psychology course, or whatever. I think my psychology term papers were some of the best fiction I ever wrote – ha ha! I was a music teacher for one year and couldn’t stand facing that job every day. It seemed like a combination of babysitting and police work. As a computer programmer, music and writing were hobbies and I never seemed to have enough time for them. In 2004, I quit my programming job and began serious work on my first novel.

912d60a12787ded28f624e969c8a677fc367529bI’m still hoping to quit the dreaded DayJob… and I hate reading my stuff aloud! 😉 What genre(s) do you write?

I dislike the word genre. It seems like a classification mechanism to keep new authors in the backwaters of publishing. What genre are Stephen King’s novels? I can tell you they aren’t displayed on the horror, science fiction, or fantasy shelves of bookstores. You will find them in a section called literary fiction, or mainstream. In the same section, you will usually find J.R.R Tolkien and Tom Robbins. Stores only allow best-selling authors to have books in that section and yet it contains books that are clearly works of horror, science fiction, fantasy, romance, alternate history, epic adventure, paranormal, young adult, and more. Every one of my books contains elements of science fiction, fantasy, romance, alternate history, epic adventure and adult sexual scenes (which I don’t classify as erotica). I’m at a loss as to how to classify them. I don’t see the point of narrowing the list to a genre. To do so would only keep some potential readers away.

I know, but we need to put those tags and BISACs on the books, or we’d end up in the oblivion well… and I’m also one who has trouble putting labels on her books. SFF QUILTBAG friendly? There’s no such category anywhere… What is your writing routine?

I’ve recently changed my routine because I’ve learned the hard way that writing for long stretches at a time causes blood clots. I ended up in the emergency room followed by the OR, then the ICU for two days, then a week in a hospital bed. Now I get up at 5:30 AM and write for an hour and a half, no longer. Then I have breakfast, followed by another hour and a half writing. Much of this writing time is spent doing research, which often involves reading the works of other authors. Sometimes I read non-fiction for historical research. Other times I read fiction closely related to my own. After my early writing sessions, I do chores around the house until lunch. After lunch, I do another hour and a half of writing. Then I go to the beach if the weather is nice. If it’s not I will do some yoga and meditation. My final writing session is another hour and a half after dinner. I’m writing six hours a day now in four, one and a half hour sessions. Before my medical emergency, I was writing twelve hours a day in three four-hour sessions. The latter routine is dangerous to any author’s health, no matter their age. Writers of all ages are at risk for blood clots in their legs, in my case resulting in deep veined thrombosis and a pulmonary embolism, a life threatening condition. The emergency room doctor said I was about two days away from dying.

47690f62807fefb63c12207d99e5288378d038d9Ugh! I tend to write in small installments because my back can’t sit for long at the compyter (besieds, in the mornings I still have that DayJob…) What do you feel are your strengths as a writer? How have you developed these qualities?

The talent I am most proud of, as an author is my ability to tell an engaging and entertaining story. I’ve always been a dreamer and my day and night dreams are full of stories. I love to tell friends and people I meet stories. Sometimes I base my stories on my experiences but more often, they are things I’ve heard about and most often they are just pure imagination. My editors and reviewers tell me I also have skill in conveying the emotions of my characters and getting readers to identify with them. This is difficult to do. I work at it by rewriting until I get it to happen. Editors and reviewers also tell me I have the ability to make my plots exciting as they unfold, to make my books irresistible page-turners. I picked up some tips about this from Stephen King in his book On Writing and as he demonstrates in his best works such as The Dark Tower series, 11/22/63, and The Stand.

I also found On Writing very inspiring… Where do you find your inspiration?

My inspirations come to me in the form of dreams, lucid dreams. An example of a lucid dream is, I get up out of bed and go in the living room where my husband is still up watching television. I tell him about a dream I just had. It was a bad dream and I’m looking for some comforting but he just smiles. As I tell him about it, I find talking difficult. My words come out slurred. My tongue feels too thick. He tells me to go back to bed and I do but as soon as I lay down, I really do wake up to discover the part that seemed so real was actually just a dream. I have many lucid dreams, almost one every night. I talked to a therapist about them and he recommended a book about lucid dreams. It turns out many psychologists believe lucid dreams could actually be real in some alternate reality, perfect for fantasy inspiration! I even have my protagonist have lucid dreams sometimes in my books.

Yes, we live in other dimensions when we sleep in this one! Sometimes I wake up tired for all the things I’ve done “elsewhere” in my sleep! 😀 Do you put yourself in your stories?

I can always spot the author’s surrogate character in every work of fiction I read. It’s hard to avoid because experience is a big part of the material upon which authors draw. However, I make sure that I’m at least aware I have a surrogate and I limit the extent of me in her to no more than 25%. I feel if the protagonist’s personality is the same as my personality, I know the rest of the characters will suffer as a result. They will become cardboard props by comparison. Therefore, the other 75% of my protagonist’s character comes from traits I wish I had or from things I admire in some of the people I know. The same formula applies to villains. My main villain always has a small part of me in him or her, my dark side. The majority of the rest of his personality I base on bullies I know or knew and bad bosses I had. In other words, no, none of my characters is me but all contain a bit of me. I do work hard however to make every major character be real. They take on a life of their own, to the point where I let them tell the story in my dreams, from their point of view. Then all I have to do is transcribe them when I wake.

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?

I never outline and I never improvise. As I said above, I base my books on dreams. I don’t start writing until I have dreamed the whole book. I write the book entirely in my head before I sit down to type it into my computer. This means I could write very fast if not for the research. Sometimes my dreams motivate the research. Other times the research causes dreams. I did an immense amount of research for each of the first four novels in my fantasy series, The Fair and Fey, and I will do an enormous amount more for book 5 which is finished in my head as far as plot goes but which I have only barely started to type into my computer. The research for book two took twice as long as the research for book one and each of the following novels took increasing amounts of research. Each of my four novels took two years to write. I guess that means I’m getting faster because the second novel is almost twice as many words as the first and the third novel is almost twice as many words as the second. Books four and five were originally dreamed as a single story but somewhere around a third of the way through the fourth book (as dreamed), I could tell it was going to be too big for a single book, so I picked a place to give it an ending of its own and left the second half for book 5. The research for book four took five times as many hours as the research for book three did. It’s a research beast because Arthur Pendragon, aka King Arthur, is one of the main characters and it behooves an author to know what she’s talking about when it comes to Arthur, lest she be ridiculed. Steinbeck spent ten years doing the research for his proposed book about King Arthur, ultimately dying before he could finish even half of what he planned to write. There will be those who ridicule what I’ve written about Arthur anyway but at least now, I have facts on my side. I gave Arthur his personality from my dreams but historical material gave the facts of his deeds in broad terms. It also gave me enough material that book 4 is another 50% more words than book three and at over 186,000 words, it’s only half of my tale involving Arthur. Book 5 will be the other half.

0becb8ca3aa0ad405da1a7bf86bc26d44c39bba9Tell us about your latest book

The Elves of Avalon, Book 4 of The Fair and Fey, is finished now and the first edition will be available from my publisher Smashwords, and from Amazon and all other Ebook retailers soon. I’m using Smashwords Preorder option, setting final release date at March 22, 2016 to allow other retailers time to promote it to their customers. Smashwords customers can grab a copy of the first edition on that date and all the books of The Fair and Fey series are currently available from my Smashwords author page.

About book 4:

What if Arthur Pendragon did not want to be a king and for most of his military career was not a king but only the war leader of the united armies of the kings of Britannia? What if there was no such person as Lancelot? Romanticists added him to the legend as pure fiction almost a thousand years after Arthur’s last battle. What if Guinevere was not a nice person? She stole Arthur from his first wife Anna Pendragon, aka Morganna Le Fey. What if Arthur needed the help of a small band of Elves to accomplish his goals? What if Arthur had a Christian father (Uther Pendragon) but a Pagan, half-Elven mother (Igraine) and was neither Christian nor Pagan? All but one of the preceding things are true facts of historical record. The fantasy element is the story of the Elves. No one has provided proof that Elves exist but Tolkien convinced me they really did exist at some time in the past.

Some people in the Fantasy and Science Fiction group on Goodreads have stated that Tolkien invented the trope of Elves. This is not true. In the Silmarillion, a book Tolkien wrote about the time before the setting for his LOTR trilogy, he states that the first Elves migrated south from the North Country to Middle Earth. I know Tolkien did tons more research than did I or anyone else and I’m sure he got this idea of Elves from the North Country (the Noldor) from reading Finnish mythology. I know because, by coincidence I happened upon this same mythology in doing the research for book two, Maahilund.

Finnish mythology is full of tales about Elves called the Maahiset who live in an underground city in ancient Finland and have magical powers. I dreamed this first, and then I did the research revealing the truth in the dream. What if Middle Earth later became known as Germania after the Elves left Middle Earth and sailed into the West (Britannia)? These are the background bones for how the Elves and Arthur Pendragon crossed paths in my dreams. An Elf named Vilya is the main character in both books three and four. She helps Arthur’s father, Uther Pendragon, in book three and after his death, carries baby Arthur to Avalon at Merlin’s urging, to keep him safe. In book 4, many years later after many battles with Orcs, Demons and Saxons, the Elves return to Avalon but not Arthur, not yet anyway. He still has one more battle to fight in Britannia, the battle of Camlan. This is not a spoiler because everyone knows Arthur must fight again, at Camlan, after 25 years of peace. The Elves of Avalon, Book 4 of The Fair and Fey, is also a romantic and sensual love story between Vilya and another Elf named Narya. This love has spanned millennia, through death and reincarnation, from the time when they met in Maginaugh, Book 1 of the Fair and Fey. Each book from book two on contains enough back-story to stand on its own for the benefit readers who join the tale at that point.

Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?

I made a vow to myself pledging I would never indulge in vanity publishing. My definition of vanity publishing is where the author has to pay money to get his or her work published. I am very strict about this. I won’t even pay an editor or a graphic artist as many Indie publishers do. What’s the point in paying out thousands of dollars for publication of a book by a new author when statistics say I have about as much chance of recouping the money as I do of winning the lottery? I’m being honest. These are the facts of breaking into this business. Neither publishers nor readers are much interested in reading new authors, no matter how pretty the book cover, or how elegant the grammar. I spent six years getting rejections of my first novel from traditional print publishers and agents. I could paper the walls of my study with them. I wrote everyone and got back nothing but form letters saying, “Sorry but we are not taking new authors at this time.” Finally, one agent was kind enough to say, “Try Smashwords.” Smashwords is a brilliant publishing vehicle for Ebooks. They do a lot for the author, act as the publisher, and provide their services free of charge. The only downside is I have to do all the marketing myself and I suck at marketing. I would be happy to have a traditional print publisher take interest in my work and market it. A good thing about Smashwords is I am allowed to retain the intellectual property rights and can move to another publisher if I find one.

I started by making my own covers and then I hire my artist friends for “special projects”. And since I’m not a native, I do hire a proofreader! 😉 Any other projects in the pipeline?

I have many dreams and, to paraphrase Field of Dreams, if I dream it, the book will come. I can’t help it. Currently I have written the beginnings of the first two chapters of Book 5 of the Fair and Fey. I have dreamed the whole book. I don’t have a title yet but Arthur will still be a main character and Vilya will still be the protagonist. I have other dreams too, beyond the Arthurian epics. Some are even modernistic, so perhaps one day I will write an urban fantasy. Will there be modern day Elves in it? Yes, I think there will be.

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

I feel like I have achieved my main goal: to have published books and attracted actual readers (beyond my close friends) who say in reviews they enjoyed reading the books. Now it’s a matter of secondary goals: to continuously improve my writing, to attract a broader base of readers, to get my books in print for readers who prefer the printed word to the electronic word, and to make a living wage from my writing. I’m stumbling in the dark trying to figure out how to achieve this next set of goals.

Improve the writing: take online workshops; attract a broader base of readers: think long term – they will find you; books in print: Createspace and its expanded distribution. And follow Kris Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith! 🙂 What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?

Kill your darlings. This is what Stephen King says in On Writing. Every author has a word or perhaps two or three words, they tend to overuse. King meant we should go through our manuscripts looking for these words and delete every instance. My word was that. When I went looking for my darlings, I found I had an embarrassing plethora of thats. I went overboard, finding painstaking ways to eliminate every last one of them, just to see if I could. I don’t go that far anymore but now I understand why King calls them darlings. I had grown attached to them as literary crutches and it hurt to kill them.

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Where to find J.Ellyne:

Author blog

Goodreads

Smashwords

Amazon Author Central

 

Sunday Surprise


And it’s another guest! A very sweet lady I found on Goodreads… who was kind enough to interview me on her blog! Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Coreena Mc Burnie!

Where do you live and write from?

I live in British Columbia, Canada.

Why do you write?

I write because I love it. I love the connections I make when writing and the tingly feeling I get when I write a good scene. It also feels good to create stories that entertain people and take them somewhere else for awhile.

When did you start writing?

I’ve written poetry off and on throughout my life, but I took the plunge into novel writing around 7 years ago when I discovered National Novel Writing Month (challenge to write 50,000 words in November).

What genre(s) do you write?

I write a variety of things, but mostly mythological retellings. My current project is a young adult series retelling of the ancient Greek myths of Oedipus and his daughter Antigone.

What does your writing routine consist of?

I would love to be one of those people who treat writing like a job and work all day taking coffee breaks, but I’m not. I’m very sporadic. I have three kids and a recently diagnosed mental health illness. I write copious amounts during Novembers (Nanowrimo), then I take some time off and look at a different project and edit it as needed. I usually have a couple of projects on the go at any one time and go back and forth as the mood takes me. I do try and do something towards my writing every day, even if it consists of baby steps. They all add up and keep me in the flow.

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

I feel my strengths are my ability to see baby steps as steps in the right direction. Even if I don’t spend hours a day writing, I still do something and don’t give myself a bad time for not doing more. I’m better off doing half an hour a day rather than giving up and doing nothing, right?

Also, I love writing and my stories have moments of complete synchronicity which are wonderful and exhilarating. I look for and appreciate those moments, even if I have to slog through pages of terrible things first.

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

For a long time I didn’t write because I was afraid and wasn’t sure what to write. Finally I thought about what I love, which is ancient myths and culture, especially Greek, so I went there. I looked to the myths and what I like to read — I absolutely love a strong heroine — and combined them. I tell these ancient stories from the female protagonist’s point of view.

And yes, I think I do put myself in these stories. Sometimes as I am, sometimes as I would like to be. In one way or another, much of what the characters are is a reaction to my experiences.

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?

I am essentially an improviser — I love giving my characters freedom to explore. However, one of the advantages of using established myths is that there are certain plot points to follow. How I get there is always an adventure, though.

I tend to write rather fast, but edit very, very slow. I’m working on this.

Prophecy low resolutionTell us about your latest book.

My latest book is called Prophecy, and is Book 1 in the Antigone: The True Story series. It is based on the ancient Greek play called Oedipus Rex by Sophocles, where King Oedipus discovers that he’s killed his father and marries his mother, all without knowing it. Antigone is his daughter. She is a strong young woman, conflicted by her duties to her family, the gods, and to herself. It turns out that she can speak to snakes and that the gods have an interest in her, but her family is cursed. Antigone has to re-evaluate who she is and what her values are in order to decide which path to follow.

Here is a link to the book on Amazon.

Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?

I decided to go the indie route. After doing a lot of research, it seemed like the best option for me. I like the flexibility of it and how it can connect authors and readers in a direct way. I also enjoy having control over my books and my publishing rights.

Any other projects in the pipeline?

I am working on Book 2 of the Antigone: The True Story series called Fate and also an adult novel that is the mythological retelling of Clyemnestra, who’s husband, Agamemnon, fought in the Trojan War.

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

My goal is to write books that I would enjoy reading, and, hopefully while doing that, I can entertain a few others as well. To achieve this, I am learning more about writing and publishing all the time and continuing to write books that speak to me.

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

author photo with frameJust write. Turn off your inner editor when you are writing your rough copy. Bad rough copies are better than no rough copies because then you have something to edit. Also, take baby steps, if necessary. Even half an hour of writing every day adds up to something.

Also, if you are interested, here are my bio and author links.

I write mythological fiction — my passion for ancient cultures started many years ago and, after studying Classics in university and earning my Master’s degree, I am channeling this love into my writing. Prophecy, book 1 in Antigone, The True Story series, is my first published novel. I do most of my writing in Novembers during Nanowrimo and spend the rest of the year editing and reading. I live in BC, Canada with my husband, three kids, and our cat

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Goodreads ~ Amazon

Sunday Surprise


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!

Where do you live and write from?
I live and write from Fredericton in New Brunswick, Canada. It’s the part of Canada attached to Maine. Not the one to the north of Maine, that’s Quebec. We’re over to the east. I grew up in a little fishing community on almost the furthest point east in Nova Scotia. I think I got a lot of my creative energy growing up there, some of the more famous Celtic musicians all grew up in the same area I did.
Why do you write?
I love to read and I want to create a story or series that I would want people to read and get excited about. I’ve come across so many book series that once I start I have to finish immediately. Those are the types books that I want to write.
When did you start writing?
I have always written stories, growing up I would write little stories as part of my homework assignments. I did not write anything of substantial size until after I finished university when I wrote a few short stories.
What genre(s) do you write?
I write traditionally horror. I’ve done a couple of suspense short stories when I was in university but I enjoy finding ways to terrify myself when I’m writing.
What does your writing routine consist of?
My routine is something like this:
  • 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
When I really want to get some writing done I have to turn off the WiFI on my computer so that I just stay off the internet altogether.
What do you feel are your strengths as a writer? How have you developed these qualities?
I would have to say that building the characters in my stories is one of my strengths, or finding creative ways for some one to meet their end.
Where do you find your inspiration? Do you put yourself in your stories?
I find inspiration in what scares or worries me. If I find something sending chills down my spine thinking about it then that’s going to have the same effect on someone else which is the ultimate goal.
I’ve never put myself in my stories, I might take something from my life and use that as the basis for something that I write, but I’ve never named a character after myself.
Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?
With my latest book, that I started the first of November to coincide with NaNoWriMo I tried to be an outliner. I had a grand plan that covered 31 chapters for my book. By the end of my 2nd week of writing I was so frustrated with writing that I couldn’t see past the next plot point that I had written down. I was constantly going back to the outline to see what I was supposed to be doing.  The last 3 days of November I abandonded my plan and managed to throw down 12,000 words with little problem.
When I’m in the mood to be writing I’m a fast writer. I take all of the thoughts in my head and splatter them all over my keyboard. I’m a programmer by trade so I’m a very skilled typist, which isn’t something you hear most programmers bragging about.
Tell us about your latest book (add link if published)
I have one book published currently about how one man’s life changes when the world starts to die around him. Everyone thinks that they’d be a survivor if something like this happened in real life, some would survive longer than others based on chance and circumstance more than anything.
Summary:
The world has become a different place since Henry woke up this morning and decided to go for a run on his treadmill. His neighbour seems to be acting strange, no one is working at the radio station, and the 911 operator rushed him off the phone when he called. What happened to his town while he was sleeping and will Henry be able to survive the dangers that lie outside of his house?
It could use a little polish since I’ve learned so much from working on my current story.
I’m currently writing the sequel to this book, there will likely be a few more after this as well, which follows Henry and his small group of survivors as they deal with their greatest challenge: other survivors. I want the book to show the real struggle that would happen if the dead rose from their graves, how people interact and treat one another. I think the struggle to deal with the freedom from rules, lack of oversight and fear from police really will play a big part in how the world deals with such an event.
Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?
Indie publishing. I like the freedom of setting my own deadlines, writing about topics that I enjoy without having to worry if the publisher even will print what I come up with. That might not be the case any more, but that is what I have in my mind what dealing with a publisher is like. I also wanted to make my book available for free. As a new author I wanted as many people as possible to access my book, I feel the exposure for it is the greatest reward.
Any other projects in the pipeline?
I always have a few stories and ideas floating around in the back of my mind. Once I finish this series I plan on expanding some of the stories I wrote a couple of years ago. One is an homage to 80s slasher movies which is probably where everyone gets their start in scary movies.
I would love to create a collection of short stories. There is more freedom to do something small and satisfying with a smaller story than when you have to keep the pace going in a longer work like a novel. Writing a story based on a thought that you had while driving down the road will get the creative juices going sooner and might allow you to expand it into something bigger later. Those have been some of my favourite books, whenever Stephen King puts out a new book it always ends up on my To-Read list, but when that book is a collection of stories, it goes right to the top of the list.
What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?
My goal as a writer, right now, is to create a world that people can get lost in. A world that they’ll want to come back to again and tell all of their friends about it.
What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?
I don’t know that I was ever given any advice about writing other than the notes and commendations that my professors in university gave me from my essays when I turned them in. As a computer science student I took a number of history and sociology courses that did not have tests but essays for grading, my professors were always impressed with my papers and it did mean a lot to me at the time.
For my final assignment in my Computer Science degree I did have to do a research paper and presentation, my advisor at the time was the Dean of the faculty who gave me a great grade on my report.
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Where to find him:
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