Sunday Surprise

And in spite of the new blog schedule, I won’t give up on sharing words of wisdom, writers on writing or whatever you want to call this. I’ll try not to post them when there’s the Backstage Pass on the other site, so while I fly to London to watch a Bollywood movie and meet friends, I leave you with the usual collection of quotes. Have a great Sunday!

The work, once you’ve released it into the world, no longer has anything to do with us. We create the work, and then send it on its journey, but we do not control the journey—or the reaction to the work.

Our stories cease to be ours the moment someone else reads them.

Our job is to write and release, to create the best stories we possibly can, and to continue to create the best stories we can.
Since we need to eat, we must manage our businesses and our copyrights, so that we get paid for our work. We can control where it goes and who sees it.

But we cannot control how people will react to it. And if they decide they love our work—whether we love that particular story or not—we need to honor that. And if they hate it, we need to make sure we do not let that hatred influence our future work.
The easiest way to do that is to realize that once the work is in the wild, it is no longer ours. It belongs to everyone who reads it, everyone who reacts to it.

Kris Rusch

In this industry, it is true that readers and critics will often look at your work and compare it (negatively) with the best there has ever been. They’ll say, “Yeah, that David Farland is good, but he’s no Tolkien.” If you’re really fortunate, they might even think that (according to their own tastes) you are the best.

But I think that comparing yourself to others can be unhealthy. The truth is, as a writer, I don’t want to be the next Tolkien or Rowling or Shakespeare. I want to be unique—me. Ultimately, that’s all that I ever can be, and so I try to gather as much wisdom as I can from other writers as I struggle to become the best version of me ever.

David Farland

I finally came to the realization that despite the wisdom and good intentions of these publishers, at the end of the day, they can only make an educated guess. The dirty little secret in publishing is that publishers are just throwing spaghetti against the wall. Publishers don’t know what readers want to read. Only readers know that and often, readers don’t even know what they want to read until it comes out of nowhere and smacks them upside the head. I imagine the hundreds of thousands of authors who came before us just like us who stared into this abyss of failure, whose dreams of publication were crushed by publishers. I imagine the millions of books that would die with those authors, unpublished and unread. I imagined the literary masterpieces hidden in those books that would forever be lost to humanity, undiscovered like buried treasure because these writers were never given a chance.

Mark Coker

So right from the start with fiction writing, we are in a battle with the world around us and ourselves. I could spend an entire chapter listing all the crap we all were trained about fiction writing. I did some of it in books called Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing. All of us took in most of that crap in in one form or another.

You know. From things like: “You can’t make a living writing fiction.”

And then there is the big one: “You must rewrite everything.”

(I bet that hit a few belief systems right there. Taught belief systems.)

We all learned chapters full of silly stuff that actually has nothing to do with the creative process in fiction writing.

Dean Wesley Smith

Wouldn’t it be nice? But alas, there are no recipes. We have no Julia Child. Successful professional writers are not withholding mysterious secrets from eager beginners. The only way anybody ever learns to write well is by trying to write well. This usually begins by reading good writing by other people, and writing very badly by yourself, for a long time.

There are “secrets” to making a story work — but they apply only to that particular writer and that particular story. You find out how to make the thing work by working at it — coming back to it, testing it, seeing where it sticks or wobbles or cheats, and figuring out how to make it go where it has to go.

Ursula K. Le Guin

Sunday Surprise

And it’s a guest! I’ll still have those if someone is willing to be interviewed! This lovely young lady I met in person and when I saw her excited about her upcoming new release, I had to offer her a spot! Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Kate Grove!

Where do you live and write from?

Hello and nice to meet you all. I live in Budapest, Hungary.

Why do you write?

I write because I’d like to share stories with the world. I want to invite my readers to journey to a faraway land so they can experience fun adventures there!

When did you start writing?

Well, I was probably around 7 or 8 when I’ve written the first story that I remember. However, if you were to ask me when I decided to be a novelist, then it was at 13 years old.

What genre(s) do you write?

I mainly write romantic fantasy, with humour and adventure.

What does your writing routine consist of?

I like to use sprints. I write for 20-25 minutes, then take a 5 to 10-minute break. In an ideal world, that is. Sometimes I forget the time and just write until something breaks me out of the trance. The same might happen when I’m having a break, so I need to pay attention. I usually schedule 1 day off every week.

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

Probably plotting and world building. How did I develop them? Not sure, but I suspect it has something to do with me being a single child and coming up with ideas to entertain myself whenever my friends were unavailable to play.

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

Inspiration is everywhere. It just strikes you at unexpected moments. It could be because of a snippet of a conversation, lyrics, a cool music video, an article, or just taking a walk in a park. Really, anything can be used as inspiration.

You won’t find me as I am in my stories, however, when my characters are formed, I think every one of them takes a little something from me. There’s a connection between me and all my characters. I think that might be the same for most writers 🙂

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?

The middle ground. I like to outline – and it looks so detailed! But when we’re talking about a 95K novel, you realise there’s a lot of room to wiggle. I like to see what comes next and how will we get to the end before I start writing. But I always leave room for random events and developments, because sometimes, when you write fast enough, the most exciting scenes appear!

Am I a fast or a slow writer? I type very fast. I can probably write a 95K novel in 2 or 3 months at most. That’s slow for some people. Other people would find it a breakneck speed. It’s all relative!

Tell us about your latest book (

My latest book is the first one in a series, called Sword and Mirror. It’s being published on 30th September (tomorrow), here is the link.

It’s about a woman who is thrown back in time, to 16th century Japan and she strikes a deal with a samurai lord in order to survive this war-torn period. It’s a very exciting time in Japanese history and I had fun researching! Anyway, she agrees to pretend to be the samurai lord’s fake fiancée for a month in exchange for his help, but she realises the dangers of it a little late. After all, a samurai lord has many enemies, and in this case, not all of them are humans.

Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?

It took me long to decide on indie publishing. When I started writing, the only route to go seemed traditional publishing, but when I felt ready enough for finally publishing, the book market had already changed. Indie publishing underwent a revolution and better and better books came out, nurtured by indies. And when I weighed the pros and cons…

In the end, being indie allows me more freedom in the creative and business processes and better royalty rates. And I basically would have to do the same amount of work as in trad pub, so why not? The only disadvantage would be that it’s probably harder to see my book in bookshops, but if they can get on the bookshelves of my readers, I don’t mind 🙂

With POD services and the e-book platforms, it’s easier to share my stories with more people than ever. And it’s especially important that I can reach out to them, since my readers are English speakers and I wouldn’t have any other way to connect to them.

Any other projects in the pipeline?

I’m working on the next book in the series, which is called Smoke and Jewel (it comes out on Leap Day!), and it’s already on pre-order. Meanwhile, I plan to release side stories related to the series, whenever I have the opportunity.

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

I want to entertain people with my stories. If it helps them even a little bit to get away from the usual day-to-day events, then I’d be very happy.

And I’d love to stay a full-time writer. I have a limited time to try it out, so we’ll see how that goes.

What do I do to achieve these goals? Write more and be active on Patreon! Learn online marketing and see where I can improve my craft and business practices.

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

You can’t edit a blank page.

Thank you for having me over today, Barb!

Find Me On:

Sunday Surprise

And it’s a guest! With a new bundle out, how could I not interview some fellow authors? Even if I didn’t curate it, I’m still curious about other writers’ process!Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Karen C. Klein!

Where do you live and write from?

I live in the Chicago area, but am making a move down to Fort Worth, TX. I tend to write from home on my laptop, but also enjoy taking my laptop or tablet out with me to a library or café.

Why do you write?

Gosh, I could probably write an entire book about why I write. I think the short answer is because I love to tell stories and writing them down in book form is my favorite “container” for sharing stories.

When did you start writing?

I started telling stories to my Aunts when I was four on the train to downtown Chicago. And I wrote my first fan fic when I was eleven and my first original fic when I was twelve. I lost the notebook with the fan fic, but I still have the notebook with the original fic.

What genre(s) do you write?

I write fantasy & sci-fi, broadly speaking. I love combing sub-genres of sci-fi and fantasy in new and interesting ways.

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

I want to write the books that I didn’t have growing up. I also want to write books about a better, more inclusive world, where people are better than they are in the real world. And I want my books to provoke an emotional response in my readers – give them hope, or make them angry or make them cry.

I achieve these goals by writing the stories that I wish I had or wish existed when I was growing up. Or I wish I had now. I write from a character driven position. I put a lot of heft behind a character’s emotional arc and growth. I don’t really have static characters on the page. I also study the world as it is now. I study history. To better understand humanity and our motivations as a species. Finally, I read a lot of fiction and non-fiction.

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

Take other writers’ advice with a grain of salt. What works well for someone else might not work for you.

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?

I tend to start with a jumping off point, like a character or a world idea and then do some loose world-building before I jump into drafting. My drafts are mostly improvisation. I tend to rebel against traditional outlines in my fiction. I can outline non-fiction. Brains are weird. My writing is slow in that I don’t write every day. But, fast in that I can write an average of 1000 words in an hour when I am able to sit down and write. Not every writing day is a great day, but I try to squeeze the most out of what writing time I do have.

Tell us more about your book in the bundle

The book that I have in this bundle is titled Shakespeare’ s Curse. It is about how the wizard Shakespeare was cursed into a map by his brother, the wizard Teneyros.

I had so much fun writing this short story because Shakespeare & Teneyros are more supporting characters in the first two books of the Chronicles of the Mages’ Guild books. This short story brings out their dynamic. And it gives readers a chance to find out how Shakespeare ended up as a map.

Tell us about your latest book

I’m drafting a book where the main character Adra is going to the city from the country to pursue her magical University education. Along the way, she discovers she’s not the humble orphan she thinks she is, but part of something much larger than herself. She finds herself unexpectedly caught up in political intrigue that brings the country to the brink of civil war.

Any other projects in the pipeline?

I always have multiple irons in the fire so to speak. I am working on the next two novels of the Mages’ Guild series. Both of those are past the first draft stage. As well as collaborating with my friend Matt Hope on what we’re calling a queer space heist, which is still in the first draft stage. It is set in a world in the far future. Ella & Charlie are tasked with rescuing their royal friends off of a high security space station or the princesses and prince will be forced into unwanted arranged marriages for political alliance.


Random Friday

Words of wisdom, writers on writing, writers’ quotes, anything to ponder in a cool place away from the heat… Have a great weekend! 🙂

Listen, here’s what I usually tell authors: you can, with some earnestness and enthusiasm, maybe sell a few books. Maybe you can even sell tens or hundreds of your book. And that’s not nothing. Every sale of your book is a pebble thrown into a pond, and a pebble thrown into a pond creates ripples that may reach the shore. Meaning, even one person who reads and loves your book might share their love of that book with others — and if they love it, they share it, and on and on. A CHAIN OF LOVE. Like an orgy, but slower!


Obviously, yes, you should talk about your book.

You should share it.

You should be ready to commit to interviews and podcasts and exploring ways to get the word out. And your publisher should be your guide through that. If they’re not, you should be self-publishing because what’s the point?

Beyond that the solution to all of of this is the solution to many a writer’s woes:

Write the next book.

Always, always, always write the next book

Writers write, and you’re a writer.

So go write, writer.

Go write.

Chuck Wendig


The idea that you can only get ahead by cheating is especially pernicious because it creates more cheaters. It’s like that old cliché about the underworld where you can only join the inner circle after your first kill. You have skin in the game now, and it’s attached to your own ass.

However, it’s a lie.

While competition is greater now, the tools we have to reach readers have improved immeasurably: Kindle Countdown Deals, reader magnets, BookBub CPM ads, permafree, Facebook Carousel ads, cross-promo, RobinReads, free runs (now gold again in KU btw), Kobo promos, BookFunnel, iBooks First Free in a Series, BookBarbarian, merchandizing opportunities, mailing list automation – this is just a tiny sample of the powerful options we have at our disposal today.

When you put them together, it’s a heady mix. Incredible marketing campaigns that catapult books into the charts, bringing in thousands of dollars a month, or even tens of thousands of dollars a month. And all cleanly.

If all that sounds too hard, you’re just going to have to pull on your big boy pants and get stuck in. No one owes you a chart position, a readership, or a living. You have to build it yourself. Okay, sometimes you do work hard and don’t get the reward you deserve. That sucks, but that’s life. You must persevere.

David Gaughran

No matter if you’re extremely successful as an indie author or just starting out, all of us will need to adapt and change. Maybe Amazon will change KNEP again or another service will rise up while others go extinct (I see your days numbered, Nook). We have virtual reality, augmented reality and who know what other “reality” is coming down the pike. Change will continue to happen and disrupters (like the Amazons of the world) will continue to affect the publishing industry.

The challenge for us as authors is to hold two incongruent ideas in our mind at the same time: We need to be as creative and inspiring as we can with our fiction but also need to understand marketing and its implementation in the real world.
Ron Vitale

So: how often should you publish?

The answer is: as often as you can while maintaining quality and avoiding burnout. This is going to be different for each writer, but if you try to push yourself too hard and put out books before they’re ready, you will lose readers. If you push yourself too hard and get burnt out, you harm yourself. If you don’t publish books and don’t advertise, you will lose your readers, so there is a balance in between publishing frequently and getting smart with advertising. Unless you sell so much that you can employ someone to advertise for you, you will probably have to choose between either of those activities. You can either spend a lot of time writing, and not that much advertising, or you can devote more energy to marketing and less time writing.

Somewhere in that equation, there is a balance that everyone needs to find for themselves.

Patty Jansen

1. Write every single day, with or without inspiration

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”

-Stephen King, On Writing

Writing needs to be your breakfast, lunch, dinner and in-between snack. You need to be writing in every spare moment in your life. When you aren’t reading, you need to be writing. Most writers pace the hallways or the four walls of life, waiting for a single moment of inspiration to hit them into their chair behind the computer and create a bestseller. It will not happen. Inspiration will come, but you have to pave the pathway with hundreds and thousands of words to earn that vital inspiration, to make that bestseller. If you do not practice, you do not learn. The more you write, the easier it will become. The more you write, the closer success will be.

Justin Osborn

Sunday Surprise

And it’s the last guest for now. Another Eclectica Bundle author to close this series up for the summer. Hopefully more guests will show up in September. Meanwhile, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Diana Deverell!

Where do you live and write from?

I live on a hilltop in the Danish village where my husband was born. The window in my writing space overlooks Helnaes Bay and the Jutland peninsula is on the horizon. Because of the perverse nature of my creative process, I don’t stare at that view for inspiration.

The story I want to tell never seems to take place where I actually am. Some scenes in my international thriller, Night on Fire, are set in this village but I lived in Oregon when I wrote them.

Now, I’m in Denmark and the legal thriller I just finished happens in the landlocked cities of Eastern Oregon and Washington. I guess that’s how my imagination entertains itself when I cut it off from other distractions.

Why do you write?

I want to take my readers places and give them experiences they may not have the opportunity to enjoy in real life. And of course, like others who’ve posted here, at some point, I’m always wondering: What if things take a surprising turn? During the Cold War, I worked behind the iron curtain as personnel officer at the US Embassy in Warsaw. My international thrillers draw on that experience, but my burning question was: What if, instead of falling in love with a military attaché working for a NATO ally, I was seduced by a Polish intelligent agent? With that twist, my heroine doesn’t spend her time pushing paper—she’s passionately fighting evil.

My legal thrillers are told primarily from the viewpoint of an appeals lawyer. She has the skills and passion to force a broken justice system to treat her clients fairly. In college and for a few years after, I earned my living as a legal secretary. I’ve worked in law offices in California, Massachusetts, and Maine. I understand the legal process and the lingo and I’ve spent countless hours researching appeals law to get my facts right.

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

My personal goal with my thrillers is to imagine a fairer and more just world than I face. On the legal thriller side, I have a loved one behind bars. My inmate has another five years to serve on her mandatory sentence of nineteen years and two months. I visit her whenever I am in the US. Fourteen years into this, I have to steel myself to go through the sally port, because I hate being inside that prison—and I’m there for only one hundred and fifty minutes per visit.

In my legal thrillers, I want my reader to feel how decades-long incarceration adversely affects both inmates and correctional officers. The soul-destroying nature is worsened when the primary goal of imprisonment is punishing wrongdoers rather than preparing them to return to society as productive members.

And I also want readers to share my heroine’s personal satisfaction when she brings mercy, compassion, and fairness to her clients.

When did you start writing?

A creative writing class I took in college encouraged me to believe I could learn to write good stories. The second was an awareness that I’d tell better ones if I had a little more life experience. I spent twenty-five years getting that “little more” before I began seriously writing fiction for publication. I was lucky and a New York publisher gave me a two-book contract and released my first novel in 1998. My good fortune ran out when my publisher was sold to another. In the downsizing that followed, I wasn’t offered another contract. By 2011, I had my rights back to those novels and started indie-publishing them and brand-new novels as ebooks.

What genre(s) do you write?

Primarily thrillers and mysteries, set in current time. I’ve written short stories set in the past and featuring young adults and even one with a robot vacuum as a protagonist. But for my longer work, I like to spend my time with a sharp, gutsy woman as she digs into a contemporary problem.

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

I did not understand this piece of advice the first time I heard it: Reveal your character’s emotional history through the character’s opinion of the setting. But in several online workshops with Dean Wesley Smith I learned what he meant by that.

I saw that I should put my character in an interesting place packed with descriptive possibilities. She should experience that setting through her senses. What she sees, smells, hears, tastes, and feels triggers memories that are clues to her past. When I finally got it, I realized that I’d first recognized that technique in The Little Drummer Girl by John LeCarré, the spy thriller that hooked me on the genre. Instead of giving us big chunks of narrative back story, he slowly builds up Charlie’s history and the reader comes to understand and care about her.

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?

I write as if I’m driving slowly at night, unable to see beyond my headlights, and constantly checking my guide books. I hit the million-words-published market last year and by now when do start a new book, I trust my subconscious to get me to a satisfying conclusion. Often it’s not one I anticipated when I began.

Tell us more about your book in the bundle.

I have two mystery titles in the bundle and each includes a bonus mystery. FBI Special Agent Dawna Shepherd stars in all four. Dawna was a college basketball star and she first appeared in the cast of my international thriller Night on Fire. Turns out, an FBI is very agent useful in thriller territory and she played a supporting role in two more international thrillers and my new political thriller, Bitch Out of Hell.

Dawna stars in sixteen published short stories, dealing with human trafficking, health care fraud, illegal sports betting, nuclear smuggling, and other not-homicide crimes. “Blown” is an entertaining spy caper that takes Dawna to Poland in hot pursuit of a renegade NSA contractor. The bonus story, “Polonaise,” is also set in Poland and has her protecting a witness scheduled to testify against a Warsaw crime boss.

In “Shaken, Not Stirred,” Dawna takes a break from busting bad guys to vacation in Mexico at SpyGirl Fantasy Camp with her pal, ex-Secret Service Agent Ladyshimarray Harms. My story answers the simple question: Does a hardboiled FBI agent ever get to have fun? The bonus story, “Hungarian Dance No. 5,”is the first published short story featuring Dawna and Ladyshimarray. They run into trouble during a teaching gig at the FBI’s international law enforcement academy in Budapest.

Tell us about your latest book

Lay Bare the Lie, my sixth Nora Dockson legal thriller, will be released on July 1, 2019. An ex-con, Nora pulled herself out of the gutter and became an appeals lawyer. She works only for convicted felons.

She’s sure her current client didn’t murder his wife. The jury was misled by testimony from an expert witness who reconstructed the crime based on bloodstain patterns. She’ll prove the so-called expert made leaps of logic incompatible with the latest forensic science.

But before she can started on the case, a family emergency pulls her back to her roots. Events spiral out of control. Instead of arguing in a courtroom, she’s struggling once again on the dangerous turf of her childhood. And this time she may not get out alive.

You can preorder this novel at the bargain advance sale price from your favorite ebook retailer by following this universal link.

For more about my books, visit my website

Sunday Surprise

And it’s another Eclectica author! Her short story collection is awesome, you’ll see it in my recommended reading list at the end of the year… but why wait? Get it now along with all the other awesome authors! Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Sherry D. Ramsey!

Where do you live and write from?

I live in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, and I can see the Atlantic Ocean from my house. I’ve lived here all my life, except for my university years (also spent in a port town…do I see a pattern here?). I can’t imagine living far from the scent of the salt sea air.

Why do you write?

I think I’m just mentally tuned that way. Stories and characters show up and I simply want to write them…to delve into the possibilities and challenges they present. I can go for stretches without writing, perhaps a month or so, but I always come back to it.

When did you start writing?

The first “real” story I remember writing was around the eighth grade. It was a very Edgar Allan Poe-type story, with a creepy house and a storm and portraits on the walls whose eyes followed the main character. My teacher at the time really encouraged my writing, and I give him a lot of credit for making me believe this was something I could actually do.

What genre(s) do you write?

I write all over the speculative fiction spectrum (although not much horror). Science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy; I love it all, often mashed up with a dash of mystery and detective.

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

I suppose my goal as a writer is to give readers stories they can get lost in and enjoy, and characters they will love and care about. I lean toward writing that primarily entertains (although it can certainly have important underlying themes and messages). I think reading is a necessary form of release and escapism that helps keep us sane in an increasingly crazy world.

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

It’s a pretty simple one, really: “Keep going.” The writing life has a lot of ups and downs—the downs usually dominate at first—and it’s so important to keep writing, keep learning, and keep improving. I believe it will happen for most people if they really love to write and accept that it’s a process of getting better in small, incremental steps.

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?

Big-time improviser who dabbles in outlining with varied success! I can appreciate the value of an outline in many cases, but I’m not always so great at implementing one. I tend to write fast first drafts, and if I don’t start with an outline, I make one as I go—it’s an invaluable tool for those inevitable revisions.

Tell us more about your book in the bundle

My book in the bundle is “The Cache and Other Stories,” a collection of (mostly) previously-published short fiction. The stories range across the specfic genres, so it’s a great fit for the Eclectica bundle. You’ll find an alien ship in a forest hideaway, ghosts inside a computer network, a distraught goddess in a detective’s office, a teenage busker on a space station, and more.

Tell us about your latest book

My latest book is the novella “Toil and Trouble,” the fourth installment in my Olympia Investigations series (one of the earlier OI stories is in the book in this bundle). Here’s the blurb:

Acacia Sheridan is a private detective with a special gift for perceiving the supernatural. When a local coven of urban witches mistakenly summons a malevolent spirit, they look to Acacia to help track him down. Inconsistencies in the witches’ story make Acacia suspect they’re not telling her everything—and then the murders start.

With her assistant Oliver stressing over an unfortunate witch encounter in his past, a demon on the loose, and a handsome police detective who wants to know too much, Acacia’s up to her sixth sense in supernatural trouble in this new novella in the Olympia Investigations series.

It’s available in print and multiple ebook formats, and you can find your favourite retailer link at

Any other projects in the pipeline?

Always! I’m currently working on revisions for the fourth book in my Nearspace series, and writing the first draft of a new comic fantasy novel I hope to release later this year. Juggling projects is my usual modus operandi (whether that’s a good thing or not, I’m never sure), but those are my projects while I wait with bated breath for spring to arrive in my part of the world.

Sunday Surprise

And it’s another Eclectica author! I met her and she’s the sweetest girl in the universe! 🙂 Can’t believe it’s been two years already since… And she was even in Nightly Bites Volume 2! Anyhow, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Felicia Fredlund!

Where do you live and write from?

I currently live in Japan, Kyoto to be more exact. This is also where I write, usually in my apartment.

Why do you write?

I write because I want to experience different kinds of lives. And I would love to live in a mystical world with magic, but alas, that isn’t possible, so I’ll do it through writing.

When did you start writing?

Somewhere in my teens. I was a bit late to reading, only starting to love it when I was about 11 years old, and then I needed a few more years to fall in love with writing.

What genre(s) do you write?

I tend to write a lot of fantasy, especially longer works. My short stories fall all over the map through from contemporary to science fiction, from horror to romance, and most things in between.

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

I’m not exactly sure how to answer this. I don’t have an overarching goal as a writer. I want to write a lot, hopefully find a lot of readers, and have fun.

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

Have fun. Otherwise get a job with an easier paycheck.

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?

Improviser. As to fast or slow, I’m not sure. I think my typing speed is pretty average and beyond that it is about the amount of time I spend.

Tell us more about your book in the bundle.

It is called Dear Brother and is about a young man trying to deal with the grief from the loss of his brother. I wrote it about a moment I had, dealing with grief from the loss of my mother.

Tell us about your latest book

Angel’s Demise is an urban fantasy short story. Coming out later this May. It is about a guardian angel desperately trying to keep her charge alive. It is pretty twisted and dark.

Any other projects in the pipeline?

A few. Several more short stories will come out this year. Plus two novellas: Commissioned Magic, set in my Riala City fantasy world that is about a painting magician who gets an unusual commission; and the other one is untitled currently, but is the first of several Guild Adventuress series stories (I have another two finished).

Random Friday

Words of wisdom, writers on writing, whatever you want to call them, enjoy these writers’ quotes!

This is true however you publish, whatever you write.
Writing begets writing. Writing sells writing.
Writing is an act of doing. It is an act of making.
It is also an act of persevering.
And surviving.
A lot of writers simply can’t hack it, so they quit. The road ahead and behind you is littered with the corpses of writers who just couldn’t hack it. (And spoiler alert, some of them are the desiccated carcasses of shit-flinging gibbons.) They couldn’t deal, so they gave up and gave in.
Writing is you not quitting. It’s you taking a bite and digging your teeth deeper like a cranky-ass bulldog who refuses to let go. It isn’t you being a crap-tossing primate.
Be the best version of yourself.
Let your writing be the guide.
Write the greatest damn book you can write.
And don’t be a shitty monkey.
The end.
Chuck Wendig

Let me tell you something someone mercifully told me: If readers do not empathize with what your character wants by the end of your first page – and that’s the stubby little three-quarter page of text floating under the title – it will be remarkably difficult to sell your book.
Now read that again: not just understand what your character wants.  To empathize.  As in, to go, “Oh, I could want that too.”  You need to trigger a resonant emotion within 250 words or so.  It likely won’t be a deep emotion by that point, but that first “I get this person” has to be birthed on Page One.
You don’t get emotion by explaining things to people.  And as such, “Everything is inverted in The Uploaded!” became a liability.
Ferret Steinmetz

Oh, and one more thing. I get that writing about spaceships or elves or super-spies or whatever may seem frivolous in times like these. I’ve been there, man. We should be out there donating, marching, calling representatives – spending our time better, right? And yeah, I’ve done those things as well, and I’d encourage y’all to do that too.
But writing really does matter. I had a reader reach out on social media recently just to tell me that reading one of my books was a welcome respite from all the craziness out there. And wow, let me tell you, that was something. I hadn’t really thought of my stuff that way, and it was incredibly awesome to hear that.
I wrote 2,000 really good words that day.
So yeah. It’s OK to be angry, scared and/or discouraged at the world – or your own personal stuff, for that matter, because life throws curveballs all the damn time. Do what you gotta do to get you through it. Watch crap movies or call your reps. Donate, cry, march, hide, scream. Take care of yourself. But know that when you get back to the keyboard, you have a chance to bring stories to life that can help people think about a better future, or get some solace from a rough present.
Saddle up, wordpeople.
Michael J. Martinez

Writing by committee makes dullness. It takes out your writer voice, and often your character voice.
And I honestly have no idea why writers don’t have more pride in their work. That is the aspect of all this that bothers me. No one touches my work. It is my work. Period. Good or bad.
And I am proud of that fact. Good or bad.
The Solution?
Just stop. Go cold turkey.
Grow a backbone and believe in your own writing.
Maybe have one trusted reader and then ignore anything they say that doesn’t fit with your vision.
Get a copyeditor who will only find typos. Ignore anything the copyeditor says if they try to change your style or writing in any way.
Think how much easier that will be.
Keep learning skills and craft and applying it to the next story.
Bad grammar be good in right times and right places. Toss out the Chicago Manual of Style unless you are writing nonfiction.
Toss out the window your copy of Strunk and White unless you are writing nonfiction.
I am talking fiction here.
You are an artist. Allow your characters to live on the page. Allow your own voice (which you can’t see) to be there for your readers.
Always focus on the next story, not the last story.
Just stop even thinking of using beta readers to destroy your work.
Because that is what beta readers do.
Dean Wesley Smith

Almost nobody else is judging our progress. We might imagine that all of our Facebook friends and all of the relatives we see at Thanksgiving dinner are always thinking about how we’re falling short of expectations. The truth is, almost no one is thinking about our writing success at all.
Nobody is making harsh judgements about our return on investment except the imaginary judge we’ve invented for ourselves, and we can kick that person out any time.
If you love writing, you have to learn to be shameless.
That way, you can always enjoy it, no matter what comes or doesn’t come from it.
Shameless” is a funny word, because we use it as an insult. But we accept “shameless” is negative, then we have to accept being ashamed of ourselves as a positive, which is madness.
The really good things in life rarely result in money and accolades. Walking in the moonlight. Playing with your dog. Turning up the music and dancing around your apartment.
Bryn Donovan

Sunday Surprise

And from the Eclectica Bundle as well as some Curated Anthologies, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome back fellow worskhopper Debbie Mumford! 🙂

Where do you live and write from?

I make my home in the beautiful Pacific Northwest of the USA. Vancouver, Washington to be exact. No, not Vancouver, British Columbia, that’s in Canada, several hundred miles north of where I live. Vancouver, Washington is just across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon, and in some ways, is a bedroom community to Portland.

As to the question of my writing, I don’t have an actual office. I write on a MacBook Pro laptop, sitting in my favorite chair in the living room … with my feet up. What can I say? I’m into comfort! With my body at ease, my mind is free to wander into other worlds and visit possibilities of existences other than our own.

Why do you write?

I’m an avid reader—I think most writers are—and I’ve always found myself saying, “Yes, but what if that happened?” At some point, I stopped wondering about nuances of other writers’ worlds and decided to create my own. It’s harder than you’d think, being the god of an imagined world, but at the same time, it’s exhilarating and freeing. When I’m really in the zone, I’m completely submerged in my story. Words rush from my subconscious through my fingers onto the screen without me being consciously aware of what I’ll write next. It’s like magic! Characters do things I hadn’t even dreamed of, and my surface mind wonders, “What will they do next?”

Ultimately, that’s why I write…to discover what happens next.

When did you start writing?

I can truthfully say that I wrote my first story before I could read. I dictated it to my mother and then illustrated it with crayon drawings!

Then came a LONG period of no writing other than school assignments and later, Christmas newsletters. I thought about writing often while I was raising my children, but time with them always took priority, so I didn’t truly start writing until my husband and I launched them out into the world. Then I sat down and wrote my first novel. I finished it, all 100,000 words, in a little over six-months and blithely sent it off to agents and editors, thoroughly expecting it to be snapped up immediately.
Yeah. Not so much. My novel was met with universal form letter rejections. I was so green, I didn’t even have a clue what I’d done wrong. At that point, I buckled down, found some writing mentors and began to learn my craft. Can anyone say “cart before the horse”? Definitely. But you don’t know what you don’t know, and at least I started and finished a novel and had the confidence to send it out. I also used the rejections as a goad instead of letting them defeat me.

What genre(s) do you write?

I’ve written a little bit of everything: fantasy, lots of romance (paranormal romance, fantasy romance, time-travel romance), historical fiction, and even a little bit of mystery. Recently, I’ve been branching out into science fiction, especially space opera. Oh, and I write contemporary young adult and middle-grade fantasy under a pen name: Deb Logan.

Interestingly enough, Debbie Mumford writes her tales in third person, while Deb Logan always writes in first person. Yep, I can honestly say Deb is channeling my inner child!

Tell us more about your book in the bundle

Tales of Tomorrow is a collection of five of short stories that move from science fiction to the edge of fantasy. The collection includes two “right around the corner” tales, one far flung space fantasy, and two stories of future families.

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

My most recent release is also a short story collection, Tales of Love and Magick. It includes tales that combine my enchantment with fantasy and my love of romance. Each of these ten tales blends the very human element of love, whether romantic, familial, or budding, with a fascinating bit of magick. I had great fun writing these stories, and I hope readers will enjoy them as well!
You can buy Tales of Love and Magick at most ebook retailers.

Any other projects in the pipeline?

I’m always imagining new worlds! I’m currently dreaming up a historical romance series based on Her Highland Laird, a time-travel novella I wrote a few years back. I also have several short stories in process for upcoming anthologies, and Deb Logan has a few fans clamoring for a follow-up novel to Thunderbird. After all, Coyote isn’t the most patient of totem animals. He’s ready to take center stage!

Barb’s P.S. I must say Debbie and I think alike. Look at her latest cover! She chose the same portal I used for Otherside, although I made quite a composite of that image! 🙂 But then, it’s a beautiful stock image…

Random Friday

Another author who is in both curated anthologies sent me her answers. I would like to spend a few words on this one. She sent me Tethering the Sun first when I sent out the call for portal stories. Then I realized we were at the same workshop in 2017, although there were fifty people there and we barely talked. But we caught up and I requested also The Traveler from that list. So, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome another workshop buddy, C.A. Rowland!

They are both out now! Click on the image for the BUY links!

1. What is it about portals that draws you to it?
I love the idea of crossing into a new world, that wonder and unsettling sense of trying to deal with something new. Portals cause growth and I like exploring that aspect of learning about something new. I also love going to new lands and getting to know them and their people.
2. What is your story in the anthology about?
In Fantasy Portals, my story is about a woman who is drawn into a painting and has to deal with what that means and the choices she must make.
In More Portals, my story is about a woman at Machu Picchu who steps through a curtain of fog and finds a completely different Machu Picchu.
3. What inspired your story?
I think art is so inspirational. I have written a number of stories based on pictures or drawings or in this case, an oil painting that I saw in New Mexico. The artist’s work has stuck with me and I finally realized there was a story I wanted to tell about one of them.
4. Do you always write about portals?
If not, what do you write about? No, I write about places I have visited, places I’ve lived, historical stories, mysteries, science fiction and fantasy. I don’t know that I could ever write in only one genre or only one kind of story.
5. What should readers know about you?
My first mystery novel will be published in 2020, The Meter’s Always Running. The main character is a female taxi driving in Savannah, Georgia. I lived in Georgia for years and love the historic district. I live in Virginia now where the backdrop is the Civil War battlefields. I studied History in college so this is the right place for me and the area inspires me and my stories.
6. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
I love ghost stories too. I stayed with my grandmother when I was small and both my parents worked. We used to go to the local graveyard where she would weed and talk about the people she knew there. I would imagine what they looked like, where they lived and what their lives were like. Those sometimes show up in my stories as well.
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