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Author Interviews, Blog

Author Interview: Emily Ruhl, Fantasy/Romance

Hello! My name is Emily Ruhl, and I am the author of The Bonds Between Us. This is my debut novel, and the first book in the planned Web of Wyrd trilogy. The Bonds Between Us primarily falls into the genres of romance and fantasy, and although I love writing in these genres (and hope to write many more novels that also fall into these literary categories), I would also like to one day expand my horizons into historical fiction to satisfy my passion for history. I currently have several works in progress in all of the aforementioned genres.

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author: I started writing The Bonds Between Us in early 2020. Writing a book was a childhood dream of mine, and I had many ideas for various novels I wanted to write. However, I never sat down to actually put pen to paper, mostly because I had been told so frequently that being an author was an unrealistic goal in life. In 2020 though, a good friend of mine read a short story I had written years prior, and started encouraging me to write a book. Her support and confidence in me restored my enthusiasm for writing and gave me the courage to attempt writing my first novel. Inspired by Italian courses that I took in college and personal events that I experienced throughout my life, I finally started piecing together in my mind the storyline for what is now The Bonds Between Us

How long did it take you to finish your first book?

Author: It took me approximately eight months to finish writing The Bonds Between Us. During that time, I spent most days writing anywhere between 4-10 hours.

If you’ve published, how long did your first book take?

Author: From the moment I received notification from Atmosphere Press that they would like to publish my book, to the day the book officially launched, it took about eight months for The Bonds Between Us to get published.

Are you indie, traditional, hybrid, or vanity, and why?

Author: I consider myself to be a hybrid author. Although I did not go the traditional route of finding an agent who would represent me, I still chose to submit my book to a verified publisher. In large part, this was because I knew I did not have what it took to make my book successful on my own. I had never published a book before, I was not entirely confident in my storyline or editing, and I knew absolutely nothing about things like professional editing, cover design, and marketing. Therefore, I really wanted to find a dependable publisher who would be able to provide the support and guidance I needed to help make my book a success. Atmosphere Press provided that opportunity, and I am forever grateful to them for their huge role in helping my book become a reality.

How did you determine your target audience?

Author: For me, I struggled greatly with determining my target audience. At first, I primarily considered The Bonds Between Us to be targeted toward adult readers due to my writing style. However, I also felt that the fantasy and romance aspects of my book could be appealing for young adult audiences. In the end, after “flip-flopping” back and forth ad infinitum, I strove to target the emerging “new adult” audience category, which is where I feel this book truly lies based on factors such as the age of the characters and the central themes of the story.         

What platforms do you use to publish your works?

Author: I worked with Atmosphere Press to publish The Bonds Between Us.      

How do you get critiques, betas, feedback, and edits?

Author: In terms of feedback and edits, Atmosphere Press editors helped me work out rough spots in the storyline, make corrections, etc. For critiques and reviews, I worked with publicity managers at Atmosphere Press, and also sent out my own requests for reviews from reputable book review sites (such as Feathered Quill) and book reviewers employed by local newspapers.        

Katya Anders was supposed to be a monster, cursed by fate to an eternity of solitude. So the soulmark that suddenly appeared on her wrist must be a mistake… right?

It has to be—especially when her soulmate, Matteo, is both incompatible with, and superior to her, in every way: personality, reputation, bloodlines, magical abilities. Pursuing a relationship with him is not only socially unacceptable… it’s potentially fatal. Logically, Katya knows she should stay away from him. But doing so becomes impossible when an old Venetian folktale turns out to be more real than fiction. Forced to work together, can Katya and Matteo defy their very natures, overcome the restrictions of Vaettir society, and learn to trust their soulbond in time to save Venice, and each other, from the forces of Hell?

In The Bonds between Us by Emily Ruhl, we experience the power of destiny, the strength of love in overcoming all odds, and the realization that we are defined, not by who we are meant to be, but rather by who we choose to be.

Marketing

How do you get reviews for your books?

Author: I get reviews for my books through a joint effort between the outreach of the marketing publicists at Atmosphere Press and my own outreach to book review sites (such as Feathered Quill) and book reviewers employed by local newspapers.        

How do you promote your content?

Author: I promote my content through hardcopy promotion one-sheets, outreach to local bookstores and libraries for stocking and events, outreach to blogging sites, and my own personal social media networking (via Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter). I have also found simple word of mouth to be beneficial.      

How do you define success as an author?

Author: For me, success as an author is measured by what people take away from my writing. On the one hand, my goal with any book is to write storylines and characters that are engaging and entertaining. However, I also want to create works that are relatable and help reveal things about human nature. If people read my writing and are able to find joy in it, feel like they have gained some sort of insight into the world, or discover things that resonate with their personal experiences or feelings, then I feel that I have done my job as an author.

About Your Work

What type of content do you write and why? Fiction Novels? Poems? Songs? Screenplays? Short Stories? Epic?

Author: I mainly write fiction novels because I simply love telling stories. I enjoy creating tales with complex characters, detailed settings, intricate themes, and exciting plots that take the reader through multiple twists and turns. I want my readers to not only have fun reading, but to feel and think deeply about what it is they are reading. Novels allow me the flexibility to do just that, without any kinds of restrictions regarding length or style.

What genres and subgenres do you write in?

Author: Since I currently only have a single novel published, the only genre in which I have written is fantasy. The Bonds Between Us, though predominantly fantasy, also falls into the subgenre of romance. Although I plan on writing more novels that fall into these genres, I also hope to venture into historical fiction one day.

How many works have you published?

Author: I have only published one work—The Bonds Between Us.      

Can you tell us a bit about your most recent publication?

Author: The Bonds Between Us follows the story of Katya Anders, a young American woman who has opted to abandon her life in the United States in exchange for a new life in Venice, Italy. On the surface, Katya appears to be just like everyone else; but she has a secret—she is a Daski, part of an ancient race of magical beings who are notorious for their cold hearts, cruel behavior, and criminal acts. All her life, Katya has fled from this part of who she is. Yet her attempts to deny the reality of her nature becomes all but impossible when she suddenly develops a soulbond—a fated romantic connection she is not meant to have—with a man who seems to be the embodiment of all that is good and pure in the world. Although the connection between Katya and her soulmate is something she craves, she knows that any sort of relationship with him could be dangerous, even deadly. Her internal dilemmas regarding her identity and her future are only made worse when an old Venetian legend comes to life. Torn between who she is supposed to be and who she wants to be, Katya must learn to trust those around her—and even more terrifyingly, herself—if she wants to save the city she calls home from the forces of Hell.

What was your first goal when you started your journey to becoming an author? Has that changed?

Author: My first goal when I started my journey to become an author was simply to fulfill a childhood dream. Ever since I can remember, I loved writing. It was my passion. Yes, I found it to be fun. But it was also much more than that for me. You see, as someone who has always been rather quiet and reserved, writing allowed me an outlet for all of the thoughts, feelings, and stories that I otherwise struggled to express. Therefore, between the joy and the self-expression that I found in writing, my easy, automatic response whenever anyone asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” quickly became, “A writer.”

However, as I got older, I was frequently told that being an author was an unrealistic career goal. Yet it was something that always stuck with me. My desire to write couldn’t be hindered, and I have notebooks full of story ideas, scenes, and characters that developed in my mind over the years. But nothing ever came of those ideas or my passion. Not until I met my best friend, Katie—who is practically my sister at this point—did I again entertain the thought of becoming a writer. Katie encouraged me to pursue my passion for writing after reading a short story I had written in high school. She saw potential in me, and pushed me to fulfill my dream of writing a novel. I would never have had the courage to take the plunge and put my writing out into the world without her.

Now that I am a published author, it feels surreal. It is truly a dream come true. Perhaps even more remarkable is the fact that the experience is even more rewarding than I ever imagined it could be. I absolutely cannot wait to continue writing and see where this new path takes me in life. 

What do you want your readers to get out of your works?

Author: I want my readers to take away from my works whatever it is they need most at that point in their lives—entertainment, comfort, acceptance, belonging, hope, courage. After all, that’s what makes writing beautiful. Just like music, paintings, movies, and other forms of art, writing has so much flexibility in terms of meaning. It is all a matter of perspective. Two people could read the same book, and both might take away completely different meanings based upon their past experiences, their mindsets, their interests, their feelings. For me, that was always the magic of writing. I could read any book I wanted, understand the story the author was trying to convey, and still have the freedom to find in it whatever it was I was searching for at that time. That was something so important to me throughout my life, as reading novels truly did help me through some incredibly difficult times. Therefore, I don’t ever want to tell my readers what I expect them to get out of my writing. It is much more important to me that my readers find their own take-aways themselves.

What part of the author process are you working on or studying most now?

Author: Right now, I am working on marketing strategies. As someone who has never quite felt comfortable in the spotlight, marketing and advertising my novel has been a struggle. However, I am discovering that there are so many different ways of marketing books, that I can create a procedure that works for me and my comfort level. It has actually turned out to be more enjoyable than I first thought it would be.       

What has been your favorite part of the writing and querying or publishing process?

Author: Truth be told, I have several favorite parts of the writing and publishing process. First, writing the novel itself—sitting down with pen and paper, creating new characters, planning out in my head the different scenarios those characters would face—was such a joy. I have always loved writing and thinking up new stories in my head, so writing The Bonds Between Us gave me a chance to do some of the things that I enjoy most in this world. Second, seeing the book cover design for the first time simply blew me away. It was at that moment that my book’s publication finally felt real. Lastly, one of the things I had to include in this list was the first time I saw my characters drawn on paper. Shortly after the publication of The Bonds Between Us, a friend of mine drew pictures of the main characters. She surprised me with the pictures as a birthday gift, and the moment I unwrapped the drawings, I couldn’t help but get a bit teary-eyed. Yes, it was emotional to hold my book for the first time; but to see the characters—all of which I put so much time, care, and love into creating—suddenly brought to life on the page in front of me, was a truly emotional experience.

Have you always read in the genre you wanted to write in? Do you think that’s made it easier or harder to create new stories?

Author: I have always read fantasy novels, although I often read outside of fantasy as well. I frequently read mystery, historical fiction, nonfiction, and occasionally romance works.

Speaking strictly about fantasy works, I think it has actually made it more difficult for me to create new stories. Sometimes, I will get an idea, but then one of the next books I pick up always seems, without fail, to contain that idea. This tends to be discouraging because, as an author, you always want to be different, to have something new to share with the world. It can actually be quite frustrating to come up with something that you think is innovative, to get really excited about it, and then realize that someone else thought of it first.

Along with that, sometimes it can also be discouraging when you read a really great book with a unique concept. You get so caught up in how brilliant the idea is, and immediately think, “I could never come up with something that good.” It can make you lose faith in your own ideas and writing, because you think—especially as a new author—that your writing could never compare with that of other authors.

I have therefore found it very helpful to balance what I am reading and writing—at least during the periods in which I am actively writing. For instance, when I was in the middle of writing The Bonds Between Us, I only read nonfiction. I absolutely refused to pick up any works of fiction. I found that only exposing myself to works of non-fiction during my own creative writing process helped me maintain focus on my story. It also helped prevent me from getting distracted, discouraged, or unintentionally influenced by the things I was reading in all of the other wonderful novels that exist in the world.

What is your writing process, from idea to polished work? Pantster? Plotter? How long does that typically take you?

Author: I write in a strange hybrid style that includes both organized planning and allowing myself to be drawn whichever way the wind takes me. Typically, something in the world around me will spark an idea in my head. I then fiddle around with the idea on paper—planning characters, deciding on settings, creating the overarching plot. Then, I try to start writing. Sometimes, this means starting at the very beginning and working my way forward; other times, I write out whichever scenes appear clearly in my mind’s eye, and then go back and connect them all into a single cohesive story.

Where do you network most with other writers, authors, and creative types? LinkedIn? Wattpad? Twitter? Facebook? Somewhere else?

Author: I network most with other writers and authors on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.      

Do you sprint-write like a starving cheetah, or are you a totally chill turtle writer? Somewhere in between?

Author: I would say that I am somewhere in-between. When my ideas are first taking shape in my head, I am definitely the “chill turtle writer.” It may take me several months before I have an idea that is solid enough to start outlining and fleshing out. At that point though, I become the “starving cheetah”—my ideas start flowing like a waterfall, I will start writing virtually non-stop. It is incredibly difficult for me to stop writing once I get into that momentum.

Struggles

What has been the hardest thing to overcome on your journey to authorship?

Author: The hardest thing for me to overcome has definitely been dealing with the “public” aspects of authorship. As I previously mentioned, I am, by nature, a rather quiet and reserved person. Therefore, making my writing public and stepping out of my comfort zone to promote it has been very difficult for me.

How has the writing and querying or publishing process affected you emotionally? Do you have any tips for budding writers?

Author: Querying was honestly one of the most difficult and disheartening experiences I have ever endured. To spend so much time and effort writing a book, only to have it be rejected—in most cases without any reason being given—can be beyond discouraging. As a writer, you put so much of yourself into the characters and plot of your stories. To have a story rejected can therefore feel like a part of yourself is being rejected, too. After a while, it becomes hard not to lose faith in your writing.

At times, I considered giving up on publishing my novel as a result of the many rejection letters I received from agents. In fact, I did occasionally stop sending out inquiries just so that I could take time to refocus on my writing and renew the enthusiasm and confidence that I had in my book.

Therefore, querying was, for me, the part of the publication process that had the largest affect on me emotionally. However, once The Bonds Between Us was eventually accepted for publication by Atmosphere Press, the process was emotionally taxing for an entirely different reason—mainly that I was trying to balance all of the demands of publication along with a full-time job and graduate school.

When the publication process was completed, though, and I was at last able to hold my book in my hands for the very first time, it did feel like a “proud parent” moment. It was the realization of a childhood dream, and after eight months of knowing that dream was finally coming true, seeing the physical evidence of it was indescribable. It was definitely worth all of the struggles, stress, and emotional turmoil. I wouldn’t trade my path to publication and authorship for anything in the world.  

Do you have any tips or recommendations for those who want to go the final step and become authors?

Author: I would recommend two things. First, be prepared to believe in your work. Perhaps that sounds silly, but I think it is extremely important. It’s one thing to write a book, think that it has potential, and send it out for publication with the beautiful mental image of an acceptance email or letter finding its way to you shortly thereafter. The reality, though, is that you might face countless rejections before you finally get the “okay” from an agent or publisher. I have spoken to several people who wrote manuscripts, received rejection letters, and gave up on publication because they no longer believed their books were good enough to be “real” books. I, myself, struggled with that very issue. So, it’s essential, as the cliché goes, to “plan for the worst, but expect the best.” Go into the publishing process knowing that you may be rejected—a lot. But also go into the process believing in your book, and holding firm to the belief that it is indeed “good enough” to one day be accepted by an agent and/or publisher and be put into print.

Second, keep an open mind. Editing, proofreading, cover design, websites and marketing—all of those things (and more) require you, as an author, to work with others in order to achieve the goal of making your book the best and most successful that it can possibly be. Again, this can be difficult at times. As I previously mentioned, as writers, our writing tends to be deeply personal to us, even when the story is entirely a work of fiction. Due to the personal nature of writing and the sheer amount of time and effort that we devote to the works we create, the ways in which we perceive our writing is naturally subjective. Therefore, it is essential for writers to get outside opinions—especially in those areas of writing and publishing that may be unfamiliar or difficult to us. Sometimes, outside sources—editors, proofreaders, copy designers—may have thoughts, ideas, or opinions about our works that completely differ from our own. It can be hard to change parts of your writing, or to be faced with the necessity of surrendering an idea on which you had your heart set, even for the sake of improving your literary work. However, being open to those insights is so important to the publishing process. Indeed, it is only by receiving external, objective feedback that we can truly develop our books into the masterpieces they are meant to be. 

If you could do it all over again, what would you change?

Author: If I could publish The Bonds Between Us all over again, I would definitely have started promoting my book much earlier than I did. I would have set up author accounts on social media platforms and started gaining followers well in advance of the launch date (or even the beginning of the publication phase). This would have allowed me to begin promoting my book while I was still in the writing phase, and trying to gain traction for my book prior to its official launch.     

Are you a driven & self-advocating author, a gun-shy promoter, or a total marketing procrastinator?

Author: I am definitely a gun-shy promoter. I am not a person who is comfortable in the spotlight, so promoting my book is quite terrifying. This adversity to self-promotion definitely makes me procrastinate with marketing at times.

How do you keep yourself motivated?

Author: I take time for myself, which sometimes requires taking short breaks away from writing. By focusing on writing day-in and day-out, I tend to find myself burning out. However, by balancing my life with other things I enjoy, spending time in nature, and doing things that help me to mentally and emotionally “reset,” I have found that my focus and motivation as a writer improve greatly.        

How do you combat writer’s block?

Author: To combat writer’s block, I do something physical. I am a martial artist, so when I am really stumped with my writing, I will usually take an hour or two to do some training. The physical nature of martial arts forces me to stop thinking, which usually helps clear my head and “unblock” whatever it is that is stumping me with my writing. If doing some sort of physical exercise doesn’t work though, and I need some additional inspiration to get past the part of my story with which I am struggling, I love to head outdoors. Being in nature always seems to put my mind at ease, and even the smallest things—like the way the sunlight filters through the leaves of a tree, or the smell of a flower, or the particular shade of green coloring a patch of grass—can help inspire my writing and get me past even the most stubborn instances of writer’s block.

What literary/writer-based term did you not know when you started that has become important and relevant to you?

Author: Copy editing. When I first began, I had no idea how this differed at all from “regular” editing. I never knew that some editors are meant to focus more on storyline edits, whereas others focus more on the “proofreading” aspects of writing.

How did your family and friends react to your writing? Was it what you expected from them?

Author: All of my family and friends have been incredibly supportive of my decision to become a writer. This was not at all what I was expecting. As I explained earlier, I faced a lot of criticism as a child when I said that I wanted to be an author. It was considered an unrealistic life goal. Therefore, when I decided that I wanted to become an author at 25 years old, I was fully expecting a lot of negative responses from those closest to me. However, this was not the case. In fact, every single friend or family member I told about my writing was more positive, supportive, and encouraging than I could have possibly imagined. I consider myself beyond fortunate to have a group of people in my life who believe so unwaveringly in me, and who value my happiness so much, that they did not hesitate to support my decision to change careers and fulfill my dream of writing.    

Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

Author: I love listening to The Piano Guys and Il Volo while I write. Their music is inspiration for almost all that I do, and has thus been a huge part of my life for nearly a decade.      

Where do you write your stories? A tiny office? A loft? The kitchen table? In the bushes while you secretly people-watch like a total creeper? Or a warm café with mocha in hand and feet up on an ottoman?

Author: I write my stories either curled up on my couch during the winter months, or stretched out in the grass outside during the summer, spring, and fall months. Regardless of the environment though, I only ever write in the quiet, when I am by myself. I find it very difficult to write around other people, as I am easily distracted. That’s not to say that I don’t get a bit of inspiration from people-watching, though!      

What book are you reading at the moment?

Author: I am currently reading three books at the moment, since I can never seem to pick and choose just a single book to read. I would be thrilled if it were possible for me to read them all at once! The three books I am now reading are The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie, Lost Moon by Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger, and Failure Is Not An Option by Gene Kranz.     

What have you learned about yourself from the writing and/or authorship process?

Author: I have learned that I am much braver than I ever thought. The fact that I have spent more than six months talking with editors, cover designers, proofreaders, etc., and am now actively marketing my book is remarkable. A year ago, I would not have believed it if someone were to tell me that I would be doing all of these things myself… and actually enjoying them! As a result of my quiet and reserved nature, things like this normally terrify me. However, I am finding that I have much more courage—and, oddly enough, am much more of a social butterfly—than I ever thought! It is wonderful that we can always develop and evolve throughout life, no matter our age.       

What is your favorite writing snack and drink?

Author: I love snacking on grapes and iced tea while I write.      

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

Author: “The best story you can ever write is that of your own life.” These words, spoken by my father when I was a child, have always stuck with me. So, too, has the knowing look he had in his eyes when he said this to me. It was like he knew that I would become a writer one day. Although he has long since passed away, his words seem to resonate through my mind every time I sit down to write. For me, this piece of advice is a reminder that writing is something with which people connect on an emotional and psychological level. They may identify with a particular character, relate to a certain event, or find comfort in a specific theme. As such, writing has the power to provide solace, eradicate loneliness, offer new insights into the world around us, help us find and discover pieces of ourselves… the power of the pen is truly endless. So, my father’s words to me all those years ago still encourages me to take my own experiences in life—no matter how trivial or deeply personal they may be—and incorporate them into my writing. In this way, my own life might be able to provide not only entertainment to others, but perhaps something a bit more meaningful as well. 

emilyruhlbooks.com    
@authoremilyruhl (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)
Book Sales Pages: Amazon, Atmosphere Press
Goodreads

  

Blog, Sweet Romance Blog

First Audiobook Now Available

I’m super stoked to announce: I finally have an audiobook!

Sugar Pine Holiday is my first title to be published in listen-only mode with Google Play. I’ve used Google’s auto-narration by Madison, a medium tone, gentle voice I think reflects a better version of my book than me reading it myself on Anchor. (I’ve since pulled back from that and am reworking my audiobook game.)

My hope is to get a few more books set to wide in Sweet Romance and Sci-Fi.

The content turned out well with Sugar Pine Holiday, in my opinion. I had to correct a few things and work on pacing of the AI narrator a bit. But overall, I think the hours I put into it, and the quality is worth the small price of $4.99 as compared to other audio books.

Photo by Ju00c9SHOOTS on Pexels.com

I finally found a way to try out audiobook creation within my financial boundaries, which makes me very happy. I’ve had readers request audiobooks in the past, and suggested I do them myself. I would, but I live in an RV with thin walls right next to the highway. There isn’t a quiet place to record here. And Madison doesn’t make mistakes and have to reread chapters 3 or 5 times to get them right on Anchor! haha.

If you’re a writer interested in inexpensive audiobook creation, try out Google Play. Your book has to be in ebook form first before it can be auto-narrated. But so far, the process has been stellar. I totally recommend this!

Sugar Pine Holiday is the first sweet romance series I’m trying out as “widely” published on multiple platforms. It’s not on Amazon in ebook or audiobook, only paperback. It’s part of a new collection I’m calling Fireside Holidays, the second book of which, Wish Mountain Holiday, I’m working on right now.

I’m hoping to turn this into a nicely sized collection of 5 or more books. The second book stars a character from the first book, Lex. Each one will feature Search & Rescue studs.

Ready for a listen?

Check out Sugar Pine Holiday on Google Play

Buy eBook: Sugar Pine Holiday $0.99

Sign up for Sugar & Spice Newsletter to get it for free.

More about Sugar Pine Holiday:

A rushed work trip to a mountain resort sends Ava into the humble, strong arms of a search and rescue stud. Can he save her heart? And can she rescue him before her time is up?

Ava Williams doesn’t want anything to do with winter or the snowy mountains of Colorado after her sister’s death. When a resort coordinator calls the week before Christmas, requesting her dance classes as part of a holiday retreat for couples, Ava can’t turn down the opportunity. It could change the future of her studio’s business. 

But Ava plans to hide out in her room between classes, not ready to confront the memories of family vacations that used to bring her joy. She doesn’t expect to meet the handsome and extremely fit Cade, a member of the local search and rescue team. All he wants is one date. But Ava knows if she gives in, it could dismantle everything she’s worked so hard to create.

Cade Callahan is more than meets the eye, and Ava finds herself falling for him. Literally. He likes to play fair, and he’s desperate in a way only Ava can satisfy.

She has to keep her distance. How hard can it be for just one week?

A sweet holiday romance with a bit of suspense and mild language but no intimacy. 

Audio content information:

Author-adjusted auto-narration.

Voice: Madison

Speed: Relaxed

Author Interviews, Blog, Steamy Romance Blog

Author Interview: Paul A. DeStefano, Urban Fantasy/ Paranormal Romance/ Dark Fantasy

I’m Paul DeStefano, and I write Dark Fantasy. Riftsiders: Unlawful Possession is the first book of the Riftsiders Series and release 4/18/22.

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:      I’ve been writing as long as I can remember, but professional fantasy writing started in 2004. That was when I was picked up by the gaming company Fantastique Forges after they read some of my work online. It started as a hobby and spread over the decades to become career.

How long did it take you to finish your first book?

Author:      My first books were things I wrote in high school and for college courses. That’s ancient history I can no longer recall. For Riftsiders, the process was about two months.

If you’ve published, how long did your first book take?

Author:      I wrote it in about two months in 2020, and it his the shelves in 2022.

Are you indie, traditional, hybrid, or vanity, and why?

Author:      Traditional through small press. I really don’t want to get involved in the nuts and bolts of things like format, ISBN and sourcing editors. I’ll happily pay a chunk of my royalties to get the right people lined up for me so I can spend time writing and editing.

How did you determine your target audience?

Author:      It’s me. I’m the target audience.

What is your publishing process?

Author:      I spend some time outlining, then writing, then drop it to my agent. She edits and kicks back. I grumble and reply. She then starts sending it out to publishers, and there’s another editing round there.

How do you get critiques, betas, feedback, and edits?

Author:      I have a few hundred people in my fan groups I can appeal to for feedback. Edits come from my agent.

Marketing

Do you have a platform? What does it consist of?

Author:      I have a few hundred newsletter subscribers, a few hundred followers on Facebook (Paul D’s Tainted Dragon Inn) and I’m a very minor celebrity in the tabletop gaming world.

What is your launch plan for your works?

Author:      I do a few ads on Amazon and Facebook, my newsletter and social media. I’m big into live appearances, doing seminars and talks, which has been on pandemic hold since 2/2020, but I’ve started booking again.

How do you get reviews for your books?

Author:      Haven’t seen any yet…

How do you promote your content?

Author:      Again, I’m big into doing talks at conventions. Nothing beats face to face with fans.

What do you think is the most critical marketing component or tactic for becoming successful?

Author:      Listen. Don’t assume what you have is gold or what you’re doing is the best way. Always be willing to accept criticism, from prose to marketing.

How do you define success as an author?

Author:      I got a text this morning. My book released at midnight last night. Someone read half the book overnight. That’s pretty solid success to me.

About Your Work

What type of content do you write and why? Fiction Novels? Poems? Songs? Screenplays? Short Stories? Epic?

Author:      I do a bunch of horror shorts, several will be in anthologies this year. I have a screenplay I’m trying to get noticed. But the concentration is really novels.

What genres and subgenres do you write in?

Author:      Contemporary fantasy and horror. Traditional sword and sorcery fantasy as well. I ghostwrite science fiction, and may do some under my own name in the future.

What is your author brand (genre, mood, image, theme, message, etc)? How did you decide on it?

Author:      Tainted Dragon Inn, Inc. is my actual corporate name. Literally, the concept of a tavern to go to and swap friendly stories. It was created when I took up ghostwriting due to the amount of fantasy I was working on for gaming companies. I want a comforting place to tell discomforting tales.

How many works have you published?

Author:      My first novel in my own name just came out. If you include things like trade articles, ghostwritten works and online pieces… hundreds.

Can you tell us a bit about your most recent publication?

Author:      I decided it was time to do novels for me, not just as a hired gun. Riftsiders was born. Scary, silly, sexy. I had this concept of possession being a common social issue, and using it as a way to explore racism and bigotry against sexual orientation, neurodivergent and other classifications that are literally ‘demonized’ in today’s society.

Name some common elements in your writing: villains, magic, red-herring twists, the unfortunate ensign, mysterious phenomena, asyndeton, sentence fragments etc.

Author:      My work takes place in an uncanny valley right next to reality. Something is usually dark and twisted. Everything is laced with strange humor. I’m fascinated with the nature of personality and how people are not always what they appear. This is very on the surface in Riftsiders, where the demons can be seen as other aspects of a character’s self.

What was your first goal when you started your journey to becoming an author? Has that changed?

Author:      Make people think and smile. Always the same.

Do you have other supporting services like a podcast, blog, webinars, courses, video channel?

Author:      I had a fantasy podcast a few years back that I’ve dropped, but who knows what’s to come.

What do you want your readers to get out of your works?

Author:      A smile and a new idea of the world around them.

What part of the author process are you working on or studying most now?

Author:      Marekting… The not authoring part.

What has been your favorite part of the writing and querying or publishing process?

Author:      I hate the nuts and bolts of it, which is why I got an agent. I just hand stuff over and she does the heavy lifting. I just write the stuff.

Do you recommend any programs, courses, or websites?

Author:      Sure, anything I teach is awesome. Otherwise, everything is so hit or miss out there. I strongly suggest every writer get some form of editorial software like ProWritingAid. It’s amazing the things you can learn from that. Yeah, it’s incredibly wrong sometimes, but it opens your eyes.

Which authors write similar books to yours? How did you find them?

Author:      Harlan Ellison and Clive Barker each have these ‘reality next door’ feels that I try for. I’ll leave it up to the readers to decide whether or not I get there.

Have you always read in the genre you wanted to write in? Do you think that’s made it easier or harder to create new stories?

Author:      I’m a huge dark fantasy fan. There’s just so much out there. I love seeing what other people have explored, and that often opens new ideas up for me.

What is your writing process, from idea to polished work? Pantster? Plotter? How long does that typically take you?

Author:      I plot like freaking crazy. For an 80K word book, I can easily have 15-20K of background and outline that no one ever gets to see but me. If I spend 12 weeks writing a manuscript, 4 weeks is plotting.

Where do you network most with other writers, authors, and creative types? LinkedIn? Wattpad? Twitter? Facebook? Somewhere else?

Author:      Probably Facebook.

Do you sprint-write like a starving cheetah, or are you a totally chill turtle writer? Somewhere in between?

Author:      When I’m writing, I set hard deadlines. This is a holdover from ghostwriting and assignment work. Usually 2500 words a day.

Struggles

What has been the hardest thing to overcome on your journey to authorship?

Author:      Everyone saying you can’t get an agent. It wasn’t hard and I was just scared going in.

How has the writing and querying or publishing process affected you emotionally? Do you have any tips for budding writers?

Author:      New writers love to say “Writing has no rules”. This is incredibly wrong. If you want to get accepted, put in magazines, anthologies and find agents and publishers to support you, you have to follow very precise rules. Sure, you can write free verse poetry and say no one understands you when you get rejected. But most rejections are because you didn’t follow rules, either the submission process or linguistically. If you’re getting form rejection after form rejection – something’s wrong with the submission. Step back. Make it “right” and try again. Do not become so attached to your art that you can no longer see it.

Do you have any tips or recommendations for those who want to go the final step and become authors?

Author:      Accept criticism.

If you could do it all over again, what would you change?

Author:      I’d probably take the step to novelist sooner.

Are you a driven & self-advocating author, a gun-shy promoter, or a total marketing procrastinator?

Author:      I love promoting me. I get out there all the time.

How do you keep yourself motivated?

Author:      If I don’t, I don’t get to eat. Starvation is strong motivation.

How do you combat writer’s block?

Author:      Writing.

What literary/writer-based term did you not know when you started that has become important and relevant to you?

Author:      ISBN. And I do whatever I can to not deal with it.

How did your family and friends react to your writing? Was it what you expected from them?

Author:      Having always written, it never really came as a surprise to anyone.

What assumptions about writers and authors do you think are myths?

Author:      That they’re introverts.

Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

Author:      Every project gets its own playlist. This is actually a very important part of outlining to me.

Is there a fun word or group of terms you like to put into your writing?

Author:      Klaxon. I also like hiding obscure messages in names.

Where do you write your stories? A tiny office? A loft? The kitchen table? In the bushes while you secretly people-watch like a total creeper? Or a warm café with mocha in hand and feet up on an ottoman?

Author:      My home office. Next to a window looking down to the street and with hot tea. Always.

What book are you reading at the moment?

Author:      Brain Movies.

What is your favorite literary trope?

Author:      Miscommunication when two people hear the identical thing and interpret it differently.

How do you try to “break the mold” and be unique?

Author:      Horror and humor are not separate genres when I write.

What have you learned about yourself from the writing and/or authorship process?

Author:      I have to slow down.

What is your favorite writing snack and drink?

Author:      Lapsang Souchong. It’s a smoked tea. It smells like burning rope. 3-6 mugs a day.

Do you have a writing companion?

Author:      I have four cats. They often insert themselves between me and the keyboard.

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

Author:      Everyone can teach you something.

Author Website: PaulADeStefano.com
Facebook: Paul D’s Tainted Dragon Inn.
Twitter: @TDIPaulD
Instagram: TaintedDragonInn
Book Sales Pages: https://amzn.to/3EncU42

Author Interviews, Blog, Sweet Romance Blog

Author Interview: Roger Stark, Historical Romance/ Biography/ Creative Non-fiction

Roger Stark

Historical Romance, WW2, Biography, Creative Non-fiction, 

Author of: They Called Him Marvin  

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:  Several years ago while working as an Addiction Counselor I wrote two how-to books on recovery. I ended up self publishing them and have had a modest amount of success with the first, “The Waterfall Concept”  has some success. That process gave me a functioning knowledge of the process but I really had no plans or desires to write another book, on any subject.

And then I became friends with Marv Sherman.

Marv and Judy (Marv’s wife) had invited my wife, Sue and I to dinner, it was a sort of thank you dinner for some assistance I gave them when they went on a temporary work assignment (Marv is a veterinarian) to Alaska. Marv and I engaged in a rather emotional conversation about his father that he had never met. His father, Dean, was a B29 Airplane Commander during WW2, shot down over Nagoya Japan, captured and ……..(you will have to read the story to learn the rest.)

Marv’s knowledge of his father was staggeringly incomplete and he openly wept as he told me the story. He had avoided learning about what had happened to his father to avoid the pain the knowledge would bring to him. I felt a compassion for my friend overcame me and I committed to helping him learn of his Dad. That turned into a request to write the story and It was on.  

How long did it take you to finish your first book?

Author:  It took 8 years to write and publish TCHM. Much of that time was divided between research and re-writes. I knew little of the war and was shocked to learn the fates of B29 airman shot down over Japan, to say nothing of my shock at learning how the B29 were used against the Japanese people. During the Viet Nam War I was aware of vigorous condemnations of the use of napalm against the Viet Namese people. Turns out there was a good reason, they newly experience the horrors of fire bombing. Especially the fire bombing of urban areas without military targets. 

Marv had his parent’s letters from the war. Connie had kept everyone of Dean’s letters she received. The only letters from Connie he had were returned to her as undeliverable after he went MIA. Marv could not bring himself to even read the letters, he had attempted to transcribe them but that proved to be an emotional quagmire for him and he did not finish.  

What is your publishing process?

Author:  My process was certainly non-traditional. When I wrote “The Waterfall Concept” about 15 years ago I was a complete publishing novice. After finishing my manuscript I sent it to a few publishers for consideration, waiting for six months to hear back from them, I always got a similar reply, “Great manuscript, unfortunately, we are not interested.”

In my frustration, started to consider how to self publish. That is when I stumbled across Gorham Printing located just a few miles from me in Centraila, Wa. They specialize in helping self publishers, usually printing in small lots. I had to find my own editor and obtain an ISBN number, but they managed the formatting and printing process for me. I really cannot say enough good things about these people. They are incredible!

With several hundred copies of my book, I literally took off in the family car in search of a distributor. That trip did not go well. After lots of miles and lots of “No’s” I gave up and started for home. There was one more potential stop that I had written off because of all the other responses I had received. But a few miles north of Salt Lake City, I engaged in a rather lengthy sales conversation with the owner of Brigham Distributing. I could tell as the conversation wore on that the owner was weighing this opportunity in his mind, with it’s very low chance of much profitability. He startled me when he jumped up and said, “Sure we will distribute your book, do you have any copies with you?”

I could not unload the car fast enough, afraid he might change his mind. Brigham took care of creating the ebook, getting the Amazon listing, and getting bookstores know the book was available.

With all that in mind when I was finishing the “They Called Him Marvin” manuscript, I never considered anything but self publishing. I knew what hoops I had to jump through and it all seemed easier the third time through. 

How do you get critiques, betas, feedback, and edits?

Author:     The secret sauce for me were the writing groups at the Writer’s Attic in Portland Or. Great comrades as we each worked on our individual projects, reading and critiquing each other’s work, we all grew as writers. Many of the key elements of TCHM were developed in the those groups sitting around the tables giving feedback to each other

Normally I don’t respond well to criticisms of my writing (a serious pride issue on my part) but somehow in those groups, my defenses dropped and I could hear what others were saying. Perhaps that speaks to the trust we developed in each other, it was a rather remarkable experience, making these new friends and growing to love them. We could, after all, see right into their hearts by reading their writings.

Marketing

How do you get reviews for your books?

Author:   Reviews. They are quite the writers’s challenge when launching a work.  I thought I was being very aggressive about getting pre publication reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. Being not very well connected in the writing world, I did not have a bevy of fellow writers to trade reviews with. I bought a few initially, used Netgalley, and some other like sources, gaining a few reviews but not in the quantity that I had hoped for. I turned to family (who cares that their last name is the same as mine) then friends, then in a desperation move, acquaintances, using a very loose definition of the word. A few friends talked their friends into helping out and by the publication date we had enough to launch.  

How do you promote your content?

Author: If you have any suggestions, I am all ears. This is where I made my biggest mistake in judgment.  I felt pretty good about marketing and promoting of my Addiction Recovery books . Well, what I learned back then, really didn’t apply to a book about a WW2 love story with a tragic ending. Suffice it to say I am still working on this part of my project. 

I did make a rather expensive mistake on Amazon advertising. In my inexperience I made a several thousand dollar blunder that netted me nothing, I still swear a little bit when I think about it.

I do like Book Tours obviously and feel they are well worth the money. Reduced price promotions of the ebook have raised awareness also. We have a constant Facebook presence and ad campaigns, Amazon ads are on the back burner for now. They have a place in my marketing plan, I am just not sure I know where that is yet. 

About Your Work

What do you want your readers to get out of your works? 

Author:      To remember and honor those that have given so much in our behalf. In TCHM Dean gave his all in service to his country, but it didn’t stop there, his wife and son went on giving the rest of their lives, deprived of a relationship with him. 

Marvin was a half orphan and struggled to figure out life. Some of his teenage exploits are both humorous and terrifying at the same time. He quit high school and in a moment of clarity realized that he needed some discipline that a place, like say the Army, might bring into his life. He was absolutely right about the Army and after his service he went onto college to become a licensed veterinarian. 

Do you recommend any programs, courses, or websites?

Author:   My experience is that there are local writer’s groups all over this country and if there isn’t one in your area the internet can bring one to you. For me writing was the main thing that helped me improve my skills. I wrote for a recovery magazine for several years, my editor towards the end of that work made the comment, “Your writing skills have really improved.” That was news to me! I thought I was just writing like I always did, my own eyes could not see the improvements. That shows the importance of another pair of eyes looking at your work. You don’t need to believe everything you hear, as we say in recovery, “just take what you like and leave the rest.”

What is your writing process, from idea to polished work? Pantster? Plotter? How long does that typically take you?

Author:    I am a rewriter! I long ago lost count of the chapter ones for TCHM. My brain can just see a better way to phrase a passage when I look at a written presentation of it. Ann Lamott in an article on writing gave us all permission to write a shitty first draft. (Her word not mine) That advice has served me very well, when I stopped trying to write the perfect sentence the first time through, the quality and quantity of my writing increased dramatically.

After I was about one half way through my manuscript, Marv came to me with a family history Connie had penned that had been lost to the family. The facts she revealed did not agree with the creative non fiction account I had conjured up. Which meant I wasn’t half way through my manuscript at all.

Struggles

What has been the hardest thing to overcome on your journey to authorship?

Author:  SELF DOUBT. I will say no more on the subject.  

Fun Stuff 

What do you listen to while you write?

Author:   There were three things I  listened to as I wrote. (I am listening to one of them now as I write this.) Disturbed’s version of “Sounds of Silence,” The theme to “The Last of the Mohicans” and Boston’s “Third Stage” album. All were on continuous tape and played at a very high volume.    

What is your favorite writing snack and drink?

Author:    I am not sure of the food or snack but I know such breaks involved Dr Pepper!  

Blog, Sweet Romance Blog

New Sweet Romance Series: Farmers’ Market Sisters

This is a new series for 2022 featuring seven sisters of Sweet Springs Family Farm set in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon. These sweet and clean romance books progress through a year of holidays from Valentine’s Day to New Year’s Eve. At long novella lengths, they’re quick weekend reads you can easily set aside and return to. They don’t have to be read in order, but are best served if they are.

Each sister has her own responsibility on the farm and their own stand at the local farmers’ market. They loves they find are perfectly matched, they just don’t know it yet. With every book ending with a happily ever after, you know this series is sure to delight and leave you with a smile.

Love in Bloom
Amber & Fynn

Amber doesn’t normally expect such a large bouquet request unless someone has been very bad.
Fynn isn’t her typical customer. When he returns to her farmers’ market stand, it isn’t for more flowers; it’s for a date with her.

Kiss Me for Luck
Rosemary & Kieran

Rosemary has always been the responsible older sister, looking after others and their family farm. Rosemary knows the chances she will meet another man are slim. Then one cold winter night, her family carried in a handsome, soaked stranger.

Sweet as Honey
Willow & Luca

Willow never expected to find love on the side of the road. But there was Luca Jacoby, hood up, steam billowing out of his truck. It was quite the Saint Patrick’s Day luck. A journalist for an agricultural magazine, Luca is visiting her family’s farm to write an article on sustainable farming. His surprise appearance has Willow clinging to his stories of other farms and the beautiful countryside across the states. She’s always wanted to travel. 

Cherries & Sparks
Sky & Camden

Sky has been waiting for Cam to come home from war. When he arrives but doesn’t call, she wants to know why.
Sky has always been faithful to her high school sweetheart. They’ve been together for years, since long before Cam decided to join the military. 

Be My Pumpkin
Sienna & Joel

Sienna has always been the farm’s marketing specialist. But when the pumpkin patch opens for the season, attendance is unexpectedly low. Joel Kirsch is only supposed to be there installing a security system, but he wants to help. Together, they plan a last-minute fall festival to bring in extra customers.

Decked with Love
Melody & Tucker

Every year, Melody donates Christmas trees from her farm to local families in need. Someone calls in a special, anonymous request, sending Melody on a new charity mission.

Tucker, the new school teacher in town, has discovered a family in need of a lot more than a tree.

Midnight Snow Ball
Azalea & Elias

Azalea’s baked goods have earned her a reputation among the locals, but so has her rough and wild attitude. A new Farrier arrives at the farm to care for the horses. He’s a hard, lonely man in need of some quality cooking. Azalea needs a date for the New Year’s party.

To keep up to date on the books and get FREE early copies before they’re available to the public, subscribe to Sugar & Spice Club and get a free book here.

Author Interviews, Blog, Sweet Romance Blog

Author Interview: Angela D Shelton, Christian/Young Adult

I’m currently writing under my true name, Angela D. Shelton in the Christian Fiction, Young Adult genres. In March, I published Collapse: The Death of Friendship with Two Oaks Publishing, LLC. The second book in the series, Collapse: The Death of Honor should be out by June.

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:      My grandmother was a writer who used her craft to help pay my aunt’s way through college. Though she died before I was able to have conversations with her about her writing, I’ve always wanted to follow in her footsteps. In my freshman year of college, I took a creative writing class as an elective and the professor tried to convince me to change my major to writing. At that time, I figured there was no money in writing for most people, so stayed on my track to becoming an accountant. Two years ago I decided it was time to try my hand at creating stories for the page, and I’ve found that I absolutely love it.

How long did it take you to finish your first book?

Author:      My first book took about six months to write. Unfortunately, it was a learning experience. The result was so awful that my own sister didn’t even finish reading it. Fortunately, I found the American Christian Writers Association and Word Weavers who provided mentoring opportunities through critique groups. There are some amazing writers out there and those I’ve worked the closest with have indicated my work is pretty good now, so I’m excited to share my work with others. Even my sister read my first published book and loved it. She’s waiting impatiently for the second book to be published. Even my sisters don’t get to see it until then.

Are you indie, traditional, hybrid, or vanity, and why?

Author:      I am an independently published author. As an accountant, I understand the financial side of the business and could see very little benefit to traditional publishing other than the vanity aspects of it. I see that it will take a bit more time for my work to be recognized as an indie, but I’m patient.

How did you determine your target audience?

Author:      My critique group pointed me in the right direction. Because my protagonist is a young adult, it makes sense for me to sell to that audience; however, a number of my critique partners have indicated that adults would enjoy my book just as much as the younger set.

How do you define success as an author?

Author:      Since I’m just starting out, I see success in every positive review that I obtain. Unfortunately, many more people tell me how much they enjoyed my book than those who take the time to write a review for me. I do encourage them to write, but folks are busy.

About Your Work

What was your first goal when you started your journey to becoming an author? Has that changed?

Author:      As a Christian, my goal is to share the joy I experience on a daily basis. So many people struggle in their lives, it’s hard to watch sometimes. If I can bring a positive message that helps even one person, it’s worth it. I don’t like heavy-handed preaching though. For the most part, Americans are aware of Christianity, and many have walked away from it for various reasons. Rarely do they walk away from it because of God. Usually, it’s over other Christians and how they’ve been treated. I get that. I’ve been there and “bought the t-shirt” as they say. But we were put on this earth to encourage each other and that’s my goal.

What is your writing process, from idea to polished work? Pantster? Plotter? How long does that typically take you?

Author:      I’m a combination of pantsing and plotting. Using the Save the Cat method, I put together my basic outline of the story. But once I’m writing, I often find myself writing my way out of my outline and have to go back and re-outline because I prefer the direction the new story is going.

Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

Author:      Nothing. Seriously, it drives me nuts when someone is talking when I’m writing. I live out on a farm, which is where I draw a lot of my inspiration from. So my favorite sounds are birds, chickens, cows, and sometimes my dogs who love to complain. Two huskies, Ricky and Lucy, usually sit nearby when I’m writing, and if I take too long without paying attention to them, they “talk” to me about it. If dogs could cuss, I’d swear they were at me some days.

Where do you write your stories? A tiny office? A loft? The kitchen table? In the bushes while you secretly people-watch like a total creeper? Or a warm café with mocha in hand and feet up on an ottoman?

Author:      It all depends on the day and time. I like to sit at the kitchen island, in the early mornings at my desk, or if I’m on vacation, in the hotel room at the desk with the window open to the beach. Nature inspires me, so my favorite spots include the sounds of animals or the ocean. It’s almost always enhanced with a hot cup of chai latte though. That’s the one constant.

What book are you reading at the moment?

Author:      I can’t share the title yet, because I’m reading for a fellow author who hasn’t yet published it. It’s a really good read though, so watch my website for my review that will be out soon.

Author Interviews, Blog, Children's Book Blog

Author Interview: Lindsay Payne, Children’s/Fiction/Non-fiction

Lindsay Payne is the author of Children’s picture books and chapter books, non-fiction, and fiction which is her favorite to write.

Red Shoes & Wine is published, 99 Red Balloons is in the editing phase and will hopefully be available on Amazon end of February 2022, and she will commence writing The Red Butterfly in February 2022. Her most recent publication is Granny Clampet’s Cupcakes.

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:     I wrote my first book in 2006 – Bags of Trouble for Valeskia Maleskia – about a beautiful fish trapped in a plastic bag in the ocean. I realized there was a message and moral I wanted to write about and so began the journey of writing children’s books – each with a moral, intertwined between the pages.

How long did it take you to finish your first book?

Author:      It took me three weeks to write Bags of Trouble

Has your publishing timeframe improved at all since your first publication?

Author:      Yes definitely.

Are you indie, traditional, hybrid, or vanity, and why?

Author:      I’m an indie author, purely because it was very difficult to find a literary agent who was willing to give me a chance. I spent years trying to go the traditional route and it was only around five years ago, I found the indie route and it’s been a fabulous ride.

How did you determine your target audience?

Author:    I’m still working on that! My children’s books generally sell through word of mouth and through mums scrolling through Facebook or Instagram. 

What is your publishing process?

Author:   I publish through KDP on Amazon.

What platforms do you use to publish your works?

Author:      I currently publish on Amazon only, but market on Facebook, Instagram and have just started the Tik Tok journey.

How do you get critiques, betas, feedback, and edits?

Author:      I ask close friends if they will read my first draft for me and provide honest, unbiased feedback. I met my editor through a Facebook group last year and he’s now become a good friend and my editor which I’m truly grateful for.

Marketing

Do you have a platform? What does it consist of?

Author:      I use Facebook mainly and have three pages I bounce between, my personal page, my children’s book page and my adult book page. I’m not as active on Instagram, as I am still learning the ropes and have just started using Tik Tok.

What is your launch plan for your works?

Author:   I don’t have a solid plan. What I currently do is publish on Amazon and then will write a blurb about that particular book with the cover image. Once the book is available on Amazon, I then post the links on Facebook, Instagram and Tik Tok.  

How do you get reviews for your books?

Author:     Once my second last edit is back, I will then post on FB that I’m looking for new beta readers. When sending the book to them, I ask that once they’ve finished reading it, would they be happy to write a review.

How do you promote your content?

Author:      Usually a blurb on Facebook or Instagram. I’ve tried FB Ads, but I haven’t been too successful with that. I think it’s all to do with target market and I’m still working my way around research on how to be more precise.

What do you think is the most critical marketing component or tactic for becoming successful?

Author:      I think “soft marketing” is definitely the best approach. One also has to be very mindful of how to self-promote – something I truly battle with.

How do you define success as an author?

Author:  When an author is being mentioned among other authors, then you know that your name is getting out there. Not only are we our own worst critics, but our fellow authors can be too, so if you are being discussed among fellow colleagues for all the right reasons, then you generally should be “good to go!”   

About Your Work

What type of content do you write and why? Fiction Novels? Poems? Songs? Screenplays? Short Stories? Epic?

Author:      Moral based children’s books – which have stemmed from my swimming coaching career since the age of twenty. More recently, I’ve dived into thriller-based novels and at this stage of my life, this is where I’m happiest writing.

What genres and subgenres do you write in?

Author:     Children’s picture and chapter books, non-fiction and fiction.

What is your author brand (genre, mood, image, theme, message, etc)? How did you decide on it?

Author:   My children’s book illustrator, has found her own style with creating the images for all my children’s books and this branding seems to be working well. She has a very keen eye for detail and is very perceptive to the precise images I’m trying to portray.  I had been searching for an illustrator for quite a while, because I literally can’t draw to save my life, and within a few days Meg had produced the image for “When A Stranger Says Hello” a little book for children about stranger danger.


Sally has a wonderful life and special friends. Her best friend is Tessa who lives next door. They have been friends with each other since they first met at nursery school five years ago. Now they are in primary school in the third grade.

The besties love school and seeing each other every day. Both girls are very good readers and often come first and second in the class for their beautiful essays. Their stories are filled with adventure and excitement and Sally in particular, thrives on adventure.

The one thing Sally struggles with is swimming. She is not a very strong swimmer and feels embarrassed about this, until one day she has no choice but to swim.

Follow Sally on her lifesaving, life changing adventure.


How many works have you published?

Author:      I’ve written thirty-one children’s books, two non-fiction books and have just completed the second book in a trilogy series.

Can you tell us a bit about your most recent publication?

Author:      Granny Clampet’s Cupcakes was inspired by an aunt who lives in the UK. She’s a lady everyone loves and a grandmother to eight children. She’s led a very interesting, incredible life and is someone you can have a jolly good chat with. She can talk to anyone, no matter your background or age and so, with this in mind, the idea came to me one day where I thought about how we can’t be good at everything, but as long as we are a good person.

Granny Clampet lives in a cottage on the outskirts of a lovely village called Wiltshire. She has a wonderful life playing golf once a week, bridge twice a week, Scottish dancing every weekend and attending book club once a month.

She’s a terrible baker and this is all tested one day when she’s asked to bake something for the local Wiltshire Community Fundraiser. A whole lot of chaos arises in her kitchen, which creates a chain of remarkable events.

Name some common elements in your writing: villains, magic, red-herring twists, the unfortunate ensign, mysterious phenomena, asyndeton, sentence fragments etc.

Author:      I always try to introduce some sort of villain element into every book I write, taking every opportunity I can, to add in red-herrings and twists and turns, especially in my thriller books.

What was your first goal when you started your journey to becoming an author? Has that changed?

Author:      I’ve always had a love of writing and seeing words formulate into a sentence and then into a paragraph and a page. My love for writing and the bug that bit, has not changed. I had no goal in mind five years ago when I first self-published, I just wanted to write and that has not changed.

Do you have other supporting services like a podcast, blog, webinars, courses, video channel?

Author:   I have a website, a Facebook page for my children’s books and adult books, an Instagram page and have just started on the Tik Tok journey.   As far as finding the support, I certainly have on all the services you mention, which have been the greatest help.

What do you want your readers to get out of your works?

Author:    I aspire to move people when they read my books, to have some emotional attachment to all the stories and characters. 

What part of the author process are you working on or studying most now?

Author:      Marketing is not my strong point, as I really struggle to self-promote, preferring the softer marketing version. So currently, I’m reading up on all sorts of techniques and tricks required to market.

What has been your favorite part of the writing and querying or publishing process?

Author:    I still get an absolute thrill with the start of any book. I love forming the characters, sprinkling them with idiosyncancies that will help connect the reader to the character. I thoroughly enjoy the research that goes into my thriller novels, because this process ignites the beginning of the storyline, plots and subplots and I still get a kick, every single time with the publishing process — as my manuscript is being uploaded, the sense of achievement is a buzz.

Do you recommend any programs, courses, or websites?

Author:      I would highly recommend Mark Dawson’s – Ad’s for Authors and Joanne Penn – The Creative Penn – both on You Tube. There is an endless supply of information, tips from experienced authors.

Which authors write similar books to yours? How did you find them?

Author:      I read my first James Patterson book, Kiss the Girls, when I was twenty-two and then soon afterwards, discovered Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell, while browsing in a book store one day. My thrillers are inspired by the writing style of these two authors.

Have you always read in the genre you wanted to write in? Do you think that’s made it easier or harder to create new stories?

Author:      Yes, I’ve always written in the genre I read, which has definitely made it easier when creating stories. I love reading crime fiction, immersing myself in the story for days.

What is your writing process, from idea to polished work? Pantster? Plotter? How long does that typically take you?

Author:      I stick to a good ole word doc. My budget was very limited when I started on the indie writing path and so I couldn’t afford any specialized app that could help with the process. I’ve become so used to a word document, that I still use it today.

Regarding writing children’s books, I fall back on life lessons that I’ve learnt along the way through various people I’ve met. A moral will form in my mind and then I begin to work out how I can tell the story through a child’s eyes and remain on their level. It usually takes me a week to create and finish a very rough first draft.

With the non-fiction books I’ve written, the first one took me three days to write and a month to proofread and edit. It was easy enough to do, because it was a personal story. The second non-fiction book I wrote, took about two months to complete.

My first thriller in the “Red” series, Red Shoes & Wine – The Sex Traffickers, took me exactly two months to write and two months to edit. I’ve just completed my second book in the “Red” series, 99 Red Balloons – The Organ Traffickers, took me just under three months to complete and is currently in the editing phase. My third book in the “Red” trilogy series, The Red Butterfly – The Drug Traffickers, is yet to be written. I hope to start writing this one in mid Feb 2022 and plan to take my time nurturing it and filling in all the scenarios of crime situations that I’ve been storing away for years.

I use a separate word doc for plotting, sub plot formation and chapters. It’s a fast-track technique that I use to keep referring back to interchanging characters as well as keeping an eye on specific details that need to be remembered and are crucial to the unfolding chain of events.

Where do you network most with other writers, authors, and creative types? LinkedIn? Wattpad? Twitter? Facebook? Somewhere else?

Author:     I’ve joined three major groups on Facebook, which has been paramount in learning as much as I can from fellow author’s and entrepreneurs. They are three very dynamic groups and all unique in what they offer. I’ve started to push myself out of my comfort zone and am networking in a more proactive way.

Do you sprint-write like a starving cheetah, or are you a totally chill turtle writer? Somewhere in between?

  

Author:   Regarding my thriller novels, I’m a sprint-write, high on the writing drug maniac!! I sleep, eat, breathe my characters and the moment a new sub-plot is forming on the tail end of the one in front, I become manic. This demon writing possessed form that overcomes me, is probably not the most therapeutic enhancing but I thrive on the adrenalin!   

Struggles

What has been the hardest thing to overcome on your journey to authorship?

Author:    Overcoming my deep fears of self-doubt regarding my writing. Once I jumped that hurdle, it’s made life a whole lot easier.   

How has the writing and querying or publishing process affected you emotionally? Do you have any tips for budding writers?

Author:      I think I can speak on behalf of most authors when I say, that writing is deeply personal. It’s a very fine balance between not taking anything too personally if someone is giving sound advice and feedback and letting the hard knocks wash over you. Follow your heart and instincts when it comes to your words and storyline. No-one else will have a story like yours, so write with confidence and it will show in the end product. Try to always remain humble, for we never stop learning and growing. 

Do you have any tips or recommendations for those who want to go the final step and become authors?

Author:      Just take the leap of faith. I always advise that even writing that first word, will then lead into a sentence, into a paragraph and into a book, you just have to start somewhere.

If you could do it all over again, what would you change?

Author:      I actually wouldn’t change one thing, because all the challenges have helped to shape my writing, ensuring I strive for a higher standard of quality and excellence.

Are you a driven & self-advocating author, a gun-shy promoter, or a total marketing procrastinator?

Author:      I think initially I fell into the gun-shy promoter category, but am now slowly turning the corner into a driven and self-advocating author. I’ve had to push through that barrier of self-doubt and blaze forwards.

How do you keep yourself motivated?

Author:    The storyline of all my books keeps me motivated. As I finish one story, I’m already thinking of the next one. My fingers are never far from the keyboard, so I’m very grateful that I can remain motivated.  I also try and swim at least four times a week which helps my mind to remain healthy and focused and a lot of plots come to me when I’m blowing bubbles.

How do you combat writer’s block?

Author:     This is one of the writing hurdles that so far, I’ve been very lucky not to battle with! There are too many thoughts racing through my mind at any one time. It’s a very busy place in there! LOL!

What literary/writer-based term did you not know when you started that has become important and relevant to you?

Author:      Up until September 2021, I had absolutely no idea what formatting really meant. I would just write away happily, completely clueless that I was creating all these unnecessary tabs and gaps in my document. I learnt the hard way and had to redo a two-hundred-page book which took me nearly a month to complete. It was tedious, pain staking work, so I’ve learnt so much from that mistake and I’m never doing that again!

How did your family and friends react to your writing? Was it what you expected from them?

Author:    The reactions have been a mixed bag. Some very helpful hints and tips have come through from family and friends and some not so helpful hints and tips have come through from family and friends.

What assumptions about writers and authors do you think are myths?

Author:     I think one assumption that is a myth is that authors wile away their days languishing in comfy chairs and writing when they feel like it, the rest of the time taking leisurely naps! Or taking trips to the coast or woodlands so that they can glean inspiration from these locations! There’s nothing further from the truth.  Most authors I know, are getting by on the sniff of an oil rag and so they need to rely on their imagination to whisk a reader off to an exotic place, all created from a single idea from their mind.

Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

Author:      Usually the generator powering away in the background! LOL! Living in Zambia the power cuts we have at the moment are immense. If the power is on, I prefer a quiet space in which to write.

Is there a fun word or group of terms you like to put into your writing?

Author:      Because I was born and brought up in Zimbabwe, I have a heap of phrases and sayings that are often in my conversations and I have to be so mindful of this when I’m writing a book in American English. Some of the words I use often are, “Eish” (Wow), “Hobos” (Heaps), “Brekky” (Breakfast), “Muti” (Medicine), “Chisa” (Hot), “Shamwari” (Friend), “Mampara” (Naughty), “Chingwa” (Bread), “Arvie” (Afternoon).

Where do you write your stories? A tiny office? A loft? The kitchen table? In the bushes while you secretly people-watch like a total creeper? Or a warm café with mocha in hand and feet up on an ottoman?

Author:      I have the cutest, tiniest office with no windows. It’s my sanctuary and the place I feel safest and where all my writing and scrawling’s are created. The climate in Zambia can be scorching in summer and so, instead of finding another room in which to write, I just move the fan closer to me and continue writing away. I have such a connection to this space and feel emotionally at peace here.

What book are you reading at the moment?

Author:    The Store, by James Patterson.   

How do you try to “break the mold” and be unique?

Author:      That’s a tough one. I think we all just need to be confident in our writing ability and that in itself will set you apart – my theory that no-one else will have the same story or book as you is important to remember, so that you don’t become overwhelmed by self-doubt.

What have you learned about yourself from the writing and/or authorship process?

Author:   I’m determined, focused and motivated when it comes to writing and I’ve learnt to dig deep and follow my instincts with certain techniques and writing styles.  

What is your favorite writing snack and drink?

Author:      Coffee and anything crunchy – the crunchy snacks certainly seem to help with forming  sub-plots!

Do you have a writing companion?

Author:   I have two cats, Toby & Cosmo, and two dogs, Shilo and Nala. They all seem to take it in turns to sit with me, although my pointer Shilo, is always by my side when I write. She brings me such comfort and a relaxed aura.  

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

Author:  Take one second at a time and then one minute. Don’t do tomorrow, before you’ve completed today and live in the moment!   

How can readers follow you and learn more about your books?

You can find me on Facebook @ Lindsay Payne Children’s Books & L. D. Payne Books, and my handle on Instagram and Tik Tok is @lindsaypaynebooks. My website is: https://www.lindsaypaynebooks.com

Look forward to connecting with you all!

You can also find Lindsay Payne on Amazon.

Author Interviews, Blog, Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog

Author Interview: R. W. Harrison, Supernatural Thrillers

My main genre is supernatural thrillers. My most recent book is Raven’s Temple, published in January 2022, about a serial killer who belongs to a cult that promises immortality.

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:  I began writing seriously in 2011. I had a rough story idea loosely based on a series of hauntings I experienced many years ago and finally decided to get it down on paper. It became the first book in my Onyx Trilogy, The Onyx Seed.   

How long did it take you to finish your first book?

Author: It took me three years from start to finish, including research, writing, editing/proofreading, cover design and formatting.    

Has your publishing timeframe improved at all since your first publication?

Author:  I’ve been able to condense that timeframe over the years. My latest book took exactly a year from beginning the outline to publication.   

Are you indie, traditional, hybrid, or vanity, and why?

Author:  I’m an indie author. I did a lot of research as I was finishing up my first book, on both traditional and indie publishing. It came down to a business decision for me. I liked the control that indie publishing offered and that the timeline was of my choosing. Plus, the profit margins are higher.   

What is your publishing process?

Author:  I enlist the help of other authors that I trust for beta reads after I’ve self-edited the first draft. After taking their suggestions and rewriting as necessary, I send it to my editing team. After my rewrites and another review from my editors, it gets polished and proofread, and I work on the formatting and cover design. Once that’s all done, I upload to KDP.   

What platforms do you use to publish your works?

Author:  So far, it’s been exclusively with Amazon’s KDP platform, but I am considering going wide.   

How do you get critiques, betas, feedback, and edits?

Author:  I’m active on a few Facebook groups, including Beta Readers and Critique Partners and Self Publishing Support Group. I’ve made a lot of author friends in the groups and their help with beta reading has been invaluable. 

Marketing

Do you have a platform? What does it consist of?

Author: It’s small, but growing. My platform consists of readers who are new to supernatural thrillers. My books aren’t too dark or scary, so they’re “safer” for the casual reader who just wants a hint of the supernatural in what they read. I also include a lot of geographical references in my writing, so people who live in, or have visited the particular areas, enjoy reading about landmarks and scenery they’re familiar with.    

What is your launch plan for your works?

Author: I definitely need to ramp up this part of my marketing. I haven’t taken advantage of ARCs yet, but will for my next book. I promote the books on my personal social media and my author pages, and “lightly” promote it in some of the other groups I’m active on.    

How do you get reviews for your books?

Author: In the back of my books, I encourage people to leave honest reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, and any other place they normally review books.      

How do you promote your content?

Author:  One of the things I’ve done is become active in Facebook groups that are focused on where my books take place. For example, my Onyx Trilogy takes place mostly in and around Letchworth State Park in upstate New York. There is a large and engaged FB group for the park and I have enlisted the group’s help with research questions, explaining that I’m writing a book that is set in Letchworth. I keep the group informed on the progress, ask more questions, etc. When it released, I asked the administrator of the group if I could announce it. They agreed and I did, which resulted in a lot of interest and sales. The key is to be an active, genuine member of the group, and not be spammy.   

What do you think is the most critical marketing component or tactic for becoming successful?

Author:  I haven’t figured it out yet, but from everything I’ve read, it’s writing more books, being consistent with your marketing, and being authentic.   

How do you define success as an author?

Author:  Personally, I’ll be successful if I can write full time.   

About Your Work

What type of content do you write and why? Fiction Novels? Poems? Songs? Screenplays? Short Stories? Epic?

Author:  I write primarily supernatural thriller novels, approximately 75-80K words in length. I am currently outlining a straightforward thriller.   

What is your author brand (genre, mood, image, theme, message, etc)? How did you decide on it?

Author:  My slogan is “Books to Leave the Lights on For”. My brand is tied to my genre – supernatural thrillers. I’m fascinated by the things unseen in this universe. Sometimes we call them ghosts or spirits or poltergeists. I may not be convinced that those things exist, even though I experienced a haunting myself, but science hasn’t explained them all yet. The things that go bump in the night make for terrific stories.

How many works have you published?

Author: I have published four books: One trilogy and a stand-alone novel.     

Can you tell us a bit about your most recent publication?

      

Author: Raven’s Temple follows a man suffering from a debilitating disease who belongs to a cult that promises immortality. He’s chasing a cure and wants to live forever, but what the cult asks him to do to achieve that eternal life comes at a steep price. It takes place in north central Florida, in the Ocala National Forest and involves ravens, hence the title, which are usually not found in Florida. I had a lot of fun researching ravens and crows, and cults.

Name some common elements in your writing: villains, magic, red-herring twists, the unfortunate ensign, mysterious phenomena, asyndeton, sentence fragments etc.

Author: I try to keep the reader turning pages, so often I will end a chapter with a mini-cliffhanger. The next chapter usually changes POV to another character, so if you want to know how the earlier chapter ended, you have to keep reading.    

What was your first goal when you started your journey to becoming an author? Has that changed?

Author:  I knew I had a story to tell and initially, I just wanted to make sure I could do it. Once I had it down on paper, my goal shifted to getting it in readers’ hands.     

What do you want your readers to get out of your works?

Author:  As a genre writer, I offer an escape. A fun rollercoaster of a read that can be enjoyed over a few days and hopefully a story and characters that will be remembered.   

What has been your favorite part of the writing and querying or publishing process?

Author:  I love the brainstorming part before I’ve even begun writing. Jotting down ideas, bouncing story lines off other authors, coming up with twists and turns for the plot. That’s my favorite part.   

Do you recommend any programs, courses, or websites?

Author: I got a lot out of the MasterClass video courses, especially the courses by Dan Brown, Neil Gaiman, and David Baldacci. I also recommend Mark Dawson’s SPF courses for marketing. A great, free resource for marketing is Ricardo Fayet’s book, “How to Market a Book: Overperform in a Crowded Market”. It’s available for free on Amazon as an ebook. David Gaughran also offers a wealth of free information on indie publishing.      

Which authors write similar books to yours? How did you find them?

Author: In a way, my books are similar to those of Scott Smith, Nick Cutter, and John Langan. Libraries are great places to discover new authors, and since I work in one, it’s easy to see what’s popular or new on the scene.    

Have you always read in the genre you wanted to write in? Do you think that’s made it easier or harder to create new stories?

Author:  I have to be careful with what I’m reading when I’m writing, especially during the brainstorming phase. For example, I’m working on a novella about a haunted lighthouse and happened to start reading a horror novel that takes place in a lighthouse. I put the book down because I didn’t want to unconsciously steal ideas from the book.   

What is your writing process, from idea to polished work? Pantster? Plotter? How long does that typically take you?

Author: I’m kind of a hybrid between a pantser and a plotter. I started my first book, The Onyx Seed, as a pantser, totally enamored with the idea of just sitting down at the computer and typing out my Great American Novel. However, it didn’t take long to write myself into a corner because those characters sometimes take on a life of their own. So I outlined the rest of the book, and that made it so much easier. Now I work from a loose outline, which allows me to go in other directions if I have to.    

Where do you network most with other writers, authors, and creative types? LinkedIn? Wattpad? Twitter? Facebook? Somewhere else?

Author:  I’ve found my community of fellow authors mostly on Facebook. Some on Instagram, but I’m somewhat more established in FB.   

Do you sprint-write like a starving cheetah, or are you a totally chill turtle writer? Somewhere in between?

Author: I wish I could write in sprints, but I’m definitely more of a turtle writer. I’m getting faster, though.    

Struggles

What has been the hardest thing to overcome on your journey to authorship?

Author:  Figuring out the marketing and business end of the journey. I’m far more comfortable with the writing and editing. It’s getting your book in the hands of readers that’s the most challenging.   

How has the writing and querying or publishing process affected you emotionally? Do you have any tips for budding writers?

Author: If I let it, it could be demotivating, but I’m confident that, if I just keep writing quality books, they’ll find an audience. They already have, but it’s modest. I’m not sure who said it, but I heard a quote recently…you want to get to the point where you’re not the one beating the drum for your books – your fans are.    

Do you have any tips or recommendations for those who want to go the final step and become authors?

Author: Keep reading in your genre, read outside your genre, learn the craft, practice, ask questions. And, as the title of James Scott Bell’s book says, “Just Write”.    

If you could do it all over again, what would you change?

Author: I began writing at the age of 47. If I could do it over again, I would have started much earlier.    

Are you a driven & self-advocating author, a gun-shy promoter, or a total marketing procrastinator?

Author: Unfortunately, I’m a bit of a procrastinator when it comes to marketing. I know what I need to work on, but I’m far more interested in writing more books. I justify this because I know one of the keys to being successful is having a large backlist of books.    

How do you keep yourself motivated?

Author: I try to set goals for myself, usually 3,000 words a week. Life gets in the way too much for me to set daily goals. I try to reward myself if I hit the goal with one of my guilty pleasures…watching an old, classic movie.    

The peacefulness of a small, post-World War II town in New York is shattered when Larry McConnell drowns mysteriously in a local lake. When a kind boarder joins Larry’s widow, Margaret, and her young son Davey, she begins to think her house may be haunted.

The sheriff believes a rogue deputy is responsible for Larry’s death while Margaret reluctantly seeks the help of a palm reader. The psychic identifies a dresser in Davey’s room as the source of the haunting and the root of the evil that is now swirling around them and threatening Margaret’s son.

Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

Author:  I usually listen to Psychedelicized.com. A streaming channel that plays classic psychedelic rock from 1967-70. That’s my go-to music.   

Where do you write your stories? A tiny office? A loft? The kitchen table? In the bushes while you secretly people-watch like a total creeper? Or a warm café with mocha in hand and feet up on an ottoman?

Author: I have an office in the house. I’m very fortunate to have a dedicated space that’s totally mine. It has built-in bookshelves on one wall, a large desk, a comfy chair, and a nice view.    

What book are you reading at the moment?

Author:  I just finished “The Hollow Places”, a horror novel by T. Kingfisher. Next up is “The Crusades: The Authoritative History of the War for the Holy Land” by Thomas Asbridge. I tend to read a mix of fiction and non-fiction, mostly history.

What have you learned about yourself from the writing and/or authorship process?

Author: I’ve learned that dreams can come true. I’ve always wanted to be an author. Writing and publishing one book got me there. And now I’m hooked and loving it. Now my dream is to do this full time.    

Do you have a writing companion?

Author: Often our black cat Tucker keeps me company in the office. One of these days, I’ll include him in a book.    

Readers can find my books on Amazon and more information about them and me on my website, www.rwharrisonbooks.com. I also offer author services such as editing, cover design, and formatting, with details on my website.   

Author Interviews, Blog, Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog

Author Interview: Freya Pickard, Fantasy

I’m Freya Pickard, a Fantasy Author, who’s recently published Fire Daughter.

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:     Stories have always bubbled up inside me and have to be written out. I enjoy the telling of stories and enjoy telling others my stories. I’ve found that if I don’t write, I become a bit weird and frustrated. Therefore I always write out my ideas, even if they don’t gel the first time round. Nowadays it’s as necessary to me as eating and breathing. Writing is my life!

Are you indie, traditional, hybrid, or vanity, and why?

Author:      I’m an independent author. I do everything myself with some help from 3-4 beta readers and Jonathon B. Hoyt who does the cover designs for me. I tried the traditional publishing route prior to 2014 but it was very expensive, sending MSS through the post. Because I don’t write for a particular marketplace (I write for myself, from the heart) my work doesn’t really fit into traditional publishers’ marketing schemes. In 2014 I nearly died of cancer and that made me change my outlook on my entire life. I decided to self-publish in 2016 and haven’t looked back since! I am a control freak and enjoy being in charge of the entire process from the first word on the first page to marketing my books once I’ve published them.

What is your publishing process?

Author:      I write. Then I draft. I work on my writing a lot. I ask my beta readers to see if I’ve made any mistakes. I work on it some more until I am happy. Then I publish it! The whole process takes 1-2 years as I have very high standards for myself.

What platforms do you use to publish your works?

Author:      I use KDP (one has to) as well as Draft To Digital as I like to make my books available on a variety of platforms. I have plans in the future to venture into Smashwords and Gumroad too.

What do you think is the most critical marketing component or tactic for becoming successful?

Author:      Having a LOT of money in order to promote your work online.

How do you define success as an author?

Author:      Getting the book written is a major success. Getting the book published is also a major success. Getting paid for my writing is a bonus. I suppose I’d consider I was properly successful as a writer when all of my books has at least 20+ positive reviews each!

About Your Work

What type of content do you write and why? Fiction Novels? Poems? Songs? Screenplays? Short Stories? Epic?

Author:      I write Fantasy novels that are on the Darker side of Happily Ever After. For instance, Silver Fire has an attempted rape scene in it which some fragile readers found offensive. I’m not sure why, as the victim attacks the rapist and stops him from committing the vile deed. I prefer to embrace the dark along with the light – life has shown me that if you ignore the bad things that happen to you, you’re not living your life to the full. I like to reflect this in my writing. The Kaerling series is an epic fantasy that deals with prejudice, fate and freedom of choice. I prefer writing in the Fantasy genre as opposed ‘Real Life’, as there is more scope for dealing with senstive issues such as prejudice and sexual matters.

How many works have you published?

Author:      To date I’ve published 15 e-books and 7 paperbacks.

Can you tell us a bit about your most recent publication?

Author:      My most recent book is called Fire Daughter, a paperback, and it contains volumes 4 – 6 in The Kaerling series. I publish 3 e-books before publishing the paperback. Originally I had planned to publish just paperbacks, each with 3 sections. I soon realised that readers nowadays prefer to purchase e-books, so I adapted my plans. Fire Daughter contains the e-books Olin Heon, Hidden Lands and Aura Vere. The paperback introduces new characters to The Kaerling storyline; Lored, a taku-kevir from Olin Heon and Tari, an acolyte in the Temple in Aura Vere. The first two sections deal with Lored’s quest to discover the truth about his mentor’s demise and then his journey to find a new purpose in life. Tari, meanwhile, has her quiet Temple life disrupted by a new priestess, a new acolyte and the sinister kaerlings who question everyone. The third section re-introduces the storylines of Otta and Erl who are desperate to reach the kaerling boy Derri before his kaerling family find him once more. The four storylines are drawn together at the end of the book, making way for the third paperback to begin!

Available on Amazon

What do you want your readers to get out of your works?

Author:      I want readers to immerse themselves in my worlds, to experience the good and the bad in a safe environment and to come back to the real world refreshed and renewed and inspired.

What has been your favorite part of the writing and querying or publishing process?

Author:      My favourite part of the writing process has always been the first draft. It’s a virgin page. I have my notes so I know where the story is going, but really, anything could happen! I love the flow of words, that tapping into my creativity deep within my soul and producing pure poetry on screen. I love the sensation of being a medium between the muse and my readers. I’m a channel for the story to come through.

Have you always read in the genre you wanted to write in? Do you think that’s made it easier or harder to create new stories?

Author:      I read a variety of genres; Fantasy, Science Fiction, Poetry, Romance and some Faction. I write the kind of Fantasy I enjoy reading and feel satisfied with. I learn a lot from other writers; either how to improve my writing or how not to write! No book is ever useless – even if I don’t enjoy it, I learn from it in some way.

Struggles

What has been the hardest thing to overcome on your journey to authorship?

Author:      Discovering that most of my friends and family aren’t actually interested in my books! Despite people in my life always showing a polite interest in my work, most of them have never bought a copy of my work. Once I realised this, I concentrated on maintaining friendships with people online who were genuinely interested in my books. Gradually I’ve let go of everyone else which has been an extremely releasing and cathartic process.

How do you keep yourself motivated?

Author:      I’ve had one brush with death and that has made me concerned that maybe I won’t get my three score years and ten. This provides me with a huge amount of motivation to get The Kaerling finished as soon as possible.

Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

Author:      I have an eclectic musical taste and prefer to listen to Leonard Cohen whilst composing poetry but I find writing new drafts to Billie Eilish, Ghost of the Robot and Disturbed particularly inspiring! When I’m drafting, I rarely listen to music as I need to hear the words out loud.

Where do you write your stories? A tiny office? A loft? The kitchen table? In the bushes while you secretly people-watch like a total creeper? Or a warm café with mocha in hand and feet up on an ottoman?

Author:      I write in a snug office that I share with my soulmate who is very understanding – eg if I have headphones on he understands that I cannot be disturbed, even if the world is ending. I look out over a field of Devon Ruby Cattle and in the distance I can just see the moorland hills. I use the scenery to rest my eyes and consider the next paragraph on the odd occasion that my creativity falters.

What book are you reading at the moment?

Author:      I’m currently reading “Requiem for the Bastards” by Chris Sendrowski. It’s the second novel in his Dregs of the Culver Waste series. I love his writing because it’s so visual, visceral and unpredictable.

What have you learned about yourself from the writing and/or authorship process?

Author:      To be a writer you have to be selfish and learn to say to ‘no’ to other people in order to write. I’ve learnt not to worry if I offend or upset someone who doesn’t understand my need to write. If people don’t understand that Writing is my life, despite me explaining this many times to them, it’s not my problem, it’s theirs.

What is your favorite writing snack and drink?

Author:      I find eating either a handful of seeds or nuts or dried fruit mid-morning keeps my energy up. I tend not to eat sugary snacks because I get such a low mid-afternoon. Biscuits are for tea time after I’ve finished writing for the day! Favourite drink is peppermint tea!

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

Author:      Write what you know and enjoy the writing process.

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Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog, SFF FLEET

Flash Fiction: A Touch of Revenge

A Touch of Revenge
E. L. Strife
Flash Fiction
Copyright ©2019

You can download the pdf here: A Touch of Revenge

Or read on below:

The enemy spaceship’s display blinked red, indicating its weapons-ready status. Through the wall of windows on the main bridge, Eryk studied five other ships which armed at his command, their missile bays illuminating like rings of miniature stars in the eternal night sky. Eryk’s fingers trembled as they hovered over Release Payload. He didn’t know if he had the gall to turn Earth into ash.

“Humans believe in equality,” he said to himself. We punish criminals.

Eryk had no home to return to. His wife, his parents, his people were dead. The planet was dead.

Three years ago, Kugrons had provided Earth with hover-engines—a “peace” offering. But the engines emitted radioactive fallout. Humans, animals, and plants died. Kugrons colonized in the wake of their destruction—like starving maggots.

The few humans who evaded the fallout had perished while sneaking Eryk onto an automated transport as it dropped off more hover-engines from the ships in space—a ship he now stood inside. The engines were never a gift, always a necessity, one Kugrons didn’t want humans to discover until it was too late.

No one knew what Eryk would find when he docked. He was a soldier; he would improvise.

Empty ships.

Translation chips.

An apocalypse switch.

Eryk slumped in the captain’s chair and stared out at Earth. Every Kugron was down there, thriving in the rot. The once-green continents were brown and red with death, the blue oceans now gray and steaming from decay.

Beside him, in the co-pilot’s seat, a small creature burbled as it licked the bandages Eryk had scrapped together out his clothes. Judging by the glowing collar, it was a pet. He had discovered it while hiding in a ventilation duct. The critter had cowered in a corner until a half-eaten grain cookie given in the shadows had made them friends.

Anger and revenge had been Eryk’s driving force. But after he’d armed the weapons, he’d hesitated.

What if someone else is hiding down there like I was?

He swiped through the diagrams of Earth on a display to his left. A rainbow of terra-forming progress. Wireframe schematics of topography. Landmass acquisitions. Thermal maps. Oceans.

The creature snorted and shook its head. It curled up like an old dog on a cold day. Tufts of its rust-brown fur were charred to the skin, others matted with blood. Eryk had to figure Kugrons had beaten it. A chunk was missing out of an ear, the eye on the same side scarred and milky green. Torch, as Eryk named him, had been the one to lead him to the bridge.

Flipping through the logged data displays of Earth, Eryk found one showing Earthlings in red and Kugrons in blue. He spun the globe, scanning.

Eryk was the last—his red dot alone on a ship in space, a green dot nestled beside him.

Torch.

He sighed and rested his chin in a palm, staring out at Earth. It was never a decision he thought he’d face—the fate of a planet too grand of a responsibility for a grunt like him.

One command from the Kugrons’ main bridge, designed to take out a fleet of battleships, would eradicate his enemy.

One tap of his finger would turn his home planet into a churning mass of magma.

Inside, Eryk felt cold as a corpse on a slab. He sat frozen and torn between saving a symbol of humanity’s existence and exterminating an infestation. No war could callus his hands or heart enough for such a burden.

He would be the sole human in the galaxy. There would be no history but what he could remember.

Still, he’d made his kind a promise.

Eryk focused on the flashing button beneath his fingers. Even if the blast kills me, “At least they won’t be able to do this again.”

He tapped the flashing button.

Streams of white rockets pelted out of every ship, silent swords in the night. They thrust into the planet’s crust like thousands of righteous needles in sadistic nurses’ hands.

No more bills or traffic jams or disease.

Eryk cocked his head and watched Earth’s skin bubble and crack the way Cerise’s had the week she died. He’d seen so much death in recent years that he’d found peace in its silence. It was the end of pain.

Crags of blood-orange light crawled around Earth’s surface. Plumes of steam and ash and dirt from disintegrating tectonic plates darkened the skies.

There was no one left to hug or kiss or cry with.

Torch howled high and long at the ceiling, a sad tune that reminded Eryk of arctic foxes near his home in Alaska—two things he could never see again.

Red lights flashed on the main display. Through the windows, Eryk watched a veil of red fall over the ship. All six of the Kugron vessels donned a shield. Ahead of him, Earth sank inward. Fractures of white light shone through as the planet ballooned.

Rapid beeps rattled Eryk’s ears. He grabbed his harness and closed his eyes.

Something warm and soft jumped into his lap with a whimper. Eryk released a hand to pull Torch close. “Hang on, buddy.”

Carmine light flickered across his eyes as the ship launched backward. Metal groaned and screeched as the hull bore the pressure of the blast. Sirens whistled and warbled from displays at stations on the bridge behind him. Engines kicked on in a distant hum. But Eryk couldn’t hear much over the rush of blood in his ears or think through the realization he was now no better than his enemy.

He had nothing: no family, no home, and no morals. Eryk prayed for the end to be quick.

But the flash of heat from the explosion dissipated. The ship steadied and momentum equalized. Alarms quieted. And the windows darkened.

Eryk opened his eyes to a blinking blue indicator on his display.

Mass Compensation?

With no logical reason not to, Eryk selected it.

Two orbs launched from each ship, one blue, one yellow—twelve in all. Only then, did Eryk see the distance they’d traveled from Earth’s prior location, and noted the expansion. The moon arced off into the distant stars—a motherless asteroid.

The blue and yellow orbs converged into a writhing green knot. Eryk felt a tug on his body and the ship. Everything came to a standstill again. He stared out at the globe of light filling the hole Earth left behind—a hole Eryk had made.

Hours passed that he stared at that tiny flickering ball in the emptiness, too shocked to celebrate or cry. He wished it had killed him so he wouldn’t have to live with the memories and guilt. The other five ships remained in position as if awaiting a command.

Eryk had no desire to move. The sky looked empty and wrong. But there was no going back.

Just as his bones chilled and joints began to ache from not moving, Torch stirred. A warm tongue licked his hand.

He looked down and noticed fluid leaking through one of the creature’s bandaged legs. Tearing off another strip of his shirt, Eryk removed the old and tied on the new. The animal kicked and squirmed in protest, bumping a display.

A three-dimensional hologram lit up the windows. Galaxies and planets danced and swirled in greens and blues and reds, highlighting their bodies and the controls before them. Targeting brackets blinked over different locations zooming in and expanding nine locations. Along the bottom of the display, names and statuses appeared.

Eryk studied them. Planet selected for colonization. Kugron Outpost Twenty-seven. Class M Planet for inspection—Space Travel Capable Colony. Kugron Supreme Council Headquarters.

He hadn’t committed genocide. He’d merely lopped off a finger. Hope sparked in his chest as he swiped through the options with interest. “Couldn’t save humanity, but maybe we can save someone else. What do you think, Torch?”

The creature sat up in his lap and pawed at the hologram in the air. The Class M planet scrolled back to the center of the display. A square expanded with a close-up of the star system. A button flashed beside it.

Accept Coordinates?

Eryk couldn’t still the energy building within him. He would never hold his wife again or sit on a sofa watching TV while enjoying pizza and beer with his friends. There would be no vacations. Every job would fall on him. Maintenance, defense, command—all responsibility would be his.

Drawing in a deep breath, he shrugged to set himself at ease. “Why the hell not? I just blew up my own damned planet. Three months should be enough travel time to learn how to work all this shit, right?”

Torch let out an excited yip.

The button pulsed red beneath Eryk’s steady finger, swollen with the promise of blood.

Giving Torch’s head a gentle rub, Eryk grinned. He tapped Accept.