Author Interviews, Blog, Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog

Author Interview: Milan Oodiah, Fantasy

My name is Milan and I write fantasy. I’m currently getting ready to query End of Oblivion, a story full of magic, spaceships, and confrontations with inner demons. Currently I’m trying to find the time to bring another idea to life called And Her Name Is Fury, where Fury has a kill list and the otherworldly wrath needed to cross out every name on her kill list.

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:     I started some time when I was teenager, the exact starting point is a blur but I remember trying to write some really edgy dark stuff until I kinda grew out of it. Then I wrote my first full-length book. Mostly because I was bored. I loved a lot of things but really wanted to make something that would be wholly my own. Over time though the reasons for writing changed, but in the beginning I just wanted to do something new and different.

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

Author:      The very first one that I wrote when I was a teenager took about twenty months. I can’t recall the exact details but I think it took me about a year to draft and eight months to edit. It was a book my parents self-published so it was quite an experience to go through as a kid.

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

Author:     After that publication when I was a teenager, I kind of drew a line in the sand. Now I’m fully pursuing a traditional publishing path. I want to focus as much as possible on the writing. I know that I’ll inevitably need to deal with promo and other things but relatively speaking there’s more time spent on purely writing when going through the traditional route – at least that’s what it seems like.

How did you determine your target audience?

Author:      I didn’t. I started writing for myself and I’m still writing for myself. My reasons for writing shifted as I grew up and now, I write for myself and people like me. I think growing up allowed me to just break the pedestals of varying heights I put others and myself on. Everyone’s broken in one way or another, for one reason or another, and that’s who I write for.

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

Author:      I used twitter #’s to find CPs (Hi :D) and probably will in the future too. What I’ve started doing more recently is spending a lot of time on a writing discord. It’s super useful to have this dedicated space where you can find likeminded people in one place. One thing that makes me improve significantly faster is being able to edit other people’s work – which is nice because then I get to help someone else too.

Marketing

How do you define success as an author?

Author:      The thing that gets me is having a community. Seeing things like fan art or people getting to know each other through the fiction they love. Making an impact is how I gauge success. Impact leads to the rest.

About Your Work

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

Author:      I focus on novels but for End of Oblivion I created a massive world full of possibilities and oddities and so to show all it has to offer I also write short stories. I also really love my ‘side’ characters and there’s just not enough pages in the books to give their full backstory and they’re actually all really cool so they have their own little short story series. Most of them are in outlines right now but some day I’ll finally have the time to write them all down.

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

Author:      I have no idea why, but a recurring theme seems to be weird sad boys and angry resilient girls. I have a deep, deep love for Final Fantasy so crystals and summonable creatures, and non-traditional fantasy settings are my favorite. I want to create stories that push far beyond that classic medieval European setting.

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

Author:      I didn’t have a goal when I started really. It’s been a messy complicated journey and though I did start writing when I was a teenager, I put in the work towards becoming an author only in the last five years. There is no single reason for that really. The selfish reason is that I want to rise above leading a ‘normal’ life. I want something different and interesting and to leave a mark. The less-selfish reason, one that I think keeps me going when all other things seem to collapse is that I want to be a tiny little piece of that chorus of voices that help people along their way. Books, stories, art, music, all of those things have made rough patches in my life significantly easier to navigate. Being able to give back, to provide a little bit of relief, some modicum of solace for someone else is the thing that keeps me going through my own tough times.

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

Author:      I started watching My Hero Academia after I had done most of the work on End of Oblivion. That show, that fucking show, gave me such immense boosts in serotonin that I can only hope to replicate. I write every moment that’s meant to blow people away with its soundtrack playing. I want my readers to have that same unmitigated boost in energy and hype that My Hero Academia gives me.

Struggles

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

Author:      When I started following a writer I really loved on Twitter, she made it clear how much work and how much time it took to become an author. How uncertain and how fickle the industry can be. It took some time to digest. It was a hard thing to really understand, given the goals I’m pushing for, but once I internalized what she said and I felt even more determined, it was the sign I needed to know I could do it.

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

Author:      You really don’t need to write every day, sure it will help build your skill level but writing every day just to say you write every day is not worth it. Writing also doesn’t just mean putting words on a page, it means outlining, research, reading craft books, etc.

Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

Author:      Some days I need songs that fit the theme of the scene, some days it’s one random song on repeat. YouTube has definitely learned the kind of stuff I need at the right time, strangely enough, and instead of being terrified I’ve come to appreciate my lord and savior, The Algorithm.

What book are you reading at the moment?

Author:      Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi

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

Author:      The best writing advice I ever got was that writing advice is not one-size-fits-all.

I tweet a little too much at @MilanMakes

Author Interviews, Blog, Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog

Author Interview: Angela Amberden, YA Fantasy

   Hiya!  My name is Angela Amberden and I am currently knee deep in the editing mud of my first novel.  It is a story about two young women, separated by time but connected by so much more that discover that learning where you’re from, who you are and where you’re going can be magical.

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

I started this novel, which is the first in a series of three, in June of 2019.  I felt like there was this great story I had within me that i needed to tell for all the young women out there who think they’re ordinary or that their life can never be special.  I wanted it to be filled strong relationships and exciting adventure, but most importantly, authentic characters that readers, especially young girls could connect with and see themselves in. 

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

I challenged myself to write everyday for 100 straight days and shortly there after I completed the ~58K work manuscript.  So less than 6 months for the first draft.  I have been actively editing about 5 months and hope to finish and begin querying late this year.

How did you determine your target audience?

My target audience is pre-teen and teenaged girls.  I chose this audience as I feel like I wanted to bring a story that isn’t either repressively innocent nor scandalously mature to young women. I wanted to share an authentic adventure that any young woman could see herself in.

How do you define success as an author?

Success as an author is typically defined as a published work, and while I completely expect that to be the natural progress my book will take, I also have a certain amount of pride in just completing an entire book. 

About Your Work

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

While I have been working on this book, I have also found it valuable to create other types of content.  I have written essays, poems, and in college I wrote an editorial advice column under a pseudonym.  I am also a contributing editor to a monthly online food magazine. I also have  a treatment for a comedic episodic rattling around in here…waiting for an opportunity to come out.   

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

When I began, my first goal was just to write a book, specifically I was writing a collection of essays, working full circle from being a daughter, all the way to being a mother with the specific focus on being a mother without a Mom.  It was too emotional and raw but as I was writing the idea for my novel came to me.  After completing this work I may retrace my steps to those essays, but we’ll have to see.  The goal is the same though…write and publish.

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

For myself, the greatest achievement as an author would be for my readers to see themselves in my books.  To connect with the characters on the page.  That is what I strive for.

Do you recommend any programs, courses, or websites?

I don’t have any particular programs I use all the time, but I would suggest that any writer attend a writers conference.  I was lucky to participate in one before Covid and it supported, refreshed and taught me so many amazing lessons.  Things that I call back to time and time again when editing.    

Fun Stuff

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?

Prior to covid I had two cafes that I frequented.  I felt a certain legitimization in writing outside of my house.  I don’t know if it just “kept me honest” since there were no distractions of home.  Now that we are in lockdown, and nothing is open, I have a home office, which is organized and quiet where I have the luxury of writing in my robe.

What book are you reading at the moment?

I just finished The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennet which I loved immensely.  I am going to try to mimic her pacing, as it was urgent without being frantic.  I just started A Promised Land by Barack Obama two days ago, and since i’m on page 26 of 760-something, I’m sure it’ll be with me for awhile.

Do you have a writing companion?

I have a black and white tuxedo cat, Ferdinand, who I’ve had to give his own space adjacent to my desk so that he can curl up and be at the ready.  He is a cat that senses stress or anxiety and won’t leave you alone until you calm down via petting him.  I usually know it’s been a rough writing day based on how often he’s interrupted me.

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

If you want to be a successful and even prolific writer, there are two things you have to do.  Write…A LOT and Read…A LOT.

You can find Angela Amberden on Twitter at:

@AuthorAngelaA

Author Interviews, Blog, Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog

Author Interview: Amber Clement, YA and MG Fantasy

Hi! I’m Amber Clement and I write YA and MG fantasy. I’m currently querying my upper MG fantasy about magical girls.     

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author: Back in elementary school, I loved creative writing assignments. I could never get enough of them, but every time, my story idea was always too big to finish. Even in my junior high and high school English classes, I would try to make stories out of the spelling word sentences they assigned us. My interests shifted to manga and graphic novels when I was a teenager. I would always try to make comics about my favorite characters, but found that drawing out my epic stories took too long. Around that time, I discovered fanfiction and that writing the stories was much faster. I kept writing fanfics for fun until I took a fiction writing class my freshman year of college. Looking back, I’m very embarrassed, because I would write fanfiction for my assignments. At first I thought the professor hated my work, because he’d mark them up in red ink, but one day he told me the opposite. I was absolutely stunned. He thought my writing was beautiful and he told me I should try writing an original novel. That summer I did, and the rest is history.

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

Author:  Oh don’t get me started on this haha. The answer to this is kind of complicated, because I made a lot of mistakes. The biggest one was that I kept restarting the book whenever I felt unhappy with how it was going. Which was a lot. This added YEARS to the time it took. I also ended up changing the book from YA to MG after getting feedback from several people. It took a whopping seven years to write the YA version, but then the MG version took less than a year.

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

Author:   My goal is traditional publishing. As a child, 90% of the books I read came from the library, so it’s my dream for my own books to end up at libraries so other kids can read them.   

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

Author: At first I would look on Twitter for critique on my writing. The writing community is amazing, but I found varying success with this. Many of these readers never finished reading, but the few who did were invaluable. More recently I get my betas from the two writing groups I’m in. One is the Forge which consists of PitchWars 2019 hopefuls and the others are the mentees from Avengers of Colour 2020. The people in these groups have been so much more reliable in their feedback. It’s also amazing to have a support system and whisper network. It makes the world of publishing a lot less overwhelming.  

How do you define success as an author?

Author:  Getting my books out there and getting readers. Someday I would love to be able to write full time, but until then, I’ll just be happy by having a small group of loyal fans.

What genres and subgenres do you write in?

Author: Right now, I’m big on all things fantasy. I’ve always enjoyed when stories have a bit of magic or are full of the fantastical.

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

Author:   It may be too soon for me to have a brand, but someday I hope it can be books full of latinx girls having fun and sparkly adventures. I’ve always had a hard time finding characters who look and act like me, so representation is very important to me.

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

Author:   My first goal was to get an agent, and that is still my goal, but now I have more realistic expectations. I now know that it takes time and there’s so much outside of my control. I also know that after getting an agent, there will be many more goals and challenges.   

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

Author:  The characters are the most important part for me. I want my readers to see themselves in the them, and see people they can root for and want to befriend. Since I write MG and YA I also hope to spark creativity in my readers. I want them to be inspired to create, whether it’s through fanworks or original stories.    

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

Author:  Right now I’m querying and getting ready to resume work on my next WIP.   

Do you recommend any programs, courses, or websites?

Author:   I wholeheartedly recommend mentorships. Pitch Wars, Author Mentor Match, Write Mentor all of them. If a writer has a manuscript ready and fits the criteria to enter, they should take every opportunity they can. I applied to many of these since 2019, but didn’t get chosen for one until September 2020. I got to be a mentee in Avengers of Colour and work with Namina Forna on revising my book. Not only did her advice help me whip my book into the best it’s ever been, but I also learned a ton about my writing process. Thanks to her, I’m confident I’ll be able to write my next books much faster and at a higher quality. And also thanks to these programs, I’ve connected with some amazing writers. So even if you aren’t chosen, it’s a win-win.   

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

Author:   I’m still working on my process, but I always start with an idea. Usually the characters come in my head first. I’ll sit on it for a while and try to explore their lives and world. Once I have a clear enough idea, I’ll make an outline. I’m a tried and true plotter. After the outline, I turn it into a very detailed synopsis and then have some readers give me feedback on if the chain of events and motives make sense. Once that’s set, I’ll read a couple recently published books in the same age group and genre. I’ve found this to be a game changer. It really helps me nail the prose as I go on to write.  Once I finish, I would send the manuscript to some readers and revise and repeat until the book is ready. I’m not sure how long this will take, but I imagine it could take anywhere from a few months to almost a year, depending on how much time I can devote to working on it.

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

Author:  Twitter’s writing community was a good starting place, but once I found my groups, we talk on discord. I’ve found it’s the easiest and safest way to be able to talk about many different topics without getting confused or overwhelmed.    

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

Author:  I’d like to think I’m a somewhat fast writer, but I don’t sprint. I try to keep a steady pace without distractions. I’ve found the pomodoro method helps most with that. You set a timer for twenty-five minutes and then take five minute breaks. Technically you take a longer break after the fourth set, but I’ve found the five min breaks are enough for me.    

Struggles

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

Author:  For the longest time I put a wild amount of pressure on myself. I wanted to finish my book and be ready to query ASAP. I also was of the belief that I had to write every single day. These two things caused me to be severely burned out. I almost thought I might quit writing. Thankfully I learned to have grace on myself. I give myself goals that are challenging, but doable and iI forgive myself if I have a bad writing day. I also take a lot of breaks. I take at least one day a week off and I’m currently taking a month break after revising my novel. With this method, I notice that I’m much more productive and can get quite a bit done in a short time. 

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

Author:   Querying has been discouraging for sure. I went in bright eyed and bushy tailed thinking I’d get an agent in no time. I started querying a little more than a year ago and am still at it. It’s an extremely long process. My advice for writers is to keep their eyes on their own paper. There are people on social media who will talk about getting multiple requests in one day or having a 70% request rate. This is NOT the norm. A 10% request rate is more like the norm and it only takes that one yes from a good agent.  

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

Author:   Take your time and try not to stress over the little thing. It’ll take quite a bit of time to learn the process that works best for you. Also be sure to set aside time to write and try to form a habit.  

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

Author:    I would have written my entire first draft without starting over. This would have saved me years of rewriting and frustration. 

How do you keep yourself motivated?

Author:  I usually write around the same time each day so that it has become a habit. I also will take a week or even a month off after hitting certain goals. I think this helps keep it fresh and fun for me.

How do you combat writer’s block?

Author:     To be quite honest, writer’s block hasn’t been too much of an issue for me. I’m a big plotter, so I always have an idea of what will happen next. Another thing that keeps my creative well flowing is that I enjoy drawing in my free time. I think it’s important to have a fun creative outlet besides writing.

How did your family and friends react to your writing? Was it what you expected from them? Author:    My family is pretty supportive, but I think they get annoyed at me sometimes when I lock myself in my room to write. Sometimes I have to shoo them away when they try talking to me while I write haha. THankfully most of my writing is done first thing in the morning when everyone is sleeping.  

Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

Author:      I listen to video game OSTs. Stuff with lyrics are too distracting, but video game music puts me in a happy and nostalgic place. I don’t know this for sure, but I would think that the music is made to make players want to keep playing, so I’d like to imagine the music makes me want to keep writing.

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 my bedroom. Thankfully there’s enough space for a desk and comfy chair.

What is your favorite writing snack and drink?

Author:      I don’t really eat snacks while drinking, but I always have a water bottle at my desk while I write.

Twitter: AuthorAmps

Author Interviews, Blog, Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog

Author Interview: Nina Castle, YA Urban Fantasy

Hello! I go by Nina Castle, and I write mostly YA urban fantasy (always with a focus on amour.) I am working on my BOUND BY BLOOD series, in which the love between a fairy girl and human Hunter forces them to reevaluate the legal system which subjugates the fay—and their roles within it. Think Romeo & Juliet with racial tensions between fairies and humans.

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:      Like many authors, I fell in love with writing as a child. Much like an artist adds paint to a blank canvas, the euphoria of creating a new world or person on paper with all the complexity of reality was a challenge that enamored me. For years, I never dreamt of publishing. It was purely for the pleasure of writing.

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

Author:      In high school, I began my first attempts at writing a complete book. Since then, I’d started a ton of stories but never worked one from beginning to end. I often wrote only the scenes that interested me most, leaving gaping holes for transitions with little inspiration to fill them. When I started BOUND BY BLOOD, I forced myself to write chronologically, and ninety percent of the book flowed out in about two months. After that time, I returned to my full-time teaching position, and it took me the rest of the year to squeeze out the last couple chapters.

How did you determine your target audience?

Author:      I wrote the story as it came to me, and I wrote the story that I enjoyed reading. Like I said before, I didn’t start off writing to be published. So, for better or for worse the book follows my personal tastes.

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

Author:      I met many of my critique partners through twitter contest communities, and I hired a couple beta readers from Goodreads. The latest stage of BOUND BY BLOOD is awaiting edits from an editor I found through recommendations on Twitter.

Marketing

How do you define success as an author?

Author:      As an unpublished author, I am hoping to get published through traditional means…So, getting picked up by an agent and obtaining a book deal would ideally equal success. Though sales are extremely important and easy to quantify, I think the most rewarding feeling is knowing your story was lived and enjoyed by other people.

About Your Work

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

Author:      I have found I most enjoy writing fictional stories containing a measure of fantasy. Reading as a form of escapism has culminated for me with worlds that have a magical element we can’t see or experience in our own reality.

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

Author:      I will always and forever have romance in my books. I can remember playing with my barbies as a child and making up love stories for them. While I recognize the vitality and impact of love in our lives through other types of relationships, the intrigue of romantic love has followed me into adulthood.

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

Author:      My first goal was just to translate the story playing in my head on paper. I never imagined anyone would read it! Obviously, that goal has changed. I hope not just to be successfully published, but to have a book worth publishing. I desire the honor – and like Thor, hope to be worthy – of having reached people with my words.

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

Author:      I hope that readers are not only entertained by my work, but also feel and grow through the lives of my characters. I’ve always believed that good art evokes emotion. The music we connect with most are songs that either strike the same chord as an emotional experience we’ve endured, or send us staring through the eyes of another. The same is true of a good book.

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

Author:      As I said before, the first book of BOUND BY BLOOD is hanging out with the editor. I read the best thing to do when you are waiting (and that goes for during edits, critiques, queries, etc.) is to put your time and energy toward another project. At the moment, I am working on completing the first draft of the second book in the BBB series.

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

Author:      I have to say, connecting with other writers who share your hopes, dreams, fears, successes, and failures, has been my favorite part of the process (minus the actual joy of writing.) It inspires me to see so many people from different parts of the world and walks of life coming together to support one another and sharing their experiences.

You didn’t ask this, but editing is my least favorite part of the process…though once I start querying seriously, I’m sure getting rejections will trump that.

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 used to read a lot more literary fiction, which I believe impacts my intentions to instill deeper meaning into my stories. However, when the affliction of adulthood hit, my free time became more limited. This forced me to narrow my scope of books I read for enjoyment, which led me to my niche. Before writing BOUND BY BLOOD, I altogether stopped reading in that genre with the fear that I might accidentally take on elements of other author’s stories in my own. I’ve since learned that is the opposite of what you should do, according to agents and published authors. They say to read widely and often, which is a goal I’m bringing with me into this new year.

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

Author:      Ironically, in every other area of life I am a hardcore planner. But when it comes to writing, I begrudgingly fall into the pantster category. For the most part when a story comes to me, it’s like I’m watching a movie in my head in small spurts over the course of many months…sometimes years. While I’d like to think some inner genius lurks beneath the surface, the truth is that the stories seem to come from outside of me. It is my job to translate them to the page. How well or not well that is done is on me. Since I’m still working on polishing BBB, I don’t really know how long the process will take. Years, I guess!

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

Author:      Twitter, for sure. I’ve joined a couple writers leagues, but those are so large and impersonal (not to mention, pricey). Social media can be an amazing and free resource for writers to connect with one another.

Struggles

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

Author:      The hardest things to overcome are the concepts of time and uncertainty. Time in that it is not the quick rise to fame or fortune we all daydream about (admit it, you do it, too.) It can take years and years of work to write, polish, pitch, edit again, and then several more years publish. And if you go the traditional route, there’s no guarantee you will be published after all those years of hard work and investment, even if you get an agent. And then again if you’re published, there’s no guarantee your book will be bought or read. I’ve heard it likened to winning the lottery. Even with a streak of gamblers blood running through my family, I still find it hard to wrestle with those odds. That’s why you have to love it. Love your book and love the process because that may be the only reward.

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

Author:      As a currently unagented and unpublished author, my tip is to persevere. While a support system is essential, no one else in the world is going to write your book for you or care more than you do about its success. If you give up, no one is going to stop you. So, cry at your failures, take breaks when you need them, and work at your own pace. But at the end of the day, it is you who must decide to persevere.

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

Author:      On the technical side, I learned about “comps” or “comparable titles.” For those who don’t know, a comp is a book/movie/show that is comparable to your own book in some way. This alone helped me to understand the flaw in not reading in my genre, like I mentioned before. Agents need to quickly know the feel of your book and how they would market it. Saying, “My book is unlike anything else out there,” translates to “There is no proven market for my book. I am a major risk (and likely haven’t done enough reading to know the market, anyway).”

On the social side, “imposter syndrome” is a term that I quickly learned. At some point, we all feel undeserving of the title of “writer” for one reason or another. Can you imagine doing a writer’s interview as an unpublished author? *cough cough* But if anything, knowing we all feel that way is just another reason to persevere. Your favorite author felt that way at some point, and if you keep going, you may get to be someone’s favorite author, too.

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

Author:      At my core, I am as shy and introverted as they come. Sharing something as personal as my writing doesn’t come easy for me, so my husband is the only member of my family to have read BBB so far. If I ever become successfully published, I will owe it to his continued love and support.

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

Author:      That we pumped out our dream book in a month, get published within the year, and are then able to jet around the world on tours with our instant millions. I see this happen in movies and shows all the time and it makes me green with fictional envy.

Fun Stuff

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:      Confession time – I must be completely comfortable to write, so I write laying in my bed. I can’t have a lot of distractions, so it’s just me in front of my laptop living in my head for hours at a time.

Do you have a writing companion?

Author:      My pups sometimes lay with me, and my writer friend Cristina Meraki also motivates and supports me in the process!

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

Author:      I don’t know about one piece of advice, but I will say experience has been the best teacher for me. Jump into writing contests and communities. Ask questions, even if you think they’re dumb. Swap writing samples with people who are both stronger and weaker than you. Write that query letter. Odds are, you aren’t going to be immediately successful, but by doing these things you can only improve. Here’s wishing you the best of luck within your own writing journey!

Nina Castle on Twitter @timsheloquence!

Author Interviews, Blog, Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog

Author Interview: Raven Eckman, Dark Fantasy

Hi everyone! I’m Raven Eckman, book editor and author. My debut novel, entitled Shadowspeak, comes out February 23, 2021. I predominately write Dark Fantasy.

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author: I started writing after I read Twilight and wanted something more, something that reflected my thoughts on vampires and werewolves. Prior to that, I was just an avid reader. From that first ten page story, I began dabbling in fanfiction, took writing classes in high school, and continued to read whatever that grabbed my attention. College was when my writing really became a part of me.

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

Author:  Shadowspeak was nurtured, deleted, re-written, and completely ignored for a five year span prior to finishing the first draft and the eight more that followed before being queried.

About Your Work

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 yes. I always enjoyed fantasy and have stuck close to that genre. I believe it is easier, in some aspects, to write new stories because I know the popular trends occurring. On the flipside of that, it is harder to be unique when a lot of those first ideas have already been written and explored in some way.

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

Author: Interestingly enough, my writing process has changed since finishing the very first draft of Shadowspeak till now with finishing the final proof. I tend to plot everything out, what I want, what the characters are named, snippets of conversation that are “musts” to include, and then I just write. And write. And write. As I prepare to start the prequel/companion to Shadowspeak, I find myself less planning the story out and just itching instead to write and see what happens.

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

Author: It really depends. Most days, especially with a deadline, I’m motivated to keep at it (revising, editing, writing) but some days I just can’t get anything done that I am happy with. Other days, the best days, I write and write and lose track of time.   

Struggles

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

Author: This question really speaks to me. There has been a decent amount of roadblocks, some small as to delayed deadlines, and others more personal and more intimidating to handle. The hardest thing to overcome, and something I’m still apprehensive about, is the thought of sharing my work with the world. Shadowspeak has been my manuscript baby for years and now it is as ready as it can be and I have to make peace with that.

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

Author: Can I be all three? I have a decent amount of promotional plans and one some days send out anywhere from 10 to 20 emails … Then FLOP and I’m all gun-shy about trying to contact anyone for interview opportunities or guest posts appearances, or collabs. A goal of mine for 2021 is to be more proactive each day for marketing.

Fun Stuff

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

Author: So much learning has occurred since I returned to my writing. From different methods that work, or don’t, to what motivates me to write, or not, I continue to explore my writing and what stories are just waiting for me to listen. When in school I had a professor tell me I was exploring different genres too much, that they didn’t seem to be me … and that hurt. Who was I as a writer? Why did I have to have only one genre of focus? By returning to my writing, and not holding back, I feel so much freer and ready to see what I’m made of. Just need to remember to ignore the imposter syndrome. Everyone grows at their own pace; everyone falls down at times.

Do you have a writing companion?

Author: My German Shepherd, Atlas, is usually close by when I sit down to write. He gets all the ranting and spoilers and has yet to complain, or spill secrets, so far!

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

Author: Don’t let the imposter win.    

Author Interviews, Blog, Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog

Author Interview: Nicholas P. Adams, Sci-fi, Fantasy

In writing circles, I go by Nicholas P. Adams. I typically write SciFi, but I dabble in high fantasy. My most recent published work is an anthology I co-edited with my critique group and my current WIP is a futuristic SciFi Thriller/Mystery.

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:      I caught the writing bug in 2013 when I came across a quote, I believe by Toni Morrison. “When you can’t find the book you want to read, you must write it.” I’d had a story idea (favorite world for daydreaming) in my head for over ten years, so I decided to chase the lightning. That quest became The Angels’ Secret, my first self-published novel.

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

Author:      I wrote the first 80K word draft in a month (I knew nothing about NaNoWriMo at the time) and spent the next year revising and adding content until It became the 147K behemoth it is today.

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

Author:      See the previous answer.

(If applicable) Has your publishing timeframe improved at all since your first publication?

Author:      Not really. After writing my first novel, I got into submitting short stories to the Writers of the Future contest. Partially, it was to get practice writing, but mostly it was to trying to get discovered.

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

Author:      I’m an indie-publisher still hoping to get recognized by a big house, but I’m also looking at smaller and hybrid publishers for a high fantasy novel I finished last year. I started the indie route because I wanted to see my author name on a cover, so I suppose it was more for vanity’s sake, but since then, I’ve enjoyed the process of exploring some of the issues we face in our modern world in a way that engages a readers imagination and sense of wonder.

How did you determine your target audience?

Author:      I don’t. I write for me. If my stories resonate with individuals, that’s wonderful. If somehow I can cast a wider net and reach a larger audience, that’s all gravy.

What is your publishing process?

Author:    It’s progressed over the years. I started out as a pure pantser, but I’ve learned how plotting first strengthens the ideas I start with.  I tend to write my first drafts in chronological order, and I edit as I go. I then put it through Grammarly to help me with punctuation, repeated words, unclear sentences, tenses, etc. Then I share each chapter with my critique group to get feedback. After I incorporate their suggestions, I consider it final. If I decide to self-publish a story, I’ll hire a cover designer directly and get feedback from the writing community on each iteration until I select the final design.

What platforms do you use to publish your works?

Author:     Only Kindle Directly Publishing so far. But my anthology is published through a small house that manages it on all the other platforms as well.

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

Author:      I get alpha critiques from my writer’s group. I enlist fellow writers from social media for beta feedback. I’ve also hired independent editors on small projects. It’s hard to afford professional editing services when you have a small writing budget. However, I would say that hiring a developmental coach to help me plot my WIP was the best money I’ve ever spent. I feel like I can do my own chapter by chapter editing after she helped me nail down the plot points and structure.

Marketing

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

Author:      To be honest, I don’t have one, not officially anyway. I do have a website and accounts on Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, as well as my Author page on Amazon.

What is your launch plan for your works?

Author:      In the past, I’ve used Goodreads giveaways and promoting myself on social media. For my fantasy novel, I’m hoping to get picked up by a literary agent or small press and work with them on promotions, setting up a local launch party, giveaways, etc.

How do you get reviews for your books?

Author:      I used to use Goodreads giveaways until they started charging, but when I had a limited writing budget I had to forgo that avenue. But my co-publishers and I will be doing a giveaway on Goodreads for our anthology early in 2021. And I’ll be investing in them for all my future works.

How do you promote your content?

Author:      Mostly on social media. I like to participate in daily writing prompts on Twitter and post snippets from several stories in hopes of building up a fan base.

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

Author:      Unless you’re a newly discovered rising star: Time. It’s hard to break in without a fanbase, and it’s hard to get a fanbase when you’re an unknown, and it takes time to build up a fanbase without heavy promotion through representation and ads.

How do you define success as an author?

Author:      I feel like I’ve been successful when someone says I wrote something that resonated with them. But, also being able to write full-time and make enough to keep a roof over my family’s head and food in their bellies would be fantastic.

About Your Work

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

Author:      I like to write epic SciFi because I’m a geeky nerd at heart. I grew up on Star Wars and Star Trek, and I love books with fantastic worlds and cultures. But, I also learned I like high fantasy because it allows me to explore human issues with non-human characters. I dabble in poetry, and I wrote a screenplay once (just for the experience) and I spent the last five years writing short stories for the WofF contest. I’ve found that writing short stories is good practice for writing chapters in a novel, and a good novel is a series of short stories with an overarching plot.

What genres and subgenres do you write in?

Author:      I like to write speculative fiction, which I consider SciFi/Fantasy crossovers. But I would say my subgenres are mystery and adventure.

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

Author:      I consider my brand is embodied in my author photo. I hide my face because I want to be known for my writing. I decided on it when I started because I want to retain a degree of anonymity. What if I become really famous? Anonymity. What if my writing really sucks? Anonymity.

How many works have you published?

Author:      I self-published one SciFi novel and two short stories. One of my short stories was published in a small-press anthology, and I co-published an anthology of short stories, all of which were honored by Writers of the Future.

(If applicable) Can you tell us a bit about your most recent publication?

Author:      Cresting the Sun is my awarding winning anthology, recently won the 2020 Gold Quill from the League of Utah Writers for Published Collections. All 12 stories are award winners from Writers of the Future. It’s available on Amazon and other platforms, and we’ll be starting a giveaway on Goodreads in early 2021.

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

Author:      This is a difficult question to answer because I’ve experimented with so many elements over the years. I think the best stories are good vs evil, but I like my villains to be sympathetic. I want the reader to see both sides of the issue, and understand the reasoning of both the protagonist and the antagonist. And I love a good twist. I love a story that seems to be going one way, and then after you get hit with the twist, the clues were there all along so it’s not out of the blue.

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

Author:      My first goal was to become famous and independently wealthy. Has it changed? Yes, and no. I still want to be independent enough to write full-time, but I want to be known for writing good, thought-provoking stories that emotionally resonate with people and give them a glimpse of a hopeful future, not the dismal one I see so often these days.

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

Author:      I have a blog where I promote fellow authors and write reviews of the books I read.

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

Author:      I want to whisk them away to another world and help them see from someone else’s perspective for a time and realize we’re not that different after all.

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

Author:      Finding representation.

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

Author:      Getting messages on social media or through my website that someone was deeply moved by something I wrote.

Do you recommend any programs, courses, or websites?

Author:      David Farland has a wonderful newsletter with tips on all things writing. I’ve also learned quite a bit from K.M. Weiland

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 usually read SciFi, but I’ve also branched out into other genres when fellow authors ask me to review their work. It may not resonate with me as a reader, but I do get ideas on how to improve my writing as an author.

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

Author:      As I said earlier, I started out as a pantser. Then I started plotting my short stories using the 7-Point Plot Outline (which is based on the Star Trek RPG Guide)  as presented by Dan Wells at LTUE years ago. Then, for my WIP, I hired a developmental editor to help me outline my novel after I’d spent months tinkering with ideas and trying to outline it myself. Sometimes, we’re too close to it that we need someone else to help us see and map out the big picture.

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

Author:      I mostly connect with my fellow authors on Twitter, and then on Instagram.

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

Author:      Having a regular 9-5 day job, I have to pace myself to a little time each day. On rare occasions, like when my family is gone for the weekend, I can spend a Saturday writing uninterrupted.

Struggles

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

Author:      Patience. I suppose I had unrealistic expectations as to my meteoric rise to fame and fortune. After all, it’s ever been easier to get published. On the other hand, it’s never been more difficult to get read. I’ve heard KDP has over 1,000 new books published every day, so getting someone to choose your book over the (literally) millions of others makes getting noticed harder each day.

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

Author:      I’ve yet to find success with queries. Agents, like all people, have subjective tastes and it comes down to the laws of supply and demand. Agents and publishers are looking for stories that will sell. I hear that getting a deal with the big 5 publishers is still the best road to fame and fortune, but it’s a hurdle I’ve not figured out how to surpass. My advice to budding writers: learn all you can about the writing craft (structure, grammar, editing, etc) and write the stories that make your fingertips tingle on the keyboard.

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

Author:      Attend local or virtual writing conferences. Listen and learn from those who are further along the path. Sign up for newsletters and, like Stephen King said, read, read, read. You can learn as much about what NOT TO DO from a poorly written book as what TO DO from a well-written one.

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

Author:      I wouldn’t have started by pantsing a novel. I would have started with short stories and developed my voice before taking on a novel-sized project.

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

Author:      A little bit of all three. I’m shameless about sharing snippets of my work on social media, tentative when it comes to promoting my works available for purchase, and (unfortunately) wait until after publication to announce a new work for sale.

How do you keep yourself motivated?

Author:      For me, writing is like moving. If I don’t do it for a couple of days, I start to feel restless. Even if it’s just a 280-character off-the-cuff piece on Twitter, I need to exercise my creative muscles on a regular basis. Most days, I can only go for a short jog. On others, I can do a marathon.

How do you combat writer’s block?

Author:      I don’t force it. Step away from a project. Go for a walk. Set it aside for a couple of days. Do something physical. It’s amazing how much inspiration comes when I’m exerting physical energy that my mental back-burner is simmering and fresh ideas bubble to the surface.

Also, I pray. I pray every day for inspiration that will touch the minds and hearts of the people who will read my stories. I want them to feel encouraged and hopeful, even if my stories are riddled with bleak moments. In the end, I want them to find hope for the future.

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

Author:      Investment. I never knew how much blood, sweat, time, and tears authors invested to get where they are today.

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

Author:      My family and friends were, and remain, ardently supportive. My parents especially (perhaps so much that I doubted their objectivity). But, for the most part, my writing has been well-received from family and friends (old and new).

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

Author:     

1) We’re all coffee addicts. I’ve never drunk it in my life. I get my caffeine from soda.

2) We’re all book junkies. I enjoy a good book, but I also like stories in visual formats (theater, TV, and films)

3) We’re all introverts. Well, that one is more true than not. I know one author I’d classify as extroverted.

Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

Author:      Nothing. I’m easily distracted. I actually write best in absolute silence.

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

Author:      Not especially. I do enjoy taking a cliche and revising it to fit the theme or world I’m building. It was fun to do in my high fantasy because the characters are hybrids of avian, primate, and marsupial species.

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 a home office, from where I’ve worked my day job(s) for the last three years. I love not commuting, and I can use the extra 90 minutes per day I’m not driving a car to write.

What book are you reading at the moment?

Author:      I just finished Icarus by Rron Knave, an indie-author, but I haven’t picked up a new book yet. I’m also reading the Fablehaven series to my kids at bedtime, so I guess that counts.

What is your favorite literary trope?

Author:      I love a good villain who’s convinced they’re the hero.

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

Author:     I like genre crossovers and retelling of an old story in a different genre. Fractured Fairy tales appeal to me. I also think that the characters all need an internal conflict, as well as an external one, that drives their decisions. If their decisions don’t fit their personality, the plot becomes formulaic and trope-driven and not conflict-driven.

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

Author:      I love writing more than reading. If I have to choose to spend an hour between writing a paragraph or reading a chapter, without hesitation I’d rather write.

What is your favorite writing snack and drink?

Author:      Coke Zero with shots of lime and raspberry.

Do you have a writing companion?

Author:      I’m not a pet person. Does God count? Yes. Yes, He does.

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

Author:      Write what you love, because your passion will come across from the page and it’ll excite the reader.

Author Interviews, Blog

Author Interview: Joshua Loveday, Literary, Contemporary, & Poetry

My name’s Joshua Loveday. I write literary and upmarket contemporary novels and short stories, as well as the occasional poem. I’m in the beta-reading stage of a character-driven upmarket contemporary novel in which an alcoholic wife must choose between finding sobriety and dealing with her husband’s Alzheimer’s or continuing to drink and miss out on reconnecting with him before he no longer recognizes her. I’m also querying a plot-driven literary novel that explores the personal narratives we tell ourselves, how heroes are not what they seem and how there are no true villains. My short story THE BEACH was a finalist for the 42nd Flash Fiction Contest by New Millennium Writings, and my story IN THIS LIFE appeared in Grit Magazine.

When did you start writing and why?

Author:     The first chapter book I ever read was TRUMPET OF THE SWAN by E.B. White. I think I was eight or nine. It fascinated me how I lost myself in a world that existed only in my mind. I used to imagine stories all the time, but to discover that I could write them down for others to enjoy motivated me. I’ve been writing ever since.

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

Author:      My first novel took about four years. It was short and crappy. One of my college professors had told me the first book you wrote was only practice. After you finish, put it on a shelf in your closet and write a good one. He was right. I’ve written five novels now, each one easier and better than the last.

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

Author:      My first critique comes from my spouse, usually in bed at the end of the day as I read aloud what I wrote that day. My local writers’ group–and if you don’t have one, find one or start one–gives great feedback. Then I send the completed book out to beta readers and critique partners. Twitter is a great way to find other writers willing to help you hone your craft. There are certain websites I use, as well: CritiqueMatch and BetaReader. The more feedback you receive, the better the finished product.

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

Author:      If I can make the reader laugh and cry, I feel I’ve done my job. I love seeing the emotions I wrote into my work manifest themselves in the reader.    

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 love reading literary and contemporary novels with elegant and flowing prose that leave me breathless. A writer who doesn’t read isn’t much of a writer. Reading is essential to becoming a better writer. It’s how you learn the craft. That being said, I do indulge in a good sci-fi or fantasy novel on occasion.

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

Author:      I used to be a pantser, then I discovered the Snowflake Method, and after trying it out, I was hooked. I’m a firm plotter now, laying out everything in the story before writing the actual prose. If you google it, you’ll find a link explaining what it is. I’m not going to lie. It’s hard work. It takes a good three weeks of intensive plotting and character development, but when you’re ready to put words on paper, you’ve already done the work, and all you need to do is write the scenes. I’ve found I can write better novels in less time by using this method.

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

Author:      I write in the morning, usually until my spouse drags me away for lunch. I usually become so absorbed with my work that I forget to eat, then wonder why it’s dark out and I’m light-headed and dizzy.

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

Author:      Writers must have a thick skin and unwavering determination and belief in themselves and their work. They find this out when they get their first critiques and feel attacked or grow defensive. But after some self-reflection, they realize that no matter how harsh the critique, the advice is invaluable, and they learn to welcome it. It is the same with querying agents or submitting stories or poems to magazines for publication. You will get rejected.  A lot. Usually with a form email. Then one day you’ll receive an email that is personalized. It’s still a rejection, but you garnered some attention. Then you’ll receive an email asking to look at your work or accepting it for publication, and you’ll forget all about those countless rejections. I look forward to rejections now. It means I’m putting my work out there. When I submit a story or query an agent, I simply assume it will be rejected and line up the next submission, so that when the rejection arrives, I can send it right back out somewhere else.

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

Author:      I have one very big and essential piece of advice: FINISH YOUR BOOK. So many new writers get caught up in editing their work over and over in a self-defeating cycle. Stop editing and write till the end. If you never finish your book, you’ll never write more than one.

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

Author:      When I was young, I had this skewed romantic notion that writers were somehow different or disturbed, that other people didn’t understand them, that they were somehow gifted. That’s crap. Talent is common, but writing takes hard work. You must sit down every day and write. If I could go back and do it all over again, I would make the commitment to write every day. Plus, I used to drink a lot of alcohol. It’s hard to write when you’re drunk or at the bar or hungover. When I quit drinking, my writing became prolific and improved exponentially. You have to ask yourself, how bad do you want it? How important is writing to you? What are you willing to give up to sit down for hours every day and write?

What is your favorite writing snack and drink?

Author:      Coffee, coffee, coffee.

You can follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. You can also visit and subscribe to my blog at Joshua Loveday

Author Interviews, Blog

Author Interview: Laura A. Barton, Fiction & Nonfiction

My name is Laura A. Barton, and I write a mix of fiction and non-fiction. I used to consider myself strictly a fantasy author, and, while the novel that has taken up the bulk of my life is fantasy, I wouldn’t consider myself exclusively a fantasy writer anymore. At this point, I like telling stories. Toni Morrison is quoted as saying, “If there’s a book you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” This resonates with me and is at the core of what I do.

Recent Fiction WIPs: Killing Secrets (High Fantasy) and The Assistant (Romance) Recent Non-fiction Publication: Project Dermatillomania: The Stories Behind Our Scars and Project Dermatillomania: Written On Our Skin (Second editions, 2020)

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:     

        I started really getting into writing when I was 9 years old. I had all these stories floating around in my head, and I felt the need to tell them. Reading has always been a big part of my life, and the stories I read or even the ones I saw on TV inspired my earliest works and drive to write fiction.

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

Author:     

        I wrote many “books” starting from that young age, but the first one I really had ambitions of publishing took me 4 months to write the first draft. I don’t think I had a computer yet, and I was writing everything out by hand. I kept all the pages in a special binder and dated my progress each day so I could keep track of how I was doing. I was absorbed by that story and wrote almost every day. I was super proud of that book, and the story and characters still mean a lot to me, but I don’t think I’ll ever publish it.

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

Author:

        I don’t have any fiction books published, which is not for lack of trying. I’ve written, and revised, and queried Killing Secrets since 2005, but it’s just not there, yet. Hopefully, it will be in print someday in the near future.

        I do have two non-fiction books published though. The first of those, Project Dermatillomania: The Stories Behind Our Scars, began as an idea in 2012 and is an anthology of works from people who live with excoriation (skin-picking) disorder (also called dermatillomania). Between receiving submissions, editing, and then formatting, it took a couple of years before the first edition was published in 2014.

(If applicable) Has your publishing timeframe improved at all since your first publication?

Author:

        I would say my publishing timeframe has improved since that first publication. I put out the call for submissions for the second non-fiction book I published, Project Dermatillomania: Written On Our Skin, in February 2016, and then it was published in March 2017. Again, it was a matter of working with the submissions, editing, and formatting, but I at least had a sense of what I was doing this time around.    

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

Author:     

        I’ve always had dreams of traditional publishing. Part of that was because when I was younger, self-publishing and vanity publishing were both still very much seen as being the lesser option. The idea was that anyone could self-publish, but only those with true talent got publishing deals. I definitely know how flawed that thinking is now.

While I’d still love to be traditionally published, I have also been considering the indie publishing route. There are so many authors that I love and look up to these days that have gone that path and are doing great. I know it’s a lot of work, which is daunting, but I can see it now as a possibility.

        For my non-fiction books, I self-published them. My target audience—others with excoriation disorder, their support systems, or people just wanting to learn more—is niche, and I didn’t think a traditional publisher would pick up the books. Additionally, I wanted full control over them. I wanted to be able to say what the books looked and felt like. I’m confident I made the right decision for them.

How did you determine your target audience?

Author:     

        Target audience is an interesting one for me, and in some regards, I think I’m kind of all over the map. Looking at my oldest WIP, Killing Secrets, to my more recent WIPs and publications, things feel vastly different to me.

Part of the problem with Killing Secrets is that I started writing it when I was 15. I wasn’t quite aware of audience when I started and didn’t really take that sort of thing into consideration. It was just a story I wanted to write, so I did. As a result, however, it’s complicated matters this late in the game. In university, I majored in English Language and Literature, which gave me a more acute sense of audience and readership. Now with each revision or rewrite, I’m almost having to reshape to consider not only age range, but, to some extent, the area of interest. While I believe in writing what you’d like to, audience still plays an important role in the end product.

        As much as I’ve always loved learning literature and writing, I think some part of me felt that learning the craft wasn’t really necessary when it came to being a writer. Realistically, though, it’s so key and has helped me vastly improve how I approach both my fiction and non-fiction writing, in particular with audience. With what I know now, other fiction works I’ve done, like my other WIP, The Assistant, have come more easily because I see how much being aware of these things can shape the story.

What is your publishing process?

Author:   

        For my fiction novels, the publishing process has been a long journey of writing, revising, getting feedback, more revising, and so on. Since I haven’t gotten to publishing those yet, I’m not sure what the end of this process is going to look like, but I can’t wait to find out.

        As for my non-fiction books, being anthologies, the process was pretty much idea, call for submissions, edit submissions, organize submissions, formatting, then publication.

What platforms do you use to publish your works?

Author:    

        I’m a fan of Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), although in the past, I’ve also used Blurb. Both are good platforms and have their benefits. I feel KDP better fits my needs, however, and will be sticking with that for any indie publishing I do.

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

Author:     

        Input for my books has come from a number of sources: family, friends, beta readers, critique partners, and others involved in the book’s process (for my non-fiction books). I also used to post online to websites like Fictionpress and deviantART, but I steer away from those these days because of some of the strictness with traditional publishing requirements. The first beta readers I ever worked with, I connected with via a beta reader group on Facebook. The first critique partners I worked with, I connected with on Twitter. Social media can be a great asset for these situations and provides the opportunity to connect with a wider range of people instead of just those in your circle. Don’t get me wrong, I love my friends and family, but it helps to get wider perspective.

My most recent publication was actually a dual publication. In December 2020, I published second editions of Project Dermatillomania: The Stories Behind Our Scars and Project Dermatillomania: Written On Our Skin. The reason I wanted to do that was to clean up spelling, grammar, and formatting issues that were missed the first time around, as well as have both books formatted for both print and ebook. Both books were originally released when I was still mostly learning how to navigate putting a book together, let alone publishing anything. I’m grateful for all the help I received for those books and don’t mean to take away any of the work others put in. What I did with the second editions was more of a polish job than any significant changes.

Marketing

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

Author:     

        My primary platform for marketing my work is social media. Again, this is a powerful tool, especially for indie authors. I can’t say I’ve mastered it, but I’m doing what I can.

What is your launch plan for your works?

Author:     

        When thinking about launch plans, I think about what I like to see and what draws me in. With others launching their books, I like teasers and visual marketing material. The teasers don’t even have to be chapter previews. A good chunk of the books I’ve read lately drew me in because of teaser artwork, aesthetic content, or even an attention-grabbing quote from the story. At its basics, I hope to adopt that sort of launch plan.

How do you get reviews for your books?

Author:     

        Reviews are not something I’ve mastered in the slightest. Basically, right now, I just ask people who’ve read my books to leave reviews, but I know that moving forward, I should amp that up. My plans with my fiction novels in particular are to have ARC copies to bring in some reviews, which will hopefully encourage others to read and review as well.

How do you promote your content?

Author:     

        Promoting my content is something that I always thought was simple. Put it out there, mention it, and you’re good to go. With social media as my main platforms, however, the sophistication of the algorithms makes that a challenge. So while I do still create visual content for my social media accounts, I’m also reading into other ways to promote books, such as through ads and so forth. In the past, I’ve also done giveaways, author interviews, and things like that, which are also effective.

How do you define success as an author?

Author:     

         I think success will look different for everyone. For me, having a finished novel, bound in a physical book, is success. I love physical books, so it’s extra special when I can hold my own work in my hands.

About Your Work

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

Author:     

        I write fiction and non-fiction. My fiction work is currently focused in on novels. I used to voraciously write short stories and poetry as well, but haven’t really written anything new in those areas in many years. My non-fiction work, so far, consists of two books and online content like blogs, web copy, and so forth.

What genres and subgenres do you write in?

Author:     

        Fiction-wise, I mainly write high fantasy and romance novels. For non-fiction, my main subject matter is mental health.

How many works have you published?

Author:     

        I’ve published two non-fiction books and a fairly large body of mostly non-fiction work across the internet. I was also published three times in Brock University Creative Writer’s Club anthologies while I attended for post-secondary studies. Those were the first time I really saw my work in print.

        Being both a fiction and non-fiction writer, I find my brand as an author is both interesting and a challenge to balance. I feel like people think of author brands as whatever their main genre of writing is, but with the way I dip into both the fiction and non-fiction world, it can be difficult. Do I want my brand to be as a fiction author or as a mental health writer? Can I have both? Ultimately, I think I can. I think of authors like Matt Haig, who writes both fiction and non-fiction works and is known for his mental health advocacy. I hope to be able to achieve that sort of balance as well.

I also aim to be personable and approachable. One of the coolest things to me in this day and age is being able to connect with authors and interact with them. When I was younger, I would have loved the opportunity to be able to do that with my favourite authors, but, instead, they were these faraway figures that I only had a connection with via their works. With the advent of social media, it’s possible to connect with authors in an entirely new way, and I love it. I’d love having that chance to connect with my readers.

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

Author:     

        One of the things I strive for when I write, and perhaps my most common element, is realness. For my non-fiction work, that comes out with candor. I’m honest about my experiences and share them without shame. For fiction, it’s an effort to create believable worlds that have rules and consequences. My characters will never find themselves in a situation where things can be miraculously solved by magic or a challenging situation is just readily accepted and swept under the rug because it’s convenient. It needs to make sense. Yes, fiction is about the suspension of belief, but the stories that resonate the most with me are those that have an edge of veracity to them.

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

Author:     

        I mentioned previously that a reason I got into writing was because I had stories to share, but I’ll be honest, when I was a kid, I also had dreams of being a famous author. On my first “novels” that I wrote when I was 9, I even drew trophies to declare the works as award-winning books. In some regard, I would still like to be a well-known author and to use this craft to support myself financially, but that isn’t the ultimate goal anymore. Now, it really is just about the storytelling and sharing these worlds and characters that accompany me wherever I go and that I love.

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

Author:     

        For this question, it depends what they’re reading. Fiction-wise, I want readers to first and foremost enjoy the story, but I’d also love if they found a little nugget of something to take with them. Maybe it’s a nugget of wisdom, maybe it’s a lasting impression of the story, or a connection to the characters. My favourite novels are those that have a lasting impact beyond how much I enjoyed the story.

For my non-fiction writing, I want readers to feel seen and heard. The reason I write mental health works is because I could have benefited from having those resources when I was younger and deeply struggling. For those who aren’t approaching those works from experiences of mental health struggles, I hope it helps them have a better understanding of how people live, struggle, and cope with various mental health conditions.

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

Author:     

        What I’m studying the most right now is marketing my work and myself as a writer. This is useful as a writer in general, but since I’m contemplating the indie route of publication, I know that’ll bear some extra weight. I feel like I have things like writing, beta readers, critique partners, and formatting a book pretty well down pat. The marketing of the work, however, is still fairly alien to me.

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

Author:     

        My favourite part of writing overall is discovering the story and the characters and getting to know them. I love the magic there is in that, even for books that don’t have magical elements. Getting lost in a narrative is just an incredible experience.

        My favourite part about querying is finding an agent that I feel really fits what I’m looking for and then reaching out. Although there is the aspect of waiting and maybe not hearing back, I don’t get discouraged about these things. I know it’s all part of the process.

        As for publishing, in terms of the self-publishing I’ve done, I love when everything is falling into place, lining up in previewing tools, and being able to hit the submit button. Such a great feeling.

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’ve always loved fantasy novels, urban fantasy and high fantasy in particular. When I was younger, I also heavily read horror novels, which definitely influenced my writing for a long time. The scarier or gorier I could make my work, the better. Killing Secrets’ first draft was largely built on the idea of writing a fantasy-gore novel, although it’s since steered far from that. I’m not a super fan of that kind of thing anymore.

        I do read in my current genres though: one because I enjoy the stories, and two, because I know how important it is to be familiar with your genre. It helps with seeing what’s popular in the genre, which I can then play into either to add a new twist or give people fan favourite aspects of the genres. In addition to those genres, however, I also really enjoy dystopian fiction, which I don’t write. As much as I love the genre, there’s just a certain finesse to it that I don’t think I have the talent for.

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

Author:     

        I am a pantser 99% of the time. Pretty much all of my novels start based on a single idea or a single scene from my head, and then I open up a Word doc and run with it from there. The Assistant is one of the first novels where I’ve really sat down to plan after that initial idea. The idea came from a dream, which I wrote down as a note, but then I later opened up a Word doc and started fleshing it out. I wrote character profiles, did research, wrote out a beat sheet (something I’d literally never done), and then started in on the novel itself.

                Whether I’m pantsing or planning, however, from idea to polished work is a process. I write out the first draft, then when that’s done, I duplicate the document to work on that for the second draft, and so forth with each significant change. I like having a record of the progress because it’s fun looking back to see how things have changed and because it’s useful to have those original ideas in such an accessible way in case I change my mind and want to reincorporate something.

                As is evident with Killing Secrets, it can take me years to get to the polished work, but at the same time, there have been many polished versions of that novel along the way. I think that’s one thing to keep in mind: there may be several versions of the story that you feel are polished, and it’s okay if you end up needing to go back over them to polish some more.

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

Author:     

        Twitter and Instagram have become my go-tos for connecting with other writers. I particularly love Instagram for the ways authors share about their stories visually. I do also use Facebook to some degree, and while I have a LinkedIn account, I don’t really connect with other writers there more than just accepting them as connections.

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

Author:     

        Definitely somewhere in between. There are days where I can barely get a sentence out, and then there are other times when I can hammer out 10,000 words in a day like it’s nothing (that’s not an exaggeration). I very much enjoy those days because that’s when I feel most connected to the stories and immersed with my characters or whatever I happen to be working on.

Struggles

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

Author:     

        Time has been one of my biggest struggles. I used to have this idea that if I wasn’t published by age X, then I was failing as an author. It’s been a learning process to see that an author’s success isn’t weighted on how young they are or how quickly they get their book out. You can be older and still have success as an author.

How long I’ve been working on Killing Secrets does weigh on me, mostly because I want to be able to share this story with people, but I also know that it’s not ready yet. Handling that idea is a struggle, too.

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

Author:     

        My tip for budding authors is that the querying and even the feedback process don’t have to be scary. Not everyone is going to like your work, and some people will be super rude about it. It ultimately says more about them than it does about you as a person or about your work. If you come across someone that doesn’t like your work, definitely process those emotions, but also look for ways that you may be able to benefit from the experience. Maybe you’ll find something useful, but even if you don’t, it’s perfectly okay to set that person’s opinion aside and then get back to it.

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

Author:     

        If I had to do it all over again, I don’t think I’d change anything. Everything can act as a learning experience and each part of my journey has helped me grow as a writer and storyteller. Was everything perfect? No, but I see value in that imperfection.

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

Author:     

        I’d say I’m a driven, self-advocating author, even if I don’t quite have the solid strides to do that yet. I feel like it’s just about learning the methods, but otherwise, I have no problem sharing about my work. There are many areas in my life that I’m meek, anxious, and insecure. Writing, incredibly, has never been one of those areas.

How do you keep yourself motivated?

Author:     

        I’m not going to lie; sometimes motivation is nowhere to be seen. What keeps me motivated is honestly seeing other authors thrive and reading fantastic stories by others. It pushes me and reminds me why I love doing what I do as a writer, even if I can’t get my butt in gear at that exact moment.

How do you combat writer’s block?

Author:     

        I try not to fight it. Sometimes, the brain just needs a break or I get stuck. I’m okay with letting this percolate for a bit, and I’ll find a new book to read or even a new show or movie to watch. Although there are other times where it’s helpful to push through whatever scene I’m stuck on and just worry about cleaning up whatever that mess is later.

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

Author:     

        This is a mixed bag. I have people in my life that support me fully as a writer. They’re eager to read my work, they think I have what it takes to publish, and they cheer me on. One of the things that’s stuck with me the most, however, is being told when I was a child that I needed a “bread and butter job.” It used to bother me, but reflecting back, I get it. Writing is a precarious and competitive field, and the family member who’d say that to me just wanted to make sure I could grow up with a career that would pay the bills. Still, I can’t seem to get that out of my head, and, on some level, it still does feel like someone not believing in me. I’ve had to learn to be okay with that.

Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

Author:     

        A lot of the time, I listen to whatever I’m obsessed with listening to at the moment. I’m the kind of person that gets hooked on songs or a band, and then I’ll listen to it on repeat for hours on end. I’ve also, in the past, created playlists for my novels, which can help with motivation and setting the mood. I love when I find songs that speak to the narrative of the story or the characters individually. I’m just a big fan of music in general, though.

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

Author:     

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 wherever I can. With moving to a work-from-home setting, I’ll write at where I’ve set up my work station when I get free moments during the day, but I also write while sitting on the couch or the bed. I’ve also been known to write scenes or notes on my phone wherever I happen to be if an idea suddenly strikes me.

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

Author:     

        I love to encourage critical thinking. This stems directly from my time studying literature in university and doing literary analyses of the books I read there. I’m fascinated by the various ways that novels can be interpreted and by making arguments for those interpretations. Nothing is ever black and white, and that’s something I try to push with my creative writing in particular.

Twitter and Instagram: @laura_barton
Facebook: facebook.com/LauraBartonWriter

Author Interviews, Blog

Author Interview: Erynn Crittenden, Poetry

My name is Erynn Crittenden, and my main genre is poetry that explores the darker sides of our nature, though I also dabble in flash fiction, short stories, and professional articles.

My poetry collection, By the Bones, is full of monsters and madness. It was recently released and is available on Lulu, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble!

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author: I started writing poems in middle school, and I used them as an outlet for my imagination, emotions, and to process the things that were happening in my life.

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

Author:  My poetry collection took over a year. It began as the capstone for my Creative writing degree and blossomed from there!

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

Author: Again, over a year. Once my book was complete, I sent it to a few beta readers, who gave me some valuable insights on the overall collection. Then, I published it!

(If applicable) Has your publishing timeframe improved at all since your first publication?

Author:   Now that I have a small idea of what to expect, I look forward to publishing more works in the future!    

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

Author: I self-published through Lulu.com because, unfortunately, it can be a challenge to publish poetry traditionally.

How did you determine your target audience?

Author: I want everyone to enjoy my writings, but I understand that some of my topics are more suited to the teen/adult range, so I base my audience on that.  

What is your publishing process?

Author: Write the book. Format the book. Have someone else read the book. Perfect the formatting and layout. Create the cover. Write the blurb. Publish!

The process looks different to everyone, but this is how I got By the Bones out into the world.     .    

What platforms do you use to publish your works?

Author: I published By the Bones through Lulu.com, but I also publish other poems and writings on my website, Facebook, Twitter, and Vocal.media.  

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

Author: I asked around on social media. Most of my betas were friends and family, but there were a few other authors in there as well.

Marketing

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

Author: I run a website that holds my poetry, flash fiction, articles, and a few short stories. I also share these posts on Facebook and Twitter.    

What is your launch plan for your works?

Author: I try to get people excited about the finished project before the release date. Then, I share, share, share!

How do you get reviews for your books?

Author:  Good question! I haven’t gotten any reviews yet, but I’m planning to ask around social media for some.

How do you promote your content?

Author: Facebook groups and Twitter hashtags, mostly, but I am looking to expand it.

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

Author:  Word of Mouth. You can’t beat the advertising potential of someone telling their friends about your product, and that is what will make or break your sales.

How do you define success as an author?

Author: Well, I try not to base it off my sales, but that’s what we think of when we hear “success.” However, publishing my book was a huge success for me, not to mention a dream come true, so it depends on how you look at it.  

By the Bones is a graveyard of poems about monsters, madness, and the inevitable darkness that comes for us all.

Within these pages, you’ll find a lost bride, a coven of witches, a failed necromancer, a Wendigo, and more bones than you can count. You’ll also explore real places, such as Japan’s “Suicide Forest,” the Body Farm of Tennessee, and the famous catacombs of Paris.

By the Bones is a Graveyard, but readers beware- You may not want to visit alone…

Find out more at: By the Bones – The Writings of Erynn Crittenden (ladyerynn.com)

About Your Work

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

Author: Poetry is my specialty, but I also enjoy writing flash fiction, short stories, and informative articles.

What genres and subgenres do you write in?

Author:  Horror, fantasy, twisted romance, realism, and humor.

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

Author:  I based my brand on my love of everything dark and macabre, and I chose it because my writings often explore those hidden realms.

How many works have you published?

Author: By the Bones is my only published collection, but I have made contributions to at least five published anthologies- not to mention the 90 or so posts I have on my website.  

(If applicable) Can you tell us a bit about your most recent publication?

Author:   My most recent publication is titled “Snow,” and it’s a short collection of poems to celebrate the first snow day of the year. It’s currently on my website.

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

Author: I enjoy writing about bones, death, religions, the unknown, and how we cope with daily life.  I also like to add a dark twist to my stories- be it a death, a compromise, or an aspect of reality that often goes unnoticed. Those bring out the best emotions from my readers.    

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

Author: My goal was to become a published author, and I’ve done that! Now, my goal is to finish a full-length novel and have it traditionally published within the next few years.   

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

Author:   I have a website, and I plan to make video updates and a podcast in the future.    

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

Author: I want my readers to think. To experience different viewpoints, open their minds, and explore places that they’ve never been before.     

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

Author: I’m learning about different genres and how to expand my writing from flash fiction and poetry to full-blown novels. It’s…different…but I’m excited about the challenge!

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

Author: I’m not great at querying or publishing, so I’m going to say that writing is my favorite part!      

Do you recommend any programs, courses, or websites?

Author: If possible, I recommend taking some college English/writing courses. When I returned for my degree in Creative Writing, I learned more about the craft than I ever expected! It helped me grow stronger as an author, and I believe it can help other writers do the same.

If college isn’t an option, there are more affordable classes through Udemy, and you can find numerous writing websites to help you in your journey. Personally, I like Grammarly to check my work, Submittable for open submissions, and Atlas Obscura for topics and unique writing ideas.

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

Author: I’m not sure what other authors are out there that are similar, but I do know that my works are inspired by Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Edgar Allen Poe, and others like them.  

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 everything, not just the genre I like to write, and that helps me mix different genres and elements into my writings. If you stick to reading one genre, you’ll only write one genre, and I want to write whatever captures my fancy. Therefore, I read them all!

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

Author:  Oh, I’m 100% a pantser. When I get an idea, I like to let the story and characters tell me what to write. Poetry takes a couple of hours; flash fiction takes a day or so, short stories take a few weeks, and I’m still working on my novel idea, which has taken about a month to get where I am now.

It all depends on the idea I have and the form I plan to use.     

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

Author:  Twitter is the best for networking with other authors, but I also use Facebook and Instagram on occasion.     

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

Author: I’m somewhere in between. For longer works, I have periods of obsession where I can sprint write for days, then I’ll grow bored and let it sit for a few days before becoming obsessed again. For shorter works, I can usually churn it out in a day or so.

Struggles

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

Author: The impostor syndrome!! Who am I to count myself among the great authors of the world? I’m nobody! And yet, here I am, with a full-blown poetry collection. It’s unreal!

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

Author:  It will wear you out. Just remember that the rejections you get, and you will get rejections, are not necessarily a reflection on your writing. Take a moment to grieve, then submit again!   

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

Author: The publication game is fierce. There are hundreds of books being queried and published every day, and it can be discouraging. My advice is to look at self-publishing.

Self-published authors have such a stigma around them, but some of the best books I’ve read have come from self-published authors. It’s not a bad option.    

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

Author: I’d start marketing By the Bones long before it was released. Otherwise, I’m happy with what I’ve done.      

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

Author: I’ll admit that marketing isn’t my strong suit, but I’m by no means shy about it. I just need to learn how to do it more effectively.

How do you keep yourself motivated?

Author: Coffee. I drink a lot of coffee.

In all seriousness, I try to write one story or poem a week so I can post something new on my website every Sunday. I also write for work, which includes about two articles a week, so motivation isn’t usually hard for me to find.      

How do you combat writer’s block?

Author: I take a walk, read, watch tv, play video games, and play with my daughter. Sometimes, doing anything other than writing is how you get the muses to sing again.  

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

Author: Oh gosh, I have learned so much over the years that it’s hard to choose just one. Maybe Syllabic Poetry. 90% of my poems are syllabic in nature, but I didn’t know that until last year.

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

Author: They enjoy it! Well, most of them. My mom is a little hesitant on the darker stuff, but they’ve always supported me and given me feedback when I’ve asked for it.      

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

Author:  That writing is easy. It’s not. It takes work, dedication, creativity, and research to make a story come together, and not everyone can create a good piece of poetry or a good story. But we writers are dedicated to the craft, and that makes all the difference.

Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

Author: Spotify. I have a wide variety of music that I bounce between, but my recent favorites have been Nox Arcana, Heilung, and a playlist I created of female-led bands with witchy or magical vibes. 

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

Author:  I like finding obscure words to add to my poetry, like “pell,” “apace,” and “Ululations.”

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: Mostly at my desk, but I will occasionally venture out into the world and write in a coffee shop or while waiting at the doctor’s office. My desk is where I am the most comfortable, though.     

What book are you reading at the moment?

Author:  The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson. As my brother says, “It’s the self-help book that makes the other self-help books work!”

What is your favorite literary trope?

Author:  The enemies-become-friends-become-lovers trope. It gets me every time!   

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

Author: I like to think that I give a unique twist to old tropes and situations. In reality, I’m not sure what makes me unique- I just know that I write what the muses tell me to.

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

Author:  I’ve learned that I’m not a bad writer! My words have merit, and I have every right to share them with the world.       

What is your favorite writing snack and drink?

Author: Coffee and carbs make the world go ‘round!      

Do you have a writing companion?

Author:  My dog will usually sit with me when I’m at my desk, but otherwise, I’m on my own.         

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

Author: My late grandfather’s last words to me were: “Erynn, always remember PYOA- Protect Your Own Ass- because no one’s gonna do it for you.”

That advice had stayed with me, and it has saved me from more than one questionable situation.

I’m everywhere!

I’m always happy to connect with new people, so drop a line to say Hi!       

Author Interviews, Blog, Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog

Author Interview: B.B. Reed, Fantasy/Mystery

I am B.B. Reed, a fantasy/mystery author, and my most recent publication was DEMON EYE, book 1 of the Blood Witch Saga. Book 2 is currently in editing and forecasted for release in mid-2021!

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:      I started writing fantasy in middle school after getting immersed in early online fantasy games, though why I did so is harder to answer. Part of it is due to good world building in media like Warcraft or reading The Last Apprentice—those worlds give you so many building blocks to craft stories from! The other part, I reckon, is this was about the time in my life when my older brother wasn’t as large a role in my life. He’d gone off to college and traveled abroad. It was my first time being alone and having nobody around that I could bounce my thoughts off of. So, I started throwing my musings and ideas down on paper, either as drawn art or a mess of words in a notebook.

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

Author:     It took me six years to complete DEMON EYE. Now that I’ve crossed the finish line, I’m kinda kicking myself wondering what took me so long. Honest, though, I had to spend that time teaching myself how to properly write in a novel format, how to make a plot work, how to craft a living world, how to make characters have impacts and techniques on when to raise the stakes.

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

Author:      Seven years in total.

(If applicable) Has your publishing timeframe improved at all since your first publication?

Author:      My publishing timeframe has improved SIGNIFICANTLY! Book 2 has taken about a year or two to already be in editing and polishing stage.

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

Author:      I’m an indie author because I have a story that needs to be told. It’s not one that most traditional publishing houses would want or are looking for. Besides, I did most of the work an agent or copyeditor would have done anyway.

How did you determine your target audience?

Author:      I am still working on that, I think. I know the Dungeons & Dragons crowd would appreciate the fantasy world of Moira, and then the LGBTQ community would appreciate the inclusion of gay characters on the stage. The themes of witchcraft and feminism would draw the wiccan crowd on top of that. It feels like I cast a wide net with this material.

What platforms do you use to publish your works?

Author:      Amazon Kindle is my publishing platform due to convenience and some sentimental tie to the name. My career in IT has benefitted greatly from Amazon’s tech certifications.

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

Author:      I ask, and I ask, and I ask. Anyone, literally, who would put down the time and effort to consume my novels. So far, my primary source of feedback and editing is a dear friend of mine in the UK who coaches me in some of the classics like Dune and Jules Verne.

DEMON EYE is my debut novel, setting the stage for a series of fantasy novels following the adventures of the main character, Halena Maris. She’s a wandering witch in the kingdom of Arram, helping peasant folk too afraid to confront the entities of the night. Halena makes what coin she can to support her nomadic life and her pursuit of knowledge, until she has a chance at the biggest payout yet as a noblewoman contracts her for an investigation. She’s caught between the world of nobles and black magic as she struggles to keep up with a conspiracy against the throne, or risks her demonic secret being revealed.

Marketing

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

Author:      My current marketing platform is through Twitter and Amazon KDP exclusively.

What is your launch plan for your works?

Author:      Launch means I turn Twitter and my online Discord communities on blast with my work. I almost feel bad for the massive signal boosting, but it must be done!

How do you get reviews for your books?

Author:      I mostly do grass roots solicitation for reviews. Signed copies, free physical copies, whatever makes a potential reader’s eyes light up. I make sure to inform them how their input for reviews not only helps me become a better author, but also makes the gremlins behind Amazon’s algorithms circulate my work. Otherwise, I post reminders on the regular on Twitter about the importance of reviews for us indie authors.

How do you promote your content?

Author:      I post snippets and one-liners from my book, as well as sharing pieces of non-spoiler artwork I’ve bought over the years that feature my characters from The Blood Witch Saga. On top of that, I divide and conquer. These promotions go through Twitter, Facebook, and my discord communities.

How do you define success as an author?

Author:      You’ve succeeded as an author when you hold your book in your hand and feel yourself compelled to start reading it just as your audience would. Every time I do that, I fall in love with my work all over again.

About Your Work

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

Author:      I have begun an Epic Fantasy series with DEMON EYE, and on the side, I do short stories as well. My content usually features dark themes, like the dangers of the esoteric unknown behind magic, or I’ll scrape myself against the grit of war stories to prod at the man vs. man challenges in that theater. I write about these things because I feel like I’ve had a brush with components of those themes. Death, reflecting on your own mortality, what is the quality of a life lived? All the window dressing of fantasy or sci-fi war scenarios helps to frame these themes in more digestible ways.

What genres and subgenres do you write in?

Author:      I write fiction that straddles across Sci-FI, Fantasy, Horror, and mystery

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

Author:      My brand is definitely Fantasy—especially darker fantasy since I write about witchcraft and magic. However, I hope the message I put out is that despite having an affinity for dark and gothic themes, there is love and acceptance in that. I didn’t so much decide on this as it more just… happened!

How many works have you published?

Author:      One with my second in the works! Goodness, it sounds like I’m talking about kids.

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

Author:      Magick is a huge factor in the Blood Witch series, as well as keeping the reader on their toes as the plot unfolds. I’m also a proponent of maintaining villains that believe they’re on the right side of events.

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

Author:      My first goal was to complete a manuscript draft! But seriously, my goal was to bring a unique and compelling story to the table that someone could reasonably digest. I see no reason in delivering a story that requires a codex to decode heavy exposition. That goal has remained true, I think, and I wish to continue delivering stories that people will enjoy.

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

Author:      I want readers to pull out Halena’s internal struggle, to feel and empathize with her. Some of the challenges she endures are ones many of us face, whether it’s struggling with mental illness or our neuroses that make us quiver. I want them to see that despite all these factors, having friends and loved ones to turn to is not a show of weakness, but how you must weather those internal storms.

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

Author:      My favorite part of the writing process has to be the content generation part of it when making your first draft. You reach those pieces you’ve just been waiting to put down on paper, it’s like riding the lightning! In recent time, however, I have come to love the process of editing too.

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

Author:      Kim Wedlock writes magic-focused fantasy like I do and you can find everything you need to know about her work at her Twitter handle (@KimWedlock) or look her up on Amazon!

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:      In the past, I read a lot of fantasy novels, but in recent time I have pulled away mostly because I’m overly familiar with the genre. Reading detective novels by the likes of Jim Butcher or folk tales by Neil Gaiman have been really invigorating. I’m a firm believer that you have to consume media on the regular to generate new media of your own.

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

Author:      I’m a plotter—or an architect—when it comes to my process. I need a rough idea of where I’m going or else I risk writing myself into a corner. I jot down notes for beats and highlights, as well as a few details I don’t want to forget. However, my timeline isn’t very reliable because I outline my stories from high-level end-to-end plot to begin, then outline as I go by story acts. There’s a method to this madness, I swear!

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

Author:      Twitter has been a decent means of networking with other artists and writers, however, I feel it is not a good means of circulating that media amongst ourselves. The company has also made it abundantly clear it has no interest in supporting the creative demographic. Otherwise, I’ve met other creatives through gaming communities through Discord and network there.

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

Author:      I sprint when I’m writing a scene I have clear in my head and I just NEED IT to be done. I just can’t wait to see how it turns out! Then, once that rush is done, it’s back to milder and slow-paced writing as I try to figure out how to link all these high notes together in a good way.

Struggles

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

Author:      Imposter syndrome has been the hardest hurdle in my road to authorship. Querying made me feel like nobody wanted my vision, but I remained stubborn to keep on the path. My characters and their story were worth it.

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

Author:      It’s shown me just how true the old phrase, “You eat an elephant one bite at a time,” is in real life. Everything is possible if you remain disciplined and persistent. However, I will say that the querying process has left less-than-stellar sentiments with me. So, for you budding writers out there, please take inventory of your feelings. If something doesn’t feel right, or it’s making you hate the work you love, listen to those feelings.

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

Author:      Take Neil Gaiman’s writing advice and start writing. You can always edit it later.

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

Author:      I wouldn’t have wasted a year on the publishing industry’s niche standards and requirements.

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

Author:      I’m definitely a self-advocating author and I’m driven to finish my work to release to everyone for consumption. I will admit I procrastinate in my marketing because I’ve found it to be utterly draining to maintain.

How do you keep yourself motivated?

Author:      I make or commission art of my characters from the main cast of the Blood Witch Saga. Seeing them in such a tangible form and the interpretations varied between artists is so fulfilling and it drives me to keep writing their stories.

How do you combat writer’s block?

Author:      I don’t force the block and I set aside time to consume new media, as well as make an effort to express myself through my visual art.

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

Author:      My heart skipped when my mother told me she couldn’t put my book down, then I was blown away when my church-going cousin bombarded me with all these questions about my world. There was a piece of me that thought they were being nice in supporting me up until that feedback came. Then I knew that I had something worth it.

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

Author:      Many tend to think writing is a lonely profession, and while it does require a degree of loneliness to accomplish the great task of crafting the novel, it could not be accomplished without community. People to exchange ideas with, friends and family to reassure you through the hardships, and the criticisms of how to improve yourself. There is no self-made man behind that book, there is him and the hands he held before touching the paper.

Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

Author:      I listen to film and game orchestra scores. You have no idea how well the 1989 Batman score can set the mood for a scene!

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

Author:      Esoteric, yawning, sable, haunt

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:      In “The Before-times,” I used to sit in a local coffee shop or Denny’s with breakfast and spend a few hours banging away at my laptop. Nowadays, I gotta get that writing machine going at my own dining table.

What book are you reading at the moment?

Author:      I’m reading Around the World in 80 Days right now!

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

Author:      I break the mould by putting fantasy and mystery together, as well as featuring black magic as a force of good rather than being inherently evil.

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

Author:      The overlap between my visual artistic pursuits and my literary pursuits came together to make this possible for me.

What is your favorite writing snack and drink?

Author:      LaCroix and Chex Mix

Do you have a writing companion?

Author:      My own black cat named Patty!

My primary haunt is via Twitter:  @WonderBran31

Follow me on Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/B-B-Reed/e/B08BPDV3LZ/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

And you can see a portfolio of my other hobbies at https://bbreedart.squarespace.com/