Author Interviews, Blog, Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog

Author Interview: Palmer Pickering, Sci-Fi/ Dystopian

Hi, I’m Palmer Pickering! I write science fiction and just released “Light Fighters,” the sequel to “Moon Deeds” of the “Star Children Saga.”

From Planning to Published

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

Author:      I have been working on the Star Children Saga for over ten years. I rewrote Book One, “Moon Deeds,” several times over the years.

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

Author:      I am self-published and have my own Indie Publishing imprint, Mythology Press.

What is your publishing process?

Author:      I work with several editors, from developmental editing, to copy editors, to multiple proofreaders. I found that with books of this length and complexity, it’s best to do multiple editing passes. Then I hire a desktop publisher to do the book layout. I hire artists for the cover art and other art, such as maps. I really like working with so many interesting professionals. That’s part of what makes self-publishing so much fun.

What platforms do you use to publish your works?

Author:      I use print-on-demand for printing, with both IngramSpark and Amazon. That way I can offer my books to any bookstore or library, or small book seller. For ebooks I use the same two services, and they distribute to all book reader companies. I have an audiobook for “Moon Deeds,” and I use Findaway Voices, who handles a wide distribution to many different audiobook outlets. 

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

Author:      During early drafts, I participated in writer critique groups, where we exchanged chapters and offered each other feedback. That was a great learning process, and I made some good friends doing that. At a certain point, that process became too slow for me, so I started getting beta readers to read the finished book and provide feedback. I would meet with them afterwards and ask them all sorts of questions about the plot, characters, and their understanding of the world. That provided invaluable feedback as I learned what came across well to readers and what did not work so well. As I mentioned, I also hire professional editors for all stages.

About Your Work

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

Author:      My writing style is very descriptive. I am going for total immersion, so that readers feel as if they are really there and feel what the characters are feeling. I pit dark characters against good characters, striving to explore the motivations for human behavior and how societies function. However, I always try to make my characters authentic and multi-faceted. I like to explore how people strive for a higher purpose and seek the divine to overcome darkness. This translates into magic in my stories, as the protagonists encounter insurmountable obstacles. 

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

Author:      My favorite thing is writing. My least favorite thing is querying. I like the publishing process, but it take time away from writing, which is my first love.

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

Author:      I network on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and I join Facebook groups. Also Goodreads. And at conventions. I have met some of my best connections at writing and genre conventions.

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

Author:      I write or edit a little bit every day, anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours per day, sometimes in small chunks. On weekends I like to do long writing sessions, interspersed with time to think about what I’m writing. I need uninterrupted quiet time and space to just dwell in my mind about the story I am writing: envisioning a scene; working through a plot knot; pondering the best wording or plot device; or outlining and planning the plot structure, world, and character arcs. I guess I would call myself a lion, who likes long days in the sun lazing about but also is a fierce hunter.

Struggles

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

Author:      The hardest thing was trying to find an agent or publisher. I failed at both.

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

Author:      I pretty much got impatient with the whole vetting process of agents and publishers. Perhaps I am somewhat bitter or jaded, but it all seems very random and subjective. The numbers just don’t make for good odds at getting a book deal. There are way more talented writers than there are agents and available slots for new authors at traditional publishers. If you didn’t come up through a respected MFA program or have some other connections, or you don’t win the publishing lottery, chances are slim at finding a deal. Not impossible, just slim. Some friends of mine were successful. So I’m not saying don’t try, just don’t take it personally if you are not successful at landing an agent and a book contract. I am very happy self-publishing. It’s a totally viable path at this point in time, particularly for genre writers like fantasy, romance, or mystery. 50% of the sales in those genres are self-published authors these days. They are definitely giving the publishing houses a run for their money.

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

Author:      If you want to write, then write. That’s the only way to get good at it. That means sit down and put pen to paper, or pound on that keyboard. Don’t worry about the quality, just start practicing and exercising the writing muscles. Try to write several times a week, like you would do to become good at any skill. Some people say they want to write, but they never actually write anything. Thinking and wishing for a thing does not make it so. Fate rewards those who take action. Writing courses/programs or workshops are always a good idea. Join a writer’s group or trade drafts online to get feedback and to read other people’s work. You learn just as much by reading the poorly executed story as you do the great ones. Regarding becoming a published author, go to cons and listen to panels, read trade magazines, and jump in. The water’s fine.

Fun Stuff

What book are you reading at the moment?

Author:      “Kings of the Wyld” by Nicholas Eames, and “Burn Red Skies” by Kerstin Espinosa Rosero.

What is your favorite literary trope?

Author:      How about my least favorite? Meta-fiction. Just doesn’t do it for me. 

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

Author:      I write what is entertaining to me. I am not trying to be unique, I am trying to write a compelling story and improve my craft. I think my imagination is creative enough that my worlds and stories stand on their own.

Do you have a writing companion?

Author:      I have three cats who take turns inserting themselves between me and my computer.

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

Author:      Your best advertisement is your next book.

Author Website:    https://mythologypress.com/
Social Media: https://twitter.com/PalmerPickerin1
Book Sales Pages: Star Children Series

Author Interviews, Blog, Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog

Author Interview: Sonja Hutchinson, Fantasy/ Science Fiction/ Mystery/ Paranormal/ LitRPG

I’m Sonja Hutchinson. I’ve written seventeen books in the genres of fantasy, urban fantasy, science fiction, mystery, paranormal suspense, and LitRPG, but currently, only three of the Bond-Wolf Series (epic fantasy) are available on Amazon. I’m working on book four of that series, and it should be available at the end of summer 2022. I once tried to write a romance, but after copious amounts of chocolate and coffee, the urge to finish that piece blew away.

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:    I began writing in 2000 after my first son was born. I had an idea for a story and ran with it while he slept. Then two more boys came along, and I had to take a break from writing to keep them all alive. That was my full-time endeavor. When they were big enough to be moderately unsupervised, I returned to writing.

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

Author:      It took ages LOL. I finished the first draft in nine months, then began editing. I hired a professional to help me with that process and ended up re-writing the entire book.  I moved on to other projects, but between them I went back and re-wrote that first book several more times. The final version is now published as  Voice of the Just.

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

Author:      I’m an indie author through Amazon.

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

Author:      I have a team of three amazing critique partners. When I reach chapter ten, I send them all chapter one. They push me to stay ahead of them and help with things like pacing, typos, character motivations, and general cheerleading functions. Once the book is finished, polished, and ready for publication, I have another team of betas who give me general feedback (did they like it, is the ending satisfying, is it truly ready for publication, etc.).

Marketing

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

Author:      Marketing is the area I struggle with the most. It’s one thing to identify my target audience and another to reach them (plus the whole idea of “I made something, please buy it!” grates against something within me). But it’s a necessary evil if I want people to enjoy my books, so I’ve given it a minimal shot. I use the basic Amazon tools (key words), Twitter, and Facebook to advertise, and I’ve had good success with Kindle Unlimited.

How do you get reviews for your books?

Author:      My beta readers review my books. I’ve found a few book review sites but haven’t used them yet.

About Your Work

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

Author:      My favorite genre to read and write is fantasy, but I enjoy too many others to stick with just one. I’ve got a paranormal suspense series I’ll be self-publishing soon, and I’m currently querying agents with a sci-fi piece and an urban fantasy to try the traditional publishing route.

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

Author:      For the past year I’ve been working on mastering Deep POV, a method of limiting narrative voice to funnel readers directly into a character’s heart and mind. I’m still working on the technique, but I love the outcome so far. I should devote more time to marketing, but I don’t want to LOL.

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

Author:      I love creating new characters, plotting their adventures, and writing that first rough draft. I also love brainstorming sessions with my writer friends, either on my work or theirs. Sometimes a ten-minute collaboration with a friend can stir the creativity to new heights and fuel a marathon writing session, and nothing beats that rush.

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

Author:      I’m a voracious reader in multiple genres, but fantasy and mystery are my favorites. Goodreads informs me when my go-to authors have a new book out, and I’ve usually got 12-15 books in my to-be-read pile–usually e-books, but sometimes I bring home real library books. As far as creating new stories, I’ve never had a problem coming up with ideas. I’ve got a notebook for jotting down promising bits of dialogue or what-if questions that could someday resemble a plot, and my series characters could continue having adventures as long as I keep writing.

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

Author:      I’m a plotter, but I don’t have the same method for each book. Some begin with the idea of a character in crisis, and the plot springs from that. Once I came up with a fantastic first line and plotted an entire book around that sentence. Most of my books begin with an ending (like a murder mystery), and I plot around that climax, creating all the characters needed to make it happen. One time, I tried pantsing. It was a disaster LOL. I ended up stopping before the end of Act I and planning the rest of the structure before continuing—and quite a bit of the beginning was trashed.

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

Author:      Twitter and Facebook are my go-to for networking now, but before the pandemic, I also attended a writer’s conference once a year. I found my first critique partner at one. I’ve also met several of my favorite authors in person at conferences and connected with a man who later became a good friend and co-wrote a book with me. I’m hoping that book (a LitRPG) will be self-published this year. He’s much better at marketing than I am, so fingers crossed!

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

Author:      I usually write six days a week, sometimes seven, for 4-6 hours per day. Sundays I only get in 1 or 2 hours before church. Occasionally I need a break and take a day or two off, but I’ve got a weekly word count goal that I don’t like to miss.

I’ll admit, I’ve been known to procrastinate J  It happens to us all. Sometimes I get bogged down and don’t know how I’m going to get to the next plot point, and that’s when I brainstorm with an author friend. Video conferencing is a fabulous tool! And sometimes, I worry that my story is boring, and readers won’t like it, and the only way out of that vortex of depression is to call my best author friend and let her talk me out of it.

Struggles

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

Author:      I actively queried eight books over a span of 16 years and have over 450 rejections, some of them on paper from back in the days before e-queries. Who else remembers SASEs? LOL. Every one of those rejections hurt like an icepick to the chest. I’d allow myself a few minutes to grieve, have a chocolate, then spend some time playing with my children before moving on to the next project, book, or agent. All these years later, the rejections don’t sting quite so much as they used to, and the kids are grown so there’s no need for play breaks unless I want them J

This process can be So Depressing! It’s long and difficult with incredibly low odds of nailing a traditional publishing house contract. But I’m too stubborn to ever give up, and I couldn’t quit writing if I tried, so I keep pressing forward. I still query sometimes, even though I’ve decided to self-publish most of my works. 

Tips for budding writers: Don’t give up! You can’t do anything with a half-finished product, so finish the book. Then find critique partners or a professional editor to help with the edits. Study craft books to improve your techniques. Reach out to other authors for assistance–you’ll never find a helper if you don’t advertise your need for one. Get involved in writing communities on social media to make connections. Lastly, READ. A lot. Mostly in your genre, but also in others. Read new stuff that comes out so you can follow the market, and study how that author moved you with the prose.

How do you combat writer’s block?

Author:      I have a couple of methods. The first is to back up in the story, maybe just a few pages, or maybe a few chapters, and do something different with the characters. Make different choices for their forward progress—or even opposite choices. Do something unexpected, or dangerous, or ridiculously silly. It might not work, but then again, it might spur a fabulous idea.

My second method is to reach out to my author friend and ask for a brainstorming session. She’s fabulous at coming up with things I’d have never dreamed of. *Spoiler alert, don’t read this next bit if you want to read my books* Once I told her, “I don’t know what happens next. Alex killed redacted”—and Writer Friend said, “Did he? Are you sure he’s dead?” That little comment spurred a sub-plot that now stretches across multiple books.

Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

Author:      Nothing. I need silence. Though the washer and dryer are usually running, but they don’t count.

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 basement office with a huge wrap-around desk for spreading out all my notes, reference books, charts, maps, tablets, and coffee. I’ve been making an effort to go paperless to get rid of these thousands of sticky notes, sheets of paper, and 3×5 cards, but I haven’t succeeded yet. I’ve tried writing in other places (like a coffee shop), but it doesn’t work. A crowded place is too noisy, and I don’t have all my notes and references.

What book are you reading at the moment?

Author:      I just finished Divergent by Veronica Roth and The Dark Hours by Michael Connelly. Up next on the to-be-read pile is The Match by Harlan Coben and Blue Moon (Jack Reacher #24) by Lee Child.

Do you have a writing companion?

Author:      I have a best friend who’s an author. We chat every day, edit each other’s work, brainstorm problems, and push each other to stop procrastinating LOL. I have another friend I co-wrote a book with, and we’re trying to work on a sequel.

I have a website: sonjahutchinson.com.

I’m also active on Twitter @sonjahutchinson.

See Sonja’s books on Amazon

Author Interviews, Blog

Author Interview: Cendrine Marrouat, Multi-genre/ Co-founder of Auroras & Blossoms and PoArtMo

Hello everyone! My name is Cendrine Marrouat. I am a poet, photographer, blogger, short story writer, and multi-genre author (poetry, photography, theatre…). I am also the co-founder of Auroras & Blossoms and PoArtMo, as well as the (co-)creator of several poetry forms and a type of flash fiction.

My most recent works include In Her Own Words: A Collection of Short Stories and Flashku and Tree Reflections, a collection of photographs.    

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:    I started my career in 2005. I just felt compelled to write. Even today, after so many years, I still cannot explain why…   

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

Author:   Indie all the way.

I started my career as a poet. When I decided to release my first collections, I knew that it would be very difficult to find an agent or traditional publisher, because poetry books rarely sell well. So, I did a lot of research on self-publishing and then went all in. My first three books were released in 2006. I have never looked back since.

I enjoy self-publishing because I love the freedom attached to it. I know how to format manuscripts, design book covers, create promotional videos and press kits, write press releases and blurbs, etc. As a former social media coach, I also know how to create and implement a strategy.

It also helps that I am a photographer. I always have images that fit my projects, covers, and videos.

What platforms do you use to publish your works?

Author:    I have used several platforms over the years: Lulu, Smashwords, Amazon, Blurb (photography books), and Draft2Digital.

D2D is the best of them all, and not just because it is free. The website is user-friendly and offers wide distribution for books and ebooks. You can see what I mean here: https://creativeramblings.com/books/

Marketing

What is your launch plan for your works?

Author: It really depends on the book. I create a specific strategy for each launch.   

How do you promote your content?

Author:  In many ways. For example, I blog, do interviews, and use Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

I also spend a lot of time reading others, leaving comments on their blogs, and engaging with people on social media. This often leads to fascinating conversations.

To me, the human approach is the most effective form of self-promotion in the world. I have sold more books by being genuine, supportive, and respectful of others than by trying the marketing gimmicks recommended by self-proclaimed gurus.

About Your Work

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

Author:  I consider myself a minimalist. I create like a Haikuist (haiku poet). That is why I choose the following slogan for my brand: “Visual Poetry of the Mundane.”

As a photographer, I mostly document the simplicity and beauty of nature. My written work speaks to the importance of embracing challenges, growth, and positivity. 

It is just the way I live my life. 🙂

How many works have you published?

Author:    If I include the anthologies I have co-edited, I have released 40 books since 2006.

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

Author:  Tree Reflections features 50+ digital and film images that I took in several parks and urban forests in Winnipeg, Canada, during early spring 2022.

In my province, we had a very long and wet winter. The snow-melting period also came with quite a bit of rain. So, as you can imagine, rivers flooded. Trees in parks and forests were immersed in water, which created stunning reflections. That is what I documented in the book.  

Here is an example.

For more information on Tree Reflections, visit https://creativeramblings.com/tree-reflections/

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

Author:   I have a podcast, called The Haiku Shack. I share thoughts on life and art, as well as some of my poetry. Each episode is under 5 minutes long. Right now, it is on hold because I have been busy with several projects, but I plan on releasing new episodes very soon!    Link: https://anchor.fm/cendrine-marrouat

On YouTube, I upload short poetry and photography videos a few times a month. Link: https://www.youtube.com/user/cendrinemarrouat

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

Author:  That life is too short to waste it wallowing in negativity or constantly seeing your glass half empty. That difficult experiences are there to teach us important lessons. And that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.

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

Author:  I love Twitter! It’s a fascinating platform, where you can meet very interesting people. I also enjoy engaging with people on Medium these days. The community there is nice and supportive.

Link: https://cendrineartist.medium.com/

Struggles

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

Author:   Just do it! That’s simple! Don’t cut corners, do your research. Have a strategy in place. If you do not have a lot of money, learn to barter!

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

Author:   Nothing.

I built my platform without any help. It has been a LOT of work, but every mistake has been a blessing. I would not be the artist I am today without the learning curve I had to experience. That is the reason why I celebrate every little victory.   

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

Author:  Very early in my career, I realized that nothing comes out of waiting for things to happen. I had to create my own opportunities and open my own doors.

Even though I am an introvert, I have a healthy level of self-confidence. I know my worth as an artist. So I have never been shy about promoting myself. But I don’t spam people. I engage with them.

Promotion is fun when you know the ropes and aren’t scared of testing new ideas. I’m constantly in marketing mode.

Fun Stuff

Do you have a writing companion?

Author:  David Ellis, a fantastic UK-based poet and author. Together, we have co-authored several books, and co-founded Auroras & Blossoms, a platform that celebrates upliftment and inspiration in the arts.

A&B gives a voice to young and adult artists from around the world via its flagship publication, the annual PoArtMo Anthology. (Link: https://abpositiveart.com/store/) Our mission is to inspire creativity in people ages 13 and over. That is the reason why we write guides for authors and artists and run a series of prompts and challenges on Medium. Finally, we also invent poetry forms.

Link: https://abpositiveart.com

We are currently looking for stories and visual art for the third volume of our anthology. Feel free to check us out (https://abpositiveart.com/submit/), we pay royalties to selected contributors. 

My website: https://creativeramblings.com

Books: https://creativeramblings.com/books

All my books are available from major online stores. However, I encourage you to shop locally and ask your neighborhood library to carry my books. I explain how here: https://creativeramblings.com/books.

I am very active on Twitter: https://twitter.com/haiku_shack. I am also on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, but I am not a big fan of those social networks. I use the same username: @haikushack.

Author Interviews, Blog

Author Interview: Allen Madding, Southern Fiction

Hi, I’m Allen Madding. I write southern fiction. My most recent project is Summer of ’82: Coming of Age in the Forgotten South.

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:      I wrote my first short story in 1982 (my senior year in high school) called “The Bug” after reading The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. I had a creative itch and enjoyed story telling so it seemed like a logical extension. I wrote a few manuscripts that I wasn’t happy with and didn’t publish anything until the release of Shaken Awake in 2014.

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

Author:      Amazingly enough I wrote the first book of the Shaken Awake trilogy in under 3 months. I’ve not completed anything that fast since.

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

Author:      I’m indie. Strictly because I’m too chicken to deal with all of the rejections involved in submitting query letters.


In her work as a loan processor at Sunshine City Bank in Saint Petersburg, Colleen Smithwick has always found it hard to cope with the increasing pressures of work–suffering myopic and tyrannical loan officers while grinding through unreasonable deadlines. She plays the part of a committed wife well, but a restlessness weighs heavy on her mind. When murders of two high-officials rock the bank, Colleen becomes enamored with the lead detective investigating the case.

It’s Detective Gary Black’s job to see the risk in every situation, but he is unaware of the danger surrounding his own life. Since the time he first met Colleen, he has felt a strange attraction for her, the attraction that leads him into a world of dark secrets, throwing him into the path of a psychopathic killer. He must do whatever it takes to solve the case. That is, if he can stay ahead in the game.

Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this devilishly gripping thriller, nothing is what it seems on the surface.


If a homeless man froze to death on the steps of a church, what would it change?”

Shaken Awake – The Complete Trilogy is three books in one (Shaken Awake, Awakened, and Woke!)

“A dreadful chill ravages the city and a homeless man is found frozen to death on the church steps…

The city of Atlanta had weathered a thousand wet and chilly days in winter with occasional snowfall… but never one like this. A snowfall that begins in the noon turns into a vicious ice storm by evening, obliterating everything in its way. People are stuck into the whiteout, and trying to look for a way out.

Now, as the Peachtree Church opens its door to those out in cold, the church members come face to face with a stark reality.


About Your Work

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

Author:      My main content is fiction. I grew up in a family of storytellers and enjoy the freedom that fiction provides.

How many works have you published?

Author:      6 – the Shaken Awake Trilogy, Volunteer Management 101, Lendercide, and Summer of ’82


A coming-of-age YA story that is as hauntingly authentic as it is deeply thought-provoking.

The summer of 1982 in Whitiker County in Southwest Georgia was another hot and dry season. The best friends, Ricky, Jimmy, and Buck, are ready to graduate from high school and step into adulthood. But when the lovely Jenny catches both Jimmy and Buck’s eye, Ricky has a bad feeling about the whole thing. Soon, Ricky’s fears come true. Madding’s storytelling is entertaining, and readers will laugh out loud at the boys’ adventures and sympathize with their heartbreaks and failures. As enjoyable as all the characters may be, the standout character of the book is Ricky, whose grounded, sensible nature will have readers rooting for him throughout. While the storyline is intriguing, what sets this novel apart is how beautifully Madding explores the boys’ vulnerabilities, hopes, and passions while delving into themes of love, young adult drama, friendship, mistakes, and regrets. Setting his tale against the quaint backdrop of the forgotten South of the 1980s, Madding skillfully weaves together multiple story strands to create a poignant coming-of-age tale. This is a page-turner. – The Prairies Book Review


An employee needs the paycheck to pay the rent, the mortgage, the car payment, student debt, the credit card bill, the utilities, and a host of other bills.

Volunteers, on the other hand are not motivated by a paycheck to stick it out when the manager is chewing someone out or things get uncomfortable.

The volunteer is simply motivated by making a difference and being a part of the organization. Their commitment hinges on how vested they are with the vision and purpose of the organization. When it gets to be too much of a hassle to serve, when they begin to feel unappreciated, when they feel the commitment is too demanding, they will walk away – usually without any warning or explanation.

With several decades of experience between them, Madding and King share insights on how to manage these valuable resources in your organization.


Struggles

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

Author:      MARKETING! Ugh. I have tried Amazon ads, Google Ads, GoodReads giveaways. I’ve read marketing books, and it still seems like I’m floundering. The only real success I can claim in marketing is author signings (which are few and far between).

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

Author:      I would have stuck to it through the 80s and 90s. I often wonder where I would be in the whole process if I had not shied away from if for 30 years. Perhaps it would have been easier if we had platforms like KDP to publish in the 90s. But, I think if I had adopted a writing regiment after releasing the Bug, I would have been able to really hone my writing skills over the 30 year gap.

How do you combat writer’s block?

Author:      I read a quote from Hemmingway that I have used to avoid writer’s block:
“I always worked until I had something done and I always stopped when I knew what was going to happen next. That way I could be sure of going on the next day…” — Ernest Hemingway

Fun Stuff

What is your favorite writing snack and drink?

Author:     Drinks: Coffee, Old Fashions, or Crown and Coke Zero. I’ve about swore off all snacks as they all seem to be carb loaded and I’m trying to slim down.  I guess my latest snacks are nuts and beef jerky.

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

Author:      WRITE! And then write some more. Don’t throw away or delete your writings. Keep them all and go back and consider revising them once you feel your writing has improved. Don’t quit!

Author Interviews, Blog, Sweet Romance Blog

Author Interview: Angela D Shelton, Christian/Young Adult

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

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

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

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

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

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

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

How did you determine your target audience?

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

How do you define success as an author?

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

About Your Work

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

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

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

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

Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

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

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

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

What book are you reading at the moment?

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

Author Interviews, Blog, Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog

Author Interview: Freya Pickard, Fantasy

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

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

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

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

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

What is your publishing process?

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

What platforms do you use to publish your works?

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

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

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

How do you define success as an author?

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

About Your Work

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

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

How many works have you published?

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

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

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

Available on Amazon

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

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

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

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

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

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

Struggles

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

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

How do you keep yourself motivated?

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

Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

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

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

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

What book are you reading at the moment?

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

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

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

What is your favorite writing snack and drink?

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

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

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

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