Author Interviews, Blog

Author Interview: Emily Ruhl, Fantasy/Romance

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

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How did you determine your target audience?

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

What platforms do you use to publish your works?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marketing

How do you get reviews for your books?

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

How do you promote your content?

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

How do you define success as an author?

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

About Your Work

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

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

What genres and subgenres do you write in?

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

How many works have you published?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Struggles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you keep yourself motivated?

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

How do you combat writer’s block?

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

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

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

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

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

Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

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

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

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

What book are you reading at the moment?

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

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

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

What is your favorite writing snack and drink?

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

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

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

emilyruhlbooks.com    
@authoremilyruhl (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)
Book Sales Pages: Amazon, Atmosphere Press
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Author Interviews, Blog, Steamy Romance Blog

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

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

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How did you determine your target audience?

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

What is your publishing process?

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

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

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

Marketing

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

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

What is your launch plan for your works?

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

How do you get reviews for your books?

Author:      Haven’t seen any yet…

How do you promote your content?

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

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

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

How do you define success as an author?

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

About Your Work

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

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

What genres and subgenres do you write in?

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

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

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

How many works have you published?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author:      Marekting… The not authoring part.

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

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

Do you recommend any programs, courses, or websites?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author:      Probably Facebook.

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

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

Struggles

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

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

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

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

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

Author:      Accept criticism.

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

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

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

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

How do you keep yourself motivated?

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

How do you combat writer’s block?

Author:      Writing.

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

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

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

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

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

Author:      That they’re introverts.

Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

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

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

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

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

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

What book are you reading at the moment?

Author:      Brain Movies.

What is your favorite literary trope?

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

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

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

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

Author:      I have to slow down.

What is your favorite writing snack and drink?

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

Do you have a writing companion?

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

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

Author:      Everyone can teach you something.

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

Author Interviews, Blog, Sweet Romance Blog

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

Roger Stark

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

Author of: They Called Him Marvin  

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

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

And then I became friends with Marv Sherman.

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

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

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

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

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

What is your publishing process?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marketing

How do you get reviews for your books?

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

How do you promote your content?

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

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

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

About Your Work

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

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

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

Do you recommend any programs, courses, or websites?

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

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

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

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

Struggles

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

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

Fun Stuff 

What do you listen to while you write?

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

What is your favorite writing snack and drink?

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

Blog

Embers: New Book & Why It’s Darker than the First.

I realized it would probably behoove me to explain the reason Wildfire isn’t ALL fun and lighthearted like A Christmas in Montana. (Spoiler alert!) There’s more suspense and mystery in book two, and here’s the reason: Continue reading “Embers: New Book & Why It’s Darker than the First.”

Blog, Book Reviews

Book Review: Shattered Glass by Skip Schmidt

Five Stars

On Amazon

An extraordinary blend of historical and science fiction…

Schmidt’s work delves into past and present day Germany with vivid descriptions and deeply woven political plots. Shattered Glass is full of unexpected twists and suspense that will keep you turning every page. Anyone that enjoys time travel and mysteries, will find this entertaining.

A dive into the Einstein-Rosen bridge theory, Shattered Glass introduces us to two time frames, 1938 Nazi-Germany and the year 2013. We follow Lieutenant Eugen Scheele in the past as he tries to uncover the truth about Captain Kreider’s disappearance, whilst his great-nephew, Inspector Willi Scheele, must ascertain the appearance of Kreider in near present day.

Shattered Glass is a trip back inside the world of Nazi-Germany and the struggle of all who suffered from and were opposed to their reign. The stakes are high with lives hanging on Eugen’s and Willi’s next moves. But anything can happen in war.

Schmidt spares no detail. It is a thrilling ride with murder investigations, dark humor, sex, and constant edge-of-your-seat political tension.

You won’t expect what happens at the end.

Schmidt’s written voice can be enjoyed by the average reader and appreciated by those who like a more… perspicacious approach. Shattered Glass is not a fast or disposable read. It is something you want to sit down and absorb. The characters are genuine—their actions unpredictable and their emotions and relationships as organic as any in real life.

I recommend this work to those who are fans of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series.

Looking forward to reading more of his work in the future.

Amazon

Goodreads

Blog, Book Reviews

Book Review: Imprint By Nicholas Adams

Imprint By Nicholas Adams (5 stars)

If you liked Ex Machina, you will like this.

Overview: (spoiler alert)

Imprint follows Malcolm as he tries to find a solution for a debilitating and life-threatening side-effect of the synthetic organs he designed. His wife is the last remaining test subject in a world that destroyed itself thinking “The Scald” was a plague. The Scald is the term for the burns which appear sometime after a synthetic organ transplant has occurred. Good intentions aren’t always enough.

Limited to a bed of gel to support her fragile, disintegrating body, Malcom’s wife, Cynthiana, can no longer participate in daily activities. After being given a week to find a cure for his fatal mistake, at the Warden’s threat of execution, Malcolm attempts to build Cynthiana a new body through which she can wirelessly transmit conscious action and, in a manner, live again.

But the created anthropomorphic being begins to act of its own accord while Cynthiana isn’t conscious. Malcolm studies his wife’s neural activity, attempting to find a connection between the waking sessions and odd behaviors of “Synthia.” It isn’t until he and Synthia are alone that he uncovers the imprinting of personality, interests, behaviors, etc of his wife within the constructed AI. What Synthia does after is unexpected and unpredictable.

This is an easy, short read (novella). I had no trouble following the storyline. I enjoyed the addition of the Canadian French in Malcolm’s wife’s dialogue. Learning a little something while reading for pleasure is a great two-for-one deal. Speaking of pleasure, there are a few steamy scenes, though nothing described in raw detail—a perfect mix.

Definitely cyberpunk/biopunk dystopian fiction. The world in which the story takes place is limited to Malcolm’s residence, specifically his lab, focusing on details of his biomechanical creations. Synthia’s new body is described in wonderful detail, including how she perceives the environment, and him.

Malcolm loves his wife dearly. She is a delight: still actively engaged despite her failing body, reading romances, always attentive to what’s going on when she’s awake. I would fully expect, in any other situation, for her to moan and cry and hate everything because of her state. She strikes me as the strongest of the characters.

The ending, the imprint, is a surprise that couldn’t make more sense. It wasn’t what I’d hoped for, but I won’t give it away. It evoked some strong feels for Malcolm. Anyone that’s had a spouse with a mysterious illness can probably relate. Their bond is obvious, his dedication to her unmovable. I have missed reading about characters with morals, respect, and true love. …And a future hanging wide-open before me.

 

Personal thoughts:

Only two things mildly bothered me: glazing over the week Malcolm originally had to find a solution or face execution with the mention of three weeks later he’s working on the synth body, and the fact Cythiana’s neural expertise didn’t come into play. I expected the Synthia to start working on a project of her own because of that detail in Cythiana’s opening credits. Maybe she’ll find a solution to download her actual consciousness into the body?! Yes? Please? And then the twist… Ha! Proves just how much I should not let my mind do this while reading. And honestly, the ending was a good one, true to life. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Find it on Amazon

Goodreads

Nicholas Adams Website: http://www.nicholasadamswrites.com/

 

 

Blog

The Fate of Earth

In our hands sits the future, home, our planet. Following our self-deconstruction, an apocalypse of conflicting opinions that sets us off through three hundred years of unrest, Stellar Fusion arrives. It is my call to you, as soldiers of peace, and civilians for change, however fantastical, (a fun twist). The Shepherds, our guiding soldiers, are the unfortunate casualties and, yet, the only ones who can save us. Will you be one of them?

The Universal Protectors is now a page on Facebook. Come join us! We do not judge. We focus on what is important: humanity and concern for our future together on this beautiful planet. Make a vow to help your neighbors, to be kind when it is not easy, and to defend those who cannot do it themselves.

Our future depends on you.

Stellar SHIELD front RF BadgeCheck out Stellar Fusion for free on Smashwords, B&N, Kobo, and Apple.

You can find print copies on Amazon.

Lost Souls, book two, will be out soon. If you would like more information, check out the Infinite Spark Series page.

I hope to offer a short side-story soon!

Take care and keep that spark alive!

♥ Elysia