Author Interviews, Blog

Author Interview: Erynn Crittenden, Poetry

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

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

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How did you determine your target audience?

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

What is your publishing process?

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

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

What platforms do you use to publish your works?

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

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

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

Marketing

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

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

What is your launch plan for your works?

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

How do you get reviews for your books?

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

How do you promote your content?

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

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

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

How do you define success as an author?

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

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

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

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

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

About Your Work

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

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

What genres and subgenres do you write in?

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

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

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

How many works have you published?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you recommend any programs, courses, or websites?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Struggles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you keep yourself motivated?

Author: Coffee. I drink a lot of coffee.

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

How do you combat writer’s block?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

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

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

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

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

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

What book are you reading at the moment?

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

What is your favorite literary trope?

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

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

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

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

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

What is your favorite writing snack and drink?

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

Do you have a writing companion?

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

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

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

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

I’m everywhere!

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

Author Interviews, Blog, Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog

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

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

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

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

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

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

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

Author:      Seven years in total.

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

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

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

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

How did you determine your target audience?

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

What platforms do you use to publish your works?

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

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

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

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

Marketing

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

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

What is your launch plan for your works?

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

How do you get reviews for your books?

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

How do you promote your content?

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

How do you define success as an author?

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

About Your Work

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

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

What genres and subgenres do you write in?

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

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

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

How many works have you published?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Struggles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you keep yourself motivated?

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

How do you combat writer’s block?

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

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

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

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

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

Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

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

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

Author:      Esoteric, yawning, sable, haunt

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

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

What book are you reading at the moment?

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

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

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

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

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

What is your favorite writing snack and drink?

Author:      LaCroix and Chex Mix

Do you have a writing companion?

Author:      My own black cat named Patty!

My primary haunt is via Twitter:  @WonderBran31

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

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