Interview with Charles E. Yallowitz – Author of Newly Released Ichabod Brooks and the City of Beasts

I have an extra special treat for you today! Not only has Charles E. Yallowitz released his short story, which I introduced in this post Ichabod Brooks & the City of Beasts, but he also agreed to an interview. You can find a copy of Ichabod Brooks by clicking here.

 

Ichabod Brooks

Interview with Charles E. Yallowitz

Mel: Do you have any strange writing habits (like writing in a lucky pair of socks? Or using a special pen?)

Charles: Nothing really strange other than I usually need music. Silence puts me on edge because I’m so used to it being a precursor to people interrupting me. Also, the music seems to remind other people in the house that I’m working. Beyond that, the only other thing I can call a strange habit is that I reward myself with pizza after writing a first draft. If I have a really hard time with publishing something then I use the same reward. I might be getting to the point where the local pizza place knows my order by heart.

Mel: I know what you mean. I’m on first name terms with the baristas at our local coffee shop! I like the idea of having a signal, a kind of writer at work – do not disturb soundtrack! What does your writing space look like? Can we take a peek inside? Is it safe to enter!

Charles: Currently, my writing space is the den with the desktop and the TV. I have an open window with a view of the backyard . . . sort of. Normally, I’m on my laptop in my bedroom with no view and terrible back support. I might try to take over the sun room for easy drink access and a less stuffy atmosphere. As you can tell, I don’t have a specific writing space and have to work wherever I can find space and quiet.

Mel: I can relate (it’s quite often my car!). But, moving on. What book do you wish you had written?

Charles: The one I’ve yet to write. Seriously, I never really thought that because I like certain books because of the author’s style. Me being behind it would turn it into a different story, which kind of defeats the question.

Mel: That’s a really good point. Perhaps the question should be then, which books have inspired you to create similar adventures in your own unique style?

Charles: I took some from The Books of Lost Swords by Fred Saberhagen, Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, Conan the Barbarian by Robert E. Howard, and tons of other stuff. I try to take something from everything I read, so that I learn more about the craft. Being a present tense third person author, there aren’t many books that I can connect to my style. So I feel like I’m making this up as I go along.

Mel: I think that’s a really important point; reading and learning from others. I’ve enjoyed reading your recent posts on the characters who bring Windemere to life. So my next question is about them. Who would play your favourite characters in a movie?

sleeper-of-the-wildwood-fugue

Charles: To be honest, I have no idea. Back when I started, I’d pick actors and actresses for the characters because it was fun to dream of that happening. A movie or TV show has really become the next rung for authors, but I’m actually more focused on the books right now. Besides, all I did in the past was go through IMDB to pick the top names for characters. Maybe it would work best with unknowns in all the roles.

Mel: It’s an interesting one isn’t it? The characters we see in our minds; whether ours or those conjured by others, rarely translate.

It’s like names, sometimes we have to go through a few before we find the right fit. How important are names in your books? Do you choose based on the sound of the name, its meaning, or some other method?

Charles: I use a baby naming book and a few ‘meaning of names’ sites to choose. At least for several of the characters. It depends on their importance to the story. Main characters get this treatment if they aren’t from an old game where a friend played them. Supporting characters tend to get a careful choosing based on their personality or role. For example, a Paladin might get a name taken out of a list of biblical warriors. Finally, very minor characters and unique names are nothing more than letters thrown around. A lot of times I’ll take a word from some packaging and rearrange it to get a name. Creates some interesting combinations.

Mel: I can imagine! Have you ever regretted a name you’ve given? Perhaps, a minor character who decided they wanted to have their day in the sun.

Charles: I’ve been lucky enough to have changed the original names that simply didn’t work. So I haven’t regretted anything yet. The closest would probably be the character of Kira Grasdon. She was a minor character with one scene and evolved into a romantic interest for Luke Callindor, which meant appearing more often. Problem was that her original name was Linny Grasdon. Horrible name, but she wasn’t supposed to come back. The romance created an ‘LL’ thing that somebody pointed out, so I searched for a new one. Kira kind of popped into my head and that’s what she’s been for a while.

Mel: Kira Grasdon is a really cool name. Though I’ll admit I like LL – it brings a certain Mr Cool J to mind!

And if I can use a tenuous link to my next question. If you had an endless budget, describe the trailer for Legends of Windemere.

Charles: I actually think this way when getting into the mindset for writing. It’s typically when listening to an orchestral version of the Legend of Zelda theme. You’re following a flying creature who is zipping around Windemere as if searching for something. You run into various characters from the books and even series that I haven’t touched on yet. For example, you see Sari dancing in a tavern, a future thief character bounding over rooftops, the vampire characters on a battlefield, and whatever else pops into my head. It usually hits a high note with Nyx and Queen Trinity having a full strength caster duel in the mountains. The force sends the flying creature spiraling away and the whole thing ends to reveal you’re following Fizzle. He lands on a branch over Luke Callindor, who is sleeping in the forest next to his dog.

Mel: Now that’s one trailer I’d love to see!

But before I get distracted by magical lands and grand adventures, let’s move on. List five adjectives to describe yourself or your writing habits.

Charles: Prolific, dedicated, anxious, creative, and wonky.

Mel: How about your next project. What can you tell us about that?

Charles: So many to choose from since I’m editing Book 8 and writing Book 11 of Legends of Windemere. Neither of those are close to going live, so I’ll talk about the one that I published today. Ichabod Brooks & the City of Beasts is a short story I wrote to simply have some fun and put something out between big books. It follows an adventure of Ichabod Brooks, who is a middle-aged man with a reputation for accepting dangerous odd jobs. In his words, a man has to eat and feed his family. The current job is to clear out a ruined village, which has become infested with strange creatures. It doesn’t go as planned and Ichabod finds a bigger mess than he expected. I aimed for simplicity, humor, and action with memorable characters. At least I hope they’re memorable. Feel free to check it out on Amazon.

Mel: I always appreciate good humour in an adventure novel. Is this something readers can expect from you in general? Do you like to use humour to balance all the action?

Charles: I like to use humor (you can tell I’m American here) to break tension and show a more flippant side of the characters. Since it’s an ensemble cast, cracking jokes and teasing helps reveal the growing bond between them. This feels natural to me. I also grew up reading a lot of Spider-Man comics, so battle banter turns up as a way for some heroes to throw the villains off their game.

Mel: You’ve got to love Spidey’s one liners! And it seems the humour comes naturally to you. But what about challenges? What has been your greatest challenge as a writer so far?

Charles: Hard to pick a greatest one because I always feel like I’m fighting against the tide. As far as being a published author, the biggest obstacle was accepting that I can’t please everyone with my books. I knew this would happen, but it’s a lot harder to put into practice when you have the ‘publishing’ high going. Submitting to agents and publishers got me ready for rejection. The negative reviews and angry messages over the years was something else. I’d like to think I’m better at letting it roll off my back, but there are times when one hits when my mood is already in the gutter. Nothing I can do about it.

Mel: Negative reviews are hard, and angry messages can be soul destroying. Do you have any tips on how to deal with unconstructive feedback?

Charles: I hate to use this phrase thanks to a certain movie, but my advice is to let it go. If the review struck a nerve then rant to a friend in private, take a break from the Internet, and focus on the next project. You can’t please everybody.

Mel: That is excellent advice. I find you a really supportive fellow author, and writing networks are really important. So let’s get back to the writing. I know you recently ventured into thriller writing, but are there any other genres you would love to explore?

Charles: I’ve tried poetry, gore horror, and a fairy tale/dystopia combination in the past. Right now I don’t think there’s anything else I’d jump into. The paranormal thriller was spontaneous and unexpected, so who knows what the future holds. I could end up trying my hand at a Western or High School Drama. Though I’ll always come back to fantasy where I feel the most comfortable and happiest.

Mel: Who can resist a good Western!

Thanks so much for agreeing to the interview, Charles. I had such a good time chatting with you today.


Charles E. Yallowitz
Charles E. Yallowitz

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Charles Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After his wife decided that she was tired of hearing the same stories repeatedly, she convinced him that it would make more sense to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house under orders to shut up and get to work, Charles brings you Legends of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you and his wife is happy he finally has someone else to play with.

BLOG: LEGENDS OF WINDEMERE
TWITTER: @CYALLOWITZ
FACEBOOK: CHARLES YALLOWITZ
WEBSITE: WWW.CHARLESEYALLOWITZ.COM


On the 13 June 2015 I will be reviewing Ichabod Brooks & the City of Beasts, and Charles will be joining us the following day for a guest post. You don’t want to miss that!

Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

Author Interview: Luther M. Siler

Sanctum_72dpiWelcome back to my feature on Luther Siler, author of Skylights, The Benevolence Archives and The Sanctum of the Sphere. Today I would like to share an interview with you. I had a great deal of fun discussing Luther’s reading and writing habits, so much I couldn’t resist a few follow up questions! If you don’t already follow Luther’s blog, you’ll soon discover that he has a great sense of humour and an engaging voice.

An Interview with Luther M. Siler

Author of Skylights, The Benevolence Archives, and The Sanctum of the Sphere

Mel: Do you have any strange writing habits (like writing in your favourite pair of socks? A beer in one hand, your pen in the other!)

Luther: I use it more for heavy-duty blog posts than for fiction, but I have this Jackass wristband that I wear every now and again when I really need to concentrate.  I did the last 10K words or so of SANCTUM in a day, because if I didn’t finish the book I was going to go mad, and I’m pretty sure I had that wristband on the entire time.  I need to be listening to music, but that’s about it.

Mel: Anything is particular? The film score by John Williams perhaps? Or do you just rock it out with your favourite musical accompaniments?

Luther:  Rocking out, and to a wide variety of stuff, although I seem to recall Mac Lethal, Mika and Chuck D getting a fair amount of rotation while I was working on this particular book.

Mel: What book do you wish you had written?

Luther: John Scalzi’s LOCK IN.  Saladin Ahmed’s THRONE OF THE CRESCENT MOON.  The entire HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE series.  Andy Weir’s THE MARTIAN.  No doubt many others.

Mel: I imagine, like Weir, you had to do a fair bit of research for Skylights. You’ve talked about your interest in statistics on your blog, but how did this translate to the book – did you have to make a conscious effort to pull back, or was it easier because of your teaching background?

Luther:  Keeping Zub in his own voice whenever he was explaining anything was REALLY tough, because the sixth grade curriculum includes astronomy and that unit was easily my favorite part of the year when I was teaching sixth grade.  He tended to sound a lot like me in those moments.  I ended up being pretty happy with the amount of exposition I included in the book– I think it’s all stuff that needs to be there, and enough non-sci-fi people have enjoyed the book by now that I think I did a decent job of not being overwhelming.  Those who complain will be forced to read THE MARTIAN, by Andy Weir, which was one of my favorite books of last year and includes actual equations and chemistry.

Mel: Who would play your favourite characters in a movie?

Luther: Most of the BENEVOLENCE ARCHIVES characters would have to be mo-capped CGI– Grond is eight freaking feet tall and Brazel is covered in fur, but Zub from SKYLIGHTS was explicitly based on DJ Qualls.   I could also see Jim Parsons playing him, but Qualls is a little bit more manic and twisted than Parsons is.  You’ll have to go find one of my old archaeology professors to play Tsvika.

This is Asper.  Xe’s real.

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Mel: Qualls certainly fits the image in my head, though I can see Parsons fitting the role too. That doesn’t always happen. Is there a particular character that stands out for you – a person you envisioned in your head who doesn’t translate to film?

Luther:  I’d have a hell of a time casting Gabe, actually.  I’m tempted to racebend him and cast Don Cheadle or somebody.

Mel: How important are names in your books? Do you choose based on the sound of the name, its meaning, or some other method?

Luther: Pretty important, actually.  Zub’s nickname is a reference to Robert Zubrin, who is a champion of Mars exploration, and his actual name came later.  Both of Gabe Southern’s names are family names, and Zvi is named after that professor I just mentioned.  Most of the rest of the characters in that book are named after former students.  I wrote a whole article on my blog about naming practices for BENEVOLENCE ARCHIVES– long story short, I’m really careful about names in that setting, and there are rules.  Grond is named after an old D&D character.  Note that the name was not originally intended to be a reference to the ram in RETURN OF THE KING, but I’m not bothered that it worked out that way.  🙂

Mel: Maybe that’s the trick, a respectful nod to those who influence us in some way. I’m sure you’ve been asked by a friend or family member to write them into your work – are you ever tempted? Or does that go against one of your rules?

Luther:  The biggest butthead in fourth grade is a tuckerization.  She didn’t ask, and I don’t know if she’s noticed yet.  She made me send her a signed copy of the book, though.

Mel: If you had an endless budget, describe the trailer for Skylights.

Luther: I’m starting to think that you picked up on one of the things I tried to do with that book, which was to have it feel cinematic.  🙂  I’m not sure about the entire trailer, but I know exactly what the last shot should be– a Michael Bay-style swooping camera shot of a monkey in a spacesuit taking a flying leap into a black, bottomless pit.  Then, BOOM: Title card.

Mel: Skylights would certainly translate really well on the big screen. Have you created any of your own trailers? If not, would you consider making one to tease your readers?

Luther:  I haven’t.  I’m not terrible with iMovie, but I’ve never quite figured out what book trailers are for.  I may need to spend a couple of days watching a bunch of them and see if inspiration strikes me.

Mel: List five adjectives to describe yourself or your writing habits.

Luther: Um… “flailing” and “panicked” should probably be two of them.  I’m not good at this.  Is “Batman” an adjective?  It is if he says it is, right?

Mel: Right.

Tell us about your next project.

Luther: My next book is currently planned to be a nonfiction book about teaching called SEARCHING FOR MALUMBA– mostly a collection of reedited blog posts, although I’ll be drawing from previous websites I’ve run and writing some new stuff as well, so people who have been reading infinitefreetime since the beginning won’t be seeing nothing but old stuff.  That said, I’ve tried to write that book three times and walked away, so it may not happen.  I’m planning for it to be out this fall.  After that, the sequel to SKYLIGHTS and then another short story BENEVOLENCE ARCHIVES collection.

Or maybe something else.  We’ll see.

Mel: I’m thrilled to hear a Skylights sequel is on the cards. I think we can all relate to those difficult projects, the equivalent of a literary brick wall. Do you have any tried and tested methods (other than letting it sit for a while) when the going gets tough?

Luther:  Blind panic generally works well for me.  That said, sometimes I just have to let a piece sit until I know where it goes next.  Sometimes just skipping to the next chapter will work, but not always; frequently if I’m having trouble getting through a section it’s because the section is wrong and I just don’t know how yet.

Mel: What has been your greatest challenge as a writer so far?

Luther: Time.  Writing nonfiction is terribly easy for me, but I need an hour of staring at a blank screen and “thinking” before I can get even a couple of sentences of fiction out– the fact that I have three books out is a small miracle.  I need to either get more efficient as a writer or get real famous real quick so that I can quit my day job and have the desk time to write.  I will admit that my teacher’s schedule does help, because beginning a project is always the hardest part.  But I’m still working six days a week at two different jobs right now and have a three-year-old in the house, so finding time to write fiction is occasionally really, really difficult.

Mel: I imagine you have to find new and inventive ways to steal time, as it were, to write. Inspiration can strike in unusual places too. Can you give us an example of an occasion when an idea hit and you just had to write it down?

Luther:  I have an app on my phone called “Wunderlist” that I use almost solely to record story ideas as they occur to me.  Some of them are only a word or two long, and occasionally I look back at them and realize I have no idea what the heck I was thinking later.  I really wish I could remember what was going through my head the day “Mars Needs Internet!” got entered into that list.

Mel: Are there any genres you would love to explore?

Luther: Sooner or later I’ll write a straight fantasy book.  I’d love to do a detective story, and historical fiction appeals to me as well, possibly combining the two– but I don’t know that I’m a strong enough plotter for a detective story and the idea of doing all the research that would be necessary for a historical fiction makes my teeth hurt.  One of these days, though…

Mel: Perhaps something like Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency – I could see that!

Thanks so much for agreeing to the interview, Luther. I’ve had an absolute blast, and I’m sure the readers have too!

***

LutherSilerHeadshotLuther Siler was born in 1976 in northern Indiana, where he currently resides along with his wife, three-year-old son, two cats, and a dog. In his spare time he works at a school helping other people be awesome.   he writes about space gnomes and Mars.

Sanctum_72dpi“Go rob that train.” Nice, normal. An everyday heist.

But nothing is ever normal for Brazel, Grond and Rhundi.

A simple act of motorized larceny quickly explodes into a galaxy-spanning adventure for the two thieves. Blade-wielding elves, a fast-moving global war, a secret outlaw space city, incomprehensible insectoids and one impossibly lucky human are just the start of their problems. And that’s before they learn that someone from Grond’s past has gotten the Benevolence involved…

What is happening on the ogrespace moon Khkk?

Who are the Noble Opposition?

And what is the secret of THE SANCTUM OF THE SPHERE?

***

Thanks for stopping by. If you have any other burning questions for Luther, please feel free to leave them in the comments.

Mel

Introducing Myrna J. Smith – author of God and Other Men

godandothermen1500x2400Today, I have the great pleasure of introducing you to Myrna J. Smith. You will find details of her novel, God and Other Men, and how to get your hands on a copy, below. But first, I’d like to share an interview, and let you get to know Myrna a little better.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am fortunate to have lived in four different parts of the country: Oregon, Indiana, Wyoming, and New Jersey, and to end up in the one I like the best, New Jersey. I live in the western part of the state in Frenchtown where there are farms and open spaces, yet I can be downtown New York City in an hour and a half. I go there not only for the theater and the opera, but also for the energy emanating from the variety of people on the streets.

For over thirty years I taught English, and for the last few years, Comparative Religion at Raritan Valley Community College. During that time I was able to complete my Doctor of Education at Rutgers and to attend Princeton University on Mid-Career Fellowships, once in English and once in religion.

Besides reading and writing, I have two hobbies: playing duplicate bridge and traveling. I like concentration required to play serious bridge—like writing, you can’t think about anything else. I also like the excitement of going some place new, especially if the trip is not too planned. I just returned from five weeks in Asia, the last two being in Vietnam on my own.

To balance my competitive nature that comes out in playing bridge I am a daily meditator and attend a Unity Church. Luckily I have a great family—three children, five grandchildren, a sister and a brother and some valued in-laws.

When and why did you begin writing?

I began keeping a journal in my early thirties. By that time I had completed an MA program in English and, therefore, had written lots of papers, but I didn’t really express myself, just fulfilled the professors’ requirements. I had not talked about feeling with my parents, nor did my husband and I communicate well about anything but our studies and our drive for material success. We couldn’t even talk well about our three children.

In my journals I first began writing little verses then moved to my personal issues. I started looking forward to my morning session with my journal, a place where I could say what was on my mind.

When I wrote my doctoral dissertation, I made rules for myself—as a good puritan, I responded to self-imposed rules: I had to be at the typewriter (no computer then) by eight o’clock and had to stay there until one o’clock or until I had written three pages. I did that every day for two months, although one day I let myself be diverted by the laundry, and didn’t write a single word.

I saw that I liked the process: the discipline, the pages stacking up, the figuring out both what to say and how to say it. When I finished the dissertation, I wrote a note to myself and put it in my desk drawer: “I want to be a writer.” I couldn’t tell anyone because I didn’t have enough confidence that I could ever become one.

A few years later I took a temporary administrator’s job. Being out from under the heavy teaching load at a community college, I found time to write more than the occasional essays and poems in addition to my journal. I published articles and chapters in books during those two and a half years, giving me the impetus to keep trying to fulfill my secret dream.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I did not have the courage to call myself a writer until after I published my book.

A conversation I had with an elderly professor at the university where I held the administrative job contributed to my feeling of not being up to the task of being a writer. Everyone in the building knew I would be returning to my position as an English Professor at the community college from which I had a leave of absence, but this scholar asked me about my academic plans. I told him I intended to continue to write. He asked me a series of penetrating questions about my knowledge of languages, my research specialty, etc. When he found out I had no special skill, he made a disparaging remark, “How can you write; you have nothing to say.”

Fortunately, I was able to recover from his comment by finding that I do have something to say and can now comfortably call myself a writer.”

What inspired you to write your first book?

I have written only one book, my spiritual memoir, God and Other Men. I had made other attempts at big writing projects, but none of them took root. After I made my long trips to India and had such unusual experiences, I decided I needed to write a book at least about the teachers I had met there and the mystic I had studied with here in the US. When I decided to turn those experiences into a memoir, the idea just took off. I wrote every chance I had.

How did you come up with the title?

I like to ponder ideas as I walk, and since I live on near a path on the Delaware River, I walk there often. I had determined early on that I wanted to write about my spiritual teachers. My father, a follower of the work of Edgar Cayce, owned his series “The Search for God.” I thought that would be a good title for my book. Then when I decided to write a spiritual memoir instead of a religious book, I recognized that I had to include my search for another husband. But a title “Searching for God and a Second Husband” didn’t sound so appealing. On one of those walks, “God and Other Men” just popped into my head.

Coming up with the subtitle took much more work. My editor and I went back and forth for several months. At first she wanted something about India in it. I said it was more about overcoming abandonment. Finally, she came up with Religion, Romance, and the Search for Self-Love, which expresses exactly what the book is about.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Though I should not choose Russian writers because I cannot read them in the original, but Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoevsky are the writers I admire the most; however I have learned more from Tolstoy. Both deal the big existential questions, questions that have dominated my life for the last forty years.

Like many persons my age I was caught up in both the women’s and civil rights movements and the literature that came with those societal shifts. But that literature seems ephemeral compared to the universal questions that Tolstoy considers.

Even though he develops complex characters, his moral compass stays on his north star. In Anna Karenina Kitty and Levin contrast sharply to Anna and Vronsky on one hand and Anna’s husband on the other. Readers may not buy his romantic vision of country living, but he does have an ideal. In the novella The Death of Ivan Illych Tolstoy not only critiques the values of the middle class, but also lays bare the pain of dying after an unreflective life. Illych faces not just the agony of a painful death, but the realization that he has not, in his desire for material success, cultivated any meaningful relationships or spiritual awareness. In both of these texts Tolstoy is able to offer social criticism while considering life’s ultimate meanings.

In my writing I have tried to keep in mind exactly what it is that I am trying to say. In my memoir I left out many great adventures that I would have enjoyed writing about simply because they did not add to my main idea.

What books have influenced you the most?

The books that have influenced me the most are all religious. Most importantly is A Course in Miracles, which presents a complete philosophical system written in Christian language, but is more Buddhist in thought. It has a text and a 365-workbook for students. In addition there is “A Manual for Teacher,” but since we are all teachers and all students, that too is written for all.

The Indian text the Bhagavad Gita has also been important. Written in dialogue between Arguna, the reluctant warrior for the “good” side in an epic battle, and Krishna, one of the gods in the Hindu pantheon, we hear the words of wisdom in story form. Krishna tells Arguna he must fight because his spiritual path is one of action, but that he must not be concerned with the outcome of the battle. Krishna also points out three other paths to god, guides for any spiritual seeker.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Once I had in mind the form of the book, the only chapter I really suffered over was the one on A Course in Miracles. How was I to explain three things: (1) The unusual way it came into being. It was channeled in the voice of Jesus through a Ph.D. psychologist who proclaimed to be a militant atheist. (2) Its message with emphasis on forgiveness, but not the way most of us understand that word. (3) Most importantly, its influence on my life.

What was your favorite chapter to write?

The first and easiest Chapter to write was the one about Satya Sai Baba, fifth in the book because I knew what I wanted to say. The one I had the most fun with was Chapter one. Once I came to the idea of going around my house looking for what my ex-husband had taken with him when he moved out, I felt I had struck on a device to convey my feelings without being sentimental. I named kitchen objects and pieces of furniture that were missing, showing how fair he had been. I was intent on not blaming him for the demise of the marriage, yet still showing my devastation.

I also enjoyed incorporating a part of Ann Sexton’s poem “Live” and a reference to Emily Dickinson’s “white sustenance, despair” because they expressed some of my own thoughts. I had taught both of these poets in my college English classes and found they spoke to both men and women.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in writing?

Writing dialogue is the most difficult part of the process for me. In my memoir, I rely on one or two spoken lines to emphasize an important statement and make a character come alive. Though I tried, I was not able to write even a half page of conversation. On the other hand, I have just read a memoir in which the writer uses a lot of dialogue that seems to have no other purpose than to show that people are talking. In my book I was intent on making sure every sentence gave new information. I could not figure out how to do that in dialogue, something I know I will have to do if I turn my hand to fiction.


myrnajsmith2493x2825Myrna J. Smith held a faculty position in the English Department at Raritan Valley Community College, Somerville, N.J., from 1970-2004, where she took leave for two and a half years to serve as Associate Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning housed at Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J. She received a Ed.D. from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey in New Brunswick, N.J. Smith also had two Mid-Career Fellowships to attend Princeton University, one in English and one in religion. Smith, who was 74 years old when she published her memoir, now resides in Frenchtown, N.J, a small town on the Delaware River.

She recently returned from a five-week trip to Asia: two weeks with a small group to Myanmar and a few days in Hong Kong, where she has friends, and Vietnam for 10 days. The year before Smith traveled to Thailand and Cambodia and the year before that to Indonesia, both with small groups. She also travels in Canada and the northeast U.S. with her sister, brother, and their spouses most years.


godandothermen1500x2400About God and Other Men: Religion, Romance, and the Search for Self-Love:

Myrna Smith opens her story one Sunday night when she returns home from a ski weekend with her three children. While she was on the slopes, her husband had moved out. That had been the plan.

Yet her story, though it encompasses her divorce, is much larger. Ultimately, Smith sets out to love herself, to find an inner place where she can rest and grow.

In this search-for-the-holy-grail memoir, Smith traces her travels toward enlightenment as a middle-aged American woman with a wry humor and heartfelt longing. On the journey she discovers spiritual fulfillment doesn’t come easily, or all at once. For her, it is quite elusive.

The quest really started, she realizes, in her childhood on an Oregon farm where she and her older sister were once “converted” in their father’s pea patch by two young Bible summer school teachers barely out of their teens. The school was part of the tiny church their mother attended while their father stayed home, read Edgar Cayce books, and mused on reincarnation.

Later, drawn by the mysticism of the Hindus, Smith’s journey leads to Bangalore where she touches the robes of Sai Baba, the Indian saint. Back home in New Jersey, she finds herself in a country farm- house getting prescriptions channeled through a medium for every- thing from her back woes and diarrhea to an obsession with money.

She also writes of the demons that surface during a years-long love affair with her beloved Charlie and what A Course in Miracles stirred within her.

Smith’s story is one of adventure and effort that, in the end, reveals three simple yet essential truths that are both the journey and the destination.


 Book Details:

Paperback: 240 pages

Genre: Spiritual Memoir

Publisher: Cape House Books (October 23, 2014)

ISBN-10:1939129044

ISBN-13: 978-1939129048

God and Other Men is available in paperback at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, CreateSpace, and Indie Bound.

Author Interview – Fiona Ingram

Welcome back to the second part of Fiona’s spotlight post. I’d like to share an interview with you, and have included information about Fiona and her work at the bottom of the post as a reminder.

Interview with Fiona Ingram
  1. How do you market your work? What avenues have you found work best?

scarab_cover_webWhen I first began a career as a fiction writer, I knew absolutely nothing about marketing. I thought you wrote a book and people flocked to buy it. I did a lot of research and found a site called Author Marketing Experts. Two great and unforgettable pieces of advice from them are: “Do something every day to market your book, no matter what it is” and “Tell everyone you know about your book because word-of-mouth is the best form of marketing and it’s free!”

  1. How did you choose the genre you write in?

Writing for middle grade readers was a total accident that came about after I went to Egypt with my late mom and my two young nephews, then aged 10 and 12. They really put the magic into exploring a new and exotic location and that sparked my own memories of the childhood magical belief in fantastic possibilities and adventures. I wrote a short story about our escapade in Egypt. It turned into a book and then a book series.

  1. Do you suffer from writers’ block?

Never. If I am not sure about a certain part of the story then I focus on another scene. When I get back to the ‘sticky’ scene, I find the characters have carried on without me and basically sorted out the hurdle.

  1. Do you use an outline or just write?

A combination of both works for me, whatever genre I am writing in. I have an idea, I scribble some basic notes (beginning, middle and ending) and then gradually break it into chapters/scenes, making notes of maybe just a line or 2, and then I get started. Often the story takes me into sub plots I hadn’t even thought of. Sometimes I see whole scenes in my head which may actually happen much later in the book. In my MG book series, I have the outline of every book already done, along with the various important elements that have to appear.

  1. What are you working on right now? Tell us your latest news.

As you know, Book 2: The Search for the Stone of Excalibur is enjoying its launch (so please tell everyone you know!) but I am about to wrap up Book 3: The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper. I hope that it’ll be published early in 2015 since my artist is forging ahead with the cover and interior graphics. I am about halfway through Book 4: The Cabal of the Ouroboros, also very exciting because a lot of the action takes place underground in the catacombs of Paris. On the international front, my Japanese publisher just sent me print copies of Book 1: The Secret of the Sacred Scarab in Japanese, so hopefully the series will garner some young fans from that country.

  1. What has been the toughest criticism you’ve received, and the best compliment?

So far I haven’t received any tough criticisms, and maybe that’s because children’s books are perceived in a less critical light? Not sure. My best compliments: this is what a few reviewers have said about Book 2: The Search for the Stone of Excalibur. “Ingram brings history alive in her writing…” “Ingram describes her characters and locales in such a vivid way that the reader cannot help but picture themselves right there alongside the cousins.” “Ingram’s storytelling is masterful; she adroitly weaves historical fact and fantasy in a smooth and fluid style that makes reading this book both an exciting and intellectually satisfying treat.”

  1. What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given by another writer?

The best pieces of advice I have ever received are: 1. Never give up. 2. Make sure your book meets the highest levels of the publishing industry’s standards. 3. Tell everyone you know about your book.

  1. Is there any advice you’d like to share?

This advice is for parents. If any readers are parents or have young relatives, the best gift you can give them is a love of reading. Enjoying reading is a learned skill, and a clever parent will encourage an enjoyment of reading by spending just a few minutes a day reading to and with their child. Reading then becomes associated with a pleasurable experience. If your child is a bit older, then encourage them to read anything that interests them, even comics. A child who loves to read will have a wonderful start in life and seek out knowledge on their own later on.

  1. Do you start with character or plot?

Interestingly, it’s a bit of both. Luckily for me, I had my characters more or less settled because they are modelled on real young people. The plot kind of made itself up and has become more complex and interesting with each book. I do write other books in other genres and there I find I just need the germ of an idea and the plot and characters unfold together.

  1. In your words, what defines a good story?

A tale that captures and keeps its audience’s attention from the first to the last page.

  1. What kind of questions do you ask yourself when you get an idea for a project?

Do I have time to include this in the list of things I am already doing…?

***

Ingram

Fiona Ingram was born and educated in South Africa, and has worked as a full-time journalist and editor. Her interest in ancient history, mystery, and legends, and her enjoyment of travel resulted in The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, the first in her exciting children’s adventure series—The Chronicles of the Stone. This was inspired by a family trip the author took with her mom and two young nephews aged ten and twelve at the time. The book began as a short story for her nephews and grew from there. The Search for the Stone of Excalibur is a treat for young King Arthur fans. Fiona is busy with Book 3 entitled The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper, set in Mexico.

While writing The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, Fiona fostered (and later adopted) a young African child from a disadvantaged background. Her daughter became the inspiration for the little heroine, Kim, in The Search for the Stone of Excalibur. Interestingly, the fictional character’s background and social problems are reflected in the book as Kim learns to deal with life. Fiona’s experiences in teaching her daughter to read and to enjoy books also inspired many of her articles on child literacy and getting kids to love reading.

About The Chronicles of the Stone Book Series:

Book One, The Secret of the Sacred Scarab:

scarab_cover_web
Click on the image for purchase information.

A 5000-year-old mystery comes to life when a scruffy peddler gives  Adam and Justin Sinclair an old Egyptian scarab on their very first day in  Egypt. Only when the evil Dr. Faisal Khalid shows a particular interest in the
cousins and their scarab, do the boys realise they are in terrible danger. Dr.  Khalid wants the relic at all costs. Justin and Adam embark upon the adventure  of a lifetime, taking them down the Nile and across the harsh desert in their  search for the legendary tomb of the Scarab King, an ancient Egyptian ruler.  They are plunged into a whirlpool of hazardous and mysterious events when Dr.  Khalid kidnaps them. They learn more about the ancient Seven Stones of Power and the mysterious Shemsu-Hor. They must translate the hieroglyphic clues on the underside of the scarab, as well as rescue the missing archaeologist James  Kinnaird, and their friend, the Egyptologist Ebrahim Faza, before time runs out!

Click on the image for purchase information.
Click on the image for purchase information.

Book Two, The Search for the Stone of Excalibur:

A modern day adventure as our protagonists search for Excalibur and the treasures it holds!

Continuing the adventure that began in Egypt a few months prior in The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, cousins Adam and Justin Sinclair are hot on the trail of the second Stone of Power, one of seven ancient stones lost centuries ago. This stone might be embedded in the hilt of a newly discovered sword that archaeologists believe belonged to King Arthur: Excalibur.

However, their long-standing enemy, Dr. Khalid, is following them as they travel to Scotland to investigate an old castle. Little do they know there is another deadly force, the Eaters of Poison, who have their own mission to complete. Time is running out as the confluence of the planets draws closer. Can Justin and Adam find the second Stone of Power and survive? And why did Aunt Isabel send a girl with them?

Join Justin and Adam as they search not only for the second Stone of Power, but also for the Scroll of the Ancients, a mysterious document that holds important clues to the Seven Stones of Power. As their adventure unfolds, they learn many things and face dangers that make even their perils in Egypt look tame. And how annoying for them that their tag-along companion, Kim, seems to have such good ideas when they are stumped.

Introducing The Secret Life of Jenny Liu by Jean Ramsden

Diverse Book Tours IconWriting Room 101 is thrilled to play host for the Diverse Book Tours Event – The Secret Life of Jenny Liu, written by Jean Ramsden.

Jean kindly agreed to an interview, which is a great way to learn more about the author, her work, and her latest release – The Secret Life of Jenny Liu.

JeanRamsden_Headshot

What is your first memory of writing?

I moved frequently as a child and as a result of wanting to stay connected to my friends and the places I left behind, I became a voracious letter writer. At seven, I remember writing weekly letters to my best friend from kindergarten. Almost forty years later, based on this early intimacy with words, we still keep in touch, although it’s through email.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

In high school, I wrote for and was editor of the yearbook. I was also experimenting with writing poetry. When I began winning awards and college scholarships for both styles, I felt that my writing had some merit. But, it wasn’t until I got paid for writing, initially for magazines and television, that I actually considered myself a writer.

What inspired you to write your first book?

When my husband was little, he left his noisy preschool in the English countryside unnoticed and walked a mile back home, where he knew it would be quiet. The first children’s book I wrote was a picture book based on his story. “It’s Too Loud in Here!” is about a boy who can’t concentrate because his friends are making too much noise.

How did you come up with the title?

Jenny Liu is quiet and shy. She listens, observes and notices the details that others don’t, which helps her solve classroom problems. I liked the idea of a quiet, clandestine heroine. But, Jenny’s secret life doesn’t only include spying. Her new class assumes she’s super smart and her piano teacher thinks she’s a musical genius, but she’s neither. Keeping these secrets—not admitting the truth about her abilities—is a lot more difficult.

Are experiences based on someone you know or events in your own life?

A few of my experiences made their way into the book.

  1. Like Jenny, I moved frequently as a child. Although, I never lived in South Carolina.
  2. In the book, the winners of the soccer game get to spray each other with whipped cream. When I lived in southern Virginia, my elementary school held a similar party, except that we threw pies!
  3. The teachers in the book, Mr. Short and Ms. Candy, are sweet on each other. When I lived in upstate New York, my fifth-grade teachers got married.
  4. In the book, Ms. Candy begins every Tuesday with “Tuesday Times Tables” races. When I lived in the Washington, D.C. area, math races were a stressful part of my middle school day. During one race, a girl next to me admitted, “They think I’m smart, but I’m not.” This became one of Jenny’s dilemmas.

What was your favourite chapter to write?

I loved writing Chapter 11, “Thursday, February 11: Coming Clean,” because it includes such a lovely combination of humor, drama and suspense across situations and relationships. In addition, several characters reveal their true nature. Even though I know what’s coming, I cry every time!

What books have most influenced you?

  1. Anne of Green Gables: L.M. Montgomery
  2. This is How: Augusten Burrows
  3. Infinite Jest: David Foster Wallace
  4. Griffin & Sabine: Nick Bantock
  5. When I Have a Little Girl: Charlotte Zolotow
  6. The Poisonwood Bible: Barbara Kingsolver
  7. Living Zen: Charlotte Joko Beck
  8. American Pastoral: Philip Roth
  9. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: Lewis Carroll
  10. Bridge to Teribethia: Katherine Patterson
  11. Ismael: Daniel Quinn
  12. Man’s Search for Meaning: Victor Frankl
  13. Janey: Charlotte Zolotow
  14. Flowers for Algernon: Daniel Keyes
  15. Flesh and Blood: Michael Cunningham

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

The late Charlotte Zolotow. I admire her ability to write honest children’s books using simple, impactful, authentic text. One of the first writers to address topics like losing a friend, anger, moving away, a grandparent’s death, boys wanting to play with dolls and envy, Ms. Zolotow’s level of respect for and understanding of a child’s experience is, in my opinion, incomparable. Through her legacy, I continue to learn not only about writing, but about myself as a writer.

What book are you reading now?

Rebecca Solnit’s “The Faraway Nearby.” I’m reading Eva Ibbotson’s “Journey to the River Sea” to my four kids.

How long does it take you to write a book?

The first draft can take anywhere from one to six months. Sometimes, picture books take longer to write than YA novels!

What does your family think of your writing?

They are very encouraging and understand that I am happiest, the most balanced and my best self when I am writing. My daughters and husband are my first readers and editors. I test picture book content and word choice with my younger sons. Not only is my family helpful, but in addition to their love of books, they have become respectful of the writing process.

Do you use an outline or just write?

I outline first, down to the chapter titles. Outlining takes me about the same time as the actual writing. I have to be clear about how the story will start, develop and end.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given by another writer?

Wait until the last possible moment to reveal significant information.

Do you start with character or plot?

Plot. Once I figure out the main plot points, the characters come to life!

What kind of questions do you ask yourself when you get an idea for a project?

It’s usually just one: “Why does this story need to be written?” If I can’t answer the question, I discard the idea.

What has been the toughest criticism you’ve received, and the best compliment?

I haven’t received much criticism, so I’ll focus on the best compliment. “Jenny’s like me,” a young reader said. “The Secret Life of Jenny Liu” was the first time she had seen a Chinese girl like herself as a protagonist of a contemporary book, let alone on the cover.

What are you working on right now? Tell us your latest news.

I am developing a children’s stage play for “The Secret Life of Jenny Liu.” The setting and the characters lend themselves to a visual telling of the story. I’m also editing my first YA novel.

Do you have anything specific you want to say to your readers?

By the end of the book, Jenny finds strength in the things that make her unique and she realizes that The Real Jenny Liu is “just right.” I would encourage readers to stay true to themselves. And, thank you for your kind words, smiles and photos of you reading “The Secret Life of Jenny Liu”—they bring me such joy.

The Secret Life of Jenny Liu Cover

The Secret Life of Jenny Liu

Jean Ramsden

ISBN: 9781500612122

Publisher: Jam & Jabber Books

Pages: 262

Genre: Middle Grade/Juvenile Fiction

Plot Summary:

Jenny Liu is on the move again. Except this time, she hasn’t landed at yet another Chinese-American School in California but at a public school in South Carolina. Shy, artistic Jenny wonders if she will ever figure out how to fit in amongst rowdy fifth graders and eccentric teachers with hard-to-understand southern accents. To make matters worse, the class thinks she is super smart and her piano teacher thinks she is a musical genius. With school activities that test her intelligence and an upcoming piano recital, it’s getting harder for Jenny to do what’s right—to tell the truth—especially since she knows that The Real Jenny Liu would be even more of an outsider. Or would she?

Book Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Secret-Life-Jenny-Liu/dp/0991352408/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1414595626&sr=8-1&keywords=the+secret+life+of+jenny+liu

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-secret-life-of-jenny-liu-jean-ramsden/1120052277?ean=9781500612122

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22971975-the-secret-life-of-jenny-liu?from_search=true

Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.com/Secret-Life-Jenny-Liu-Co-Edition-Jean-Ramsden/9781500612122

BiographyAuthor Information

Jean Ramsden is a writer, producer and educational consultant. She graduated from Cornell University and Harvard University, and lives in North Carolina with her husband and four children.

Author Links

Website: http://www.jamandjabberbooks.com

Twitter:  Author: @Jean_Ramsden ; Publisher: @jabberandjam

Inside the Interview Room – Round 4

WR101

1 September 2014

the_dreaming_cover_for_kindle

Interview with Gina Briganti, author of Keep It Simple, The Dreaming and upcoming sequel Desert Sunrise.

What is your first memory of writing?

My first memories of writing are a series of poems I wrote in junior high, and a fan letter to Danielle Steele.  I thought she was the best author in the world at the time.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I first considered myself a writer when I started filling notebooks with story ideas, poems, and songs.

 What inspired you to write your first book?

What inspired me to write my first attempt at a book, a novel I attempted back in junior high, was going to the beach with my dad early one morning for fishing.  Apparently some frustrated writer had given up, and let his manuscript float all over the sand.  I collected those crusty, damp pages, tried to put them in order, and read them.  There wasn’t much of a story there, but the feel of those pages in my fingers gave me an itch to give it a try.  My first attempt at a novel was a Sweet Valley High inspired love story about the shy underdog landing the best looking guy in school, leaving the most popular girl in school unhappy.  I haven’t thought of this in years.  Thank you for a great question.

Are experiences based on someone you know or events in your own life?

I weave all kinds of real life into my fiction and non-fiction books.  It’s real for me, and I believe it makes it real for the reader, too.  For example, Jenny and Jason from The Dreaming, are based on my children.  When I was toying with the idea of giving Jason a drug problem, my son protested, saying “Thanks, mom, for giving my character a drug problem.”  That was a funny moment.  He was really offended.  However, my characters aren’t replicas of the people and events who inspire me.  For example, when I chose to have Jenny drive a VW bug, it was because it fit Jenny, when my daughter actually wanted a Nissan Altima. 

What books have most influenced you?

There are many books that have influenced me, but if there is one author who holds my heart, it is Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb.  She has an incredible talent.  My first Nora book was Dance Upon the Air, the first book in the Three Sisters Island trilogy.  Her paranormal romances have influenced me immeasurably. 

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

My good friend, editor, and co-author on an upcoming cookbook, Lynn Burton.  She has lovingly guided me through so much of the writing process. 

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

I have had to learn to limit my use of the words just, really, and very.  I can’t tell you how much I learned from crafting sentences without them.  It was challenging.  I just really miss those words very much, but I know how much I have improved without them.

How long does it take you to write a book?

My first four manuscripts that I attempted as an adult have taken a month or less each for the first draft.  Editing takes about another six weeks.

 Do you have any interesting writing quirks?

I don’t know if these could be considered quirks, but I talk to my characters, daydream about them, and then write the scenes that move me the most.  I fill in more of the story as I go along.

What does your family think of your writing?

This is a great question to ask me!  My children are proud that I am pursuing my passion.  My boyfriend can see how much I love writing and wants me to be able to make it my full time career.  My brother thinks I write trashy novels and is shocked that I want to write romance, of all things.

Now, if you’re asking about their feedback on reading my writing, that’s a different story.  My daughter has dutifully read my first two published books and countless songs and poems.  She thinks I’m a good writer.  I wrote one story that impressed her so much that she asked if I actually wrote it, which told me that I had reached a new level in my craft.  I don’t know where she thinks I might have got it, or why I would have told her it was mine if it wasn’t, but I’ll take the compliment.

My brother reads everything he can of mine that isn’t graphically sexual (because it’s too creepy to     read love scenes written by his sister, thank you very much) and thinks I am a gifted writer.

My mother loves everything she has scanned, because she’s my mom.  I’m honored, because she isn’t a reader.  When I told her my books were getting a lot of 4 and 5 star reviews, she basically said that she expected no less, because I’ve been writing for so long. 

Do you start with character or plot?

I usually start with the characters.  They really are my favorite part.  As a reader I’m drawn to character-driven stories. 

In your words, what defines a good story?

I love this question, too.  A good story can take so many avenues.  I find it amazing that a 100 word flash fiction can pull me in as well as a 100,000 word novel.  What defines a good story, for me, is how much I enjoy going along for the ride the writer is taking me on.  If the writer makes me laugh or cry, or even groan a few times, I consider that a good story.  If I get lost in the world I’m creating in my head through the writer’s imagination, that’s a good story.  If I can’t wait to turn the page, that’s a good story.  If I put off reading the book for a day because I don’t want it to end, that’s a good story.  If I love what I’m reading so much that I have to hold someone down and read parts of it to them, that’s a good story.  If I keep the physical book and read it again and again, that’s Dance Upon the Air by Nora Roberts, or Naked in Death by J.D. Robb, the definition of good storytelling.

 


Gina has been a great source of inspiration to me; she is a kindred spirit. You will find information about her upcoming release Desert Sunrise, as well as her other projects, by visiting her website here.

 

The Shadow Stalker Blog Blitz: Part 2

Marketing KitWelcome back for the second stop at WR101. If you haven’t managed to catch Renee’s author interview, you will find it below. Renee is happy to answer any of your questions, so if there’s anything you’d like to know, either leave your questions in the comments or visit Renee’s blog. This evening, in the final stop, I will be sharing the character interviews provided as part of the tour, so don’t miss out on those.

Renee Scattergood

Author Interview

By: Kathryn Jenkins

 

Q: When did you decide you wanted to be a writer? Do you remember the exact moment you made the decision and why?

A: In 1995 I was going to college for film and video production, and one of the required courses was an English course that required us to do some creative writing. My instructor was so impressed with my work that he had me read it in front of the class on a couple of occasions (which I have to admit was quite horrifying for me). One day he called me up after class was over and asked me if I had ever considered getting any of my work published. I had always loved making up stories, but I never considered writing them down, and I certainly never considered I could be good enough to have something published. He got me thinking about it, though, and I started writing for fun after that. It wasn’t until a few years later that I started to consider writing more seriously.

Q: The hardest obstacle every author faces is trying to find the time to write. How do you manage your time with being a mother and a wife?

A: It’s really not easy. My daughter is autistic and has ADHD as well, so she requires a lot of my attention. I tend to write in bits and pieces throughout the day when I can find time. I volunteer in her school’s library, so I tend to do most of my writing then, or when she is occupied with something at home. Keeping a regular writing schedule is not something I can do, though, so I have to just take advantage of every opportunity.

 Q: Where do you find your inspiration for your stories/books?

A: A lot of it comes from my personal experiences and interesting people that I meet. I also read a lot of fantasy novels, and that tends to get my creative juices flowing.

Q: Your first novel is in a serialized format. Can you tell us why you chose this direction with publishing your work?

A: I was originally planning to write it as a series of novels, but I decided I wanted to try something different since so many authors are doing them these days. I had read about how some authors will publish their novels one chapter at a time and charge $1 a chapter. I thought this was a bit excessive since most novels are close to about 30 chapters. That’s a lot of money to charge for a novel in digital format and most ebook distributors won’t charge less than $0.99. So I came up with the idea of writing episodes, based on the concept of a TV series, but in the form of a short novella.

 

I thought it would be a great way to get my story out there and see if there and see if there was an interest before investing several months of work in writing a complete novel. Plus, it will be fun to be able to give my readers something new to read every month.

Q: With having a serialized novel in the process. Do you have chapters written already for the next episode or are you writing as you go?

A: Episodes 2 and 3 are nearly ready for editing and I’ve just started writing Episode 4. Readers can track my progress from my website where I post word count widgets in the side bar. I like to keep at least a few episodes ahead because quite often I will get ideas that will need to be introduced in an earlier episode. This gives me the latitude to make changes before publishing.

Q: While you are in the process of your serialized novel are you working on other projects? Can you tell us about them? 

A: I am working on a novel called The Four. It will be a standalone novel with the potential for a sequel. The only thing I can say about it right now is that it’s about shape shifters with the ability to control people’s minds. It will be a sort of fantasy thriller.

Q: What background do you have that shows up frequently in your writing?

A: I have been into shamanism for many years, and my stories tend to have a very shamanic theme, although very loosely based in reality. I also prefer to write fantasy that takes place in a modern or futuristic world compared to ours.

Q: What are your goals as a writer? Where do you see yourself in five years after starting your journey with, Shadow Stalker: The Hidden Truth?

A: I’m not really big on the idea of fame and popularity. I just want to be successful at what I do and make a good living at it. If in five years I can travel with my family anywhere we want to go, be able to live in a nice house and own a nice car, and do things we want to do without worrying about our finances, I will consider myself successful. Then I might consider some new goals, although, I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t be tickled if one of my novels were to be made into a movie that was produced by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. To work with those two men would be a dream come true for me.

 Q: What challenges do you face with writing your serialized novel that other writers don’t?

A: The biggest challenge, I would say, is meeting a monthly deadline to write, edit, publish and promote each episode. Also, once an episode is published, it’s cannon. I have to be very careful that I don’t do anything in future episodes that will contradict something that had been previously written. 

 Q: Since, this is your first time being published. Can you tell us about your experiences? What advice would you give to another author just starting out also?

A: Most of my experience over the years has been overcoming my fears. First, I had to get over the fear of having people read my work. I really didn’t believe I was very good until I had strangers emailing me to praise my writing skills. That was a big confidence booster for me and prompted me to start writing more seriously. I’m a perfectionist, though, and I will not publish something if I can’t read it over and over and still love it. I spend the last ten years working on my writing skills and learning about the industry and marketing because I knew I wanted to self-publish. Making the decision to finally write and publish Shadow Stalker is a big step for me because I’m facing my biggest fear of all…fear of the unknown.

 

If I was to give any advice at all, it would be to know your craft and your industry. Don’t just jump into things blind. You should have a plan, and you should know exactly how you will put that plan into action. Then when you have done all that, get to work! Don’t let your fears stop you from achieving your dreams.

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Thanks for visiting.

Mel