20 Questions With..., pictures

20 Questions with…Gay Yellen

She’s an actress, assistant director, journalist, an award winning novelist-and she’s also a dear friend.  Gay Yellen has a shrewd eye for detail, in fact I wanted to hire her as my editor, she didn’t have time (I mean look at her credentials she’s a busy lady) but encouraged me to really go through my manuscript.

Later I still had to hire an editor, but at least my tenses were correct, and without Gay encouraging me to tackle my greatest writing fear-editing- I wouldn’t be as strong as a writer as I am.

I’ve had the pleasure of having my poetry published along with hers in the collection IN THE QUESTIONS from Spider Road Press and we were in the same critique circle for several years which was educational and fun.  I highly recommend her Samantha Newman mystery series (her Samantha is much different from my Samantha Locke in ‘Blood On The Potomac’ in which we joked often during cc) not only does it keep you on the edge of your seat, but Yellen’s descriptive quality, especially with food, is so precise that your mouth begins to water.  Needless to say I think that she needs to come out with a cookbook.

And now I’m going to introduce you to the woman who’s done it all, and now is sharing her stories with the world, thankfully I had the chance to live during the same time as her thus able to meet her characters.

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Twenty Questions with Gay Yellen

  1. Every writer has that one book that made him or her want to be a writer, what’s yours?     I can’t really pick one. Writing seemed to be a natural extension of reading, and as a child, I read voraciously. Family lore has it that when I was a toddler, I would turn magazine pages and babble words as if I were reading them.

  2. How old where you when you started writing?    In my baby book, my mother recorded a poem that she swears I made up at the age of three.

  3. Name four authors that you’d love to have lunch with.   Anthony Doerr. Hank Phillippi Ryan. James Michener. Theodore Geisel.

  4. What would you eat?      Fries. Vanilla malts. Maybe Green Eggs and Ham.

  5. How do you plot out your work?      I’m not much of a plotter, except for the bare-bones structure. Once I have the main characters and what the story is about, the rest more or less falls into place, although it takes quite a while to get to The End.

  6. Do you write in the morning or evening?      I start in the morning and work as long as I can.

  7. Is there music on?       Not for my mysteries. I’m also working on a historical fiction, and I use music of that period to help immerse me in what is otherwise a distant and underexplored era.

  8. What inspired your last story?       After The Body Business was published, I regretted cutting the ending short, leaving readers hanging. I wrote The Body Next Door to continue the story. Now that it’s won the international Chanticleer Mystery & Mayhem Award, I’m glad I made that decision.

  9. Name three books so good you wish you wrote them.     All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr. Housekeeping, by Marilynne Robinson. The Book Thief, by Marcus Zusak.

  10. What television shows, movies, or albums do you believe are written well?    TV has some of the best writing ever. Veep, Silicon Valley, Life in Pieces, Better Call Saul come to mind.

  11. Which actor would you cast in the protagonist role of your most recent piece?                        Emma Stone would be a perfect Samantha Newman.

  12. Which of your pieces was the hardest to write?     The next one.

  13. Which was the easiest?    The Body Business. I’d just helped the author of an international thriller polish his book, Five Minutes to Midnight, which did very well, according to The New York Times. That success led me to try writing one of my own.

  14. Which of your pieces did readers ‘get’ when they told you their thoughts on it?              I love to hear from readers, whether they leave a question for me on my website, or I get to meet them in person at a book club or other public appearance. It’s a thrill for a writer to learn how the characters on the page come alive in a reader’s imagination.

  15. What are you working on now?     Book 3 of The Samantha Newman Series.

  16. What story do you have to write before you die?     The historical fiction has been in my heart for years. I started it years ago before my first mystery was published. The opening chapters actually won Best Historical Fiction in a Houston Writers Guild contest in 2013.

  17. What’s your best fan story?         I love meeting new fans who tell me that my book brightened a few hours of their lives. And when a long-ago friend discovers my books and reconnects with me, it’s a plus I hadn’t counted on, and I love it. That’s a long way of saying I have no best fan story, just a lot of wonderful encounters with readers.

  18. What sentence have you written that you feel encapsulates your style?   Here’s one from The Body Next Door. Samantha is talking about the little girl she’d befriended a few days earlier: Anyone but Lizzie would have annoyed me beyond endurance, but somehow, we vibrated at the same frequency.

  19. Have you ever based characters off of real people?   A writer’s head is filled with experiences, some we’re conscious of and some that seem to bubble up from nowhere. I’ve never consciously based an entire character on any real person, but some character traits may resemble those of people I’ve observed.

  20. Who’s your favorite character?   Lizzie, from The Body Next Door. That sad, lonely little girl in need of a friend. I have no idea where she sprang from, but I fell in love with her at first sight, as did Samantha Newman. I think that relationship helped define Samantha in a good way. I still think about Lizzie. She’ll definitely be in Book 3.

You can find out more about the author on her website: http://www.GayYellen.com and purchase her work from Amazon or Barnes & Noble or your favorite indie bookstore.

20 Questions With..., pictures, short stories

20 Questions with Jas T. Ward

Maybe I’ve said it before, but I’m a real big fan of Jas T. Ward.  She is known for her romance but I love her shorter pieces.  A collection called ‘Bits and Pieces: Tales and Sonnets’ is by far my favorite, although Ward admits that some of the stories are ‘rejects’ I find them illuminating.

Ward has had literally and figuratively every punch thrown at her, and yet she comes back strong in her writing.  Her characters share her resilience, lust for life, and are truly unforgettable.  She has over eight titles available for you guys to check out, as well as a coloring book that lets you tap into your own artistic abilities.

Jas is a dear friend, and I’m proud to be one of her stalkers.  Now it’s time for you to hear from her….

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20 Questions with Jas T. Ward

  1. Every writer has that one book that made him or her want to be a writer, what’s yours? You may find this odd, but it was the children’s book The Velveteen Rabbit. Something about it pulls me in today. It has a low word count actually, but the emotions behind the words. Amazing. I wanted to do that. I wanted to put emotions behind the words, draw a picture without having to be artistic, and have people feel. With words.
  2. How old where you when you started writing? I wrote my first story when I was about 8 years old. Pictures and everything. I spent days gluing those notebook paper pages together. It was not a work of art. LOL. But I’ve always written and I don’t see that changing. Sure, the audience may change and the scope, but no. I’ll probably write my goodbye on my death bed.
  3. Name four authors that you’d love to have lunch with. Well, I’ve already met you and would love to have eats with you again. But four I haven’t met to share the meal. Hmmm… Amy Tan, Ken Follett, Penelope Reid and Colleen Hoover.
  4. What would you eat? Has to be a Chinese food with huge trays of food made for the masses. I think you can tell a lot about what choices creative people when it comes to a selection of food. For me? Sushi, dumplings and coconut shrimp. Oh, and spring rolls. 🙂
  5. How do you plot out your work? I don’t. I have tried to use all the tactics – outline, story boarding. But none of it worked. Or it just went unused. The only two things I do is know my beginning and my ending. Then, the challenge is to make them meet up with what ever flows in the middle. Otherwise, I just start writing without a clue how that’s going to happen.
  6. Do you write in the morning or evening? I am inconsistent as all get-out. Some days it’s one and other days it’s the other. I think it has to do with my brain just goes on overdrive without warning. It’s a curse and a blessing so I’m not complaining.
  7. Is there music on? Not usually. I do have a movie or TV playing as white noise for the side of my nature that balks at having to write. But every now and then there is a soundtrack needed and when there is, it’s usually Linkin Park.
  8. What inspired your last story? That’s a complicated question to answer. My upcoming book releasing 06/13 – Soul Bound: The Warrior was inspired by real life events of my own. Some dark tragedy and loss. I still can’t really talk about it personally, but I was able to tap into it to write this fictional story. I see that as progress and it actually brought about some closure. Though I’m not really sure I’ll ever completely have that. But it’s nice to know I can go there… if only a little bit.
  9. Name three books so good you wish you wrote them. Oh wow, that’s a toughie… hmm. Any of the Pillars of the Earth books by Ken Follett. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan and The Dark Tower by Stephen King.
  10. What television shows, movies, or albums do you believe are written well? I was just having this conversation with a author friend of mine. I don’t know if you or any of your followers remember a show called ‘The Red Shoe Diaries’, but that show was amazing in how it told a different story every week from the view of one man reflecting on love. Another one that I think is incredibly well written and produced is ‘The Story of Us’. Also, the limited series ‘Big Little Lies’ was AMAZING. It needs every award there is for acting, directing and story. Movies? I love big budget movies. Deadpool was genius. Different, a thrill ride, dark elements and sex. It remembered me of my books. 😀
  11. Which actor would you cast in the protagonist role of your most recent piece? My reader club had this discussion. They all saw a younger Gerard Butler when discussing Jace Camden from Soul Bound. Brooding and intense with a soul you wanted to know, but it wasn’t going to be easy.
  12. Which of your pieces was the hardest to write? Soul Bound, without a doubt. It was just so personal. And there’s some scenes in the book that are not fiction. They happened. I’ll leave it up to the readers to decide which.
  13. Which was the easiest? Partly because his foundation had already been solidified in the first books of the series but also because he was just so much fun to step into the skin of. I had a lot of fun writing that book even though it was a paranormal, thriler book. Jess Bailey is something else.
  14. Which of your pieces did readers ‘get’ when they told you their thoughts on it? Madness, pretty much. The main character, Reno is so flawed. But he’s so good natured with a big heart. And mental special – he has a split personality and a much darker side. And he’s driven from forces beyond his control, literally and figuratively. I think the people that have gotten to know me, know I’m the same in a lot of ways.
  15. What are you working on now? Now that Soul Bound is at the formatting stage, I’m working on another ‘Romance – The Ward Way’ titled – ‘A Little Pill Called Love’. Which means it’s quirky, fun, has some love and intimacy but some series twists in it, but also takes on social issues in a background way. The reader goes in and realizes they learned something or found something in themselves without it being preached or lectured about within the pages. The characters took them there without even realizing it. This book will deal with severe bi-polar disorder and love.unnamed-2
  16. What story do you have to write before you die? My own. And considering how slow it is getting it out and on paper, I better live a LONG time. But I think I’m getting closer to being able to it. Soul Bound proved I could go there. I just hope it continues.
  17. What’s your best fan story? Ah, I have so many. The readers are amazing and how they have come to love the characters, many who have actual, interacting profiles on social media thanks to people who wanted to fan-fic/role play them, they love them even more. But I made the mistake of killing off Reno. And meant for it to be for good. Bad idea… They went ballistic! They sent me hate mail and inboxes of anger. They went on my wall and posted the meanest memes. Some they even created of “Bring Our Candyman Back!” And others threatened to boycott me and my books. Heck, there was a petition started with thousands of signatures. I was FLOORED. But, due to that love the Shadow-Keepers series was born and I am so grateful for that. I think that’s when I realized that not only are the voices of our characters rattling in our heads real to us in a way, they are also the same for our readers. It’s something we should always keep in mind. We want our readers to believe the escape we’re giving them—and the people that live there.
  18. What sentence have you written that you feel encapsulates your style? .. that’s a hard one and I would probably spend days in all my books to find the very best one. I think, if I have to have one sentence it would be – Don’t judge me or the world I’m showing you until the ride is over. Then, you’ll understand. If not, sorry, no refunds. 🙂
  19. Have you ever based characters off of real people? Not yet. But when I write my real story? Oh yeah, They’re in there.
  20. Who’s your favorite character? Easy and the fans would revolt if I didn’t say it – Reno Sundown. I love that character so much. My inner child given life. As a hot badass doesn’t hurt.

 

You can find out more about the author on their Facebook Author Page-Jas T Ward and purchase their work from Amazon.

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20 Questions With..., Everything That Counts, pictures

Twenty Questions with Jason Brandt Schaefer

We first met at a writers conference while waiting to pitch our respective novels.

Apparently the first thing I said to him was, “Nice suit,” as I leaned back on the sofa that lined the floral wall papered wall that faced the ballroom in which agents held our futures in their hands.  I wore my traditional skinny neon colored jeans, Chucks, and an oversize shirt.  (Full disclosure I’ve only seen him in a suit that one time.  I wouldn’t use the word ‘uptight’ to describe him-precise would be more accurate.)

“Thanks,” he nodded and smiled.  His face softened and my conversation starter had worked, we began talking thus getting my mind off my pitch.

I’d practiced it enough, if I didn’t know it a few moments before I’d meet an agent then I figured I didn’t know it at all.  Therefore befriending a fellow writer seemed like a good idea to calm my nerves.  Jason and I have stayed friends, and in fact one might say that it flourished over time.  Although we have different writing styles we both love music, art, and ideas of stories that we’re contemplating.  We’ve critiqued each others work, and he’s edited my upcoming YA novel ‘Everything That Counts’ (he did a great job so any mistakes that might end up in print are my fault not his).

He’s not only an author, but a visual artist.  You can see some of his work by clicking here and checking out his Instagram.

Basically he’s cool, intelligent, and totally cool with the copious amount of times I use the word ‘dude’.  Now check out his answers to my 20 questions…

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Twenty Questions with Jason Brandt Schaefer

 

  1. Every writer has that one book that made him or her want to be a writer, what’s yours? Oh, man. I cant say that I DO actually have ONE book that made me want to be a writer, but there have been several along the way. First, some of my favorite memories of my childhood are listening to my mother read to me, and it wasnt always childrens storybooks. She read Tom Sawyer to me one year, and I dont think we got all the way through it, but there was one scene that cracked her up something fierce and it has always stayed with me. Tom was playing with his friends, and for some reason pulled down his pants, maybe to relieve himself (or maybe all the boys were naked already; I havent re-visited the book since), but he lit upon a nettle, then rose up howling in pain. My mom found this tremendously amusing. Because I found Mark Twains 19th-century narration difficult to follow, I had to ask her why she was laughing so hard she was crying. As she wiped her face, she explained we had bull nettles on our eight acres, and Mom totally identified with Toms anguish. She hadnt sat on one (not to my knowledge, anyway), but everyone in my family had been stung somewhere on their bodies, including me. The laugh was a small thing, but it showed me how words have the power to invoke emotional responses, and our tie to Toms plight through our own experience, decades and decades into the future, blew my mind. This was a book written by a guy who was now dead, a famous dude we were studying in class, whose name I had read in history books and had heard everywhere, and he knew about bull nettles! So I saw that our lives were in that book, too. It was exciting. Mom read Jurassic Park to me, too, among many other Crichton novels, and seeing the movie version, the dinosaurs come to life, made the power of narrative all the more real to me. I was drawn to the cinematic style of Crichtons other novels, and compared the movies to the books every chance I could get. Eaters of the Dead is, in my opinion, one of his greatest literary experiments since it draws from archetypes you find in Beowulf, and The Thirteenth Warrior was pretty transcendental. Finally, in high school, when I was reading Stephen Kings The Dark Tower series, I realized literature is not only about writing to an audience; its about communicating with and responding to other literature. He drew inspiration from a Robert Browning poem, Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came, but if I remember correctly from Kings memoir, On Writing, he never intended it to be an adaptation of the poem, though it certainly is an interpretation of it. He had the lines, or the sentiment of the lines, rolling around in his head one day and set pen to paper, and realized LATER he was basing his book series on the poetic hero. That was FASCINATING to me. King also pulled lines out of T. S. Eliots The Waste Land. So its been a long, low-burning affair with literature novels, poems, and films that has driven my study of writing and my writing career to date. Ill add here that Emily St. John Mandels contemporary novel, Station Eleven, has finally given me a model for the KIND of novel I want to write, so if I had one book, Id say that one has been the most influential, but then, I read it only last year.

 

  1. How old where you when you started writing? I first began with a journal, I think. I was probably eight or nine. I remember sitting in the sun by the pool at our outdoor iron table, which my folks still have, writing down my thoughts and not knowing for what purpose. Dear Journal, Im not sure what to say here…” That sort of thing. The answer, I now know, was less about recording my experience (since Id had precious few at the ripe old age of nine), but had everything to do with the PRACTICE of writing. Trying to figure out ways to plot my thoughts silently, using written words. I think I was inspired by Doug Funnie to begin a journal, though. You know, that old Nickelodeon cartoon? Someone told me Doug reminded them of me (not far from the mark; an awkward, private, unathletic dreamer of a child), and I thought, well, if I am to become the realization of Doug, Ill have to begin a journal. The short stories came after, Im sure, and the poetry came in college, after I made that Stephen King/Robert Browning connection senior year of high school and began reading all the poetry I could get my hands on. I was like, if Kings reading poetry, I should be reading poetry.

 

  1. Name four authors that you’d love to have lunch with. Stephen King, naturally, then Louise Erdrich, author of Love Medicine and The Round House, Amelia Grey, this contemporary writer who pens the nastiest, most beautiful short stories Ive ever read (you can find them in Gutshot, her most recent collection), and James Hannaham, author of Delicious Foods. Id love to eat with Crichton if he were still alive, and I already met Emily St. John Mandel, who declined to answer a few interview questions for an academic paper I was writing on her book. I understand she was busy, but Im still a little sore about that, so I think our lunch date would be a little tense. I worry she wouldnt have time to pass the salt. I like my salt. Damn, I can only name four here? Can I eat at like a twenty-foot dining table with every writer I admire? Can we do hors doeuvres and wine in an art gallery and mill about, trading ideas as we run into one another? I want to meet and eat with all the writers I admire, provided they have good table manners. (I think novelists probably do; its the poets I worry about, those whimsical manipulators of language. Id be too afraid theyd bend a fork the way they bend a metaphor just to see if they could re-invent a way to eat their salad. And I abhor conversations with people who say things like, Prose is ugly in its attempt to bring MEANING to something. Words dont MEAN anything. Because language cant really be UNDERSTOOD, per se…” This is not productive conversation, and it doesnt encourage anyone. And Ill admit Ive said things like this myself. At dinner, even!)

 

  1. What would you eat? TACOS! I dont care who you are; everyone enjoys tacos. Wed have to have pork, fish, beef, seafood, and vegan options, though. And corn and flour tortillas. And lots of napkins. Itll be fun to see who picks what. I imagine King and Grey would eat with violence, given the content of their stories. Not sure about Erdrich or Hannaham. They strike me as wholesome, balanced people, so maybe theyll indulge in fish or tofu and use lots of napkins.

 

  1. How do you plot out your work? I write LOTS of notes, then put them together. These notes can be lists of major events or beats within scenes, investigations into character that could become scenes in longer work or short stories in themselves or woven into the texture of a book through backstory. Ive tried beginning a book and trying to let it flow, but my time as a journalist trained me to write from notes, so this doesnt work very well for me. So I consider my notes to be a sort of interview with myself, with my characters, in which I ask them where theyve been, what theyve done, where theyre going, what they wore last Tuesday, what they carry in their purse, what vacation they plan to go on next October, what they think of this particular work of art. The more random the questions, the more refined the characters become, and the more refined the characters, the clearer the plot becomes, and the clearer the plot, the more easy it is for me to write it all down and find unity of theme and structure. I guess Im holistic in that respect you can never see a novel all at once, but I like to know where Im headed and why before I set out on the journey. The real adventure is the journey, anyway, not the stops along the way, or even more depressing, the end.

 

  1. Do you write in the morning or evening? I seem to be the most productive in the early afternoon, but only if Ive slept in until at least 11 a.m. I am aware this is ridiculous, and I’m always trying to find the real answer to this question, but for me there is no best time to write. The best time is when theres no one around and no one expected to show up at the door, when its relatively quiet or theres some gentle background noise to let me know people are still alive in the outside world while Im in my head, when Im fed and relaxed and comfortable and have had at least two cups of coffee. Sometimes I feel like I have to be bored to write, but Im not sure thats quite true, either, and yet not sure its completely false. Why did humans invent novels in the first place? The correct answer, of course, is to share their experience of the human condition, but lets get real. Theres no better cure to sheer, absolute boredom than to imagine an entire world chock-full of excitement. Maybe thats why I feel I have to be bored its not the boredom, but the stability which grows from it, that I need. I have to be stable while I spin the world around in my mind, or else Im going to get dizzy and fall down.

 

  1. Is there music on? Sometimes I put music on, and sometimes Im in a coffee shop with music on. I cant listen to music when its repetetive or commands my attention. It brings me out of my daydream too much. If Im going to work with music on, its going to be something that can make me dance without occupying my mind. I do much better with ambient noise traffic, people talking, wind and rain, waves.

 

  1. What inspired your last story? Ill tell you about two of my shorter pieces, Lament for Reunions and Audrey Watched. I wrote Lament in response to the death of my grandfather and the drunken night I had with my cousins where we all realized though we come from the same place (geographically as well as hereditarily), we might finally be too different now to get along. I kept wondering, What do I do with that information? And I wrote the piece, just listing the strange and scary observations I was making that made me feel like an alien in my own family, a list of things perhaps I was the only one observing, and I got a really moving, emotional lyric essay out of it. (Though I sometimes call it fiction because the images and the plot, if it does have a plot, are taken out of context and manipulated to a degree.) And in writing the essay, I realized this is how I mourn things in my life I intellectualize and bargain, I put people and events in boxes and turn them around to see them from all sides, I stain microscope slides with little scenes from my own life and investigate why they happened that way, and what I could have done differently and what might have happened had I done that differently. Audrey Watched was similar, though it is more solidly a work a fiction. Im a musician, sometimes, and I lost a friend a while back to depression, anxiety and substance abuse. He was a musician, too, and wed played in a relatively successful group before things fell apart. Keeping the band together and everyone happy is the real business of music, not performing the songs. And a lot of times battling depression and confronting demons is a part of that. So I wrote this story of a Houston blues musician in a downward spiral. Because thats such a common theme in todays literature, I had to find a new way to write this old story, so I chose to tell it from the perspective of his guitar, named Audrey. She doesnt have any emotions, and she never responds to the protagonist, of course, any more than a guitar would in real life. What she does do is provide a keyhole into the world of his suffering, which made for a terrifying, claustrophobic story. Im working on a novel now, which I wont get too far into, but its also based on personal experience my parents shift from Lutheran Christianity to Wicca, a neo-pagan Earth religion. This happened when I was a teenager, and likely is the greatest reason I became a writer. To unpack complicated formative experiences like these.

 

  1. Name three books so good you wish you wrote them. At this point, I see any book on the shelf and wish Id written it, only because Im so hungry to get my work out there. I deeply admire Station Eleven, and Ill add Cormac McCarthys The Road and Hemingways The Old Man and the Sea to that list, but I dont wish Id written them because theyre amazing works of literature. Im glad they were written by others and that I can call them heroes for their achievements and that their work provides examples of what kinds of books Id like to write in my own way. Im not a jealous person, and I celebrate every writer who has their work out in the world. That said, I do wish I would have written the screenplay for this new movie, Captain Fantastic (2016), because Id already developed a plot very similar to the ending of that movie, and I felt the way Id written it was better and more fitting for my novel. Its not like he stole the story from me or anything. I dont know the guy, he just got to it first. The world is an echo chamber; similar inventions are inevitable because our needs are similar. Of course, seeing someone else doing first what I had already planned to do was pretty damned frustrating. Now I have to find a new way to end my novel, but I know the new way will be better than the original because fresh solutions always are. Thats heartening to me.

 

  1. What television shows, movies, or albums do you believe are written well? If you havent seen The Wire, I strongly recommend it. And Breaking Bad, of course. Im watching Girls right now and learning a lot from it. Were kind of in a new golden age of television. Some call it the platinum age, and Ill agree. With movies, American Beauty is such a strong film, it has remained at the top of my list for a long time. As has Forrest Gump and Dances with Wolves, though Ive grown more critical of stories like that that feature a white person going into an unfamiliar world only to win the day. That doesnt happen in real life. Historically, white people basically take whats not theirs, ruin everything, build on the ruins and say, Look at the great job weve done. Not to get too political, but see whats happening right now. This is why its so important for readers and writers and basically everyone who believes in a free, diverse world, to read literature and watch shows and movies by people who are different from you. Im a white man, and for the past two years Ive been reading and watching work by women, LGBTQ people, and black people pretty much exclusively. I feel its my responsibility to next read more from Jewish and Muslim writers. Ive gotten off topic. I believe John Coltranes Blue Train is written well. Jazz is very narrative, but also poetic. It breathes and searches like an organism, an extremely human music, the music of risk-taking, failure, and improvisation, and it requires huge amounts of concentration, study and practice. Give Moments Notice a listen. What a gorgeous composition!

 

  1. Which actor would you cast in the protagonist role of your most recent piece? For my novel-in-progress, maybe Crispin Glover would fit the tall, thin, pale character of Jonah Holloway, though Im not sure Id call him the protagonist. On the first page, we learn he has been murdered. The book features a first-person narrator, Micah Holloway, who investigates the origins of her familys decision to become Wiccan, and the consequences of that change. Much of the plot involves these stories, so its a large cast. Wait. It just occurred to me. Jennifer Lawrence would be perfect for Micah, and incidentally, Jonah is her father. Maybe Crispins too old for that. We havent seen him in a while.

 

  1. Which of your pieces was the hardest to write? This novel Im trying to bang out is pretty damned difficult. Only because its the most complicated story Ive ever worked on, and the plot is a beast. Emotionally speaking, Lament for Reunions got me pretty depressed, but then maybe I was depressed already and writing it helped guide me through it.

 

  1. Which was the easiest? That said about the emotional investment required for Lament, I wrote and drafted that piece to submission-ready in less than two months. I OBSESSED over it, maybe because it was more present in my head than anything. It was the perfect time to write that piece because it sort of grabbed me by the neck and didnt let go. Or maybe I was the one who grabbed. Either way, we helped one another become better, stronger individuals because we depended on each other in our time of need, like a father and a daughter, maybe. Thats ridiculous. Stories arent daughters.

 

  1. Which of your pieces did readers ‘get’ when they told you their thoughts on it? The complete ones. The ones I knew were ready to put out into the world, no one ever has trouble understanding. Its the works-in-progress, the early drafts that raise eyebrows and elicit questions. I will say when I read Audrey Watched to the public for the first time (holding a reading is a requirement of my MFA program), my sister-in-law leaned over to my brother and whispered, Your brothers a pretty fucked-up dude. They told me this after the reading. So I guess she got it; she was deeply disturbed by it, which was the goal of the piece. When people say they get your work, they should not only understand everything that happened, but the reason it happened, and what it MEANS that it happened. And I dont think thats too much to trust an audience with; as writers, its our job to meet the audience halfway. Maybe not even halfway maybe more like 45 percent of the way. Because when people are shoved off a cliff and asked to fly, sometimes they grow wings. Literarily speaking, of course.

 

  1. What are you working on now? Besides the novel, at the present moment, Im trying to get four different short stories published and trying to build a body of visual art. Since January 2016, Ive been researching and experimenting with ways to make stories into three-dimensional sculptures. I have a theory that objects can tell highly complex stories if they are intricate enough, and that patrons can read the story by spending time with the object. I have a few ideas but so far, Ive been dabbling in concrete poetry. Less narrative, but still just as visual. Im basically painting with words. Its a fun exercise and it brings me closer to language, feeling my way through it and living with it for a while. We all do it as we draft, but likely not to such intensity. The concrete poets whose work Ive studied are INSANE. And maybe I am a little, too.

 

  1. What story do you have to write before you die? Ill settle for this first novel! From time to time, an idea will grab ahold of me and Ill plot it a little, sometimes getting pages of plot notes out. I have plots like this for a six-book YA series about a boy who finds his way into the world of faeries and becomes their king (that suddenly sounds like one of those great white hero stories I was just talking about, so thats a problem), and for a novel about a door-to-door tutor who gets involved with an extremely wealthy family with ties to a corrupt underworld. The only thing linking them together is the innocent, damaged child hes tutoring to take the SAT. Before I die, Id like to write all of these stories Ive already imagined but havent had a chance to write yet.

 

  1. What’s your best fan story? To be honest, Im not sure what you mean by this, so Im going to have some fun with this. Sense 1: one of my fans approaches me Im an emerging writer, just now getting out into the world, so I havent really be approached by fans. I had a fellow student buy one of my concrete poems from my graduate show and ask me to sign it. That felt pretty amazing. And I made forty bucks. That same residency, I had another student who I can only assume was a fan of me, though likely not my work since theres no way she could have read any of it, narrate my life in third-person as I was preparing my cup of coffee. She snuck up behind me and without introducing herself said, He pours his milk and sugar into his coffee with patience and precision, each movement deliberate, as though he had performed this action a thousand times before. Youll notice I forget completely what I said back to her. That was pretty weird. Sense 2: I, as a fan, approach one of my favorite writers I already mentioned Emily St. John Mandel, so Ill give you the full story here. Mind you, I dont blame her for this. It was just the slightest bit rude. Me: I love your book! Im writing a paper on it. Emily: Thats good to hear. (Smiles, signs my book.) Me: I love the way you handled objects and used them as a tool to link the past and the present. Emily: Well, it seemed like a good idea. (Hands me back the book.) Me: Id love to email you some interview questions so I can get more into your style. Its for my MFA. Emily: You know, I have a three-year-old; I barely have any time to write anything for myself. Me: (laughing nervously) Oh, of course, it was a shot in the dark, I know youre a busy woman, Id be busy, too, I dont have kids, but I understand, et cetera. Youll notice Im writing very long answers to these interview questions. Thats what it means to be a good literary citizen. But then, Im in my quiet apartment, alone and childless. Sense 3: a story involving a fan, the device used to push air around a room When I was about six or so, and Dad was still in the Air Force, his commanding officer came over with his baby daughter. This man is very tall, and the ceiling was very low. So when he lifted his daughter up above him, as fathers who love their daughters do, he poked her head right into spinning blades of the fan. If youve ever shoved your hand into a running fan to stop the blades for a second, you know what this sounds like, and how much it must have hurt his daughter. She immediately started screaming and screamed for hours. Shes fine now. Holds a Masters degree from an international business school and shes working in Germany. She speaks two languages. Maybe we should put all our babies heads into fans.

 

  1. What sentence have you written that you feel encapsulates your style? Lets say this one, from Audrey Watched. This passage comes after the protagonist has sold Audrey to a pawn shop, and he returns many months later to see if its still there and if he can buy it back: As he perused the guitars on the wall, his eyes carried the same determination as a wild animal searching for its old burrow, the place where its mother had raised her cubs. A glimmer of hope expecting to come up disappointed.

 

  1. Have you ever based characters off of real people? All the time! I find, though, that basing a character on a real person is in some ways an analysis of that persons psyche. As you become close to the character, you begin to understand more deeply the person the character is based on, for better or worse. Thats a tremendous responsibility, and sometimes it can ruin relationships. But this, too, is inevitable. If were not basing characters on others, were basing them on ourselves. And ourselves are built by our relationships with others. So to write a character, a true, strong, complicated, human character, ALWAYS comes from reality, ours or another

 

  1. Who’s your favorite character? Right now, Im identifying most with Micah Holloway, the narrator of my novel-in-progress. As she is searching through her familys reasons for changing religions, Im coming to terms with my own family. Its an enlightening investigation for both of us.

 

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You can find out more about the author on his Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/thejasonbrandt/ , Jason Brandt Schaefer, and preview his visual art and photography on Instagram, @theJasonBrandt. Contact him at jasonbschaefer@gmail.com to purchase or commission artwork, or for editing or proofreading inquiries.

All images are the property of Jason Brandt Schaefer

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20 Q’s with Judy Penz Sheluk

Most of the time I’m jaded, at the very least internally jaded (thank God for kitten videos).  I feel as if we life in a society in which we don’t look out for each other.  Women specifically.  Thankfully this woman proves me wrong.

Judy Penz Sheluk has a weekly blog on Monday’s in which she spotlights a new or emerging author’s release.  She also has ‘author talks’ in which our peers share their experiences in the hopes that we’ll learn from them.

If you’re looking for a mystery look no further than one of the many titles from Judy Penz Sheluk including ‘The Hanged Man’s Noose’ which made her an International Amazon Best Selling Author.

 

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And now Judy Pens Sheluk answers my 20 Questions…

  1. Every writer has that one book that made him or her want to be a writer, what’s yours?

There are two: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. I read it when I was very young (about grade 4…resulted in me getting “accelerated to grade 6—thankfully schools don’t do that any longer) and thought…WOW, that’s how you paint a picture with words. Around the same time, I read the much-more age appropriate Emily Climbs by L.M. Montgomery (author of the Anne of Green Gables series). Emily was an aspiring journalist/writer in a time when women didn’t think of such things.

 

  1. How old where you when you started writing?

I’ve always written “in my head,” meaning as a kid I would walk to school and keep a story going in my head, and just keep adding to it every day. I thought everyone did that! Professionally, since 2003, which is when I left my day job as a Sales & Marketing Coordinator to become a freelance journalist. I started writing my first novel, The Hanged Man’s Noose on Christmas Eve 2011, but I’d had a hundred or more magazine articles and a handful of short stories published by then.

 

  1. Name four authors that you’d love to have lunch with.

John Sandford, the absolute king of pacing. Stephen King, because, well…he’s Stephen King! Sue Grafton: I love her Kinsey Millhone series and have read every novel, A to X, plus her collection of short stories. Tana French, an Irish mystery writer who is just brilliant. I thought about inviting Truman Capote, but he’d get all sulky if it wasn’t all about him, and it couldn’t be, could it? Not with that cast of writers.

 

  1. What would you eat?

Pizza. My favorite food. It’s good for breakfast (cold), lunch or dinner. And everyone can get whatever toppings they’d want. I’d go straight cheese, no toppings.

 

  1. How do you plot out your work?

Plot out? What’s that? Seriously…I’m a complete panster. I come up with a basic premise, and then “what if” my way to the end.

 

  1. Do you write in the morning or evening?

Mornings are best, but I do jot down notes on paper in the evening or whenever the ideas come to me (I even have an LED pen that lights up so I don’t have to turn the bedside lamp on…). But, I still have a couple of editing day jobs, so sometimes the deadlines for those take precedence over my writing preferred time. But I do try to write every day.

  1. Is there music on?

If I’m writing the answers to this, yes. Either Country or Classic Rock or 80’s/90’s type “oldies” depending on my mood. But if I’m writing fiction, it has to be talk radio. Maybe it’s a holdover from when I worked in a noisy office and snuck writing time in whenever I could without getting caught!

 

  1. What inspired your last story?

I was in my lawyer’s office with my husband. We were there to update our wills, and he’d been delayed in court. I thought…what if I was hear to inherit …what if there were conditions to that inheritance…what if…and Skeletons was born.

 

  1. Name three books so good you wish you wrote them.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Need any more titles???? I have lots of book envy!

 

  1. What television shows, movies, or albums do you believe are written well?

TV

American Crime, a network series, is very clever, though I preferred Season 1 to Season 2.

Breaking Bad. Better Call Saul. What can I say? Vince Gilligan. Can I invite him for pizza too? Please?

The Gilmore Girls. I’ve seen every episode a dozen times. Love Lauren Graham.

Parenthood. Never got the recognition it deserved. Did I mention that I love Lauren Graham? But the entire ensemble cast was terrific, and the writing was beautifully layered.

Movies

Too many to mention, though I recently saw Brooklyn and really enjoyed it. My all-time favorite is Primal Fear. Brilliant.

Albums

Anything by Blue Rodeo or Jim Cuddy. Listen to the words to Bulletproof. Listen to Cuddy (who is also the lead singer in Blue Rodeo) and tell me you didn’t shed a tear.

 

  1. Which actor would you cast in the protagonist role of your most recent piece?

Whatever actor Hollywood says would be a good fit works for me! But when I think of Callie Barnstable from Skeletons, I think of someone like Jennifer Lawrence. Strong, but with a mix of naïve and jaded. Alexis Bledel would make a great Emily Garland (from The Hanged Man’s Noose).

 

  1. Which of your pieces was the hardest to write?

I find short stories incredibly difficult to write. You’d think they’d be easier than a novel, but not for me. I started “Saturday with Bronwyn,” which is in The Whole She-Bang-3 (Sisters in Crime Toronto, Nov. 2016), about five years ago. After many stops and starts, I finally got it to gel. The fact that She-Bang was blind judged gave me hope…maybe some of my other stops and starts have a chance, too.

 

  1. Which was the easiest?

Another short story, “Live Free or Die.” It was “inspired” by an event (or should I say a man) that happened to me when I was 21. When I finally sat down to write that story, the words just flowed.

 

  1. Which of your pieces did readers ‘get’ when they told you their thoughts on it?

I’m hoping they get all of my stories…I actually don’t hear from a lot of readers. But Skeletons in the Attic seems to really resonate with folks. That said, some wish the ending were “tidier.” I deliberately left loose ends, not because I wanted to leave them for a sequel, but because life has loose ends.

 

  1. What are you working on now?

The sequel to The Hanged Man’s Noose. The sequel to Skeletons in the Attic. A short story…I’m usually working on more than one thing at a time. That way, if I get distracted or bored, I have another project to go to. It beats color-separating my paper clips or other diversionary tactics.

 

  1. What story do you have to write before you die?

My mom died recently, and in her belongings were her and my father’s immigration papers from Nottingham, England to Canada. They came separately, arrived at different ports (Halifax and Quebec City), and married in Toronto. I want to write their love story. I’m not a romance writer, but I feel that Anneliese and Anton have a story to tell. I wish my mom had told me more…my dad died of cancer when I was quite young…but maybe it’s better this way.

 

  1. What’s your best fan story?

I met a couple of women at Bouchercon 2015 in Raleigh. They had met Louise Penny when she was starting out. They told me they thought I’d be the next Louise Penny. A girl can dream…

 

  1. What sentence have you written that you feel encapsulates your style?

Authenticity matters. (Arabella Carpenter, The Hanged Man’s Noose)

 

  1. Have you ever based characters off of real people?

Every character has elements of people I have known and/or observed, but there are always detours along the way. I’m a people-watcher…if you have a habit of pulling your earlobe when you’re nervous, that might get folded into a story one day. If you take the meringue off your lemon meringue pie and eat it last, that might make it in. I’m always looking for believable quirks.

 

  1. Who’s your favorite character?

Arabella Carpenter. She’s the sidekick in Noose, and has a small role in Skeletons. She’s the protagonist in the sequel to Noose that I’m working on now. She’s feisty, flawed, passionate, and loves cognac, chardonnay and cookies. She’s probably the most like me of any of my characters. But I also really like Callie Barnstable in Skeletons. Honestly, it’s hard to pick a favorite.

 

 

You can find out more about the author on her blog http://www.judypenzsheluk.com and purchase her work from all the usual suspects, including Amazon: http://getbook.at/SkeletonsintheAttic. You can also find Judy on Facebook (https/www.facebook.com/JudyPenzSheluk) and Twitter (@JudyPenzSheluk).

 

 

 

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An Amazon International Bestselling Author, Judy Penz Sheluk’s debut mystery novel, The Hanged Man’s Noose (Barking Rain Press), was published in July 2015. Skeletons in the Attic (Imajin Books), the first book in her Marketville Mystery Series, was published in August 2016. Judy’s short crime fiction appears in World Enough and Crime, The Whole She-Bang 2, The Whole She-Bang 3, Flash and Bang and Live Free or Tri. Judy is a member of Sisters in Crime, Crime Writers of Canada, International Thriller Writers and the Short Mystery Fiction Society.

 

 

 

20 Questions With..., pictures, short stories, Uncategorized

20 Questions with Jessica Raney

I know a lot authors, but Jessica Raney was the first in which I was the published her work.  So keep in mind no matter how many rejections one might get, there will be someone who appreciates your work, and wants to give you the ability to share your voice.  It was my pleasure to be that springboard for Jessica.

 In the anthology ‘Hair Raising Tales of Horror’ compiled by myself and Chantell Renee we were excited in include Jessica’s pieces (including my favorite The Middle Part which although horrifying is perfect for Valentines Day).

She’s accomplished in her own right long before she met me, including BFE Podcast in which she, along with two friends, interview interesting people (including myself and Chantell during The Amazing Comic Con which you can listen to here.)

Jessica reading a section of her piece Cold Comfort from ‘Hair Raising Tales of Horror’

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And now for Twenty Questions With… Jessica Raney

  1. Every writer has that one book that made him or her want to be a writer, what’s yours?

Hmm…well I feel like I’ve been writing and reading forever so it’s difficult to decide which book, but I probably have to go with “Gone with the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell. I read it when I was in 4th grade, which is waaaay too young for that, but I was highly unsupervised as a child. The good news is it’s a pretty tame book. The bad news is it led me to read a follow-up book that I found in my mom’s closet that promised, “In the spirit of GWTW,” called “Sweet Savage Love” by Rosemary Rodgers. It was not so tame and yeah…that made me want to be a writer too. In addition, to find sweet, savage love with a scoundrel on a cattle drive across the American Frontier.

 

  1. How old where you when you started writing?

Really young. Probably 7 or 8. I wrote a short story called “King Bong and Rose” which is a delightful tale about a crappy king who taxes the hell out of his people until a girl named Rose uses magic to threaten him with harm unless he adopts a more sensible economic strategy. I also wrote a play called “The Passing of a Pork Rind King” about a dude who builds a pork rind empire and is murdered in a washing machine. Go figure.

 

  1. Name four authors that you’d love to have lunch with.

Neil Gaimen, Chuck Palahniuk, Margaret Atwood, and Beverly Cleary

 

  1. What would you eat?

Whatever Beverly Cleary wanted.

 

  1. How do you plot out your work?

Notebooks, diagrams, list upon lists upon lists. Then I toss them all and just write. I wish I were more organized about it but, meh.

 

  1. Do you write in the morning or evening?

Usually in the evening, but sometime all day if I have the time. One of my favorite tricks is to set a timer, write for 20 minutes, and then go do something like clean for 20 minutes. I get a good groove on and words just seem to flow better. Also, things get cleaned, like WHOAH.

 

  1. Is there music on?

Nope. I prefer silence.

 

  1. What inspired your last story?

I think the last one I wrote was “Moonlight Serenade.” I was on a trip to New Orleans and I saw a for rent sign in the French Quarter. It advertised that the apartment was haunted so the story is an answer to the question, who wants a haunted apartment?

 

  1. Name three books so good you wish you wrote them.

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry (A master of character and dialogue), Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (one of the most unique and brilliant spec fic books I’ve ever read), and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (No reason needed)

 

  1. What television shows, movies, or albums do you believe are written well?

Game of Thrones is amazingly well written and produced. Anyone who can trim GRR Martin down into manageable TV is a great writer. Parks and Recreation was one of the most brilliant TV shows of all time. For movies, I think Stardust is amazing. It’s so good it makes me forget I always want to punch Claire Danes. For albums, I would say Rumors by Fleetwood Mac. Breakups and cocaine apparently make for genius songwriting.

 

  1. Which actor would you cast in the protagonist role of your most recent piece?

Most of my projects are short stories, but I am working on a zombie apocalypse novel. I don’t know whom I see as the main character, hopefully whoever replaces Jennifer Lawrence as badass/hottie/sensitive girl, but for the villain, I see Helen Mirren because I think Dame Helen Mirren with a machete would be quite something to behold.

 

  1. Which of your pieces was the hardest to write?

I have a short story called “To Stray From the Path” that is a take on a fairy tale that was hard to write. The first draft veered pretty far away from what I intended because I was caught up in sensory descriptions. As a result, I lost the point of the story. I fixed it but it was tough. Revising anything is always a pain.

 

  1. Which was the easiest?

“The Middle Part” just sort of plurpted out. I knew exactly what to write and how to mess up the order of events. I did have revision help from my loyal beta readers so that helped but I pretty much got it right the first time.

 

  1. Which of your pieces did readers ‘get’ when they told you their thoughts on it?

I’ve had people tell me that “Cold Comfort” freaked them out and they were wigged when their cat jumped in bed with them, so I would call that one a success.

  1. What are you working on now?

I’m working on a vampire comedy about the least suave and debonair vampire of all time. I hope that by this time I also have a short story collection about various horrific love stories complete.

 

  1. What story do you have to write before you die?

I’m going to finish an epic vampire series before I die. And if I don’t, I’m going need a vampire to bite me and give me immortality so I can finish it. I hope that it’s a cool vampire. Not that gross Nosforatu dude or that sparkly douche from Twilight. Like Eric Northman or Pam. Yeah…Pam.

 

  1. What’s your best fan story?

Do I have fans? I don’t know about that but I can tell you that the first book you ever sign for someone is a trip.

 

  1. What sentence have you written that you feel encapsulates your style?

“You’re never going to finish that puzzle. Fat Larry ate the llama’s nose piece.”

 

  1. Have you ever based characters off real people?

Absolutely. However, I can’t go into details because I’m afraid they’ll want money.

 

  1. Who’s your favorite character?

Of mine? Hmm…probably the ghost in “Moonlight Serenade.” I admire tenacity and fabulous style.

 

 

You can find out more about the author on their blog Jessica Raney’s Blog and purchase her work ‘Hair Raising Tales of Horror’ from Amazon..

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20 Questions With..., Uncategorized

20 Q’s with…Russell Little

I strongly believe that in order to be a truly superb storyteller one must live a full life.  Russell Little is one such author.  One feels at ease in his presence, but the fact that he takes his experiences throughout his life and fuses it into his writing makes him a rare gem.

An affair gone wrong is not an uncommon theme, but Russell Little takes you on a ride that has more twists then someone lost in downtown Houston.  His characters, especially Marylin, are infamous, and unforgettable.

Start the new year with ‘Murder for Me’ by Russell Little which will pump some adrenaline into 2017.  If my words aren’t enough then read his answers to my 20 Questions which will give you insight into the mind of a vivid author.

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20 Questions with Russell Little

Question 1:  Every writer has that one book that made him or her want to be a writer. What’s yours?

Answer:    The first book that influenced me and made me want to write was Little Pony – I read this book for the first time in the second grade. The book was filled with pictures of black and white ponies. I liked the book, and all the pictures, so much that I began to draw my own ponies, and then I wrote a pony story.

That was when I first felt a desire to write. I had a lot of reading and writing disabilities, but they did not stop my desire to write.

At the beginning of each school year, the teacher sat with each student to read. Since my abilities decreased over the summer while not in school, I was always placed in the lowest group. By the end of the year I would work my way up and be moved from the lowest group to the first.

I didn’t like the look on the faces of the kids who did not move up, who stayed in the lower groups. It was a horrible way to separate children.

In the 7th grade I wrote another story on horses. The teacher stopped the class to read my story. Very exciting. That was the beginning of my journey to become a published author.

Question 2:  How old where you when you started writing?

Answer:    I was in the second grade when I started writing. I was also in the second grade when I began to speak and be understood. I spoke before that and only my mother and first grade teacher understood what I was saying.

Question 3:  Name four authors that you’d love to have lunch with.

Answer:    Franz Kofka – The Metamorphosis

Aldous Huxley – Brave New World – His vision of future may be more accurate than some of the others.

Leo Tolstoy – The younger Tolstoy when he wrote as a young writer.

Chekov – He later became mean and demented.

Question 4:  What would you eat?

Answer:    Chicken Parfait on raisin toast with champagne

Question 5:  How do you plot out your work?

Answer:    Once I get a story in my head I graph it out and outline, then outline by chapters, then re-graph with characters. It is a long arduous task, but that is the way I begin each new book.

Question 6:  Do you write in the morning or evening?

Answer:    In the evening. I practice divorce law all day.

Question 7:  Is there music on?

Answer:    Yes. I love to work while listening to Italian opera; sometimes Russian opera, and sometimes classic Indian music.

Question 8:  What inspired your last story?

Answer:    I am currently working on The Artist, a serial book about a serial murderer who is being chased by OC Sims, the detective from Murder for Me. I was inspired because I wanted to write a chapter from the viewpoint of a woman serial murderer one Sunday afternoon when I was bored. The serial novel is coming out over the next two years. That will teach me to be bored.

Question 9:  Name three books so good you wish you wrote them.

Answer:    Every Man – Philip Roth

Ana Karenina – Tolstoy (second half) made you see and feel what the characters see and feel.

Sun Also Rises – first half. The first part of the book talks about their Paris café life.

Question 10:  What television shows, movies, or albums do you believe are written well?

Answer:    Modern family because it makes me laugh. When I watch television I am looking to laugh.

I also love Sherlock BBC series – well written

Question 11:  Which actor would you cast in the protagonist role of your most recent piece?

Answer:    I am not going to talk about protagonist or antagonist, but in my book, Murder for Me, Leonardo de Caprio would be great for one of the characters in the book. When I saw him in the movie Departed, I knew he could play two characters at once.

Question 12:  Which of your pieces was the hardest to write?

Answer:    All of my pieces are hard to write. I have to write them so many times to get it right. Writing is a burden I choose to inflict upon myself. Its hard, but I don’t do it because it’s easy.

Question 13:  Which was the easiest?

Answer:    I write nothing easy. I have to graph and rewrite because nothing I write is easy. I wouldn’t do it if it was easy. I would go on to something else.

Question 14:  Which of your pieces did readers ‘get’ when they told you their thoughts on it?

Answer:    In Murder for Me, I have a character named Marilyn. I have had a few readers send me emails or talk to me about what they thought about Marilyn and who they thought she was. I find it humbling that readers put so much thought into one character in my book.

Question 15:  What are you working on now?

Answer:    Killing Thoughts – It is the sequel to Murder for Me. It begins about 6 months after the end of Murder for Me. Some of the characters that survived are back. Killing Thoughts is different from Murder for Me because it is written in a wider universe with many new characters. It begins in Tel Aviv and Paris. I am very excited because I get to include places around the world that I have traveled.

Question 16:  What story do you have to write before you die?

Answer:    I don’t have a story that I have to write before I die. Writing stories is a lifestyle that I will do until I die.

Question 17:  What’s your best fan story?

Answer:    My favorite is my most recent fan story. I was traveling to Philadelphia and got stuck in an airport for 4 hours. They allowed a few passengers to leave the plane because we refused to stay on it. I stayed in a bar where I met a group of Pop artist and started a conversation with them. They left with a copy of Marilyn and we have a picture of them with Marilyn. That is a good fan story.

Question 18:  What sentence have you written that you feel encapsulates your style?

Answer:    “Just because I’m not real, what makes you think I am not going to kill you.”

Question 19:  Have you ever based characters off of real people?

Answer:    I base a lot of my characters on blending groups of real people. I base important characters on unique individuals that have inspired me to write about those characters.

Question 20:  Who’s your favorite character?

Answer:    My favorite character is Marilyn. She is my favorite because she is the one I hear most about from my readers. My readers have the most diverse opinions about Marilyn. She has provoked the most emotion out of my readers and become very visible in the book promotions.

You can find out more about the author on his blog Russell Little’s Author Blog and purchase his work from here-don’t forget to leave an honest review after you’re done.

20 Questions With..., Uncategorized

20 Q’s with D. Marie Prokop

I do know a lot of authors, but this girl is one of my favorites.  I not only love her work, but like me she plays the guitar (although she is much more proficient and plays a myriad of instruments (and writes her own music)) and knits.

Basically I couldn’t wait for her to answer my 20 Questions.  You’ve seen pictures of her before on my blog not only because we’ve been to many of the same writing events supporting our peers, but we shared a booth at Amazing Comic Con.

She’s an amazing mother, writer, musician, friend, and has some great hair that I’ve had the pleasure of coloring before.  I hope that you enjoy her answers to my 20 Questions, check out her blog, and purchase one of her titles on Amazon including ‘Hair Raising Tales of Horror’ in which two of her pieces are included.

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Twenty Questions With…D. Marie Prokop

1.  Every writer has that one book that made him or her want to be a writer, what’s yours?

Um…mine? Seriously, I’ve read a lot of books. While I’ve loved many of them, none of them made me want to write a book. The National Novel Writing Month challenge helped me discover my love for writing. The experience of writing my first story, The Red String, during NaNoWriMo in 2011, made me want to be a writer. I’m hooked now.

  1. How old where you when you started writing?

I kept a journal for years, and I started writing poems and songs in college. I jumped in headfirst and wrote my first novel in my late thirties. Now I’ve added short stories and flash fiction.

  1. Name four authors that you’d love to have lunch with.

Just four??? Okay, how about just women? Agatha Christie, Madeleine L’Engle, J. K. Rowling, and Pearl S. Buck

  1. What would you eat?

Eat? Yeah, right! I wouldn’t waste a minute talking with these authors. But if you would like to know my favorite foods, I’ll tell you. I have a weakness for Asian food (especially Korean and Indian), bubble tea, French fries, and cake.

Mmm…now I want cake.

  1. How do you plot out your work?

I write my ideas, sometimes attempting to put them in order, and then all heck breaks loose. I have a lot of epiphanies, which include such profundities as, “Crap, these two characters’ names rhyme!” I do write outlines, but they’re fluid. My inspiration and research documents are more important. As a story progresses, I revise my plot outlines and keep a record of character traits. At the very least, my outlines become reference guides.

  1. Do you write in the morning or evening?

Morning and afternoon. I save evenings and weekends for my real life.

  1. Is there music on?

No. I can write with music on, but it’s super distracting. Besides, I talk to myself. And I read aloud a lot. It’s pretty noisy with just me!

8. What inspired your last story?

I like challenges and goals. I found a YA short-story contest seeking fantasy stories—real fantasy, like with elves and dwarves—which I hadn’t tried yet, so I did. I created a story called The Spell Dragon. It’s a “be careful what you wish for” kind of morality tale. All I really intended to do was successfully write a fantasy story with magic, dwarves, and a dragon.

  1. Name three books so good you wish you wrote them.

The Harry Potter Series, A Christmas Carol, and A Wrinkle In Time

I’ve read them more than twice.

  1. What television shows, movies, or albums do you believe are written well?

This could take a while… I’ll limit it to four each.

Television: Avatar—The Last Airbender, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Twilight Zone, Doctor Who

Movies: Slingblade, Sixth Sense, Life Is Beautiful, The Princess Bride.

Albums: (This is the hardest one to keep short! I listen to a variety of music, and lyrical depth is very important to me as a songwriter and as a listener. Tastes and needs change, but these four albums will always remain in my top twenty.)

Over The Rhine- Meet Me At The Edge Of The World, Sufjan Stevens- Carrie & Lowell, The Essential Indigo Girls, Matisyahu- Light

I feature a different musical artist every Friday on my blog, Days of the Guardian. You can check out my eclectic taste there. If you want to hear my original music (and ukelele cover tunes), search for Diane Prokop on You Tube and Reverbnation.

  1. Which actor would you cast in the protagonist role of your most recent piece?

Hmmm…someone short? (Emerald is a teenaged dwarf.) How about Millie Bobby Brown from Stranger Things? She can wear a wig with yellow braids and eagle feathers.

  1. Which of your pieces was the hardest to write?

It depends on your definition of “hard.” What’s hard for me are the choices.

For example, the last book of my Days of the Guardian Trilogy, The Red Knot, was the most difficult writing experience because ending a series presents many hard choices, even if you thought you already knew how it would end. It’s like going to buy groceries at the store. I’m from Pennsylvania and I always buy Heinz ketchup, but now there’s organic and spicy and original and whatever. Writing is an adventure of choices…like shopping for ketchup.

  1. Which was the easiest?

The beginning of writing Tigress, my new superhero short story, was like shopping for ketchup at a convenience store: there was only one bottle on the shelf. It was an easy write. Then I had an epiphany and the story presented me with harder choices. I went big-box-store-ketchup-shopping for the second half of the story.

  1. Which of your pieces did readers ‘get’ when they told you their thoughts on it?

Folks who’ve read On The Outward Appearance seem to vibe with the main character and embrace the theme. Anne is snarky and confronted by her own cynicism. It’s a bit hard to watch. I’m always surprised when people say they enjoyed it. Compassion and acceptance are the themes. Everyone wants those, right?

  1. What are you working on now?

This. These 20 questions are kicking my butt!

When I’m not filtering lists of best albums for Mel’s blog as if the world depended on it, I’m working on a co-writing project with my older brother, who’s slightly autistic. He’s the brains and I’m the heart. It’s an epic sci-fi space adventure which may take years.

I found two fabulous critique groups to commiserate with. And I’m writing more short stories and flash pieces and submitting them to sharpen my skills and learn how to handle rejection. After a recent hurtful experience with an editor, I needed to set aside a story I loved, a socially introspective novella all my beta-readers enjoyed. But one bad experience can overshadow all the good and it was tainted.

I have a goal to publish one novel each year. I have until December 31, 2017, so I hope I can resume working on the beloved novella soon. I guess you could say that the biggest thing I’m working on now is healing.

On a side note, I’m also planning to record an album of original songs inspired by poetry and art so I can mesh my worlds together.

  1. What story do you have to write before you die?

What an existential question! Which amazing story do I have to finish in order for my life to have meaning? Well, here’s the thing: I wrote a book. Then I wrote five more. I started them and I finished them. And I shared them with the world. I’m not still thinking about it or dreaming about it; I did it. It was fun and difficult, illuminating and painful. They’re me. So I suppose I could die happy right now. I’m kinda surprised I’m still alive anyway. I guess I’ll just keep writing!

  1. What’s your best fan story?

I have a cool fan story, but it’s about a music fan. I don’t have a stranger/cooler/funnier author fan story yet.

One night I played a set of original songs on the electric guitar at an intimate coffeehouse show in a church, sporting a brand new shoulder tattoo. I confess; I rocked out. The first person/fan to approach me and rave over my performance was an 85-year-old grandmother. (Not mine.) She was awesome. Best fan ever.

  1. What sentence have you written that you feel encapsulates your style?

 

I’m going to share a poem from my first book, The Red String. This is me.

The days are dark, the ocean surrounds

My fate is unseen, my fate is not ground

For God orders all, I am just a mist

Hovering still, waiting for bliss

The dark hides me well, my heart longs for light

I live by this creed- it is all for the bright!

  1. Have you ever based characters off of real people?

Not completely. I may pull some characteristics from real life folks, but I don’t use everything. A character in my story, Going Home, (from the anthology Hair Raising Tales of Horror), Pop, shares some characteristics with my dad. Both are former boxing champions, widowers, smokers, live in small-town Pa., and are quiet until they’re pushed too far. But Pops is a farmer with a yappy dog and a dark, mysterious side and my dad is a retired engineer, a gentle soul who spends his evenings studying the Bible in his armchair. I probably shouldn’t tell him he inspired a character in a horror story! But since people seem to find Pop intriguing, maybe he’ll forgive me.

*There’s been one exception to my rule! But I asked permission to use this real life person in a story and I was prepared to change things about the character if necessary.

  1. Who’s your favorite character?

From my books—

The Guardian (Days of the Guardian) I can’t say why without spoiling the story! But this character was the most rewarding (and challenging) to write.

From another author—

Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)

She’s deep and overcomes, but not without lots of introspection and honest pain. I admire this character’s personal integrity and spiritual grit.

Samwise Gamgee (J.R.R. Tolkein)

He’s the unsung hero of Lord of the Rings. His commendable character traits and sincerity make Sam a great fictional person to emulate in real life.

D. Marie Prokop enjoys writing and reading stories with riveting adventures, spiritual insights, and enlightening cultural or social critiques. Her favorite authors include Madeline L’Engle, Pearl S. Buck, and C. S. Lewis.
The National Novel Writing Month challenge helped D. Marie discover her love for writing fiction. A member of WriteSpace Houston and the Houston Writer’s Guild, D. Marie gains both education and comradery from her local writing community. She’s written and published YA science fiction/adventure, YA fantasy, and middle-grade fiction.
Marie is also a singer-songwriter and avid fiber artist/knitter. Born and raised in Pennsylvania, the former Yankee now resides in Houston, Texas, along with her loving family, their feisty cats, a beloved ukulele, and much, much yarn.

You can find out more about the author

My Author Page on Amazon-
My Goodreads Author Dashboard- 
My Blog Address-
My Author Email-
My Twitter Address-
 My Days of the Guardian Book Trailer-
20 Questions With..., Uncategorized

20 Q’s with Jennifer Leeper

     Many authors surround me; although each of us does have different personalities (I mean we do hear voices but we’re completely normal people-swear it). I’m often surprised by how close we become after only meeting in person for a brief time.
     Jennifer Leeper is one of those authors. Both of us were privileged enough to be awarded for our pieces by Spider Road Press for their 2016 Flash Fiction Contest
     Our pieces might have been different, but I could see the glow coming through her as she spoke to me at the ceremony. It’s always amazing to see passion in another author’s eyes, the only thing better is seeing that look in a reader’s eyes.
     Her novella, along with my flash fiction piece ‘Thomas’, will be released in mid November in the collection Approaching Footsteps from Spider Road Press. The collection will also feature pieces by other award winning authors like Andrea Barbosa and Holly Walrath be sure to check out the latest from http://spiderroadpress.com

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20 Questions With…Jennifer Leeper

  1. Every writer has that one book that made him or her want to be a writer, what’s yours?Wow, that’s a hard question to answer because I admire so many writers and so many authors have influenced my writing career, but I’ll narrow it down to Jack London for this interview. London was a constant seeker in his life and his art and I think this perpetual curiosity really shaped his writing. As an outdoor adventure junkie, I relate to him as a person, but as a writer still struggling to find my place in the literary universe, he is a strong touchstone for me.
  2. How old where you when you started writing? I started writing poetry around the age of 11 or 12. Fiction writing came later in high school.
  3. Name four authors that you’d love to have lunch with. Sinclair Lewis, Ernest Hemingway, Tony Hillerman, and, of course, Jack London.
  4. What would you eat? In honor of Hemingway, we would drink Mojitos. For London, I would request Hawaiian Salad. Hemingway was a big fisherman, so maybe some trout to go with the salad and for Lewis, a Chocolate Water Cake.
  5. How do you plot out your work? Very roughly in my head and then I flesh it out on the page.
  6. Do you write in the morning or evening? I’m definitely a night owl so after dark seems to be my most productive time.
  7. Is there music on? No music, but definitely television. It’s my go-to source for white noise.
  8. What inspired your last story? A lot of my stories are born in my imagination and my last one was no different, but typically some experience subconsciously originates these stories, and much of the time I can see these experiences threaded through my pieces once they are finished. I adopted my son, and my last short story focused on adoption and my protagonist finding his “whole self” by finding his biological brother.
  9. Name three books so good you wish you wrote them. Elmer Gantry, The Call of the Wild, White Fang, and East of Eden
  10. What television shows, movies, or albums do you believe are written well? TV shows: Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Wire, Gilmore Girls, Parenthood, Felicity, Justified Movies: The Godfather, The Best Years of Our Lives, Dances with Wolves, The Revenant, The Deer Hunter, It Happened One Night; Taxi Driver Albums: Keane: Under the Iron Sea; Johnny Cash: At Folsom Prison; Kris Kristofferson: The Silver-Tongued Devil and I
  11. Which actor would you cast in the protagonist role of your most recent piece? Graham Greene
  12. Which of your pieces was the hardest to write? It’s always the one I’m currently writing. 😉
  13. Which was the easiest? The last one I finished. As a writer, it seems like everything looks easier in the rear view.
  14. Which of your pieces did readers ‘get’ when they told you their thoughts on it? It’s funny because for me this is kind of a trick question as my readers always seems to have a different take on my works than I do. I’m still hoping for that “get” from a reader. 😉
  15. What are you working on now? I’m developing a crime/mystery novel that takes place on and off a Tohono O’odham reservation in southern Arizona.
  16. What story do you have to write before you die? I know a lot of writers shy away from writing about friends and family for fear of controversy, but I’ve always written about the foreign and exotic as it relates to my life, so for once I’d love to write about what and who I know intimately.
  17. What’s your best fan story? Probably my first longer work of fiction, Padre: The Narrowing Path. It seems to be the piece that engages fans the most.
  18. What sentence have you written that you feel encapsulates your style? This is more than one sentence, but for me as a writer, it’s one fluid thought that happens to be separated by punctuation, so here goes: He shook his head as he walked back toward the cave entrance. Maybe he wouldn’t let anyone else touch the body. It wouldn’t be right. He had killed the boy. He was a beat-up, old sicario, but he would move the body and bury the young man as he had always handled his bodies himself. (From The Reiger File)
  19. Have you ever based characters off of real people? Probably all of my characters are shaded with a degree of reality of the family and friends in my life, but in particular, I based a minor character in Padre: The Narrowing Path on a Catholic priest I know.
  20. Who’s your favorite character? That’s It’s like choosing a favorite among your children or pets. I’m really enjoying writing and getting to know Frank Acuna, the reservation detective’s character in The Poison of War, my in-progress project.

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You can find out more about the author on their website at  __Jennifer Leeper’s website on Twitter  purchase her work from Amazon, Barking Rain Press and coming on 11/18 to Spider Road Press.

20 Questions With..., pictures, Signing Events, Uncategorized

‘Hair Raising Tales of Horror’

‘Hair Raising Tales of Horror’

It’s definitely something you don’t want to read in the dark.

‘Hair Raising Tales of Horror’ is an anthology of 21 tales from 7 authors compiled by myself and Chantell Renee.  It includes newcomers like Jessica Raney (who interviewed Chantell and I for her BFE Podcast), multiple title authors D. Marie Prokop, and repeat horror writers like David Welling and Patricia Flaherty Pagan.
You’ll also see never before published stories from me including ‘The Girls’, ‘Birthday Cake’, and the hilariously horrifying ‘Even Aliens Watch Reality T.V.’.  Fan favorite ‘The Silencer’ along with others are included.  Each will be sure to leave you with nightmares.
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We’ll have a small gathering at  The Wilde Collection in the Heights on Thursday October 31 from 7:30-9 pm.  The contributors will read and sign the anthology.  There will be snacks and BYOB.

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Chantell and I will also be at the Houston Zombie Walk on October 29 which is a free outdoor event which raises money for students scholarships.  We’ll be in costume and would love for you to join us.

We look forward to seeing you there!
20 Questions With..., pictures

20 Q’s with Dorothy Tinker

     For the longest time I believed that Dorothy Tinker and I wrote completely differently, evident by our differing genres.  Tinker includes magic, dragons, different languages, and species in her work all while creating her own world her characters reside  in.  I prefer to use a real place, and set my characters in a specific time-thus my research begins by looking at maps created by others, rather than creating my own.
     While I know that both of us use love as a central theme  it wasn’t until she came in for a haircut, prior to teaching a class about world building, that she informed me that we were two in the same.
     Although I use our own Earth’s timeline to form the background of my characters lives; and Dorothy starts one from scratch-we’re both creating a world in which our characters can thrive, prosper, or shrivel up in despair depending on where the story takes us.
     It’s strange how we’re all more alike and share some of the same experiences while living entirely different writing lives-that’s what Dorothy taught me.

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Now for her answers to my 20 Questions….

  1. Every writer has that one book that made him or her want to be a writer, what’s yours?

I wouldn’t say there was a specific book that made me want to be a writer. My decision to write came from the multitudes of stories that have always filled my head and the inspiring friendship of another young writer/artist when I was in middle school.

However, the books that inspired me to write about characters who don’t conform to society’s rules was Tamora Pierce’s Lioness series. A young noble girl wanted to be a knight, but only noble sons were trained as knights. So she traded places with her twin brother, who wanted to study magic instead of war, and pretended to be a boy. She continued the charade through the next few years, through being a page, being a squire, coming into her womanhood (her first monthly was terrifying), and being knighted.

The rest of Tamora Pierce’s series were just as inspiring.

  1. How old where you when you started writing?

I started writing at thirteen. I remember it easily because that was the year I met my friend who wrote poetry and fanfiction. She made me realize that the stories I told myself everyday could be written down and shared with others. I tried my hand at poetry and fanfiction, but the original, novel-length fantasy stories that I began that year (I had at least seven at the time) were my true dream.

  1. Name four authors that you’d love to have lunch with.

I would love to have lunch with Tamora Pierce, Rick Riordan, Naomi Novik, and Eoin Colfer. All four are brilliant world-builders, to the point that they’ve all written multiple books within each of their worlds. I love Riordan’s use of mythology, and his ability to fit them all into one world. I love Novik’s dragons and her integration of them into history. And I love Colfer’s use of fairy and how he’s created a non-human world that coincides with our own but is much more technologically advanced, something that isn’t often considered when integrating fairy lore into stories.

  1. What would you eat?

This question makes me laugh. Since I’m a fantasy author (and I’d be eating with other fantasy authors, mind), I have to say we’d probably eat samples from each of our own worlds. Hell, we could break out the ambrosia and call it a day.

  1. How do you plot out your work?

Plotting is pretty much done only in my mind. The times I’ve tried outlining, it gets too drawn out, and I just give up and go back to the way I usually do things. I do have a couple of timelines jotted down, but that’s more to remember when I am than anything else.

Not far into my first book, I did begin a Word document just for a list of my characters. In a world as expansive as mine (it may focus in one country, but the first series alone will be four or five books, plus sequel and prequel series of about four books each, and a ton of side stories) the number of people who show up, especially when you consider very minor characters, is too much for me to remember.

The tentative plot for the book I want to do five or nine after the one I’m currently working on, sure, but names—not a chance.

Do you write in the morning or evening?

Ideally, evening is always the best for me to write because I have always been a night owl. However, with a full-time job that I work from about 5a-2p, I write when I can, especially now that my fourth book has been so long in the process with nowhere near the amount of progress I would prefer. These days, I try to write from the time I get home (after eating so I don’t fall asleep) to the point when either food or sleep becomes necessary.

7 Is there music on?

Sometimes I write in silence, but that is becoming rarer. As long as the music doesn’t have words and doesn’t put me to sleep, it’s good writing music for me. My current preference is Lindsey Stirling radio or 2cellos radio on Pandora.

8 What inspired your last story?

I’ve been working on a lot of short stories this year, with a heavy load of four this month. The one I just finished was actually a rewrite of a story I wrote for English class in high school. We were supposed to write a mystery, which is still a genre I don’t do well at writing. Anyway, suffice to say, my teacher thought it was a good story, but that it wasn’t really a mystery.

Fast forward to about a year ago, and I rewrote the story as a horror story (I have plans to eventually do an anthology called Dreams and Nightmares, some of which will actually be based on real dreams I’ve had). I thought, at the time, that that particular rewrite was good and put it aside.

I picked it back up this month because there was a call for submissions for a YA anthology themed “That Moment When…”, which focuses on stories with a moment of disillusionment. This particular story, which is now titled Perspective’s Cruelty, has a perfect “That Moment When…” at the end. Hopefully, I make it in and can recommend it to people to read.

9 Name three books so good you wish you wrote them.

Three books I wish I could claim as my own? For one, His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik. Like I said before, her integration of dragons into history is amazing. Second would be First Test by Tamora Pierce (really, any of the Protector of the Small series). This one was about the first girl who was openly allowed to train as a knight, and the way she deals with the girl’s treatment by those around her is wonderful.

Third, I would have to say The Host by Stephanie Meyer. There’s so much controversy over Meyer’s Twilight series (either you love it or you hate it, it seems), but you don’t hear much conversation about this other great work of hers. Written from an alien’s point of view as she discovers the passions of the human race and finds herself becoming a part of the human family, it’s a moving story and an interesting look at humans from an outsider’s point of view.

10  What television shows, movies, or albums do you believe are written well?

I could probably name a lot, but here are some I enjoy: Once Upon a Time, Leverage, Now You See Me (I & II), White Collar, Castle…

11  Which actor would you cast in the protagonist role of your most recent piece?

Unfortunately, this is one question I don’t like. I don’t know enough about actors and such to say, “Yes, I want so-and-so to play my main character.” Although, I have had it happen once, but it was based on vocals rather than physical features. I have a Mage Healer who is the leader of one of my nomad clans. She has a very melodious voice, and I would cast Elizabeth Mitchell as her in a heartbeat.

12  Which of your pieces was the hardest to write?

The fourth book in the Peace of Evon series, Forgotten Goddess, which I am currently taking a break from, has to be the one to give me the most trouble so far. I’ve been working on it for about a year and a half, restarted it at least once, and am still stuck before the halfway point. I’ve also been fighting the realization that there will probably be a fifth book in this series. Peace of Evon began as an idea for a single book, and I really didn’t want to add a fifth to it, but I’m starting to accept that it might be necessary.

13  Which was the easiest?

I’m not sure I can name a specific story that has been the easiest, but I do know it would probably be one of the short stories I’ve written this year. If I have to choose a particular one, I’d have to say that it was probably Swelling Tides, one of my two fantasy romance shorts that got published in Houston Writer Guild’s Riding the Waves anthology. My mind had been chomping at the bit to write a piece about the two pirate captains that showed up briefly in my first book, and it was fun to write a man who could only communicate through his parrot. It threw an interesting dynamic into their relationship.

14  Which of your pieces did readers ‘get’ when they told you their thoughts on it?

I’ve had several people express their love for the world I create in my Peace of Evon series. And I love talking with people about my world.

15  What are you working on now?

Currently, I am writing the second of an apocalyptic series set 2000 years before my published books. Written in first person, present tense, the trilogy follows a young elf who unconsciously turns his five friends into various creatures (two birds, a rodent, a vine, and a flame moth) in order to protect them from the Chaos that breaks out.

This second story is set ten years after the Chaos broke out, just after the Chaos has finally ended. He nearly gets eaten by a monster and then is saved by a motley group of a human, a dwarf, a naga, and a barghest. In the end, he will hopefully be able to turn his friends back into their elven selves, but I’m still figuring that part out.

16  What story do you have to write before you die?

Unfortunately, my brain says all of them. However, the one series I would love to be able to write eventually is the prequel series to my Peace of Evon series. The prequel series is mostly set in the country across the sea, where science rules instead of magic. I’m planning to do kind of a Japanese version of Steampunk, and my current thought is a science based around crystals and possibly trapping souls within them. However, I still have a lot of research to do for that one, so I don’t know when it will get written.

17  What’s your best fan story?

So when I first published, I came out with Peace of Evon: Missing Heir, which is now out of print since I have broken it up into Peace of Evon and Gift of War. Because of this, my first book was about 200,000 words long. Now, that first year I did a convention in Lafayette called Louisianime. There, someone bought my book on Saturday. On Sunday, the next day, she came back to my table and told me that she loved it and couldn’t wait to read the next one.

Turns out that she was a speed reader. My response: “I wish I could write as fast as you read.”

18  What sentence have you written that you feel encapsulates your style?

When three months empty stands the throne,” she intoned, her words ringing with otherworldly knowledge, “the reign of Chaos is all youll know.

I love world-building and using poetry (whether as prophecies, songs, or simply poems) in my prose.

19  Have you ever based characters off of real people?

Most of the time, if I consciously base my characters off anyone, it’s me. I have a novel-length story that I would eventually love to finish and publish that features seven main characters, each of whom is based off one of my “personalities”: a pair of twins (one male, one female), a vampire, an angel, a cat man, a dragon/human half-breed, and a woman from another land who brings them all together.

20  Who’s your favorite character?

Can I choose two? There’s Mama Dragon, a thousand-year-old dragon who is much more than she seems, and Mama Caler, a peppy old Seer whose family line holds a terrible secret. Both appear several times throughout my writing.

 

You can find out more about the author and the worlds she writes and purchase her work through her website, http://www.balanceofseven.com.

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