Q&A with Beth and Ezra Barany about PLAN YOUR NOVEL LIKE A PRO

 

 

*Today we have two very special and amazing guests with us! Let’s give Beth and Ezra Barany, both award-winning authors, a warm welcome! 

 

  1. Tell us a little bit about each of you, and why you both decided to work together as teachers and mentors.  When you’re not helping other writers, you both also write fiction. Tell us about them.

 

Beth here. Our collaboration didn’t happen overnight. When Ezra and I first met we were both writers, but not yet teachers. Pretty soon after getting married we decided to teach overseas. So we both got training in teaching English to foreigners. Then we went to Paris to teach English for two years.

When we got back home, Ezra got his credential to be a high school physics teacher and I went to work in a bookstore and then an office.

Fast forward 3 years, I decided to start a business helping writers as a creativity coach. Pretty soon when I started doing presentations, Ezra helped me with some of them. Then he had a break from teaching high school and started to teach more actively with me. He approaches writing differently than I do, so I really wanted to include his perspective so that the writers could benefit.

Over the years I’ve been asking him to teach various aspects that he knows well so that we have a more robust group of courses for writers.

I write young adult fantasy, paranormal romance, and science fiction mystery, and have series published in the first two. Many of my interests have been very different than Ezra’s and that’s been great. When I met him he was writing short stories in horror, mystery, and surrealistic fiction. Ezra has published 3 books in his Torah Codes series.

 

Presto! Ezra speaking! As Beth said, it took some time before we worked together as teachers. But uniting our teaching superpowers was inevitable by the way we both loved the craft and business of writing and wanted the world to see how fun it could be.

We toyed with the idea of cowriting a story, but our genres are so different, that we find it’s best if we stick to editing each other’s work.

 

  1. In what ways are your creative process different from one another, and how did you manage to weave them together as you teach and mentor other writers?

 

Beth here: I am much more of an organic writer than Ezra. I start with character and evolve the plot from there. I also start with a clear idea of my genre, and I think this is where he and I are similar.

And because I have an organic approach to the writing process I would notice where there were holes and ask to see if Ezra could fill them. Since he has a more linear approach to planning his novels I knew that would be helpful to some people, and I learned from it too.

 

Abracadabra! This is Ezra! I’m a plotter. A severe plotter. We’re talking write-every-detail-of-each-scene-on-index-cards plotter.

I tend to start with the “Holy crap! I didn’t see that coming!” idea of what happens in the thriller, and how it will make the reader want to share the thriller with all her friends.

From there, I think of the main moments that fit a standard hero’s journey or Act I II and III model, those moments that lead up to the climax I already have in mind. I usually do so by using a problem-solution tool, such as Problem: Jacob gets attacked by lobsters at the restaurant; Solution: Jennifer, chef extraordinaire, fends off the lobsters with a hatchet. I scribble the problem-solution scenes down on index cards and then I fill in missing scenes on more index cards.

My biggest issue is character development, and that’s where Beth saves the day. She asks me questions about the characters that make me discover there’s more to the story than I originally intended.

Overall, I’d say Beth’s strengths are my weaknesses in writing and vice-versa, so our skills complement each other in helping round out the skills of other writers.

 

  1. You both just published a book, Plan Your Novel Like a Pro: And Have Fun Doing It! Tell us about it, and about how you both put this together.

 

Beth here:This book is based on a course we have been teaching for over five years. The material just evolved out of mostly my process and then adding in Ezra’s process where it made sense.

I was the main driver in producing an editing the book and Ezra looked at everything, added editorial comments, and created the awesome cover with my input.

 

Ezra here: What she said.

 

  1. Where can we find this book?

 

You can find this book at all these vendors:

Amazon

Nook

Kobo

iBooks

Other vendors

 

  1. Where is your favorite place to write?  Why?

 

Beth here: I love to plan and write my first draft at cafés. I love the ambient noise, the fact that even though I am alone in the project I am surrounded by other people doing their thing, and it gets me out of my house, so I have a change of pace.

 

Voila! Ezra at the post now! I love to dig holes in the ground and find chests of gold bullion and non-sequiturs.

As for places to write, I, too, like writing my first drafts at cafés. I like the possibility of someone coming up to me and saying, “You’re writing a thriller? No way! You’re the most amazing person in the world!”

It hasn’t happened yet, but yeah. That would be cool.

 

  1. In each of your opinion, what are some of the biggest obstacles facing writers today?

 

Beth here: One of the biggest obstacles facing writers today is just starting the process. Often writers don’t know where to begin and that can be overwhelming and confusing. Another huge obstacle is that they feel that there might be something wrong with them because their ideas don’t fit the mainstream. Lastly I see writers not even starting because they don’t think they can do it even though they really want to write a novel.

 

Ezra’s mouth talking now: I agree. B.I.C. is one of the toughest tasks writers have to overcome. B.I.C. stands for Butt In Chair. Getting started is hard for me and, I believe, for other writers. But there’s the five-minute solution. As soon as a writer sits down, tells herself, “I’m going to write for five minutes,” and starts writing, those five minutes typically end up being a half hour.

Another tough obstacle is the desire to get it right the first time. Analysis paralysis. I tell myself that my goal is to write crap and have fun doing it. Often, if I’m having fun writing the story, readers will enjoy reading it. Also, giving myself permission to write crap takes the pressure off to be perfect.

 

  1. Any additional comments or advice you’d like to add for our readers?

 

Beth here: If you have the dream and the desire to write a novel but don’t know where to begin, then I recommend you start by setting the timer for five minutes and just write. Nonstop. Not caring about typos or anything. Not caring if you repeat yourself or write nonsense. Writing is a practice, writing is something you can get better at. And if you want to write a novel, you absolutely can. I believe in you.

 

Ezra here: *hug*

 

********

 

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

“I can honestly say this book saved a manuscript that was headed for the shredder!” — Ann W. Shannon

This book will help you get excited to plan your novel. The tools shared here are designed to spark your muse and give you confidence when you sit down to write your story. Plan Your Novel Like A Pro: And Have Fun Doing It! is for organic writers and pansters who want a roadmap to follow, so that they can let their creativity loose.

This 168-book comes with 20 chapters, lots of exercises, and a free bonus workbook.

 

About Beth Barany

Beth Barany is an award-winning novelist, master neuro-linguistic programming practitioner, and certified creativity coach for writers. She specializes in helping writers experience clarity, so they can write, revise, and proudly publish their novels to the delight of their readers. Her courses are packed with useful hands-on information that you can implement right away. She runs an online school for fiction writers and a 12-month group coaching program to help them get published. More resources on publishing, book marketing, and novel writing are on her blog, Writer’s Fun Zone. When she’s not helping writers, Beth writes magical tales of romance, mystery, and adventure that empower women and girls to be the heroes of their own lives.

About Ezra Barany

Ezra Barany loves riveting readers with thrillers, but by order of the Department of Motor Vehicles he must place a warning on every book cover, “Do not read while driving.” His first two books in The Torah Codes series were award-winning international bestsellers. In his free time, he has eye-opening discussions on the art of writing novels with his wife and book coach Beth Barany. A high school physics teacher, Ezra lives in Oakland with his beloved wife and two cats working on the next book in The Torah Codes series. Ezra, not the cats. For a free short story in The Torah Codes series, “Mourner’s Kaddish,” go to http://www.thetorahcodes.com/.

 

 

 

 

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Author Interview: David Cedar

 

** This week we have a special guest with us to share about his debut scifi-mystery-thriller novel, Anniversaries.

 

 

Tell us what first drew you to writing. 

I have a creative mind and an Art background and in lieu of expressing myself in paint on canvas (like my father did), I chose the written word.

 

Do you listen to music while you write?  If so, what kind of music? 

Sometimes. If I do, it’s mostly 1960s pop and rock or Classic Rock. And it’s always on in the “background” to keep me company.

 

Who is your favorite author? Why? 

I have read novels in the past but, I mostly read magazine articles, so I don’t have a “favorite author”.

 

Do you have a favorite magazine or two?

I have, in the past, subscribed to two magazines: “Hemmings Classic Car” and “Collectible Automobile”. And have hundreds of back issues. But, I no longer like either publication anymore, I’m sorry to say.

 

You’ve just published a book. Tell us what your book is about. 

ANNIVERSARIES is about Darren Prescott, an ex-drug dealer/pimp who discovers a way to travel back in time to specific events on specific days in his past (and other people’s past too). He plans to parlay this ability into a money making venture, but gets side tracked when he discovers (while Time-Traveling) something horrible his father did years earlier.

 

What inspired you to write this book?

When I was very young (maybe five years old), my mother gave me a slice of Swiss cheese for a snack and as I was about to bite into it, she said, as a joke, “Don’t eat the holes”. Well, I believed everything my mother told me, so when I was finished eating, on my plate were several Swiss cheese “holes” all with bite marks around their perimeters.

This little memory, this quick “snippet” of my life, has stuck with me all these years. And there are dozens and dozens of other “snippets” in my memory bank. One day, I got to thinking that these memories, although insignificant, all have anniversaries. Let’s say that the “Swiss cheese” incident happened on July 10, 1966, that means that every July tenth, it has an anniversary. My novel is loosely based on this concept.

 

You write under a pen name, what prompted you to do this?  Is there a story behind this pen name (on how you came up with it?)?

I decided to use a pen name because, my late father (Albert Swayhoover) was an Artist and his artwork is all over the Internet. If one were to Google “Swayhoover”, the result would be thousands of websites that sell his work. I was concerned that my book and I might get lost among all of that.

The origins of my pen name are: “David” is my middle name and “Cedar” was part of the name of the street in which I grew up, Cedar Point Drive. Then I searched Author names and didn’t find any other David Cedars, so that’s what I went with.

 

Where can we find this book? 

Amazon

 

What are your writing plans for the near future? 

I’m considering a sequel to ANNIVERSARIES. And there are two or three articles on one of my favorite subjects: American Automobile History that I am writing.

 

Where can we find you? 

www.davidcedar-author.com

 

******

 

About the Author:

David Cedar (aka Robert Swayhoover) was born and raised on Long Island, New York. He graduated from Chamberlayne College in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1984 with a degree in Advertising Design. In 1997, he married Patricia Townes-Swayhoover. The couple lived in New York City before relocating to Raleigh, North Carolina in 2003. Writing has always been something David was interested in, but never gave it a try until seven or eight years ago. Besides writing, his interests include: Automobile History and World War II History.

 

Click on image to purchase

 

 

 

 

Author Interview: Huck Krueger

Today I have a special guest with us-author of several Science Fiction novels, Huck Krueger!

If you were to introduce yourself to a group of strangers, what would you say? 
I’ve told people that I’m a pilot and a writer. But since I put my plane away and don’t know if I’ll ever fly it again, I might say, “Hi. I’m Huck. I’m a writer and a former pilot.” Or I might leave out the word, ‘former,’ for now.

 

Tell us what first drew you to writing. 
Like most kids, I had fantasies, and I enacted them in my play. In my teen years, I still had those fantasies, though I didn’t play any of them out with toys or action figures. I started drawing cartoons and comics. But I knew I didn’t have any special skill at it and never assumed I’d sell any of my comic stories. Many of those comic stories and booklets are sitting in a box in my basement.From sixth grade through junior high, I was fortunate enough to have teachers who were enthusiastic about writing, and they had taught me the concepts of English grammar and writing basics. Then I ‘saw’ the ‘window’ to write my fantasies out in stead of trying to draw inept comics.I’ve thought that if I ever publish a big-time seller, I’ll dedicated it (my first book anyway) to my junior high English teachers.

 

What do you write?
I’m interested in science, especially astrophysics and aerospace.  So I write Science Fiction mostly, though I’ve dabbled in romance, contemporary and wartime settings. My science fiction is most often involving space travel or life on other planets. I don’t care for the pure fantasy involving the supernatural or spirits, or worlds and creatures that likely wouldn’t exist.

I read a lot of history too, but I shy away from writing stories in that genre because I worry about being historically inaccurate. With sci-fi there’s usually more suspension of belief. I can be ‘way out there,’ and feel comfortable that no one will definitively prove that what I write can’t happen.

 

You’ve just released a book (or two) this year, correct?  Can you tell us some about it (them)? Where can we find your books? 
My latest novels are a series about four crew-members who fly an Astral Research Vessel, or ARV, throughout the galaxy to study stars and nebulae. The crew consists of two men and two women. My main character, Miles Wendel, is the pilot of their ship. Tana Vargas is their engineer and bio scientist. Li Keung is their astrophysicist who mans their science equipment. And Cassie Nystrom is their captain.

Their ship is ‘sustained’ by force fields and is often invisible. Only the objects and equipment they access or touch become visible. If someone wants privacy, say in his or her quarters, then the walls will appear, usually throughout the living compartment of their ship.

Their ship is capable of ‘bypassing the speed of light’ by what I’ve termed, ‘Hyper Sub-dimensional Transition (HST),’ which means they enter alternate dimensions of space/time and fly a ‘shorter’ distance to their destinations.

Of course, at their destinations, they encounter adverse situations. In each of the four stories I’ve conceived so far, they’ve encountered extraterrestrials as well as ‘external conditions’ which complicate their struggles.

I’ve published the first two books in this series which I call, Voyages of the Altair. I named their ship Altair after the star in the Aquila constellation. Its name means ‘Flying Eagle.’ I thought it was appropriate.  Each book has a main title, and so far, I’ve titled them after the star or nebula where the plot takes place.

The first book is WR104, which I published in June, 2017. On their maiden voyage we find them near the unstable blue star, identified by astronomers as WR104. The second book is M42, which I published in November, 2017. The crew is assigned to fly through and study the famous Orion Nebula (M42). I’ve finished the first draft of the third story, Eta Carina, and I’m currently writing the fourth, with a working title of, M54.

Information about these books and links to purchase them, along with my other books, can be found at my website, huckkruegerauthor.com. One can also find them via Amazon. Nook and Kindle versions are available.

 

What seems to be the recurring theme(s) in your stories? 
Space travel and extraterrestrials are what I write about most, because they give me so much ‘room’ to create and work out ideas. I like to note that most of my aliens are not evil aliens out to destroy humanity or Earth. They have their faults, but I often have them interact and cooperate with my human characters.

 

How do you get into the minds of your characters? How do you come up with various settings? 
I usually use the ‘closely attached’ third-person point of view, and usually choose one main character to do it in each story. To clarify, the story is shown through the view of one person–only things he/she knows is told. Though, I try to imagine what each character thinks, sees and feels, so I can have them interact in a believable fashion. Sometimes while writing, as an excuse to get up and move around, I’ll physically act out a scene to get the concept and figure out how characters would respond.

Many of my story ideas have come from a topic in science I happen to be studying at the time. I try to construct a story with that aspect of science involved.  I came up with one story after I read about Jupiter and its moons and the forces at play between them. In the story I explain the basics of Jupiter’s ‘plasma torus’ and how it affects the electromagnetic fields around the four moons. Then I ‘stretched’ the science and went beyond to create a plot for the main two characters.

Another idea came from combining two news stories. Back when the influenza virus was ravishing through the world, I had that story rolling through the back of my mind when I read about UFO abductions.  I combined the two into a plot of aliens abducting someone and mistakenly allowing their victim to contract one of their diseases. After they set him/her free, the disease spread rapidly. The result was a pandemic that wiped out hundreds of millions. I created a story about an astronaut woman whose family had died from the disease.

In my new series, Voyages of the Altair, I’ve been reading about dark matter and dark energy, and worked the plots around the idea of living beings made of dark matter and energy.

 

How valuable is being in a writing group for you? 
It turns out that the writing groups have been very valuable. Since the late 1990s, I had let my story writing go dormant. I had only dabbled with poetry and some articles and essays from that time until the local retired fire chief invited me to check out the local writers’ group in November, 2006. That group identifies itself as the Lake Region Writers’ Group. There was another group that met in Willow City, called the Prairie Rose Writers.

They ‘prompted’ me to rekindle my story writing. While I worked on an old story and wrote new ones, the Prairie Rose group, who had collaborated with our group on an anthology, ‘recruited’ me to assemble and publish the work.  After learning the processes of self-publishing, I decided to ‘join the ranks’ of the other two in our group who had self-published their own works. After learning about what I did to publish the anthology, one of the Prairie Rose writers has now self-published one or two books.

 

When you’re not writing, where would we usually find you?
Outside of my job, which is custodial and maintenance at the local college, I’m often at my computer studying a science or history subject, or communicating with someone, or just entertaining myself. Otherwise I might be working in my shop in the garage or doing some chores or repairs around the house, and in the summer times I often worked on or flew my ultralight plane.

 

In your opinion, what are some of the biggest obstacles facing writers today? 
Writers today still face the usual problems any writer has such as writer’s block or deciding how to compose an article or story. In the business realm of literary jobs and publishing one’s work, I don’t know how much competition one faced in the past. But now-a-days writers will find a lot of competition.  The major traditional book publishers and major magazines receive tens of thousands of submissions in a year. Getting noticed will often be through luck.

An ‘outlet’ for many writers has been via the internet, which includes blogs and self-publishing. Writers of blogs, ezine articles/stories, self-published books, or other digital compositions can get their ‘foot in the door,’ if their piece catches the eye of a major publisher. Publishers sometime notice when a piece gets thousands or millions of views or sales. They might approach the author(s) and offer a proposal.

 

Any additional comments or advice you’d like to add for our readers?
Off hand I can’t think of any advice or tips that haven’t already been mentioned or posted somewhere.

 

 

 


 

About the author…

Huck lives in Devils Lake, N.D. with his wife, Linnea. He graduated Cando High in 1982, and in 1989 received a B.A. with a major in English, a minor in Computer Science, and a concentration in German from MSU-Minot.  You can find his science fiction titles atKindle and Nook.

 

Author Interview With Jeanne Blasberg

Today we have a very special guest, Jeanne Blasberg, as she tells us a bit about herself and her DEBUT novel! 

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’ve kept a journal all my life and have always loved to read. My favorite book as a child was Harriet the Spy. Being an only child who spent a lot of time alone, I got scarily close to emulating Harriet’s spying ways.

My passion is fiction, but my early professional life had me writing business case studies and articles on the retailing industry. My first serious pursuit of creative writing involved memoir and essays based on personal experience, but I always knew I had a book in me.

Once my three children moved out of the house, things got quiet and my mind could slow down. I used that time to write and study the craft. My husband and I also love to travel, and I blog about it on my website. In the last nine months I have been to South Africa, Uganda, Patagonia, the Canadian Rockies, and Iceland.

 

What aspects of your life led you to writing the kind of stories you write?

I have always been fascinated by family dynamics. What is spoken and often unspoken between siblings (which I can only imagine, having always wanted to be a sister) and how bonds strengthen or deteriorate between generations are things I think about.

I have also witnessed (as well as read and thought about) the way behaviours get passed down from generation to generation, especially painful ones such as addictions and secret keeping.

 

 

You have a new book coming out soon. Tell us about it.

EDEN is the story of a family matriarch in her late seventies who, after the death of her husband, decides to introduce her family to the daughter she gave up for adoption fifty years earlier. The setting is their grand summer home, built by her industrial tycoon father, in a fancy summer community on the coast of southern Rhode Island. The chapters describing the days leading up to the Fourth of July weekend, as relatives arrive, and our matriarch prepares to make her announcement, are alternated with chapters revealing the 80-year history of the family. Four generations of women are introduced, each with secrets of their own.

 

What inspired you to write it?

The idea was born after my husband discovered he had a brother who had been given up for adoption. In getting to know this newly discovered brother and having conversations with him and his wife, I understood something about how the mystery around his birth had been bound to his self-identity. I related to this immediately. The product of a hasty marriage, I was ten years old when I did the math on my fingers to figure out I was a mistake, something a could never quite shake. I never stopped thinking about the different choices our mothers had (or didn’t have) and also the residual effect on the children.

 

How do you get into the minds of your characters?

I spend time meditating or quieting my mind and then I think about the scene I am writing until I just know how a character would react. Sometimes, I get it wrong and in the editing process I think “no, no, no, that’s not quite right.” My characters are evolving and so getting it right sometimes requires writing an entire first draft and then going back to refine them. I understand my characters so much better when I know the ending.

I often think about my characters when I’m out in the world. I might notice a woman’s clothes and think that is something Becca would wear. Or overhear a conversation and think that is something Camilla would say.

 

In your opinion, what are some of the biggest obstacles facing female writers today?

Maybe the same obstacles face men as well as women, I’m not sure. I am a debut author and don’t feel I have a very knowledgeable opinion on this topic. But the one thing I have noticed in the process of launching EDEN is that there are a lot of books being released each season and there are a lot in the genre I am writing…. By Women For Women.  Is the obstacle one of continually feeling relevant and original?  I have found the communities of women authors that I have become a part of to be extremely helpful and supportive. So whatever issues we have as a gender, there is a big movement around taking them on!

 

Any additional comments or advice you’d like to add for our readers?

Here are 5 good writing tips for a satisfying writing life:

1) Consistent routine, for 8 out of 10 people morning energy is best – take advantage of that time and don’t give it away

2) Meditate – unclutter the mind

3) Find a community of writers and hold each other accountable

4) Be generous – with yourself and others

5) good writing has a lot to do with intuition – trust it

 

Click on the image to order the book

Synopsis of the book: “Becca Meister Fitzpatrick―wife, mother, grandmother, and pillar of the community―is the dutiful steward of her family’s iconic summer tradition . . . until she discovers her recently deceased husband squandered their nest egg. As she struggles to accept that this is likely her last season in Long Harbor, Becca is inspired by her granddaughter’s boldness in the face of impending single-motherhood, and summons the courage to reveal a secret she was forced to bury long ago: the existence of a daughter she gave up fifty years ago. The question now is how her other daughter, Rachel―with whom Becca has always had a strained relationship―will react.” 

 

Jeanne can be found at the following sites:

Author’s Website

Twitter

Facebook

 

Author Interview: Judy Walters

We have a very special guest today!  Please welcome Women’s Fiction author, Judy Walters! 

Tell us what first drew you to writing.

I’ve always written, since I was a little girl. I always knew I wanted to be a writer.  It’s just something I’ve always done, and I don’t know why, but I don’t feel complete without my writing.

What do you write?

 Women’s Fiction, stories about common people struggling with uncommon situations, many of my novels have some kind of medical twist.  

You were an editor in your previous life. How much has the publishing industry changed since you left?

I was an editor a long time ago — I stopped working in publishing about 19 years ago, right before my younger daughter was born. At that time, and people will laugh now, my office was just setting up email and I was afraid I would never learn how to use it!  

What seems to be the recurring theme(s) in your stories?

I like to write about families struggling with unusual but not unheard of problems. In A Million Ordinary Days, a woman is struggling with Multiple Sclerosis, and that struggle extends to her family. Other books I’ve written focus on families struggling with Autism, adoption, and infertility.

You have a new book coming out soon. Tell us about it.

My latest book is called A Million Ordinary Days, and it’s due out March 14. It’s the story of one woman’s fight against Multiple Sclerosis to try to live a normal life both with her career — working with pregnant teenagers — and raising her teenage daughter.

Which do you prefer: traditional, self publishing, or both?

I’m not one of those people who strongly prefers one way or another. Both are valid ways to publish. All of my books have been self published so far, but if I ever had the chance to have the traditional publishing experience, I think that would be great, too.

In your opinion, what are some of the biggest obstacles facing writers today?

One of the biggest obstacles is the ability to get published. People with wonderful novels can’t find publishers and feel uncomfortable or unsure of self publishing.  People who had great publishers lose their contracts for a variety of reasons and then don’t know how to publish their next books.

Allison Wheeler is fighting a war inside her body, a war with Multiple Sclerosis that she doesn’t want to acknowledge and certainly doesn’t want other people to see.

As Allison’s health deteriorates, she tries desperately to hold on to all that is important to her – her family, her career as a social worker for pregnant teens, and most of all, her independence. As her ex-husband and two daughters rally around her, they’re fighting their own demons – Glenn, in a new relationship, is afraid of shifting the comfortable companionship that he and Allison have built since their divorce fifteen years back. Melanie, whose sad past haunts her, is an adult realizing that adult life is not all it’s cracked up to be, and Hailey, a junior in high school, is debating how she can go off  to college knowing that even though she desperately wants to spread her wings and fly, her mother may be too ill for her to go. Just when they all think they’ve made peace with their lives, they must readjust to a “new” normal – or risk losing everything they’ve struggled to hold onto.

Release Date: March 14th, 2017

Want more info on this book?  Go to Judy’s website

Q&A with Author Alison Morton

alison-morton-author-interview

I’m so excited to have a very special guest here with us today: Alison Morton who is the author to the alternative history series called Roma Nova.  Be sure to check out her sites below! 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’ve been fascinated by the Romans since I was 11 and that’s a while ago! In between normal life events – earlier career in various sectors, marriage, raising our son, running my own business – I spent many of my vacations clambering over Roman Europe.

These days I live in France with my husband, write thrillers, cultivate a Roman herb garden and drink wine.

What aspects of your life led you to writing the kind of books you write?

I have a masters’ in history, six years’ military service and I love a good thriller.  And I’ve always believed that a woman could run things as well as any man.

After the novel writing bug was triggered by a terrible film, all these came together and resulted in the Roma Nova thriller series.

What’s your favorite part about being a writer?

Two things: firstly, the research and the way you become diverted into looking up stuff totally unrelated to your work in progress and secondly, receiving an email or review from a reader who totally gets what you are trying to say in your books.

alison-morton-in-rome

Tell us more about your books.

They’re adventure thrillers set in a modern Roman society run by strong women (Roma Nova). Of course, our heroines are fallible and of course they have strong love interests, but it’s the women who lead the action and call the shots. While the books are thrillers, there are no dripping body parts. 

The first one, INCEPTIO, starts in New York when an ordinary girl, Karen Brown, is hunted by a government enforcer. But in steps an attractive Roma Novan spy who helps her escape. But Karen finds it isn’t just gratitude she feels towards him.

She discovers her Roma Nova heritage and her true name. Her new life in Roma Nova is shattered a few months later when the government enforcer crosses the Atlantic and comes after her. He has a very personal reason to pursue her …

inceptio-book-by-alison-morton

What are you currently working on?

I’ve just sent the sixth book in the series to the copy editor and that will be out this April. Now I’m developing a novella, also set in Roma Nova.

How do you get into the minds of your characters?

I close my eyes and let them have conversations with each other. And sometimes I let them run around in my head acting out scenes. It’s important to establish each character’s separate personality from the start. Many people find it helpful to write out character profiles. Stories, whatever their setting and purpose, are all about people in the end.

What’s your favorite traveling destination?  Any place you haven’t visited and would love to?

Rome is my absolute favourite – impressive in so many ways.

In 2015, we visited the US and Canada for seven weeks seeing the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Washington DC, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, Beverly Hills, New York, Chicago, Niagara Falls, Quebec and a lot else! Last year I did ten trips to the UK to speak at events as well as two here in France. In March I’m off to the London Book Fair and then to Dublin, Ireland to speak in June. That’s plenty of travel at present!

What do you see in the future for women in general?

I think we’ll keep nudging towards a more egalitarian world, but there’s a long way to go. We must continue to stand up for a truly equal place in the world and chisel away at ingrained and subconscious acceptance of stereotypes that surround us.

Any additional comments or advice you’d like to add for our readers?

If you’re a writer keep writing and be persistent. Make your work the best it can be – no compromise! If you’re a reader, the best thing you can do when you read a wonderful book is to leave a review.

Social media links

Connect with Alison on her Roma Nova site

Facebook author page

Twitter:  @alison-morton

Goodreads

Alison’s Amazon page

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A Christmas Story Contest Winner: M.E. Lyle’s Interview

Click on image to see the original contest's page

Click on image to see the original contest’s page

Contest winner is M.E. Lyle for his humorous story, A Late Christmas Dinner.   Enjoy his interview

So, tell us a little bit about the piece you wrote, A Late Christmas Dinner, for this contest.

A Late Christmas Dinner was inspired a few years back and based, very loosely, on real events. Of course the story has been greatly exaggerated.  What good are imaginations if we can’t use them?



What else do you generally write?

I generally write light humor, tinted with a bit of romance. I enjoy making readers smile. I also tend to use a lot of dialogue. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not.   I do very little poetry.

 

How long have you been writing? What inspired you to start?

I’ve been writing since 2007. My early writings are terrible, filled with punctuation errors, and verb confusion messes. I tend to use present tense when I should be using past tense.   I need to go back someday and clean those messes up, but there are so many, and I am so lazy.   I was inspired by Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. It’s always been a favorite.

 

Tell us a little bit about your hopes and dreams as a creative.

My hope is to live long enough to create something worthwhile.   Most of what I write is pretty silly.

 

Where else can we find you and your work?

My work is posted only on WritersCafe.

 

Are you on WritersCafe?  I have a contest called Best of 2016 that runs ’till January 13th.  For this one, the members get to vote on the top finalists.

Why I Write: Contest Winner Interview

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Why I Write

 

(*From late August through end of October, I ran a contest over at WritersCafe.Org called “Why I Write.”  The premise of the contest was to write a 250-word essay (or a poem) on why you write. For the next three Mondays, I will be presenting the winners’ interviews or posting their winning work.  Enjoy!)

 

Our 3rd place winner of the contest is known as WriterGirl247247 for her essay, Saved by Words.  You can check out her profile/other writings here.

 

  1. So, tell us a little bit about the piece you wrote, Saved by Words, for this contest.

My piece, Saved by Words, is the story of how I became a writer. I love nothing more than to create stories. But somewhere along the line my own story slipped through the cracks. So I decided to tell it, because I believe what I express in Saved by Words is felt by many writers.

 

  1. What else do you generally write?

I write mostly young adult adventure, suspense, spy thrillers, and science fiction. And when I can I like to throw in some humor and romance.

 

  1. How long have you been writing? What inspired you to start?

I’ve been writing since I was thirteen. Initially I channeled my creative side through drawing, but never saw myself becoming an artist. I always had stories inside my head since I was I kid and would use them when I drew. Then one day after school, a new idea hit me. Drawing wasn’t working, so I wrote. And I’ve been writing ever since.

 

  1. Tell us a little bit about your hopes and dreams as a creative.

Ideally I’d be a New York Times bestseller, and my books heading to the big screen. But most importantly, I want to create someone’s favorite character. To create someone’s favorite book. I want people to love my worlds as much as I do.

 

  1. Where else can we find you and your work?

I’m currently finishing the first book of a five book series, the idea that drove me to write. Most of my other work can be found under my Writers Cafe profile. I’m also working on the first of another series, Phantoms: The Lost One, which is also under my profile and contemplating publishing it.

 

Author Interview: James Dorr

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*Today we have a special guest interview with short-story writer, poet, and author, James Dorr!  Enjoy!  Be sure to check out his links below too.

If you were to introduce yourself to a group of strangers, what would you say?

I’m James Dorr.

I’m a writer.

I write short fiction and poetry, mostly dark fantasy and horror, but also occasional science fiction and mystery.

Yes, I do see a difference between horror and dark fantasy, dark fantasy, to me, incorporating elements of the supernatural while horror is more a description of the readers’ reaction, evoking feelings of fright or unease. So there can be psychological horror as well as such things as dark mystery, dark science fiction, dark romance, even dark humor. Comedy is similar, in this case evoking laughter or at least a chuckle (whereas “horror” as a word is derived from “horripilation,” a physical bristling of body hair as when one has “goose bumps”), so there can be comedy-mystery, humorous science fiction, etc. But then I write cross-genre work as well.

Tell us what first drew you to writing.

I think, in general, I felt a need for self-expression. When I was younger I thought I might be a painter or graphic artist, or something in the visual arts, even perhaps something like a cartoonist (as an undergraduate, for instance, I became Art Editor on my college’s humor magazine, as well as illustrating for other publications). But I seemed to have more talent for describing things in words, rather than lines or colors, to tempt the reader to visualize things for him or herself, and for more than just the visual impression – to try to evoke other senses as well, to feel a thing’s texture, a speech’s music (I might mention I also lead and play tenor in Renaissance recorder consort), to see for a moment within a different character’s mind .

Or maybe it’s just an urge to show off.

You have a new book coming out in 2017. Tell us about it.

On a far-future, exhausted Earth a ghoul – an eater of corpses – explores the ruins of one of its greatest cities in hopes of discovering the one thing that made its inhabitants truly human. This is the premise, the quest that introduces us to the 16 stand-alone chapters of Tombs: A Chronicle of Latter-Day Times of Earth, about half in fact already published in various venues as complete short stories, loosely inspired by a pair of quotations from Edgar Allan Poe, of the most poetic subject being the death of a beautiful woman (which also informs, in its way, my previous book The Tears of Isis) and of the boundaries between life and death being “at best shadowy and vague.” If these statements be true, and in an already dying world, can love be a power to even transcend death?

What inspired you to write it?

For Tombs the stories, at least the first of them, preceded the book, yet they seemed to “want” to come together, rather like the stories in books like Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club or Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles. That is, even if complete in themselves, they seemed to be part of something bigger, in this case a sort of future history of a people already aware of its approaching doom, if not in this lifetime, at best in no more than a few generations. That’s far enough, then, that one needn’t despair, to strive to live only in the moment, but nothing that one accomplishes is going to be long remembered either. Yet legends still are, somehow, created – perhaps through some larger need of humanity – and these are the legends presented here. Ones that, in having created this world, I felt myself compelled to discover.

What seems to be the recurring theme(s) in your stories?

That’s hard to say, because I’ve published several hundred stories, at least as many poems, and in several genres and combinations of genres. One thing I seem to come back to, though, is the idea of love as a redemptive quality, which I think informs a number of the Tombs stories too. Then in my 2013 collection The Tears of Isis, while assembled from stories for the most part already written, I tried to adhere to a theme of beauty and art being in some ways at odds with intimacy and life, opening with a poem about the Medusa seen as a sculptress who, whether through art or through her myth, turns men into statues. Does the artist’s model then, of necessity, become an object, but in that way gain a kind of immortality? And then there are vampires, in a different way preying on life but becoming immortal themselves, leading to a series of flash stories I’ve been working on (two of them published recently in Daily Science Fiction) depicting the “casket girls” of New Orleanian legend, who allegedly brought vampires with them from France in 1728. And then, thinking of that as an urban legend, I’m fascinated by people’s beliefs, of myths and even fairy tales, a number of which I’ve also worked into stories or poems.

How do you get into the minds of your characters?

That’s something that I think gets easier with practice. I’m thinking right now though of an expression, that you shouldn’t judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in his boots, and I think that’s a key. Imagining yourself as different people and learning to empathize, both in life and in art. So I try to imagine a major character’s previous life – one of the “casket girls, above, for instance, as a child growing up in Eighteenth Century France (and, yes, researching Eighteenth Century France too), then the hardships of a voyage at sea, the not knowing what to expect ahead, the hopes and fears — and then placing that character in the new situation the story presents them with. What would I do if I were that person, as modified by what I’ve “learned” of their past?

And then not to “tell” what the character thinks, or at least not too much, but to try to show her or him in action in such a way that the reader can sympathize with that person too. (In short, to see through my character’s eyes instead of my own, to hear with its ears, smell with its nose, taste with its tongue, feel through its emotions, think with its brain, and do my darnedest to make sure you, the reader, do so as well.)

In your opinion, what are some of the biggest obstacles facing writers today?

Nowadays a main one, I think, may be what happens after a book, or a story within a book, gets published. In the past the publisher took the responsibility of getting it into bookstores and into the hands of reviewers and doing at least a minimal amount of advertising. Now, however, writers are much more on their own. And of course there’s self-publishing too, but even with a traditional publisher it still comes down now to promoting oneself – how to prevent the book you slaved over from just being buried under the crowd of other books coming out at the same time?

This is one reason I thank you, Carrie, for being willing to interview me here, to introduce myself to your readers (as in turn, hopefully, some of my readers will see this here and stay around to see more of your work). In this way we all can help one another and, on the same token, I’d like to urge readers, if you come across a book you enjoy, please consider writing a review, even if only in a sentence or two just saying you liked it, and sharing it in places like Amazon and Goodreads where people will see it.

Any additional comments or advice you’d like to add for our readers?

Perseverance. Don’t quit your day job. Those are the clichés, but they’re still true, that most writers aren’t going to make much money until they’ve been at it for some time, if even then. But the real advice I would give is to enjoy what you’re doing, as well as to strive to do your best.

Follow your bliss, to repeat that cliché. Be proud of your work, but be practical too — if an editor advises you to make changes, take it seriously. But remember it’s still advice, especially as you gain more experience, and the one you must please, ultimately, should be yourself.

Biography:

Born in Florida, raised in the New Jersey, in college in Cambridge Massachusetts, and currently living in the Midwest, James Dorr is a short story writer and poet, specializing in dark fantasy and horror, with forays into mystery and science fiction. His The Tears of Isis was a 2014 Bram Stoker Award® finalist for Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection, while other books include Strange Mistresses: Tales of Wonder and Romance, Darker Loves: Tales of Mystery and Regret, and his all poetry Vamps (A Retrospective), as well as, forthcoming, Tombs: A Chronicle of Latter-Day Times of Earth, a novel-in-stories from Elder Signs Press in spring-summer 2017. He has also been a technical writer, an editor on a regional magazine, a full time non-fiction freelancer, and a semi-professional musician.

Social Media:

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Amazon Author Page

tombs-book-cover-james-dorr

“The city had once lived, blazing with light. The books all described this. The Ghoul-Poet sat in the midst of a heap of them, pages torn, rotting, spread out all about him. This was a library, the pride of New City, or rather a square that had faced the library, that had received this avalanche of thought — words embossed on parchment — that cascaded down when the library burst, its walls weakened by age. It was a treasure trove, this mountain of dreams and abstracts, histories and myths. Some true, some perhaps not.”

These, then, were the legends of the Tombs, the vast Necropolis and its environs . . .

. . . of corpse-trains that plied bridges crossing the great river, bearing the City’s dead, braving attacks from flesh-eating ghouls

. . . of ratcatchers, gravediggers, grave guards, and artists

. . . of Mangol the Ghoul, of musician-lovers Flute and Harp who once played back a storm, of the Beautiful Corpse

. . . of seas filled with monsters, a mass-death of animals, secret tapestries teaching children about a past great war, the dangers of swamps

. . . a city consumed by a huge conflagration, a woman frozen for thousands of years

. . . a mission by airship to rescue a man’s soul

. . . a flower that ate memories. . .

These are just some of the wonders, the horrors, to be found in the pages of Tombs: A Chronicle of Latter-Day Times of Earth, scheduled to be out from Elder Signs Press in Spring-Summer, 2017.

Interview: D. Denise Dianaty

*Today we have a special guest with us- D. Denise Dianaty! 

denise-dianaty

 

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you write.

Well, when I think of ME, I think, “I am an artist.”  It isn’t just something I do… it’s who I am, bone deep.  I’ve always enjoyed singing. I have a nice little church voice. My mother thought it was more and saw in me a chance to realize her dream of a Country Gospel star. So, I began college at a Christian college studying music, specializing in Voice.  I was miserable. The only class I passed was Drawing and Painting.

The elective… LOL

As a visual artist, writing always seemed sort of second nature to me.  It was a kind of companion to my art.  Many of my drawings and paintings inspired or were inspired by poetry. I’d sit down, for example, writing out notes about a painting I was planning, and poetry would be result.

 

How long have you been writing?

Once upon a time, I kept scads of journals and sketch diaries under my mattress. When we moved, my mother found them and was deeply offended by them.  She destroyed them with fire in the BBQ grill.  I didn’t share my writing for over thirty years. I convinced myself it was all just very bad, rather pathetic poetry.  As my mother called, “wallowing in self-pitying drama.”  But, I didn’t stop writing. I just hid that part of me away for a very long time.  I didn’t share my art much either. It did see more light of day than my poetry. Art classes in school kept that part of my creative expression alive.

 

Why do you prefer to write short stories/plays/scripts over other forms?  What are you currently working on?

Every year in junior and senior high school (middle school and high school for you millennial readers), it was an agreement, I’d take chorus or voice for mother, and she’d let me take Art for my second elective.  Oooo! TWO electives in school? Generous, eh? I had drama club in high school too! And Home Ec as well as Vocational Office Education. School used to actually teach you stuff to get a job with and included entire classes of art and music. WOW! Radical thinking, right? LOL  Anyway, a couple of years ago, a writer friend of mine who’d occasionally tried to convince me that I was a poet, introduced me to the idea of writers’ forums to test the waters to see if there was anything to the idea.

I went to look for them online and found http://WritersCafe.org .

After around a year there, I’d gained enough confidence to start composing a partly autobiographical book of my poetry to self-publish.  I also tested my mettle writing fiction. I published the book of poetry on Amazon. Then, the first short novella I wrote was very well received on the Cafe. It seemed everyone who read it was telling me I should publish it. So, I did.

Sigh.

I’m glad I published both books. And, even though I’ve had little sales, I’m working on a couple more.

It’s like…it’s like I had been gagged for nearly forty years. When the gag was finally ripped off…well, it’s like that verse in “Fight Song”:

And all those things I didn’t say

Wrecking balls inside my brain

I will scream them loud tonight

Can you hear my voice this time!

No one is ever going to silence me again while I breathe.

 

Do you have any advice for writers trying to get published for the first time? 

My best advice for writers is to remember that “Writers write always. Great writers read… then write.”  And don’t ever let anyone silence your voice.

 

Who is your favorite author?  Why?

My favorite writer is and always will be my brilliant friend who helped me take back my voice. She is the sister of my heart.  I do have other favorites, primarily Georgette Heyer, Lois MacMaster-Bujold, Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, Emily Brontë, Oscar Wilde, Edgar Allen Poe, Charlotte Browning, Omar Khayyam, Arthur Guiterman, and more.

 

You moderate/run various groups like We PAW Bloggers and Pandora’s Box of Horrors; what inspired you to start them?

WE PAW Bloggers was begun by Pryde Foltz. She made me admin and turned her primary focus to WE PAW on YouTube. WE PAW Bloggers is a group focused on driving readers to our larger bodies of work. That, and the protections of date stamping and/or copyrighting that are automatic parts of blog sites and writers’ forum sites, is the reason the group requires sharing external links our writers’ accounts.

Pandora’s Box of Horrors began on the Women Writers, Women Bloggers (WWWB) group. There was this post, around Halloween. Someone started a list of horror words. I think it was me who had the idea to turn those horror words into the basis of a horror short story contest. I created the Pandora community page for that contest. This year, I ran the Challenge 2016 and found that a community page wasn’t meeting the group need for a place to interact as I’d hoped. So I created the Pandora’s Box of Horrors group page. After this year’s challenge is wrapped up, I’m going to shut down the community page run with the group page.

 

You’re also passionate about various issues. Tell us about them.

Most of the issues I’m most passionate about are social issues and this current election cycle.  I got started engaging on social media after reading an article about self-promotion as an author.  See, I have a problem with naked self-promotion. I just can’t get past feeling like a braggart.

The article – I can’t recall the name or source now – suggested authors “create a relevant presence” by engaging intelligently in social media. “Activism in writing” was advised in another, very similar article – again, I can’t recall the source now.

Most of my blogging lately has been issue related, rather than pure writing for the sake of the creative art of writing.

 

 

*Want more?  Here are her various sites:

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