Sharing some love…

This week, I received the Liebster Award from StrawberryIndigo’s Picture’s in Living Colour.

This is a gorgeous site dedicated to celebrating colours and sights all around us through the lens of StrawberryIndigo’s camera. If you have not come across her site yet, go check it out now and let your sights be lifted by the beautiful images. Thank you StrawberryIndigo 🙂

So I am passing on the award and sharing some love to the following bloggers…

Aditi Sarin’s Adobe Passions & Art Creations

I am going to copy her latest post to give you a taste of what you will find in this blog…

Art is anything that you create with a passion. No matter if your lines are not straight, if your circles look like eclipses or your portraits of human being look like an alien who just landed on the earth. As long as you see beauty in it, others find it interesting/absolute nonsense and/or as long as its been talked about, trust me you have created an art. Art needs no justification, let them judge if they want to…

You can read the post here.

MaryBeth Coudal’s The Connected Life

This is a woman who celebrates creativity and balances it with her family, her faith and life itself. I always enjoy MaryBeth’s posts because they are tinged with a simple honesty that strips away any pretenses. Check out her site and show her some love by following her blog.

Peter Weis

Peter Weis is a composer, a dabbler in short stories and prose, a reader and an observer of life. His posts are filled with thought and always leave me with a smile. He interjects all the posts with a great sense of humor and honesty that always have me coming back for more of a read. Check him out and let him inspire you.

Adam Bird

He is a husband, father and writer. He shares his posts, his photographs and his thoughts in a black and white blog. Adam does not hold back on anything he may be thinking at the time. His dry British humor infuses the blog with bursts of colour. Check him out. This blog will not disappoint.

Julie Jordan Scott’s Julie Unplugged

This lady will astound you with her focus on creativity and blending it into her daily world to create an artistic life. Her posts are filled with raw beauty and honesty. Check her site out. Be inspired to live an artistic life.

I met all 5 bloggers above through the WordPress PostaDay2011/PostaWeek2011 project… this is where you sign up to post every day or at least once a week on your WordPress blog. I am thrilled that by signing up to this challenge, not only did I set myself a blogging schedule but I met fellow bloggers from all walks of life and all corners of the world that have only added to my 2011. So thank you to each blogger but a special love and thanks to the five bloggers I have mentioned in this post.

Bringing back Fantastic SuperHeroes | Jack Hessey

Joining me today is a fan of all things fantasy and dreams of creating superheroes the reader won’t forget. Jack Hessey is a writer that I met in an online Facebook group called Fellow Writers. Like all the writers that belong to this group, this is a man devoted to creating fantastic fiction. So pull up a chair and make yourself comfortable as we discuss all things writing and how to create great characters that live on in the reader’s imagination.

Welcome Jack.

girl with a quill: If Jack Hessey were a character, how would you describe him?
Jack: I’d be the comic relief I think. I’m a bit clumsy, forgetful etc and often make a few smart remarks. Maybe the bumbling sidekick for the main villain, the guy who gets given the easiest jobs in the world to do yet still ends up messing them up.

girl with a quill: How long have you been writing for?
Jack: About 4 years now. The first few attempts at writing a novel failed, then in late 2009/early 2010 I finished my first novel, Steam Queen.

girl with a quill: Who or what influences your writing?
Jack: I don’t really have any inspiration. I just think of an idea, characters and such and write.

girl with a quill: What aspect of the writing life do you find the most challenging?
Jack: This may sound odd but I’ve always found the query letters to be the hardest. It’s so difficult to condense a hundred thousand word story into a few little sentences and make it sound interesting.

girl with a quill: Do you have a Write time of day set aside or do you write when the inspiration strikes?                                                                                                                                  Jack: I just write when the inspiration hits. I try to write at least for an hour a day when I have an ongoing project.                                                                                                        

girl with a quill: Tell us what inspires you as a writer?
Jack: Nothing really, I honestly can’t think of anything that inspires my writing.

girl with a quill: Do you have a Muse?
Jack: Nope

girl with a quill: Where do you write? Describe your place of writing to us?
Jack: My bedroom. It’s just a plain old bedroom with the usual bedroomy things like a bed, a tv, a PS3 a stack of comic books etc. It’s a bit of a mess but really it’s the only place in the house where I can find the quiet I need to be able to write since downstairs there will be my dad and brother watching television and talking which would be distracting.

girl with a quill: Are you a pen and paper writer/typewriter/digital writer?
Jack: Digital! Writing with pen and paper hurts my hand after a while and I like the option of being able to correct things I wrote if I mess up.

girl with a quill: What genre do you write in and why?
Jack: Anything fantasy. I guess it’s because it’s what I mainly read. Another reason is that it allows me to use all of my imagination without being shackled by what is or is not possible in the real world. By writing fantasy, if I want to include strange, mystical creatures of my own device (I haven’t yet but maybe one day I will!) or magical weapons and superpowers and cool things like that I can do.

girl with a quill: What genre would you like to write in but have not yet? Why?
Jack: I’ve always fancied dabbling in horror. I like horror stories but I honestly don’t think I could manage writing a good horror story. I have more of a fantasy imagination than a horror one.

girl with a quill: Do you have any beta readers or critique partners? Do you think they are a necessary resource for writers?
Jack: I don’t have any so of course, I don’t think they are necessary. I can see how they can be useful though.

girl with a quill: Would you describe yourself as a panster or a plotter?
Jack: Plotter, definitely. I can’t just wing it, I need a clear of idea of where my story will end up and what will happen next. Although sometimes the story does surprise me and takes an alternate route than planned!

girl with a quill: Tell us about your process of getting a new idea for a novel or story?
Jack: Whenever I get the workings of an idea I write it down and go back to it if I think I can develop it into a novel. At the moment there’s a folder on my laptop with 4 or 5 potential story ideas that I may get round too. After I’ve got an idea I think of characters, a storyline and plot out each chapter.

girl with a quill: Are you working on anything now? Can you share a little about your latest WIP?
Jack: A sequel to True Hero? Anyone currently reading or planning to read True Hero? Might not want to read further since it spoils the True Hero? Ending a bit. (warning – contains spoilers**) It follows where True Hero? Left off with Stella, The Fist and Enigma about to carry out their plans of taking on the corrupt superhero team, The Empire. The new major enemy for Stella to face are a group called Trinity. A trio of villains who have secretly being pulling the strings of The Empire and are responsible for the experiments, the cover-ups, the deals with super villains etc that the superhero team have done. **

girl with a quill: What publishing market are you aiming for?
Jack: I’m not sure to be honest. Any who want to read my book!

girl with a quill: There is a lot of talk right now about Digital Publishing (Ebook) versus Traditional Publishing?
What are your thoughts on this debate?
Jack: I like E-Books. They’re much more convenient really. I went away to Sri Lanka a few weeks ago and it felt so much more reassuring to carry around 50-60 books on my kindle than having to try and make the 2-3 books I usually cram into my luggage last for the whole trip!

girl with a quill: What is more important to you: Story or Character? Why?
Jack: Character. I can read a poor story if it’s got fun characters but I can’t read a good story if it’s got characters who I don’t like or don’t find interesting.

girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character that you have created and why?
Jack: Erica from Steam Queen because she’s a complete psychopathic nutcase. She isn’t a good person at all and readily admits to that. I think it’s quite unique because in Steam Queen she does end up doing good deeds but it’s mainly for selfish reasons and, although the deeds she does do help a lot of people she doesn’t exactly do them in a heroic fashion.

girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character in the literary world and why?
Jack: Ohhhh, this is tough one! Gonna have to go with Samwise Gamgee from Lord of the Rings is a fantastic character. He’s the true hero of the story since without him supporting and helping Frodo, Sauron would have got the ring in a week. He was just a brave, loyal, likeable character. Others that I’ve got a soft-spot for are Luna Lovegood and Professor Snape from the Harry Potter series and I loved Iorek from His Dark Materials.

girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 famous creative people, who would they be and why?
Jack: J.K Rowling, Philip Pullman and Philip Reeve because they are my three favourite writers. Emilie Autumn because she’s an amazing singer and just seems like a really interesting person too. I can’t think of a fifth person to be honest. Maybe George Lucas so I can serve him cold food for messing up Star Wars?

girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 of your favourite fictional characters, who would they be and why?                                                          Jack: 1) Luna Lovegood: She would make the dinner party quite entertaining, she’s awesome. 2) Molly Hayes from Marvel Comics: She’s an 11 year old girl with super strength who once threw Wolverine out of a church and once punched The Punisher in the gut. What’s not to like? 3) Sam Gamgee: So I can serve him a special meal for saving Middle Earth! 4) Yoda from Star Wars: He’ll have some fun stories to tell. 5) Spiderman: I’ve always been a fan of Spidey, he’s just a chilled, funny guy who seems like he’d be cool to hang out with. girl with a quill: If you could give yourself one piece of advice at the beginning of your writing career, what would it be?
Jack: Edit edit edit! I didn’t edit enough when I wrote Steam Queen and it shows with some of the reviews I’ve gotten where reviewers have picked up on errors

girl with a quill: What is the one piece of writing advice you could give your future self, 10 years from now?
Jack: I don’t know really. I’d like to think in 10 years time I’m still writing, maybe “Stop being lazy and write instead of getting distracted all the time?” I could do with following that advice now to be honest.

girl with a quill: What do you want your lasting legacy, as a writer, to be?
Jack: To be THE author when it comes to superhero stories. You know how when people say horror they think of King, fantasy they think of Rowling, Tolkien and  Pratchett, vampires they think of Rice etc? I want when people think of superhero stories to think of Jack Hessey 🙂 Hopefully it’s not too ridiculous a goal. Superhero fiction is a pretty empty market so hopefully I can make myself known in the genre. Preferably make a bit of cash in the old bank account too whilst doing that!

girl with a quill: Tell us where we can find you and your work on the World Wide Web?
Jack: My blog and my website.

Www.jackhessey.com   and  http://stellastargirlblog.wordpress.com/

Dragons, Romance, Vampires & a Demon Cat | Diane Nelson

 Today I have the honour of inviting the Hilarious and Mischievous Diane Nelson. Creative Director of an Indie Publisher, Fantasy & Romance Author, Equestrian, Fantasist are all apt descriptions for this talented author and publisher. I had thought to serve coffee and be all respectable but this soon changed to margaritas served with a side of much laughter. I would have to say that this has been one of the most entertaining interviews I have held on this blog. So you can add humourist to those descriptions of Diane. So pull up a chair, take a martini glass and enjoy the chilled margaritas while Diane talks about her love of all things fantastical and gives us her nuggets of wisdom on Indie publishing and first submissions. Oh I almost forgot, her muse Rowan and her Demon Cat will be sitting in on the interview as well. From Diane’s own accounts both are never too far from her side.

Welcome Diane…


girl with a quill: Ernest Hemingway famously wrote a six-word story. Tell us a bit about yourself in 6 words. Who is Diane Nelson?
Diane: She loves to tilt at windmills.

girl with a quill: When did you decide that you wanted to be a Writer?
Diane: As with most writers, I’ve never ‘not written’. There was a time—long long ago, in a land far far away—when journals, diaries, and letters were the essence of communication and self-expression. Telephones were multi-line devices with nosy neighbors listening in and per minute charges that strained a family’s budget. Television was a modern miracle doled out in small doses, not the time hog it is today. I grew up on the tail end of that period and on the cusp of the electronic revolution. The advent of ‘email’ was a revelation, an opportunity, a gift for someone like me who communicates best through the written word. Friends and family are far-flung so keeping them abreast of my latest adventures evolved into stories. To my surprise I found out that people were saving my writings. Eventually those same people said: when you retire, you will write full-time.

girl with a quill:How long have you been writing for?
Diane: My professional career as an x-ray diffractionist (think physics with a strong creative bent) involved a substantial amount of technical writing, something that instilled discipline and an appreciation for economy and clarity that translated well when I turned to fiction as an outlet for my creative energies. It did not, however, shake me free of a propensity for run-on sentences. One must have obstacles to overcome … always. (And to answer the question: 35 years.)

girl with a quill: Besides writing, what are your other passions / hobbies?
Diane: My passions and hobbies are life style choices. I live in the country, reveling in the rhythms and demands of equestrian pursuits. I have competed in dressage, eventing, hunter-jumper and endurance/competitive trail. I ran a boarding stable, trained riders and horses, gave clinics for 4H and Pony Club, managed horse shows—a total immersion in all things equine. My grandmother, a Russian emigrant, taught me needlework. I lived on a sailboat on the Chesapeake Bay and to this day the experience remains a source of inspiration for my stories. I love the cinema and theater (and television). I read, a lot. I have evil chickens and a Demon Cat and a parakeet with, um, certain propensities that are blush-worthy.

girl with a quill: You are also creative director of Pfoxmoor Publishing, an independent press. How did this role come about?
Diane: As is my habit, I did a lot of research on the publishing industry, the hoops writers are forced to jump through to get noticed, if at all, and the incredible lag times between securing that first contract and eventually having one’s work reach the light of day. Since I came late to the fiction publishing side of the equation—and because by nature I am Type A, take charge of my career—I did not wish to waste precious time. I also analyzed my own reading preferences and how the major publishing houses were overlooking new authors offering fresh voices in favor of a tired formulaic approach. I felt compelled to seek out and champion those authors being overlooked because they do not fit into a convenient mold. Along the way I discovered a community of amazingly talented individuals who embrace a similar philosophy.

girl with a quill: As an indie publisher: Where do you see the future of publishing going? 

Diane: Ah yes, crystal ball time. Well, I do believe the future of publishing is digital. And no, I don’t think print will ever go out of fashion. We are in a state of flux. While the eReaders are truly revolutionary devices, there will be wonders and marvels and apps galore in the upcoming months and years. Reading will become interactive, embracing audio, video and who knows what else. The author who simply commits words to paper (how quaint) or a Word/Pages document will be left behind. It is no longer enough to simply express oneself through a novel, short story or poem. The reading public expects, demands, a level of interaction that transcends everything that has gone before. The publisher will continue as one conduit amongst many options to bring new content to the public. But the paradigm is changing and publishers must be nimble enough to change, sometimes rather drastically in a short amount of time. Smaller, stream-lined niche publishers who are in a position to analyze and understand their market, and are willing to respond, will be the most successful. 


girl with a quill: In the unique role of being on both sides of the industry, writer and publisher, what are 3 pieces of advice you would give to a new writer about to submit a manuscript?
Diane: 1) I learned this the hard way: find a professional editor to fine-tooth your masterpiece, someone willing to give you the tough feedback you need. This goes way beyond snagging typos and misspellings. A good editor will nail your inconsistencies, will help you understand your characters and their motivations, will give you reasons for and against particular choices. And yes, it is expensive. You get what you pay for. But if you are committed to your work, then you simply must be committed to making it the best it can be. Trust me, you can’t do this alone.

2) Whoever you submit to—read their submission policies carefully. Does your work fit into what they specialize in? Who else do they represent? Make your first three chapters absolutely, positively error free. Write a proper query letter. That means researching, taking classes, attending writer conferences to learn how to do it. I have seen one, exactly one, properly constructed query letter. Learn how to do a synopsis. An agent or a publisher wants to know everything, right down to the spoilers. Clever cliffhangers will not engage an editor. If they say they want a 3-4 page synopsis, then this is what you give them. Once you’ve learned to do that, then learn how to condense that into a single page, three paragraphs, one paragraph and finally a single sentence. 

3) Understand that even with independent, ‘nimble’ publishers, the sheer volume of content crossing that desk is daunting. Everything takes three times longer than you might expect. Understand that a ‘no’ doesn’t necessarily mean you are a bad writer. It may simply mean that the content did not appeal for a host of reasons. This is a totally subjective business. And always, always write a thank you note (even if the rejection hurt and was perhaps not as kindly worded as it could have been). This is the professional thing to do and will leave the editor/publisher/agent with a positive attitude toward you as a person, even if they had a more negative reaction to your work.

girl with a quill: Who or what is the greatest influence on you as a writer? and Why?
Diane: I am an unrepentant geek and a purveyor of all things popular culture. Joss Whedon walks on water, Marti Noxon rips my heart out of my chest and hands it to me on a platter still beating, James Cameron had me within the first three minutes. I follow screen writers/directors/special effects guys like the worst fanboy/girl. I love scenes with cinematic appeal and I adore writers who write to that. It is not easy. And it is easily overdone. Basically every person I’ve ever met is a story waiting to be told. People, and the odd quirks of fate that make us who we are, are my inspiration. That I choose to occasionally travel down a dark path is a testament to my own checkered history, one that requires cathartic venting to keep me on an even keel. And to help me appreciate the incredible gifts that surround me today.

girl with a quill: If your life story were a novel, what genre would it be and what would be the story-arc up to this point?

Diane: Something between a Stephanie Plum and a Midnight Breed novel. Though noirish seems more suitable at times. I’m rarely one plot line or story arc. I am the Phoenix rising from the ashes.

girl with a quill: Tell us about the place that you write? What do you fill that space with?
Diane: Generally the living room sitting in a ratty old recliner with a small round table to hold my Cherry coke and a tilt table holding my laptop. Throw in an iPod and Bose headphones and Demon Cat on my lap.

girl with a quill: Tell us about your writing process from that magical moment when the story’s idea / character voice interrupts your thoughts…what happens next?
Diane: A song title, musical phrasing, a snippet of conversation, virtually everything is fodder for a story. Frequently I will dream an entire novel—on those occasions I can’t get to the laptop fast enough in the morning. A little gal from a middle school choral group once asked me how I come up with ideas. I told her that I have all these people who rent apartments in my head. And sometimes they sublet and don’t tell me. Then, when I go knocking on that door, expecting to talk with the tenant, this stranger will answer, invite me in for tea (it’s a tweener, so I kept it ‘clean’) and a story. She loved it because it made sense in a skewed way. What she didn’t know is that every word was true (except for the tea).

girl with a quill: Are you a plotter, a pantster or a little of both?
Diane: Pantser. Dyed in the wool. It is a blessing and a curse. It makes me a better short story/flash fiction writer than a novelist (I think).

girl with a quill: What genre do you write in and why?
Diane: Fantasy, but that encompasses a wide range of themes. I love paranormal because of the freedoms it grants to explore different worlds, different states of being, different choices and consequences.

girl with a quill: We all have little habits and quirks that make us individual.
(a) What are your bad habits in writing?
(b) What are your strengths in writing?
Diane: a) Oy vey, that‘s easy: really dense, economical phrasing and complex sentence structures that can challenge even a graduate level reader

b) really dense, economical phrasing … it’s how I write. And I know it’s not for everyone. I’ve been called a very ‘sensuous writer’ with an extremely strong voice. Whether or not it’s because of that ‘really dense’ propensity, I haven’t a clue.

girl with a quill: If you could try your pen at another genre, which genre would you choose?
Diane: Literary fiction. First I need to figure out exactly what that is. But it sounds tres cool and much of what passes for that genre involves … really dense, economical phrasing…

girl with a quill: Can you tell us a bit about the book/s you have written?
Diane: I am perhaps proudest of my YA fantasy Dragon Academy, published by ireadiwrite Publishing under my real name, Diane Nelson. I wanted to write about normal kids in a world where dragons exist as a matter of course, where they make mistakes and learn to deal with issues without being pummeled by dysfunctions and all the ugliness that has invaded YA literature today. My other pride and joy is Sculpting David, published by Red Sage under my pen name Nya Rawlyns—a sophisticated contemporary romance set in the shark filled waters of NYC’s art world. In November I have a new novel coming out from Red Sage titled Hunter’s Crossing, another contemporary romance which draws on my equestrian background. I also have a 4-book series in progress titled Portals under my other pen name T.S. Bond. Book One, Spar with the Devil, is out and will be followed shortly by The Devil and the Falcon. This is a dark urban fantasy, action-adventure tale of two families/cultures at war, a saga of love denied and betrayal.

girl with a quill: What is your best sentence you have written?
Diane: Honestly? I haven’t written it yet.

girl with a quill: Are you working on any WIP now? Can you tell us a bit about it?
Diane: Someone said, at RWA, that ‘vamps are dead’ with apparently no pun intended. We were discussing the glut of vamp stories on the market and wondering if readers have gotten tapped out yet. My gut feeling was ‘no’. So I decided to write a vamp story that will be a three-story arc titled Hunger Hurts. The first book is Acid Jazz Singer which features a vamp transvestite who was turned mid-sex change transformation. The vamp is not the actual main character but rather the catalyst around which the action happens. The story is, um, evolving given my pantser nature. In truth it’s going to strange and wondrous places and I can’t wait to discover how it turns out.

girl with a quill: First drafts are for the writers themselves. Who reads your work after you?
Diane: I have beta readers for my dark urban fantasy. Sometimes I will post a chapter on FB or on my website to gauge reactions. I also belong to GLVWG which has quite a number of critique groups depending upon genre. They are an invaluable resource. 

girl with a quill: Why do you write?
Diane: Why do I eat? Why do I breathe? I simply must do so.

girl with a quill: Do you have a common theme or Omni-Premise that threads its way through all your writing? If so, what is it?
Diane: That each of us carries demons within us, whether by nature or by circumstance, and that the process of exorcising those demons or wrapping them in close embrace, is what makes us who we are.

girl with a quill: Do you believe in Muses? If you do, who/what is your Muse?
Diane: Oh, do I ever. In fact my muse has his own fan club. His name is Rowan and his exploits are legendary. My son used to explain to folks about his mother having an ‘imaginary friend’. Now he isn’t so sure about that.

girl with a quill: If you found a golden lamp with a genie and he told you he could either make one of your stories come true or that you could become a character for a short time in another author’s book, which option would you choose and why?

Diane: Well, since in my own mind my stories are true, then being a character in someone else’s novel would be a treat. The opportunity to wreak havoc, sow dissent and otherwise make a nice character having a bad day even worse off? Oh yeah.

girl with a quill: What is more important to you: Story or Character? Why?

Diane: Most of my work is character driven. Without characters you care about, the story, the message, the lesson, will not matter. But then, without a story you are left with store-front mannequins. It’s a chicken-egg question, after all.

girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character that you have created and why?
Diane: Rowan, based on my muse’s tortured past. This is in the third book of the Portals series: The Devil and the Shaman. I wrote this one from first person point of view—this allowed me such deep penetration into the character’s psyche that it was at once liberating and terrifying. This was one of those times when I truly opened a vein.

girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character in the literary world and why?
Diane: Would you laugh hysterically if I said ‘Ranger’ from the Stephanie Plum series? He’s Cuban, he’s hot and he says ‘Babe’. I mean, really, um, ‘scuse me while I go stand in front of the open freezer for a couple minutes…

girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 famous creative people, who would they be and why?
Diane: Joss Whedon (see above), Rockne S. O’Bannon because he was the mastermind behind the best SciFi show ever: Farscape, James Cameron (come on, you need to ask?), Michael Bay (because he blows shit up better than anybody) and Charlaine Harris because her ‘Verse has captivated and enthralled me for years.

girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 of your favourite fictional characters, who would they be and why?
Diane: Oh my, tough one, this. Atticus Kodiak from the series by Greg Rucka. A unique character who grew and made some tough, uncompromising choices that took me to uncomfortable places. Along the same lines I’d have to include Elvis Cole and Joe Long from the series by Robert Crais—again, these characters grow, evolve and must deal with a world in which their choices are often morally compromised. From Charlaine Harris’ ‘True Blood’ Verse, Eric (do I have blood in my hair?) and Pam (is it because I wear too much pink?). Humph, that’s five and I’m just getting started. Must call Wegmans to order a larger shrimp platter.

girl with a quill: If you could give yourself one piece of advice at the beginning of your writing career, what would it be?
Diane: Write every single day.

girl with a quill: What is the one piece of writing advice you could give your future self, 10 years from now?
Diane: Edit every single day.

girl with a quill: What do you want your lasting legacy, as a writer, to be?
Diane: I don’t write so that everyone will love me. I write for that one person for whom my story resonates, made a difference. If I am someone’s favorite author, then really what more can one ask?

girl with a quill: Where can we find your book/s for sale?
Diane: The usual suspects: Amazon, Kindle, B&N, Smashwords, OmniLit, Red Sage

girl with a quill: Finally where can we find you on the web?
Diane: As a publisher: http://www.pfoxmoorpublishing.com, http://www.pfoxchase.com.

Website: http://www.romancingwords.com and http://www.idancewithwords.com

Down the Rabbit Hole of Writing & Dreaming | Alice Lynn

 Today I welcome the charming Alice Lynn to the interview seat…Join us as we discuss dreams, imagination, strong female characters like Scarlet O”Hara and inspiration through the written and the read word.

Welcome Alice Lynn…

 

 girl with a quill: Ernest Hemingway famously wrote a six-word story. Tell us a bit about yourself in 6 words. Who is Alice Lynn?

Alice:  Telling who I am in six words is like asking for a mini synopsis of a 600 page novel. But here goes.  “ A writer who’s worn many hats.” Six words.  I guess you’ll tease out more details as the interview goes on.

girl with a quill: When did you decide that you wanted to be a Writer?

Alice: Somewhere in middle school, I read a book about a girl who kept a journal that was eventually published.  That may have been the genesis of my ambition. In 8th grade, I adapted an excerpt of The Christmas Carol into a play.  I starred as Scrooge (!) and we gave several performances. Maybe the applause went to my head, because I wrote a lot of humorous skits that a friend and I performed for fellow students.  My teachers encouraged me and I won honorable mentions for a poem and short story in the National Scholastic Magazine. All of these factors contributed to my desire to be a “real writer.”

girl with a quill: How long have you been writing for?

Alice: I began writing stories in 5th grade.  I’d discovered Tom Sawyer and was fired with the idea of writing a similar story. Imitating Twain’s writing style, I began, but never finished, my own version of a girl living somewhere in the rural United States of the late 18th Century.  My later efforts were shared with girlfriends who loyally listened as I read aloud. Most of these were western romances, as I had my own horse and ran with a “horsy” crowd.  I wrote my first novel when I was in my mid-twenties. Then came the first draft of Volunteer for Glory, published this year.  I’ve written newspaper feature articles, covered local sports, and reviewed high school theatricals. After my children were grown, I returned to school, earning a degree in psychology. The next five years revolved around my job as a case manager at a women’s shelter. In 2005, I began writing Wrenn, Egypt House, which was published in 2008.

girl with a quill: Besides writing, what are your other passions / hobbies?

Alice: Many of the hobbies I formerly pursued have also been retired. I have been an ardent gardener, a horseback rider, hiker, astrologer, poet, painter, and sculptor. I’ve played the part of a dance hall girl at a Timber Festival, where I sang, and danced the can-can.  I am fascinated by the natural world, art, music, the theater, and science.  I love horses, cats, dogs and the deer that nibble on our flowers. Not so much the neighborhood peacocks that scream “Help” at odd times during the night. I still play around with astrology, write poems (some published), attend water aerobics at the local gym, and maintain a lively correspondence with friends and colleagues.

girl with a quill: Many people in 9-5 jobs have a water-cooler space where they go to talk with their colleagues about work issues. Do you have a “water-cooler” group for your writing life?

Alice:  My “water-cooler” space is a conference room at Clackamas Community College where Chrysalis, a women’s writing group, meets. We discuss  our current work, as well as the changing landscape of publishing.  These women are so versatile in their knowledge and talent, that information, support, and suggestions flow freely among us.

girl with a quill: Who or what is the greatest influence on you as a writer? and Why?

Alice: I don’t think I can reduce that to one person or thing. Books have always been a big part of my life. So, I may be begging the question when I say that they are my biggest inspiration. As a child I read practically everything in the local library. When I could afford it, I bought books. I read omnivorously, everything from The Dancing Wu Li Masters to thrillers. Books take me on a magic carpet to different places and times. I have traveled from Middle Earth to Prince Edward Island with Jane of Lantern Hill. I’ve lived on Mars with Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars series, galloped over the plains with Zane Grey’s heroes, and walked beside Joan Didion as I read  “The Year of Magical Thinking.”  Emily Dickinson may have said it best when she wrote:  “There is no frigate like a book.”

girl with a quill: If your life story were a novel, what genre would it be and what would be the story-arc up to this point?

Alice: My novel, I fear, would be one of those huge family sagas that seem to never end. The story arc would involve the search for maturity and self-expression. Seen as a graph, that line would resemble a mountain range, going up and down.  At this moment, I think the arc is slanting upward as I fulfill my life long ambition to be a writer.

girl with a quill: Tell us about the place that you write? What do you fill that space with?

Alice:  I write in a many-windowed room that looks out on the “wild side” of our yard.  A large maple dominates the area, but native shrubs and ground cover contribute to its feeling of seclusion. Our cats walk down the path, and sometimes Hochito sits on the rock wall and sings. This is true.  It’s not meowing.  It’s like an oratorio.  Maybe he thinks if he sings, the birds will fly down for a visit?  Deer wander through come spring, and occasionally one naps in the shade.  Squirrels jump from the deck onto the maple tree and provide a good deal of entertainment.  Inside my office are telephones, computers, printers, file cabinets, and bookshelves.  Bits of artwork and sculpture claim niches here and there, but mostly there are reference books, tomes of writing advice, and a lot of poetry.

girl with a quill: Tell us about your writing process from that magical moment when the story’s idea / character voice interrupts your thoughts…what happens next?

Alice: Since I’m a “dreamer” my ideas come from dreams.  The dream incident is unusually vivid and I know instantly there’s a book in it.  I play around with the idea until it’s time for the first sentence, paragraph, or page. This is crucial, because that’s when the dream image assumes a concrete shape. Hearing my main character speak for the first time is like meeting someone I’ve been told about. Then as the book progresses, the hope is that something of the initial magical will remain

girl with a quill: Are you a plotter, a pantster or a little of both?

Alice:  Definitely a pantser, although I usually have a loose mental outline.  It’s like going from the east coast to the west coast; you know the destination but not everything you’ll meet on the road.

girl with a quill: What genre do you write in and why?

Alice:  I guess my genre is historical, though my next book, (Scattered Pieces) now ready for publication, covers the time period from 1948 to 1961.  I think of that more as women’s fiction, but will leave it to you and my readers to decide. Since I tend to write of the past, I hope readers will learn some history along with the story.  I’ve always loved old photographs, and this has influenced my desire to bring those long-ago people back to life. 

girl with a quill: We all have little habits and quirks that make us individual.
(a) What are your bad habits in writing?
(b) What are your strengths in writing?

Alice: A) Among my bad habits is procrastination. I also let interruptions, well interrupt me. B) My strength includes sticking with a project, doing my research, and trying to write realistic dialogue.

girl with a quill: If you could try your pen at another genre, which genre would you choose?

Alice: I might choose mystery since I unraveling clues to discover who done it!  Creating well-rounded characters, a good background, and a fiendishly clever plot. I’d like that.

girl with a quill: Can you tell us a bit about the book/s you have written?

Alice: Wrenn, Egypt House tells the story of a girl growing up at turn-of-century Portland, Oregon.  Wrenn becomes fascinated with an exotic mansion in Portland Heights, which she names Egypt House because of the twin sphinxes flanking the entrance. And there are the gorgeous men who live there; Simon Hunter, father of Stephen and uncle to Edward.  Romance, a mysterious past, and growing up come to a conclusion at the Lewis & Clark Exposition of 1905.  Volunteer for Glory is a civil war novel.  Rachel Norcross, a minister’s daughter from Boston, is challenged to run the farm when her husband, Stuart, joins the volunteer cavalry and goes to war.  Jared Westbrook, a sensitive young man from a neighboring farm falls in love with Rachel and though the attraction is mutual, they struggle to remain true to their individual codes of honor. The personal lives of the characters are intricately entwined not just with each other but with the war itself.  Scattered Pieces, soon to be published, begins with the kidnapping of the heroine’s little brother.  Katie, now a practicing psychologist, takes us back through time as she tells her story and how that shattering event shaped her path in life.  It has love, glamour, suspense, and…well, you’ll have to read it.

girl with a quill: What is your best sentence you have written?

Alice:  You must be kidding! You’re not? I especially like this sentence from Volunteer:  “The sodden men, hunched over their straining mounts, became a procession of the damned, each face revealed or guessed at, a lost soul continuing into Hades.”

girl with a quill: Are you working on any WIP now? Can you tell us a bit about it?

Alice:  I’m working another book inspired by a dream. Emaline, an exceptionally bright child, lives in New York City (I think) in the 1900’s; It’s about 1910 at the moment.  She’s a contrary little soul who learned to read at age 3. She’s also musically gifted with perfect pitch.  She lives with her father, a renowned violinist, her mother, a younger sister, and a nanny she doesn’t like.  Emaline is precocious and rebellious. In fact, she’s been sent to see a psychiatrist after she destroyed her violin.

girl with a quill: First drafts are for the writers themselves. Who reads your work after you?

Alice: Lisa Nowak, friend and fellow writer, and my daughter, Paige, Harlow, always get the first look. Then comes Chrysalis, my writing critique group.

girl with a quill: Why do you write?

Alice:  Because once a story or character invades my imagination I have to see what happens.

girl with a quill: Do you have a common theme or Omni-Premise that threads its way through all your writing? If so, what is it?

Alice: I’m not sure. Perhaps it’s the idea that no matter how difficult life is, you can survive and find happiness.

girl with a quill: Do you believe in Muses? If you do, who/what is your Muse?

Alice: My Muse must be my “dream master.”

girl with a quill: If you found a golden lamp with a genie and he told you he could either make one of your stories come true or that you could become a character for a short time in another author’s book, which option would you choose and why?

Alice: I think I’d make Wrenn come true.  Wrenn was a lovely character with much to offer as she matured.  I think she’s have been a very positive influence in society.

girl with a quill: What is more important to you: Story or Character? Why?

Alice: For me, story grows out of character.  Plots have floated around in my mind and stayed there. A character makes her own story.

girl with a quill: Who is your favorite character that you have created and why?

Alice: I like all my female heroines.  Rachel, Wrenn, and Katie. I like them because whatever their challenges, they faced them with fortitude and still maintained their femininity.

girl with a quill: Who is your favorite character in the literary world and why?

Alice:  Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind.  She was a flawed character but a survivor.  There were times I could have shaken her but all in all, she remains a force to be reckoned with and admired, however reluctantly.

girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 famous creative people, who would they be and why?

Alice: JRR Tolkien, August Rodin, Elizabeth Goudge, C.S. Lewis, and Edna St. Vincent Millay.  Tolkien, because I simply love his Trilogy; Rodin because he created such awesome sculptures; Goudge, I love her books and she personally answered my first and only fan letter; Lewis for his philosophical insights; and Edna St. Vincent Millay because her poetry touches my heart.

girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 of your favorite fictional characters, who would they be and why?

Alice: First, I’d invite Frodo and Gandalf from the Lord of the Rings.  I’m sure they’d have wonderful anecdotes and asides that didn’t get into print.  Next, would be Cody Everett from Running Wide Open by Lisa Nowak.  Cody is a kid with a great sense of humor but the soul of a writer.  The next invitation would go to Lacy Thurman, Secretary of the Interior, from Pat Lichen’s Kidnapping the Lorax.  She’d have a good deal to say about politics and how her experience as a hostage in a northwest forest changed her.  My last guest would be Sanna from the book Sanna, Sorceress Apprentice by Roxanna Matthews.  Pairing her with Gandalf could produce some great feats of magic, to say nothing of good conversation.

girl with a quill: If you could give yourself one piece of advice at the beginning of your writing career, what would it be?

Alice: Don’t give up.

girl with a quill: What is the one piece of writing advice you could give your future self, 10 years from now?

Alice: The same.  Don’t give up.

girl with a quill: What do you want your lasting legacy, as a writer, to be?

Alice: I hesitate to even guess.  To leave a legacy, especially a lasting one, seems beyond my capability.  My hope is that my books will provide a pleasant reading experience and impart the feeling that life is worthwhile. 

girl with a quill: Where can we find your book/s for sale?

Alice: You can find Wrenn at First Books as well as on Kindle.  Volunteer for Glory can be ordered in as an e-pub or Kindle at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s or at Smashwords.  Printed versions of both books are also available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell’s.


girl with a quill: Finally where can we find on the web?

Alice:  You can reach me through my blog at http://alicelynn.wordpress.com/ or visit me on Facebook, Alice Lynn Author. 

Thanks for having me as your guest.  You’ve made me feel very welcome.

These are the links to the books I took favorite characters from: Running Wide Open:  http://amzn.to/RWOAmazon ; Kidnapping the Lorax, http://amzn.to/mUiD23; and Sanna, Sorceress Apprentice: http://amzn.to/pCR4qf

 

 

Meeting Vampires with Mari Miniatt

Join me in welcoming Mari Minatt to the interview seat today. 

I first met Mari on Twitter and since then have grown to define her by vampires, fantasy and all things horror. Mari is the author of two books and works on many short stories too. So let’s give her a warm Warrior welcome.

 

girl with a quill: Tell us a bit about yourself. Who is Mari Miniatt?

Mari: Originally from Wisconsin, I now live in Central New York.
 I am the youngest of seven. I have alway been interested in horror and
supernatural.
 
girl with a quill: If you wrote yourself a part in one of your stories,
what role would you play and why?
 
Mari: Parts of me have already ended up in characters. But myself as
a character, a recent empty nester that hunts ghosts.
Part of me would love to do that.
 
girl with a quill: When did you decide that you wanted to be a writer?

Mari: I have always wrote. Writing was a hobby for most of my life.

A few years ago, something clicked in my head and started to take
my writing more seriously. A story I had worked on for over ten years
became the first series I wanted to put out.
 
girl with a quill: Many people in 9-5 jobs have a water-cooler space
where they go to talk with their colleagues about work issues.
Do you have a “water-cooler” group for your writing life?
 
Mari: Other than the writers I talk to on-line. It is at work!
There is a small group of women I get with every two weeks.
We sit at the cafe at work, and go over our writing. I love it.
 
girl with a quill: Who or what is the greatest influence on you as a writer?
and Why?
 
Mari: My father. He wrote everyday. When he was in his 70’s he
self published his memoirs of being a hobo. This was before the
internet and print on demand publishers. So he paid a local printer
to publish the books.
 
girl with a quill: If your life story were a novel, what genre would it be
and what would be the story-arc up to this point?
 
Mari: Chick lit. It would be a person that hits their idea of what the 
bottom is and works their way out. With the help of their immediate family.

girl with a quill: Tell us about the place that you write? What do you fill
that space with?
 
Mari: In the living room. My netbook on a small table. Along the walls
are some paintings my husband painted for inspiration. Along with maps
and sketches of characters.
 
girl with a quill: Tell us about your writing process from that magical moment
when the story’s idea / character voice interrupts your thoughts…
what happens next?
 
Mari: I find that an idea will be bouncing around my head for a while,
then something will click, and I have to write the whole story down.
If the story is really hot, I can knock 4,000 words in a sitting.
 
girl with a quill: Are you a plotter, a pantster or a little of both?

Mari: Pantster. It might help to think of my rough draft as a very

detailed outline.
 
girl with a quill: How important a part does the digital world and
an online platform play in your life?
Do you believe that writers now have more control over their own
platform now that we live in an increasingly virtual online world
of social networking/blogging/tumbling/tweeting ect? 
 
Mari: Ten years ago, I would not know what to do with my stories. I posted
some up on my own website. But nothing else. Now, it’s not just the options
you have about where and how you publish your stories, but how you can
reach an audience. A lot of the old style promotions are still valid, such as
book signings. But with Twitter and sites like Goodreads you can reach
around the world. This allows us to develop our own on-line presence.
Its strange but you can tell which people are using an assistant or if they
are posting themselves. People are expecting more interaction. We can finally
give it to them.
 
girl with a quill: What genre do you write in now?

Mari: Horror/ fantasy. My horror has a bit of fantasy and my fantasy

has a bit of horror in it.
 
girl with a quill: If you could try your pen at another genre,
which genre would you choose?
 
Mari: Steampunk. I would love to have a story click in my head for that
genre.
 
girl with a quill: Are you working on any new story now?
Can you tell us a bit about it?
 
Mari: I am wrapping up some short stories right now. But one story
I keep coming back to, that is getting longer and longer is a sort of
buddy cop idea. Except one is a bounty hunter vampire and the other
is a wizard. They ended up hunt down a serial killer that is killing
supernatural creatures. 
 
girl with a quill: If you met a found a golden lamp with a genie and
he told you he could either make one of your stories come true or
that you could become a character for a short time in another author’s book,
which option would you choose and why?
 
Mari: I would love to have my vampires be real. Even knowing what is
going to happen in the end, it would be cool to meet them.
 
girl with a quill: What is more important to you: Story or Character?
Why?
 
Mari: Characters. The basic plot of your story could be one that
has been used over and over again. Readers will ignore that if your
characters are interesting enough to hold them to the story.
 
girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character that you have created
and why? 

Mari: Perun. He is a wildman, a real wildman. Called a Leshy in folklore.

What I love about him is that he is almost all ego, but has a large heart
as well. My husband describes him as all male. Which is a good description.
Perun likes to mess with people, especially if they are harming his woods.
But if he considers you a friend, he will defend you. Everything he does
for a reason, even if we can’t understand his logic. Plus it helps he has a
way with women, too. He will be coming out in Patriarch.
 
girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character in the literary world and why?

Mary: Samuel Vimes from the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett.

He has an amazing character arc, from when we first meet him, laying drunk
in the gutter, to Duke of Anhk-Morpork. Yet, he still stays close to the
lower class he came from. A strong character, that makes mistakes, and
learns to clean up any mess he gets in.
 
girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 famous creative people,
who would they be and why?
Mari: Terry Pratchett, Stephan King, Ray Bradbury, George Takei,
and Jyrki 69, Terry Pratchett, Stephan King, Ray Bradbury because
they are my favorite writers.
George Takei: Because I am a fan of Star Trek, but he is very interesting
person too.
Jyrki 69 is the lead singer of a Finnish band called The 69 Eyes.
He is also an activist against child trafficking and has a chemistry degree.
Very interesting combination.
 
girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 of your
favourite fictional characters, who would they be and why?
Mari: Steopa, from my stories. He would be interesting and of all my
vampires could attend a dinner, as long as it was pirogies and vodka.
The aforementioned Samuel Vimes. When ever he does dinner parties
in the books, it’s a riot.
Arthur Dent. How he holds it together in just a bathrobe…. I will never
know.
Chuck Bartowski from the TV show Chuck. So much like me, except for
the spy stuff.
Thor from the comics, not the one from myth. simple eye candy.
 
girl with a quill: If you could give yourself one piece of advice at
the beginning of your writing career, what would it be?
Mari: Show it to people!

 

girl with a quill: What is the one piece of writing advice you could give

your future self, 10 years from now?
Mari: Take your time editing.

girl with a quill: What do you want your lasting legacy, as a writer,

to be?
Mari: I hope people enjoy my books, and like the twists I did to the
myths.
 
girl with a quill: Where can we buy your books?

Mari: Amazon, Smashwords. And if you are in Syracuse,

NY the Enchanted Bazaar and the CNY Artist Store. http://www.facebook.com/l/21ec9FqHuaxfauGCkm_x5li2f8A/amzn.to/bYK32T
 
girl with a quill: Finally where can we find on the web?

Mari: 

http://www.facebook.com/l/21ec95E9uE7i4dls5TaBT4ASMrg/mariminiatt.com

 twitter I am @leapetra and facebook.com/mariminiatt If you want to meet my characters.

@SteopaR and @BiteNice are on twitter. 

Putting a Poetic Spin on Creativity | Jess Kristie

I am pleased to welcome Jess Kristie to Warrior Wednesdays this week. As promised at the beginning of the Warrior Interview series, I would feature all types of creative individuals in this series. Jess is a published poet. That is her first love. I understand this as poetry is my first love. But Jess is not just a poet, she is a creative writer who is working on a novel. So make yourselves comfortable while I sit down with Jess and discuss Poetry, Creativity and writing.

Welcome Jess.

 

girl with a quill: Tell us a bit about yourself. Who is Jess Kristie?                                    

Jess: I am many things and depending on the day, I might have a different answer for you.  What I am most proud of is being a mother, a friend, an honest person and a writer. 


girl with a quill: When did you decide that you wanted to be a Writer?
Jess: I have been writing since I was ten, so it seems to have always been there. As far as for a profession, it was only in the last several years that I put my heart and soul into it.

girl with a quill: You identify yourself as a poet in this sentence from your website: “Poetry is my heart, anchors my soul and documents my journey.”. Publishing poetry can be a difficult road. Can you share with us how you got to the point of having a published book of poetry?
Jess: It is definitely a difficult road to say the least.  Poetry feels to be lost in so many that it is notoriously difficult to market.  Publishers tend to not want to go down that road or if they do they only publish a handful of books every year along with their other books. It takes determination and heart to keep going.  I made a conscious decision to make a manuscript and to query it out. I was honored to find a publisher and an audience who is interested in my work.

girl with a quill: Many people in 9-5 jobs have a water-cooler space where they go to talk with their colleagues about work issues. Do you have a “water-cooler” group for your writing life?
Jess: My water-cooler is mainly in my head. If I have an issue I do the research to fix it or find the answer. I am lucky to have had several kind people reach out and give me advice or support. We all need a form of community as struggling artists and there is a lot of support out there, you just have to look for it.

girl with a quill: Who or what is the greatest influence on you as a writer? and Why?
Jess: Probably more the what than the who. I tend to pull my inspiration from all forms of life and the lifeless. I try to open up so that all things can inspire and therefore influence my words. If we can reach in and find something beyond the surface, then we can also find a uniqueness to every situation, object, or even person.

girl with a quill: Tell us about the place that you write? What do you fill that space with?
Jess: Sometimes music, sometimes silence, but always a window.

girl with a quill: Are you working on any fictional or non-fiction MS at the moment or do you want to remain focused on your poetry? If you are working on fiction, what genre will it be in?
Jess: I feel it is important for all poets to branch out beyond poetry to grow their writing skills and find what other areas they may be good at writing in. I have my first fictional novel in the works that falls primarily into the drama genre. I am developing an idea right now for my second novel as well.

girl with a quill: Tell us about your writing process from that magical moment when the idea / character voice interrupts your thoughts…what happens next?
Jess: When it comes to poetry I spin pretty quickly. If I have an inspiration my pen will just flow. Sometimes it is magic and sometimes it needs some touching up. I believe heavily in revisions and editing but have learned that there is a fine line between editing and picking apart. I have had to learn to let go and just let things be sometimes.

girl with a quill: Can you tell us a bit about the book you have published?
Jess: Dreaming in Darkness is a contemplative collection of poetry that takes you on a journey of passion and anguish, and makes you feel the acceptance and regret that life imposes on us all.  My hope was that every reader would feel the validation of their pain and discover empowerment through understanding.


girl with a quill: Why do you write?
Jess: To heal, forgive and understand.

girl with a quill: How would you describe your poetry in 5 words?
Jess: Raw, honest, heavy and heartfelt.

girl with a quill: Do you have a common theme or Omni-Premise that threads its way through all your writing? If so, what is it?
Jess: My themes run through the constant dissection of human emotion. I am captivated by not only my feelings and reactions but also those around me.  Writing about these things always brings some greater level of understanding.

girl with a quill: If you found a golden lamp with a genie and he told you he could either make one of your stories come true or that you could become a character for a short time in another author’s book, which option would you choose and why?
Jess: Definitely the character in another’s book.  My poetry often runs on a darker road and whether it was through another’s eyes or my own, in a sense I have already lived it. It would be nice to take a break into someone else’s imagination for a change.

girl with a quill: What is more important to you: Story or Character? Why?
Jess: That is a tough question because with successful books they both seem to take center stage, if not each developed equally as strong.  This doesn’t mean that one does not take precedence over the other, but each has to play its role powerfully and effectively.

girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 famous creative people, who would they be and why?
Jess: Maya Angelou, John Stewart, Eminem, Pablo Neruda, and Tom Englund.  This group encompasses the musical, political and poetically artistic genres. They hit hard and are beautifully creative.

girl with a quill: If you could give you yourself one piece of advice at the beginning of your writing career, what would it be?
Jess: Research all of your options, know your market and be prepared for a lot of hard work!

girl with a quill: What is the one piece of writing advice you could give your future self, 10 years from now?
Jess: Don’t give up, no matter what.

girl with a quill: What do you want your lasting legacy, as a writer, to be?
Jess: That I wrote with honest integrity, and with grace.


girl with a quill: Where can we find your book for sale?
Jess: Dreaming in Darkness is available on Amazon and will be reaching paperback in the next few months. 

 

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Dreaming-in-Darkness-ebook/dp/B004UC4V1I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1301455903&sr=1-1-catcorr

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dreaming-in-Darkness/dp/B004UC4V1I/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1301499003&sr=1-1

girl with a quill: Finally where can we find on the web?
Answer: 

Website: http://jessicakristie.com/

Twitter: @JessKristie http://twitter.com/jesskristie

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JessKristie

 

Introducing Joe Pranaitis

Introducing Joe Pranaitis.

Join me as I sit down with Joe tonight. We discuss how healing can be found through the creative medium. Joe shares with us his passion for Sci-fi, in particular; the influence of Star Trek on his writing. So take a seat, make yourself comfortable, help me in welcoming Joe to the Dragonfly Scrolls studio.

Welcome Joe.

 

girl with a quill: Tell us a bit about yourself. Who is Joe Pranaitis?
Joe: To begin I’m a writer, an artist, and a theatre manager. I’m also the youngest of two boys. I’ve always felt like an outcast. Then again, growing up in East Chicago Indiana wasn’t the best of times. It got to a point where I wouldn’t go outside at all and so I started drawing. The drawings became my little world, including the ones about war. When my parents divorced; I was thrown into a tail spin and tried to off myself, at age 13, when I started High School. A couple of years later, when I was a Junior; my art teacher gave me a sense of direction by giving me the assignment of creating my own comic book. Needless to say, I’m a fractured human like everyone else but I’ve learned to channel my feelings into my writing and art.

girl with a quill: When did you decide that you wanted to be a Writer?
Joe: I guess I would say that I wanted to be a writer after I heard Star Trek: Final Frontier and could see the pictures that the words described. Then it just took the free time between high school and college to get me going in adapting the comics that I created.

girl with a quill:How long have you been writing for?
Joe: I’ve been writing for about fifteen years now.

girl with a quill: In your bio, you say that you first wrote a comic book. Are you still interested in writing graphic novels?
Joe: Yes I am.

girl with a quill: Many people in 9-5 jobs have a water-cooler space where they go to talk with their colleagues about work issues. Do you have a “water-cooler” group for your writing life?
Joe: Yes. I talk to my boss and one of my ushers whom has begun writing his own book.

girl with a quill: Who or what is the greatest influence on you as a writer? and Why?
Joe: My greatest influence would be Diane Carey. When I would go on a car trip to Ohio, to visit my brother and his family, we would bring audio novels; one of those would be Star Trek: Final Frontier. I’ve been a big fan of her trek writings since then.

girl with a quill: If your life story were a novel, what genre would it be and what would be the story-arc up to this point?
Joe:  If my life story were a novel I would say that we’re at the mid-point before any big changes really happen. As to what genre, I would say that’s a good question and I really don’t know.

girl with a quill: Tell us about the place that you write? What do you fill that space with?
Joe: Where I write is at my computer next to my bed. I put toys, pictures of family and models of starships around as well as having my book cases full of books and dvds.

girl with a quill: Tell us about your writing process from that magical moment when the story’s idea / character voice interrupts your thoughts…what happens next?
Joe: When I sit down for a writing session; I put on some music and read a little of what I wrote before and then let the story flow through my fingers to the key board.

girl with a quill: Are you a plotter,or a pantster, or a little of both?
Joe: I would say a little of both because sometimes I do stumble onto a plot point where I know I need to think things out before putting them on the page.

girl with a quill: You write mainly science fiction. What drew you to this genre?
Joe: What drew me to sci-fi was that my parents were into it while I was growing up. I can’t count how many times I’ve watched the original Star Wars and Star Trek: The motion Picture.

girl with a quill: Which Sci-fi authors have influenced you?
Joe: Besides Diane Carey, I would say that the other authors that have influenced me are Keven Anderson, Vonda N. McIntire, Karen Traviss.

girl with a quill: If you could try your pen at another genre, which genre would you choose?
Joe: Adventure.

girl with a quill: Can you tell us a bit about the books you have published?
Joe: Sure, the first two volumes in the series Infinite Possibilities: Chronicles take place in the 29th century. They follow the voyages of the starship Lionheart from the moment that she leaves dry dock and is struck by a space probe from another Earth on the other side of the Galaxy to a number of parallel universes. This leads to it becoming the fleet flagship and dealing with civil wars among the Pirate republic and their own colonies. Now here is a little hint: the second story within Volume one is the leap off point that I used to continue the story of Horizon station and her crew in through three of seven planned books.

girl with a quill: Your first book is part of a trilogy? In writing the trilogy, did you write them as separate stories individually or did you get the idea for the complete trilogy and then divide the story ideas into 3 books?
Joe: No, the first book is not part of a trilogy but the first story within the first volume was before I expanded the story to a now 3000 year story arc that stretches from 65 million years ago to the middle years of the 50
th century. But the original trilogy arced from the Lionheart’s launch to events that, if I were to explain now, would be massive spoilers for the rest of the series since I’ve planned the Chronicles series to go beyond 12 volumes.

girl with a quill: What are your thoughts, if any, on Indie/Small Press publishing vs Traditional Publishing?
Joe: So far I’ve only dealt with Indie/small press publishing so I have no idea how traditional publishes would be since I’ve been turned down by more than 100 agents who don’t have a clue that star trek just landed on their lap.

girl with a quill: What tips would you give aspiring pre-published authors out there to get a foot in the industry door?
Joe: I would say to write and let the story take you to where it ends up. As for getting your foot in the industry door; write a good query letter or letters and send them to both agents and publishers but watch out for publishers that ask for money up front because they will keep asking.

girl with a quill: Are you working on any WIP now? Can you tell us a bit about it?
Joe: Yes I’m working on my 10
th book right now and it is an expanded story that I wrote in 2006 when my original story turned 10. It takes place in a parallel universe to the original series; where we see the coming together of the crew of the Lionheart, from the loss of her first captain, to an all-out war and then to it’s end. It’s the beginning of a new adventure for the ship’s second captain post war to passing the ship down to her first officer leading to the birth of the first officer of the Lionheart-A. It is also the first of a duelogy.

girl with a quill: Why do you write?
Joe: I write because I have a hunger for it. The ideas that I have, I feel I need to write down.

girl with a quill: Do you have a common theme or Omni-Premise that threads its way through all your writing? If so, what is it?
Joe: Yes. It is basically good vs. evil.

girl with a quill: If you found a golden lamp with a genie and he told you he could either make one of your stories come true or that you could become a character for a short time in another author’s book, which option would you choose and why?
Joe: If I found a golden lamp with a genie and he told me I could enter another author’s book I would ask to visit Star Trek: Final Frontier. The character that I would choose would be George Kirk, starting from the time that he saw the original Enterprise in dry dock for the first time. Now why I chose that book and character is because at times I feel like I’m there watching the last part of the ship, that I’ve been asked to be a first officer on, being constructed.

girl with a quill: What is more important to you: Story or Character? Why?
Joe: I would say both since you can’t have a story without a character and vise versa. But I mainly focus on the story line.

girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character that you have created and why?
Joe: My favourite character that I’ve created is Captain Bontrk because through him we see everything that happens to the Lionheart. We also see what will happen because he knows that eventually his ship will be retired to allow the Lionheart-A to go on her adventures. As to why; I would have to say that it’s because his face is hidden, we never see it but we know that it’s there and it’s reacting like everyone else’s.

girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character in the literary world and why?
Joe: You know I never really thought that I had a favourite character in the literary world; just stories. Right now, my favorite story is the Vatta war series. Even though I’ve only read the first two books, I really enjoyed them.

girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 famous creative people, who would they be and why?
Joe: Gene Roddenberry, George Lucas, Ronald Moore, J. Michal Straczynski, and Frank Herbert. As to why; well I’ve always wanted to meet all five of them. I wish that I had met Gene Roddenberry before he passed in ’91.

girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 of your favourite fictional characters, who would they be and why?
Joe: They would be Captain Kirk, Ky Vatta, William Adama, Optimus Prime, and Batman. I know quite a cast. When I was growing up; Kirk was always my favourite Captain. As for Ky, because I understand her and know that sometimes doing what we think is right could get us into unknown trouble. Now why William Adama; well, it’s because I felt for him during the four years of BSG and he is a favorite character too. As for Optimus Prime; well, when I was a kid he was my first transformer and in that respect became my childhood hero. Now Batman; well, after losing my parents, both to heart attacks, I now see why he has such a bleak outlook on life even though he is on the side of good.

girl with a quill: If you could give yourself one piece of advice at the beginning of your writing career, what would it be?

Joe: Considering that was only two years ago; I would tell myself, that even though I may have to pay for the book to be both published and edited, that it is worth it; and to do a giveaway as soon as I can, as well as look for goodreads.com

girl with a quill: What is the one piece of writing advice you could give your future self, 10 years from now?
Joe: That’s hard because the future is always changing. I would say that I took the right path by getting the first two published and that my first two publishers are always a backup if I really want to get a story out.

girl with a quill: What do you want your lasting legacy, as a writer, to be?
Joe: As for my legacy; I just want people to enjoy my books and to continue to enjoy them and discover them as time goes on.

girl with a quill: Where can we find your books for sale?
Joe: My books can be found on Amazon.com, Barns & Noble.com (BN.com) and the publisher’s websites

girl with a quill: Finally, where can we find on the web?
Joe: I can be found on Facebook, MySpace, trekspace, goodreads.com, twitter under joepranaitis.

Introducing Judith van Praag – Writer, Artist, Scriptwriter

 I am honoured to introduce my friend, Judith van Praag to Warrior Wednesdays. I first “met” Judith through She Writes and then got to know her even better  through NaNoWriMo and the online group we both belong to on Facebook called Warrior Chat. In this time of a little over 6 months I have come to like, admire and respect Judith as a person, an artist and a writer. She is a woman that is as wise with her words as she is warm with her friendship. I am proud to have her on Warrior Wednesdays. So make yourself comfortable while Judith and I discuss Scriptwriting, Writing as a form of healing and redemption and viewing the world as an artist. I welcome the multi-talented, multi-lingual Judith van Praag. (I may be enjoying some delicious dutch apple pie while we talk…will try not to scatter any crumbs.)

 

Judith: Hi Kim, Thank you so much for inviting me! I’ve brought a slice of my Dutch apple pie for you. (How did you know that was my favourite dessert. MMmhhh…Delicious!)


girl with a quill: Tell us a bit about yourself. Who is Judith van Praag?

Judith:

Judith van Praag aka the Dutchess Abroad is a writing artist from the Netherlands who makes her home in Seattle with Texan husband and Basenji-Terrier mix pooch.

 

girl with a quill: When did you decide that you wanted to be a Writer?

Judith:

After reading the Diaries of Anaïs Nin I realized one could write about one’s life and create fiction after life as well.

 

girl with a quill:How long have you been writing for?

Judith:

I’ve practiced compulsive automatic handwriting since the late 1970s, and for publication since 1994. In 1995 I attended Centrum’s Port Townsend Writers’ Conference and work-shopped a few short pieces that were based on memories of my childhood. In 1997 I attended the conference again and made contact with a writer who invited me to the critique group she was a member of. Everyone in that group wrote children’s books. I wrote about myself as a child, material that has become part of a memoir with the work title “Painting for Life”.

 

girl with a quill: You write both screenwriting and fiction. Do you

have a first love of either of these?

Judith:

Until NaNoWriMo 2010 I had never really written any fiction to talk about. In 1989 I went to Los Angeles to study scenario writing with John Truby. Everything I learned about screenwriting applies to fiction I think. Only a film tells the story in moving pictures and dialogue, while in fiction the imagery is dependent on the narration. You have more room to narrate what goes on in a character’s mind in a novel, unless you use voice-overs.

 

girl with a quill: Working in these two creative disciplines would

require a different set of skills for each. What tools from

screenwriting have helped you in your fiction writing and

vice versa?

Judith:

The skills are the same, at least in my mind. I’m strong with dialogue, which is important for a screenplay. What’s narrated in a novel becomes just a scene or action description in a script. You have a whole lot less words available in a script to say what’s going on. You have to keep in mind what the camera will see/ show.

 

girl with a quill: Congratulations on being a winner both of NaNoWriMo and ScriptFrenzy. What is it about these challenges, do you think, add to your writing skills?

Judith:

If you’re not working under contract, or if you don’t have an assignment with a deadline you just work slower than when there is a deadline such as the last day of the NaNoWriMo or ScriptFrenzy. I don’t think either adds to my writing skills. It’s my skills that make it possible to produce readable material during that period though.

 

girl with a quill: You are an artist, writer, producer,publisher. Creativity is obviously something that is very important to you. How and Where do you find your inspiration for all this creativity?

Judith:

Life in general, nature, psychology, relationships, justice or injustice are the greatest source of inspiration. When I worked in the theater in the Netherlands I was most attracted to multicultural productions to help minorities voice their stories, to say something about their situation in the world. Writing enables me to tell my own story.

 

girl with a quill: Do you find that each of your creative roles inspire the others? How?

Judith:

My tagline is that I paint portraits in color and words. The way I see the world is influenced by my artist’s eye.

 

girl with a quill: Many people in 9-5 jobs have a water-cooler space where they go to talk with their colleagues about work issues. Do you have a “water-cooler” group for your writing life?

Judith:

I’ve been a member of the FreeLancers Association for Journalists and we communicated on forums. Some blogs, such as Anastasia Ashman’s Expat+Harem are great hubs, but the focus is not on the craft of writing. With eight of the women I met thanks to Anastasia I have regular contact via Linkedin, Twitter or Facebook, we’ve even published as a blog-ring as Hybrid Ambassadors.

 

Since NaNoWriMo 2010 when you, Kim, invited me to Word Warriors, followed by the invite from Lia Keyes to join the Warrior Chat Group I have found what you call the virtual water cooler. Beside the constant flow of information that is shared, there’s a sense of camaraderie that’s quite amazing.

 

girl with a quill: You are a prolific blogger with more than just one blog. What do you enjoy about blogging?

Judith:

Starting in 2004 I covered Arts & Literature for the Seattle based International Examiner. In 2005 I launched my website DutchessAbroad and at the same time Hope Filled Jars a catch-all blog where I posted material I knew I wouldn’t sell to a publication, but that I wished to share anyway, my poster board. The garden blog that I created for retired friends in the Netherlands, was from 2005-2010 my virtual Dutch territory, as well as a way to stay in close contact with those friends.

 

girl with a quill: These days it is expected for anyone in the creative worlds to build a powerful online platform promoting themselves. What 3 tips would you give to a person who is just starting off to build an online presence?

Judith:

1 – Figure out what it is you’re passionate about. If it’s writing, which age group, genre, and specialty?

2 – Don’t wait any longer, create a blog/website, right now. Posterous.com is particularly user friendly, WordPress.com can make your blog look like a website, and if you sign up with WordPress.org you can use your own domain name. I’m stuck on Blogger because I’m loyal, plus I don’t look forward to another learning curve, and they’ve really improved since the early days.

3 – Sign up for Social Media accounts such as Facebook, a personal and professional page(s): content on the former is only visible within the FaceBook “structure”, while content on the latter is visible on the Internet at large, which means more exposure for your business or profession). Sign up for Twitter and Linkedin in your own name and/or in the name of your business.

 

girl with a quill: You also are a dual language writer/artist. Do you find you have to build two separate social platforms because of this?

Judith:

Since I plan to publish my books in Dutch as well as English, I have recently started a Dutch language blog for myself and signed up for Dutch accounts on Facebook and on Twitter.

 

girl with a quill: Who or what is the greatest influence on you as a writer? and Why?

Judith:

In 2003 an agent asked me what I liked to read. Saul Bellow, Henry Miller, Anaïs Nin, Jean Rhys, Henry Roth, Philip Roth, John Updike, Virginia Woolf. He stopped me and said: So you’re writing literary fiction. OMG I thought, do I really? Perhaps my memoir writing would one day magically turn into fiction? Since then I’ve discovered Esther Freud, who bases all of her fictional writing on her family (among whom Sigmund and Lucian) and Linda Grant who does the same. I love these ladies, do they write literary fiction? Possibly. Have they influenced me? They and the others have one way or an other. Why? Because the characters they create are so real I believe I know them. And yes these days I as well am writing fiction from life, even if it’s life imagined.

 

girl with a quill: If your life story were a novel, what genre would it be and what would be the story-arc up to this point?

Judith:

Literary Fiction LOL! Over the hill (more laughter).

 

girl with a quill: Tell us about the place that you write? What do you fill that space with?

Judith:

My writing den is like an art installation, filled with pictures, texts and maps relating to the book I’m working on,  a painting of a cow, journals and a calendar to mark my progress. And very important, my dog’s chair.

 

girl with a quill: Tell us about your writing process from that magical moment when the story’s idea / character voice

interrupts your thoughts…what happens next?

Judith:

A lot of the writing takes place in my head, actual sentences and scenes form while I’m doing totally unrelated things. By the time I sit down, all I have to do is type. Or, I sit and stare into the distance and imagine myself in a situation, in the head of a character and I just start rambling, spewing, or barfing as Morris Berman calls the stream of words that hit the page before you get to the good stuff. Sometimes I cry, I often weep while writing as a matter of fact. As a child I would make up stories in the bathroom and I would be in tears, overcome by romantic notions by the time I came out. My mother would remedy that with a bowl of stewed prunes.

 

girl with a quill: Are you a plotter, a pantster or a little of both?

Judith:

I’ve written so much without any plotting whatsoever I’m having to organize everything after the fact and that is quite a chore.

 

girl with a quill: Do you have a beta reader or a writing partner? If yes, What are the benefits of having these people in your life?

Judith:

My husband reads everything I write and he’s become quite the critic, but I know I would benefit from having readers who don’t know me as well as he does.

 

girl with a quill: Can you tell us a bit about the books you have written?

Judith:

My book Creative Acts of Healing: after a baby dies, published in 1999 is a longitudinal account of loss, grief and recovery. It attests to the healing qualities of creativity. Notwithstanding the in your face title, it’s a hopeful book.After the publication of this book I became active in support groups and forums and until 2003, I wrote a column about loss and grief for a Dutch parental magazine.

 

girl with a quill: Have you turned any of your fiction into scripts?

Judith:

The script The Counterfeit, which I wrote for ScriptFrenzy is based on my NaNo WIP “Forgiveness”.  It’s about the love story between a crime victim and the sister of the perpetrator.

 

girl with a quill: Why do you write?

Judith:

I write to bear witness, to bring to the surface what has been hidden, to draw attention to issues that need to be addressed.

 

girl with a quill: Do you have a common theme or Omni-Premise that threads its way through all your writing? If so, what is it?

Judith:

Hiding is my theme.

 

girl with a quill: If you found a golden lamp with a genie and he told you he could either make one of your stories come true or that you could become a character for a short time

in another author’s book, which option would you choose and why?

Judith:

Since my fiction is based on real life or on reality as I imagine it may have taken place in the past long before my birth, and that particular reality isn’t really something I’d like to re-create In Real Life, I opt for becoming a character for a short time. I’d like to be Lady Chatterley in D.H. Lawrence novel. Because it’s one of the most suggestive roles I can think of.

 

girl with a quill: What is more important to you: Story or Character? Why?

Judith:

Character makes story, and by character I don’t just mean living creatures but a land- or cityscape, and the awe inspiring nature.

 

girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character that you have created and why?

Judith:

Since I’m new to fiction I have to pick one of the characters from the novel and/or film scenario I’m working on right now. I’d say Jake, the protagonist. He has an easily ignitable temper, is somewhat of a quack and a realer dealer, but also funny, gregarious and takes care of the people he loves, even if at times in inappropriate ways.

 

girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character in the literary world and why?

Judith:

Can’t help it, but every time I look at the question Mickey Sabbath comes to mind, the awfully flawed protagonist in Philip Roth’s Sabbath’s Theater. I know, it’s horrible, but he seems SO real and in that his plight touching.

 

girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 famous creative people, who would they be and why?

Judith:

1 – Robert Wilson, the avant-garde stage director. I’m a great fan of his work and would like to reminisce about a few friends we have in common among whom the godfather of Dutch Design the late Benno Premsela, who hosted many a dinner party. I hope he’ll enjoy mine!

2 – Mick Jagger, of the Rolling Stones, so we can chat about The Living Theatre and our dear departed friend Rufus Collins.

3 – Taj Mahal, OMG have been listening to his music for ever! Love to learn more about his work with Maria Muldaur and I think he and Mick will click.

4 – Bette Midler, besides being funny, an awesome performer and having great legs, she’s an avid gardener and has turned N.Y. wastelands into public gardens.

5 – Alice Walker, talk about interfaith, interracial, writing.

 

girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 of your favourite fictional characters, who would they be and why?

Judith:

1 – Clara Forsythe Allen, Augustus “Gus” McCrae’s old sweetheart in Larry McMurtry’s epic novel Lonesome Dove. Clara lives with her comatose husband Bob and their children on the Platte, near Ogalalla, Nebraska. She’s a great example of the strong American frontier women, pioneers who lived under the toughest circumstances, buried children and stood by their men, while being their own person as well.

2 – Asher Lev, the young Jewish painter in Chaim Potok’s novel My Name is Asher Lev. Asher Lev refuses to let his artistic talent go unexplored and as important even, unrecognized. I appreciate the difficult path he has chosen.

3 – Sarah P. Worth, voice in John Updike’s S. I’ve been in similar situations as Sarah and I think we would have great fun schmoozing together. Also would like to hear what she thinks of Updike taking on the project to tell a woman’s story. If there’s anything she would like to change or add.

4 – Kinsey Millhone, the sleuth in Sue Grafton’s alphabet mystery series. Just love her and want to sit her next to number 5 whom I think she must admire as much as I do. And perhaps she also feels as sorry for him as I, and will amuse him. Not completely sure about the latter, since we’re talking Old World Male and California Wild Card. But you never know and opposites do attract. Just really, really want to make up for all the hardship caused by that big B of wife of his.

5 – George Smiley, the middle aged spy I’ve come to adore reading John Le Carre‘s oeuvre.

 

girl with a quill: If you could give you yourself one piece of advice at the beginning of your writing career, what would it be?

Judith:

The advice I would give now to other aspiring writers wouldn’t have helped me back when, because it wasn’t possible to take Creative Writing at the time. If you don’t take that in account I would have told myself: Go to school, don’t do it all on your own, by yourself. I don’t think you need to, or that everybody necessarily will learn to write well in an MFA program, but I do think, that by not going to school, you lose out on the community of peers and faculty. You lose out on being mentored and both at the time and later on receiving recognition just for the fact that you got the degree.

 

girl with a quill: What is the one piece of writing advice you could give your future self, 10 years from now?

Judith:

It only gets better.

girl with a quill: What do you want your lasting legacy, as a writer and artist, to be?

Judith:

She opened Pandora’s Box, granted it took a while, but when she did, she set not just her self free.

 

girl with a girl: Finally where can we find you and your creative works on the web?

Judith:

Dutchess Abroad Judith van Praag

 

On Facebook:

Pro Arts Etcetera

Works in Process

Dutch – In haar moerstaal

Website

Linkedin

Twitter

 

Thursday Tip ~ Stop Time Takers

 

 “Time takes it all whether you want it to or not, time takes it all. Time bares it away, and in the end there is only darkness. Sometimes we find others in that darkness, and sometimes we lose them there again.” –                                         ~ Stephen King
 

MMmmhh time for confessions.

I am hard at work on my final and third draft of my WIP – Betwixt & Between….but…

I have also been distracted lately by creating a new Author Website, which you can view here, a new Poetry Portfolio, view here, and a promotional video for my WIP – Betwixt & Between.

One of my lovely CPs put me onto an amazing video slide show creator that allowed me to create my promotional video for Betwixt & Between.

Here is the video I created for my current WIP – Betwixt & Between.

Betwixt. (Animoto site)

Betwixt & Between (Video on my Author Website)

Do you find that sometimes you can be caught up in a lot of behind the “writing” tasks that can get in the way of your writing? Are these the ultimate procrastination tools or necessary to promoting your WIP or building your online presence?

I admit I am guilty of loving anything that allows me to be creative: whether this be Website Design / Video Creation / Poetry Creation/Blogging/Writers Groups/Social Networking. But sometimes I have to insert a large 

Stop in the name of your WIP

So as much as I love these Time Takers….alas I must return to my WIP.

So these Time Takers are being put aside for a moment. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t see these tasks that have distracted me as “bad” but the key word here is “distracting”. So it is Time to get back to my WIP…

So how do I plan on getting back to focusing on the WIP. Yes I could unplug the internet but if you don’t have that option?

I use a great program called OmmWriter Dana 11 brought to you by the team at OmmWriter. This is an amazing frills free/distraction free writing program that allows you to switch off from the worldwideweb for a moment and inspires creativity. I have done a complete review on this program here.

Another tool I use is Focus Booster. This is a simple timer that you can download and place on your desktop to boost your focus while working. This is a great tool if you fear large chunks of time but want a way to have creative spurts in manageable bites of time. This is also a great tool for Word Wars.

What are your Time Takers?

– Kim

© All Rights Reserved Kim Koning.

Talking E-Books,Indie Publishing and Writing

There is a lot of talk in the world of writing and publishing about the shape of Traditional Publishing vs Indie Publishing and Print Publishing vs E-Book Publishing. Many writers are adamant on which side of these particular fences they sit. But there are still some who are caught between a rock and a hard place. This could be because they do not know enough about the newer industries of Indie Publishing (Independant or Small Press Publishers) or E-books. Perhaps you have already made up your mind about which side of the fence you are on but if you do have questions and want to know more then this is the interview you want to sit in on.

Today I am talking E-books, Indie Publishing, Editing and Writing with Susan Landis-Steward: Writer, Editor, Publisher.

So take a seat and get comfortable. Time to be informed by a lady who knows the different sides of the publishing debate. She also has the unique position of being both a writer and publisher.

Welcome Susan. Thank you for joining us here today.

 

girl with a quill: Tell us a bit about yourself. Who is Susan Landis-Steward?

Susan:  I’m an almost 60-year-old woman with way too much education and way too many ideas. I fully expect to die at my desk with my slippers half on (just as they are right now) doing something involved with editing, publishing, or writing. But not for another 20 years or so. I am a lesbian mom in a very long-term relationship. We have three stupendous daughters and are relieved that the youngest just got her own apartment. We do not suffer from empty nest syndrome, but maybe that’s because we both have such interesting lives of our own. We also have four amazing grandkids, ranging in age from 13 years to three weeks. I’ve spent my working years doing things like computer systems analyst, journalist, editor, child welfare worker, teacher, professor, and even did a brief stint as a call center minion. Probably the most interesting thing to other people is that I am brain injured. I died during minor surgery, caught a jump-start from a passing surgeon, and was shouted back to life by a small elderly nurse who spent the better part of a day yelling at me to breathe. I ended up with some minor brain damage and fibromyalgia. Blessing and curse. The blessing being that I can no longer work for someone else as I need frequent naps. The curse is obvious, I think.


girl with a quill: When did you decide that you wanted to be a Writer?

Susan: I started writing at the age of four and never looked back. I always enjoyed writing, but it wasn’t until I was in my 20s that I realized I’d like to actually write something for people to read. I didn’t get the courage until I was in my 30s and went to work as a reporter.  Having thousands of people reading my work was terrifying. I tried to resist my first byline, preferring anonymity. But I got over it. After a couple of decades of journalism, I wanted to try my hand at fiction. Here’s another blessing of the brain injury. There is a women’s writers group that meets at the local community college on Wednesday afternoons. With no job, I was free to join. I started my first novel, Blind Leading the Blind, and it was just published in March 2011. I’m currently working on the sequel, Blind Spot. They are lesbian mysteries featuring a former detective and a blind therapist. Love, sex, action, horses, motorcycles, belly dancers, crime: what more could a girl want?

 

girl with a quill: How long have you been writing?

Susan:  Well, that involves math, but I’m 59 now and I was four then so 55 years? Is that right? But professionally, I’ve been writing for 27 years as a journalist, freelance writer, academic, professional writer for the State of Oregon, and many other tasks. I’ve made my living as a freelancer exclusively by the pen for the past five or six years.

girl with a quill: You founded Puddletown Publishing. How did you get into this?


Susan: Wow. I bought a Nook Color last fall because my eyes can no longer be sufficiently corrected to allow me to read most trade paperbacks without removing my glasses, covering one eye to keep the astigmatism at bay, holding the book two inches from my face, and squinting. With my Nook, I can bump up the size, change the font, and make the background a comfortable color.  Great adaptive technology for the baby boom. So, on January 2nd, we went to a party. It was the fifth party that week and I actually tried to get out of it. But my partner insisted, so I took my Nook. That’s what introverts do; we make sure we always have a book along in case we need a breather from the clamoring crowd. So, when I got tired of socializing, I went and sat in a quiet room with a friend,  CONTACT _Con-3B5146219 Renee LaChance, and we started talking about e-books.  Renee was the founder and publisher of Just Out newsmagazine, Oregon’s gay rag, and was itching to get back into publishing. I was a bit at loose ends myself, one regular editing gig having ended, and pretty soon the conversation went from “Why isn’t anyone doing this?” to “Why aren’t we doing this?” Within a week we were on our way. We published our first flush of books in March and our second group of nine books is coming out soon. We are having the time of our lives.


girl with a quill: Do you take control of the editing process like traditional publishers or do writers self-publish through your company?

Susan: We are not a vanity press. We call ourselves an indie press because we’re small, but we function like a traditional publisher in terms of acquisitions, editing, art, and all that rigmarole. Even my own book was submitted to the entire process. Our readers read it without knowing it was mine.  One of my books got a no, so it’s due for some serious rewriting if I ever have the time. 

girl with a quill: For those of us in the dark about e-book publishing, explain to us the process of submitting and publishing a book through your company?

Susan:  When we are accepting submissions, ask that books be sent as Word documents with a short bio and a synopsis. Right now we’re looking for books by lesbians and women of color—it’s a small group, but we don’t want to be swamped with submissions. Others will get their chance. We publish all genres. We do expect submissions to be well-written, tell a good story, and be carefully edited. I’m a bit of a grammar and spelling Nazi and won’t waste my time on something with lots of errors. I’ve quit reading many traditionally published bestsellers because they are so poorly written and edited. The books are then sent to readers who tell us if they think we should proceed with the project. Usually we go with their recommendations, although we do take another look if they say no and we think the project still has merit. Once contracts are signed, we (meaning I) do the first editing pass, looking for obvious structural problems and glaring writing problems. I take notes, send the book back to the writer, and work with the author to make it the best it can be.  Meanwhile, Renee starts working with illustrators and other sub-contractors. Once the book is up to my standards, Renee, who is a masterful copy-editor, goes through it with a fine-tooth comb and catches all the picky stuff I might have missed. Renee and I are a good match. I’m a good editor, while she’s got a business brain like no other. So she handles the contracts, the sub-contractors, the money, the traditional marketing, and all the parts I hate to do. I do work with the authors around social marketing because I enjoy that part. Renee also does the formatting for POD. Finally, we format the book, load it at all the usual suspects, and celebrate. The e-book goes up as soon as the book is ready. POD follows a few weeks later. Oh, and we pay better than average royalties and have the luxury of working with great new writers. It’s so fun!

girl with a quill: This is an e-book Publisher. What do you believe is the future for e-books and more publishers like yourself taking advantage of the wave?

Susan: I hear people all the time who say, “I’ll never get an e-reader. I love ‘real’ books too much.” Most of them are younger folks.  I said the same thing until I realized I hadn’t read anything for fun for a few years. I used to read between 200 and 300 books a year. Suddenly, I was barely getting through three.  My eyes just couldn’t handle it. I did a few rounds with my eye doctor and finally gave up. Then, bang! e-readers.  I’m reading like a maniac again. So older folks are snatching them up because you can read anything on an e-reader. Kids love them. My grandkids grew up on computers so the e-book is an easy transition for them.  And studies show that kids are reading more with e-books. Even my 30-year-old daughter bought one because she wants to be able to carry several books in one compact space, and the new apps for the Nook Color make the thing a small computer that fits in a purse. Lots of servicemen and women are buying e-readers because they fit in a uniform pocket and can hold hundreds of books. The traditional publishers have been slow to change and are going the way of the dinosaur. With books by indies costing only a few dollars, more and more people can afford to buy a book. And I love being able to check books out of the library without leaving my house. I don’t think books are going away any time soon, but the Big 6 and the brick and mortar stores need to enter the 21st century if they want to compete.  I also see a lot of writers who still want a “traditional” deal, even though it’s not in their best interest. Why spend years scrabbling for an agent, waiting for the agent to shop the book, then wait another year for the book to come out? All for 7.5 percent royalties. And, if your book doesn’t sell well, it’s on the shelves for 3 months before being remaindered, and you still haven’t earned your advance back. No wonder writers don’t make any money. An e-book is for sale forever. Writers are finding that they can either self-publish or go with the smaller e-presses like Puddletown and have their books on sale in weeks instead of years. The royalties are better, the quality is often better, and you can still have print copies for POD. There are still some problems to be worked out, like the inconsistent quality of self-published books, but I think the market will take care of that over the next few years.  Overall, I see e-books continuing to take a larger and larger share of the market. They’re cheap in a poor economy, they’re green in a society that should be worried about that, and they’re technology that Americans have shown they adore. Barring major solar flares knocking out the grid or the end of the world, I think even dyed-in-the-wool book lovers will be reading e-books with some regularity.  

girl with a quill: Why have you chosen to do predominantly only e-book publishing? Is it a personal preference? Why?

Susan:  It’s a fairly wide open market, it’s environmentally friendly, and it’s better for the writer in the long run.  We also are committed to a “green” workplace and you don’t get much greener than this.

girl with a quill: Many people in 9-5 jobs have a water-cooler space where they go to talk with their colleagues about work issues. Do you have a “water-cooler” group for your writing life?

Susan:   I’m an introvert so I like being alone. With Dropbox, I can see my business partner and our subcontractors working away at their homes. (Dropbox alerts you when other folks access the files.) I have my dog and some cats, so I’m happy. I also belong to several Facebook groups that I visit throughout the day. Renee and I also talk on the phone almost daily, and we meet once a week to go over the endless list.

girl with a quill: Who or what is the greatest influence on you as a writer? and Why?

Susan:  Without a doubt, Madeleine L’Engle. She’s been my favorite since I was a child and got A Wrinkle in Time for Christmas the year it came out. Her writing and her liberal perspective on faith have both influenced me greatly over the years.  I was fortunate to study with her for a short time.

girl with a quill: If your life story were a novel, what genre would it be and what would be the story-arc up to this point?

Susan:  Is there a genre called crazy-as-hell? My life has been a roller coaster with all the usual events: marriage, family, work, taxes. But there’s been a huge element of surprise as well: house burned down, floods, and we’ve got two more horsemen yet to come. I’ve died and lived to tell about it, started several new businesses and driven them to success. If I told you everything, you probably wouldn’t believe me. Sometimes, I think I’m trying to work out several lifetimes of karma in one.

girl with a quill: Tell us about the place that you write? What do you fill that space with?

Susan:  I have a room of my own in our home, lined floor to ceiling with books, and a desk that is cluttered beyond belief. I need a big monitor so I have a 32” flat screen TV I can blow everything up to 200 percent on. I have several computers, usually a couple of cats lounging around, and a lot of outsider art and photos of family and friends. There are also a lot of art supplies as I like to dink around with other creative forms. I’m primarily a fiber artist in my spare time.  Like Gandhi, I believe we could have world peace if everyone would just spin their own yarn.

girl with a quill: Tell us about your writing process from that magical moment when the story’s idea / character voice interrupts your thoughts…what happens next?

Susan:  I mull. I gestate. I listen to voices in my head. Finally, when I can stand it no longer, I sit down and start writing.  It’s almost like mental illness.

girl with a quill: Are you a plotter, a pantster or a little of both?

Susan:  A pantster, for sure.  I tried plotting but could never get the whole thing done. Finally, I sat down and started writing.  Sometimes I have no idea what’s coming next, so I get surprised.

girl with a quill: What genre do you write in now?

Susan: I love mysteries so I write mysteries. I’m also working on a couple of theology projects (I trained as a theologian), and one book that combines theology with mystery.

girl with a quill: If you could try your pen at another genre, which genre would you choose?

Susan: Probably fantasy or science fiction. With lesbian protagonists. I like women’s voices and there’s not enough good lesbian literature out there.

girl with a quill: Are you working on any WIP now? Can you tell us a bit about it?

Susan: I’m writing two sequels to my first book.  The first is Blind Spot and the second is Blind Faith. The first three are all in the POV of the detective who is neurotic as hell but can see. The fourth book will be Blind Leading the Blind and will be in the POV of the blind therapist. That will be a challenge.

girl with a quill: Why do you write?

Susan:  Because it’s what I do. If I’m not writing books, I’m writing articles, or sermons, or blog posts, or…

girl with a quill: Do you have a common theme or Omni-Premise that threads its way through all your writing? If so, what is it?

Susan:  Hmm.  I guess the combination of lesbian and liberal theologian makes me most interested in the ideas of inclusion and diversity over all other themes. I want to write things that normalize all the differences for my readers. Like the idea that lesbians can just be normal folks or that a blind person can lead a rich, rewarding, and creative life. Or that one can be spiritual, even religious, without leaving your brain behind.

girl with a quill: If you found a golden lamp with a genie and he told you he could either make one of your stories come true or that you could become a character for a short time in another author’s book, which option would you choose and why?

Susan:  Oh! I’d be Meg Murray in Madeleine L’Engle’s books. Or I’d be Anna Pigeon in Nevada Barr’s books. I like Meg because she’s an awkward kid and so was I. I like Anna because she gets to work in the National Parks. 

girl with a quill: What is more important to you: Story or Character? Why?

Susan:  I like character driven books best. If you have a good character, one that I can get to know and care about, I’ll probably forgive minor issues with the story. I’m not as forgiving about great stories with flat or stereotypical characters.

girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character that you have created and why?

Susan:  I’d have to say Erik Walton (short for Erika) in my Blind series. She’s smart, tough, smart-assed, and neurotic as hell. Her weaknesses and tenderness shine through all her bluster. Her inner dialogue is pretty true to my own life.

girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character in the literary world and why?

Susan:   Marvin in Dr. Seuss’s Marvin K. Mooney. He cracks me up.

girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 famous creative people, who would they be and why?

Susan:  Madeleine L’Engle. Well, duh. Nevada Barr, because she writes gripping books with great female characters.  Rita Nakashima Brock, one of my favorite feminist theologians. Mozart, because I’d want him to play for us after dinner, and he was a crazy child prodigy.  Willa Cather, because she’s one of the few writers who can take my breath away, and I can’t figure out if it’s the story or the writing that did it. An amazing thing when that happens.


girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 of your favourite fictional characters, who would they be and why?

Susan:  Anna Pigeon, because I love her adventures in the wilderness.  God as portrayed in Gospel by Wilhelm Barnhardt, because he’s laugh-out-loud funny as hell, doesn’t take him/herself seriously, and is much like God as I imagine him/her.  Alex Delaware, from the mysteries by Jonathon Kellerman, because I could use a good guitar-playing shrink.  Stephanie Plum, Janet Evanovich’s bounty hunter, because she makes me laugh and she’s the kind of person I like to hang out with. Rina Lazarus from the books by Faye Kellerman, because I want to know everything about her faith.

girl with a quill: If you could give yourself one piece of advice at the beginning of your writing career, what would it be?

Susan:  Just write. Don’t wait for it to be perfect. Just write.

girl with a quill: What is the one piece of writing advice you could give your future self, 10 years from now?

Susan: Just write. Don’t wait for it to be perfect. Just write. And publish it.

girl with a quill: What do you want your lasting legacy, as a writer, to be?

Susan: Mostly I think about my kids and grandkids. I want them to be proud of my body of work. Even though I don’t want the grandkids reading some of it until they’re older. I think explicit sex, even if fairly tame, has no place in the hands of kids under 15 or 16 or so.

girl with a quill: Finally where can we find on the web?

Answer: HYPERLINK “mailto:susanls@puddletowngroup.com”susanls@puddletowngroup.com

HYPERLINK “http://www.puddletowngroup.com/”http://www.puddletowngroup.com/

Facebook: HYPERLINK “http://www.facebook.com/PuddletownGroup”http://www.facebook.com/PuddletownGroup

HYPERLINK “http://www.facebook.com/pages/Blind-Leading-the-Blind/196477380374053″http://www.facebook.com/pages/Blind-Leading-the-Blind/196477380374053

HYPERLINK “http://www.facebook.com/slandissteward?ref=ts”http://www.facebook.com/slandissteward?ref=ts

Blogs: HYPERLINK “http://puddletown.wordpress.com/”http://puddletown.wordpress.com

HYPERLINK “http://susanlandissteward.wordpress.com/”http://susanlandissteward.wordpress.com/

Twitter: HYPERLINK “http://www.twitter.com/susanls”http://www.twitter.com/susanls

HYPERLINK “http://twitter.com/puddletowngroup”http://twitter.com/puddletowngroup

 

 

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Creating a Magic System – Contest Alert!

Might and Magic
Image via Wikipedia

Creating a Magic System Final and Contest.

So you would know from a few posts this year that I am on a Short Story roll right now. I am loving turning an idea into a short story. At the moment I have so many ideas flying around in the Aether of my imagination that I am hard pressed to capture them all. So instead of turning all of them into potential full length fiction, I am turning some of them into short stories.

Above is the link to a wonderful short story competition about Magic.  The contest will start from today, and run until May 31st, which should give you plenty of time to plan and get your submissions in.

Contest Part 1 – Create a magic system, using roughly the format outlined here. 2,000 words is the goal.
Contest Part 2 – Use that magic system to write a 5,000 to 10,000 word short story, and submit both it and the magic system to L.M. Stull. She’ll blind them and pass them on to the judges, and we’ll pick which ones are the winners.
Prizes – And the part I’m sure you’re all wondering about. We’ve got a $50 Amazon gift card for the first place winner, and a $25 card for second place.

So not only do you get a chance to practice your short story writing skills but you get to play with a new magic system that you have created. On the original contest link you will find a series of posts on magic systems and what they can consist of.

So let’s weave some story magic and tell a tale that is short, magical and entertaining. Win yourself an Amazon gift voucher.

– Kim

Book Country – Genre Map

Off the Map
Image via Wikipedia

Book Country – Genre Map.

Ever looked at an agent’s/editor’s list of genres and wondered where your story fits in. My friend and CP, Leigh K Hunt, wrote a post about the frustrations of genre-mapping your story.

Some story plots are clear-cut. They fit into one of the overall genres: Romance, Thriller, Mystery, Fantasy or Sci-Fi. But what happens if your story is a fantasy with a mystery element. Or a Thriller with a Romance element. 

Above is a link to a genre map that might help you make sense of your story’s genre. 

Now do you know which genre you are writing in?

– Kim