Alberta Ross | Blog Tour | Giveaway Alert

 This week I have the pleasure of Alberta Ross’s company. She and I talk about how important characters are to a story, the love of traveling and reading and what made her a writer. She also shares her battles with Dyspraxia with us. So make yourself comfortable and sit back and enjoy my talk with Alberta.

Don’t be shy in commenting. Every commenter on this post gets a chance to win their own e-book copies of Alberta’s books. More details about this giveaway at the bottom of the post.

 

Introduce us to Alberta Ross

Well I was born just after the Second World War in a London suburb. Very middle class background and surrounded by books, hundreds of them.  My parents and grandparents were great ‘bookaholics’.  I can’t say I was the brightest child around  However, I did manage, I don’t know how, to gain a small handful of certificates before I left full-time education.    

All I had ever wanted to do since a child was travel so, as soon as I was free, I was over the hills and far away. For about twenty years. I managed to visit every continent for varying lengths of time, including five years in Australia.  I was six months based on the North shore in Auckland – had a great time youth hosteling around the two islands – before your time about 1974/5 I think. 

I came back home to help out, various family members had health problems by then. So with no travel in sight and with what I can only describe as a menopausal hiccup, I decided I would go to University – me! –  few hidden smiles amongst friends at that idea.  A science degree took my fancy, I had no science or maths anywhere in my background and to this day I am not sure how I got accepted; maybe I ticked a box somewhere.  I did so enjoy it.  With a great deal of help from my friend from forever who struggled to get verbs into my sentences and keep my spelling within the range of acceptable English I gained a BSc Hons in Anthropology and Nutrition and a high enough pass to go on to do an MA.  Was amazingly chuffed to say the least!

I’m retired from paid employment now and having a whale of a time writing and networking.

How long have you been writing for?

Seriously I guess since 2007, after I had retired. On a whim, I joined a writing class in our local town and signed up for a couple of writing workshops held at a local organic farm.   I wasn’t at all sure about either but found both experiences such fun I kept going back for more and the teacher we had, Emily, was a very inspiring young lady.   

As a child I had dabbled, doesn’t every child who enjoys books? Later, in my 40s, I had tried again but I knew they weren’t good and had put them away when I went to university (I am thinking of resurrecting one of them in NaNoWriMo this year!

I still felt a bit of a fraud but, early last year, I decided I was a ‘writer’, the computer was my tool and time spent writing, researching and networking was ‘my work’.  So maybe 2007 or maybe 2010.

Who or what influences your writing?

Who knows the answer to that one?  The Sefuty Chronicles are fed and probably inspired by all my interests – such as science, genetics, ethics, anthropology and, of course, climate change as well as by my interests in crafts and gardening.  The original spark for writing?  Haven’t a clue!  I blame it on 60 + years of reading anything I could get my hands on. 

What aspect of the writing life do you find the most challenging?

I think my Dyspraxia. I only discovered recently that is what I had all these years.  Apart from the ‘clumsy child’ bit there are often  problems with the neurone development of the brain, affecting the way the brain processes information, particularly when it involves thought, perception and language.  Children with this problem are often called stupid (I certainly was back in 1950s schooling), but we are as intelligent and as creative as anyone else.  We can understand information but our brains are unreliable in regurgitating it.

My main problem is the ordering of words, (I don’t talk in public because of this, I once managed to insult a visiting judge at our local photographic contest, I still don’t know how I managed to mangle up ‘Thank You’ but I did!)  spelling and punctuation.   My friend from forever/editor and I have long –  er –  ‘discussions’ on my use of words.  It is a continuous struggle for her to get my writing into shape.  I have improved since I began writing full-time, however I can still read a whole page of un-punctuated words and not realise there is not even a full stop at the end.  Drives her to distraction. It does take some of the spontaneity away from such as blogging, and commenting.  I will attempt the shorter ones but it takes hours of agonizing over.  Does it make sense? Is there a full stop anywhere? Have I offended anyone?  I think sometimes it comes over as sounding bit abrupt as a consequence.  (By the way she is away on holiday at moment so I am winging this myself; with every finger crossed that there are no terrible mistakes apparent!)

It just means really that everything takes longer.  Manuscripts and longer blogs have to be e-mailed to her and then corrections back.  The computer has been a godsend for people like me – oh I know the limitations of the spell checker but it has helped alert me to some of the mistakes. 

Do you have a Write time of day set aside or do you write when the inspiration strikes?

Not really – at the beginning I could only write late at night as that was the only time I could (was caring for my mother full-time then) since I began writing all day I try to do networking, e-mails etc first thing.  Then writing and or correcting.  Networking again in the evening to catch time differences.  But it’s very flexible if I’m on a creative roll then networking is left right out.  If there nothing to write about then I go researching on the web.  Nothing is ever set in stone.

Tell us what inspires you as a writer?

Every thing I guess.  Certainly every author I have ever read, the thousands of books.  My travels, all the people I’ve met, places I’ve seen.  All my many interests past and present.  Everything.

Do you have a muse?

I don’t really understand this muse everyone on cyberspace talks about.  I have always used the word to mean ponder upon, to think carefully.  I guess how you all are using it is as an imaginary (female usually) force guiding your creativity, in which case probably not.  I have great trouble with imaginary forces!!!  I guide my creativity, my mind with all it’s filing systems stuffed to over flowing – I allow no meddling busybody telling me what to do! On my use of the word then yes.  I think a lot about my characters and plots.  Carefully working them out over periods of time.

Where do you write? Describe your place of writing to us?

On the dining table!  I have, since I decided to write full-time, taken over that area.  Open plan to the living area and kitchen.  We haven’t used the table to eat at for years and if we have visitors we eat off smaller individual tables.  I have transferred a lot of my reference books into the dining area (into the china cupboards).  Laptop and printer on the table, cats wherever they wish to be!  It works well, I’m around if needed and coffee refills are only a couple of steps away.  I have a window looking onto the garden, which is itself only a dozen steps from where I sit.  I can slip out there whenever the desire moves me. 

Are you a pen and paper writer/typewriter/digital writer?

I have been through them all.  When I wrote stories, as a child, it was pencil then pen.  As a teenager, when I tried writing, I had a typewriter.  After I finished travel, and began writing again, it was on the first of the computers, no ‘windows’ ‘graphics’ and no ‘internet’ for ordinary folk!  I don’t remember how many I have had now. I would miss my computer, more than any other technology, if I had to give it up.

Do you have any writing superstitions or traditions that you follow?

No.  I don’t go for superstitions and, although I have a fondness for some great traditions, a personal tradition in the way you mean it is, for me, akin to being in a rut, a routine and in something else’s power.

What genre do you write in and why?  

Well I shall say soft sci-fi/post apocalyptic/dystopian/romance and the why? is because that’s what everyone says.  Me? I think of my writing as fiction.  I have struggled so hard to make sense of this genre business.  

Because the series is set in the future people want to label it science fiction or speculative fiction; the last is, I suppose, accurate as both books are set in the future. But both books are romances also, as the central themes running through are love stories.  I want my books in general fiction because the books themselves deal with people, their emotions, trials and tribulations, and these are universal concerns.  

The only science used is a continuation of what is happening now, such as GM, alternative power and food sources.  I think my books would disappoint a real science fiction fan; I don’t think there’s enough doom and gloom for speculative fiction and certainly if labelled a romance (which it is) it would disappoint romance readers.  So you see, although people feel the need to label like this, I would be happier if there was more cross over in what books are about.

So why this subject? Well many of my of my interests feed into the books, sustainability, social history, anthropology and ethics for instance and I am very concerned with environmental issues and have thought for many decades that we haven’t, as a species, been thoughtful enough. I am, on the whole, though optimistic about the human race and our ability to adapt and have tried to write hopeful books. 

What genre would you like to write in but have not yet? And why?

The story I thought of back in my 40s was set today and was a love story I guess but exploring the stresses on all relationships when a traumatic event happens.  I’m intrigued with how folk ‘work’ so I think when I have finished trying to warn the world of their approaching doom!!! I’ll start on psychological fiction.

Do you have any beta readers or critique partners? Do you think they are a necessary resource for writers?

Well only my friend from forever.  She edits, checks inconsistencies, makes sure what I say makes sense – warns me when I’m assuming the reader knows as much as I do!!  

I think everyone needs someone who’s going to be honest about the writing, and she is, always has been! Also someone who can stand back from the emotional ties us authors have for our work and say ‘Oh for goodness sake woman!’ 

As we have been friends for almost 60 years, dreadful thought that! She also understands my word problems.  A stranger would struggle even harder than she has to.

Would you describe yourself as a punster or a plotter?

A bit of both I think.  I live with the story in my head for weeks/months before I get anywhere near the paper, usually when writing the previous book!!  I have long imaginary conversations with the characters, I know all the hidden story that will never be written.  I know them and what happens to them very well, I don’t necessarily have a plot line though.  I also find it impossible to write from beginning to end in a straight line.  I write like fury, episode by episode, and then at the end write linking bits to join them up and hopefully by then will know the beginning and the end!

Are you working on anything at the moment? Can you share a little about your latest WIP?

The third in the Sefuty Chronicles is, I hope, coming out in the autumn. Jack’s Tale is a little darker than the previous two.  I have had to research more about warfare, torture and post traumatic stress than I needed for the first books. I also have included some actions which may shock those who expect their romance to be only loving affairs.  I’m a bit nervous of doing it but, in The Storyteller’s Tale, I got away with having a heroine who wasn’t very nice, most of the time.  So fingers crossed I can get this character through his nasty deeds in one piece! 

What is more important to you story or character? Why?

I’m not sure that, in the books I’m writing at the moment, they can be separated.  If I did try psycological stories I think the characters would have to be slightly more important.  But the trouble with trying to separate these two things, is that they drive each other don’t they? How the character acts and reacts to his life however mundane (I’m not necessarily talking thriller/action) will drive the story.  The events of the story will cause the actions of the character.  I suppose the only way would be to write a book entirely as a train of thought; but even then the thoughts would include some kind of a story.  No I don’t think they can be separated.

Who is your favourite character that you have created and why?  

I have two. The one that is written  is Ria from The Storyteller’s Tale.  I like her because she’s such a troubled soul.  With her screaming tempers, distrustful reactions and fears she was great fun to write about. Ellen, from the first book, was difficult to write because she was so good (I’m not, so it was like writing about an alien being!)  The second character I like, might get written this year, was from an idea of a novel I had when I was 40 something.  She is a free spirit who lives just on the boundaries of acceptable social behaviour.  Slightly out of kilter moral values and ethics and I’m sure she will be fun to write as well.

Who is your favourite character in the literary world and why?

So many difficult to choose.  Ever since a child I have liked Scout in ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’.  As a child I understand her puzzlement and confusion at the world around, and her gradual knowledge and acceptance of life as it is, the unfolding beginnings of understanding others is great.  

Samwise from ‘The Fellowship of the Rings’ great fellow – he was always the hero of that saga.  The little man, the ordinary man, pitted against forces beyond understanding, armed only with basic knowledge of what’s important. Honest, loyal, a true friend, a strong sense of duty, and if you think about it that quest would have failed without him 

Then of course Scarlett O’Hara what a girl! – what a role model she was. Never one to be bound by rules, conventions.  She was a survivor and what a lot of people don’t seem to get is that she enables others to survive also.  The ‘good’ ones like Melanie and Ashley owed their lives to Scarlett’s determination and courage.  Okay that’s enough gab from me on the subject.

If you throw a dinner party and invite 5 famous creative people, who would they be and why?

Dorothy Dunnet, George Elliot, Beatrix Potter, Michelangelo, Stephen Fry

All of them had/have a wide range of interests, skills and creative talents, educated not just in their time but in the classics of their time, so could bring a wonderful wealth of conversation and wit to the table. They all trod/tread their own paths without letting society tell them what to do.  Think of the range of creativity at that table, authors, sculptures, painter, actors, engineers, visionaries.  Let’s hope my cooking could live up to it all!

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

Difficult, but I think it would be research.  Decide which path one is going and research it.  So, for me, to suddenly decide I would be an Indie writer after I had written the first book meant I have been playing catch-up all the time.  There were such a lot of skills I didn’t possess, that have been needed to work the possibilities of the internet.  Apart from e-book formatting, web site design, blogging the various network site etc.  I am still struggling to learn all the jargon!  Getting there, getting there.

What do want your lasting legacy? As a writer, to be?

Oh goodness, well probably to be remembered as a teller of some quite nice tales.  I know my books are never going to be classics but I do think they are good reads.

Thank you very much for allowing me on here to natter – I’m afraid I do go on a bit!

My books can be found on my official website

http://www.albertaross.co.uk where extracts, readers comments and purchase details can be found.

The e-book editions of  Ellen’s Tale and The Storyteller’s Tale can be found on http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/29886

I also blog about the process of writing and self publishing and writing in general on 

http://sefutychronicles-albertaross.blogspot.com/

and my general interests on

http://www.didyoueverkissafrog.typepad.com

you can also follow me on 

http://www.twitter.com/albertaross

GIVE-AWAY ALERT:  http://sefutychronicles-albertaross.blogspot.com/ – Blog Tour dates.

Alberta is running a Give Away during the tour.

2 winners of draw will win  e-book editions of

The first two books of the Sefuty Chronicles
Ellen’s Tale and The Storyteller’s Tale

3 runners-up will win an e-book edition of

Ellen’s Tale
 (unless already read in which case The Storyteller’s Tale)

How to win

A comment on each visited host site gives you one chance to win, also on my sites on those days I am posting there during the tour
an extra entry will be given if you mention the post on Twitter or Facebook
an extra entry will be given for a mention of the post/tour on your own blog
Let me know where you have spread the word., with a link.
So make sure you comment on this post, mention it to Alberta on her blog to be in with a chance to win. Also if you mention it on Facebook or Twitter you will get a bonus chance to win.

Tales of Fantasy | Tim Ahrens

Today I have the pleasure of writer, Tim Ahrens,  in the interview chair. 

Please join me in giving him a warm welcome. Make yourself comfortable well we talk about fantasy, the importance of strong characters and the tales that have inspired him over the years.

Welcome Tim…

girl with a quill: If you were a character in a story, how would you describe yourself in 6 words?
Tim: Short in stature, strong in heart.

girl with a quill: How long have you been writing for?
Tim: I have been writing since I was about thirteen. That would make it about 33 years I think.

girl with a quill: Who or what influences your writing?
Tim: Oh I go way back. Lets see there was Ray Bradbury, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Robert Jordan, Stephen King, among others. What got me writing was the urge to tell stories that would spirit others away on new and wondrous adventures. Much as the writers I have mentioned did for me.

girl with a quill: What aspect of the writing life do you find the most challenging?
Tim: Finding the energy to write. I work full-time as well as care for my mother and my home. I try to squeak in what little time I have to continue my writing.

girl with a quill: Do you have a Write time of day set aside or do you write when the inspiration strikes?
Tim: Both, On my days off I read what I have completed and get inspiration from that. On work days I wait until the sun has set and the house is quiet so that I can slip into the world I am weaving.

girl with a quill: Tell us what inspires you as a writer?
Tim: The tale itself is what inspires me. Really I am sometimes as eager to see what will happen next as my readers are.

girl with a quill: Do you have a Muse?
Tim: Music and mood is my Muse. I can sometime start and finish an entire chapter just based on one song I am listening to or the mood I am in at the time I start to write.

girl with a quill: Where do you write? Describe your place of writing to us?
Tim: It a room about ten feet by ten feet. I have taken great pains to fill this room with things that I have grown up with as well as figures and posters and such that I have collected over the years. An oak desk sits against one wall of the room giving me a view of everything within it. A computer sits on the desk, with a large stereo near by. The floor is carpeted in grey shag. On the walls there is a star-scape painted.

girl with a quill: Are you a pen and paper writer/typewriter/digital writer?
Tim: I use a computer and word processor. I am hopeless without my spell checker as anyone who knows me will tell you lol.

girl with a quill: Do you have any writing superstitions or traditions that you follow?
Tim: It has to be dark outside and I have to have a hot cup of coffee near my right hand at all times.

girl with a quill: What genre do you write in and why?
Tim: I love fantasy. But I also write some sci-fi, horror, and contemporary. I try to keep my hand in a little of everything just so I don’t get stuck writing only one genre. It also keeps my mind and writing nimble and fresh.

girl with a quill: What genre would you like to write in but have not yet? Why?
Tim: Mystery. I really don’t think I have any talent for that genre.

girl with a quill: Do you have any beta readers or critique partners? Do you think they are a necessary resource for writers?
Tim: Yes I do. Several close friends as well as a few great friends on Facebook give me their take on how things are going. I think this is very necessary! Even if you do not end up taking their advice you do get a look at what you have written with fresh eyes.

girl with a quill: Would you describe yourself as a pantser or a plotter?
Tim: I would have to say pantser. I have a rough outline in my head when I begin a tale. But never really know where it’s going to go until I am in the meat of it. I think it’s more fun that way.

girl with a quill: Tell us about your process of getting a new idea for a novel or story?
Tim: I first create the type of character that I want to write about. I then build his world around him or her based on the type of person I have made him or her. From that point I fill in the people and place around him or her. Then when I have a complete picture of who he or she is what he or she looks like and who is most important to him or her I set up the reason for the need for his story to be told. The character is everything for me. If they to not live in my mind at the time I am writing the story then there’s no point.

girl with a quill: Are you working on anything now? Can you share a little about your latest WIP?
Tim: I am trying my hand at an epic. It will have seven central characters not including the villains. Its fantasy and will take place in several countries with the central characters being drawn together to do battle with a massive foe. I am shooting for something at least as big in scope as Lord of the Rings was. I hope 🙂

girl with a quill: What publishing market are you aiming for?
Tim: All of them. I want as many people who like my style of writing to have a chance to read it.

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?
Tim: Although I like the feel of a real book in my hands, as well as the sensation of the pages being turned; I can understand that not everybody has the space or the money to buy a real book. In that case I feel e-books are just fine. Anything to get the written word out to people who enjoy reading a great book.

girl with a quill: What is more important to you: Story or Character? Why?
Tim: Character. They create the story in my opinion, not the other way around.

girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character that you have created and why?
Tim: His name is Torg Stumpchewer. He is my favorite because he is half-human and half-troll. But accepted by neither group. Although he has a massive and somewhat hideous appearance he is still a kind and heroic figure on the inside. It’s kind of my way of saying don’t judge a book by it’s cover.

girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character in the literary world and why?
Tim: His name is Dar-elLan-Martak. He is from the Cenotaph Road series. By Robert E Vardeman. Not only is Dar a heroic and steadfast hero. He is also thrown into the situation he find himself in by accident. With only his companion, Man sized spider, to help him he travels to unending world on the Cenotaph Road. Trying to find his purpose and his way home. What’s not to like?

girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 famous creative people, who would they be and why?
Tim: Ray Bradbury, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Robert Vardeman, Edgar Allen Poe, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I have learned how to write what I like and how to build a great character all by reading their wonderful work. In short without them and many others I would not be published today.

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?
Tim: Super girl (from the comic) Ayane (from D.O.A.) Inyx (from the cenotaph road) Sassafras one seven four ( from the story with the same name) Circe ( from remnants of the gods) What a party they would make!

girl with a quill: If you could give yourself one piece of advice at the beginning of your writing career, what would it be?
Tim: Never throw anything out!!!!

girl with a quill: What is the one piece of writing advice you could give your future self, 10 years from now?
Tim: See I told you, you were a good writer!

girl with a quill: What do you want your lasting legacy, as a writer, to be?
Tim: That anyone can pick up one of my books and escape into a world of wonder.

girl with a quill:Tell us where we can find you and your work on the World Wide Web?
Tim: Please look for my book, The Salvation Of Tanlegalle, at any fine online book store as well as Amazon.com. You may also find it as well as my self and more samples of my work at www.Creative2at.com/client/tim-ahrens/home.html

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/

Visions of creativity in words & pictures | Tina Hoggatt

Today I interview a lady who brings a triple threat of creativity: writer, artist and illustrator. It never fails to amaze me at the endless talent and creativity of the warriors that I interview on this blog every week. Tina Hoggatt is another of these super-talented ladies. She has not allowed bias or criticism to encroach on her dreams, instead she forges on ahead. Having had a successful career in Art she has recently gotten back to her original creative dream: writing. She has also managed to meld together these two creative pursuits in the guise of an illustrator. She has kindly allowed me to include a few illustrations here in this interview for your enjoyment. Without giving too much away, I will allow Tina to do the talking for herself. So pull up a chair and make yourself comfortable as Tina and I sit down for a one-on-one chat. 

Welcome Tina Hoggatt….

 

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

Tina: Seriously fun, loves words and pictures. 

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

Tina: Early on – I didn’t make novels as a child but I did write stories and was fairly clear about it as an identity by the time I was eleven or so.

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

Tina: I was committed as a writer in middle school and had a writing group with a few girlfriends but was discouraged by a mentor at thirteen. This had sexist overtones (‘there are no truly famous women writers; only men are serious writers’ etc ) which I knew were both wrong and incorrect but at the time I lived in between two happily married women painters so I thought I’d pursue art. Who needed the grief?  I wrote in my twenties and then committed to an art career, which actually worked, but I have come back to writing in the last five years or so and have been very focused for the past few years.

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

Tina: I make paintings and prints and have been working in porcelain enamel on steel recently, which I adore. I have a letterpress shop in my studio and don’t use it enough. 

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

Tina: The greatest influence on me as a writer were my parents being who read to their children twice a day for the whole of my youth. From this I learned that there needed to be music in the language and that story was king.

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?

Tina: Contemporary fiction. Late bloomer finds husband and confidence, experiences setbacks and family turmoil, emerges in midlife with clarity and urgency to kick some serious ass.

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

Tina: I have two office spaces and a studio and mostly sit at the kitchen table when I write so I can watch the birds at the feeders and see the garden. I also write every day on the bus during my commute.

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?

Tina: I often see a scene, a character in a place with some very simple action. I may write a page or so that becomes the nut of a story. I’ll write a huge hunk of it, then finesse the plot.

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

Tina: I come from an honest pantser background and have been dragged into plotting, at which I frankly suck. But I’m working on it. Plotting is a time saver and time is what I don’t have enough of.

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

Tina: I write YA and MG and have created illustrated books. In adolescence crossroads are reached that force a choice about both action and character – defining moments. These happen with much more frequency than in adulthood, at a time when emotions run high. I’m interested in exploring those points and in speaking to them for the reader.

girl with a quill: We all have little habits and quirks that make us individual. 

What are your bad habits in writing? What are your strengths in writing?

Tina:

  1. I have a tendency toward complication and complexity that can get in the way of fluid storytelling.
  2. My visual training and art practice make me a good observer. I think this comes out in the writing. Also I’m pretty good with dialogue and its integration.

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

Tina: Biography. 

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

Tina: I have contributed essays to two books edited and published by fine letterpress printer Jules Remedios Faye, The Ladies Printing Bee and Fallen Angels. What is the Panda to You? an artists’ book in a tiny edition was a collaboration with artist Jeffry Mitchell. I wrote the text, printed the book and collaborated on illustration. I’ve made several other similar editions as well.

I’ve illustrated several books for mainstream publishers, My Jim by Nancy Rawles and Home Field, a collection of essays on baseball edited by John Marshall. I also have some manuscripts moldering in virtual space.

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

Tina: Gray and quick and flipper slick, here and gone – yoohoo!

Is it the best? Maybe not, but fun.

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

Tina: I’m working on Clickstream, a YA book I’m calling contemporary para-scifi. Boy recovering from the death of his brother is visited by the ghost of his dead dog and a shimmering particle stream of a naked girl from the future, discovering that his brother’s essence has been preserved in an experimental chip developed by his dad, who is working to retrieve him. Complications ensue. It’s about bringing back the dead, bicycles, friendship, comic books and love. Also it’s funny.

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

Tina: I work on my first drafts with two writing groups in real life and one online group. These are my beta readers for finished work. Also, my mom is an invaluable reader.

girl with a quill: Why do you write?

Tina: At this point it’s a practice, and without a creative practice I turn into a real creep. 

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?

Tina: Despite life’s emotional hardships there is friendship, unexpected wonder and joy to be had in this life.

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

Tina: My muse is a donkey whose tail I hold as it leads me through a darkened room. Sometimes I bump into the furniture. Sometimes I get a glimpse into another room.

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?

Tina: It has to be a character in another author’s book, to spend time with people I have come to know and love, and see their places.

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

Tina: My writing is character driven, but without story there is no sustained engagement. I’ve proven this, actually, to my chagrin.

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

Tina: Right now I’m very fond of the ghost of a dog named Gus who is taking time out from a pleasant afterlife to help out a messed up boy here on earth. 

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

Tina: Mary Russell, from the genius mind of Laurie R. King. Scholar, sleuth and wife to Sherlock Holmes – who is no slouch himself. 

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

Tina: It’s a dinner party, right? There has to be synergy. Mark Twain for sure – he was funny, told fabulous stories and always wore a white suit – at least in his later years. So right there you have a keystone. He’s going to have to smoke outside though. I’ve been in love with Myrna Loy my whole life and Twain would love her brains and sass, as well as her legs – so Myrna’s next to Twain. I’d invite Dorothy Parker but she was a mean drunk and you know there will be drinking. Julia Child’s in the kitchen. She makes great conversation and she’ll sit at that end of the table so she can check the miracle sauce at regular intervals. This dinner will need a poet and a fabulist. Pablo Neruda may feel a little shy at first but he’ll warm to the northerners, and he can recite for us in Spanish. And I think Joan Baez would round out the table nicely. She’ll put everyone at ease and tell surprisingly funny anecdotes, imitate Bob Dylan and lead the singing after dessert.

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?

Tina: All sleuth dinner: Mary Russell, Sherlock Holmes, Nancy Drew (I wanted to be her), Yashim the eunuch and Maisie Dobbs.

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

Tina: Don’t quit, it’s a waste of time and talent.

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

Tina: Don’t quit, it’s a waste of time and talent.

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

Tina: The first book you reach for on the bookshelf of a summer cabin.

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

Tina:  You’ll have to wait for a year or two.

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

Tina: My blog: http://tinahoggatt.wordpress.com/

My website: http://tinahoggatt.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

 

 

The Importance of Imagination | Denise of Ingleside

 

 Today I have the pleasure to welcome one of my dear friends, Denise of Ingleside aka Denise Maclennan Bruce. This lovely lady is as sweet as her favourite story, Anne of Green Gables with a warm heart and a childlike spirit. Today we discuss all things from Anne of Green Gables to picture books to self-publishing to NaNoWriMo. This is a multi-talented lady who writes, paints and designs gardens. amongst all that she is also mom to 4 children, wife and a loyal friend. Where she finds all the energy, well…let’s ask her today. 

 

Please pull up a seat and join me in giving a warm welcome to

Denise of Ingleside. 

girl with a quill: Introduce us to Denise Maclennan Bruce?

Denise:  Hi Kim , Thanks for including me in your blog.  I’m known as Denise of Ingleside.  I’m from still freezing, Prince Edward Island in Canada.  I love to garden and help others garden as well.  I love reading, which I haven’t had time for lately, I’m sad to say.  I love to collect paper dolls, do you remember those?  Cardboard dolls with paper clothing that you bend the tabs to hold the clothes on   I just love to look at them and dream.  Let’s see; I’ve been married 23 years on the 19th  of this month.  We’ve 4 kids.  I named my home Ingleside, after my very favorite author, Lucy Maud Montgomery.  More of her later 😉 lol I also like to paint, but again, time is not on my side. I’ve started a new job maintaining and landscaping a fifty year old garden , which I thoroughly enjoy, 3 weeks ago and it, home chores, my gardens, and my children are totally eating my time, which I’m thankful for, but now I’ve got to set a plan for writing now  I miss it a lot when I’m working.

girl with a quill: How long have you been writing for?
Denise:  I think I’ve always been writing something or other, as well as drawing, but nothing special, just kid drawing back then.  I remember a teacher in grade 9 wanted us to write a story.  I was thrilled!  I wrote my heart out and put a lot of thought into it.  I got a 75% in it, but was saddened by his comment that the names of the 3 characters all started with “M” because it mixed him up.  I now know this is a big no no, but oh my little heart was broken back then.  I kept at it, though.  I wasn’t letting anyone tell me otherwise.  It wasn’t until about 3 years ago that I started doing something about my love for writing.

girl with a quill: Who or what influences your writing?
Denise:  Definitely Lucy Maud Montgomery.  I felt so akin to her books and characters.  I first read Anne of Green Gables when I was 12, I think.  I was immediately hooked.  It was like Anne was myself.  I felt a part of her.  I wanted to be just like this wonderful author and thankfully already had the love for writing.  Lucy Maud’s books are all around my Ingleside, urging me on.  Nice, dear old friends.

girl with a quill: What aspect of the writing life do you find the most challenging?
Denise:  finding the time to write and fit family life in.  It’s so hard to do everything.

girl with a quill: Do you have a Write time of day set aside or do you write when the inspiration strikes?
Denise:  I write when I get any spare minutes.  I write if a thought comes into my brain too, so it’s a bit of both 

girl with a quill: Tell us what inspires you as a writer?
Denise:  again, it’s Lucy Maud who inspires me, and her “Anne” character.  Trees and flowers also inspire me.  I love to sit and just watch them, esp when there is a breeze blowing.  The trees seem like dear friends of mine, always talking and telling me secrets.  When I feel stuck with my writing, I sit by a window and let my mind go where the trees and flowers want it to go, then write again.

girl with a quill: Do you have a Muse?
Denise: I think you know who my muse is now, eh? lol

girl with a quill: Where do you write? Describe your place of writing to us?
Denise:  I write where ever I can find to sit lol  My 6 year old daughter is very shy and close to me.  I write where she plays  It works 😉

girl with a quill: Are you a pen and paper writer/typewriter/digital writer?
Denise:  I’m definitely a pen and paper gal!  I can’t stand typing on a computer, but oddly, I love typing on a typewriter lol  I think using a pen and paper makes me feel like a real writer 

girl with a quill: Do you have any writing superstitions or traditions that you follow?
Denise:  I say a prayer to God to help and guide me as I write; before I write 

girl with a quill: What genre do you write in and why?
Denise:  I think I’m a mixture of different genres.  I write whatever idea comes in my thoughts, then put it in its genre when it’s finished.  Now if I had to choose my favorite.  I’d say picture books  The kids and I love picture books.  I want to inspire kids and help them to reach for the stars!

girl with a quill: Do you have any beta readers or critique partners? Do you think they are a necessary resource for writers?

Denise:  I do not.  I wish I did.  PEI is a small place.   My writer’s group is online at our wonderful Warrior Chat group  I’ve had a few ladies read some of my work, thankfully and had one lovely lady even critique for me and I’ve learned a great deal, which I’m very thankful for.

girl with a quill: You belong to Warrior Chat, an online writers group seeded in NaNoWriMo. Do you find it useful to belong to a writers group? Why?
Denise:  I find it very useful!  I’d be so lost again if it weren’t for Warrior Chat.  The people there are the kindest people ever and oh so helpful!  I’m so glad to have found it.  I have learned tons and tons of information, something I’d never had learned if it weren’t for our home away from home 

girl with a quill: Would you describe yourself as a panster or a plotter?
Denise:  I think I’m a bit of both.  I try to plot my story out , then find myself falling away from it and just writing what is inside me and write til I can’t write anymore 

girl with a quill: You competed in NaNoWriMo2010. Tell us about your experience? Would you compete in NaNoWriMo again?
Denise:  I would absolutely LOVE to compete in NaNo again, BUT, I found it very hard with the house, the kids, and Christmas.  I wish they would use a different month.  I became sick afterwards mostly due to the strain.  I’m not sure if I’ll do it again this year, but would love it.  I never would have gotten that story out if it weren’t for NaNo, and I’d not have met all of YOU!

girl with a quill: Tell us about your process of getting a new idea for a novel or story?
Denise:  I could be driving along, or sitting at the table eating, listening to a song, or even reading a book, when POOF!  An idea comes to me and I have to rush to write it down before I forget it.  It’s mostly when I’m trying to sleep that the stories come to me.  I get great ones that way.  My writing journal for ideas is almost full lol

girl with a quill: Are you working on anything now? Can you share a little about your latest WIP?
Denise:  I’m always working on a few stories at a time  There’s one story I’m working on, but can’t say anything about it yet.  I’m also working on my self published book, Rilla’s Ramblings – a children’s picture book about a little girl and a fairy.  I made a mistake by self publishing and am redoing that story.  I’m also working on a couple other ideas for picture books.  I like to write in verse, I find.  I’ve been told I have a feel for it and I love it.  I’ve sent out an idea out a few weeks ago and am awaiting responses   I also have my nano story that I love love love! Lol  I would love to work on it, but haven’t had much time for that lately.  I am also working on another project with a friend in India which I am very excited about.  I’m also working on a business entrepreneurial book for a US based friend.  I’m quite excited and a bit timid over this one, but am taking up the challenge.  Very full with ideas, now I need the time to do it all 

girl with a quill: What publishing market are you aiming for?
Denise:  I think I’ll stick with the Children’s market right now.  I’ll work on my other story in the fall.  It’s for paranormal/woman’s

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?
Denise:  I’ve done self publishing and wouldn’t want to do it again, UNLESS I had a great proof reader and time to work on the story.  Mine was rushed… way too rushed.

girl with a quill: What is more important to you: Story or Character? Why?
Denise:  I think both.  You can’t have the story without a great character, and where would that great character be without the wonderful, gripping story?  For me, I think I come up with both for my stories.  Sometimes a great story idea will hit me, and sometimes a character that I have to work a story around 

girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character that you have created and why?
Denise:  That’s easy  Rilla from Rilla’s Ramblings… she’s my daughter who was 3 at the time I wrote it.  The story started off with one of Rilla’s own stories that she’d tell me, and we snowballed it into a fairy story 

girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character in the literary world and why?
Denise:  Anne of Green Gables, hands down   As I said earlier, I felt like a part of her was inside me.  I still feel the same way to this day.

girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 famous creative people, who would they be and why?
Denise:  Henry David Thoreau, because he loved nature.  He lived in a cabin by Waldon’s Pond and loved all that was around him.  He didn’t need much to make him happy.  Lucy Maud Montgomery  for reason’s mentioned above and all over lol.  Mark Cullen, a fantastic gardener who I’ve admired for many years.  Diana Gabaldon, the writer of The Outlander Series. LOVE HER!  And last but certainly not least, Susan Branch.  Her recipe books and other books are THE most beautiful books I’ve ever seen.  Tasha Tudor, because she’s sweet, old fashioned and down to earth, absolutely no airs with her. .. (sorry, couldn’t help but choose another lol)

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?
Denise:  Anne Shirley, because she could help break the ice with her mishaps 😉 … Pollyanna, because she’d make sure everyone was glad to be there 😉 … Jamie from The Outlander series, because he’s just THAT hunky lol… Pippi Longstocking… we might need some strength ;)… and Heathcliff fr Wuthering Heights.  I want to talk to him and tell him a few things 😉

girl with a quill: If you could give yourself one piece of advice at the beginning of your writing career, what would it be?
Denise:  Take the time to write.  Don’t stop.  Don’t think you can’t do it.  If you want to write, then write.  NO MATTER WHAT… WRITE.

girl with a quill: What is the one piece of writing advice you could give your future self, 10 years from now?
Denise:  Don’t you dare give up!  YOU CAN DO IT!  Believe YOU CAN fly … to the highest of awards!

girl with a quill: What do you want your lasting legacy, as a writer, to be?
Denise:  I want to make a difference.  I want to make people smile.  I want someone to love the message I’m sending out.  Even the message I don’t mean to write, but somehow it gets in there.

girl with a quill:Tell us where we can find you on the World Wide Web?
Denise:

Facebook:  HYPERLINK “http://www.facebook.com/denise.of.ingleside.PEI” http://facebook.com/denise.of.ingleside.PEI

Twitter:  HYPERLINK “https://twitter.com/#!/DeniseBruce22” https://twitter.com/#!/DeniseBruce22

My Blog: http://deniseofingleside.blogspot.com/  It’s quite lonely for the time being with work, but soon I’ll get back to it 

So that’s me  Nothing special.  Just like everyone else.  Like Charley Pride titled one of my favorite songs, that fits me like a glove…”I’m Just Me” 

Thanks so much for the chance to be on your blog, Kim.I enjoyed it so much     

Thank You Denise. It has been a pleasure chatting to you today. We look forward to hearing more about this “secret” book when you are ready to share it.