Monday, July 6, 2015

Mathias B. Freese, I Truly Lament: Working Through the Holocaust, plus #giveaway

AUTHOR: Mathias B. Freese
BOOK TITLE: I Truly Lament: Working Through the Holocaust
GENRE:Literary fiction/ short stories
BUY LINK:Amazon, Wheatmark,  author

NOTE:  If you would like to win a copy of Mathias's book, please leave a comment and include your contact information.

Please tell us about yourself.

Retired English teacher and analytic psychotherapist, I have been a writer for almost 50 years. I am self-taught, with the deficits of any autodidact. I resist being shown how to write. I prefer to reinvent the wheel – in that is a learning by itself. Suffering has taught me a great deal. Writing simply reveals that anguish. The purpose of all my written works has been to educate myself about who I am and for that no teacher can work with me except to hand me a copy of Strunk and White’s, The Elements of Style, and leave me be. Consequently my writing reveals an awakening of intelligence, as Krishnamurti phrased it. I am a seeker and marketing of my books is a kind of perverse expression. I would like to be read, although I consistently refuse to shape my work for any market. That is a writer’s sellout, capitalistic perversion of the highest order. I say what I have to say whether you like it or not. The resistance to my latest effort has been strong. I Truly Lament: Working Through the Holocaust has been reviewed splendidly; however, some bloggers, some editors and some reviewers reject even reviewing it. That says more about the Holocaust than it says about me.

When I come across an individual who is empty, I will on occasion tell him or her that he or she is not a serious human being. To be serious about how one lives one’s life is essential to my make-up. I don’t suffer fools.

Please tell us your latest news.

I am glad to report that I won The Beverly Hills Book Award 2015 in the category of short stories. That was a thrill. For writers I would suggest that they submit their work to as many contests as possible, Poets & Writers lists dozens of them with deadlines and entry fees, if any. At least you have judges looking at your work, so you are being read.

When and why did you begin writing?

My first expression was a poem I wrote at 18 that was accepted by the Yearbook. As I look back it clearly references the depression I was in. To add to that, the teacher-editor threw out the original title and missed entirely the basic theme of the poem. So much for English teachers who think they are editors. It didn’t help my depression, just made me angry.

In 1968 an article, “Is content enough?” was accepted by an educational journal and was the first professionally piece accepted by a publication. It took 10 years to secrete another effort. I  had no idea I was moving into writing. I can say, looking back, that early fiction and non-fiction pieces were written to work out or work through psychological and emotional feelings of long standing. Consequently I view writing as a personal therapy, a working through, to use psych-speak, of what harassed my emotional states.

For 30 years I wrote my stories and I promised myself that someday I would publish all of them, for some, indeed, had been published in little magazines. In 2008, I self-published Down to a Sunless Sea at the age of 68. It was reviewed favorably. A novel about the Holocaust, The i Tetralogy, was published in 2005, and a book of essays, This Mobius Strip of Ifs, a prize-winner as well, in 2012. So as I age the rewards come.  I am the Aesopian tortoise.

What inspired you to write your first book?

The i Tetralogy took me several years and it is graphic, overwhelming and heart-rending; reviewers have said that.  It is like Rashomon. I explore the mind and life of a concentration camp victim, and then I explore the mind of his perpetrator. I may not spell well, I may not be grammatically correct all the time, but what I have learned is that my imagination is first rate. But that is not enough. As a psychotherapist I learned to master to a large degree to be empathetic. Combining empathy and imagination allowed me to creep into the mind of both victim and victimizer. And so my first book revealed my feelings about what it is to be a Jew.

The Spanish Inquisition in 1492 based on racial purity led directly, indeed, was the template for the Hitlerian Holocaust. I wanted to learn how that came about. I have several reasons and understandings about all that. Chalk it up to the species being damaged; we are beyond remediation.  All this is in the Tetralogy.
What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?

I say pompously that I do a lot of reflection, but is that being pompous, or is that what this collapsed culture thinks about it. For decades I have read the works of Krishnamurti as a kind of thread as I walk through the maze. So I am a seeker, believing wholeheartedly that the observer is the observed. Read his Think on These Things (Harper) and write me a note. I am a dedicated cinephile and, of course, I recommend that you see Pandora by Pabst, and the glorious work of Louise Brooks ( her book, Lucille in Hollywood, is a hoot). I am a real lover of anything Art Nouveau, and seek out objects, whether valuable or not, that reveal that era. Gustave Klimt is a favorite. I admire the Pre-Raphaelites as well.  I recently over extended myself and bought a Degas print at an auction. Since I don’t play golf or revel in sports, you will now appreciate the responses above all the better.

Did you learn anything from writing your book, and what was it?

As a former psychotherapist I see that all 27 short stories in Lament, reveal much about myself; that I have better skills now; instead of croaking my themes I sing them.

What is your marketing plan?

In Auschwitz, it was reported that an inmate asked a guard this question: “Why?’ And the guard responded, “Here there is no why.”

Consequently I used several tools to market this difficult book – this interview, per se; a book tour; entering contests, as many as I could afford; querying hundreds of reviewers, bloggers, et al. Like the guard’s answer, there is no answer to how this book has been received, too much Holocaust fear and historical ignorance among reviewers.

I accept that there is no answer. I am pleased to have made this work reveal the best of what talents and skills I have.

What do you plan for the future?

As Harold Bloom opined, we are all “near death” experiences. And so I have finished a memoir. Although professionally edited, I will work it over, for it may be my last book. I am 74. Sometimes I think the well may have run dry. I feel that all literature is worked over unconsciously and that the unconscious is a true friend if only we trust it. In short, when a story or a poem is written, it really is the second version. So we shall see.

What do you think is the difference between writing short stories and novels?

Short stories are epiphanies; short stories teach writers how to write novels. The Bible is beyond masterful in some stories, forget the religiosity and learn about the brevity from these stories. Writing short stories gives you an opportunity to see the whole, to see the arc of what it is you are saying. Short stories are the opened back of a Patek-Philippe. You can tinker or repair as long as you like. The great novel should read like an intense, passionate short story. Of course, the poem is the hardest epiphany of them all; some poems are novels.

Is there a message in your stories that you want readers to grasp?

When asked if a movie in production had a message, Sam Goldwyn reportedly replied, “If you want a message go to Western Union.” I never write with a message at hand; a feeling, yes; a mood state; yes. I like to be surprised with what I have written. Grasp this about me! I write like my hormones need to excrete. I am not into purpose. Some teachers take an idea or concept and parse it, analyze it, break it into components and then synthesize it for their students. When I taught I took an idea, turned it into fractals, sought no endgame, and let the pieces fall where they may. Consequently don’t ask me to plot out a novel; I am too intuitive to do that.

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

I have always been impressed with the humanity, the empathy and psychological understanding of  Sherwood Anderson’s, Winesburg , Ohio. Hemingway admired this book but never gave Anderson his due, but that is Hemingway. Anderson could write about the neurasthenic, to use an old term, woman; Hemingway had trouble writing about women.

Do you have any advice for other short story writers?

Write dozens of stories and then keep only a few; or slave over one story interminably only to realize it doesn’t work. Notice the trick or conditioning in this question. Advice? Has the human race ever asked for advice? Essentially, find your own way, work on being inner-directed and in this way the need for advice melts away. All writing is an extension of how much you have grown into a human being. Work on yourself and what you write will reveal this. Avoid all conditioning, religion, in particular.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

Contemplate my end, which we should all do on a daily basis; and we can do that without regret or remembrance of things past. In fact, cogitating over this might make life that much more dear.
I also have a grand sense of humor so that compensates for what life teaches me. Awareness is the key. Get cracking, reader!

What books have most influenced your life?

Kazantzakis’s Report to Greco and The Last Temptation of Christ; Elias Canetti’s, The Crowd;
Krishnamurti’s Think on These Things, The Flight of the Eagle, and The Awakening of Intelligence.

I Truly Lament—Working Through the Holocaust is a varied collection of stories: inmates in death camps; survivors of these camps; disenchanted Golems complaining about their designated rounds; Holocaust deniers and their ravings; collectors of Hitler curiosa (only recently a few linens from Hitler’s bedroom suite went up for sale!);  an imagined interview with Eva Braun during her last days in the Berlin bunker; a Nazi camp doctor subtly denying his complicity; and the love story of a Hungarian cantor, among others.

A description meant to entice booksellers, librarians, reviewers and readers might be this: A weirdly wonderful short story collection exploring the Holocaust from diverse perspectives in literary styles ranging from gothic and romantic to phantasmagoric.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Mike Hartner, I, James

AUTHOR:  Mike Hartner
GENRE: Historical Fiction, Romance, Adventure
PUBLISHER: Eternity4Popsicle Publishing

Please tell us about yourself.
This summer, I cross out of my forties.  I’m a husband, father, geek (retired), and patriot.  I’m a cheerleader to all my son’s activities, and I do my best as a support mechanism for my family.

Please tell us your latest news.
I, James, is Book Two in the Eternity Series.  You were nice enough to give me a blog post for Book One, I, Walter after its release.  I, James was released in September 2014, and currently has 14 reviews… half of which are 5 Star.   In November  2014, it hit #1 in historical fiction for Amazon.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time? 
Writing time, for me, is an after-hours, when all the work is done, thing.  So, it’s sporadic.   But, it’s also my relax time, and I enjoy it very much.

When and why did you begin writing?
This particular series, The Eternity Series, I started writing about four years ago.  It wasn’t until after two years of dickering with the original manuscript that my editor and I went as far back as we could and found I, Walter waiting in the wings.

What inspired you to write your first book?
I, Walter is the first FICTION book I’ve written.  It was inspired by some information in history, and some family people that had done incredible things.

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?
Life.  Everything else. 

What are your thoughts about promotion?
Promotion is essential for the success of any endeavour.  It’s also the hardest part of r me as an author.  I’d much rather spend my evenings writing, and revising.   But, promotion is an essential part of marketing, and I’m trying very hard to get better at it.

What was the toughest criticism given to you? What was the biggest compliment?
The toughest criticism about my writing, in general, is that some of my characters get a ‘free ride.’  They always seem to find a way through undesirable situations with having their mettle tested very hard. The biggest compliment is from returning readers.

Did those change how or what you did in your next novel?
Book Two, I think, had a little more to the characters.  But, it wasn’t a conscious effort.  I'm finding Book Three is very similar.

Do you ever have writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it?
 Writer’s block occurs regularly for all writers.  I view it as time for me to learn about some aspect that is stopping things from going forward. 

Did you learn anything from writing your book, and what was it?
I, James, I believe, is a story about the perseverance of the human soul.  Both James and Rosalind were put through many trials during their early years.  It’s a remarkable achievement to come through those trials with the character they both did.

Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them?
My publisher is Eternity4Popsicle Publishing.  It is a self-pub company. I, Walter and the full Eternity series is its mandate.

What is your marketing plan?
My Marketing plan includes blog tours; being at book shows, kindle free days, and lots of signings in bookstores all over North America.

What are your current projects?
Book Three in the Eternity series is my current project.  It will be the end of the first of many trilogies in this Series.  And those who have had a first look have been happy with the content.

What do you plan for the future?
I don’t.  I write for the moment.  At the end of each book (or close to it) I learn of the key character for the next book (sometimes two books) and wait until they’re ready to tell their story.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?
Twitter: @MHartnerAuthor

What genre do you write in and why? 
Historical Fiction, Romance, YA

Tell us about the current book you’re promoting. 
I, James is the life story of James Crofter, the son of Walter Crofter.  It is the story of what happened after his capture in I, Walter.

What gave you the idea for this particular book?
Toward the end of I, Walter,  James chimed in that he wanted to tell his story.  It seemed appropriate considering his capture close to the end of I,Walter.  Hence, I, James.

Do you outline before you write?  If not, what’s your initial process?
No, I bounce a few ideas and write them down on a white board.  Then, I let them spend a few days percolating before I write.

What comes first: the plot or characters?
Character.  Always.

Which of your characters do you love/hate/fear/pity the most and why?
In I, Walter  I loathed Gerald.  And with good reason.  In I, James, I have to say the character disliked the most had to be Rupert.  It is very, very difficult for me to believe why any person would try to kill or neglect their own children.

Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you?  Why or why not?
Writing for the young adult crowd, I never get too graphic.  But, I find that the reader’s mind imagines much more detail than any author is willing to use.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Getting the full story.

How long does it take to write a book, and what is your process?
I, James took eleven months to write and edit.   To start the story, my muse introduced me to the main character.  A few days a week, I would stand at a whiteboard and write down what I thought was coming forward.   And then a few hours or days later, I would write.  And so it went.  Some days, I’d write new material, others I’d expand on what was already written. 
During the writing though, I needed to take some time off to mourn the loss of my father.  It took a lot out of me, and it delayed the release for several months.

What are your current books out right now, and what are the books coming up for release?
The Eternity Series now has two books out:  I, Walter  and I, James.   I am planning, towards the end of June, to release Book Three in the series.

What advice would you give a new writer starting out?
To write what they know about.  And to write a complete first draft before worrying about editing.  NaNoWriMo is fantastic for getting people to focus on the writing.

What do you do when you’re not writing? 
Everything.  I’m the family chauffeur, I’m the cheering squad for my son’s sports teams, I’m the grocer, and the gopher for the family.

What do you look for in a book when you sit down to read for fun?
Authors.  I have read a diverse set of books over the past few years, in part because I’ve been able to get to know the authors.

What, if anything, bugs you when you read a novel?
Incomplete endings.  I’m not talking about books that begin series.  They have an ending but leave questions for the next book and are satisfying anyway.  I’m referring to books where the ending seems to be slapped on after running out of steam.

What books have most influenced your life?
Victor Hugo’s books, The Three Musketeers, Citizen Kane, Count of Monte Cristo, all Shakespeare’s plays, and Chaucer’s Cantebury Tales.

What seven words would you use to describe yourself?
supportive, independent, father, husband, geek, patriot, Samaritan

Describe your writing space.
Comfortable seating, blankets and covers, pillows for back support, internet connection, light switch

What has been your favorite part of being an author? What has been your least favorite?
The most favorite part has been reading and listening to reviews.  The least favorite part has been all of the marketing and promo work.  But, I have done it.

I, James is the second in a series of books in a saga which will span continents and time to arrive in present day North America. Each in the series will be connected, though that connection may not be obvious for several more books. It's almost like looking at a menorah (sic). Many lines, seemingly individual, connect to center at different points.

James Crofter was ripped from his family at age 11.
Within a year the prince was a pauper in a foreign land.
Is nature stronger than nurture? And even if it is, can James find the happiness he so richly desires?


Monday, June 22, 2015

SHARON TREGENZA, THE SHIVER STONE, #giveaway, #free ebook

NOTE:  Sharon would like to send a copy of her latest book THE SHIVER STONE to one lucky commenter.  Please be sure to leave contact information so Sharon can get in touch with the winner.

BUY LINK: UK --  (Paperback and Kindle)
US --  (Paperback and Kindle)

1.     Please tell us about yourself.

Hi, I’m a British children’s author. I’ve lived in several countries and in many counties of the UK. I’m now in a converted Chapel in a village called Box near the historic city of Bath. I have a terrific family, some super friends and a neurotic dog called Reilly.
2.     What inspired you to write your first book?

I’d been writing and publishing children’s magazine stories for years but wanted to up the ante and try a book. I decided to go for the Kelpie’s Prize (a competition in the UK, for a MG book) I won. My MG Mystery “Tarantula Tide” also won a second award.

3.     Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

I learned loads: I learned NOT to leave things to the last minute. I learned (for me) plotting is a must or I quickly get bogged down. I learned I can’t work without buckets of coffee and a bag of brazil nuts.

4.     Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them?

The publisher for my last book, Firefly Press, is in Wales and as my book “The Shiver Stone” was set there it seemed an obvious choice. They’ve been a real joy to work with – enthusiastic and helpful. There’s a party coming up soon and I’ll meet their other authors in person.

5.     What are your current projects?

I recently completed a second Masters degree -- this time in Writing for Young People at Bath Spa University. The book for my dissertation, another MG Mystery called “The Jewelled Jaguar” has been taken on by an agent and will be sent to publishers. I’m also working on two more MG mysteries.

6.     What do you plan for the future?

I plan to write more MG mysteries. I love the genre -- the plotting and layering with clues and red herrings adds another dimension. They’re so much fun to do.

7.     What are your thoughts about promotion?

I know it ‘s a necessary part of being an author these days but to begin with I found it hard, embarrassing even. Now I enjoy social media, especially Facebook, and the interaction has been fun as well as useful. I’ve “met” so many interesting authors of all genres. I’m going to a convention next month to learn a little more.

How can we find you?

1.     Why do you feel qualified to write a children’s book?

As I’ve already mentioned I wrote children’s magazine stories for years so it was a natural progression to write books. Also I think my reading brain was at it’s height when I was around 12. I read compulsively and the enchantment of that time has had a huge influence on my work.
2.     Do you outline before you write?

Yes. I have cork tiles stuck on the wall of my study -- they’re numbered to represent the chapters. It gives me the freedom to juggle and jiggle scenes before I write them down.

3.     What comes first the plot or the characters?

For me, as a mystery writer, it’s the plot. It has to have twists and turns and be strong enough to carry the story. 

4.     How do you decide how your characters should look?

This is an interesting question and I’m not sure I have an answer. I do make extensive character charts and through this the physical features emerge almost on their own. Charts help me establish a character’s idiosyncrasies too.

5.     Did your books require a lot of research?

As I love the odd and unusual all my books require a lot of research. For “The Shiver Stone” I looked at ancient standing stones, fox hunting and whelk fishing. For “The Jewelled Jaguar” the book I’ve just completed – historical workhouses, sinkholes, and Aztec sacrificial knives. I do enjoy a bit of research.

What books have most influenced your life?

“The Phantom Tollbooth” -- when I first discovered words could be twisted and turned, muddled and mixed and buckled and bent out of shape – wonderfully.

“Holes” – to my mind the most perfectly constructed book for kids and YA - ever.

What seven words would you use to describe yourself?

FUNNY (Well, I think I am – others may differ)

Reviews by other children’s authors:

An unusual and original novel which hooks you in from the start. Young readers will enjoy this mysterious, lyrical adventure with a dark secret at its heart. -- Steve Voake

A heart-in-the-mouth adventure story, presided over by the mysterious Shiver Stone, with the gentle swoosh and crackle of the waves as its soundtrack. -- Sue Purkiss

Beautifully crafted, with a plot that perfectly balances family drama with mystery. The beaches of Pembrokeshire are a wonderful backdrop to adventure! -- Elen Caldecott

Review by one of Amazon’s top Children’s book reviewers:

Spirited twelve year old Carys endeavours to reveal the identity of an elusive visitor, who leaves intriguing sculptures on the beach overnight.

Yet, under the watchful eye of the Shiver Stone standing proud and mysterious on a cliff top overlooking the sea, she and her new friend, Jago, discover even more secrets and danger along the way. With an adorable Yorkshire terrier called Tia in tow – what more could anyone want!

This quickstep of a story offers a real adventure for children, there’s plenty going on from the moment you open the cover. It’s easy to conjure an instant picture in your mind of each character, which made this book a delight to read - and the ending was perfectly crafted.

An altogether great read.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Kristy Woodson Harvey, Dear Carolina

AUTHOR: Kristy Woodson Harvey
BOOK TITLE: Dear Carolina
GENRE: Women’s Fiction
PUBLISHER: Berkley/Penguin

Please tell us about yourself. 
Hi, everyone! Thanks so much for having me, Penny! I’m a wife and mom from North Carolina, and I am so excited to be a debut novelist as well! Writing is my passion, but I also love interior design, yoga, cooking, and, of course, reading!

Please tell us your latest news. 
I’m so excited because I have recently gotten a second book deal for a new novel that should be released toward the beginning of 2016.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time? 
I’m technically a full-time mom, but my son is in pre-school four mornings a week now, so those three hours are a whirlwind! I’m a design blogger, ( have an author blog, regularly contribute to Houzz, Domino magazine and The Salisbury Post, and am always working on a novel, so that time is so precious! I have a wonderful husband who usually takes over daddy duty and affords me a little writing time on the weekends. Somehow it all works out, and it’s the perfect combination of getting to pursue my passions and still spend a ton of quality time with my little guy.

When and why did you begin writing? 
I think I’ve always been writing. I remember being small and carrying around notebooks writing stories. I had my first newspaper internship when I was sixteen, and I was hooked! I went to journalism school and fully intended to be a journalist. The novel writing was a bit of a surprise, but I am totally in love with it. I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them? 
My publisher is Berkley/Penguin, and I connected with them in a really fun way! I submitted Dear Carolina to the TARA writing contest, and I won. The final judge is my now editor. My agent was crucial in connecting all the dots between the win and deal, but it seemed like such a cool way to get a book deal. It was totally unexpected!

What do you plan for the future? 
I love freelance writing, so I’d like to keep exploring opportunities there, but, mostly, I want to do everything I can to keep writing novels and getting them published. Being an author is a dream come true, and I don’t want the dream to end!

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.? 

Tell us about the current book you’re promoting. 
Dear Carolina is written from a birth mother and adoptive mother about the ways their lives change in the year after the birth of their daughter. At it’s core, though, it’s really a story about two women and how they change each other’s lives completely.

Do you outline before you write?  If not, what’s your initial process? 
No! I usually get an idea for a character and then a scene. And wherever that scene is, beginning middle or end, is where I begin. There’s a lot of shuffling chapters around after that!

What comes first: the plot or characters? 
The characters! I get the ideas for the characters and it’s like they write their own story. It’s amazing!

How long does it take to write a book, and what is your process? 
When I’m concentrating on a new work in progress, I try to be very scheduled. I write 2,000 words a day, and it usually takes me about two months to get the draft down. But that’s the easy part! Then I edit for a couple of months. Then I start a new WIP and come back to the former one a couple of months later and edit all over again. It’s so fun for it to feel like a brand new book. I’ve forgotten some things and am surprised at different points.

What are your current books out right now, and what are the books coming up for release? 
My debut, Dear Carolina, came out May 5, 2015, and my second novel will be released some time early 2016.

What advice would you give a new writer starting out? 
You have to be dedicated, determined and a little creative on the road to publication. There’s going to be rejection along the way, but that ultimate “yes” feels so amazing!

What do you look for in a book when you sit down to read for fun? 
I will read anything. But, when I can’t put it down, I know I’m loving it!

Describe your writing space. 
This topic always makes me laugh. I have this beautiful desk at our house that my husband treated me to for my birthday, overlooking the water. But, in honesty, I write in the line for preschool pickup, in the front seat of the car when my son falls asleep unexpectedly, in Starbucks, in the library, on the couch… I am so fortunate that I can pretty much write anywhere, any time. If not, there’s no way I could make this work!

Thank you so much for letting me be a part of this wonderful series! I am so excited about the release of this novel and so grateful for the help in sharing it with the world!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Kevin Hopson, The Fire King

AUTHOR: Kevin Hopson
BOOK TITLE: The Fire King
GENRE: Young adult fantasy
PUBLISHER: MuseItUp Publishing

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?

I would say part-time since I’m a stay-at-home dad and my writing comes and goes. However, when I do go into writing mode, it is very much a full-time job until I’m done with the project. Because I have a toddler at home, it can be difficult organizing my writing time. I’m most productive in the morning, when given the chance, but most of my writing has to be done at night after my son goes to bed.

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?

I love to read and watch movies. I’m also a big sports fan, particularly soccer, and enjoy spending some of my downtime with family.

What are your thoughts about promotion?

I’m not an overly-aggressive promoter, but it’s something that has to be done if you’re going to get the word out and market yourself. I like to use social media, book clubs, blog tours, contest giveaways and general word-of-mouth to promote my works.

What was the toughest criticism given to you? What was the biggest compliment? Did those change how or what you did in your next novel?

The toughest criticism probably came with my first short story, World of Ash. I have grown so much as a writer and person in the last few years, and I see many things that could be changed for the better with my earlier works. Anyway, a review site absolutely destroyed the book, citing issues with both the characters and plot. At the same time, another review site gave it a glowing review and recommended it as one of their top picks. As a result, it just goes to show that you can’t please everyone as a writer.

I always use criticism and praise as means of improving my writing. However, I have a certain style of writing, which I won’t change for anyone. It’s who I am, like it or not.

Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them?

MuseItUp Publishing is my publisher. I came across the company when they were a fledgling several years ago. I didn’t have any luck placing a couple of my short stories, so I submitted both of them to MuseItUp. They found homes with MuseItUp, and I’ve been with the company ever since.

What are your current projects?

I just finished edits on a story that’s different from anything I’ve ever written. It’s based on my personal experience with loss. More specifically, the loss of my first son, Aydin. I’ve already received a lot of positive feedback from editors and others who have read the story, which is titled Delivering Jacob. It has a little bit of everything in it…mystery, romance, crime, action, and thrills. I’m also working on edits for a prequel/spin-off to The Fire King, which touches on the early days of Modrad the dwarf.

What do you plan for the future?

I have yet to write my first full-length novel, so that’s still on my bucket list. In the meantime, I’m pretty happy writing shorter pieces, and I want to start submitting more stories for anthologies and magazines as well.

What genre do you write in and why?

I write in several genres, including dark fiction, science fiction and fantasy, and crime fiction. Though I started out writing a lot of dark fiction, I have gotten away from that genre a little bit to expand my mind and my writing. As long as there’s a good story to tell, I figure I can write in just about in genre.

What is your experience working or being around children or teens?

I have a toddler of my own along with three nieces and two nephews. I’ve also coached high school sports. Though I’m far from an expert on kids, my experiences with them have helped when it comes to writing for them. 

Do you outline before you write?  If not, what’s your initial process?

Sometimes I put stuff down on paper and other times I don’t. If I outline, I typically do it in my head, and I rarely have an entire story planned out from beginning to end. I’ve noticed that my stories can take some really interesting turns if I let them play out naturally, as opposed to outlining everything from the beginning.

What comes first: the plot or characters?

Plot almost always comes first, at least when brainstorming. This doesn’t mean I put more emphasis on plot than characters when actually writing. It just means I need an idea before thinking about which characters I want to include in a story. I’m not the type who has to build a story around characters. It’s usually the other way around with me.

What do you look for in a book when you sit down to read for fun?

A good, page-turning story. Even if a book picks up the pace later on or has a great ending, I might not read that far if it starts out slow. I want something that grabs my attention from the very beginning and doesn’t let up.  

What, if anything, bugs you when you read a novel?

Lack of editing. I can’t stand reading a story where I’m constantly being distracted by typos, bad grammar, etc. Even if the plot and/or characters are good, poor editing is enough to turn me away.

Tell us about the current book you’re promoting.

The Fire King is a young adult fantasy novella. The following is a blurb for it.

The planet Oabrora faces a perpetual winter after a human mage, Vico, causes all of the volcanos in the dragon homeland of Jifihx to erupt. Three dragon siblings—Mianth, Tulvir, and Hirador—survive the blast and set out on a journey to bring Vico to justice. However, when they cross paths with two humans, they discover a far worse enemy than Vico.