Thursday, March 31, 2011

Interview with author Alex Boles

Today, my guest is non-fiction author, Alex Boles. She's here to talk about her book, "Unwritten Letters Project."

1) Tell me a little about your book and give a short synopsis. The book I published is based off the website I created back in November of 2009 while attending Truman State University, the Unwritten Letters Project. The non-fiction book also is called “Unwritten Letters Project” and consists of more than 100 submitted letters from all across the globe. These letters have been submitted by people of all ages and consist of the deepest secrets and most intimate moments of their lives. Letters are written to people alive and deceased, pets, places of employment and even to themselves. This book is a portal into the thoughts of your neighbor, as well as people around the world, and you’d be amazed how often you can relate to these letters. It’s good to know we’re not alone.

2) What gave you the idea for this particular book? I was a junior in college at the time taking a Family Communication class. We spent a lot of time discussing how we communicated growing up, and I discovered that I chose to write down what I was feeling as a child into adolescence. I would write letters to people in my journals, hoping that getting my emotions out onto paper would give me courage or strength to speak them. In any case, writing always helped me get through rough or difficult times, and I wanted to share this method with other people and see if I was alone – turns out I wasn’t. After creating the website and realizing its success, I spoke with a publishing company about working on a book format for letters not posted on the website. The website began in April 2009, and the book was published in November 2009 with LeClere Books, LLC.

3) Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time? Although this book was primarily comprised of letters written by other people than myself, I am and have always been a writer. I have a degree in Communication from Truman State University where I worked on the newspaper for four years. I currently work as a reporter for a local online news site, so I get to write almost every week. I also write screenplays and entertainment reviews and news on another blog I maintain whenever I get the chance. So, I guess you can consider me a part-time writer. 

4) When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? I entered a writing workshop in fifth grade and won the chance to read my short stories and poetry to other participants. I had a passion for writing poetry and song lyrics from a very young age and even keep a scrapbook of what I’ve written as a child. Some of it is quite entertaining. I started writing my first novel when I was in middle school and fell in love with the power of being in charge of my characters’ fate. I love the idea of creating new story lines and characters. I have lists of stories I eventually would love to write.

5) What do you hope readers will take from your writing? I hope readers will take away a sense of knowing that no matter how alone you feel at the moment you write your letter, there is someone out there reading it and relating to you. I want people to read the Unwritten Letters Project and know that although they might not be sending the letter to the person it’s addressed to, thousands of people will share in the glory that you are brave enough to release your thoughts to the world.

6) What types of writing do you prefer, and why?  I enjoy reading paranormal, fantasy and fiction novels because I enjoy the escape and creativity that comes with each unique take on the world according to each other’s mind. I enjoy writing fiction because it has no limits. Anything my mind can create, I can write, and that is thrilling. Non-fiction is therapeutic to write, and I strongly agree with the idea that if you want to keep a memory forever, write it down. So, I encourage everyone to write their own autobiography and write a letter to yourself and the people you were with when an important event in your life happens.

7) What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it? The toughest part about being a writer definitely is finding the time to write, especially if it’s not your first profession. I’m a very impulsive person and that translates to my writing habits as well.  So if I have an idea, I tend to simply write on anything that’s around me. That way, when I do have time to write, I just get out the napkin, receipt or scrap paper I wrote on earlier and begin. Sometimes that doesn’t always go well because I’ll accidentally throw away the napkin.

8) What draws you to non-fiction writing? PostSecret is probably the closest comparison to my work with the Unwritten Letters Project. After seeing the impact other people’s stories can have on myself, as well as having the ability to submit my own if I wanted, I decided that having an interactive website displaying other people’s raw emotions would benefit others as much as it benefits me. ULP basically is a database of non-fiction short stories with another one posted every day. I am being trusted with thousands of people’s most intimate moments in their life. That is what truly attracts me to non-fiction and what keeps the Unwritten Letters Project going.

9) What kind of research did you do for this type of book? I had to research the legal implications of revealing personal information online and in book form, especially when referring to illegal actions. Allowing people to submit anything means I have been confronted with stories of rape, suicide, abuse, violence and much more. I had to do research to make sure my bases were covered, so I created the rules and regulations page outlining submission guidelines. No personal information that could allow someone to recognize anyone in the letter can be allowed, so I have full editing abilities if I feel someone could be identified. Other than that, I didn’t have to do much research.

10) What about your book makes it special? The “Unwritten Letters Project” is special and unique because there’s nothing like it on the market. There are similar products, like that of the “PostSecret” books, but none that express in detail the emotions that these letters entail. The letters are more than just a secret or regret; they are stories that let you relate to the people themselves.

11) What is your marketing plan? Seeing as I was in college at the time of publication, I couldn’t do much in the terms of marketing because I couldn’t take time away from my studies. I do as much as I can with social media and word of mouth. It really is a blessing to publish a book in the age of social media. Twitter has really helped market the project and the book. I was offered a three-city tour deal by a publicity agent on the East coast, but I couldn’t afford leaving college. Now that I have graduated, as soon as I get on my feet permanently, I will dive into a full marketing plan with a publicity agent.

12) Where can people learn more about you and your work? The Unwritten Letters Project website ( has information about me and my previous work. I also write under I am in the process of creating an author blog that will be up and running under as well. Until then, following the Unwritten Letters Project on Twitter (@UnwrittenLetter) or going to the website itself is the best way to stay up to date on all things ULP.

13) What are your views on self-publishing versus traditional publishing? I think it was best for me to self-publish because my book didn’t need much editing or guidance as a work of collaborated submissions. However, when it comes to full-length novels, I highly recommend using traditional publishing. I’ve worked for three publishing houses as an editor, and I can’t tell you how much most, if not all, authors need to go through an extensive editing process, myself included. It is always a good idea to have multiple people look at your work.

14) Do you have an agent and do you feel an agent is necessary for non-fiction? I do not have an agent as of now. I am in the works of finding one and definitely agree that having an agent for any genre is wise. Even though I have a degree in public relations, I would rather have an experienced professional guide me through the process. Representation, when done right, is always a good option.

15) Any tips for new writers hoping to write non-fiction? My advice for any writer, whether it is journalism, non-fiction, or even fiction, is to find a hole in the market. To have a successful product, there has to be a need for it commercially. Find a way to reach your target audience by appealing to a need and market it as so. With non-fiction, everyone has a story to tell, so just find the story that’s missing or hasn’t been told.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Interview with author Mark Edward Hall

 Today, my guest is Damnation Press author, Mark Hall, talking about Apocalypse Island and The Holocaust Opera.
Why don't you start with telling us a little about yourself?
What genre do you write in and why? I write mostly in the horror genre, because that’s just the way my mind works. But I also write thrillers. My upcoming novel, Apocalypse Island, is a thriller with only mild supernatural elements. It’s one of those that will keep you guessing until the very end.

Tell me about your current book which you are promoting.
My current book, due out in March, is entitled The Holocaust Opera. It is a supernatural thriller about the power of music. A young woman named Roxanne moves to New York seeking stardom and begins working with a gifted young composer named Jeremiah, who is writing a body of music that deals with the holocaust. His parents, now dead, were survivors of the holocaust and he has been drawn into their dark story in ways that he cannot understand. It is soon evident that there is something wrong with the compositions but he refuses to see it. When the evil begins to take over their lives Roxanne forces Jeremiah to see the truth that nearly destroys them. The story goes back and forth between Modern day New York and WWII Auschwitz, Poland were everything began. It is a fast-paced, no-holds-barred supernatural wild ride.

How long have you been writing?
A long time. I came to this a little later in life than most writers do. Not that I haven’t always been a writer. I started out as a song writer and wrote poetry and short stories when I was young. I still run into old friends who remember me telling them spooky tales and ask me if I’m still telling those horror stories? And I say, yup, only now I write them down. When I was eighteen I started writing a novel at my older sister’s kitchen table. I was determined to make it work. We were from a small town with lots of sinister little secrets. At least in our minds. The novel was going to be a blend of Peyton Place with some macabre elements thrown in for shock value. It never got finished and when I went in the army the manuscript got lost.

But I never lost the yearning to write novels. Years later when my wife and I settled in Richmond, Maine I decided to get on with it. I began the epic supernatural thriller, The Lost Village. It took me five years to write, working on it part time while I worked a full time job and played in my rock band on weekends. Because of its length I couldn’t get a single publisher to read it. So I published it myself. It was subsequently recommended for a Bram Stoker award and nominated for a tombstone award. It got me a lot of attention, and I began selling my short stories to magazines and anthologies. Damnation Books picked up The Lost Village and re-issued it last September.

Since then I’ve written seven more novels, four of which have been published and two or maybe even three new ones coming this year.

What got you interested in writing, and what inspired you to write your first book?
My grandmother got me interested in writing. She was a medium, a fortune teller and a great story teller, although, as far as I know, she never wrote any of them down. Her stories were always about spooky things, especially ghosts, and I loved them. I was the only grandchild who would listen so I was her audience. My first book, The Lost Village, was inspired by the town I grew up in. I always felt on some visceral level that there was something dark and dreadful at the heart of that town. I never saw any evidence of that so I made it up.
Do you outline before you write? If not, what’s your initial process?
I never outline. To me that’s too restrictive. I like to let the story and characters live and grow on the pages. I like to be surprised, and with an outline there are too few surprises. I just start with an idea, usually a simple one, like a question, such as ‘what if?’ and it grows from there. The process unfolds as I go. I have no idea how a story will turn out when I start it, but I have faith that things will come together in the end and they usually do.

What comes first: the plot or the characters?
Just the basic idea, and then I think the characters and plot develop simultaneously.

Which of your characters do you love/hate/fear/pity the most and why?
I fear, Travis Boone, the antagonist serial killer in The Lost Village because he has no soul, and a man without a soul has no conscience, so there are no limits to what he might do. I pity, Sam Cabot, the protagonist in The Haunting of Sam Cabot, because he is unaware of the chasm of insanity that he is steadily slipping into. I love both Sarah Landry, the protagonist in The Lost Village and Roxanne Templeton the protagonist in The Holocaust Opera because of their tremendous courage in the face of overwhelming odds. I don’t think I hate any of my characters. They are all fallible human beings and I have only empathy for them. Monsters populate some of my stories, but one cannot hate monsters for the things they do. They’re monsters.   

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
For me, the hardest part of writing any book is writing a good enough story and doing it in a rhythm of language that engages the reader.

Did your book require a lot of research? How long does it take to write a book for you?
The Holocaust Opera did require quite a lot of research. I went into it not really knowing much about the atrocities of the holocaust and I came away with an education. I try to make sure that the facts are straight in all my books. Fiction, of course, is the truth in the lies. And someone once said: “non-fiction doesn’t have to make sense, fiction does.” The length of time it takes me to write a book varies according to the size of the book and the complexity of the story I want to tell. Average about a year.

Describe your writing space.
A desk cluttered with papers and CDs and pens and pencils, a dictionary, a monitor and keyboard, an address book, a cup of coffee in the morning, a glass of wine in the evening.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Drink coffee and wine.

What books or authors have influenced your writing?
Clive Barker, H.P. Lovecraft, Bram Stoker, Stephen King, Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain, Anne Rice, the Bronte’s, Arthur Conan Doyle, Frank Herbert, Dan Simmons, Robert McCammon. A million more.

What so you see for the future of publishing and e-books?
I see e-books dominating the book market within five to ten years. And unlike a lot of people I think it’s a good thing. Dead tree books will never go away but e-books are the future. E-books are forever. They’ve been very good to me.

What are your current books out right now and what are the books coming up for release?
Current books: The Haunting of Sam Cabot, The Lost Village,     Servants of Darkness, The Fear, The Breath of Life, The Holocaust Opera.     New     books coming this year: Apocalypse Island, Soul Thief, and possibly: On the     Night Wind which is not finished but close.

What is your marketing plan?
Doing interviews, like this one. I haunt the blogs and message boards like Kindle Boards. I use twitter and facebook and myspace, and Goodreads and every other social network available to me. My publisher also promotes my work on their site and at conventions and we advertise in magazines such as Dark Discoveries and Morpheus Tales.

What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?
Don’t quit. If you want it bad enough you stay with it. There are no failures in writing but there are a lot of quitters.

Where can people learn more about you and your work?
Here are some links:

Monday, March 28, 2011

Interview with author Larion Wills

Today, my guest is multi-published author, Larion Wills, talking about It’s Still Tomorrow, her contemporary, paranormal, romance published through Swimming Kangaroo Books.

Why don't you start with telling us a little about yourself? What genre do you write in and why?    
Me, uninteresting, just an everyday person, wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother. Yeah, I’m an oldie but goodie. Spent my life when I wasn’t caring for home or house trying out things that sounded interesting from belly dancing to karate, ceramics to American Sign Language. Oh, yea, and creative writing. I put my first story down on paper at about, let me see now, that was a long time ago, about 22. I read a book, thought I can do a good as that, and wrote the story down the book started off in my head. Read it again a few months ago. It was awful.  As to what genre I write in, take your pick: contemporary, western, historical, fantasy, paranormal, suspense, science fiction, mystery, some all mixed up together. Oh, wait, did I mention romance?

Tell me about your current book which you are promoting.  
It’s Still Tomorrow is a perfect example of mixed up. Starting with contemporary, add some suspense, a bit of witchcraft, a foul villain, and a cat and dog that go to war in the kitchen. Yes, there’s humor, also. Sara Beth is the main character. An off the wall reporter from a cheap tabloid got angry when she refused to let him interview her. He wrote a story about her, branding her a black witch. Her cat is shot, her apartment fire bombed, and she’s fired from her job. With no job, no home, and her only source of income, unemployment, nearing an end, she has no choice but to run, blaming the craft for some of her problems and swearing she’ll never practice again. She didn’t want the house, feeling Charlie should never have left it to her, and was determined to stick it out in the unfinished place until she at least got a job. When Dem arrived, the contractor already hired, already paid, and with all the materials, already bought, in storage, she changed her mind. She changed her mind again when the evil that followed threatened Dem. Her enemy learned that all the reporter wrote about her wasn’t lies.

How long have you been writing?   
Do I really have to answer that? Like I said, it’s was a long time ago, but I didn’t seriously attempt to publish my closet full of manuscripts until about five years ago.

What got you interested in writing, and what inspired you to write your first book?   
I’ve always been a story teller, way back as a child, though the only one I told them to was me. I got turned off on the thought of writing in high school, took an English class I didn’t like, but once I did start writing the stories down, except for breaks to contend with the rest of my life, I’ve written every since.

Do you outline before you write? If not, what’s your initial process?  
No outlines. A story starts in my head. When I have a pretty good idea, usually a few days later, of a start, middle and finish, I start writing, pen and paper.

What comes first: the plot or the characters?  
Sometimes one, sometimes the other, but most often I’d say character. I’m a people watcher, whether it’s when I’m out somewhere or watching the TV. I don’t actually think the words ‘what if’ but my mind starts with changing what I see, playing out how it would be if the scene, as in time, place, circumstances, was different.

Which of your characters do you love/hate/fear/pity the most and why?  
I’ll pick pity out of those four. I always feel sorry for the ones who don’t know how to love, don’t appreciate the things they have for making themselves miserable over the things they don’t, who dwell in the negative, never seeing the humor in just living day to day.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?  
Once I’ve got it handwritten, the hardest, and most time consuming, for me is getting it typed into the computer in a comprehensible form that someone else can read. I’d type it straight in, saving myself that headache, but the words don’t seem to flow for me like they do with a pen in my hand. Suppose it has something to do with the left side/right side of the brain? Or maybe just being old fashion, although I’d fight you tooth and nail for my computer.

Did your book require a lot of research? How long does it take to write a book for you? 
It’s Still Tomorrow didn’t take much research. Some of the things I mentioned ‘trying out’ was studying herbal remedies and metaphysics so I had some background knowledge. I’d read books on modern witchcraft—not Wicca—as well so with a little brushing up on facts, I had what I needed. In Evil Reflections, one of my earlier witching stories, the book I had my character reading from was patterned after one I had picked up to read. Yeah, that stuff fascinates me.

Describe your writing space.  
First draft writing time is sitting on my couch with the notebook and pen. When I get into typing the story in and editing, it’s laptop time. I used to have my own space, off in a room by muself, but my husband got tired of feeling like he lived here alone.

What are your current books out right now and what are the books coming up for
It’s Still Tomorrow, A Gallows Waited, Twisted Wind, Little Sam’s Angel, Evil Reflections, Mourning Meadow, Looking Glass Portal, and The Knowing all available at Swimming Kangaroo Books:
Coming up through 2011, White Savage, Chase, and Tarbet, and 2012, Traps, and Mark of the Sire all through Muse It Up Publishing:

Where can people learn more about you and your work? 
I love to have people visit my website,  I social network on facebook, and welcome new friends  I also have a blog, with followers invited, and through the month of March I’m having a Jimmy Thomas covers marathon with blurbs and excerpts by the authors from all the books as well as a drawing at the end of the month for a Jimmy Thomas 2011 calendar. When I’m not having a special promo of some kind, I post all manner of things, a ‘what you see is what you get’ Last Oct it was a series of a wedding posts and pictures, mine, celebrating our 50th anniversary with a renewal of our vows. Boy was that fun. Yes, I said that tongue in cheek. The preacher had the date wrong in his calendar. They had to hunt him down, and everything started over an hour late, but even still it was an experience I will always treasure.
It’s Still Tomorrow

Blurb: Fired from her job, her apartment firebombed, and her small amount of money dwindling too quickly, Sarah ran. Knowing that the terror would follow, she took the only refuge available to her, an unfinished house she’d inherited. She didn’t know she would also inherit a long legged hunk of good looking man that would set off every buried desire she’d ever had. Her vow to never practice witchcraft again ended when the terror threatened Dem. Her enemies learned that like vicious dogs, they should have let the sleeping witch lie.

“Poor little city girl, my ass,” he said aloud to make Boot tip his head to look inquiringly at him. “That booby trap is ingenious, Boot. Whoever is harassing her is in for one hell of a surprise. I think we’ll just do some watching tonight. I deserve to see him get it after getting caught in it.”
The more he thought of it, the better he liked the idea. He was just going to watch, not get involved. Well, a little involved. The next time she called the sheriff, she would have a witness, but that was all. He would not get any more involved than that. About one thirty that morning he doubted the sanity in even that much involvement. He shifted his weight, moving yet another rock on the hillside biting into his ass, and wondered what the hell he was doing. The prowler wasn’t going to show until she went to bed, and she wasn’t showing any signs of doing that anytime soon. Every light in the house was on, including those in the bedrooms she wasn’t using.
“Unless,” he mused aloud, rubbing Boot’s neck, “she’s sleeping with the lights on.”
Boot flopped, stretching out along Dem’s leg. Dem grimaced and eased the knee away from the weight. Three surgeries later and the knee still wasn’t right, never would be again. Too many ligaments had been torn too badly to ever be completely repaired. He had to learn to live with the limp, the pain, and the sometimes-sudden collapsing of his leg. None of that was what he was thinking of when he had settled down earlier on the hillside to watch. Nor was it then, not for long. Thinking of her sleeping with the lights on, afraid to turn them off, bothered him.
She didn’t show any fear, but knowing someone was prowling around, not knowing who or, from the way she acted, why or if the guy was just building up courage to do more had to be scaring her and had nothing to do with city versus country living. Maybe she was just good at hiding her fear, and there was that thing she did with her fingers all the time. Some kind of nervous habit? Nervousness, he wondered, brought on by the fear she hid?
Before he completely realized what he was doing, Dem was making his way as quietly as possible down the hill. When he was low enough to see through the back windows, he sucked in his breath. On top of a table he had never seen before was the ice chest, telling him she had been busy after he left. She stood on top of the ice chest stretching up to reach the vaulted ceiling with a broom. The strong lights had turned the shirt she wore to the consistency of gauze, and any doubts he may have had as to her figure were quickly put to rest. She was perfectly silhouetted from mounds of breasts to flat tummy, and when she turned he saw the sensuous curves of waist and hips disappearing into low-riding jeans.
Dem had a totally unexpected and embarrassing reaction. He groaned softly with one of the fastest erections he had ever experienced in his life and felt like a low-life Peeping Tom. He wasn’t, however, given opportunity to dwell on his predicament. Boot tensed beside him and started shifting anxiously.
“Get him,” Dem commanded, sending Boot in pursuit, worried over what could happen to her if the lights went out while she was up on the pyramid.
The lights did go out before Boot could get there, but Dem, following at a slower pace by necessity, was just in time to intercept her when she burst out the door with a flashlight in hand. She heard him coming, swung to face him, and shined the light right into his eyes, blinding him.
He kept moving. “Put that out,” he ordered, colliding with her. “And get back inside.”
The light went out, but she didn’t move to go inside or anywhere else. She vaulted into his arms when the screams started.
“Boot’s got him,” he told her.
“Wouldn’t hurt a flea?” she asked calmly, despite the fact that she clung to him.
“Those were your words, not mine. He’s a K-9.”
Her voice wasn’t quite as calm as before. “He’s an attack dog?”
“No—shhhh.” The screaming stopped and an engine started. Dem let out one shrill whistle followed by three short at the same time the engine gunned. “Can you hear him?” he asked anxiously.
She shook free of his arms. “He’s an attack dog?”
“He would never attack without my order.”
Sara quickly backed through the door into the house. “You’re a cop?”
“Was,” he answered in relief when he could hear Boot coming. “Give me the light and I’ll get your power back on.”
She too heard Boot returning and turned the light back on to see him. She stretched her arm to full length, barely holding onto the light to give herself maximum distance between herself and Dem as Boot settled as his feet.
“He would never hurt you,” Dem told her.
“Even if I strangled you?”
“For what?” he asked with a start.
“For scaring the hell out of me!” she retorted and slammed the door shut.
“Ungrateful…” he grumbled through clenched teeth. One thing he did not have to worry about: He had lost his erection when he started running, and it wasn’t likely to come back. She was the most aggravating woman in the world.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Are You Mastering Grammar Yet? By Beth Ann Erickson

Are You Mastering Grammar Yet?
By Beth Ann Erickson

Every now and again I receive an e-mail informing me that a number
of the articles on the website are not
grammatically correct.

As helpful as these e-mail writers are, I'm once again compelled to
mention this: the writer's job is to not write a grammatically
correct sentence, the writer's job is to communicate.

Let me explain: 

I memorized a good number of grammar rules while working on my
communications degree at St. Cloud State.  Strunk, White and I
became good buddies.
However, despite my marvelous education, after I graduated, I had a
LOT of trouble landing copywriting assignments -- and when I did
get them, the clients weren't particularly happy with the results.
So, I hired a personal copywriting coach -- a professional
copywriter who's sold millions of dollars worth of products and
services through the mail.  He also holds a PhD in English. He
asked me to e-mail samples of my best writing so he could get a
taste of my style.

After spending a good part of a week separating the "flawless"
samples from the mere "excellent" ones, I whipped together an
e-mail, attached the appropriate documents, then waited for his

When it arrived, I wasn't prepared for his response: "I can tell
you'll be an excellent writer because you write great e-mails. The
rest of your writing sucks, but your e-mail text is perfect."

Boy. Talk about a deflating experience.

He went on to say, "Forget everything you learned about grammar,
language usage, and sentence structure.  Your writing doesn't
communicate.  It's too perfect.  You need to speak the language of
your reader... just like you do in your e-mails.  If you don't speak
directly to your reader -- and do it EVERY time you write -- you
won't be an effective copywriter.  Period."

So I began my illustrious copywriting career pretending everything
I wrote was going to be included in an e-mail.
After spending considerable time perfecting a conversational tone
in everything I wrote, my writing career really took off. Articles
started selling. I found a home for my novels. Copywriting
assignments started flowing in.

Although it pained me to break grammar rules, I now find it
liberating to know I have the freedom to effectively communicate a
message without wondering if I should allow a participle to dangle. 
So do I occasionally break grammar rules?  Yup.  Will I continue to
break them?  Yup.
Walking the fine line between creating effective communication and
grammatically correct word usage is always an interesting battle,
with effective communication winning more often than not.

But don't take my word for it.
This week, take a good listen to the conversations taking place
around you.  Try to replicate -- in writing -- what you've
heard. You're about to transcribe some interesting phrases!

After you've done this, "capture their language" by writing
something that would persuade those same people to do something you
want them to do -- whether you're hoping to get them to read one of
your articles, purchase something you're selling, or buy a product
a client has hired you to promote.
It's an interesting exercise, one that hopefully illustrates the
notion that writing that effectively communicates is almost always
more powerful than grammatically correct, perfect sentences.  When
you speak the language of your reader, you'll be able to capture
and hold their interest.  When you capture and hold your reader's
interest, that's when truly effective communication takes place.

And isn't that the goal of almost every writer?


Beth Ann Erickson is the Queen Bee of Filbert Publishing, author of
nine titles, editor of Writing Etc., and dog lover. She likes her
family, too.
You can check out her latest three volume set here:
This article is courtesy of Filbert Publishing. Make your writing
sparkle, write killer queries, get published. Subscribe to Writing
Etc., the free e-mag for freelancers and receive the e-book "Power

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Twenty Essential Irish Authors

Today, I'd like to share a list complied by Online Colleges and Universities Blog at


20 Essential Irish Authors

Ireland's ancient background, volatile history and cultural milieu unsurprisingly render it a fertile tract where creativity and insight thrive. The tiny nation's literary canon overflows with some of the world's most haunting and provocative works — many of which have already earned a coveted spot on thousands of syllabi. Not to mention some of the most prestigious writing awards of all time! While not a comprehensive list by any means, anyone hoping to explore Irish literature should certainly consider these hugely talented, influential (and sometimes very provocative) names as a very solid start.
  1. Samuel Beckett: One of Ireland's most celebrated playwrights earned a Nobel Prize for his distinguished literary accomplishments in 1969. Though his oeuvre runneth over with modernist masterpieces such as Krapp's Last Tape, Beckett's most known for the delightfully absurd, provocative Waiting for Godot. Even Sesame Street poked gentle fun at the beautifully nonsensical classic.
  2. Brendan Behan: This highly controversial playwright's involvement with the Irish Republican Army not-so-surprisingly imbued his works with a decidedly political bent — and one can easily glean where he stood on many issues. Both The Quare Fellow and The Hostage mercilessly satirized Irish politics, particularly executions, and the struggle to recapture Northern Ireland. Most of his works, including the novel Borstal Boy, pulled from his own life, and he even wrote in the Irish language as well as English.
  3. Seathrún Céitinn (Geoffrey Keating): Roman Catholicism left an indelible mark on Irish history and culture, and the priest (more commonly known by the Anglicized "Geoffrey Keating") pulled from this background to deliver his influential text. Published around 1634, Foras Feasa ar –irann compiled poetry, church literature, history, oral tradition and pseudohistory together into one interesting treatise on Ireland's past. It may not have been the most accurate work on the planet, but still provides a neat glimpse into the country's lush history and cultural memes.
  4. Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill: Also known as "Dark" Eileen O'Connell, this eloquent poet penned passionate, lush works protesting The Troubles. The most famous being Caoineadh Ó Laoghaire. Written in Irish, it memorializes the 1773 murder of her husband Art Ó Laoghaire and cries out against the British politician responsible. Such raw emotion sparked other writers (not to mention the citizenry) to challenge their colonizers.
  5. Anne Enright: Enright's illustrious career comes fraught with numerous awards and recognitions, the most illustrious being the 2007 Booker Prize. Most of her novels, most notably The Gathering, The Wig My Father Wore and What Are You Like?, revolve around heavy themes of feminism, family sex and — of course — Irish politics and culture. Beyond the books, she has also published numerous short stories, essays and articles as well.
  6. Lady Augusta Gregory: The Irish Literary Revival of the 19th and 20th Centuries hinged largely upon the painstaking efforts and overwhelming talent of Isabella Augusta, Lady Gregory — especially when it came to establishing the Irish Literary Theatre and the Abbey Theatre. Herself a playwright, this proud, strong nationalist also made a name for herself as a consummate chronicler of Ireland's bountiful folklore. Anyone even tangentially aware of traditional Celtic tales will recognize names such as Cuchulain, whose depiction by Gregory earned a glowing W.B. Yeats forward.
  7. Seamus Heaney: Former Harvard and Oxford Professor of Poetry Heaney's litany of honors includes the T.S. Eliot Prize, two Whitbread Prizes, the Nobel Prize in Literature and title of Commandeur de le'Ordre des Arts et Lettres. His distinguished career encompasses poetry, prose and plays alike, but it is the first that garners him the most recognition. Beyond his creative prolificacy, the essential author also translates Irish language works into English.
  8. James Joyce: Few (if any!) Irish writers boast the distinction of having an entire holiday revolving around their works. Bloomsday, celebrated every June 16th, brings Joyce's seminal modernist masterpiece to life through performances, lectures and strolls around Dublin hitting major points in the book — as well as The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Even individuals largely unfamiliar with Irish literature recognize his name and overarching pop culture influence.
  9. Sheridan Le Fanu: Forget those sparkly home invaders leading an entire generation of teenage girls to find abuse sexy. 1872's Carmilla, one of the first vampire novels, completely revolutionized Gothic horror a full quarter-century before Bram Stoker's Dracula scuttled along. Contemporary readers preferring mysteries with a dash of the altogether ooky over fanged femme fatales may want to try picking up Uncle Silas instead.
  10. Frank McCourt: Pulitzer and National Book Critics Circle Award winner Angela's Ashes introduced the world to Limerick's horrific squalor and poverty, which earned author Frank McCourt a right fair amount of scorn from his mother's native city. 'Tis and Teacher Man followed, both of which reflected different stages of his life's narrative.
  11. Dáibhí Ó Bruadair: Active in the 17th Century, — Bruadair captured the nation's then-current cultural and political upheaval in his native tongue. History, religion, societal norms, economic hierarchies and more all filtered into this essential poet's oeuvre, which also includes elegies and epithalmia. His works grew increasingly bitterer until Ó Bruadair met his tragic, penniless end, and D'Aithle Na Bhfileadh continues as one of the era's most evocative, accurate poems.
  12. Gofraidh Fionn Ó Dálaigh: This medieval poet and Chief Ollam of Ireland attended a summit held by King Uilliam Buide O'Ceallaigh honoring the nation's top academic and creative minds. He penned Filidh –ireann go haointeach to praise the momentous occasion, but his entire body of work stretches much further than that and encompasses many more Irish themes. He actually hailed from a particularly poetic family, too.
  13. Sean O'Casey: Because of his socialist leaning, one of the country's most fiercely patriotic playwrights and memoirists dedicated much of his talents to the working class plight. His "Dublin Trilogy," consisting of the plays The Shadow of a Gunman, Juno and the Paycock and The Plough and the Stars, remain some of Ireland's most popular performances. As with others involved in the Irish Literary Revival, O'Casey found his works promoted and nurtured by Lady Gregory and her Abbey Theatre.
  14. Eoghan Rua Ó Súilleabháin Eoghan Rua's poetry is considered some of the best ever penned in the Irish language, if not the last of its kind by the late 18th Century. He provides literary aficionados with some of the greatest examples of the aisling subgenre, which utilized oneiric female imagery to symbolize Ireland's political and social struggles. Interestingly enough, though, most of his works ended up published posthumously.
  15. Bram Stoker: Not everyone knows the name Bram Stoker, but his immortal creation Dracula continues to permeate and influence "Western" (and sometimes "Eastern") pop culture. Beyond his most famous work, the author furthered the Gothic horror genre with The Lair of the White Worm and other tales of the macabre. Hardly surprising, considering his association with Sheridan La Fanu, the owner of the newspaper for whom he penned theatre reviews.
  16. Jonathan Swift: Gulliver's Travels proved itself an enduring addition to the literary canon, but from a broader perspective he stands as one of the English language's greatest satirists. If not one of the all-time best. Few writers but Swift could so deftly discuss the complexities of selling and eating Irish babies to the point people actually question whether or not he genuinely meant it.
  17. John Millington Synge: J.M. Synge co-founded the Abbey Theatre along with Lady Gregory, and he used the venue as a springboard to launching his own playwriting career. Beyond that particular medium, though, he also excelled at poetry, prose and folklore — though most people tend to emphasize his dramatic works. Especially considering how The Playboy of the Western World incited riots at its premiere.
  18. Colm Toibin: Literary critics, professionals and fans have decorated this prestigious Princeton lecturer with an impressive litany of honors and awards. Homosexual identity and Irish politics and culture typify his body of work, as do stories of peoples abroad. In February 2011, University of Manchester named him Martin Amis' successor to their professor of creative writing position.
  19. Oscar Wilde: Like Jonathan Swift before him, Oscar Wilde enjoyed a reputation as one of Ireland's most gifted wits. Although he lent his considerable, enviable literary talents to a wide variety of formats, the majority know him for poetry and plays — most famously Salome and The Importance of Being Earnest. Wilde's only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, left an especially hearty impact on popular culture.
  20. William Butler Yeats: Another pillar of the Irish Literary Revival, W.B. Yeats made a name for himself as both a playwright and a poet, though the latter remains the most popular facet of his works. Both the author and his wife Georgie held an interest in the occult, with many relevant themes and techniques (including automatic writing) explored as his career progressed. The Celtic Twilight especially reflects this. A blend of poetry and prose, it infused traditional Irish tales and beliefs in with broader supernatural elements.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Interview with Damnation Press author, Lincoln Crisler

Today, my guest is Damnation Press author, Lincoln Crisler.

1) Tell me a little about your book.
WILD is a western/detective story with zombies and black magic thrown into the mix. It's based loosely on the unsolved disappearance of Colonel Albert Jennings Fountain. It's my first novella, and I wrote it while deployed to Qatar last year.

2) What gave you the idea for this particular story?
I offered my Facebook fans and friends a choice between a western/horror/Sherlock Holmes-esque story and something else. They chose the former. Colonel Fountain's disappearance fell around the time of Sherlock Holmes, and I fell in love with the idea, even though the final product is pretty far from being anything like Holmes!

3) Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I'm a part time writer. My main occupation is as a Staff Sergeant in the US Army and my wife and I run a Virtual Assistant business together on the side. As I'm sure you can imagine, organizing my writing time means writing when I can! I can't really set a schedule and count on sticking to it, but if I can squeeze some writing or promotional work into my lunch break, I do my best. Otherwise, I just have to grab it when I can in the evenings. I'm on the computer a lot.  I'm pretty sure my wife's going to leave me for an Amish man if I'm not famous in five years.

4) When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
Always. When I was a little kid, I was published a few times in school magazines. In high school, I wrote for and edited a community newspaper with a circulation of 10,000 copies monthly, which led to an internship at the city paper. While I was there I became the only intern to publish an article in the paper with a byline like a paid reporter. I wrote one of the stories in my first published collection, DESPAIRS & DELIGHTS, when I was in high school.

5) What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
I hope my readers are entertained, more than anything else. If someone can come home from work, get the kids in bed, pour a glass of whiskey and have fun reading about cowboys shooting zombies, I've done my job. Some of my short stories might make you think a bit. I want readers to pick me up like they would a good movie, and for pretty much the same reasons.

6) Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?
Most of what I write is dark, be it straight horror, science fiction or fantasy. I'm half-done with a novelette that would be most appropriately termed a 'thriller.' I have two novels on the back burner; one is horror and the other is mainstream. I just enjoy writing. If a story grabs me by the short hairs and doesn't let go, I'm not terribly concerned with the genre it falls into. As long as it's good!

7) What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
Being patient with editors, publishers, artists. I broke myself of it real quick by actually putting together an anthology while deployed to Afghanistan in 2007. After reading slush, sending out rejections and submissions, laying out the pages and working with a cover artist, I had a lot more appreciation for everyone else's time constraints.

8) Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.
In 1896, Colonel Albert Jennings Fountain and his son disappeared in New Mexico. He was on his way back from assisting in the prosecution of some criminals, so it wasn't too hard to put things together. The authorities couldn't pin anything to the most likely suspects, and they never found any bodies. After reading about the case (which you can do at, if you're interested!), I knew the answers had to be zombies and a black magician. Nothing else makes sense when you examine the facts. Or something.

9) How much is your protagonist like you? How different?
Matt Jacoby is logical and carries a gun; we have those things in common. Unlike me, he's confident enough to ride out into the desert with the leader of an outlaw gang. I'd have just shot that joker in the face and cut my losses!

10) What kind of research did you do for this type of story?
For starters, the Wikipedia article I mentioned earlier. I also lived in the area in which the story takes place for three years, while stationed at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. That's about it, other than the occasional bit of Spanish.

11) Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you? Why or why not?
No way. Anything necessary to the logical progression of a story, I'm fine with. I don't typically write the most gruesome depictions possible, mind you, but I don't cheat my readers, either. I'm not going to lie, though; sometimes it's a fine line, and you can't please everyone!

12) What about your book makes it special?
WILD is special because it's my first novella; not first published, but first ever. That's got to count for something. I wrote it while deployed with the Army; not every reader can say they have something like that on their shelves. If that wasn't enough, I've produced a lettered hardcover edition to go with the Damnation Books digital and paperback versions. The limited features a painted cover by Tom Erb, interior illustrations by Ash Arceneaux and an exclusive introduction and bonus short story.

13) What is your marketing plan?
Work my ass off.

Really, though; I'm running a blog tour throughout the month of March and I have a spreadsheet loaded with reviewers that probably have an ARC on their hard drive or shelf at this very moment. I'll probably run a couple of contests in April or May. At the end of April I'll be at World Horror in Austin, Texas, kissing hands and shaking babies. And there'll be a few more convention appearances throughout the year.

14) Where can people learn more about you and your work?
My website is For those who'd like to stay up to date without having to visit the site all the time, I have separate RSS feeds for my complete blog and my book reviews, and I also have a newsletter. Subscribers to the newsletter have been known to receive advance excerpts from projects, sneak peeks at art, free fiction and the like. It's a pretty good deal.

15) Any tips for new writers hoping to write in the genre of your book?
Don't run with scissors. And don't be impatient. You'll shoot yourself in the foot. Promise from me to you.

Lincoln Crisler's debut novella, WILD, is due in March from Damnation Books. He has also authored a pair of short story collections, Magick & Misery (2009, Black Bed Sheet) and Despairs & Delights (2008, Arctic Wolf). A United States Army combat veteran and non-commissioned officer, Lincoln lives in Augusta, Georgia with his wife and two of his three children. You can visit his website at

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Interview with children's author Ruth Musgrave

 (copyright National Geographic Used with permission)

Today, I'm talking with children's author Ruth Musgrave, who recently released her National Geographic kids book.

1) Tell me a little about your book and give a short synopsis.
National Geographic Kids Everything Sharks is a fun, in-depth look at sharks for 10-14 year olds (or anyone interested in sharks). Besides page after page of gorgeous photographs, the text provides a real look at how amazingly cool sharks are, introduces information often overlooked in other shark books, and shows sharks as they really are: cool, misunderstood, ocean animals that get a bad rap! And that bad rap is leading to their extinction.

2) What gave you the idea for this particular book?
It’s part of a series. I was asked to write the book.

3) Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I write full-time, am the director of WhaleTimes a nonprofit marine science organization, and a stay-at-home mom…no wonder that by 8 p.m. I’m out of steam!  However, all three are the best, most rewarding jobs in the world, so I can’t complain.

4) When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
My writing career sort of snuck up on me. I had to write and create things for a job I had, but never considered myself a writer. Because it was a completely different path than I had ever thought about, once I realized I liked writing it took a while to figure out how to make it a career.

5) What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
For National Geographic Kids Everything Sharks, I hope readers discover a love, fascination, and empathy for sharks that leads them to want to protect them. One way is by participating in Fintastic Friday: Giving Sharks a Voice. It’s an annual celebration for kids that was created because of what I discovered writing the book. As I researched ways kids could help save the plummeting shark populations I found out there was nothing they could do. I felt helpless not being able to offer them something tangible to do—and knew they’d feel helpless, too. I talked to the WhaleTimes Board of Directors and we all agreed we should – and could do something. Just as the ‘save the whales’ mantra in the 1960-70s lead to protective measures for whales, we hope Fintastic Friday saves the sharks!

6) What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
I’m sure it’s the same for all writers, but once you finish one project you’re all stoked and confident. At that moment, it almost seems as if it was easy getting to the end product. But, the moment you start the next project it’s back to square one and the uphill writing challenge starts again. That’s what makes writing both the frustrating and exciting. 

7) What draws you to non-fiction writing?
I love animals and find science fascinating. It is a fun challenge to take something technical or high level and make it easy to understand and interesting for kids. 

8) What kind of research did you do for this type of book?
Since I’ve been teaching and writing about sharks for a long time I had a bit of a head start, but I still spent weeks and weeks reading and reviewing all kinds of scientific journals and books. I also corresponded with various experts to be sure my interpretation of information was accurate.

9) What about your book makes it special?
National Geographic always produces stunningly beautiful books and magazines. The collection of photographs in National Geographic Kids Everything Sharks is the most extraordinary I’ve ever seen. There are photos of sharks most people have never seen or even heard about. The layout of the book is equally appealing and inviting. And, the book is filled with information and topics most books for kids (or adults) never discuss, yet it’s the kind of stuff that makes sharks even more amazing. For example, most people will be surprised to learn that many sharks are bioluminescent – they glow-in-the-dark!

10) Do you have an agent and do you feel an agent is necessary for non-fiction?
No. For what I do, an agent would not be helpful at this time.

11) Any tips for new writers hoping to write non-fiction?
Writing nonfiction is no easier than writing fiction. Misinformed or misguided writers and editors like to say that it is, but it’s not. Good writing is good writing and it takes skill, practice, and hard work. If you want to write fiction, then write fiction. You will not become a better fiction writer by creating poorly written nonfiction – I say poorly written because if your heart isn’t in it, it cannot be your best work.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Interview with Muse Author, Ginger Simpson

Today, my guest is MuseItUp author, Ginger Simpson.  Ms. Simpson writes in a number of different genres including children's and romance.  Today, we're talking about her recently released tween novel, Shortcomings.

Please tell me how long you've been writing, and why you decided to become a writer.
 I’ve always like writing, even if only composing a business letter or our yearly Christmas letter.  I started my debut novel, Prairie Peace, on a whim.  The character started talking, I started typing, and with the help of an editor, we turned a story into a novel.

Are you a full-time writer or a part-time writer, and how do you organize your writing time?
 I don’t consider that I’m full-time, although I do spend a lot of time on the computer.  It’s not just writing that takes time, but promoting, marketing, interacting with peers, blogging.  I write “around” other obligations.  If I can steal away to the computer, you’ll find me there.

What influences your writing? 
Life.  There’s a touch of me and past experiences in every book I’ve written…or at least a reflection of my passions.

Is this your first published work?  What other types of writing have you done?
As the old commercial used to say, “You’ve come a long way, baby.”  Since 2003, I’ve published eight full-length novels and seven novellas.  I have more work contracted for 2011.  Writing a young adult novel was imminent since I’ve dabbled in most genres.  I have to say it was much easier than I expected since I really got in touch with my inner child.

Why did you choose to write a children's story?
As with all my other stories, Shortcomings was dictated by my heroine Cindy.  I never plan what I’m going to write.  In fact, I never know where or how my stories end until I get there.  Cindy had a story to share and I did the typing. 

What was the process of creating this book from the first idea to the final published book?
I kept putting this one on the back burner because most publishers stopped taking YA submissions for a time.  After completing my last historical, which really is my passion, I started listening to Cindy again.  The story flowed very well, and before long I finished.  Muse It Up Publishing advertised that they welcomed YA stories, so I submitted, was offered a contract and hopefully the rest will be pleasant history.  Did I mention that I had a terrific line editor?

What are your thoughts on traditional versus self-publishing?
Until this year, I’ve steered clear of anything that had to do with self-publishing.  When I started in this industry ten years ago, the belief was that anyone who self-pubbed didn’t possess writing skills enough to land a contract.  With the swing of interest toward ebooks, a growing number of authors self-publish every day, and I believe the main reason is to cut out the middleman.  There are still those people out there that can’t get a contract, but there are also some very talented people offered through the various self-publishing venues.  I plan to self-publish my next novel.

What is your marketing strategy?
You can’t sell what people don’t know about.  Clearly, a lot of promotion leads to more successful marketing.  It’s always good to find your target audience so you aren’t spinning your wheels.  The secret is finding where they hide.

What are your thoughts about children's writers needing an agent or not needing one?
Before reading interests shifted to ebooks, I suppose agents played a more important role in getting contracts for those writing children’s books.  I’m sure the $$$ issue also played a factor for some deciding to stick to their guns and pursue representation.  At the Internet level, you don’t need an agent to get signed, but then again you don’t get the notoriety and advance that comes with bigger deals.  For me, writing has never been about the money, and it’s a good thing.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing?
I’m ever present on the web.  I maintain my own site at and I also have a blog at  I have to admit that I’m shifting my energy to appearing on blogs and buying spotlight time over adding one more excerpt to the never ending scroll that appears on most yahoo groups.

Do you have any tips for writers who are new to children's literature?
Remember your audience.  Use words, phrases and descriptions that readers of your target age will understand and enjoy. 

Please give us a brief synopsis about your current book and when and where it will be available.

Shortcomings will be released March 1, 2011 by Muse It Up Publishing (

Our shortcomings don't define who we are, unless we let them. Cindy Johnson needs to learn that. Born with one leg shorter than the other, she has no self-esteem because of the cruel comments and cold stares she receives from her classmates.  When Cory Neil, the football quarterback asks her to Homecoming, she's quite sure he's asked her on a dare and refuses.  It takes more than just her mother's assurances that Cindy's beautiful before she realizes she may have made a mistake in turning Cory down.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Interview with author J E Cammon

Today, my guest is speculative fiction author J. E. Cammon, discussing Where Shadows Lie - Bay City.

1) Tell me a little about your book.
The book is set in a city not unlike Baltimore, Maryland, and centers around the uneasy friendship that develops between three characters from metaphorically different worlds. Each is my take on an archetypal supernatural figure, and the conflict between them is the same thing that serves as a kind of bonding agent: they’re different than mundane folk and have nowhere else to turn. The question becomes: is their being different enough from normal people enough to create lasting connectivity between them?

2) What gave you the idea for this particular story?
In the very, very beginning of this project, I had just finished watching shows in the vein of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Supernatural, and at its onset, the concept was my comprehensive take on the paranormal situation, top to bottom (vampires, demons, gods etc.). In addition to that context though, the story was also about the kinds of things that test friendships and what friendships even are, really.

3) Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
At this point, I’m a part-time writer, because it doesn’t pay any of my bills. I organize my writing time by treating it like a full time job, though, because that is my goal. I consider any time that I’m outlining, researching, writing, or editing as part of the time I need to spend to be a professional at the craft, so in a given week I try very hard to work enough that I feel productive. For long projects like novels, I try to do whatever it takes to complete a draft in a few months, and then spend at least half that time refining things.

4) When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve been in love with stories, telling them and hearing them, for as long as I can remember. When I was a child, I asked my parents a million questions; I walked around making sound effects, imagining myself hurtling through action sequences (sometimes in public). But thinking back, I first recognized my want of being a writer in my early years in college. I played video games with my roommate and friends, and spent more time coming up with exposition that fit into the game settings than I did actually playing the games. What’s more, I used my notebooks for class more for stories than I did for notes.

5) What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
I try to put a lot into my writing, because it’s a way for me, personally, to throw questions out into the aether, but if the only thing my readers get out of my writing is a good read, I’m more than ecstatic.

6) Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?
I write fantasy and science fiction. Generally, I prefer science fiction because it lets me expand on something that exists in our world already. Speculative fiction can lead one to a variety of places, from horror to creative non-fiction, from alternative reality, historical fiction and beyond simply by asking “What if?” So, I really enjoy sci fi because of the endless possibilities; I’m not constrained by something as inconsequential as “Oh, well that couldn’t happen.”

7) What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
I can’t speak for other writers, but for me personally, the toughest part is dealing with the outside perspective. In American society, a great deal of a person’s worth is determined by their “success”  which translates to how much money they make. And it’s a blessing to get positive feedback from family and friends, but at the end of the day, in the most practical terms, its hard to turn that positive feedback into bare necessities. So, it becomes difficult to convince others, and eventually oneself, that what one is doing isn’t a hobby, that one is not a writer, but a teacher or a dentist or a carpenter that just happens to write. So, I guess the toughest part about being a writer for me is just being a writer.

8) How much is your protagonist like you? How different?
I base my protagonists on perspectives and ideologies, and not really people. However, some of them do have questions at the centers of their beings that I have at the center of mine. Answering those questions becomes their driving sentiments, much like answering questions is a driving sentiment of mine. So I guess they are simultaneously very different and very similar to me in that they desperately want what they want, but we differ in what we’re prepared to do to get it.

9) What kind of research did you do for this type of story?
I researched mythology of myth and legend, not just where certain stories come from, but why stories result from strange phenomenon at all.

10) Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you? Why or why not?
It does not. Stories are about experience, often times the human experience, which at its most dramatic is violent and at its most real is passionate. I’m not bothered by, or opposed to, putting them into my stories so long as there’s some narrative purpose for them being there. I usually don’t put in so much detail that it becomes the focus of things, but enough I think to capture the scene’s aggression or the characters’ feelings.

11) What about your book makes it special?
I think one of the things that makes my book special is it doesn’t leave anything out. In the paranormal realm, by the story’s end, it will have made room for everything or created a means to figure out how things got a certain way. One of my goals was not to leave any holes. One type of monster, of condition, informs questions of another and sometimes in some stories, one is acknowledged while another sort of falls by the wayside. I tried to be comprehensive, while keeping it compelling and believable.

12) What is your marketing plan?
Honestly, I was hoping to do a good number of interviews like this one with people like yourself reviewing my book and letting the work stand on its honest laurels. I’ll also be utilizing other technologies, networking engines and such.

13) Where can people learn more about you and your work?
They can go to my website,, which links to the blog of my day to day musings and quandaries.

15) Any tips for new writers hoping to write in the genre of your book?
I’ve met a fair amount of other writers that I think have forgotten the most important thing, which ought to occur before the networking (which is very important) and the promoting (which is also necessary) and that is the writing. Do the work: which applies to any writer of any profession and not just mine. It’s the best way to get better, and the only way to have a reason to network and create those pieces to promote.

Where Shadows Lie – Bay City
Brief Synopsis

Where Shadows Lie: Bay City is the first in a series of novels that
investigates the supernatural from the perspective of all those who
dwell in it: denizens of the partially hidden other world just around
the next corner. Things go bump in the night, of course, but the
rational crutch of the every mind is to ignore these sounds, these
thoughts, as fantastical, even insane. Thus, this story involves the
virtually unexplainable blurs of the choice few. The work most directly
involves an uneasy friendship between a lycanthrope estranged from his
family, David, an African-American vampire from the pre-Civil War era,
Jarvis, and a sorcerer in training who is responsible for the initial
plot’s inception, Nick. The setting is Bay City, an eastern US seaport
with a dark history and a hidden face. The story begins on the eve of
David and Nick’s meeting, and continues through a series of
misadventures that strains the characters’ alliances..

The world of Where Shadows Lie seeks to take advantage of the phenomenon
of a universe where every monstrous legend in human history is brought
to the forefront and exposed as myth, reality or a combination of both.
The cast of the characters could be similar to most seen in recent
movies or books, but generally only on the surface. Later, the story
seeks to capitalize on a fresh twist to each of the various afflictions,
diseases, and curses that result tragically in these monsters. Many of
the supporting characters belong to the genre as well, and all serve to
directly or indirectly undermine what each of the main characters must
do to survive as themselves, or reclaim their lost humanity, or find
their best place in the world. This first book is a portrait of one
brief period where the three main characters are together, but as the
story moves along it exposes their destinations as vastly similar, and
they will be carried forward into their own books later, with limited

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Interview with author P. L. Parker

Today, my guest is P.L. Parker who talks about not one, but two new releases, Absolution and Into the Savage Dawn.

1) Tell me a little about your book.
Actually, I have two releases coming soon, Absolution from Eternal Press and Into the Savage Dawn (sequel to Riley’s Journey) coming from Willow Moon Publishing.   Absolution is a novel about a half-vampire, Chloe, and her struggles to survive in modern times.  Into the Savage Dawn is the continuing saga of the time travelers thrust back 40,000 years into the Ice Age.  This one deals with the little tracker, Geena.

2) What gave you the idea for this particular story?
As to both, I love paranormal, especially time travel.  Riley’s Journey originated after I watched the Discovery Channel about the discovery of the frozen mummy, Oetzi, in the Alps.

I read vampire stories and have always wanted to try my hand at that genre.  I love reading them so it was a good choice.

3) Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
Part-time writer.  I work full time and my breaks are spent writing.  By the end of the week, I usually have 4 to 5 pages of single-spaced writing which I e-mail home to be added to my current manuscript.

4) When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I have always been a story teller and my husband kept telling me to write my stories down.  So one day he went out and bought a computer and told me to get started.  This was in 2006.  I wrote Fiona that year and subsequently sold it to The Wild Rose Press in December of that year.

5) What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
Enjoyment.  Memories.

6) Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?
Paranormal romance.  I love paranormal, both light and dark, and no matter what I write, it generally veers toward paranormal somewhere along the way.

7) What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
Managing my time.  Between work, writing, promo, and keeping my house in order, there just doesn’t seem to be much time for relaxation.  I’ve gotten into a schedule of only an hour at night on the computer and then I’m done.  Time to put it all away and let my mind rest.

8) Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.
I always try to put something into my stories that is fact-based.  Fiona was based on the discovery of the Urumchi Mummies.  Riley’s Journey and Into the Savage Dawn had a bit in there about the discovery of the ancient woman in Oregon.  Aimee’s Locket was based on the Oregon Trail and since I grew up and live in Idaho, there is tons of fact-based material in there.   As to Absolution,  little harder for this one.  But I did a lot of research  for the time period 1387 – 1450 and added what historical facts I could that fit within the parameters of the story.

9) How much is your protagonist like you? How different?
LOL.  About the only comparison I can give is female – and I use a lot of my own personal humor.

10) What kind of research did you do for this type of story?
Into the Savage Dawn – researched animals of the late Ice Age, taking into consideration the climatology at the time,  the existence of Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal occupying the earth at the same time, what tools the primitives might have had, etc., anything that would have bearing on daily survival.

Absolution – I researched the time period of 1387 – 1450 in England as well as France where Chloe is ultimately entombed.  Kings and Queens reigning at the time, language, clothing, etc.

11) Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you? Why or why not?

Sometimes, especially if one of my sons is looking over my shoulder (they are all adult).

12) What is your marketing plan?
I advertise on The Romance Studio’s site quite frequently.  I have had ads in Romance Sells and through Romantic Times Book Reviews.  I advertise as I can afford.  I also blog as much as possible, send out flyers, business cards, that sort of thing.  Little tip, I buy cheap little notebooks from Oriental Marketing and print out stickers with my cover art on them and give out.  That way, any time someone uses the notebook, they see my books.

13) Where can people learn more about you and your work?
My website –
My blog –
Facebook – P. L. Parker
Video for Absolutions -

14) Any tips for new writers hoping to write in the genre of your book?

General tip – write with passion.

Into the Savage Dawn:

Sent back 40,000 years to the ends of the last great Ice Age, the time travelers embark on a journey of survival and discovery.
    The brutal and cannibalistic, the Cro-Magnons discover the small band and attack.  Forced to flee from their high mountain encampment, the tribe heads into the dawn, towards the Pacific Ocean and their dream of ultimately reaching North America.
    Geena and Micah are left behind to lead the Cros away from the escaping tribe.  When he is killed, she finds herself terribly alone.  Severely injured and without hope or resources, she nonetheless is determined to survive and find the people.
    Survival of the fittest - that is the law of primordial earth.


The ancient tomb, rested in the heart of the French Vosges Mountains.  The over-eager research assistants had no inkling of the events they’d unwittingly unleashed when they found and released the young half-vampire--Chloe!
    Zaccarius, greatest of all the Slayers, is sent by the Council of Nine to seek out Chloe, determine her worth and, if necessary, render justice.  Enticed by the purity and goodness of Chloe’s mind, he becomes her protector.
“I came for you.”
“To kill me?” she asked, her voice breaking tremulously.
He laughed, a husky wisp of humor.  “No, little one.  Had that been my purpose, I would not be standing here.”
    Zaccarius falls beneath the army of the Dark Master, Jochad, and to stay the death of her lover, Chloe allows herself to be taken.  Ancient and dying, Jochad needs Chloe’s blood to reanimate-her blood in exchange for Zaccarius’ life.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Interview with author Christopher Hoare

Today, I'm chatting with Christopher Hoare author of the fantasy novel, Rast.

1) Tell me a little about your book.
Rast is a fantasy and will be my fifth novel published. The story takes place in an entirely new scenario that I class with high fantasy to distinguish from much of the modern writing that has magical happenings in an otherwise stock medieval world. The events happen while the reigning sorcerer king of Rast is being destroyed by rebelling magic and, simultaneously, while the land is invaded by a materialist adventurer looking to add it to his nation's empire. The novel has magic, but it's not a handy parlour trick, it's a deadly force that must be ruled. The clash with the invader is a reversal of the usual conquering hero defeating the savages – the savages are the imperialists, and Rast is the supposed backward land they expect to conquer.

2) What gave you the idea for this particular story?
Actually it was meeting a classic Gothic story that I felt barely deserved its reputation – with apologies to fans of the Gormenghast trilogy. I thought I should tackle the story of a young prince who has real problems to fight against and not something of his own making. I guess I'm not a fan of Gothic.

3) Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
Before I retired, my busiest season was the winter and so I wrote mostly in the summer while things were quieter. Now, I can write full time – except that keeping up with the needs of promoting my work seems to require more of my time than oil exploration ever did.

4) When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
Forever? In  my teens I delivered papers for both of the newsagents in town – this in Southern England – and we sorted the London and local papers in the lending library rooms they had in the back of their buildings. I guess seeing all the novels on the racks every day made me want to have my work among them.

5) What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
I'm a life-long contrarian and so I hope my readers will find a fresh viewpoint looking at things from the other side. I intend that they enjoy a good read in the process.

6) Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?
Four of my published novels are somewhat SF, set in an alternate earth location and blending modern technology with swordfights and sailing ships. Those stories also look closely at the sociology of the plot as well as the action. Rast is my only fantasy at the moment, although I have written speculative fiction featuring human powers that some might consider magical, in a contemporary setting. I think I prefer building my own worlds, from my lifetime experiences and my wide reading of history, to having to fit my concepts into a modern world where everyone thinks they know what's going on better than I do.

7) What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
Finding the right company to publish the work has to be the most time consuming and frustrating. I have two publishers now and while I value them both I still want to find others who will impel me into developing new perspectives. I will loyally stick with the publishers who want more of my present stories, but for my wilder plans I need new inputs. Actually, what I mostly tend to find are people who think, “this is not what we're looking for.”

8) Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.
Rast may be fantasy but it is linked to my experiences. The geography of the story travels through much of my life -- comprising mountains, foothills, and prairies where I now live; the sea coast where I was raised; and the desert and sebkhet (salt marshes) where I worked in the N. African oilpatch. The people of Rast are something like desert Arabs and something like Plains Indians. The militarist, invading Offrangs grew out of my military service in my youth, while the tenor of the protagonists, Rast's leaders, are from a distant world of chivalry – now long lost. The land of Rast is a disparate but living one.

9) How much is your protagonist like you? How different?
My male and female protagonists undertake different missions as they work together to save Rast. I'm not sure how much Jady reflects my 'female side,' nor how much of the introverted and cautious Prince Egon is in my 'male.' One big difference is that they are very much characters at peace with their environment while I am always the outsider, looking for ways to change it.

10) What kind of research did you do for this type of story?
I started writing Rast in my early sixties, so I can claim a lifetime of research has gone into it. I do carry out specific research for other projects. For example, my latest unfinished novel is closely connected with the contemporary world's wars and war machinery. It has had to have chapters revised several times as news and new articles have released information previously kept secret. I'm quite sure much of its research will be out of date by the time it's published.

11) Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you? Why or why not?
I've done some violent scenes that have 'creeped out' reviewers. They are never gratuitously violent – but necessary to bring the readers into the scenario or to understand the personality of a character. Highly sexual scenes the same way, are written to make a point in the story. The nearest Rast comes to a sexually explicit scene is when a human female is absorbed into cavern-dwelling magical creature; definitely a different kind of seduction.

12) What about your book makes it special?
I like to think all my books are special, but Rast is a new byway in the wandering progression of fantasy. If enough readers agree that it covers ground that was formerly missed it could lead to a new destination on the fictional journey.

13) What is your marketing plan?
I think I found the best publisher, MuseItUp Publishing, for Rast's entry into the world. The readers who gather here will be part of a larger web of exploring minds attracted to the lively and original authors who are my companions. Rast's promotion is to be entirely online at first and in its short life, Muse has established itself as a node in the online promotion business. As many reviews as possible, as many interviews and guest blogs as will have me, visits to all the sites where readers gather, some contests and some giveaways, and perhaps I'll do the same as I did to promote my new website – -- a free download of a new story.

14) Where can people learn more about you and your work?
The website mentioned above, my blog
and older blog at that I keep up less regularly. My author page at Double Dragon and my Muse author site at

15) Any tips for new writers hoping to write in the genre of your book?
Fantasy is a huge canvas, but I'd advise the same for it as any other. Don't try to hop onto the current bandwagon because a new writer will find the journey from first draft to publication a much longer one than they expect, and the train will probably have left by the time your new fantasy novel reaches the station.

Synopsis of Rast:

RAST is a kingdom that depends upon the magic of its reigning sorcerer-king, the DROGAR, for its existence. This magic has the role of evil servant in this mysterious land, devious as well as deadly in the variety of forms it may take. While a Drogar has his vigor and strength, this presents few problems, but as the tireless magic gradually wears down his life-force, so the power of its minions waxes. As the novel opens, the reigning Drogar is losing his control over the magic – within a short time it will burst from its bounds to destroy him and everything in his vicinity.

PRINCE EGON is the heir, unsure if he is ready and capable of mastering the magic forces to succeed his father. The old Drogar has provided aids to help him test his ability and he uses these to investigate the threats that inevitably gather in this interregnum. His sweetheart, JADY, is the Soulingas, Guardian of the Silent Forest ever since her father and brothers were killed in an ambush in the forest by the part-human KRACHINS. The last instruction of the old Drogar sends her to the evil DEEPNING POOLS to carry out the family Soule’s age-old duty – preventing the sacrifice which will allow the magic alliance of Deepning and Krachins.

The NORTH FOLK, who blindly follow the edicts of their Casket of Scrolls, stir and allow the magic to send them like a mindless tidal wave across the borders into Rast. The PYTHIAN, another magic-connected creature, lives beneath the palace of Rast providing oracles and valuable advice in times of power, but is not necessarily trustworthy in these end-times. Even PRINCESS AGATHA sent from Easderly to become Egon’s consort – since only Rast’s and Easderly’s lines may mate to produce a Drogon’s heir – is not untouched by the magic tendrils in the very air.

The most dangerous enemy is not impelled by magic – indeed the OFFRANGS do not believe in it – but is the adventurer, COMMANDER ANTAR, who arrives on the coast in his steam galleys to conquer or loot the kingdom. Driven by the need for burning stone to fuel their iron foundries, Antar and his soldiers arrive on a quest of empire. He has heard of the mission of Princess Agatha and resolves to capture her as either hostage or ransom. His need for a guide to point out a path through the mountains for his steam-powered walking land transporters seems answered when a young Mountlander is captured.

The Mountlander is actually Prince Egon in disguise, who came to the coast to spy on the invaders and fell into their power when his inexpert use of magic against the iron bolt of the Offrangs’ Fire Spitter rendered him unconscious. The two enemies set out together for Rast along a route Egon has never before seen and while Antar constantly threatens him with death for failure, Egon slowly gains strength in magic to overcome the powerlessness that proximity to iron induces in him.

With no Prince in the palace, Rast’s captains do their best to prepare to resist the oncoming hoard of North Folk while keeping a quarantine around the location of the doomed Drogar. Jady, incensed by a quarrel with Egon when he tells her he has no choice but to accept the Princess from the East, sets out to meet the Easderly caravansi and challenge the newcomer for Egon’s affections. Jady is torn by fury and hatred – she wants to destroy the Princess, but duty restrains her. She decides to lead the caravansi within the danger zone around Deepning . . . fate will decide which woman shall become Egon’s bride.

Egon guides the three land transporters through the mountains but then chooses a night encampment in the path of the North Folk to defeat his enemies without resorting to deadly magic. One transporter is overwhelmed but the ones carrying Antar and himself escape and are separated in the confusion. He uses magic shape-shifting to impersonate Antar and so uses the smaller transporter for his own conveyance to gather his forces. Antar travels south away from the North Folk where he intercepts and attacks the Princess’ caravansi in the desert of Skeletal.

Because of a vow to the dying captain of the escort, Jady now takes on the duty of rescuing the Princess. She and the child GAMELIN, the Princess’ young brother, attempt to get ahead of Antar as his transporter travels across the SEBKET, the treacherous salt marsh, but her paths all come to dead-ends. The transporter becomes hopelessly bogged, and as Antar investigates the Princess’s palanquin that night a casket containing a love spell is burst open and both are bewitched. Now lovers, the two enemies ally to capture Jady as either guide or hostage to secure a path through Rast back to Antar’s ships.

Jady, with the aid of a desert djin and the survivor of the ruffians sent by LADY GUSTON (Egon’s mother) to kill her, manage to escape Antar’s ambush. She and Gamelin are too late, however, to prevent their enemies from coming under the power of Deepning’s siren spells and attempting to climb the mountain to be absorbed into the magic pools. Ordering the Gamelin to remain behind she sets out to attack Deepning and use its magic fury to alert Egon to the peril.

Egon has gathered his mounted forces and is attacking the horde of North Folk. He sees the tiny figures of his father and GRANDFATHER SOULE in the distance, making for the casket. He leads his young men to clear a path for them, and as some careless hand strikes down the old Drogar, the magic is freed from control. Egon uses the moment to seize the magic for himself, and while a huge magic-induced volcanic eruption destroys the old men and everything near them, he takes wing on the magic SOAR to fly to Deepning.

Now wielding the full power of drogar magic, Egon destroy’s the Deepning’s minions and blasts the mountain slopes into rubble to bury the pools forever. He rescues Jady and the Gamelin who had attempted to fight Deepning themselves and lands on a new tower he has built by magic at the top of the precipice that Antar, Agatha, and the Offrang party are climbing. Confronting Antar he learns that Agatha is no longer acceptable to wed – she may already be pregnant. They fight, and an intervention of the child reveals that the Gamelin has the power to one day become a Drogar. If Egon adopts him as his heir, he and Jady can marry. He wishes to enslave the Offrang, but Jady sees a worse fate – releasing Antar and Agatha at the coast to live out their bewitched love in OFFRAN – surely a marriage made in Hell.