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This was the basis for how magic works in my world. To make something happen you have to be able to imagine it with such clarity and focus that it comes in to being. I then imagined a world where this creativity was banned, or at least tightly controlled. Those two ideas fed everything else in the novel. 

Luke Brady – 19 May 2018

The Back Flap

Perin is about to graduate from the Great Academy of Caramine. It is his school and only home he has ever known.

He discovers he has the potential for great power and suddenly finds himself a fugitive on the run.

His only hope for safety is aboard a creaky old galleon with a crew of elderly misfits, determined to return Caramine to its former glory by overthrowing the Evil Committee of rulers. They believe Perin and his newfound powers are the key. He is not so sure.

Through hidden mysteries, magical duels and epic naval battles we discover who will prove themselves to be the true Sorcerers of Caramine.

About the book

What is the book about?

That’s a tough question to answer in a concise form. Let’s see…Essentially, The Sorcerers of Caramine is about a young man, raised in an oppressive society who finds himself on the run with a group of eccentric elderly pirates. It contains lots of magic, naval battles, duels and discovery.

When did you start writing the book?

I started writing in April 2016

How long did it take you to write it?

I used the NaNoWriMo format of writing a certain number of words a day, but I increased the number of words and assigned each day a chapter. I made it in the 30 days, but it them took a further two years to edit, edit again, professionally edit, sort beta readers, typeset, investigate publishing options etc etc! It finally made it into people’s hands on April 15 this year.

Where did you get the idea from?

I worked in Arts education in some form for about 10 years. During that time, I struggled, and saw students struggle with, the balance between sustaining their passion and creativity with the rigors of formal education. The answer was always a varied and inspirational teacher who could strike that balance.

This was the basis for how magic works in my world. To make something happen you have to be able to imagine it with such clarity and focus that it comes in to being. I then imagined a world where this creativity was banned, or at least tightly controlled. Those two ideas fed everything else in the novel.

Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?

Action sequences were hard to describe with variety. Geography and names were the hardest part of world building. Writing in such a concentrated space of time also made pacing the passage of time difficult.

What came easily?

I had a very clear idea of the characters and their voices, so conversation came easier than I expected.

Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?

This is a hard one again! The easy answer is Yes but more in terms of character traits with the volume turned up than entire people I have met. I hope that they are different enough and in a fantasy setting that no one will point to a character and say “Hey, That’s Me!” My girlfriend and my Brother know my mind and the way it works better than I do, so they figured it out pretty quickly!

We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?

I don’t think there is any fantasy author in their 30’s that hasn’t been influenced by the likes of JK Rowling and George R.R Martin. I’m also a fan of Michael Dobbs, (writer of the House of Cards Books,) Gregory Maguire, (writer of Wicked), and Jasper Fforde, (writer of the Eyre Affair).

I think I have learned things from each author. Rowling showed with her character development through her books that no one is as simple as they first seem. Martin shows how death happens and has tangible consequences to the story. Dobbs shows us the power of quiet sinister conversation can be just as dramatic as broad action sequences. Maguire shows the dark mirror against the seemingly perfect world. Fforde has created a world of complete and utter absurdity that I love and shows that you shouldn’t be afraid to fight against convention.

Since completing the book I have started to read a lot of Stephen King. If he has taught me anything, it’s that keeping reality in your characters can be incredibly powerful.

Do you have a target reader?

I started out thinking it was a young adult novel, and I think this is probably where it has stayed. There is certainly nothing in the novel you won’t be able to let your 12-year-old kid read and understand. That being said, adults have read this book and really enjoyed it. So I’d like to think it’s for everyone.

About Writing

Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?

I followed the NaNoWriMo process of writing a certain amount each day. I aimed for 3000 words rather than 1500 and did it in April rather than November.

Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?

Yes! In order to follow the NaNoWriMo format, I split my story up into thirty chapters so that I could aim for one chapter a day. I wrote one or two sentences about what would happen in the chapter and then used the Chapter before as an entry point and the chapter afterwards as an end point. I found that breaking it down like that avoided writers block because aiming for 3000 words allowed for 1000 words for reaction and consequences to the previous chapter, 1000 words of development and ‘new info’ and then 1000 words to get your characters where you need them for the next chapter.

Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?

Definitely after the first draft was completed! Editing does not require the same flow or momentum as writing. If I had gone backwards to edit as I went I don’t think I would ever have finished.

Did you hire a professional editor?

Yes. I used Silverwood Books based in Southern England. They offer the full suit of publishing services but I only used them for their editing and I can’t say I had a complaint in how they did this.

Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?

The job that I had in the Creative Arts was a musician for dance schools. I don’t think I could get through any given afternoon without music. I tried to select music or background activity that had some bearing on the scene I was writing. I listened to soundtracks to movies that had similar themes. Swashbuckling themes were written to John William’s Hook soundtrack or Hans Zimmer’s Pirates of the Caribbean. Magical scenes were written to the Harry Potter Soundtracks or Game of Thrones. Although not music, I think I may be unique in writing action sequences with professional wrestling playing in the background. I found it gave the correct energy for confrontation!

About Publishing

Did you submit your work to Agents?

A few, but not with great hopes or expectations. The chances of success seemed extremely low and would take a long time if they were.

What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?

I read a great deal about the different publishing options and liked the idea of doing it myself so that I could maintain control over the look, release date, marketing etc. As a musician with indie album production experience, I was comfortable that I could manage this project in a similar way.

Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?

I engaged a professional illustrator, Tone Julskjaer, to do the artwork for the cover, the map inside and some concept artwork for all of the principal characters. She has produced amazing stuff!

Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?

The plan up to release was all well planned and thought out. Setting up the public profile as well as organising a good launch event. This has all done really well and I’m very happy with it. Moving forward I have the audiobook version release in May, (being recorded by Youtube Sensation Team Starkid’s Brian Holden.) Beyond that, I am in the process of booking tables at Sci-Fi and Fantasy Conventions or Comic-Cons around the UK to promote and sell the book. This should give me an annual calendar of events that I can reuse for subsequent novels as well as help me populate a mailing list.

Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?

Simply put….Just Do It! Read a lot, both fiction and industry articles and advice but come up with the process that works for you.

About You

Where did you grow up?

Dundee, Scotland!

Where do you live now?

Still there, though I love to travel.

What would you like readers to know about you?

I love people! Some artists get inspiration from scenery, history or events. I live for interacting with people!

What are you working on now?

There will be a second novel in the series. I have plotted it out in a similar way to the first. I’m waiting till this book is up and running in all its formats and my calendar is set for the year before working out when I’m going to dive back in to Caramine. It won’t be long though, because I can’t wait!

End of Interview:

For more from Luke, visit his website and like his Facebook page.

Get your copy of The Sorcerers of Caramine from Amazon US or Amazon UK.

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I wanted the novel to be historically accurate, however, it developed into a fictionalized version of what happened, how I felt, who I met, and remains in every way true to those components.

Alfred Cool – 11 May 2018

The Back Flap

A silent world war began in Canada’s Arctic.

A good-humored, if rebellious, adventure seeker, I took a summer job in a remote mining camp on Great Bear Lake. We were supposed to be mining for silver, but I found myself transported instead to the center of my nation’s uranium lie.

Well, I was having none of that!

This is a page from the story of Canada’s nuclear gambling addiction, our ground zero– Port Radium, NWT.

About the book

What is the book about?

This book is about the origins of uranium mining in Canada and the coverups, the lies, the corruption, what I call “the Canadian uranium lie.” But this story is also about the men and women who worked in the uranium mines unaware of the sacrifice to their health they were making. I also wanted to bring the humour and day-to-day struggles of isolation to my readers, so they could experience the same feelings we felt in that camp.

When did you start writing the book?

This is my 3rd iteration. I began writing this book in 2014.

How long did it take you to write it?

I began thinking about this novel in 1975 and have been doing so ever since, so it is fair to say that the conception has been decades long and the practical writing side 3 years.

Where did you get the idea from?

This novel is somewhat autobiographical, which I think lends credibility to the story, so my inspiration comes from having had my boots on the ground in the mining camp.

Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?

Yes. I wanted the novel to be historically accurate, however, it developed into a fictionalized version of what happened, how I felt, who I met, and remains in every way true to those components. I debated with myself about allowing the novel to traverse across genres, fiction-to-nonfiction if you will, but I am happy with the outcome.

What came easily?

Developing true to life sketches of the people I met came naturally.

Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?

I have borrowed from real people, but in this novel, there are also composite characters and a couple of fictitious characters, and one nasty wolverine.

We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?

I admire the American romantics, Poe & Hawthorne, but I am a fan of Steinbeck, Sinclair Lewis, poets from Charles Olsen to Albert Huffstickler, a horde of Canadian writers (Mowatt, Moodie, Burton, Laurence, Atwood, Richler, Cohen), most British comedic writers in general, and am a student of Robert McKee. I read and reread the classics and dabble in some modern mystery reading, but when I want to drift off I read outdoorsy stuff about sailing, mountaineering, that sort of thing.

Do you have a target reader?

Yes, anyone who has gone to sleep about nuclear power or believes nuclear power is safe and that we Canadians or any other nation can safely dispose of nuclear waste.

About Writing

Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?

The first edition is for me; I often type with my eyes closed and visualize the scenes as I write them. When the landscape and characters, story and conflicts are developed, I want my characters to be free and am curious to see where they take me. After that version, reality sets in, and it’s edit, edit, edit until I feel it is a product, I hope still alive with inspiration, that I can send to my professional editor and then my proofreader.

Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?

I outline only by chapter titles; they sometimes change but not as often as one would think. During the process of honing my story and writing skills (expressing emotions), I’ve found the work flows after I have established the narrator’s voice, but no part of this gig is easy. After the first version is complete, I have been known to flesh out the chapter titles with a few key events to ensure the scenes and chapters ring true and contain the conflict to deliver the impact I intended.

Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?

I blast out the first copy and then edit voraciously. I am savage with my editing and search each scene for the perfect time to not say something or say the opposite or drop hints and carry the correct meaning. It is difficult to do. I have to trust my readers.

Did you hire a professional editor?

All my novels are edited by a professional. It is a necessary step in the process. I am also inclined to use a proofreader. I edit my own work extensively but find that I cannot stop writing when it is only an editor that is required. The proofreader is the penultimate step to publishing. And I cheat at the game.

Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?

Writing … no. I want silence while I work. But thinking about the characters, yes, music helps me sometimes to find deeper emotional soup which helps me as a reference when I want to write love/humour/sadness/anger/outrage into the passages.

About Publishing

Did you submit your work to Agents?

Yes, many, a few years ago, but I stopped. I had a few nibbles but nothing concrete came back.

What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?

Indie has always appealed to me – I do have freedom from word count pressure, story line pressure, reader targeting pressure, that sort of thing, and I get to write for me and produce for my readers what I feel is my best, original, from the gut work.

Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?

Myself, so far, but that may change, too.

Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?

I have a solid marketing plan that has room for inspiration and serendipity. My marketer and I strategize every couple of weeks to ensure we are taking advantage of any momentum generated by our process and to expand my readership. Marketing is a work in progress, perhaps by definition, that affords me time to write without too many of those necessary for sales and exposure distractions.

Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?

Be professional, work every day (the pros do), finish every sentence properly, get at it and stay at it because this is not easy. Enjoy some part of every day and find a way to get that into your writing. Write whatever makes you laugh or cry or angry or happy. Believe that rejections are only a single step on this right of passage. Don’t be afraid to experiment with form and style and genre, and don’t worry so much about branding – read to others, be kind, generate beta readers (not family – we love them, and they love us and that’s too close!), know that to succeed in this endeavor, you will have to work very hard. Grow thick skin and believe in yourself.

About You

Where did you grow up?

BC, rural Vancouver Island and then Vancouver.

Where do you live now?

Nanaimo BC

What would you like readers to know about you?

I care about them and think about them all the time. I try to put them in the seat beside the main characters, so they feel and see what I am writing as well as what the characters feel and see. The best is yet to come.

What are you working on now?

I plan to publish two more novels by summer’s end 2018. The first, A YA novella, The Silver Glove, is set in the late 60s. It is about coming of age in a difficult time in life and in the world and living in a dysfunctional family. Studying history helps us not repeat, so I thought it important that the timeline is dated but still within reach. I also pay homage to the Golden Age of amateur boxing in BC. In the end, the reader is left with the question, which I won’t answer here, why and how to carry on? The second novel is an action thriller in its 4th iteration, The LA Project (and the 2nd, titled Distraction, and a 3rd in the series in development). I hope it will raise our consciousness about nuclear waste and reach a younger, wider audience. It is set currently and explores the phenomena of conspiracy theories. It’s a global romp that is action packed, has a romance theme, and peels back layers of deceit, exposing the corruption surrounding nuclear waste disposal and the impact of corporations and corrupt politics in our lives. Then it’s on to a murder mystery series set in BC, which, as of this date, is not yet titled.

End of Interview:

For more from Alfred, visit his website and like his Facebook page.

Get your copy of The Hottest Place on Earth from Amazon US or Amazon UK.

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I was standing in my dorm elevator panicking because I needed a story for my fiction workshop the next day and the one I slaved over for a week felt way too personal to share with a group of mostly strangers. I banged out this story in about two hours and, ironically, I think today it’s far more personal than that other story ever was. 

Melanie Moyer – 11 May 2018

About the book

What is the book about?

In short, it’s a coming-of-age story told from the point of view of an imaginary friend. It’s about a teenager going through a formative time in her life and how the figments in our brains might feel about the things we do.

When did you start writing the book?

The very first version of this book existed back in 2013 when I wrote a short story in my Intermediate Fiction Workshop in college. I didn’t really touch it after that until 2015 when I decided to sit down and make something of it.

How long did it take you to write it?

If we don’t count the few months back in 2013 when I was toying with it as a short story, I took about 4-5 months to write the first draft. After that it was another 4 months of editing and workshopping before I started shopping it. During the year it took me to get it picked up by a publisher I was pretty regularly editing it.

Where did you get the idea from?

I was standing in my dorm elevator panicking because I needed a story for my fiction workshop the next day and the one I slaved over for a week felt way too personal to share with a group of mostly strangers. I banged out this story in about two hours and, ironically, I think today it’s far more personal than that other story ever was.

Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?

I struggled with an actual story beyond the concept. The short story version was just a snippet, basically a little window of emotion on the idea of an imaginary friend being left behind. In order to make it an entire book, I needed an actual story and that took a few years to really think about.

What came easily?

Dialogue has always come easy to me. But that can be an issue when I don’t know when to stop the dialogue and get back to the story.

Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?

Everyone’s characters have a bit of their life in them. The characters are characters, but they’ve also all got aspects of me in them. One or two events they go through come from real life experiences and maybe an inside joke or two.

We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?

Harper Lee has been a huge aspiration of a writer for me and one day I hope I’ll write something good enough that I can effectively claim her as an inspiration. Beyond that, I’m influenced in various other genres by Stephen King, Jane Espensen, and Margaret Atwood.

Do you have a target reader?

It’s a YA book so tweens and teens are the ones who might find the most immediately in common with this book. But we’ve all been teenagers. We’ve all lost someone. We’ve all had moments of panic while trying to figure ourselves out. We’ve all had little bouts of existential crises. So, I think anyone can get something out of this if they’re open to it.

About Writing

Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?

I am for 1,000 words a day at least. Most of my writing happens in the morning. It’s a pre-day ritual basically. Before I do anything else I make coffee and write or edit something.

Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?

I try to outline vaguely, using the monomyth structure or even Dan Harmon’s story circle. Sometimes I outline chapter by chapter if I’m stuck. I also scribble ideas throughout the day when I’m away from computer and keep a running document of stuff I want to include so I don’t forget.

Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?

I get a good chunk of it done, maybe about 20k words, and then go back and edit that just to give myself some breathing and thinking room and to make sure I’m not overly married to an ending that isn’t working in practice. After that I usually just write until the end and then give it a few months or so before I got back and start really editing. Distance is the key to perspective with editing.

Did you hire a professional editor?

I shamelessly exploit my friends for editing.

Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?

I make playlists for everything I write. It’s also a good timing mechanism since I’ll try to write until the playlist runs out. The playlists are made up of music that spoke to me about the stories or characters so there’s never a set type of music that goes into them.

About Publishing

Did you submit your work to Agents?

I did. I chased agents for about a year, got some great feedback, but ultimately it was taking too long. I’d like to have an agent in the future, but the process of it seems to favor the agent and the publisher, over the author, in my opinion. There are some agents out there I talked to who were great and truly cared about the story and the works of their clients. But many were not and a lot of the interviews I was reading while doing research on agents had me frustrated with how very business-first it seemed. I understand they’re the first level of filter between audiences and the slush pile, but it’s frustrating to have the future of your work hinging on the opinion of a few.

What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?

For many of the reasons above. I decided to try for indie publishers that accepted submissions without a middle man. I ended up having two indie publishers contact me with offers but I, obviously, went with Waterton for a variety of reasons.

Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?

The cover was commissioned by the publisher, done professionally. The only thing I really contributed to that design was the starry background you see. Everything else was all from the designer and the publisher.

Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?

My market plan is to wing it. Kind of. I’ve got a book launch in the works and another signing event. I’ve got my eye on some other brick and mortar places to try and get into hands. We’ve got some reviews coming in (hopefully positive) and some magazine ads we’re running as well as an audio ad. That’s one of the biggest things you get back with indie, the freedom. While inheriting a huge platform certainly makes the job easier on authors going through a Big 5 publisher, I’m having fun with the ideas we’re tossing around to try and get the word out.

Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?

Don’t gun for dollar signs. Being young and forced to work a day job is rough when all you want to do is write, but hang onto to that freedom as long as possible. You may find the indie writing scene isn’t for you and you want that traditional route, but you need to give yourself the chance to explore all options. If you can be passionate enough to write an entire book, then you’re passionate enough to see it through on the marketing side of things.

About You

Where did you grow up?

A few places. I’ve lived in Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Orlando, and Toronto.

Where do you live now?

Philadelphia.

What would you like readers to know about you?

Hopefully it’s all in the things I write.

What are you working on now?

Some short stories, one of which was recently published in Ghost Parachute’s March 2018 issue. I’m editing a 77k sci-fi new adult novel that I’ve got next in the pipeline and brainstorming a future modern fantasy middle grade series. People can keep up with it on my Twitter (@MelMoy) my Instagram (MelMoy) and my website (www.melaniemoyer.squarespace.com).

End of Interview:

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First, edit, edit, edit then edit some more. 

Lauren1 – 9 May 2018

About Reviewing

How did you get started?

I have always enjoyed reading and writing. My New Year’s resolution this year was to document the books I read by writing and posting reviews on my website. Several relatives have begun reviewing with me.

How do you review a book? Is it a read first, and then make notes, or do you make notes as you go along?

 I make notes as I read.

What are you looking for?

It may sound strange, but I don’t actually “look” for anything. I go with the flow of the story and when I happen upon something irregular, I make a notation.

If a book has a great plot, great characters, but the grammar is less than perfect, how do you deal with that?

I always take one star away if grammar errors are more than 10. I believe a story is marred by grammar issues.

How long does it take you to get through, say, an eighty thousand-word book?

That’s a tricky question because if the book is in my genre wheelhouse I won’t be able to put it down. I’ve whipped through that many pages in a day and a half. It’s not a pretty sight.

How did you come up with your rating system, and could you explain more about the rating system?

If the story makes me forget everything or grows me as a person; five stars. If it’s slathered in foul language, I deduct a star. If it’s classified as romance, but reads like pornography, I deduct a star. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.  

What advice could you give to authors looking to get their books reviewed?

First, edit, edit, edit then edit some more. Secondly, buy a case of your books and keep them in your car. When the subject of your book comes up, let people know you are seeking reviews in exchange for a free book if they are interested. Before you give them a book, get their email address so you can follow up with them about writing a review; people forget.

Do you get readers emailing you and thanking you for a review?

Yes.

My advice to authors on getting a ‘bad’ review (hasten to add that might mean a perfectly honest, well written, fair review – just bad from the author’s point of view) is to take what you can from it and move on. Under no circumstances to ‘argue’ with the reviewer – would you agree with that?

Oh my goodness, yes. When an author puffs up and complains on social media about a bad review they got- it reeks of amateur and immature.

About Reading

We talk a lot about writing here on the blog, and possibly not enough about reading, which is after all why we’re all here. Why do you think people love reading? We’re seeing lots of statistics that say reading as a pastime is dying – do you think that’s the case?

Yes, I believe reading is fading in importance. We have become a restless video-driven society. Having said that, audio book sales are climbing, so that’s good.

About Writing

What are the most common mistakes that you see authors making?

Lack of editing on several fronts. It’s important to read your own book several times through before publishing so you can catch plot inconsistencies and grammar issues.

We’re told that the first page, paragraph, chapter, is absolutely key in making or breaking a book. Agents typically request only the first five pages of a novel; what do you think about that? If a book hasn’t grabbed you by the first five pages, do you put it down?

Agents may have done that in the past, but times they are a changing. Indie book sales are cramping traditional publishers. It behooves them to have a bit of patience as they search for their new star writer. I will email the author back and let them know the reason I could not finish their book. Usually it’s due to overwhelmingly bad grammar.

Is there anything you will not review?

Erotica. There are brave authors who submit it to me anyway…

About Publishing

What do you think of the oft-quoted comment that the “slush-pile has moved online”?

In my opinion, that is the natural course of opportunism. People write to self-publish or send the manuscript in to a publishing house. If the house rejects it, it’s still going to end up self-published. No writer wants to shelf their creation so they seize the opportunity to get their work out there. It is what it is

Do you think attitudes are changing with respect to indie or self-published titles?

Possibly. When big guys like Barnes and Noble and Amazon crack down on genre deceit and bogus reviews, it helps.

Do you have any ideas or comments on how the industry can ‘filter’ good from bad, aside from reviews?

Honesty

End of Interview:

Read Lauren1’s reviews at Fiction Ebook Review.

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My first novel that went through my agent and publisher will have taken two years to come out this winter. I didn’t want to wait that long for this title to come out, I felt I could do a good job on my own so I went for it.

Paul McCracken – 6 May 2018

The Back Flap

Michael’s worst fears are realized when his criminal past catches up to him. His daughter is kidnapped by his old gang, who are intent on getting back what Michael owes to them. With the help of his estranged brother, Carl. They must find a way of coming up with the ransom within five days. Michael’s journey will take him the whole way from Belfast to Dublin.

About the book

When did you start writing the book?

I started writing the book in April 2017.

How long did it take you to write it?

From writing the first word to writing ‘The End’ took almost exactly a year.

Where did you get the idea from?

I got the inspiration from becoming a father. When I sat down and thought about what my next book would be about, I thought about what my greatest fear would be. My greatest fears changed when I became a father, the fears were no longer about myself but rather my daughter. I thought that it was a very relatable angle so I went with it.

Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?

I struggled towards the end of the story because I had a lot of ends to tie up and I also pondered on what kind of ending did I want? Did I want the traditional happy ending, something bittersweet or something else entirely?

What came easily?

The characters came very easily to me. The first half of the story also came rushing out of me which I didn’t expect. I thought it would’ve taken a lot longer.

Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?

There are some traits and qualities taken from real people I know as well as fictional characters from other books/movies.

We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?

Without a doubt, two that stand out are Richard Laymon and Dennis Lehane.

Do you have a target reader?

I believe that this book would gain interest from a wide range of people. I don’t specifically worry about that when writing. I write it how I want and how I feel it should be but I believe that the story and my writing style would engage a variety of readers.

About Writing

Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?

I have delved into a lot of different processes. With this book I wrote the first chapter and then I made side notes, almost like a small outline for what was to follow.

Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?

Yes. With this book, it was just small notes of key scenes to occur later in the story or a note to remind me of something in particular that I should return to touch on.

Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?

Always wait until I am finished as I feel it breaks the flow when you’re on a roll. Plus, you always need to go back over numerous time again anyway. In my opinion, it saves time this way.

Did you hire a professional editor?

No. I didn’t have the money to cover the cost of one. I trusted my own eyes a lot before handing it off to beta readers, family and friends to pick at it.

Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?

Yes. I always try to find them two or three songs that act in my mind as the theme song of the story. With this book the two stand out songs were Sigma Ft. Birdy – Find me and Keaton Simons – When I go.

About Publishing

Did you submit your work to Agents?

At first yes. I submitted it to my own agent who represents me.

What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher?

After consideration, I asked for permission to self-publish this title on my own. My first novel that went through my agent and publisher will have taken two years to come out this winter. I didn’t want to wait that long for this title to come out, I felt I could do a good job on my own so I went for it.

Was it a particular event or a gradual process?

Particular event with my experience of my previous publishing contract.

Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?

Professionally done by a personal friend who is an animator/graphic designer for a high-end firm in London.

Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?

After consideration, I asked for permission to self-publish this title on my own. My first novel that went through my agent and publisher will have taken two years to come out this winter. I didn’t want to wait that long for this title to come out, I felt I could do a good job on my own so I went for it.

Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?

Do your homework, know what’s going to be involved. Build a following leading up to it and be relentless at promoting not just your book, but also yourself.

About You

Where did you grow up?

Belfast, Northern Ireland

Where do you live now?

Belfast, Northern Ireland.

What would you like readers to know about you?

I am a full-time factory worker and a family man who still uses every free minute chasing the dream of being a full-time writer. I’ve done all of this on my own, completely self taught and still bidding to be one of the best writers in the UK/Ireland in time.

What are you working on now?

A murder/mystery set in the rural landscape of Northern Ireland. I’ve always tried to stray from detective led stories as I think they just become regurgitated over time, playing the same scenario/story over and over. I couldn’t resist however and I am now writing my own in my own style, already I can honestly say that it will be my best work.

End of Interview:

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The time period is so contentious and so well studied – not to mention written about – that I could not afford to be anything else but a world-class expert in the field.

Hunter Dennis – 2 May 2018

The Back Flap

The Crimson Heirlooms. One tangible – a priceless necklace called the Cross of Nantes. The other ephemeral – a secret hidden within the lyrics of a song. Each holds the power to change the course of history. But together, the price of ownership is death or salvation.

About the book

What is the book about?

An American student in Paris in 1832 is legally blackmailed by the highest court of France to search for the Crimson Heirlooms. Legally defined, there are two. The first is a priceless necklace called the Cross of Nantes. The second, as defined by the High Court, is “the words of the devil’s song as he danced across the blood drenched hills of the Vendée militaire.” The book alternates between the American student and the time of the Heirlooms, where we see two different but connected families at the time of the Heirloom’s forging.

When did you start writing the book?

It’s strange talking about writing. Writing is the quickest and, by far, the most fun part of a novel. For historical fiction, you are talking about research and outlining, especially for one of those “cast of thousands” type sagas. The time period is so contentious and so well studied – not to mention written about – that I could not afford to be anything else but a world-class expert in the field. I started research perhaps two years ago, continued research and outlining while writing, had about 80k words, went to France for a month exactly one year ago, and the novel came out on the 31st of January of 2018.

How long did it take you to write it?

Write write? Hmm… I would say a little less than a year.

Where did you get the idea from?

I have a friend named Daniel Rabourdin, who is from Lyon, France. He made a documentary called The Hidden Rebellion, which is completed and available to be viewed now. I highly recommend it, in fact, but there are spoilers if you don’t know anything about the Vendée. Anyway, I helped him with the writing and discovered a part of the French Revolution I knew absolutely nothing about. I began to realize that most of our modern problems, in terms of our world view and our politics, were created during this period. Marx and Hitler were poor plagiarists. Everything both men said was said somewhere by someone else during the French revolution.

Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?

Coming from scriptwriting, I had no idea how long my chapters were going to be, or even how to proceed with the multitude of decisions regarding how to tell a story in such a loose framework. In a novel you have so many choices that must be worked out beforehand regarding things that seem very simple. You could write a book detailing a conversation between two people at tea. You could also condense it into a sentence. Knowing that, where are you on that scale? What are you dealing with, how do you communicate? Sometimes I did not show, but told, sometimes I showed when I should have told. I ended up writing approximately one act of my outline. Everyone will have to wait for future books to hear my whole crazy tale.

What came easily?

Action came easily, and dialog.

Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?

Most of my main characters are fictional… and borrowed from people I know. Being historical fiction, many supporting characters actually existed.

We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?

I think the book that influenced me the most was Dune by Frank Herbert. The world was completely fleshed out to the extent of having multiple languages, history going back thousands of years, invented and competing philosophies and dynasties. It was exciting and fast-paced, smart and unique. I enjoy Tolkien for the same reason. I think that Dumas’s The Three Musketeers was also hugely influential as well as Charles Dickens.

Do you have a target reader?

Yes, unfortunately. Smart People.

About Writing

Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?

I usually start with a theme, believe it or not. I start with ideas that I think are important that I wish to convey. After that, I gradually begin building my characters, my setting and the action between them all. Everything seems to be in constant flux during this process, except when it suddenly turns to concrete.

Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?

I have a good memory and my outline would be considered the bare minimum because so much is inside my head. Whether it is written or not, you could say I am a firm believer in a good, basic structural outline. I don’t think a novel can be successful otherwise.

Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?

I constantly rewrite everything all the time. I push forward as much as I can but find it to be impossible sometimes.

Did you hire a professional editor?

My mother, who has extensive editing experience, as well as forensic, journalistic and teaching credentials, is my editor. She is the best in the world. If anyone criticizes anything in my novel, it is because I didn’t listen to her, or wrote it without her seeing it.

Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?

I sometimes write with music and sometimes I do not. When I do, it is classical, movie themes, chant and classical-style video game music like World of Warcraft, which is excellent. There is an amazing adagio with a harp and cello on Burning Crusade that grips my soul. Don’t make fun of me. It’s actually amazing.

About Publishing

Did you submit your work to Agents?

Excuse the vulgar but… hell no. You must understand something. Agents don’t want to make books, they want to make money. Make your book. If the agents can make money from it, they will crawl out of the wood work to get it. They aren’t the cavalry, they aren’t knights in shining armor. They are used car salesman, only deal with them if the car is magnificent and the price is right. Deal with them on your terms and only from a position of strength.

What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?

I never intended to submit Heirlooms to anyone who would prove to be any kind of a stumbling block to publishing. I was a scriptwriter, remember. Being a scriptwriter is constant torture via stumbling block. Part of the joy of self-publishing is the ability to just do it without anyone getting in the way.

Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?

I had the cover done by Damonza, a European design firm specializing in books. They did a magnificent job. I did not feel qualified to do it, although I did all of the interior maps, illustrations and lay-out – which was amazingly frustrating and difficult.

Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?

I thought I had a plan but being in the battle ended up to be much different from the drawing table. Now I am winging it and trying to learn what works and what doesn’t.

Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?

Create the best work you can given your talents and abilities. Your books will be on your shelf forever. They are your true heirlooms.

About You

Where did you grow up?

I was a military brat. I lived everywhere and moved all the time. My favorite place was Spain, just outside of Madrid. I traveled all through Europe. It was amazing.

Where do you live now?

I live in Thousand Oaks, California and nearly by accident. If I had my druthers I’d live in a deciduous rain forest, like Forks or something. But all my friends and family are in the sunshine so I’ll probably be here forever.

What would you like readers to know about you?

Anything I write will be from the best effort I can achieve as a person. I will always leave it all out on the field. You will have all of me.

End of Interview:

For more from Hunter, visit his website, follow him on Twitter, and like his Facebook page.

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Empower You is geared towards readers who struggle with negative thinking, setting goals and sticking to them. Or, if you just feel stuck in life and feel like there’s something more you should be doing with your life, then Empower You is the book for you.

Kezia Arterberry – 27 April 2018

The Back Flap

Empower You is all about empowering you to find the courage and motivation to pursue your goals, live your dreams and to ultimately live your life operating in your God given purpose. In Empower You, you will learn various tips and techniques that will help you develop the kind of mindset that will allow you to empower yourself in those moments when you need it most. This 70 day devotional focuses on the topics of self-confidence, goal-setting and developing a positive, success mindset. It’s about shifting your focus (mindset), therefore enabling you to overcome setbacks and break past limiting beliefs so that you can be your best self and live your best life!

About the book

What is the book about?

Empower You is a motivational – devotional designed to escort you through 70 days of mindset transformation. There are 70 days, each with a new topic that will challenge your current way of thinking and help you to develop a more positive and optimistic perspective in life. It’s a great place to start and offers stepping stones to success. I share tips and techniques that will help you improve in multiple areas in your life. The only catch is that you have to be willing to commit and to do the work!

When did you start writing the book?

I flirted with the idea of writing Empower You long before I actually began writing it. It wasn’t until I attended a workshop called Publish a Book and Grow Rich, which lit a fire beneath me, inspiring me to write the book. The writing process began in December of 2015.

How long did it take you to write it?

It took me about 1 year and 6 months to write Empower You, not including editing and designing the book cover. Even after what I considered the “final edit” of the book being completed, there were sections that were added after the initial year and 6 months.

Where did you get the idea from?

As I mentioned, I’d flirted with the idea of writing this book long before I actually began writing it. The idea was to take the entries from an inspirational blog that I had written and to turn that into a book. The blogs I wrote were based on my personal life experiences and making the best of negative situations. I had the idea to turn that blog into a book for a while, but I never acted on it. That is, until I attended a workshop called Publish a Book and Grow Rich. That workshop inspired me in ways I cannot explain. The information I learned went beyond learning how to write and publish a book and make money from it. I learned things about mindset and success that changed my entire perspective on life and how we live it. Ever since, I’ve been on a mission to share the knowledge I learned from it, because I’ve seen results in my life after applying the information I learned. So, Empower You, encompasses both ideas but with a twist; a 70 day devotional for mindset transformation.

Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?

My biggest struggle while writing Empower You was writers block. As passionate as I am about the topic of mindset transformation, and as much inspiration as I had, I still had moments where I just felt stuck and didn’t know what to write. And, I think that largely was due to my tendency to over-think and wanting to say the right thing, in the right way. Perfectionism, you can call it. When I was in that head-space, I would stop writing for a short period of time until I let go of the over-thinking, allowing myself to write freely. Because, once I began writing again, that’s when the ideas would flow with ease.

What came easily?

Starting. Simply starting to write the book was the easy part for me, because I was feeling inspired and was full of ideas that I couldn’t wait to get down on paper. I had all this momentum that made it feel like I could write the entire book in a day.

We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?

There are so many individuals who inspire me, from family and friends, to well-known influencers. But, the one author I’d like to highlight is Brian Tracy! Brian Tracy is a very well-known author, motivational speaker, self-development and success expert. I absolutely love reading his books, because I have learned so much on topics that I have become very passionate about.

Do you have a target reader?

Empower You is geared towards readers who struggle with negative thinking, setting goals and sticking to them. Or, if you just feel stuck in life and feel like there’s something more you should be doing with your life, then Empower You is the book for you. Empower You, is also a great read for the seasoned entrepreneur, as well as aspiring entrepreneurs in need of motivation and strategies to take their life to the next level!

About Writing

Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?

I don’t have a specific writing process. I tend to just write when I’m feeling inspired and having an idea in mind. It’s one of those things where I’m spontaneous and go with the flow. But then again, that is how I go about doing a lot of things in my life. It helps me to be more creative and enjoy the “process.”

Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?

I do not outline. However, for Empower You, I did write in the format of outlining, simply because I had the 70 quotes as headlines/titles in place prior to writing what is really just an extension or elaboration of the quote itself.

Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?

I did not hire a professional editor to edit my book. So, I did edit as I went along, as well as after the book was completed. The editing process took a few months. Hiring a professional editor definitely would have saved time and energy.

Did you hire a professional editor?

No, I did not hire a professional editor this time. However, I did have someone else edit my writing only after I’d edited my book many, many times beforehand. I definitely plan on hiring a professional editor to edit my future books.

Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?

It’s funny, but I listen to music while I’m going to sleep, drive, cook, clean, etc. But, I must say, I do not listen to music while I write. I really enjoy writing in silence, because it feels like I can hear my thoughts more clearly, if that makes sense.

About Publishing

Did you submit your work to Agents?

I did not submit my work to an agent. This time around, I’ve really dedicated my time and effort to researching and figuring out how to successfully self-publish my book on my own.

What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?

I have had previous experience with self-publishing and traditional publishing. I made a mistake with both. I did not do my research. I got excited and went with the most convenient options made available to me at the time. To make a long story short, in both instances, I ended up with a box of books and no idea how to promote/market my book. And, in order to get support from the publisher, I would have pay up more money than I had available.

Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?

You know, I decided to really embrace the experience of self-publishing and decided to create my book cover myself. My goal for the book cover was to create something that would convey the overall concept of my book and standout in the company of other self-help and personal development books. I didn’t want it to look like a typical self-help book.

Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?

One of the biggest mistakes I made in the past, with my 2 previous books, was not having a marketing plan. Unfortunately, at the time, I wasn’t aware of the necessity of having a marketing plan for my book. So, this time around, I definitely have a marketing plan in place.

Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?

Yes, I encourage new authors to take their time (writing the book) and don’t rush the process. Also, do your research and do it well, when choosing a company to publish with. Publish with a company that will support you during the publishing process and after. And lastly, make sure that you have a marketing plan in place for your book. That way, you’ll avoid the biggest mistakes I made with my previous books. By not doing my research and not having a marketing plan in place, I ended up with a box of books and no idea what to do with them, beyond selling to close family and friends. You can avoid that if you research well and plan, plan, plan in advance!

About You

Where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in the sunny and hot valley of the sun! I am a Phoenix native.

Where do you live now?

I live in my hometown of Phoenix, Arizona.

What would you like readers to know about you?

I love to laugh, I am a proud cheesehead (go Packers!) and really, I just love to see people win in life!

What are you working on now?

I am working on putting together my upcoming book tour which will officially kick-off in May, lasting all throughout 2018 and well into 2019!

End of Interview:

For more from Kezia, visit her website.

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It’s better for all concerned that I give my characters the playground and watch how they play. It’s their world. I just take dictation.

Thomm Quackenbush – 23 April 2018

The Back Flap

Gideon–a body thief whom Shane thought she had eliminated–escapes from his prison and seeks out the young woman who put him there.

Distressed by his reemergence, Shane, reticent heir to Gideon’s stewardship, seeks to avoid him. Then an angel shows up, asking after the Purging, a plague that eradicated most supernatural beings nearly a century prior. Shortly thereafter, a powerful flu strikes the impervious Shane. Gideon realizes the Purging is back to finish the daemons, taking with it many humans as collateral damage. However, Shane wants nothing to do with him, instead trying to ferret out her own via research, a Heavenly weapon, an alternative rock band, and a trip through Gideon’s heinous past.

About the book

What is the book about?

Flies to Wanton Boys is the fourth book in the Night’s Dream series, beginning to more fully realize the connections between two nearly disconnected casts. It fleshes out an antagonist/helper from the first three books and explains his part in averting a coming plague that threatens to wipe out the supernatural elements of the world, as it nearly did in 1918.

When did you start writing the book?

My books always start halfway through writing the last one, so I imagine the first notes to it were set down in early 2013, though the bulk of the initial draft was done during that November’s National Novel Writing Month.

How long did it take you to write it?

In total, it took a year and a half until I was satisfied with it. I shopped it around for a while with only tentative nibbles, and then offered it to Double Dragon.

Where did you get the idea from?

Owing to a childhood in the paranormal section of libraries, I have an uncomfortably broad knowledge of legendary creepy-crawlies and occult rituals. On top of that, I had stumbled upon stories of the Swine Flu of 1918, which was poised to kill off humanity before mysteriously vanishing, and knew I needed to slot that into my series to shore up the mythology and Gideon’s background.

Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?

I wrote and rewrote the decision and method of introducing one of my characters to the supernatural world. He was already on the edges, but there was a purity and humor to having him wander around with ghost-hunting equipment and skepticism while his roommate and friends had fought off a vampire infestation and were now figuring out how to handle an angel with suspicious motives.

What came easily?

I am blessed that, by this point, I know my character almost better than I know myself. I can sketch out a situation and immediately watch them occupy it and banter until I better understand what has to happen. In my prior book, Artificial Gods, one of the characters refused to become romantically interested. Every time I would begin to write a scene where something might happen, she would slip out of it unscathed. When I reached the end of the first draft, I realized that this was a crucial plot point and not one of her quirks. I went back to revise with this in mind and I found that there were no scenes that contradicted her intransigence. She was always asexual.

It’s better for all concerned that I give my characters the playground and watch how they play. It’s their world. I just take dictation.

Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?

I have tried not to borrow from people I know anymore, though that is often where my characters have started. It seems to be bad mojo. I based a junkie character on a woman I knew, who a year later began spiraling down into addiction. Maybe the author in me saw her future before either of us could, but I’m sure people I know would prefer I not slaughter them on the page.

That said, I do sometimes borrow events and situations that happened to me, repurpose them to the story, and say they happened to one of my characters. Much of Artificial Gods was based on my experiences with member of the United Friends Observer Society in Pine Bush, New York, as they described their encounters with aliens and UFOs.

We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?

Neil Gaiman is the reason I have a career right now. The Sandman series and, later, American Gods showed me how powerful contemporary fantasy could be.

Beyond him, I have had flirtations with Kurt Vonnegut, Christopher Moore, Catherynne M. Valente, Tom Robbins, and – perhaps regrettably and inevitably given my genre – Anne Rice. After trying them out for size, I took my lessons and moved on. At this point, my style is my own.

However, I am presently reading Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy and dashed off a short story inspired by the sparseness of his prose, though not the content of his novels. Authors never really read for pleasure once they get serious. We only steal lessons, either because someone does something better than we do or because their failings on the page remind us what not to do.

Do you have a target reader?

My wife. I used to be my target audience, writing the books I wish existed when I was younger. She took over as my target when she understood I wanted criticism more than compliments. If I can impress her, I know I have been successful and others will enjoy what I’ve done.

About Writing

Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?

Ideas hound me and, if I am smart, I write as much as possible of it before it evaporates. With luck, I have enough of a seed that I know the story the next time I am ready for it. I have some ideas that have gestated for years. A few are almost finished by the time I am tapped out.

Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?

I tend to know a few points with utter clarity and everything else is fuzzy. I write toward and around the scenes I know will happen until they start to connect.

During my National Novel Writing Month project last year, I tried to have a more traditional outline, if just so I always had something on which I could write to get my word count up. I had the idea bouncing around in my head for a few years, so the outline came easily. I am such a discovery writer that having all the beats plotted out made the work less exciting.

Usually, the outline only comes about when I have a full draft and need to mark the sections in headings and subheadings so I can easily move them around in Word.

Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?

Editing as I go along is one reason it took so long to get We Shadows on shelves. I tried to make every chapter perfect before moving onto the next, which meant I would spend months overwriting something that I could write a first draft of in a few days now. My wife is also keen to point out that the second half of that book is stronger than the first, because I had given up on the idea of literary perfection and merely wanted to get the story out so I could begin editing.

I had to cut sixty thousand words of supposed “perfection” to bring that book to a marketable length, and have thereafter sprinkled those subplots into the sequels.

Until one reaches “The End,” I don’t think one can really know what the book is about.

Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?

I did this for Danse Macabre, listening to the music my focal characters might (Shane: Ingrid Michaelson, Frederic Chopin, and Julie London; Roselyn: Ani DiFranco and NOFX; Dryden: Nine Inch Nails and Tool). Lyrics distract me, but I wrote most of it while sitting in a Panera, so they also kept out surrounding conversation. Now, I listen to piano music – Chopin is back in the mix, along with Yann Tiersen – but only sporadically. When I am doing my daily writing, I either have earplugs in or, if it is a first draft, set my version of WriteMonkey to make typewriter sounds to compensate for how quiet my keyboard is.

About Publishing

Did you submit your work to Agents?

I spent years submitting We Shadows before sending it directly to Double Dragon Publishing. Several loved the pitch and asked for sample chapters. A few wanted the whole manuscript. Unfortunately, they either passed or went silent. The only real feedback I ever saw was when I found a version of my first thirty pages on a pirate site, which I could tell by the vintage must have come from one of the agents. Odd business model.

After Danse Macabre, I tried to interest agents in my books, but it is hard to pitch them on a series that isn’t selling wildly enough for them to have solicited me.

What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?

I went with Double Dragon because they were the first to offer me a contract. I submitted to more established publishers with a greater portion of the yardage in bookstores, but fell through the cracks or would hear from them literally three years later that they were going to pass. There are a number of prestigious indie publishers that truly put themselves out there, making sure they are publishing only the best books and put some of their budget toward publicity. If your publisher’s only contribution is to slap a cover on with light editing, putting out the print copies through Createspace, you might as well do it yourself.

I self-published a few books of essays and short stories to give myself something else to sell at conventions and was overwhelmingly pleased with the experience, but it does require the author to do all the leg work of editing, design (or bribing someone to design for you), and publicity. If one doesn’t yet have a googleable name, this can be a daunting prospect.

I would have to weigh whether I would ever self-publish a novel now, but I would not have self-published We Shadows. I needed the clout of being a Real Author, which has opened doors in my life, including so impressing administration at an interview that I was offered the teaching job I hold to this day. Now that Google awards my efforts with an info box and Amazon Alexa knows who I am when you ask, I may be a real enough author that I could get away with it. If anything ever happened to Double Dragon, I would probably revise my books and throw them back up on Amazon until I could find a new publisher. I don’t ever wish to be out-of-print.

Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?

Deron Douglas, founder of Double Dragon Publishing, designed the covers for We Shadows, Danse Macabre, Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys. I offered input to all but Artificial Gods – he just sent me an email alerting me that it was now on sale – and I like that cover the best.

For my anthologies, it has been a combination of my photographs, my wife’s design, and Aciel Samael’s smoky, demonic art.

Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?

With Flies to Wanton Boys, I wanted to see if the momentum I had built up from the previous books would be enough to keep people’s attention.

It was not.

I am working now to correct this with interviews and book reviewers. I’ve sold decently at events, but I want to do considerably more.

Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?

It is a hard road to walk. Indies must do far more self-promotion, so there is no room for shyness.

Also, please read your contracts carefully. Other prospective authors have showed me contracts with clauses stating the publisher now owns the author’s copyright for eternity, that there is a $500 fee for leaving the publisher, or that the author must pony up $7000 for the first print run and promotion. There are too many supposed indie publishers who exist purely to rip-off unwary writers who are eager to say they are published. It is better to try one’s hand at Createspace than to pay to give away one’s hard work.

About You

Where did you grow up?

Beacon, New York, a city now far more in vogue with tourists from New York City than it was when I grew up there.

Where do you live now?

Red Hook, New York, which is coincidentally where several books in my series take place. I did not live here when I wrote two them, but was offered the teaching job here and have stuck around long enough to realize how off my geography turned out to be.

What would you like readers to know about you?

How much I appreciate their attention. Aside from buying a writer’s books, talking about and to them and telling your friends is one of the best things you can do for us.

What are you working on now?

I am revising stories of places I’ve traveled over the last twenty years, which is slow going based largely on the fact that the boy I was when I was in my late teens and early twenties was not a good writer. Prolific, but I wouldn’t want to edit him if I didn’t happen to be his latest iteration. I will likely self-publish it to give myself another thing to sell at panels and signings, since my local hardcore fans already own everything of mine they wanted to read.

I’m also working on an ambitious book focusing on four characters during a wedding that one of them crashes. It is on its early stages, but is just starting to get interesting to me. I will be months before I believe I could interest someone else. I started it partly because my wife pitched the initial idea as a book she would want to read and partly because I do not want to be pinned down as only being capable of writing fantasy. My series reaches a subsection of fantasy readers, but my writing deserves more eyes.

I am also trying to write more short stories, but they keep taking a backseat to my novels. Short stories tend to be a fine way to hook people into one’s longer works. (As point of fact, I am mentioned on TVTropes for a short horror story in one of my anthologies, but not for any of my novels.)

End of Interview:

For more from Thomm, visit his website, follow him on Twitter, and like him on Facebook.

Get your copy of Flies to Wanton Boys from Amazon US or Amazon UK.

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I’m just a simple guy who has a great story. I felt compelled to tell that story because I knew it would give people faith, hope and courage to overcome adversity in their own lives. To be honest, I can’t hold a candle to most writers. The story in me made me write. Not the writer in me.

Robert Crown – 19 April 2018

The Back Flap

How does a child’s life change when his mother tries to murder him? It’s one of the most profound betrayals imaginable, and it can follow the victim into adulthood, into all he does with his life, tainting his sense of self and his relationships with others. How does a man’s life change when he discovers that with his thoughts, his imagination, and his ability to listen to his higher self, he has the power to overcome the devastating events of his past and build a new life and a family?

This is the inspiring true story of Robert Crown’s amazing journey out of the darkness of his childhood and into a world brightly illuminated by the power of positive understanding and purposeful thought. It’s the story of rejecting the victimhood he once embraced and finding the answers that allowed him to embrace the power to create a new life using universal spiritual laws.

About the book

What is the book about?

The story is about all of the struggles, hardships, and adversity I went through in my life and eventually overcame by changing my thoughts and becoming more conscious of who I am.  Everything from my own mother devising a premeditated murder plot, to murder me and my two siblings, to sexual abuse and being homeless with my family. Although I have no regrets about my life, nor am I a victim. I share my story with people to let them know, no matter what you go through in life, you can overcome and live a happy, fulfilling, productive life.

When did you start writing the book?

2011

How long did it take you to write it?

Six years.

Where did you get the idea from?

I was in marriage counseling and had given up on my marriage, what I would call a simply a hiccup in our marriage. I didn’t care if I lived or died any longer. I poured my guts out and gave the marriage counselor the abbreviated version of my life story in one hour. After I finished I asked her if she knew of anyone who has gone through as much as I had. She said, “Robert, I counseled dysfunctional family, addicts, convicts, gang members, etc, in my twenty-five years of counseling, I never heard of anyone going through as much you have.” Well, I jokingly said “I should write a book. If others read what I went through they would feel better about their own life and it would give them faith, hope, and courage to overcome challenges in their lives too.” As soon as I said that, there was a spark that ignited in my gut. It gave me a new life, a purpose to live. Which is why I included a dedication to the reader, “You were the motivation to write about my life. My intention from the first word…it (my story) would have a positive impact on your life or the life of someone you know…”

Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?

At the time I started, the only thing I struggled with was my self-doubt.  Believe in yourself! If I can do it, I know for certain you can too.

What came easily?

The outlines came easy and expanding on them.

Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?

The names have been changed to protect the innocent.

We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?

The only book I read on writing was by Stephen King, On Writing. Frankly I was surprised when I first read it how simply he wrote, without all the “fluff.” That’s all I needed to know. It was very encouraging, because I know what am, I’m just a simple guy who has a great story. I felt compelled to tell that story because I knew it would give people faith, hope and courage to overcome adversity in their own lives. To be honest, I can’t hold a candle to most writers. The story in me made me write. Not the writer in me.

Do you have a target reader?

Anyone who has struggled in their life.

About Writing

Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?

I don’t really have a process per se. I have to be in a calm, peaceful state of mind, and feel like writing. If I’m not I may stay perched in front of my computer for an hour or so waiting for it to come to me. If I’m not feeling it, it won’t flow and I can’t start.

Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?

I outlined my entire book and then just elaborated later. If I missed something I just went back and added another outline or more to the existing outline. Chapter headings were the last thing I did.

Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?

I waited until I finished. Then had a couple of different editors look it over. Put your money in the editing.

Did you hire a professional editor?

Yes, I certainly did.

Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?

I like it quiet so I can get deep inside myself. Once I do it just starts to flow.

About Publishing

Did you submit your work to Agents?

No.

What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?

For me, it was based on my story which helped me decide. I believe I have a strong, great story. There is not another story like mine out there. You can’t make this bloody stuff up.  My book will be on the NY Times and other Best Seller Lists, it’s just a matter of time.

Depending on what your intentions are with your book after it’s published, will determine the path you may choose. Are you planning to do speaking engagements, workshops, etc? This is where the money comes in for writers. Or do you simply want to tell a story about your legacy you can hand down to your descendants? If you are going the later route you may want to self-publish. If you want to make a career out of it, then go with a publisher. Although you may want to give self-publishing a try first anyway.

I weighed self-publishing vs. using a publisher and decided I wanted to go it alone. Besides, a lot has changed in publishing over the last couple of decades.  With the internet and POD and all the tools writers need, are at their fingertips. You have options. Who knows if the deal is right I may sign on at some point. However right now, does not seem like the time.

Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?

I had it professionally done. I think I made a new world record for revisions and email threads.

Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?

This is where a publisher would be a benefit.  I do have a plan of what I want to do as far as my marketing. I also have a very nice set of wings.

Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?

If you want to write and it’s your passion or even if you have a story to tell, then tell it. Do not be discouraged by anyone, including yourself.

About You

Where did you grow up?

Chicago, IL USA

Where do you live now?

Still in Chicago. I don’t get out much.

What would you like readers to know about you?

That I really have a profound love and care for humanity, especially the youth of our world. I long for the day when all humanity sees through the facade, removes the veil of ignorance, and awakens to their true self to discover God-their divinity within.  Having been through many struggles in life, I understand how hopeless things can feel at times. I want my readers to know that they need to believe in themselves. I believe in them and know they have the ability to overcome any type of struggle, difficulty, or hardship in their life. I know this for sure.

Empower yourselves and remember who you truly are, an interdimensional being living in this third-dimensional “world” which some call reality. Listen to your higher self, and believe that God is within you not without.  Your thoughts are more powerful than you know. Change your thoughts and they will change your world.  It’s how I changed my world.

What are you working on now?

I will be working on a second book soon. To share in greater detail how I was able to overcome what I did and what worked for me.

End of Interview:

For more from Robert, visit his website, like his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter.

Get your copy of Suffering Ends When Awakening Begins from Amazon US or Amazon UK.

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But I wanted to tell a story with this book, so I had to let go of certain poems that I loved in order to create an arc where the reader experiences a transformation from grief to joy.

Ann Campanella – 14 April 2018

The Back Flap

The Beach Poems is a collection of poetry inspired by Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea. After caring for a loved one who had Alzheimer’s for 14 years, Ann Campanella went on a series of retreats at the beach. These retreats inspired memories and nourished her soul, ultimately carrying the author through grief to a place of joy.

About the book

What is the book about?

The Beach Poems is about the nourishing power of the sea to help the soul find itself after a period of deep loss. My mother had Alzheimer’s for 14 years and after she died, I took a series of retreats at the beach in order to find myself again.

When did you start writing the book?

I started writing most of these poems at the beach after my mother passed away in 2007.

How long did it take you to write it?

The poems were written over a 10-year period.

Where did you get the idea from?

I’ve always loved Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea, and as I spent time at the ocean, it felt as if these poems were given to me. I started imagining a collection of poetry titled, The Beach Poems, and gradually it became a reality.

Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?

My biggest struggle came with choosing the right poems. I had dozens and dozens of poems about the ocean. But I wanted to tell a story with this book, so I had to let go of certain poems that I loved in order to create an arc where the reader experiences a transformation from grief to joy.

What came easily?

Writing the poems came easily. Every time I visited the beach, the words poured forth. I had been a caretaker for my mother for so many years with very little time to write, so I must have had poems and words stored up within me.

Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?

The main characters in the poems are my mother and my daughter, and they come directly from the real world. My father, my husband and other family members also make an appearance.

We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?

I have an amazing community of writers and poets in the Charlotte area who have inspired me for years. We often share our work, critiquing and encouraging each other. These writers have been a wellspring of support.

In addition, I love Mary Oliver’s poetry, how she draws from nature, and Maxine Kumin’s work speaks to me. Of course, Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh touched me deeply because of how it captures the rhythm of the ocean and the natural evolution of life.

Do you have a target reader?

My target reader is someone who is inspired by nature and believes in the constancy of its rhythms, someone who feels deeply and is sliced open by unexpected beauty captured through image and language.

About Writing

Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?

Even though I evolved into a memoir writer, I was a poet first. Beauty and deep emotion move me. When I am walking along the beach, words and phrases come to me. I jot them down and allow the voice to take me where it will. I try to stay out of the way of the poem and let it surprise me. Later, at my desk, I play with rhythms and form, revising lines that are choppy or don’t quite fit.

Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?

I don’t outline with poetry. Yet, when I’m ready to put together a collection, I spread out my poems on the floor to see what I have. Sometimes poems fall into natural groupings and a narrative arc begins to form. Other times I find I’m missing a poem (or some information) that needs to be a part of the collection, and I go back and write to see if I can fill it in.

Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?

I edit as I go. At least poem by poem. As the poem is being birthed, I try to stay out of the way (and avoid editing), but once it is out on paper, the editing begins in earnest. I have done it for so long, I don’t even have to think about it. Words and phrases rearrange themselves; I identify patterns and images that work or don’t work, and I sometimes need to push the poem beyond where it ended. Editing is part of the joy of writing for me. I’m always fascinated to see what blooms in the process.

Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?

I very rarely listen to music while I write. Poetry has a melody of its own, and I seem to need complete silence so that I can listen to it.

About Publishing

Did you submit your work to Agents?

I don’t submit my poetry to an agent. I am lucky to work with a publisher, Scott Douglass of Main Street Rag, who I have known for many years and has published two other poetry collections of mine.

What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?

With poetry, you don’t have much choice. Scott published What Flies Away, my first collection of poems, and did a beautiful job with it, so I knew I wanted to go with him again, if he was willing to accept my manuscript. Fortunately, he was.

Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?

I took the cover photo, and the publisher created the cover.

Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?

Poetry is rarely a big money maker, however I do have a small-scale marketing plan. It includes doing readings, creating a newsletter, posting on social media and working with others to share and promote our work.

Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?

My advice is to create the very best work you can. What you put out into the world represents who you are. Writing takes creativity, inspiration and hard work. Take classes to improve the quality of your writing. Don’t scrimp on details like copy editing or cover design. While you may not make a fortune with a collection of poems, if you put your heart and soul into your work, it will have lasting value.

About You

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Florida, the Panama Canal Zone and on the coast of North Carolina.

Where do you live now?

I live outside of Charlotte, North Carolina.

What would you like readers to know about you? I am a person who needs solitude in order to create. While my hands and heart were full being a caretaker of my family, I had very little room for my own needs. I encourage those who need creativity to feel alive, to be sure to find space for it in your life.

End of Interview:

For more from Ann, visit her website, follow her on Twitter, or like her page on Facebook.

Get your copy of The Beach Poems from Amazon US.

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