Omar Beretta has been INTERVIEWED!!!

  1. What’s your name? Where can we find you? Blog? Twitter? Facebook?

My name is Omar Beretta. I wrote Shaman Express together with Bénédicte Rousseau. You can find us here:

Bénédicte Rousseau

Omar Beretta

  1. Tell us a little about your life outside of the world of writing.

I am an LGBTIQ+ activist and a shamanic practitioner. I travel, I dance cumbia music, and I write about the interesting people I meet while I dance and travel. With Bénédicte, instead of writing about her, we wrote a novel together.

  1. How long have you been writing? What genres have you written? They don’t have to be published.

I have been writing (and reading) since childhood. Genres: mostly auto-fiction, drama; and some attempts at journalism, especially related to urban subcultures.

Bénédicte and I started writing Shaman Express together in 2015. It took us about a year and a half to consider that the book was finished. It was the first time for both of us to write a novel with a co-author.

  1. What has been the greatest influence to your writing? Other authors, life experiences, etc…

When I was seven years old I finished reading Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer. I realized that, by comparison to the novel, life with my family was boring, so I put a few things in a cardboard box and left my home, with the hope to live a life of adventures that would be worth writing about. My father followed me in his car and after a couple of hours brought me back home. So I admit that Mark Twain has been, and still is, a great influence. Jack Kerouac, Chuck Palahniuk, Henri Michaux, Alan Hollinghurst, Daniel Kalder and Colm Tóibín have shaped the way in which I think and write. Horacio Quiroga and Alejandro López have the talent to turn ordinary incidents into epic narrative. Cecilia Pavón is the mother of modern writing in Spanish. The poetry of Mariano Blatt has shattered the literary canon and inaugurated a spring of experimental, joyful new writing.

But apart from them, I am mostly inspired by ordinary people with fantastic stories that I meet at parties or traveling who open to me.

  1. Are you currently writing anything now? If so tell us about it? If not make something up…

I am writing a new novel about a pansexual anti-hero that fights against the literary canon.

I have just finished writing an article about Shamanism in the Peruvian Amazon that I posted on my website today.

At the same time, I am working on an article about Trans Diversity in Perú. To do so, I spent one month in Lima interviewing trans women, trans men and non-binary persons. While doing so, I joined them at educational programs at NGOs, feminist rallies, underground all-women rap sessions, self-defense training at parkes, at parties, and at their workplace.

  1. How do you typically begin your projects? Do you create outlines and character profiles or jump in head first with the initial idea? And do you focus on just one at a time?

The outline generally comes in my dreams, and then I jump in head first. The more chaotic the atmosphere, the easiest it is for me to write.

The main idea for Shaman Express came during a shamanic workshop in Italy, where I met Bénédicte. Because we are both shamanic practitioners, we took several shamanic journeys to ask for guidance to write this novel. We built the two main characters at the same time.

  1. What aspect of your writing do you consider your strength? Your weakness?

I am very imaginative, it is easy for me to create new characters, new situations, and I relate well with what is not ‘normal’. I could not write a book about a happy family because not even in my wildest dreams could I imagine a happy family, but I am comfortable writing about a recovering addict and a depressed divorcee that travel in remote parts of the world, coming in and out of ordinary and shamanic reality.  Maybe some people like what I write because it presents a different angle.

My weakness is that I get easily distracted by new projects. For example, instead of dedicating all my efforts to write the piece abut Trans Diversity in Peru, I am  spending most of time researching books, movies and articles by authors that went on tour with bands because I was recently invited to go on tour with a band in the south of Spain.

  1. After publishing, the next trouble facing writers is marketing. What do you typically do when marketing your novel? Do you have tips you’d like to share?

I try to make the most of social media, especially Instagram and Twitter. I believe that the image that I want to convey as an author must be visually attractive, so I produce short videos with vibrant music and striking locations where my message is minimal but the visual/musical experience is powerful. You can see the videos on my website.

For Shaman Express, we have produced book trailers that provide only key sentences of our novel, placed in contrast with beautiful images and attractive music. We believe that they convey the essence of our message, without having to lecture about it. You can also see the trailers on my website.

  1. What advice would you give a writer who is starting out?

Keep writing. Write every day. Read a lot. Find your favorite authors, follow them, read everything they write, and grow with them. Do not be afraid to abandon them and go find new ones. For example, Hanif Kureishi’s The Buddha of Suburbia blew my mind when I read it in 1990. I read everything that Kureishi wrote afterwards, but at some point his work stopped producing the same effect. By that time I discovered Daniel Kalder, whose fantastic “Lost Cosmonaut” made me realize that one does not need to be Theroux or Chatwin to tackle the travel genre. Kalder is much younger than I am, so I had no time to loose: I put pen to paper and I wrote most of the chapter of Shaman Express that takes place in Siberia.

Also importantly, attend creative writing workshops: they are a safe place where knowledgeable people can tell you, in a pedagogical manner, “this is not good, go read this novel or stories, and when you have finished reading, write your piece again” for as many times as necessary, until you are ready to show it to the world and not fail. Read what your contemporary authors are publishing: either to admire them or to question their canon. Share a lot, meet other writers from your town that have similar interests. Go out and do crazy things, interesting things, change your perspective, and then change it again, and then write about it.


The Sound

She lay there listening to the sound as she had every other night for as long as she could remember. Then again, what else was there to remember? It was hard for her to truly describe the sound, for in the dark her mind conjured all sorts of strange imagery. A body being clumsily dragged away. Dull claws grinding across the rough surface of the floor. She honestly couldn’t even say if it was moving closer to her or further away. Clearly it was moving somewhere. Everything moved somewhere. Didn’t it? The thought of it perpetually frozen in its motion, forever making that sound but no progress, felt even more terrifying than the prospect of some horror creeping ever closer. Because if it wasn’t moving it meant it was staying. Surely, she could detect the sound growing slightly fainter. Or was it becoming ever clearer? It had to be.

She stared into the dark, and listened to the sound, because that was what the dark was for. The dark made us better listeners. The sound proved that.

See how she could detect that hidden cadence of what may possibly be the sound of a dead limb slowly falling to the ground. The repetitive clicking of bone to bone, or so it sounded.

The darkness let you hear the sound as the sound should be heard. That is without the unnecessary visual that light would only distract you from. No, the sound needed to be heard like this. As pure noise. Vibrations rattling the very molecules around her as it called out in the ever-present movement. Moving closer. Or was that farther away?

Is it more than one?

That was the beauty of the sound. There was so much to discover in it. So many layers to unravel.

The clicking

The thumping

The ting of something rattling

A soft scrape

The void where a hush falls so briefly you almost would miss it if you weren’t listening ever intently. A hush that grabs you in an earnest attempt to pull you into the void between the clicks and the ticks and the tocks and the stuttering sound.

But the hush cannot take you for the sound is there. The sound hears you. It hears the quiet rasp of your breath. As you barely dare to inhale, and exhale so strangled you think you may choke, but it doesn’t matter. Because the sound is there.

It is there

You can hear it

She can hear it

Or is it I that can hear it?

I hear it.

I hear the sound.

Vorpal Blade

BOOK 1: Into the Looking Glass  by  John Ringo

Vorpal Blade   description:

The sequel to Into the Looking Glass. William Weaver, PhD. and SEAL Chief Adams are back and Bill got himself a ship! The former SSBN Nebraska has been converted, using mostly garage mechanics and baling wire, into a warp ship ready to go “out there.” But as everyone knows, the people who really are going to bear the brunt are the poor Security guys, Force Recon Marines who are kept in the dark and fed manure all day. That is until they land on an alien planet, get partially wiped out and then load back up again. Ranging in topics from the best gun to kill armored space monsters to particle physics to cosmology to health and beauty tips, Vorpal Blade is a return to the “good old days” of SF when the science problems were intractable and the beasts were ugly. The monkeys are out in the space lanes and ready to rock. As soon as they get another roll of duct tape.

BOOK 2: Vorpal Blade   5 STARS

I loved that this shows how the world has evolved since humans have encountered aliens. More so, that it wasn’t some endless panic, but an easy acceptance. They’d destroyed the evil ones, and the good ones, Adars, are accepted into society. Especially considering how the Adar’s technology has greatly advanced life on Earth. However, the main story is the spaceship they’ve built with said technology meshed with good ol’ human rigging, and them going into space to find what else may be out there. Ringo does a great job with making these people normal in the most bizarre environments. They’re marines that you might meet on any base, and yet now they’re among the stars meeting new aliens and fighting new battles. The best part was the pranks they play, and the way they deal with any who don’t quite get along with the others is pretty humorous. It is a great sequel that in no way lags, and keeps the adventurous, exciting, new feel that made the first one so great, because this isn’t rehashing the same old thing even as they are still hunting down Dreen. But that is just a small part of the greater story line. If you liked the first one you definitely need to check out the second.

Murder on the Orient Express MOVIE vs MOVIE

I am ashamed to admit that I have never read an Agatha Christie book. I had tried to read one long ago when I was probably too young for such, and since then I’ve stayed away. Which is something I need to remedy soon. However, I loved Agatha Christie’s Poirot TV series. David Suchet was amazing, and while I didn’t read the books, it seemed that everyone who ever has said he fit the part perfectly. After years of watching him play Poirot, it’s hard to imagine anyone else doing so, even though there have been plenty of others that have. I’ve seen a few of the older versions, and Suchet is still just the best if for no other reason than he’s a great actor and made Poirot’s quirks loveable. One of the things I believe made him such a great detective was that he had empathy for others. Even at times showing himself as a romantic at heart, while never actually being one to date. Which was ultimately why I hated his version of Murder on the Orient Express.

There was Poirot being overly cold and calculating. To him the law is the law, no matter what. It starts out with him solving a crime, and obviously not caring why someone may have done such and not caring about the consequences of revealing the culprit. He furthermore didn’t care that a woman was about to be stoned, simply because she knew the law and chose to break it. Even if the crime wouldn’t be one that any other country would convict for, much less stone someone for.

This over emphasis on his caring only for the law, and his supposedly seeing everything in black and white, especially in comparison to his past cases and how he handled them, it was blindingly obvious that ultimately he was going to be in doubt as to whether the law was right and would possibly be even willing to let the perpetrator go. Between the obviousness of the plot and seeing a beloved character suddenly act so out of character, I actually barely made it past the murder before turning it off. It wasn’t worth my time.

Now here’s this new man that doesn’t look like Poirot, especially with this over the top mustache. Knowing how much I didn’t enjoy the one with Suchet, I knew there was just no way I was going to like this one. How wrong I was, and I’m glad I did finally watch it. We actually get to see Poirot solving the case that was only barely referenced in Suchet’s, and we get to see him doing so in a way that was professional, but not cold. It was simply him showing his brilliance. Instead of emphasizing the law always being right no matter what, this Poirot merely showed how he needed balance in all things. That he sees the world as it should be, and anything that is off is painfully obvious to him. It shows a man that cares about what is right and wrong, that laws matter, but not necessarily that that’s all that matters. Which makes for a better Poirot, and a better movie. So I suppose I’m saying, that while David Suchet was a great Poirot, Kenneth Branagh did a good job as well, and I hope to see more with him in it.

Also his mustache wasn’t too bad in the end, and surprisingly might actually fit with how it was described in the books. I guess I’ll have to read them to find out for myself.

The Warlord of Mars

BOOK 1: A Princess of Mars  by  Edgar Rice Burroughs

BOOK 2: The Gods of Mars

The Warlord of Mars   description:

John Carter risks everything to rescue his wife, Princess Dejah Thoris, from the clutches of his evil adversaries, but he is always just one step behind! His battles cover the face of the red planet, as his quest carries him ultimately to the mysterious northern pole. Will this civilization, submerged in ice, prove fatal to our hero? This is the third of eleven in the popular ‘Martian’ series by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

BOOK 3: The Warlord of Mars  4 STARS

In a way, this completes the journey that began in the first book. He’s still searching for his wife, and now her father and grandfather. I love that we have gotten to see all of Mars, and the different races, and what their lives are like. What makes these books so great is that John Carter, is just himself. He’s the greatest swordsman of 2 worlds, he can defeat any foe, and has taken on armies. But he knows he’s not much beyond a fighting man. He has his smarts in coming up with rescue plans, but he’s not exactly made out to be the smartest man there ever was. He tends to just be lucky, and often shows himself as being a bit ditzy. Like not understanding why Dejah Thoris doesn’t recognize him when he’s in disguise, while at the same time completely accepting that no one else around her recognizes him either. He’s a fighting man, and he does whatever it takes to save the woman he loves, but he’s also someone who takes others advise, and seeks help from those willing to give it. It really makes him out to be more realistic than you expect, and a hero that you can’t help but root for time and again as he fights for all that is good and right in the world, and thus completely changes this world he’s fallen into forever.

Archangel Errant

BOOK 1: Oracle of Philadelphia by Elizabeth Corrigan

BOOK 2: Raising Chaos

Archangel Errant  description:

Divine intervention isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Gabriel didn’t expect his return to Heaven to be filled with trumpets and celebration, but he thought he would do more than sit at Michael’s side, listening to endless catalogs of unfulfilled prayers. He’s tried blending into every aspect of Heavenly life, but he can’t help but feel that the constantly praying Faithful and flower-dispensing Handmaidens lack the motivation to do any true good in the world. Some days, he longs for nothing more than to return to Earth and tell his beloved Cassia how he feels about her.

When Heaven is suddenly attacked, all the angels become trapped in their own nightmares. With Michael gone on an angelic mission, Gabriel must rally the remaining seraphim to rouse the sleeping angels and discover who seeks to take the agents of Heaven out of the celestial battle. All fingers point to Bedlam, but Gabriel can’t believe the ex-demon would threaten his salvation so soon after gaining it.

With few people he trusts, Gabriel must rely on all the lessons he learned on Earth to save Heaven, Bedlam, and maybe even himself.

BOOK 3: Archangel Errant  3 STARS

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and it was an interesting insight into the purpose of the angels. What they care for and what they feared. Oddly enough, considering what the series is about, this is the first book that actually dealt with the religion itself. The previous had been more about the stories and what really happened, but this one delved into whether or not God is real and the faith of the people. However, the real thing that moves the story is the moments between Michael and Khet. More than anything, it was finally getting to see why Michael acts the way he does, and why he hates Khet. Yet, even as I enjoyed it, this book read like one of those episodes of a show that is nothing but flashbacks of how everyone met each other. It allows you to better understand the characters, and it was at least new information, but it left the plot itself rather thin and slow to move along. What bothered me the most though, was we never find out why Khet went to that hospital. It’s a loose thread, and I feel like Michael being driven mad because it wasn’t pulled in with the rest of the weave. Paltry complaints aside, it was still a good story and works well as a possible set up for the next in the series, which really needs to come out soon.

Raising Chaos

BOOK 1: Oracle of Philadelphia by Elizabeth Corrigan

Raising Chaos   description:

When good fails, chaos rises to the challenge.

The daily life of a chaos demon is delightfully sinful—overindulging in Sri Lankan delicacies, trespassing on private beaches in Hawaii, and getting soused at the best angel bar on the planet. But when Bedlam learns that the archdemon Azrael has escaped from the Abyss in order to wreak vengeance against the person who sent her there—Bedlam’s best friend, Khet—he can’t sit idly by.

Only one relic possesses the power to kill Khet, who suffers immortality at Lucifer’s request: the mythical Spear of Destiny, which pierced Christ’s side at His crucifixion. Neither angel nor demon has seen the Spear in two thousand years, but Azrael claims to know its location. Bedlam has no choice but to interpret woefully outdated clues and race her to its ancient resting place.

His quest is made nearly impossible by the interference of a persnickety archivist, Keziel—his angelic ex—and a dedicated cult intent on keeping the Spear out of the wrong hands. But to Bedlam, “wrong” is just an arbitrary word, and there’s no way he’s letting Khet die without a fight.

BOOK 2: Raising Chaos  4 STARS

This was an interesting switch up from the first, which was mostly about Khet and learning about her past and her journey to save a man’s soul. In this book we still have her trying to save another life, and wanting to help people, but that’s a smaller part of the story. In fact her part of this is almost incongruent against the larger battle between good and evil that is going on elsewhere. Of course, as the description shows, it’s mostly about Bedlam and his attempts to protect Khet. We get to see a new side of him, and he grows and is able to gain some insight into himself and his relationship with Khet, which I love for how it’s not romantic and yet they’re deeply connected to one another in a way they can’t even explain. However, Corrigan doesn’t just give you this little adventure, she continues to expand the universe. Delving into the past even more to show how the rebellion in heaven was caused, and once more interweaving her world with the stories of the Bible we know so well. This is no slap dash idea, she has made something so real with so many layers that it’s a world you can’t help but immerse yourself in. All I want to do now is grab the next to see how it’ll all turn out.

Lara Lillibridge has been INTERVIEWED!!!

1.      What’s your name? Where can we find you? Blog? Twitter? Facebook?

Lara Lillibridge




Goodreads: Lara Lillibridge

2.      Tell us a little about your life outside of the world of writing.

I have two boys, ages 9 and 12 whom I love to overschedule. I spend a lot of time driving to hockey and baseball and band practice and choir recitals. This is sort of ironic because in my own life, I hate to commit to any sort of activity if I can avoid it.  It’s clearly a case of “do as I say, not as I do,” which children love. 

3.       How long have you been writing? What genres have you written? They don’t have to be published.

I’ve been writing seriously since 2008, when I got pregnant with my second child. By “seriously” I mean that is when I decided to make it a priority in my life. I write mostly creative nonfiction: essays, memoir, and blogs that amuse me and hopefully a few other people on occasion. I occasionally writing fiction, which I am very bad at but have a lot of fun writing. 

4.      What has been the greatest influence to your writing? 

When I was pregnant with my second son, I woke up one day flooded with stories. I wrote and wrote and wrote, and at night I’d lie in bed and think about my stories and my characters. My son—currently nine years old—is a really fine writer, so I’m not sure who influenced whom.  I quickly realized that if I wanted to get published I would need some help, so I went back to school and finished first my undergraduate degree and then my MFA.

The one writer that really transformed how I think about writing is Lidia Yuknavitch. Her memoir, The Chronology of Water, refused to follow any of the conventional forms I had seen up till then, and really freed me in how I thought about the craft of writing. 

5.      Are you currently writing anything now? If so tell us about it? If not make something up…

Yes, I am writing the first draft of a novel that explores gender, sexuality, and power. I’m not sure it’s any good but I’m having a heap of fun writing it. I’m also in the 3rd or 4th revision of a second memoir, Mama, Mama, Only Mama, that details my six years as a single mother. Both of these projects are a lot lighter than my debut memoir, and it’s been a nice change. 

6.      How do you typically begin your projects? Do you create outlines and character profiles or jump in head first with the initial idea? And do you focus on just one at a time?

I don’t really know what I want to say until I start writing, and I write like I talk—with a lot of tangents and circling conversations. When I get about 75% of the way in, I have to get the iron out and try to make the book straighten up and make some sort of sense to other people.

This year, I’ve been ping-ponging between two works in progress. I’ll focus solely on one for a few weeks or months until I’m sick to death of it and convinced it’s utter rubbish, then I’ll switch to the second. When the other project refuses to behave, I go back to the first with renewed appreciation for it. 

7.      What aspect of your writing do you consider your strength? Your weakness?

I’m really good at pounding out pages, which is both my strength and my weakness. I can sit and type all day, every day—I’m really driven and get antsy if I take a few days off. The downside of that is that I suspect I’m too wordy and have too much backstory.  I often rely on my critique partners to tell me when I’m going on and on too long. 

8.      After publishing, the next trouble facing writers is marketing. What do you typically do when marketing your novel? Do you have tips you’d like to share?

I always looked at writing as both an art and a business. From the beginning I looked at what I needed to do to open doors at the next level. For me, that meant starting with a blog, and committing to post three times a week. From there, I started submitting essays to fledgling literary journals.  After I had some success, I moved on to submitting to larger literary journals and contests. Then, when I started shopping my book, I had both publishing credits and some confidence. I don’t know if the publishing credits helped, but the confidence sure did. 

9.      What advice would you give a writer who is starting out?

Take your work seriously. Carve time out for it, and don’t tolerate anyone who acts like it is trivial. Find people to trade work with, as critiquing other people’s work will teach you as much about your own writing as anything else. Read anything someone else recommends, regardless of genre. I look at writing as my job: if I’m not writing, I’m reading or editing for someone else. Make it a priority. The world needs your story. 

Rebecca Kightlinger has been INTERVIEWED!!!

What’s your name? Where can we find you? Blog? Twitter? Facebook?

My name is Rebecca Kightlinger. You can find me on my websites, and; on Facebook pages “Rebecca Kightlinger” and “Bury Down Chronicles”; and on Twitter at @RS_Kightlinger.

  1. Tell us a little about your life outside of the world of writing

My husband and I have a big old farmhouse in a small town, and two Border Collies, a Chihuahua, three cats, and a little rooster. Most of my life revolves around them, researching and writing the Bury Down Chronicles series, swimming, walking, and, most of the year, watering roses, berries, and tomatoes.

  1. How long have you been writing? What genres have you written? They don’t have to be published.

I began writing medical articles in the 1990s; then with the medical team I worked with in Guyana, clinical research papers about work we did. I started writing fiction in the 1990s, but not seriously until about 7 years ago. I now write historical fiction and magical realism, but I have published some short stories set in the present day.

  1. What has been the greatest influence to your writing? Other authors, life experiences, etc…

Since many of the characters in my story are healers and there is a strong element of afterlife existence, I would guess that my novels may have been influenced by my own life experiences and theories about the hereafter.

  1. Are you currently writing anything now? If so tell us about it? If not make something up…

I’m working on book two of the series. New people are showing up in Megge’s life, and one of them, Faye, has something to teach Megge in her own home village, out on the northern cliffs of Cornwall.

  1. How do you typically begin your projects? Do you create outlines and character profiles or jump in head first with the initial idea? And do you focus on just one at a time?

I begin by sitting down with a clear head and watching in my mind’s eye for an image to appear. As it does, I start typing, describing what I see and hear. The story takes shape from there. In Megge’s case, she either narrates her story or simply shows a scene, which I describe as clearly as I can. I do have to keep track of characters and timelines so I don’t make errors there, and I do a lot of research after writing out a scene to make sure what I’m seeing was even plausible. Usually it is, but sometimes I have to revise when my understanding was wrong.

I usually focus on my novel, but now and then I feel like writing a short story. Or, when I sit down to work on the novel, a different narrator shows up and that person’s story—often just a vignette—takes shape. In those cases, I just go with it and write that story.

But I only work on one novel at a time!

  1. What aspect of your writing do you consider your strength? Your weakness?

Readers frequently remark that they feel they are right there, in the story, as it plays out, so I guess my strength is evoking the setting. I enjoy creating the atmosphere through the senses and trying to convey to readers what I feel as I live inside the scene the narrator is showing me.

Describing a character’s physical appearance is always awkward, but it is especially difficult in this narrative since Megge would only ever describe a person if their appearance strikes her as remarkable or if it has a direct bearing on the scene. Usually readers formulate their own image of characters anyway, and I think many prefer to do so, so I feel comfortable keeping description spare.

  1. After publishing, the next trouble facing writers is marketing. What do you typically do when marketing your novel? Do you have tips you’d like to share?

The final class in our MFA program a transition to the real world of writing and marketing our work, and in that class we had to make a website. Thank goodness for Suzanne Strempek Shea guiding us through that, because I had no idea how to create one! The website has made it easier for readers to learn more about Megge. Suzanne also taught us about using social media, which I was inexperienced with, and I gave The Bury Down Chronicles a Facebook page. That’s made it easier to let readers know what’s happening now with the book and with author events. But beyond that, marketing is incomprehensible to me! It is a profession, so I leave it to professionals.

For Megge, I found a publicity firm that works exclusively with authors, and I just do everything they recommend. The important thing is to reach readers who might enjoy the book, and that’s what they’re helping me to do.

  1. What advice would you give a writer who is starting out?

There’s nothing better than starting something new! I’d say just start writing and see what comes out. If it turns out you enjoy writing and want to write with the skill and focus of a professional, learn the craft. Right down to the ground. Grammar, punctuation, sentence structure—it all matters.

Consider investing in formal education. Workshops and in-person courses with a professor will challenge you to look critically at your work and learn how to make it better. It will also give you colleagues and the understanding that you are not the only one sitting alone in a room scribbling!

Finally—and everybody says this because it’s true—persevere! If you write something but can’t find an agent or publisher right away, write some more, maybe something entirely different. Give each piece—and yourself—the necessary time to find a publishing home and enthusiastic readers.

Ryan Hauge has been INTERVIEWED!!!

1. What’s your name? Where can we find you? Blog? Twitter? Facebook?

I’m Ryan Hauge, the author of Be Careful What You Joust For.  You can find me at:




  1. Tell us a little about your life outside of the world of writing.

Ivy Smoak (my co-author on Be Careful What You Joust For…and my wife) and I started a toy company when we graduated from college.  Designing toys and managing the business takes up a ton of time, but I still somehow find time to write.  Oh, and cooking lots of Blue Apron, Homechef, and Plated meals…I’m kind of addicted to those.

  1. How long have you been writing? What genres have you written? They don’t have to be published.

After seeing the Hobbit in theaters, my family started a challenge to see which of us could write the best fantasy novel.  Mine was okay.  Not horrible, but not great either.  So I went back to the drawing board, spent a few years building the world, and then got back into it with BCWYJF.  So to answer the original question…about 5 years, and I’ve only written fantasy.  I might do a modern thriller at some point, though, but right now I’m completely focused on the Pentavia series!

  1. What has been the greatest influence to your writing? Other authors, life experiences, etc…

How can I pick just one thing?  There are so many great authors out there.  Great TV shows.  Great movies.  Great fantasy art.  All of it inspires me.  But if you’re going to force me to pick one thing, I’d have to give the nod to the classic RPGs I played growing up.  I can’t even count the amount of hours I spent playing the Quest for Glory series and Baldur’s Gate 2.  I was too young to really know how to play them, so I would just wander around aimlessly killing as many monsters as I could.  Little did I know that I was actually doing research for my fantasy novels…

  1. Are you currently writing anything now? If so tell us about it? If not make something up…

Right now I’m completely focused on marketing BCWYJF, but the outline of Book 2 is slowly coming together in my head.

  1. How do you typically begin your projects? Do you create outlines and character profiles or jump in head first with the initial idea? And do you focus on just one at a time?

I outline the plot first.  But I don’t think that’s the right way to do it.  All too often it leads to me trying to shove a square character into a round plot.  It just doesn’t fit.  And then I get writer’s block.  And then the book just sits there until I realize my plot is all wrong.

So with book 2, I’m going to take a slightly different approach and see if the characters can guide the story.  If I’m being completely honest, though, I’ll probably outline the whole thing fifty times before it’s finished.  That’s just how my mind works.

  1. What aspect of your writing do you consider your strength? Your weakness?

My strength is in world building and plotting.  I love both, and spend a ridiculous amount of time on them.  My weakness is definitely character emotions.  I’m an emotionless robot, so it’s hard to write characters that aren’t.  That’s one of the countless places where my wonderful co-author Ivy Smoak helped immensely.

  1. After publishing, the next trouble facing writers is marketing. What do you typically do when marketing your novel? Do you have tips you’d like to share?

I wish I had tips to share, but at this point, I don’t know if any of it is going to work.  Talk to me after the release on April 17th and maybe then I’ll have some pointers about what to do.  My strategy so far has been to do anything I can think of.  Social media, Goodreads, paid advertising.  All of it.  It’s easily an 80 hour a week endeavor.

  1. What advice would you give a writer who is starting out?

I could give a million pieces of advice.  Write for a specific audience.  Learn how to use commas.  Read between the lines if you force your friends and family to read it.  They’ll tell you it’s great.  But how long did it take them to read that next chapter?

My number one piece of advice, though, would be that being an author also means being a full time marketer.  A great author can get a few good reviews.  A great marketer can sell some copies.  But to really hit it big, you need to be both.