Dennis Carstens has been INTERVIEWED!!!

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

Dennis Carstens, you can connect with me at www.denniscarstensauthor.com and on www.facebook.com/TheKeyToJustice. Keep in touch on social media with the hashtag #MarcKadellaMystery

  1. Other than writing, what is your favorite hobby or thing you enjoy for fun?

Even though I am not very good at it because I am basically a beginner, I do like to go golfing with friends. It’s a very pleasant way to spend a nice summer day. I have five grandchildren who are a hobby also. Everything you may have heard about being a grandparent is true. It’s terrific. The kids are all very nice, healthy and fun. And best of all when they act up as kids do, it’s time to go home.

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

I actually wrote my first book The Key to Justice in 1999 – 2000. I tried to go the traditional route to get it published and was met with total disinterest and rejection. Discouraged, I did not take it up again until 2011. My son encouraged me to self-publish on Amazon. The response surprised me with its success which encouraged me to continue.

The legal world, murder mystery/courtroom drama is the only genre I have written so far. I am extremely interested and well read in history and I have in mind a couple of historical novels based on actual events that I will eventually do.

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

I am a retired lawyer who always enjoyed a good legal genre novel. What got me interested in doing one is most of the books in the genre left me wondering if the author had ever seen the inside of a courtroom. Ever represented a live, human client with a real legal problem or tried to make a living practicing law. Some do such as Scott Turow and Steve Martini who are very experienced and very good. Then others such as John Grisham, James Patterson and Michael Connelly who clearly have no clue. I wanted to write more realistically about what it is like.

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

I am about to start, and by the time you read this will have started, the eighth of the Marc Kadella legal mystery series. No, I am not going to tell you about it. Buy it, you’ll like it.

  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?

To me the main thing I need to have mostly figured out before I start writing is the ending. I think it is very important to know where you are going so as not to wander off too far as can happen. Writing a book is almost like building a house. You build the story one step at a time. And just as building a house you better have a pretty good idea of what it is supposed to look like when you are finished.

I do not use a written outline. I know what my beginning is going to be, my ending and the middle. I keep a lot of notebooks around the house, especially by my bed, for when ideas pop into my head so I can make notes of it.

As for characters, this is the main thing I am trying to accomplish. I want to create an emotional tie between the reader and the characters (good or bad, favorable or unfavorable) to keep the reader engaged to find out how they all make out in the end. Several of my characters are in all of my books and I do keep a written profile of each to be consistent. I also do that with non-recurring characters for the same reason.

I normally focus on one book at a time but things come to me about future books. When this happens I write up notes about it so as not to forget. Makin notes is extremely important. I once had a dream and I awoke in the middle of the night thinking about it. It was a great idea for a book. I laid in bed for at least twenty minutes thinking it through and was quite pleased about it. Instead of getting up and writing it down I was certain I would remember it in the morning. When I woke up I remembered having a dream, waking up and thinking about it but could not remember one thing about the dream itself. Still have not. Take notes. Do not rely strictly on your memory.

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

I prefer to have my characters tell my story with their actions and interactions and their dialogue. I do not use a lot of third party narration for this. I think it helps with character development, creates the reader-character bond and makes the story flow along better. When reading I can get a little bored with page after page of third party narration.

I am a lawyer, not a grammar expert. Apparently there are people out there who believe they are. I have used the internet to check on grammar usage all the time and have found there are differing opinions on proper usage. If you think you are a grammar expert, you probably are not. At least others will disagree with you. Plus, I use dialogue the way people actually speak not the way your sixth grade English teacher tried to get you to speak.

  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?

At first I did nothing much except publish on Amazon and let them do the marketing. There are services out there who will work with you for a fee or commission to use Amazon and other book promo organizations to promote your book. I am just now starting to use them and it has worked for me. But, I was fortunate to do well right away which, from what I understand, is quite unusual.

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

First of all, be disciplined. Writing a 300 plus page fiction novel is very difficult. It is a lot of work. There are millions of partially written manuscripts sitting in desk drawers in this country from people who found this out. They wanted to try it, and good for them, then got part way into it and ran out of ideas.

I treat writing like a job. I am retired but I get up every morning around 6:30 and am at the desk by 8:00 every day. I have a daily goal of what I want to accomplish and I get at it and work until I have it. If you are employed, make a schedule every week of times when you are going to write and stick to it. If you can’t be that disciplined, odds are pretty good you are going to fail. Know that going in.

So as not to be overly negative, it is also very rewarding. I am fortunate enough to have had some success and am making a pretty good living at it. I also like the creative side of it. Apparently I have a fairly active imagination and creative streak. Not to brag but I have received more Five Star reviews from readers than all other reviews combined. Each time you get one of those it feels very gratifying to know that all of the work you put into the book was not a waste of time.

Write about what you know. If you are a doctor don’t write science fiction about interstellar space travel. You can do that but it will not seem factual.

Be realistic about your target market. I happen to have worked in a genre that is very popular with the reading public. My audience was quite large going in. Children’s books are enormously popular. For some reason people keep having babies and buying books for them to teach them to read. Apparently no one tells them about dealing with teenagers. Books about the exciting life of a plumber, not so much.

M.L. LeGette has been INTERVIEWED!!!

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

For my writing, I use an abbreviation of my initials: M.L. LeGette. Everywhere else, I go by Melissa.

I’m on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/mllegette/),

Twitter (https://twitter.com/MelissaLeGette),

Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.com/melissalegette/boards/),

Tumblr (https://mlegette.tumblr.com/),

and Instagram (@melissalegette).

My blog is Come What May (https://legettewrites.wordpress.com/)

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

I’m a small scale vegetable farmer with an even smaller flock of sheep. If you’re around the Athens, GA area, stop by the farmers market at Bishop Park and buy some potatoes. They’re wicked good. I’m also a hobbyist photographer (Garden Windows Photography). I love to bake, though I don’t often have the time during the height of farming season, and I’m teaching myself how to knit. Second pair of gloves is underway.

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

I credit J.K. Rowling for opening my eyes to storytelling. I’d been exploring writing before discovering her Harry Potter series, but it wasn’t until I read them that the bomb in my brain went off. Her ability to make every scene as vivid as a film, how she fleshes out the minor characters as much as the leads, her play of light and dark, the balance of serious and silly – it’s these aspects that connected with me the most and have stuck with me over the years.

  1. Now you have a few books that are already out for sale, can you tell us about them?

The Unicorn Girl is my first full length novel. It’s a fantasy adventure about a young girl who discovers she has a powerful connection with the legendary creatures and must travel across her homeland in search of them.

The Tale of Mally Biddle is my second. I took a step away from magic with it. Mally, the protagonist, juggles working as a servant in a castle full of dangerous knights while trying to find the answers to the questions spinning around the heir to the throne.

  1. One of your stories, The Orphan and the Thief, you actually took down to rewrite. What was it like going back to work on your story? Considering how often authors complain about simple editing, was this an experience you’ve enjoyed?

I loved it. I was actually surprised by how much I enjoyed rewriting the story. It helped a lot in that I was spurred on by excellent feedback/suggestions from an agent. I’m not entirely sure if I would have been able to muster up the energy or enthusiasm to take on an undertaking of this magnitude without such outside interest. It also ended up being surprisingly easy. The rewrite happened years after I finished The Orphan and the Thief. I think having such a stretch of time away from the project helped me see the areas that needed improvement. This might be why rewrites are generally so very hard to stomach for writers. When we finish a project, we’re so high on excitement and pride that the prospect of major reconstruction makes many of us want to punch something … or someone. I think the rewrite was also so much fun for me because I’d already gone through the terrible stages of writers block and plot construction. Now, I was exploring. I was fleshing out the story. I was diving deeper into the characters. And that was all immensely enjoyable.

  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 like working on one main project at a time, but I’ve got notebooks full of story ideas.

I’m a write-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of girl. I like to spend a few days hashing out the general idea of a story: the main focus, the overall atmospheric vibe of the story, the characters most basic motivations. And then I write. I let the writing take the lead. If things start feeling wrong – if the story seems off all of a sudden – I take a step back. I evaluate. I ask myself what exactly is missing/wrong/off, and I make the necessary changes. This process typically repeats many times in the first few chapters. I’m essentially testing the story out. I ended up deleting a large chunk of the first draft of Orphan, because I realized it was going in a direction that wasn’t working for the rest of the story. In the story I’m working on now, it took many drafts of the first three chapters before it dawned on me that the setting wasn’t working.

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

I think my greatest strength is dialogue. I like keeping my dialogue exchanges as natural as possible, and that usually comes easily for me. Creating relatable characters is also a strength in my writing. It’s extremely important to create characters that the reader roots for, or is fascinated or terrified by. But writing characters that the readers embrace is difficult and often takes me many, many drafts to get right.

I’m not a plotter, so my storylines are usually very simple. I have a tendency to focus too much on the individual scenes in a chapter and forget about the bigger picture … or forget about deepening my characters. Luckily, this is where rewrites come in.

  1. While you’ve actually had your books out and for sale for a while now, you’ve recently kind of done a clean slate approach and starting anew with your approach to publishing and marketing. From the way you began and the way you’re going about it now, is there anything you’d advise beginning authors to try or to avoid?

That is a heavy and very good question. As you know, I started out in self-publishing, nudged my big toe up against traditional publishing, and have now ventured fully into serially posting weekly chapters of Orphan’s rewrite online. Honestly, I don’t believe there is any right or wrong. There is only exploration and your own personal desires.

When publishing traditionally didn’t work out, I was both discouraged and relieved. Relieved, in that I wasn’t entirely sure if I wanted the pressure and expectations that go along with publishing deals. Discouraged, in that I couldn’t see a clear future for my writing.

Trying to make a living at being a writer is incredibly hard, if not downright impossible, at least for the sort of writing I do — mainly middle grade and young adult. The moment I told myself that I didn’t need to make my books make me money, the pressure vanished. The question then simply became where do I put my writing? For me, writing has always been about sharing. I write for myself, yes, but I also write for interaction. It’s an incredible feeling to connect with readers. I’m posting chapters of The Orphan and the Thief to Wattpad and my own blog, Come What May. My tumblr is dedicated to teasers, excerpts, and painting an aesthetic vibe of the story. When the last chapter is posted, I plan on making the book available on Kindle and as a print-on-demand paperback. When my next book is finished – which will be years from now – I’m going to ask myself the same questions. What do I want? Am I up for another round at the big publisher’s table? Do I want to post chapter by chapter or go straight to ebook? Do I wish to market the book through blog tours or festivals? I don’t expect to be able to answer these questions now, but when the time comes I know the answers will be there.

This is why giving advice is so difficult. We all want different things from our writing. But my big advice points are:

  1. If you choose to spend money on marketing, and that includes travel expenses to bookstore signings and festivals, have a budget. Most marketing does not work and that is why you must be careful about how much money you spend.
  2. Have a presence online. You don’t have to be on every social media, unless you want to. I’ve only recently joined tumblr and it is by far my favorite place to be.
  3. Take your time on your writing. Get it as good as you can. If you self-publish it, know that you can rewrite it to make it even better whenever you want, just as I did.
  4. If you’re interested in getting a book deal, query before self-publishing. It’s a terrible truth, but many traditional publishers do not want books that have been self-published unless they have already proven themselves popular on the market.
  5. Most important of all, choose the outlet that keeps you writing. Writing is not about being in bookstores or getting awards or having the six figure advance. Writing is your love and your best friend. Never forget that.

Kathryn Brown Ramsperger has been INTERVIEWED!!!

1.      What’s your name? Where can we find you? Blog? Twitter? Facebook?
 
Hello! My byline is Kathryn Brown Ramsperger, but feel free to call me Kathy.

You can order my debut novel at shoresofoursouls.com, and I have a blog tab there, too:

Shoresofoursouls.com/

You can find my short fiction at shoresofoursouls.com/media

Google me to find my other writing.
 
I’m also on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and I’m getting the hang of Instagram and Pinterest. Here are some of my links:
Twitter: @kathyramsperger
2.      Other than writing, what is your favorite hobby or thing you enjoy for fun?
 
I try to read one new novel, and one of the classics every month.There is nothing like sitting by a window with your cats smelling the grass right after a rain, reading the afternoon away.  Although I love audio books because it lets me read more. I mix it up with nonfiction because I’m also a life and creativity coach. You can find more info on that at groundonecoaching.com. I love anything Creative: from fashion to photography, from singing to travel.  (Yes, I consider travel as a creative endeavor.) What brings it all together is a long, meditative walk in Nature. 

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

I’ve still got stories I wrote in grade school. The story I remember most was about an errant pumpkin. I wrote my first novel in college, but I never tried to get it published. My first full-time job was as a journalist. My entire career has involved writing: National Geographic and Kiplinger publications, poetry, publishing Red Cross & Red Crescent publications, and now writing nonfiction online. I breathe, therefore I write. Can’t imagine a day without it!

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

Oh, countless people: My professors at Hollins University, especially Dara Weir and Richard Dillard; so many renowned writers who led me to the right avenue when I was searching down empty alleys; and my Southern family, who bottle fed me on The Story on long, lazy days rocking away the heat on a porch swing. 

My time living and working overseas inspired me to write about immigrants and refugees. I also get a lot of my stories sitting in cafes and observing when I travel. My biggest early influences were Ernest Hemingway and Eudora Welty. I wasn’t able to meet Hemingway, but I went to every reading I could find that Eudora Welty held. Her readings were workshop-like; she was a wonderful teacher, and she was a photographer as well. I get inspiration from every writer I meet. 

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

The most exciting fiction I’m working on right now is the sequel to my novel The Shores of Our Souls. Its working title is A Thousand Flying Things. It continues Dianna’s story, and Qasim may just show up. The first part of the novel takes place in Southern Sudan. Not the most conducive place to find the love of your life, but a great place to grow and learn who you really are. This part of the second novel is hugely autobiographical because I worked in Africa in the 1990s, though not in Sudan. I was also the one who looked through the countless photos of wounded children during war–photos deemed too graphic for the public, and that was an education about children in war and refugee families. Both are a a big part of this sequel. 

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?

To tell you the truth, I wish I had a template for beginning a book project, but every one is unique and needs a different approach. I usually write first, then outline, then organize to the outline, then revise and revise. This way my characters lead me, and I don’t have to lead them. An image of a scene comes to me before I ever begin writing. My favorite way to start any project is with an interview. I interview my main characters, and that way they already have a voice when I begin to plot. I’ve never had writer’s block because it’s like meeting a friend for lunch every day. Ever had a lack of things to talk about with a good friend?

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

I guess you can tell characterization is my strength. People tell me I’m good at dialogue, too. I close my eyes and I can see my story unfold like a movie, so my prose is pretty visual. I may have finally gotten plotting down to a science, but I struggled with it for years. So many wonderful books taught me the best techniques, and a shout out to Paula Munier who wrote the magical and practical Plot Perfect, which has become my encyclopedia for all things plot. I despise revision and proofreading, even though I’m good at both, because I’m obsessed with getting to the perfect final draft.  Which may be why I have an animosity toward them…my perfectionism.

 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 did marketing for the American Red Cross and then the International Red Cross & Red Crescent. When I told people what my job was, they’d ask me, “Why does the Red Cross need PR?” 
 
I’d answer: “Because if they didn’t have marketing, there would be no Red Cross. No one would know they existed.” 
 
The same is true for writers. It’s important to get the word out, and now we have social media as well as live book tours to engage our readers. If I hear about a way I can promote my book, I do it. I consider writing a business, and business means an investment in marketing.
 
My biggest tip: Get away from your computer and get to know people. Have conversations with as many people as you can. Ask how you can support them.  Ask them for feedback on your writing. Friends share their stories with you, buy your books, and spread the word about your writing. Friends want you and your writing to succeed. Just this morning, a friend gave me the seed for what may become my next short story, which takes place on the Mediterranean Sea. 

9. What advice would you give a writer who is starting out?
  • Apprentice with someone who is willing to mentor you. Remember the people who helped you and pass it on when you become more established.
  • Practice! Write until you find your own Voice.
  • Use grammarly. Or something like it. As someone who used to approve and reject nonfiction manuscripts, your writing had to be stellar if it had lots of typos. I was a nice editor; one or two typos were okay. More than that and it went in the trash.
  • Learn all you can about the publishing world itself, what they want, and what they don’t want. Which will change. Try to give them what they want. After you get your first big break, you can begin to write more of what you want.
  • My screensaver says: “Never, ever, ever give up!” Winston Churchill was supposed to have said that in the aftermath of World War II. Writing is its own kind of uphill battle, and there’s a reason my dad called me “the little engine that could.” My nonfiction got published early on in my life. My novel’s available today because of my persistence and resilience.
  • You’ve got what it takes if you desire to write. Now learn, practice, knock on doors, get up and dust yourself off if you get knocked down. Keep going. You’ve got this!

The Festival

The Festival by H.P. Lovecraft  description:

“The Festival” is a short story by H. P. Lovecraft written in October 1923 and published in the January 1925 issue of Weird Tales. It is considered to be one of the first of his Cthulhu Mythos stories.

The Festival   4 STARS

This was a short story that leaves you wanting more, but afraid of getting it. I love the use of ambiguity in this sort of horror. The sort of telling that leaves your own fears to fill in the blanks. Yet with all the questions it makes you wonder how did any of it happen? Why was this person really brought there? It seems like he’s always known of this sort of pagan celebration that predates Christmas, and yet everything was very much unknown to him. More so, I like that Lovecraft brings in things from previous stories, like his fictitious author, Abdul Alhazred, whose book keeps being mentioned and seems to be tied to so many different terrifying events. It helps to build a world in such a short time, and I quite enjoyed the thrill.

The Nameless City

The Nameless City  by  H.P. Lovecraft

“The Nameless City” is a horror story written by H. P. Lovecraft in January 1921 and first published in the November 1921 issue of the amateur press journal The Wolverine. It is often considered the first Cthulhu Mythos story.

The Nameless City of the story’s title is an ancient ruin located somewhere in the deserts of the Arabian Peninsula and is older than any human civilization.

The Nameless City   2 STARS

This is an extremely short story. It is also the first story I’ve read by Lovecraft. Perhaps because I’ve read so much about him and know his stories are about the strange unknown horrible things that lurk in the night I wasn’t surprised by how this went about. The main character seems to have held onto denial a bit too much, but I do understand that sense of adventure and need to know that can drive a person into places they know they shouldn’t go. It’s that foolhardy idiocy of sensing something in the dark, being afraid it’s probably there to kill you, but having to know exactly what it is before you die. That wanting to know the truth of the abyss is the driving force of this story, which it does well, but it fails in any real sense of horror since it is so obvious from the get go. And I honestly don’t get why this is considered the first of the Cthulhu stories, It really doesn’t seem to have anything to do with Cthulhu as much as some other creepy crawlies.

Chris Beakey has been INTERVIEWED!!!

chris-beakey-author-photo1. What’s your name? Where can we find you? Blog? Twitter? Facebook?

My Twitter handle is @beaks318. Everyone can find me on Facebook, which is where I spend more time. I post my short stories and review books at my blog, located at blog.chrisbeakey.com. I LOVE hearing from readers, who can email me through my Web site at http://www.chrisbeakey.com.

  1. Other than writing, what is your favorite hobby or thing you enjoy for fun?

I play a lot of tennis, spend time on the beach (swimming and reading there in the summers and walking it other times of the year) . . . I also enjoy spending time with my friends and neighbors in the small town by the ocean where I live.

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

I’ve been writing since I was old enough to hold a pencil . . . I think I wrote my first story in third grade. It was a spellbinding masterpiece about a treasure chest in an attic, with a ghost, which no one else would have ever thought of .

That’s actually partly true. I always wanted to tell stories, and was encouraged from my earliest years by teachers and my family. I didn’t foresee a clear path to success until my second year of college though. I was studying Communications at Virginia Commonwealth University, preparing for a career in public relations because it would give me the opportunity to write for the mass media. I’d been writing fiction for awhile – essentially learning how to do it by doing it.

In my junior year I won a short story competition. In my senior year I wrote a comedic novella, in the style of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City series, about campus life. It was published as a serial in the school paper. They were minor successes, but they showed I had the potential to shape a very small amount of talent and a very large amount of ambition into work that people would enjoy reading.

I decided then that I’d have a traditional career in media and would write fiction in my free time. For 20 years I woke up at 4:30 every morning so I could write for a couple of hours before heading out to the gym and then to my often-grueling day job. I wrote three novels that I couldn’t sell.

Something interesting happened shortly after I turned 40 though. I looked back at the failures in those books and admitted to myself that I’d been writing stories that I believed would be commercially marketable. Stories that were well-constructed, descriptively written, and safe from offending anyone in any way.

Since it hadn’t worked, I decided to try something different. I decided to write about my most visceral emotions and fears, without worrying about whether anyone would be bothered by what I wrote. I’d spent a lot of time as a mentor to at-risk kids, and had loved and worried about my sister’s kids as if they were my own. There had been countless moments when I’d imagined something happening to them – it was the kind of thing that would hit me in the middle of the night and keep me wide-eyed awake until the morning. I felt deep rage every time I read or watched a story about a child being abducted or abused, and actually thanked God often for the safety of the kids around me while questioning how God could allow any kid to suffer.

So I went there – to that dark, scary place in my mind. The result was Double Abduction, published in hardcover by J. Boylston & Company. It’s a thriller about Michael Bennett, a 25-year-old gay preschool teacher who becomes the lead suspect in the abduction of his beloved 5-year-old nephew – a case eerily similar to the abduction and murder of his other nephew 5 years before. The story takes place over 48 hours, which is how much time Michael has to rescue his nephew. That’s the “thriller” element.  The deeper story is about redemption – as Michael descends into Hell for the second time to save his nephew’s life and restore his good name.

It was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. It sold well, especially in libraries, despite being published by a small but earnest publisher that couldn’t really compete with the big houses. Half of my friends who are parents loved it because it was based on their worst fears. The other half of my friends who are parents couldn’t read it because it was based on their worst fears. In an ironic way I consider that a victory, because it made an impact.

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

There’s a writer named John Farris who’s always been a mystery to me. He began writing slim crime paperbacks in the early 1960s, He evolved into a writer of paranormal/horror stories that literally pulsed on the page. He had his first hit with The Fury, about a psychic teenager who has to battle a secret government agency to save the life of her twin brother, an even more gifted psychic who’s been kidnapped so that he can be trained to be a government weapon. The book was made into a well-regarded movie by Brian DePalma. I’ve read it about four times . . . and if I live into my 70s I’ll probably read it at least three more times.

I’ve had similar reactions to John Farris’ other works. They’re stories about people who appear to live ordinary lives but who are challenged by their psychic sensitivities and abilities. His best stories are like the best stories by Stephen King and Richard Matheson – they’re far more “literary” than most snobs would admit. And completely real.

There are so many other writers who inspire me – including current greats such as Lisa Unger, Gillian Flynn, Joseph Finder, Harlan Coben, Jeffrey Stephens, Jordan Dane, John Lescroart, Peter Swanson, Norb Vonnegut, Neely Tucker, Greg Hurwitz and Lee Child (because there are days when I sorta’ wish I was Jack Reacher).

But when it comes to material I have to say it all does emanate from my own life experiences. Emotional triggers. Scary thoughts. Good people winning against more powerful bad people. And redemption – something that seems to be part of almost everything I write.

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

I’m about two-thirds of the way through my next thriller: Double Death. It’s about a psychic in the witness protection program who keeps outsmarting the bad guys who keep finding her. She also has $15 million in a Swiss bank account and an epileptic teenage nephew who depends on an illegal drug to stay alive. The other main character is Washington, DC police officer Gloria Towson, who helped Michael Bennett rescue his nephew and clear his name in Double Abduction.

I also write short stories and post them at www.blog.chrisbeakey.com.

  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 write very, very detailed outlines, but I always begin with a 2-3 sentence description/understanding of what the story is about. Fatal Option, for example, was always about a good man who does a bad thing for the best possible reasons – and then has to defy the law to try to get away with it and keep his family together. Double Abduction was always about a good guy living as a suspect in a child abduction who can only clear his name by rescuing another child. Double Death is likewise about a woman who’s effectively held captive by the U.S. Marshals until she can destroy the evil people who made her a captive.

Once I come up with that concise idea of the story I spend months in a stream-of-consciousness plotting mode . . . thinking about characters and scenes and even bits of dialogue that will move the story forward. I learned long ago that the best way to defeat writer’s block is to begin with this stream-of-consciousness approach because it frees me to be creative without boundaries.

But then I get very serious . . . whittling down that stream-of-consciousness outline to something much closer to a blueprint.

Then I start writing. And keep about half of what’s in that blueprint. It’s frustrating when scenes that seemed to work on the blueprint don’t work once you write them – and exhilarating when a scene takes flight  on a slightly different path than you forecasted.

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

I’ll describe my weakness first. I’m not very smart. Not very talented. Didn’t attend the Iowa Writer’s Workshop or obtain an MFA from American University or the University of Virginia or any of those other smart-people schools that field the writers who are selected by the literary journals. I’m too emotional, and too fixated on writing stories driven by people who are likewise emotional due to the terrifying situations they’re thrust into. And I’m simple. I don’t ever want my stories to be the kinds of works that have to be “analyzed” in order for people to determine what they’re about. You should always know what my story is about by the time you finished it. If not, I probably screwed up. I like stories with beginnings, middles and ends. And I’m especially happy when people tell me they came close to crying – or cheering as they read.

In terms of strengths, I’m always honest. I tell truths as I see them. And I always write about things that hit me in a visceral way . . . and always work to become better at this.

  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 love people but am pretty introverted – if I go to a party I’ll typically end up talking to a librarian or a bartender or anyone who engages me in an interesting one-on-one conversation for most of the night. I think I’m pretty good at describing my work but I am very uncomfortable promoting it. Fortunately I’m working with a team of AMAZING people at Smith Publicity. They all read Fatal Option before agreeing to promote it, and from there they mounted a campaign that I’m especially comfortable with, which is driven by getting the Advance Reading Copies into the hands of everyday thriller readers and book bloggers.

These are the people I want to relate to – because after spending so many years inside my head writing I now want to know how people react to this story. I love this strategy. It’s not flashy. But it connects me to the readers, who matter most to me.

One tip I have is to find other people who have done this well and try to learn from them. And don’t try to do it on your own. There are zillions of books published every year. There are some that are truly amazing that no one ever hears about . . . and some that aren’t amazing at all that get far more attention because they’re pushed big time by the big time publishers that acquired them. The book marketing landscape truly is a jungle, with bamboo spikes growing out of the ground and snakes dropping out of trees underneath beautiful sunsets that prod you onward. You probably won’t get through it without someone to guide you all the way.

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

Here are a few recommendations:

  • Try to figure out what makes you cry. Or laugh. Or lie wide-awake at night. Think about the most emotional moments of your life. Think about the most compelling people in your life. Draw from those experiences. If you do you’ll probably write better, and produce more.
  • Once you figure out which genre you want to write in, read as much work as you can from that genre. Learn from the masters. Emulate what you feel they do best while sticking to your unique voice and style.
  • Set aside time every day to write. This is so important – at least it is to me. I’ve met so many people who have told me “I always wanted to write a book” or “I have a great idea for a book” or “someday I’ll write a book.” Most of them don’t actually spend any time writing. I sympathize completely, because they’re typically people with demanding jobs, commutes back and forth to those jobs, and family responsibilities. But if writing is really important to you, you need to find a certain time of day when you can focus on it.

The best time of that day for writing is probably linked to your body clock. I’m a day person – I like to get up early, and am most creative in the first two hours after I’ve awakened. Other people are at the other end of the spectrum. They have to stay up late and can’t write until after 9 or 10 at night. You need to figure out where you are on that spectrum . . . and then you need to try and set aside at least an hour every day to devote to your writing. Consistency is important; I think we need these routines. I woke up at 4:30 a.m. to write every day for decades before I sold my first novel. I then went to a demanding 10-hour a day job. I gave up a lot to do this. Stopped going out after work. Spent my evenings reading great books instead of watching TV. And spent lots of time going to writers conferences, interacting with agents and editors, and dealing with moments of validation and rejection. There were so many reasons to think I’d never succeed, but nothing could stop me. That’s the attitude shared by most successful writers.

The last thing I’ll say on this is to be easy on yourself. Editors, agents and readers can be harsh. New York City can be harsh. Librarians, though, are basically never harsh. They love writers and live their professional lives to create places for reading, introspection and creativity (so you really should get to know a librarian or two). Don’t dwell on the rejection letters. But do read the work of other writers – both published and aspiring – and engage in good dialogue with them. We’re all part of a community. We need to support each other.

David J. Castello has been INTERVIEWED!!!

david-j-castello1. What’s your name? Where can we find you? Blog? Twitter? Facebook
David J Castello
www.DavidJCastello.com

www.facebook.com/DavidJCastelloAuthor

2. Other than writing, what is your favorite hobby or thing you enjoy for fun?

I love to play my drums. It’s a wonderfully physical departure from writing. I also love to travel. All of my grandparents are from Italy and I’ve been there and throughout Europe many times. I believe that travel nurtures the soul.

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

I wrote my first newspaper story when I was eleven about a Civil War slave cemetery in the South (yes, I was a strange child) and I began excavating Indian mounds when I was thirteen and wrote extensively about that, too. Today, my brother and I manage an internet network with names like Whisky.com, Bullion.com, Kennel.com, Nashville.com, etc. I’ve written numerous articles for all of those sites covering a wide variety of topics.

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

There are two writers who made an early, profound impact on me: Walter Lord (A Night To Remember – 1955) and William L. Shirer (The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich – 1960). I loved both of those books so much that they made me want to write. Travel has also influenced my writing. I’ve toured the US and the UK playing drums in rock groups and I’ve spoken at internet conferences about internet marketing in the US, Canada and South America. Every person, place and culture I’ve encountered has influenced my writing in some way.

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

When I began answering these questions I was in the midst of writing an update about a strange email I received from a World War Two veteran over fifteen years ago.  I finished the story and The Daily Beast published it:
www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/12/07/the-man-who-tried-to-stop-pearl-harbor.html

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 thediaryofanimmortal-frontcoveryou focus on just one at a time?

An idea will pop in my head that motivates me to write and I’ll hit the ground running. That’s how I began writing my debut novel, The Diary Of An Immortal (1945-1959). I had this freakish dream, woke up and thought, “What was that all about?”  Once I have that spark, I’ll completely immerse myself as long as it’s moving in a direction I feel passionate about. There has to be passion. Lots of it. That’s the fuel that feeds my creative fire.

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

I believe my strength is that I can easily slip into this twilight zone state-of-mind where I’m actually there in the moment with the characters in my book. I’m with those people. I’m in that year. I’m in that place. My weakness is that I tend to get emotionally attached to them. I guess you can also say that’s a strength, but sometimes it can be very taxing.

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?

My experience with internet marketing has been helpful. There are a lot of charlatans out there and I know what is effective and what is a waste of time. I have many writer friends and I try to steer them in the most productive marketing direction possible. I believe we are all in this together. I also believe your book is your baby. Be proud of your work. It can be quite contagious. You never know who is eavesdropping on your conversation.

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

Never try to write a book. Simply tell a story that you feel is so compelling that it will make the reader care.

Bill Thompson has been INTERVIEWED!!!

bill-thompson-medWhat’s your name? Where can we find you? Blog? Twitter? Facebook?

I’m Bill Thompson. You can find me at billthompsonbooks.com, on Twitter @BThompsonBooks and on Facebook @billthompsonbooks.

  1. Other than writing, what is your favorite hobby or thing you enjoy for fun?

Travel’s the thing I love to do most, and it’s what influences a great deal of what I write. I’ve been privileged to visit some of the world’s truly amazing places—the pyramids of Egypt, the ruins at Petra, Stonehenge and Machu Picchu and incredible cities in the jungles of Guatemala, Honduras, Belize and Mexico. The more I see, the more I want to know about how these apparently primitive people could put a hundred-ton stone on top of a ninety-foot temple without using a wheel or any type of technology. The more of the world I visit, the more questions I have, and the more stories pop into my brain, waiting to be put on paper.

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

My first book was published in 2009. I’m turning out three a year now, mostly in the archaeological mystery (think Indiana Jones) genre. I have one middle grade mystery called The Legend of Gunners Cove that was my second book. At the moment I’m working on book number ten, my first venture into YA/NA apocalyptic fiction. (see question 5 below for more about it)

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

I read a lot of author blogs and have gotten great inspiration from people like authors Joanna Penn and Russell Blake, whose blogs for indie authors/new authors are extremely helpful. Sean Platt and Johnny Truant held a writer’s conference in Austin last year (Smarter Artist’s Summit). I came away with more ideas and information from that one than any other I’ve attended.

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

I’m always working on the next book! I’m doing something new this time. I’m writing The Outcasts, a YA/NA apocalyptic thriller about life after the Great War of 2042. Everything that went wrong started with … drum roll please … the American presidential election in 2016!

This book will be published as an e-book in three installments, the first of which will be out by mid-October, with the others following before year-end. Once the last episode is out, we’ll release the entire novel as a paperback and e-book.

  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?

When I began all this I would work without an outline, and I found it took forever to get my thoughts together. I would write myself into corner after corner, wasting thousands of words that had to be deleted because the story line went nowhere. Someone smart noted that you wouldn’t take a trip without knowing where you were going. Same thing with writing.

I outline at least half the book up front but it continually changes as the story evolves while I’m writing. I rarely know the ending but it always comes together. Sometimes my characters go off on their own and do something I didn’t see coming. Those times usually make for a better story.

I work on one project (book) at a time. It would be hard for me to keep two plots going simultaneously. Working on just one is occasionally a challenge.

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

I love the English language and enjoy getting to use it every day in my writing. I also do a lot of research on my books to ensure the reader can feel that my story is interwoven with fact. If I write about a street in Oaxaca during the Day of the Dead festival, I want the reader who’s been there herself to know I actually saw it too.

As far as weaknesses go, I think procrastination—the curse of many writers—is a big one of mine. It’s easy to let things get in the way of writing, to let your mind wander until you’ve wasted an hour, or to glance at your iPhone or email account now and then. You have to have determination but if you live with anyone else—animals included—you have to have cooperation from them too. Author quiet time is critical. If you can’t get it at home, you have to go somewhere else to write. I’m lucky that I have a supportive wife who gives me space. My dogs—not so much. They sometimes bark their heads off at nothing. That’s just one of the perils of writing in a home office, but it’s one I’m willing to work around.

  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?

For me writing’s the easy part and marketing’s the hard part. I’d much rather jump right in to the next novel than market the last one. I use social media, an ever-growing email list buoyed by CTAs in the back of all my books and I carry business cards with me everywhere. Anytime someone asks what I do I give them a card with a shot of one of my covers and a link. When I travel I carry books with me. I pass them out to airplane seatmates, I leave them in hotel lending libraries and I drop them off at used bookstores.

For my latest book Order of Succession, I am working with Smith Publicity, a firm with a track record of helping authors like me. It was my first try at using a professional firm for marketing and publicity and it’s going well.

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

Something I’ve heard has always intrigued me, and that’s the theory that everyone has a book inside them. I agree with that statement, although I also believe many people will never act on it, often for very good reasons. Some people can’t write—they just aren’t mentally structured to turn out a book, just like I couldn’t turn out a sculpture or a painting if my life depended on it. Other people won’t write—they think what they have to say won’t be interesting to others or they think they won’t be good at it. (My theory on that is, you don’t know what other people will think until you give them something of yours to read. And then if you get 4- and 5-star reviews, the feeling is incredibly satisfying!) And some people will procrastinate forever—there are not enough hours in the day or whatever other excuse keeps them from writing.

Thousands of writers juggle a busy schedule at home and work and still turn out great books. It’s all in what you set your mind to do. It’s your life, so go for it. If you think you’d like to write a book, who’s stopping you? It’s satisfying and fulfilling to do what you love, even if you have to squeeze it in an hour here or there in your crazy, hectic life.

Bill Thompson became a corporate entrepreneur early when at age 12, he started a company that bought and sold coins. By age 25 he had founded an insurance agency that became one of the largest in Oklahoma. Expanding and adding to that firm, Thompson created a financial services holding company that operated in several states plus Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and England. He later sold his interests and joined his son as an executive in a computer memory manufacturing and distribution company, which by 1995 had grown to be in the top ten nationally by sales.

 When that company sold, he decided to pursue a lifelong passion—writing archaeological thrillers. His burning interest in ancient sites, mysteries of the past, unexplained things in the jungle and stories of adventure in remote places drove him to frequent trips around the world. He has visited numerous historically significant sites, including Machu Picchu, Stonehenge, Avebury, Egypt, Petra and many ancient Olmec, Aztec and Maya cities in Mexico, Belize and Guatemala.

 For more information, please visit http://www.billthompsonbooks.com, and connect with Thompson through Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

 Order of Succession can be purchased on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

The Next World and the Next

http://www.lennyletter.com/culture/a394/the-next-world-and-the-next/

The Next World and the Next by Alice Sola Kim

So this is a different sort of review, because it’s for a short story I stumbled across on the internet. Not long enough for a description, other than if you like science fiction and the sort of ambiguity and intrigue that comes with a short story like this, then definitely read it. Heck read it regardless because it won’t take long, but it will leave you wishing you could find more by her. I’ve only found one other story by Kim and while it’s quite different from this piece of scifi, it was still really good. At the beginning of this link is a short intro bit by the creator of this page, and it is something to wonder about, women in science fiction. Because while I do love science fiction, and that women in them now-a-days aren’t the skimpy clad women of old, I’m still having a hard time remembering a book where the woman was the main lead, and now I sure want to find more. In the end, follow the link and enjoy.

Katherine Mitchell has been INTERVIEWED!!!

Katherine_Mitchell1.What’s your name? Where can we find you? Blog? Twitter? Facebook?

Katherine MK Mitchell

2. Other than writing, what is your favorite hobby or thing you enjoy for fun?

Tennis, champagne, lunch with friends, art exhibits, helping out the elderly.

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

I have been writing all my life.  I started with poems and essays as a young student.  After taking a playwright course, my one-act play was selected for production as one of three in a summer showcase off-Broadway. Later, after reading and studying a great deal, I researched, developed and wrote I believe eleven screenplays, three of which were optioned by production companies.   During the same period of time I wrote and sold episodes to ongoing television series.  It was after leaving Hollywood and moving to Florida when I turned to the novel form.  Since 2011 I have researched, developed and co-published three women’s fiction novels.

4. What genres do you like writing the most? And why? Is this genre the same as the one you prefer to read?

I like reading and watching people stories, exciting, active fiction with a touch of mystery.  Historical novels especially interest me; how will the author handle the challenge of filling in the story while knowing the actual outcome.  I prefer reading high quality literary fiction and writing it.  The quality is becoming more and more important to me.

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

I am working on my Memoir which is a difficult project.  I have to search inside myself and often remember things that I have already forgotten.  This will take a long time because I am also busy marketing my current novel, Shelby’s Way…Maybe.  It is so good but it is so much work, time away from writing.

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

Jumping head first with the initial idea is totally amateur.  An initial idea needs depth, needs drama, needs emotions and direction and characters to develop these and other elements.  There can be areas of grey in the writer’s mind but there must be at least 80% of story continuity and 80% of character development established.  Otherwise, it will be a lot of rambling.  You should focus on one project at the time and while you can make notes about others, most importantly you have to serve the instant story and satisfy your reader.

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

I write great dialogue and surprising twists and turns and elements.  I have no specific weakness.  My concentration is on improving overall quality and making the story whole.  I am growing, becoming more interesting and daring to go deep in both story and character.  Clearly, each piece I write is better than the previous.

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

If I knew what to do, I would be a bestseller.

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

Don’t talk about writing.  Do it.  I was always fascinated by law.  I have carefully balanced out the pros and cons between my interest in law and my need for writing.  My love of writing won.  But you are not a writer if you only talk about it.  I have added up the hours per day, per week, per month that it would take for me to go to law school while holding a full-time job.  Then I made myself take the same amount of time to write, to research, to study and write.  That’s when I had something to show.  I was a writer.