Kyle Thomas Smith has been INTERVIEWED!!!

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

 

I’m Kyle Thomas Smith and you can visit me on the Web at www.cockloftmemoir.com.

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

 

My husband Julius and I recently moved to San Francisco from New York. We have two cats named Giuseppe and Giacomo. I am a longtime dharma student and have had a daily meditation practice for over twenty years.

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

I have been writing since my teens in the fiction, creative nonfiction and drama genres.

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

The novels of D.H.Lawrence were the impetus for my writing. Over the years, however, I have become more minimalist a la Raymond Carver and plain prose a la M. Somerset Maughum. I had a rough growing-up as a gay artistic kid in a conservative Catholic family that pushed religious dogma, middle-class normalcy and white-collar aspirations but I got out and my adult life has been devoted to creativity. 

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

I’m composting a lot of material in notebooks for a new book. 

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 spend hours a day just filling up notebooks with stream-of-consciousness free-writing and also meditate, walk and read a lot. When a piece of writing wishes to be expressed through me, I feel it and do my best to spontaneously channel it. From there, it’s a matter of drafts and revisions. 

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

 

I am strong when writing anecdotal accounts of my life and the lives of those I know or know of. I’m not good at writing fictional stories that involve multiple characters and complex plots, especially those that evolve slowly over many pages. I wish I had that talent. It’s just not one of my gifts.

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 talk to people I know, cold call at bookstores and spread the word through random encounters.

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

I’m not sure this is the best advice. Not everyone is as introspective as I am–and by saying that, I do not by any means wish to suggest that my introspective tendencies make me any better or worse than anyone else; I simply always have to be powerless before the undertow of my inner life. However, I would say that the best thing a young writer can do is get a copy of Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way” and do the exercises, especially the Morning Pages exercise, which they will hopefully do every day for the rest of their lives. Read the books of Natalie Goldberg and take her example of filling up notebooks for hours and hours every day, for years and years on end so that you develop your voice, become a better writer through practice and get a sense of your own personal obsessions and concerns as a writer. Meditate. Walk. Travel far and wide. Listen attentively to your deepest experience at all moments. And of course, read and let whatever authors speak to you infuse your process.

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Sarah Ashwood has been INTERVIEWED!!!

1.      What’s your name? Where can we find you? Blog? Twitter? Facebook?
 
Hi, my name is Sarah Ashwood, and I write a blend of fairy tale/portal/epic fantasy. I don’t blog, but you can find me on my website, Twitter, and Facebook.
2.      Tell us a little about your life outside of the world of writing.
 
           Well, I’m a homeschooling mom of three boys. I’m also a runner. I’m planning to do the Tulsa Run 15k this fall. I’ve done 15ks before, but not this particular one. I’m married to an asphalt plant operator and I literally never know from one day to the next what time he’ll be home, because there are no set hours in a job like his. Especially this time of year, in the summer. I’m a writer, of course. So far my published works include a fantasy novella, Amana, my Sunset Lands Beyond trilogy, several short stories in various anthologies, and now my brand new Beyond the Sunset Lands series.
 
3.       How long have you been writing? What genres have you written? They don’t have to be published.
 
I’ve been writing for around fifteen years. Mainly I write fantasy, and that’s what I’m published in. I’ve also written two historical fiction novels, and they’re with an agent right now. Crossing my fingers on that!
 
4.      What has been the greatest influence to your writing? Other authors, life experiences, etc…
 
I would say reading, music, movies, and watching people in the world around me. Fairy tales and Disney movies, as well. As for authors, C. Greenwood is a favorite.
5.      Are you currently writing anything now? If so tell us about it? If not make something up.
 
                I’m working on a fun YA Fantasy/Fairy tale novel, Knight’s Rebirth, which is set to debut before Christmas 2018. It’s the story of a famous knight, Sir Buckhunter Dornley, who is content to live alone until he meets the charming and outrageous Princess Mercy. When he discovers Mercy is threatened by a deadly curse, how far will he go to break it?
 
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 am very much a pantser. Usually I have an idea, a vague plot in my head, and I run with it, letting it unfold as I write. In the past I would work on more than one project at once, but now I find I do better focusing on only one book at a time.
 
7.      What aspect of your writing do you consider your strength? Your weakness?
 
Hmmm. I’ve gotten compliments on my descriptive skills and world building. As for weaknesses, being repetitive. Also overuse of colons.
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?
 
Ugh, this is such a huge learning curve! I started out buying promos from promotional sites. Then I switched more toward newsletter and newsletter swaps. Right now, I’m trying a combination of those things. If I find the elusive pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, I’ll let you know!
 
9.      What advice would you give a writer who is starting out?
 
I’d tell them the best advice I’ve ever seen, and that is to write. Just write. You can polish it later, but you can’t polish what isn’t written.

Joel Galloway has been INTERVIEWED!!!

1.       What’s your name? Where can we find you? Blog? Twitter? Facebook?
 Joel Galloway – www.crusaderbook.com

 

2.       Tell us a little about your life outside of the world of writing.
I currently live in Northern Virginia where I work for the Office of Biometrics Management in the Department of Homeland Security. I’m a voracious reader, avid outdoorsman and wrestling (folkstyle, freestyle, Greco-Roman) enthusiast. I’ve lived on the Mexican border for close to 10 years and have been following the so-called Mexican drug wars with fascination and extreme concern.

 

3.        How long have you been writing? What genres have you written? They don’t have to be published.
CRUSADER is my first novel (crime/thriller/action) and it took over seven years to complete. I’ve also written quite a few technical papers throughout my career – not as exciting 😊.

 

4.       What has been the greatest influence to your writing? Other authors, life experiences, etc
Wilbur Smith, Bernard Cornwell, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Cormac McCarthy are some of the authors who have influenced my writing. I love thrillers with dramatic action and good plots. CRUSADER is the culmination of real-life events, life lessons learned, personal philosophy, and my romantic aspirations to serve justice and be a positive influence in the world.

 

5.       Are you currently writing anything now? If so tell us about it? If not make something up…
I’m currently working on a prequel to CRUSADER centering around the Templar Knights which takes place in the early 14th century.

 

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?
Research. Read, come up with ideas, and then read some more. Any time I come up with an idea I jot it down on paper and later flush it out into the text. I work with an initial idea and then constantly scope it down throughout the course of writing.

 

7.       What aspect of your writing do you consider your strength? Your weakness?
Probably writing action scenes. I also believe I’ve a good storyteller. I struggle a bit with character development and dialogue.

 

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 am learning this stuff as I go 😊 I’ve just created a book trailer which I feel is pretty good and which you can find on the website. Hopefully that will spur interest.

 

9.       What advice would you give a writer who is starting out?
One great book is worth a million good ones. Take your time and create a masterpiece.

E.J. Simon has been INTERVIEWED!!!

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

I’m author E.J. Simon and you can find me at

www.ejsimon.com,

and on social media at @jimejsimon,

Facebook.com/jimejsimon, and Instagram.com/e.j.simon.

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

I have a full-time job as a recruiter for Coldwell Banker HPW in North Carolina (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill area), I love it and it keeps me connected with the real world and in touch with some fascinating people. My wife and I live in Cary, NC, and I have a terrific daughter who lives in Manhattan – and is about to be married. I’m an art collector, love baseball, read a lot of history and enjoy traveling to Europe with my wife.

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

I’ve been writing for over seven years. My first publication was a short story in a literary journal, The Forge, titled, The Secret Apple. All of my published books so far have been thrillers. I have completed the first draft, however, of a crime novel based upon a true story, Dirty Priest.

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

I write primarily to entertain. I don’t write literary fiction in fact, if I could, I wish I could write to attract the biggest audience in the world: people who don’t read books. I haven’t quite found a way yet to get to all of them – but I have gotten to some!  My favorite novel authors are Dan Brown and Stuart Woods but I read mostly non-fiction. My stories come out of my own imagination, incidents that have occurred to me and, maybe, fears.

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

Death Logs Out is my third novel. I’m nearly done with the next – and fourth – one in this series (although they each stand alone), Death in the Cloud. I love the title. Agatha Christie has a story called Death in the Clouds. I happen to love her books.

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 begin with ideas in my head. If I were psychotic I’d call them voices, but they aren’t and I’m not. Seriously, I begin with a very rough idea of a story. From there I write and flesh out an outline, usually quite detailed anywhere from 7-15 pages, which I follow for at least the first few chapters. Then, as they say, life intervenes. Characters surprise, unexpected events occur, and the story takes on a life of its own, just as our lives, although meticulously planned at times, goes off in different directions. Often, in real life, that can be as simple as meeting a certain person, whether it’s the love of your life or a mugger in the street, both of whom can change everything in a second.

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

I think the plots and story lines are unique and my dialogue is real, often because the characters are ones I have known. My weakness is the development of the character whom I’ve modeled after myself. I don’t always understand him.

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 have a publicity company to supplement my publisher’s marketing efforts. It’s a challenge to get attention and to get noticed in this crowded publishing and social media world.

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

Take writing courses for the genre in which you’re writing. There is a certain craft to this that you need to know and then can ignore. Ignore your critics except when, after days or weeks of reflection, you realize they have a point. Finally, keep writing, every day. As in most things, perseverance is at least as important as talent.

Projesh Banerjea has been INTERVIEWED!!!

1.  What’s your name? Where can we find you? Blog? Twitter? Facebook?
Projesh Banerjea
I am on Facebook and Instagram both as an individual and via the Inkarnare accounts

2.  Tell us a little about your life outside of the world of writing.
I live in Abu Dhabi and work as an investment professional at a sovereign wealth fund. I recently completed an executive MBA program at the University of Oxford and am just getting used to having some free time again. I try and travel, train and explore new restaurants and cuisines in my spare time and am also a fan of live music and theatre.  

3.  How long have you been writing? What genres have you written? They don’t have to be published.
It’s taken me ten years to write this book. I used to blog but my last post was in 2010. The God Gene Chronicles: The Secret of the Gods is my first attempt at fiction.

4.  What has been the greatest influence to your writing? Other authors, life experiences, etc…
I grew up reading a broad range of authors and I suppose some of it has stuck. My favorites include PG Wodehouse, Douglas Adams, Tagore, Julian Barnes, Jeffrey Archer, Michael Lewis, Ruskin Bond, Satyajit Ray etc. Living in four countries (India, USA, UK, UAE) has also helped broaden my horizons and provided helpful perspective and exposure that probably filters into my writing.

5.  Are you currently writing anything now? If so tell us about it? If not make something up…
I’m writing the second book in the series and hope to have it finished in another 12 months.

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 start with an outline and map out both the key themes I want to touch upon as well as the broader plot structure and character profiles. I try and visualise the story and then break up the outline into chapters based on the cadence and tone of the narrative.

7.  What aspect of your writing do you consider your strength? Your weakness?
Strengths: Coming up with plot structures and the overall outline of the book
Weakness: Descriptive text. Character profiles for younger characters

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 only experience with marketing a book has been The God Gene Chronicles. I have focused primarily on Social Media and found Facebook to be an effective and fairly low-cost way to reach out to potential fans. I think the marketing strategy depends on the genre of the book but book trailers and comic strips have worked quite well for The God Gene Chronicles so far, which is perhaps unsurprising given the superhero theme. I think a non-fiction or academic book would probably need to follow a very different approach. I don’t have specific tips per se but recommend signing up for a number of book marketing blogs to create a strategy that best matches the ultimate goal.

9.  What advice would you give a writer who is starting out?
It’s a long journey with plenty of twists and turns – don’t lose hope. Enlist the help of friends and family and stay invested in your manuscript. You will be proud of the outcome.  

Laura Holtz has been INTERVIEWED!!!

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

I’m author Laura Holtz and you can find me at www.lauraholtz.com, and on social media at @lauraholtzauthor on Facebook and Instagram.

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

First and foremost, I am the dedicated mom of three terrific kids.  I am a cycling enthusiast and I regularly spend time outdoors on my bike, Chicago weather permitting, or in a spin studio when it’s cold or rainy.  I love a good creative project, so I often consult on home design or visual media endeavors.  Right now I’m working with a small food company on their logo and brand materials.

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

I am a musical theatre lyricist and bookwriter, and I completed my first show, Gatecrashers, just before starting Warm Transfer. Musicals are like mental Sudoku, and they require extensive rework – it’s just a matter of time before I get back to Gatecrashers for another round of revisions.  

Years ago, I wrote a screenplay about Tsar Nicholas II and his Russian ballerina mistress while my newborn napped, however I never did anything with it.  It remains on a diskette somewhere in my basement.

With respect to books, I have written commercial women’s fiction and YA science fiction.

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

My childhood family dynamic has influenced my writing, especially my fascination with gender power and control imbalance.  

As a kid, I often escaped into books about aliens – these both terrified and intrigued me, which is probably why I enjoy conceiving stories in the YA sci-fi realm.  

While in college, I spent a year abroad studying English Literature.  My college at the University of London used the tutorial method of instruction and the lessons were intense and immersive.  Reading Dickens, Hardy, Austen and Brontë gave me a huge appreciation for refined language and the precision of well-crafted imagery, among many other things.  One novel, Jane Eyre, was particularly compelling to me.  My mother had told me tales of her youth and somehow I felt like I had a better understanding of her cruel upbringing by reading about Jane’s own plight.

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

Yes!  I am working on book one in a YA science fiction series.  I am also in the early stages of my next musical, a full length drama skewed toward a younger audience.

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?

Ideas come to me when I am moving – especially when I’m on my bike.  Once I have an idea, I begin by creating a list of story events – a timeline, then I flesh out each scene.  When a given scene has a purpose, and it serves the plot, I know I’m in good shape to begin writing.  Characters take real focus.  It’s almost like I have to court each one over a period of time before I really know what they’re about.  

I like to work actively on one project at a time.  For me, it would be tough to divide my time and attention between two activities.  I prefer to put all my energy into one project, and mentally flirt with the idea of the next.  Looking forward to my next project is extremely motivating to me.

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

My strength is definitely my ability to make the perfect cup of coffee (with real whipped cream on top) before I sit down to write.  My caffeine fueled descriptions of place are probably my strength, and the internal dialogue of my characters is something on which I am always working. 

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’ve been fairly proactive on social media, and I am working with local Chicago bookstores on events.  I have a long list of podcasts I am soliciting, and I have also reached out to to woman’s organizations that support survivors of partner abuse.  Plenty of my friends and family are part of a grassroots promotional effort; many of them are also in bookclubs and are excited to get the word out.  I’ve also engaged Smith Publicity to cast a wide PR net.  

I wish I would have started developing my online presence much earlier than I did.  It would have been nice to document the process of developing Warm Transfer earlier.

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

Invest a little money in a class, coach, or online course.  Once you have skin in the game, you’re more likely to follow through when you hit a wall or decide your story is worthless.
Your story is not worthless.

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 www.benedicterousseau.com

Omar Beretta www.yacarevolador.com

  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.

Lara Lillibridge has been INTERVIEWED!!!

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

Lara Lillibridge

Website: www.LaraLillibridge.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/only_mama

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LaraLillibridgeWrites/

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, RebeccaKightlinger.com and BuryDownChronicles.com; 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.

Dawn Davis has been INTERVIEWED!!!

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

Dawn Davis, www.towerroomseries.com

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

I spend a lot of time walking through the ravine, in the neighborhood, looking at things and listening. I visit with my daughter and friends and I like to cook and bake both for others and myself.  I also take ballroom dance lessons (tango my favorite) which I find to be a great way to work out and have fun at the same time. I study jazz piano, take lessons and play with other people. I have always been deeply moved and influenced by Bill Evans who is by far, the greatest piano player I have ever heard. In a sometimes messy and overly loud world he is perfection.

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

I have been writing most of my life. I was a teacher for many years and am used to taking notes, writing lesson plans, etc. I have written poems, plays, comedy sketches and most currently, novels.

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

I find that everything relates to writing; conversations, sights, sounds, tastes, smells. I have always listened carefully to what people say and how they say it. I remember what people say and am constantly amazed that so many people do not remember what I say – in this very noisy world I think people block out a lot but ironically, need to be surrounded by sound at all times. As for writers, there are many – Dickens, Tolstoy, Chekov, Dostoyevsky, Vonnegut, Jr., Anne Tyler, Kate Atkinson, J.D. Salinger John Mortimer, John Le Carre, Patrick Dennis, Tom Wolfe…..the list goes on and on. I read for at least two hours everyday and am so grateful there are more books than I will ever have time to read in this lifetime.

  1. Are you currently writing anything right now? If so, tell us about it.

I am working on the third book in the Tower Room series. It is called “Little by Little” and it tells the story of Dilys Frank’s first “travel from the tower room.” It is initially set in Toronto in 1929 and goes back in time to 1850, Buffalo, New York, and tells the story of two children escaping via ‘the underground railroad’ to Canada.

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

First, I research either on-line, in the library and read a lot of material regarding the time and place of the book. I then create a very detailed outline and immediately ignore it when I start writing. I write a first draft and then review what I need to remove and what I need to add. The basic story remains the same but some characters are eliminated, sideline stories are either developed or deleted. I generally write about six drafts before the novel is finished, or as finished as it will be.

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

Dialogue is my strength, description is my weakness. I hear much better than I see. When I am working on a book the voices of the characters are always in my head but the way they look? That is sometimes shadowy.

  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 email my friends that I have written and new book (about 15 people) add the book to my website and then hire a publicist. I am not a good self promoter.

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

Don’t look back – look forward. Regarding first drafts – I find I can get very bogged down if I am constantly revising what I have written the day before.