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.

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The Sound

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

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

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

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

Is it more than one?

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

The clicking

The thumping

The ting of something rattling

A soft scrape

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

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

It is there

You can hear it

She can hear it

Or is it I that can hear it?

I hear it.

I hear the sound.

The Barbarian Before Christmas

Due to the number of books in this series I’m just going to add the link to the list of books I’ve reviewed by Ruby Dixon. While this is apart of the Ice Planet Barbarian series, it still requires you to have read the first book in the Icehome series.

The Barbarian Before Christmas   description:

The growing barbarian tribe is about to celebrate No-Poison Day – a time of love, laughter, and gifts. But all Elly wants is for her mate to be at her side before the brutal season arrives. All Bek wants is a way to quickly return to his female despite the mountains between them. Thanks to the talents of a newcomer…they’re both about to get their wish and celebrate the happiest of holidays together

BOOK 17.5: The Barbarian Before Christmas    5 STARS

This was a short story, but still managed to give such a fun look at their No Poison Day celebration. I love these short stories because you get to see so many of the couples and get a more rounded view of what’s going on in the village, both in Croatoan and Icehome. The main focus was on Bek and Elly, who are definitely my favorite couple. I loved that Dixon didn’t just automatically “fix” Elly. Elly loves Bek and they have a great relationship, but she still has trouble socializing, and hasn’t gotten over her fears, such as needing someone else to taste her food before she eats. Perhaps I like her so much because I can relate to the anxiety and depression of being a part from the one you love for long periods of time, and altogether Dixon handled it perfectly. After them, seeing Lila and getting to know what it was like for her being able to hear now was wonderful. I’d been curious considering she hadn’t seemed all that moved over the change when it first happened, but in this we really get to experience what it’s meant to her. All the Barbarians, humans, and new alien men gave a lot to this story even in such a short format, and it always just makes me want more.

Beauty in Autumn

Beauty in Autumn   by  Ruby Dixon    description:

Inspired by the story of Beauty and the Beast, a short and sexy interpretation of the classic fairy tale…

For years untold, there has always been a beast in the cursed forest. Every year at the Harvest Festival, a new bride is sent to him…never to return. But when Willow is chosen to be the newest bride, she seeks out the help of the local wise woman.

Willow might be able to break the curse, but to do so, she must refrain from looking at the beast entirely. It sounds easy enough, but as things get heated between them, can she keep her promise? Or will she need to see who – and what – she’s bedding first?

Beauty in Autumn   3 STARS

This is a really short story, and it’s shown as book 3 of a series of stories written by different authors, but they aren’t in any way connected as far as I can tell, and so it’s just as easy to read them in whatever order you want or just read this one which I very much enjoyed. While this is said to be based on Beauty and the Beast, about the only thing that ties it to that fairy tale is the roses that are mentioned. It really comes across as more of a retelling of East of the Sun West of the Moon. Regardless of what fairy tale it resembles most, it was a rather interesting twist, and I liked that Willow wanted this, that she realized that this was her fate and she went in gladly. Of course, since it’s Dixon, you should know just how naughty it’s going to be. It’ll make you blush, giggle, and have you speeding right to the end.

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 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.

Aftershocks: A Slice of Life Story

Due to the number of books in this series I’m just going to add the link to the list of books I’ve reviewed by Ruby Dixon.

Aftershocks    description:

On the day the world shook, everything changed for the barbarian tribe. This short story goes back to the event and gives additional insight. How do Rukh and Harlow fare through the disaster? How does the chief handle the destruction of everything he’s ever known?

This short story is a slice of life and intended to be read after Barbarian’s Taming. It is NOT a stand alone. It is, however, intended to provide extra character insight for those who want to visit the ice planet for a little bit longer.

aftershocksBOOK 8.5: Aftershocks   5 STARS

While I have enjoyed the other short stories, this one probably added the most to the series. While Barbarian’s Taming of course showed the devastation that the tribe has gone through in the wake of the earthquake, the blow was softened by the love story going on between Hassen and Maddie, but this book was heartbreaking. Seeing the destruction that was wrought, not just on their home, but both physically and mentally to the characters we’ve come to love. We got to see the point of views and look more into what was going on while Hassen and Maddie were off in search of a new home for the tribe. The rotating point of views really let us fully grasp how this simple tribe will never be the same again.

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.

Calm: Slice of Life Short Stories

Due to the number of books in this series I’m just going to add the link to the list of books I’ve reviewed by Ruby Dixon.

Calm  description:

Calm
One morning, gentle Maylak wakes up and feels a sense of oncoming dread. As the tribe’s healer, it is her job to ensure that everyone is safe, happy, and healthy… and they are.

So what can be threatening her people?

Moving Day
Farli helps move Maddie into the new ‘girls’ cave while avoiding some prospective suitors.

These are two slice of life short stories set in the ICE PLANET BARBARIANS series and do not stand alone. They should be read after BARBARIAN’S TOUCH and are a little bit of sweetness and family life for those waiting for the next full book release.

calmBOOK 7.5: Calm  3 STARS

This story was good, and it definitely makes me excited about the next book in the series. However, it is just a teaser, and I wonder how necessary it really is to the series. I mean it sets up a story to come, but it doesn’t really hold much detail on its’ own. The best part of both stories was getting a better point of view from the sa-khui, especially one like Maylak, because we haven’t really gotten any view points from the women sa-khui, and since she’s already married to see how she views a lot of the new customs coming in, like kissing. Even Farli’s really short story helped with this. But my issue that brought down the rating was that both of these short stories could’ve easily been full tales, and I feel a little jipped that we didn’t get more from this. I don’t know about the other readers, but while I do love the good lovin’ side of these stories, I’ve become so invested in the characters that it’s so much more than that now. I like the full story, and even in this where the characters are already settled, and it’s more about an unknown threat than any romance really had me drawn in. And I wonder if Dixon realizes that she could easily make a thrilling story out of a lot of this that doesn’t really focus on the human relationships and her readers would still love it. Well, at least this reader would.

Having the Barbarian’s Baby

BOOK 1: Ice Planet Barbarians  by  Ruby Dixon

BOOK 2: Barbarian Alien

BOOK 3: Barbarian Lover

BOOK 4: Barbarian Mine

BOOK 4.5: Ice Planet Holiday

BOOK 5: Barbarian’s Prize

BOOK 6: Barbarian’s Mate

Having the Barbarian’s Baby   description:

Megan’s ready to give birth, but she’s not ready to let her mate leave her side. When Cashol must go hunting to feed the tribe, they’re separated for the first time since resonance. Not a problem, except the baby’s ready to be born and there’s a storm brewing…

This is a short story set in the ICE PLANET BARBARIANS world. It does not stand alone, and is intended to be read after BARBARIAN’S MATE. It’s a little bit of sweetness for those that can’t get enough of the big blue aliens! Happy reading!

babyBOOK 6.5: Having the Barbarian’s Baby   5 STARS

This was a wonderful short story, and it just shows how great this series has been that you can’t help but love any piece about them. We get to see a bit of Megan and Cashol’s life, which was great since they didn’t get their own story, but have been characters that we’ve learned a little about along the way, and now get to see what makes them so great together. I really related to Megan, and knowing how it is to be a bit needy, and hating when your man has to go off for a bit. This showed more into how they work, and how the tribe is all there for each other and making sure they’re all able to survive in such a harsh environment. It was sweet, and rather heartwarming, and I can’t wait to read what happens next.