20 Questions with Ann Fields

Today we sit down with author, Ann Fields. She is going to tell us a bit about her writing journey, her work and her inspiration.

Please enjoy this edition of 20 Questions:


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Q1) When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

Even though I wrote my first story when I was in middle school, I didn’t give much thought to being a writer until college. The Romance Writers of America (RWA) held a conference a few miles from the college I was attending and one of my sorority sisters went. She returned to campus very excited, telling us all about the conference. I remember muttering something like, “I want to do that.” But I secretly believed that being a writer was not a viable career option for black people even though I knew of Langston Hughes and Phyllis Wheatley. So years passed and in 1990 I bought a new car and was trying to figure out how to pay it off quickly. I considered taking a part-time job but that wasn’t appealing so I assessed my skills and decided that since I’d always been a decent writer, I would write a romance novel, sell it and pay off the car. Idealistic I know, but back then I had no idea how writing or publishing worked. Needless to say my plan did not unfold in so linear a fashion. I did write a romance novel, but it took four years to write and then another two years to sell/publish. By then, the car was paid off. But I credit that car (a Ford Probe which is now rusting in a junkyard somewhere) and my sorority sister’s excitement about the RWA conference with putting me on the potholed path to my life’s purpose.

Q2) How long does it typically take you to write a book?

I no longer write romances but when I wrote my last one, I was able to complete it in nine months. When I switched to paranormal/supernatural suspense, I had to learn how to write for a different genre so it ended up taking twelve years to write Fuller’s Curse. I started it in 2000 and it was published in 2013. I can’t afford to take that long on book two, Trémont’s Curse so I’ve given myself to the end of 2017, and thankfully I am on track. It would be nice to complete a full length book every two years; that’s the goal.

Q3) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I have a day job so my writing is confined to evenings and weekends. I try to log three to four hours an evening, Monday through Wednesday, and five hours on Saturdays and Sundays. Thursday evenings are reserved for my critique group meetings and Fridays are free so I can pretend that I have a life. With family, a full-time job, social commitments, faith responsibilities and membership in far too many organizations, it’s a struggle sometimes to maintain my writing schedule. But I’ve been known to take a day or two off (from my day job) when I feel I’m getting too far behind in my page count. And I have been known to ignore the pageantry of minor holidays by locking myself in my office to write. And finally there are the odd times when I wake up earlier than usual and use that free gift of time to write.

Q4) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I have a ratty, pill-balled, scratchy black sweater that hangs on the back of my desk chair. I’ve had this sweater since book number three (I’m currently working on book twelve). Even though I don’t wear it every time I sit down to write, it’s a comfort to know it is there. It serves as my security blanket, my anchor.

Q5) How are your books published? (traditional, indie, etc.)

My first romance novel was published in 1996 by one of the major New York houses. I wrote and published five romances for that company before I switched genres. After I switched to paranormal/supernatural, I couldn’t find a publisher so that forced me to self-publish, which turned out to be a great career move. I finally had control over my book covers, edits and release dates. And since I was spending more money, time and effort on marketing my works than my previous publisher, I lost nothing there. The only thing I miss with traditional publishing is the publisher’s distribution network and their many sales channels.

Q6) Where do you get your ideas for your books?

Life! Life presents so many wonderful opportunities for storytelling. If one just keeps their eyes and ears open and mouth shut, stories will just flow to you. I have written stories about interesting people that I met or saw. Some ideas have come from dreams. Others from song lyrics, from being in unusual or new environments, from reading other writers’ works, from asking “what if,” from twisting original plots and from news stories. Like I said…life.

Q7) If you don’t mind sharing, when did you write your first book and how old were you?

I started my first book in 1990 and finished the final draft in 1994. I was in my twenties.

Q8) What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

More than writing, I love to read. If I could get paid to read, that would be heaven. When I’m not reading (or writing), I enjoy spending time with family and friends, and travel every chance I get.

Q9) What is your favorite book?

When I have precious time to read, I prefer fiction. But I have read so many great fiction books that I can’t narrow it to one favourite. It seems like whatever title I am reading at the time is my favourite. But I can tell you the last book that kept me up past my bedtime was Walter Mosley’s The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey. Loved it!

Q10) What do your family and friends think of your writing?

I am blessed to have a very supportive family and loving friends. They are proud of me and show up in force at book signings and literary events. They encourage me and they keep me on task by asking, “How’s that next book coming along?” This I appreciate because writing can be tough and it’s nice to know others are rooting for me.

Q11) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

With my romance novels, I was not happy with any of my book covers. Since I was traditionally published, I had no say on the cover design. Absolutely none! So as an indie author, I was most anxious to dive into the book cover creation process. Boy, what a surprise! I quickly learned how challenging and frustrating that process can be. And it is made even more stressful because in fiction publishing, the book cover is the first step in the buying decision. Get that wrong and you’ve lost a potential reader. So there’s a lot of pressure to get it right. I didn’t appreciate that until I worked on my first book cover as an indie author.

Q12) What do you hate most about the writing process?

The rewriting, rewriting, rewriting. It takes about seven rewrites (I’ve counted!) before I arrive at a draft I am willing to share with my critique group. That amounts to approximately 20 hours just to write one scene of about five pages. But I also accept the fact that I am a slow writer so that eases the frustration…a bit.

Q13) How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

I am currently writing my twelfth book titled, Trémont’s Curse and I find that my favourite book is the one I’m working on at the moment (just like with reading; see question nine). I think that’s because of the magic embedded in the creation process. It’s fun to see how the characters evolve, how the plot comes together, how the setting and descriptions aid in story development. I just love how all the pieces meld by the time I reach the end. It’s always more than I imagined at the beginning, which is a real thrill.

Q14) Do you have any suggestions to help us become better writers? If so, what are they?

There are hundreds of craft books on how to write and how to approach writing. And they all contain nuggets of useful information. So the only suggestion I would dare put on the table is to link with a writers group and a critique group (many writers group have a built-in critique group). I actually participate in multiple writers groups and two critique groups. The writers groups meet monthly and I try to make every meeting. As for the critique groups:  one meets monthly, the other weekly. I could not have made it this far without a writers or critique group. They are invaluable.

Q15) Do you get feedback from your readers much? How and what kinds of things do they say?

I really enjoy visiting book clubs and hearing their comments about my works. I also enjoy receiving face to face feedback at literary events. And my family and friends are not shy about sharing their thoughts. Another place where I receive a lot of feedback is online at various review sites like Goodreads. For the most part the feedback is positive. Readers have said:  they were scared (paranormal); they loved the characters; they felt emotionally connected; the writing was poetic; the story visceral; the story was deceptively simple. On the constructive end, readers have said they weren’t emotionally invested in the story or the characters; the writing tried too hard to be literary; there were too many overstatements of details; the backstory came too late in the storytelling. These are all valid comments that tell me 1) I am blessed to get feedback (that means people are reading my works) and 2) readers are as diverse as writers.

Q16) What is your preferred reading audience?

I write paranormal/supernatural novels and short stories that feature spiritual beings. Other themes I’ve written about include:  urban legends, cursed families, societal changes and current issues. I think the readers I prefer are like me. They like variety. They like to think and have their worldview challenged. They like unique themes and enjoy plots/characters that don’t fall neatly into categories. They read for entertainment but also appreciate having their emotions stroked. They, like me, prefer a solid ending but are also fine with using their own wits and imagination to close a story. Even though I am forced to slot my books into a category (paranormal/supernatural), I think my writings cut across multiple segments of literature. So in essence, I prefer a reading audience that approaches the reading experience with an open, willing mind and a ready spirit.

Q17) What do you think makes a good story?

A good story is one that stays with the reader long after the end. It is peopled with exceptional characters, filled with unusual plot twists, contains a concept that is unique, snags the reader with descriptive scenes and phrasing, is well written, contains emotional depth, is a smooth read and keeps the reader engaged with craftily orchestrated conflict and suspense. A good story is a treasure.

Q18) As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

I can remember lying on my grandmother’s porch one summer during my elementary school years, looking at the black sky and bright stars saying, “I want to be a lawyer” and in the next breath saying, “I want to be an entrepreneur.” Fast forward many years and life took care of erasing what was not to be—lawyer. I did not pass the law school entrance exams, and thus began my search for entrepreneurship, which after many years of searching landed me squarely in the literary field as an indie author. I love it! Who knew back then on that hot, dark night my wish would turn out so beautifully?!

Q19) Where can we find your books?

Online at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com, and other ebook retailers. Also, brick and mortar stores can order the book through Ingram and have it in stock in a matter of days.

Q20) Will you give us an excerpt from one of your favorite works?


fullers-curse-front-cover-promoFULLER’S CURSE

The First Beginning:  The Curse

Malachi 2:  2 (NRSV)

…if you will not lay it to heart to give glory to my name, says the Lord of hosts, then I will send the curse on you; indeed I have already cursed them…

Lying is easy. It’s the Truth that’ll wear you down.

If living had taught her nothing else in ninety-some-odd years, Mattie Fuller had at least learned that fact. And as sure as those billowy, gray clouds were rolling in from the northwest to pay a visit with much needed rain, she knew that soon—and very soon—she would have another opportunity to lie. To whom? She didn’t know. The exact time? She didn’t know that, either. But soon.

“Gone now. Git down,” she scolded the mutts that were jumping, licking and nipping at her hands, bringing her round from the surety of the unknown to the here and now.

Mostly strays that were here tonight but might have moved on by morning, they wanted water and the crushed, mutilated meat by-products in the open cans of Alpo. Mattie gave them what they begged for…and extra. A generous compensation for the lies and denials she would have to feed the prying visitors when they showed up to plague her. With empty cans left scattered in the yard—Governor would pick them up, he always did—Mattie slowly shuffled across the rock-hard dirt, eyes cast downward, searching the veins of the earth for a beginning and an end. Learning nothing from the dust, she climbed the steps of her back porch.

Lowering herself into her Mama’s old rocking chair, her gray-rimmed, black eyes lifted to focus on the white Holy Bible with gold embossed lettering that was lying on a straight-back chair on the back porch. It wasn’t the color-infused pictures of Jesus Christ and his disciples or the maps of the ancient lands or the lyrical words of scripture that drew Mattie to it, but rather the secret concealed inside the covers of The Good Book. Inside those razor-induced slits were onionskin papers, some with her left-handed scrawl, and they contained the Truth of her family.

Her old eyes searched carefully around the backyard and beyond to the trees and woods and outlying structures that surrounded her family’s home before reaching for the Bible and withdrawing the papers of Truth. Mattie unfolded and smoothed one sheet of the fragile document in her flower-print lap. As it always did, one name leaped off the page. That name, more than the others, twisted her heart, wringing a groan of agony out of her. It was the only name that made the paper of Truth a lie. Willie shouldn’t be on the paper. His name should only be engraved on a headstone, not this flimsy paper weighted down with pain.

Big brother Willie, eighty years dead along with the rest of the family, had just stirred to life in Mattie’s memory. The rooster had crowed only minutes before, Mama had breakfast sizzling on the stove, and Daddy was already in the woods checking the pine tree harvest.

Helen, older than Willie, saw them coming first. Pitch-black, high-yellow, red-boned, damn-near white, honey-tan and velvet-brown in color. On foot, in carriages, on horses, and in wagons they came, crowding their big front yard. Family members all sharing the same blood, all seeking to absolve the hatred in their eyes, the fear in their hearts.

Helen had yelled and screamed, pulling the kids and Mama from their morning chores. Six of the seven residents of the house—Mama and five children, ranging in age from fourteen to three—crowded the front porch. Daddy was missing. Maybe if Daddy had been there Willie would have lived another day. Maybe not.

“Another death last night,” said the leader, Uncle Jess. “We know it’s your boy.”

None of the six on the porch had to guess which of the three boys he meant. All eyes were fixed on Willie. Mischievous Willie, who used to pull Mattie’s hair with one hand while giving her candy and fruit with the other. No one knew what to make of Willie’s confusing ways.

“We’re ending this right now, Aldana. Right now, it stops.”

Mama pushed Willie behind her, trying to protect him from the hatred and ignorance that crowded her front yard. But Mama was a little woman and the rest just kids. What could they do to stop an intense mob—women, men, children, teenagers, all blood relatives—that pressed forward? Some held sticks, some knives, some pitchforks, some axes. All had ugly expressions on their faces.

Mama tried to reason with all that ugliness. “If he were the one, what you aim to do won’t help. Only I can stop it.”

“Hand him over.” Uncle Jess stepped menacingly forward. They weren’t willing to listen to common sense or family knowledge. They were too far gone; too filled with hate, fear and blood lust. “Don’t make this hard.”

Mama leaned down low and whispered something to Willie. But Uncle Jess must have heard it too, because as soon as Willie took off running around the side of the house, Uncle Jess and the family were right behind him. By the time the five on the porch made it to the backyard, the family had already disfigured Willie so badly, he was unrecognizable. Helen stood closest to the back porch, holding her ears, rocking, sobbing, screaming. Mattie bent low, toddling between the legs of the many aunts, uncles, and cousins who had changed her diaper, given her birthday presents, and passed her from one lap to the other in church.

Mama screamed and tried to stop the final blow of Uncle Jess’s ax as it landed hard in Willie’s chest, but hatred outwrestled a mother’s love. Another Uncle locked Mama in his arms while Uncle Jess carved the heart from Willie’s body and lifted it high for all to see. It was a deep burgundy red—not black, like they had imagined.

Hatred seeped out of the air like the sun evaporating moisture. Slowly, blindly, the dazed crowd stumbled to the front of the house. Anywhere but the place of their mistake. Confusion and disbelief clouded their faces. Regret rested on some of them, but for most, it was disbelief.

The family’s loud bloodletting cries must have reached Daddy in the woods because he appeared as the last family member rounded the corner of the house. Daddy didn’t need an explanation. The heart lying by the mutilated body of his first-born son was explanation enough. He fell to his knees, hands stretched wide, his chest heaving in and out, doing what it could to hold in his anger, the need for revenge, the pain. Willie had been thirteen years old and he was now dead for no reason other than desperation and fear.

And so, the family lived on. The curse lived on. But Willie was gone forever and his story… it was hushed up and eventually, it died too.

After a while, her parents had seemed to understand. She and her siblings had not. But eventually, Mattie understood—after she was given custody of the Bible and the Truth. She didn’t have a choice but to understand, to accept, to protect; to do her duty to her family.

Mattie stared at the paper, wiping tears from her ancient eyes. With her crooked finger as a guide, she compared her memory to the names. Stopping at the last entry, she wondered if her unknown visitors would bring the end for her. Lord knows she prayed every day for deliverance. She was tired, heavy-hearted, and ready to leave the harshness of this family secret. Mattie was ready to be with Mama, Daddy, Helen, Willie, Floyd and Johnny in Heaven.

But Mattie’s purpose was not yet complete. More names to scratch on the paper; Lord knows how many more deaths before she could rest.


About Ann Fields:

Ann Fields began her writing career in the romance genre. She published four romance novels and one novella under the pen name of Anna Larence before she encountered her first ghost. That one brush with the supernatural shifted her focus from love and happily ever after to love and life in the here and after. In her novel, Fuller’s Curse and her short stories featured in Voices from the Block (Volumes I & II), The Writer’s Block, and Lyrical Darkness, she explores life in all its many dimensions. She can be reached online at www.annfields.com, https://twitter.com/ann_fields and www.facebook.com/AnnFieldsAuthor.

Find Ann’s Books:

https://www.amazon.com/Fullers-Curse-Ann-Fields-ebook/dp/B00CEOVF90?ie=UTF8&keywords=Fuller%27s%20curse&qid=1465168250&ref_=sr_1_1&s=books&sr=1-1

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/fullers-curse-ann-fields/1114479252?ean=9780989368513

20 Questions with B.B. Free

Today we sit down with teacher and author B.B. Free. She is going to tell us about her writing, her inspiration as well as share an excerpt from one of her favorite works.

bio-pic-2Q1) When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I started writing poetry when I was in my teens. I noticed very quickly that I was better able to express myself in writing than in speaking. And writing became this wonderful tool to help me deal with or process my feelings, my dreams and my fantasies.

Q2) How long does it typically take you to write a book?

A children’s book, no longer than a couple of months. My one and only finished novel, Friends of the Bride, took me four years, and that’s before Beta reading (current stage) and formal editing.

Q3) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

Writing during the school year is tricky. Teachers spend a lot more than just instructional time focused on students and curriculum. I have to carve short periods whenever possible. That said, if the muse presses, I drop everything and at least put rough notes on paper until I can get some time to refine them.

Q4) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

There are parts of my first drafts that look like a five-year-old wrote them. If I’m in the zone and the material is flowing, I won’t stop if I get stuck on the right word to describe something. I’ll write a Kindergarten word that summarizes the concept and keep it moving. I don’t know if it’s a quirk, but when I come back to my writing and find words like “yucky” and “doodyhead”, I laugh at how weird my process seems to me. Maybe other writers do it too, who knows.

Q5) How are your books published? 

So far, I’m indie. I thought long and hard about going the trad way when my first children’s book was ready, and I decided not to give myself the aggravation. I’m not saying ‘no’ categorically to traditional publishing, but as of now, the freedom and control of indie publishing works for me.

Q6) Where do you get your ideas for your books?

My children’s books always have a character value as the overarching theme. It’s the teacher in me, I guess. I like literature that leaves my students room for self-assessment and global thinking. My adult writing is mostly about human relationships- romantic, parent-child, siblings, friends. I have been mystified by human interactions all my life, so that’s what I like to explore. And some of my short stories were inspired by very vivid dreams.

Q7) If you don’t mind sharing, when did you write your first book and how old were you?

It wasn’t a book, but I wrote a collection of poems when I was sixteen while going through some health problems. All my teenage angst poured forth in poetry.

Q8) What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I read almost constantly, travel, restaurant-hop and write my foodie blog, and I’m learning Italian. Right now I’m reading Football for Dummies so I can spend more time with my husband this football season. We’ll see how that goes.

Q9) What is your favorite book?

What are you doing to me? How can I pick one? Ok, here’s a few- London by Edward Rutherford, just about anything by Leon Uris, more recently Zealot by Reza Aslan, and the Harry Potter series. I’ll stop there.

Q10) What do your family and friends think of your writing?

Great question. My husband and daughter think my writing is excellent, but the topics don’t interest them. My husband likes books about WWII, and my daughter is 26 and can’t relate to my characters who are usually of a more mature age. My friends like what I write, but most of them are not avid readers of anything.

Q11) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

I didn’t learn this in creating my book, but I was surprised how reading attitudes have changed because of this technology age we live in. Epic novels like the John Steinbeck books would be hard to sell these days. The more I read about trends and tastes, the more I realize that many people want their fiction fast and short. Attention spans have diminished considerably in the last twenty years.

Q12) What do you hate most about the writing process?

Outlining. I know I should, I know it’s effective, but I don’t really do it until two thirds of my story is already down. Outlining only helps me when it’s time to tie it all together.

Q13) How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

coverIt’s like asking someone to pick their favorite child. I’ve written two children’s books, The Rescuers and The Knights of Ugly (the second is in the illustration phase), and one novel. I love them all! But I have a special place in my heart for a short story I wrote titled “Echoes in the Attic”. If I say why I like it, I would spoil it, but this is one of those ideas that came to me in a dream.

Q14) Do you have any suggestions to help us become better writers? If so, what are they?

Read until your eyeballs fall out. I know every writer says that, but it’s gospel truth. Not only do you see how language is used properly, but it also helps you define your style, and it’s like fuel for me. If I’m slacking on my writing, all I have to do is read something of quality, and my writing motor starts to rev up.

Q15) Do you get feedback from your readers much? How and what kinds of things do they say?

My readers get me, I’m happy to say. Parents and educators understand and applaud my wish to convey the importance of character education in literature, and the kids like the stories and identify with the characters. Those who read my adult fiction grasp my passion for literary aesthetics. English is a beautiful language. I enjoy using its rhythm and richness to create prose that is cadenced and lyrical whenever possible. If readers tell me something I wrote took life in their minds, or tugged at their heartstrings, I know they got it.

Q16) What is your preferred reading audience?

People who love the language, people who are prone to reflection, and people who place importance on their connections to self and the world at large. If vivid, descriptive language bores you, I’m not the writer for you. If your interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships are important to you, more than likely you will like my stories.

Q17) What do you think makes a good story?

Dialogue that reveals without actually telling, passionate characters that become their own heroes, and a plot that is captivating in its simplicity. I’m drawn to stories that flow easily and carry me effortlessly through the action.

Q18) As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

I wanted to read books out loud for a living. Is there such a job? But also I wanted to be a pediatrician and a singer. A singing pediatrician.

Q19) Where can we find your books?

The Rescuers is available at:

Amazon.com:  http://www.amazon.com/Rescuers-B-Free/dp/0986120103/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1439481275&sr=8-1&keywords=bbfree+the+rescuers

Barnes&Noble.com:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-rescuers-b-b-free/1122314622?ean=9780986120107

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25939241-the-rescuers?ac=1

And Counterpoint, a short story, on Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/401414-counterpoint

Q20) Will you give us an excerpt from one of your favorite works?

I had fun writing a dark, and hopefully funny, short story called And Then There Were None for a contest sponsored by the South Florida Writers Association (it won first prize, by the way). Here’s a bit:


Kimiko. The greatest of my misfortunes. Kimiko was my husband’s mistress. Discovering her was quite unexpected. You see, I had no idea Fred and I were having problems.

He’s my best friend. Our marriage is heavenly. There was absolutely no reason for him to have an affair. You may wonder why I seem to blame only her, when technically, he’s the one who broke vows. He serves a purpose, so I did what any committed wife would do: I forgave him, and I’m happy to say, our little hiccup is all but forgotten.

Of course, it helps that Kimiko is no longer in the picture. It was tragic, actually. My understanding is that after Fred ended the affair, she decided to move back to Japan, and some careless movers accidentally dropped her piano from her balcony. When it comes to supervising movers, watch your location, location, location. I wore an exquisite grey dress to the funeral. Charming girl, really.

And then there were none.


About B.B. Free:

B.B. Free always had a book on her nightstand from the age of three, and so began her love affair with language. As a teenager, poetry became her favorite vehicle for expressing the rollercoaster of those angst-filled years. When she became an elementary school teacher, she discovered the range and quality of children’s books and began creating thought-provoking storylines appropriate for children six to eleven. This is when ‘The Rescuers’ was born, a South Florida Writers Association award winning story, which will also be published in Spanish. Her passion for writing has now expanded into the realm of adult fiction, and while she will continue to produce literature for children, she is now editing her poignant, funny and stylish novel about female friendships, food, love and reinvention in sexy Miami.

B.B. Free is married and has raised a daughter, now 26.  She continues to teach and foster the love of reading in young children. She also writes a food blog where she chronicles her adventures in pursuing another passion… fine dining!

Connect with B.B. Free:

www.facebook.com/bbfree61

Twitter @bbfree61

www.goodreads.com/bbfree61

http://www.pinterest.com/bbfree61

bbfree61.blogspot.com

Instagram@bbfree61

 

 

20 Questions with David Robertson

Today we sit down with Children’s author, David Robertson. He is going to tell us a bit about his work, his inspiration and background.

Please enjoy this edition of 20 Questions.


drQ1) When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t. (unfortunately it’s taken me 60 years to ‘live the dream’!)

Q2) How long does it typically take you to write a book?

Not long, surprising as I’m a one finger typist. Editing however..!

Q3) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I write as and when I’m in the mood. Then everything else is on hold until I get what I need to say on paper.

Q4) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I write my blogs as though I’m having a one-sided conversation with someone.

Q5) How are your books published?

Self-published, by Matador – so far.

Q6) Where do you get your ideas for your books?

Out of thin air mainly. Things strike you at the oddest moments.

Q7) If you don’t mind sharing, when did you write your first book and how old were you?

I began my children’s book DOGNAPPED! in 2015 at the age of 60. It was published this year.

Q8) What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Drinking alcohol is a particular favourite.

Q9) What is your favorite book?

Catch 22 by Joseph Heller.

Q10) What do your family and friends think of your writing?

They’re very supportive. As I’m writing this I have been married for exactly nine days  – thus far my wife is very encouraging. I’ll let you know how that goes!

Q11) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

How much I enjoyed it! Yes, even editing and the pain barrier – see Q12 & Q14

Q12) What do you hate most about the writing process?

Editing. Oh, and editing.

Q13) How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

I have 1 children’s books published DOGNAPPED! and another, IN THE DOGHOUSE! Will be released at the end of November. My favourite (notice I spell that word in the correct, English way – he said with his tongue firmly in his cheek!) however is my sci-fi/ fantasy novel which I have been editing on and off for the last ten years and doesn’t even have a title yet!

Q14) Do you have any suggestions to help us become better writers? If so, what are they?

Never give up on your dreams. In the beginning I started stuff which I never finished. Push on through the writing pain barrier (believe me it exists!) that period in every book when you can see no end in sight and each word is a slog, it will be worth it in the end.

Q15) Do you get feedback from your readers much? How and what kinds of things do they say?

DOGNAPPED! Has 9 five star and 1 four star review on Amazon, all with really encouraging comments. (It helps that the illustrations by Ian R Ward are absolutely stunning!)

Q16) What is your preferred reading audience?

The children’s books are aimed at 7-10 year olds although can be read to younger kids. And, fess up Moms and Dads, you love them too!

Q17) What do you think makes a good story?

Something fast paced and lively, for kids anyway. I have been asked if my stories have a moral to them. No they don’t, just a good adventure – if you can see a moral somewhere then you’re looking too hard!

Q18) As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

A vaguely remember wanting to be a keeper at Dudley zoo. It has however been a very long time ago.

Q19) Where can we find your books?

On Amazon at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dognapped-David-J-Robertson/

Also you can order from your local bookstore

Q20) Will you give us an excerpt from one of your own favorite works?


dognappedScamper!
Clatter!
Bang!
Thump!
One-Eyed Rose fell down the steps, ‘Wow! A puppy dog!’

The pup looked at Bertie with his bone-patterned scarf. He stared at me armed with a knife. Finally he gaped at One-Eyed Rose with the black ring around her one good eye like an eye- patch. ‘Arggh! Pirates!’

‘Wow! Where?’ shouted One-Eyed Rose, looking around anxiously.
I dropped the knife. ‘He means us, Rose,’ I told her, ‘we’ve frightened him.’

The pup bounced up and down on all four paws. ‘I’m not frightened! Come on! I’ll fight you all. Yippity yap!’ he barked in a squeaky voice.
Bertie sighed. With a sharp clip of his paw he tapped the puppy across the tail making him somersault backwards.
‘Ow! I surrender!’

‘What sort of dog is that?’ One-Eyed Rose sniffed at the defeated baby.
‘I won’t tell you anything! We Jack Russell’s are very brave!’

I looked at the brown marks on his fur, ‘I bet his name is Patch.’
The little dog grinned at me defiantly, ‘You’ll get nothing out of me, you nasty pirate. From now on Ashley says nothing! Yappity yip!’
‘So, Ashley, what was a Jack Russell puppy doing up the chimney?’ Bertie asked.
Ashley pouted, ‘I was exploring.’

‘It’s a good job I poked you out with that brush. If someone had lit the fire you might have singed your tail,’ One-Eyed Rose said helpfully.

From DOGNAPPED! – Now a finalist in The People’s Book Prize 2017.


About David Robertson:`

Hi, I’m David J Robertson a 60 year old bloke from the Black Country in the heart of England. There’s a children’s book – DOGNAPPED! completed and published (about my dog, Misty and her adventures) The second ‘IN THE DOGHOUSE!’ is written with a third already in the pipeline.

So what are my writing credentials? I began writing seriously following a heart attack. Being cracked open like a lobster for a quadruple bypass seriously focuses the mind. Heed my advice – this is not the way to get into writing!

I’ve done quite a bit flash fiction and short stories. One day I’ll try to put them all together. You can see samples of these along with a blog on my website which is updated around once a week depending upon my inspiration, chagrin or whatever has plain got my goat during the past seven days.

And of course there’s the novel. Haven’t we all got one somewhere? It unfortunately needs attacking drastically with the red editing pen! A humorous (allegedly) science fiction/ fantasy adventure. I only started it in 2006 so it must be nearly finished by now.

Thursday mornings are taken up with Castle Writers in Dudley, in fact I’m now the Chairman, come along if you’re local – a bit of creative writing never hurt anyone.

Connect with David Robertson:

Website: www.mistybooks.net

Facebook: www.facebook.com/mistybooks2015

Blog: www.mistybooks.wordpress.com

Twitter: @Misty_Books

Amazon link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dognapped-David-J-Robertson/

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20 Questions with Christian Freed

Today we sit down with prolific author and fellow upstate NY native Christian Freed. He is going to tell us about his early ambitions as an aspiring author and share some of his work with us.

Please enjoy this installment of 20 questions.


cfQ1) When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I started when I was a little kid- drawing goofy comics and the like. I won student of the month in 11th grade for writing a really bad horror novel that I still try to find and burn every time I go home but my mom keeps hidden. My uncle is also a rather notable historian so I guess it runs in my blood.

Q2) How long does it typically take you to write a book?

Once I get the idea it rattles around in my head for a few months. Usually it begins with a name or place and then the story builds. The actual storytelling takes between three and four months.

Q3) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

The days all blend together. Mornings are filled with marketing and publicity. I crank up the writing in the afternoon and try to bang out 2-3000 words a day. Not that it always happens, mind you.

Q4) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I need to be in a zone and if Iron Maiden is playing in the background my fingers fly.

Q5) How are your books published? 

I began by wasting over a decade trying to land an agent or soliciting to the Big Six before the self-publishing craze erupted. Once that happened I put up my first two books on my own and was unhappy with the results for about a year before getting two contracts from two small publishers. Most of my novels are now published by one, though I have several shorts and anthologies that remain solely my property.

Q6) Where do you get your ideas for your books?

I have a background in the military- 20 years in the active Army with 5 spent in rather nasty places: Korean DMZ, Afghanistan, and Iraq- and I also have a MA in military history. If we take the time to look around, the stories are already there just waiting to have me put my brand on them.

Q7) If you don’t mind sharing, when did you write your first book and how old were you?

A long time ago in a galax…. My first full length novel was back in the late 80s when I was still in high school. Of course back then I had the goal of being published by 18 just like Mary Shelley.

Q8) What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I have two Bernese Mountain Dogs who like long walks in the woods. Then there’s the gym with a little bit of quality bourbon and a great cigar to finish the day. Reading is also a fundamental aspect to the day. Writers need to read!

Q9) What is your favorite book?

I am a man of very few favorites, but I absolutely love the world Steven Erickson has created with his Malazan Book of the Fallen. But I do have a hefty collection of original Robert E Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and HP Lovecraft in my library.

Q10) What do your family and friends think of your writing?

They think it’s cool and wish me luck, but I think my mom would like it better if I was more successful.

Q11) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

I would say that it would be the absolute depths of humanity, for good or evil.

Q12) What do you hate most about the writing process?

EDITING…do I need to say it again? EDITING!

Q13) How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

I have close to 20 military fantasy novels out. My favorite to write would probably be Where Have All the Elves Gone? It’s a play on the evolving landscape of traditional fantasy. The novel happens in North Carolina, today. Elves and dwarves exist, but they look like us and we have no idea. I had a lot of fun with the concepts, from the giant who makes weapons and digs the Grateful Dead to the dwarf brothers who are bankers.where-have-all-the-elves-gone

Q14) Do you have any suggestions to help us become better writers? If so, what are they?

Don’t be afraid to fail. Follow through your ideas. Some work, some are scrap. I once made it 120 pages into a novel before I realized I didn’t like it and scraped the entire thing.

Q15) Do you get feedback from your readers much? How and what kinds of things do they say?

Not in the beginning, but since my works are getting spread wider I am getting a lot more. Some of the feedback is good and helpful, the rest just get filed away in the ‘why did I waste my time reading that’ file. I’ve seen a slew of comments declaring how good the books are or how they intend on reading them with their children. It’s all very humbling.

Q16) What is your preferred reading audience?

Surprisingly, not what I thought it was. I am discovering that more of my readers are women in their twenties, not headstrong, gung-ho men like I assumed. That’s kind of cool.

Q17) What do you think makes a good story?

There has to be an element of realism. I like to kill off a hero or two because, let’s face it, the good guys don’t always live. I remember reading somewhere that every story has already been told and it is how we retell it that matters. There must be the proper balance of dialogue, action, and pacing to keep me interested.

Q18) As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

I can honestly say that in my early forties I have accomplished all of my life goals. I always wanted to serve in the military, and did. I wanted to go to war- don’t ask why- and did three times. My books are published. What more can I ask for?

Q19) Where can we find your books?

Everywhere! I am all over Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and listed on Ingram. You can also join me on Facebook and Twitter to learn more. I appreciate each and every one of you.

Q20) Will you give us an excerpt from one of your favorite works?

This is from my stand alone novel: The Dragon Hunters. Enjoy and as always, read on, my friends. Read on.


the-dragon-hunters

A pale wind kissed the fading winter day. Spring was but a few weeks away and the lands were still being assailed by an unexpected blizzard coming down from the Darkwall Mountains to the north. Massive snow drifts dotted the lightly forested plains. Trees drooped under the weight of gathering ice. Winds howled and screamed in tortured agony from canyon to valley. Even the skies, normally pale blue by this time, were sickened in a mottle of grey and black. Winter refused to let go.

Normally Fitch Iane would be nestled in his favorite chair built by his great grandfather, in front of the fireplace but this winter had been especially harsh on hunting and fishing. A record six storms all but crippled the lands, making it next to impossible for most to gather food or firewood. As he tramped through the woods on the way home, Fitch wished for the thousandth time that he’d been born some sort of royalty. Living in a warm, toasty palace with marble floors and dozens of waiting servants seemed the life. A sudden gust of wind sent ice and snow down the back of his heavy coat, forcing Fitch back to grim reality.

Still, it wasn’t all bad. His knapsack was filled with three cleaned and quartered hares and a handful of plucked grouse. Not too bad considering it was just for him and his wife. The thought of Shar, with her warming smile and long, flowing golden hair stirred his passions. How much he’d give to be lying next to her supple body under the down blankets right now. Fitch shook his head. That sort of thinking would leave a man dead quicker than getting cut wrong. Besides, he still had too far to go to get distracted with thoughts of what came next.

Fitch sighed and continued his trek across the darkening landscape. He couldn’t help but shiver at the unseasonable cold. The snow should be nearly gone by now and the land soggy from the additional moisture. A quick glance around and he figured it would be another six weeks before things got right. Six whole weeks. Fitch wondered how this year’s harvest would turn out. The farmers were all but panicking by now. As it was, this part of Thrae wasn’t known for outstanding crops or heavy farming. Most of the residents of Gend, Fitch’s home since birth, were miners. The kingdom of Thrae won ownership of the jewel mines after a fierce war with the Dwarves of the Bairn Hills nearly a generation ago.

It was left to men like Fitch to provide for their homes and right now all he wanted was to get out of the insufferable cold. He could almost taste the stew and fresh baked dark bread. A pint of heavy ale would do nicely too. Fitch stumbled, snagged on a buried root. A tremendous roar shook the very ground as he dropped. His heart froze as a blast of freezing wind sliced into him. Fitch looked around but couldn’t spot the source of the fury in the gathering darkness.

“What?” he asked himself, hoping his mind could rationalize the moment.

Fitch looked up just then and noticed the entire eastern sky seemed as if it was on fire. He smelled ash and burnt meat. He wanted to believe it was just an illusion played by the setting sun. The first flicker of flames shooting up over the treetops changed his mind.  He looked around. Everywhere he looked trees were blackened and dead. Fresh snow was dusty, charcoal splashed. What nightmare could have done such a thing? A tiny whisper in the back of his mind warned that the answers were much closer than he wished.

Then it hit him. A horrible, sickening thought all but crippling him. Fire. Smoke. Distance. Gend! His village was burning. Fitch dropped his sack and started running. The need to get home, to find Shar, overpowered all other thoughts and emotions. A nightmarish roar frightened the world. Fitch covered his ears and ran. Blood began to trickle from his nose.

When he got closer he could hear new sounds, sickening sounds of steel ripping human flesh. Women screaming. Children crying. Fitch suddenly grew very afraid. His body became lethargic. He found it difficult just to move. Shar. Thinking of her kept him going, but he was so afraid. A warm feeling ran down his leg. Sweat turned cold. His body shivered and trembled. He was no great hero, but neither was he a coward. What manner of demon can make me so? Fitch Iane gave in to his fears and collapsed. He used what strength remained to crawl under the boughs of a snow laden fir and cried.

The screaming quickly drowned out his sorrow. Fitch tried covering his ears. Tears streaked his frozen cheeks. Strength abandoned him. Fear dug deeper, gaining strength and crushing him. Jagged pieces of ice fell from the pine needles and cut his face. He didn’t care. His only concern was staying alive. Just to stay alive!

What must have been hundreds of booted feet crunching through the ice covered snow inspired new terror. Fitch reluctantly opened his eyes and had to cover his mouth to keep the gasp from escaping. He barely made out the huge, barrel bodied figures marching by. Watching the shadows move so stealthily through the forest reminded him of the ghost and ghoul stories his mother used to tell him and his three brothers when they were growing up. These apparitions were much more real. Fitch got a good look as they marched closer.

Garbed in black and grey, they had massive barrel shaped bodies and spoke in a gnarled tongue. The sound of their boots crunching made him cringe. Stomp, stomp, stomp. He wanted to break and run but couldn’t. The demons wore armor and had flowing capes of the purest black. Spikes jut up from their helmets. Axe and sword rested in their mailed hands.  Some sang songs; cruel and wicked. Fitch saw hundreds of them moving through the forest. He’d never believed in demons before. They seemed so dire, menacing. Then he noticed the tiny rivers of crimson staining their armor. Blood! Demons or no, they were pure killers. Struggling to control his sobs, Fitch watched them as they merrily went about slaughtering every last man, woman and child in his village.

A pair of demons halted nearby, close enough for him to hear part of their conversation.

“…much longer?” snarled the first.

The second spit a wad of bloody phlegm. “Maggots take too long to kill. No honor. They run instead of fight.”

“The king’s army will come soon. We must hurry. Ramulus wants them all dead but we aren’t strong enough to fight an army.”

“One hour,” the second confirmed.

The demons stalked off, going their separate ways and leaving Fitch more frightened than before. He didn’t want to die. The thought replayed in his head over and over. He knew it was shameful to be so selfish but he couldn’t help it. Gradually, the slaughter abated and the demons returned to the shadows. Fitch was alone. The flames of Gend slowly faded. Night crawled back into the world. He nearly summoned the strength to crawl out of his self imposed prison when that horrible roar shattered the calm. A fierce gust of wind shook most of the snow from the branches. Fitch pulled his knees up as an immense presence sailed overhead. Wrapping his arms around his knees, he cried himself to sleep.


About Christian Freed:

Christian W. Freed was born in Buffalo, N.Y. more years ago than he would like to remember. After spending more than 20 years in the active duty US Army he has turned his talents to writing. Hammers in the Wind has been the #1 overall free book on Kindle 3 times in the last year and he is a holds a fancy certificate from the L Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest.. He currently has sixteen military-fantasy novels in print, several more under contract, and has participated in another five anthologies. In his spare time he writes for a variety of magazines. His latest novel is a the beginning of a series of science fiction-fantasy novels where he attempts to tackle the issue of whether we need God in order for our race to continue to exist. Dreams of Winter is available now.

Many of the experiences and battle sequences in his novels come from his three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan and a keenly developed understanding of military tactics. He graduated from Campbell University with a degree in history and is pursuing a Masters of Arts degree in Military History from Norwich University. He currently lives outside of Raleigh, N.C. and devotes his time to writing and to his family and their two Bernese Mountain Dogs. If you drive by you might just find him on the porch with a cigar in one hand and a pen in the other. You can find out more about his work by clicking on any one of the social media icons listed below. You can find out more about his work by following him @ https://www.facebook.com/ChristianFreed or @christianwfreed. A complete list of his works can be found here: http://christianfreed.wix.com/christianwarrenfreed

 

 

20 Questions with S.L. Shelton

Today we sit down for a 20 Questions session with author S.L. Shelton. He is going to tell us about his interesting background, his inspiration and share some of his work with us.

Please enjoy this edition of 20 Questions:

 


slsheltonauthorQ1) When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I was in my early twenties when I had a dream that my deceased grandfather took me to a book store to see a book that I had written. It’s been a goal ever since. Over the years I’ve had many book “starts”, but never wrote one for publishing until I sprained my ankle pretty severely after retiring. All the universe seemed to come together signalling me to begin writing in earnest. Scott Wolfe was the result.

Q2) How long does it typically take you to write a book?

It depends on the sort of book. Espionage books take a good while to write compared to, say, a crime thriller. It took me on average 3 to 4 months to write the first draft on each Scott Wolfe novel, where as my most recent release (Hedged) only took three weeks. The technical detail threshold is lower so I can focus on the character personalities (my strong suit). I’m certain that if I were writing forensic/procedural crime novels, the effort level would go back up. But the thriller feel is central in my stories anyway so I prefer not to distract with the technical anymore than I must.

Q3) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I wander around the house or property for days, getting my mind wrapped around the detail of the story. As soon as all the pieces click, I write until I’m exhausted or too hungry to continue, and then return as soon as those needs are met.

Q4) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Nothing anyone would notice; I sit and have silent conversations with the characters in my head. These conversations would best be described as interviews. I chat them up and see how they respond. Once I’ve talked with them for a while I understand who they are and am able to convey them more accurately in dialog and narrative.

Q5) How are your books published?

I’m pure indie, though for the right deal I would go traditional. My point of view is that if I’m going to have to do all the promotion myself anyway, I might as well get the larger royalty for it. If the distribution and promotion from a traditional publishing contract would exceed what I currently enjoy when my books reach bestseller status, then I’d be more than happy to go that route.

Q6) Where do you get your ideas for your books?

Wow…I’ve never thought of where. They just come to me, sometimes three or four a day. I have more story ideas sitting around on post-its, napkins, and yellow legal pads than I could ever possibly write. Picking one would be the more challenging obstacle and that seems to be a mood issue.

Q7) If you don’t mind sharing, when did you write your first book and how old were you?

I wrote my first book in my twenties, almost three decades ago. It was more an exercise in narrative and dialog than anything else and I would be embarrassed to have it published now. I guess I’m lucky I didn’t have access to self publishing tools at the time. It was really a horrible story. Fortunately, we all grow up and mature, and if we’re diligent, our skills mature with us. I wrote approximately five novels before actually deciding to publish, plus another thirty or more first chapters that never made it past the opening scenes.

Q8) What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I used to build furniture, but I’ve also been known to farm a bit, sculpt, paint, photography, travel, maybe even a little target practice (I enjoy both archery and firearms). Since my wonderful Gretel has fallen ill, though, I’ve spent the vast majority of my down time with her. In fact, the whole caregiver role change has me spending more time with her than writing. It was a difficult shift, particularly since writing was our source of income. But I’m grateful for the time I have with her. Writing will wait as long as it needs to wait, and if I’m able to cram in a chapter or two after she’s fallen asleep at night, then all the better.

Q9) What is your favorite book?

Frank Herbert’s Dune. It’s a bit dry by some modern standards, but to me it beautifully represents the power of the fiction author to encapsulate a modern issue (political or otherwise) and shape emotion around it.

Q10) What do your family and friends think of your writing?

My family is very pleased with my literary success. My mother rarely meets someone without sharing that her son is a bestselling spy thriller author. My friends, for the most part aren’t really aware of it. I don’t use my real name, so, there’s that. 😉

Q11) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

The most surprising thing I learned is that the longer you write a particular character, the louder their voice becomes in your mind. If you have several characters like that, you don’t even have to build dialog for them; all you have to do is give them a problem, then jot down what they say in response. It’s a little spooky really.

Q12) What do you hate most about the writing process?

Editing…’nuff said.

hedgedm

ssm

Q13) How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

I have written nearly twenty books, eight that are published. My favorite is always a tie between my first published book, Waking Wolfe and my most recent (whichever one that happens to be at the time). My most recent is Hedged, and I feel it is my best book, benefitting from my experience with each novel that came before it. But it is (as always) tied with Waking Wolfe…my first published love.

Q14) Do you have any suggestions to help us become better writers? If so, what are they?

Listen to your characters. They each have personalities. If you aren’t sure what those personalities are, you need to spend more time, quietly listening to them, and watching them interact with each other and stimuli. Only when you know your characters as well as you know yourself should you even attempt to write the opening sentence in your story.

Q15) Do you get feedback from your readers much?

How and what kinds of things do they say? I do get feedback, both in reviews and on social media. I have to say I like what I see and enjoy that the most common thread of complaint is that they lost sleep, unable to put the book down. A thriller author’s dream is hearing readers stay up too late reading your work.

Q16) What is your preferred reading audience? Those who leave reviews…kidding (not really). I’ve found I have readers from all walks of life. The ones that make me happiest are the ones who say “Don’t normally read this genre, but WOW!”. I love a convert more than anyone else.

Q17) What do you think makes a good story?

Character depth and story arc. When you know how your character will react, it feels “right” when they respond to the plot. It’s only entertaining with depth and feeling. Build the most interesting characters you can, chase them out of their comfort zone, then throw rocks at them until the end of the story. That’s a good story.

Q18) As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

I wanted to blow things up. So at an early age (too young if you ask me now), I joined the army and learned exactly that. I guess my dream came true so early that I had to find something else to dream about.

Q19) Where can we find your books?

Amazon. I am a KDP Select author, meaning I’m exclusive to Amazon for eBook distribution. My print books are also available through Amazon, but alternately (though for lower royalties ;), they are available in nearly all other outlets, including bookstores (for in store orders)

Q20) Will you give us an excerpt from one of your favorite works?

The following is a scene in which Scott Wolfe and former CIA Operative, Mark Gaines, are preparing to infiltrate a private security firm.


10:15 a.m. on Saturday, February 12th—Baynebridge Headquarters, Charlotte, North Carolina

The back of Mark Gaines’s van smelled like a men’s locker room after summer football practice. “How about those little deodorant green tree thingies that hang from your mirror?” I asked after several minutes of silence.

He ignored me and continued to shoot overlay video of the front of Baynebridge Headquarters. We had spent most of the morning reconnoitring the facility in hopes of finding a covert way to gain physical access to their servers.

“I bet you could get a discount if you bought them in bulk,” I added a few seconds later.

“Are you going to sit there and complain about the free use of my equipment and man hours or are you going to finish scanning the EM signatures?”

“I wasn’t complaining about the equipment or man hours,” I muttered.

The parabolic amplifier I was using to detect electronic signals inside the building was old and unwieldy—it was part of a collection of nearly antique electronic equipment that Mark had stored in his safe house at the edge of town. All of it dated back to the late nineties or early two thousands.

“Shit,” I muttered as I reached over to manually unbind the tracking motor on the dish for the tenth time.

“It never does that with me,” Mark said.

“When was the last time you used it?” I asked, accusing.

He tipped his head down for a second in thought before frowning and refocusing on his video display. “Stop complaining.”

“That’s what I thought.”

He paused the record function on his video sweep before turning to me. “I had nearly forgotten what a joy you are to be around.”

“Wait until I break your nose again,” I replied under my breath without looking up from the data feed.

“What was that?”

“This scan is almost done…it’s looking like they’ve got everything buttoned tight as skinny jeans after Thanksgiving.”

He chuckled. “That’s what I said before you came down.”

I sat back, frustrated—there was no Wi-Fi, no external porting into the building, even at the guard shacks, and all the operational and personnel files were now behind a BRE Cryptography-managed firewall—unbreakable in the short time I had available.

I got up from my cramped space before climbing past Mark to get out of the van. The cool, crisp, fresh air was a most welcome relief, and I began to feel better after a few deep breaths.

Mark got out a few minutes later and leaned against the truck before lighting a cigarette. After he had taken a few drags, I reached out for it.

“We’re going to have to find another way to track the guys who’re holding Bailey’s kid,” he said, handing me the cigarette. “You aren’t getting in there without a major assault.”

I took one long inhale of smoke before handing it back to him. “There’s got to be a way,” I replied, muted, lost in thought.

“You’re wasting your time,” Mark said. “You’d have better luck trying to hack the phones so you could turn on the GPS function.”

I shook my head. “No time. At the rate Combine is moving money out of Europe, we’ll lose all tracking on it soon if we don’t find the account owners.”

He shrugged as he tossed the half-smoked butt on the ground and stamped it out under his toe. “We’re wasting time trying to figure out how to get in there.”

He climbed back in the van and closed the door, leaving me alone with my thoughts. Under what conditions would someone off the street have access to second-floor offices? I asked myself. Who gets upstairs who isn’t an employee?

I rubbed my face in frustration as if increasing circulation there might create inspiration. Non-employee…non-employee.

I shook my head. “Janitors? Repair men?” They’d all have to be cleared.

I banged the back of my head against the van.

“What?!” Mark yelled from inside.

“Nothing…sorry.”

“Get in here and do your damned job or I’ll hire another tech to do it for you.”

My head snapped up as genius struck. I slid the door open and climbed into the van.

“What?” Mark asked as I rushed back to my computer.

“I need to see if their website is more accessible than their admin systems.”

“How would access to their website help us?”

“Hold on,” I said as I probed their Internet server cluster. For the most part, the server was pretty secure, but there was a spam filter that had its own IP address—one I was familiar with. “Bingo!”

“What?!”

I slipped into the system and used a command line data insert to one of the web server’s SQL databases. “I have an appointment with HR on Monday,” I said as I erased the entries from the log before backing out of the connection.

“For what?”

I smiled. “Job interview.”

He shook his head, smiling as he returned his attention to his video screen. “Don’t use me as a reference.”

“Jeez… save a guy’s life and still all he remembers is the beating you gave him.”


About S.L. Shelton:

S.L. Shelton is a passionate, fact spouting former techie and soldier who is constantly at odds with his need to kick the legs out from under those who abuse their power (Political, Economic or Super). He lives on a tiny little farm on the banks of a tiny little river in the northwestern part of Virginia, where his semi-secret identity is somewhat protected on three sides. Despite deep misgivings about writing on subjects close to his own life, he has penned a series of books about a similarly broken, similarly gifted young man who similarly doesn’t have a clue when to stop and re-evaluate life decisions.

Before building his career in the computer field for nearly two decades as a developer, designer, trainer, and a CEO, he had the honor of serving in the US Armed Forces in several roles, most involving explosives of some sort. After selling his successful micro empire in 2011, Shelton retired to his study which he hasn’t left since. On most days he writes, but when left alone and to his own devices, breaks his troll like existence long enough to sneak into the sunlight and fire a weapon or two, snap a few pictures or pick some vegetables from his wife’s prized organic garden beds.

Though his climbing days are behind him due to injuries (several to the head), he was an avid rock climber, having climbed for decades since his teen years. His three children are grown and living very adventurous lives of their own.

Waking Wolfe is the first novel in the Scott Wolfe Series, followed by Unexpected Gaines, Danger Close, Wolfe Trap, Harbinger, and Predator’s Game. Book 7 in the series is scheduled for release sometime in 2016.

Connect with S.L. Shelton:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/S.L.-Shelton/e/B00GUMJ03A/

http://www.SLShelton.com

twitter: @SLSheltonAuthor

Facebook: www.facebook.com/SLShelton.Author

And WordPress: wolfeauthor.wordpress.com

20 Questions with Lucy Brazier

Today we sit down with UK author and blogger, Lucy Brazier. Lucy is going to tell us a bit about her work, her inspiration, and a bit about herself.

Please enjoy this edition of 20 Questions:


photoQ1) When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I can’t remember ever not wanting to be a writer! I was quite young, probably about eight or nine.

Q2) How long does it typically take you to write a book?

That is a difficult one to answer, as my new book is a re-write of my first book, which took me about a year to complete. I am hoping I can get the next one from draft to final edit in about six to eight months.

Q3) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I make sure I put aside specific time for writing, usually on a Thursday and Friday, and I will stay offline as much as possible to avoid distractions. I don’t mind where I write, but I do like to have some music playing in the background.

Q4) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I have been told that my writing transports the reader right to the heart of the story, which is quite something. I tend to observe the things and people other writers overlook, and it is perhaps that that gives my style an unusual feel.

Q5) How are your books published?

I have one self-published and now one traditionally published.

Q6) Where do you get your ideas for your books?

The PorterGirl books are inspired by my brief time ensconced within the esoteric world of Cambridge University. I have been lucky to have led a very interesting and unlikely life and most of my writing comes from my own experiences.

Q7) If you don’t mind sharing, when did you write your first book and how old were you?

When I was small, I was forever writing little books, complete with hand drawn front covers! I used to write a lot of stories about a rabbit who was always getting into trouble. When I was about thirteen, I wrote my first trilogy (a science fiction adventure heavily influenced by Red Dwarf) and I also wrote a book about the imagined adventures of my school friends, called Best Days – stemming from my mother drumming into me that school days were the best days of your life (not true).

Q8) What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

If I am not writing I will likely be doing something musical, or eating. I like eating more than anything else in the world.

Q9) What is your favorite book?

Tricky one this, as there are so many to choose from and my favourite often depends on my mood. The Third Policeman by Flynn O’Brien is up right up there, but you would be hard pressed to beat Homer’s Odyssey.

Q10) What do your family and friends think of your writing?

I am very lucky to have endlessly supportive family and friends. They seem to think it’s pretty good. But then, they would say that, wouldn’t they?

Q11) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

I don’t recall there being any surprises. Creating a book is pretty much what you would expect it to be.

Q12) What do you hate most about the writing process?

I don’t hate anything about the writing process. I am not a fan of the marketing and promotion that comes afterwards, however.

portergirl-book-1-master-websiteQ13) How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

I have written just two completed, published books. Ask me again when I have a few more under my belt.

Q14) Do you have any suggestions to help us become better writers? If so, what are they?

Be sure to really experience and embrace all of life, good and bad. Never turn down the opportunity for adventure and listen to the people everyone else ignores. There are stories everywhere, just waiting to be discovered. Fine them, then write them.

Q15) Do you get feedback from your readers much? How and what kinds of things do they say?

I am fortunate to have a very verbose readership on my blog and they are generally most enthusiastic. This is very handy, as I quickly get a feel for which characters work and which don’t, and also for aspects that really capture the readers’ imagination and which ideas have fallen by the wayside. My readers are not shy about making their own suggestions too and I have used many of these in my writing.

Q16) What is your preferred reading audience?

Anyone who can read is fine by me.

Q17) What do you think makes a good story?

A simple premise – complex and convoluted plots can be dreadfully tiresome – populated by unusual characters and unlikely goings on.

Q18) As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

I wanted to be a writer or a drag car racer. I still haven’t given up on the latter.

Q19) Where can we find your books?

Amazon is probably the best port of call.

Q20) Will you give us an excerpt from one of your favorite works?

“The belly’s a shameless dog, there’s nothing worse.      Always insisting, pressing, it never lets us forget —      destroyed as I am, my heart racked with sadness,      sick with anguish, still it keeps demanding,      ‘Eat, drink!’ It blots out all the memory      of my pain, commanding, ‘Fill me up!”
from The Odyssey

About Lucy Brazier:

Lucy Brazier is in her 30’s and lives in the university city of Cambridge, England.

She started writing from the age of ten when her primary school teachers were at a bit of a loss as to how to contain her effervescent personality.

They tasked her with writing stories for the younger children in a bid to keep it from disrupting her peers.

Lucy developed her skills throughout her teenage years, when she was inspired to read the words of Homer, Livy and Virgil. These formative years also saw her develop her other great passion of music, where she hardly through the self into several years of misbehaving and playing bass guitar in unsuitable rock bands.

She widened her literary horizons through the works of Terry Pratchett, Oscar Wilde and Flann O’Brien – the latter of which remains to this day her favourite writer.

Lucy develop a penchant for the unusual and the absurd, something which was exacerbated by her time serving in the Police where the many varied experiences and characters she met had a profound effect on her outlook on life.

After seven years on the front line and driven by fascination with Inspector Morse, on a whim Lucy applied for the job of Deputy Head Porter at one of the foremost colleges of Cambridge University. To her great surprise, and that of many others at the time, she landed a role as the first female to don the iconic bowler hat in the college’s six hundred year history.

Having left formal education at the tender age of sixteen with little to show for it, being thrown amongst the academic elite was something of an eye opener. Documenting the quirks and fables of College life on social media, Lucy was soon persuaded to start a blog – Secret Diary Of PorterGirl. Acutely aware of the dim view taken by College officials of any slight upon their reputation, she wrote anonymously and in such a way as to disguise the true identity of the now notorious Old College.

However, being quite possibly the worst Deputy Head Porter of all time made her decide to hang up her bowler hat and peruse her dream of becoming a writer. Lucy considers this is the best decision she has ever made.

In December 2015 Lucy signed with Kensington Gore Publishing and Secret Diary Of PorterGirl was rewritten and republished in the summer of 2016 as PotrterGirl The First Lady Of The Keys.

Kensington Gore Publishing see this book and others to follow a great glimpse into the unique world of college life. A world that never seems to change, more evolve into a world of its own.

Lucy Brazier’s books are works of fiction but are really inspired by her time as a very square peg in an antiquated round hole – a world of tradition, farce, mystery and secrets.

PorterGirl The First Lady Of The Keys is thrilling, fast paced, at times witty at times irreverent laugh out loud funny.

 

 

20 Questions with Sylvia Hubbard

Today we sit down with prolific author and founder of the Detroit Writers Network, Sylvia Hubbard. She is going to tell us a bit about her inspiration, herself and her work.

Please enjoy this edition of 20 Questions:


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Q1) When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

It was my mother that made me first realize my writing abilities, but I realized I wanted to be a writer when I finally met my writing hero, Beverly Jenkins. Seeing her around her books and knowing she could do this assured me that I could write and publish my books too.

Q2) How long does it typically take you to write a book?

About three months minimum to six months maximum.

Q3) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I work a regular schedule, a single mom of three and I run a literary organization, so I write whenever I can get a free second. (literally a second).

Q4) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I like to write by hand a lot. I’ve written full books all by hand and I love it.

Q5) How are your books published?

I’m an independent publisher. I’ve done some anthologies (about three of them)

Q6) Where do you get your ideas for your books?

All around me. Detroit, where the majority of my stories take place at, is an interesting place and stories just come to me.

Q7) If you don’t mind sharing, when did you write your first book and how old were you?

My first completed book was in 1990, but at the time I never really felt it was completed. Right after high school, a friend who loved hearing my stories told me I should write a story down for her. I did. It was later called Stone’s Revenge.

Q8) What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Watching movies. I’m a movie nut. I even watch movies while I’m writing. Gives me so much joy.

Q9) What is your favorite book?

Secret Fire by Johanna Lindsay. I read this when I was a teenager and had re-read it repeatedly.

Q10) What do your family and friends think of your writing?

My mother is my biggest supporter. Like I said she’s believed in me before I knew I was a writer. My children support my writing. They know how much it makes me happy and when Momma’s happy….

Q11) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

That I could do it. Not some big time publisher, not some business that wanted to take all my money, but ME! I’m blessed to have the knowledge to be able to do this endeavor on my own.

Q12) What do you hate most about the writing process?

I wish I could write faster. I know three months is such a short time for some writers, but I have so many stories in my head, I wish I could get them out faster.

Q13) How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

To date, I’ve written 37 books with four to come this year. My favorite will always be Stone’s Revenge, but my current published one is Tanner’s Devil.

Q14) Do you have any suggestions to help us become better writers? If so, what are they?

Finish the book. No matter what. Even if it’s horrible. (Let your editor help you fix that.) Just finish the book.

Q15) Do you get feedback from your readers much? How and what kinds of things do they say?

I have amazing Readers! They challenge me to write better each time and I love that about them. Readers of Sylvia Hubbard are smart, love good suspense and are reader addicts. I really love them.

They’ve donned me the Cliffhanger Queen and I love when they tell me they just couldn’t put the book down. That makes me happy even though I do feel bac when they say they burned dinner because of me. I’d love to sell enough books to be able to send them gift cards to Red Lobster when they do that. I’d be sending out a lot. LOL

Q16) What is your preferred reading audience?

People that love reading sensual suspense.

Q17) What do you think makes a good story?

1) When you deliver the promise you made to the reader at the end. 2) When you take the protagonist on a journey that leads them away from their everyday norm. 3) when you really put in the research to make sure your facts and stats in the fiction story are as believable as possible.

Q18) As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

Be a storyteller.

Q19) Where can we find your books?

Wherever books are sold. Start off at my website at:

www.sylviahubbard.com/fictionbooks

or check out my amazon page at:

www.amazon.com/author/sylviahubbard

Q20) Will you give us an excerpt from one of your own favorite works?

Excerpt:


“Take off your clothes.”

Would that mean this cornbread fed giant take off his? And if he did would he look just as magnificent without his clothes as he did with clothes?

Using this opportunity to move away from him and catch her own breath, she walked over to the bed to place the cell phone and condoms there. He hadn’t followed her and Tanner looked down at the candle to gather her own thoughts together. He’s just some weird perv john probably from the boondocks Michigan trying to get a taste of city life before he goes back to Pinkie, Michigan.

That had been a running joke when she had been out in the life doing this all the time. Pinkie, Michigan was actually nowhere, but it was a terminology used occasionally to say that since Michigan was shaped by a glove this was where this john was from – where no one black in their right mind would be, so they came down here to Detroit to taste life by requesting a black girl to their room.

Concentrating on the candlelight, she pushed off the peach summer dress along with her underwear over her boots and kicked them off.

She started to unzip her boots, but he barked, “Leave’em.”

His hands came behind her and firmly gripped her waist. “Lay on the bed on your stomach,” he ordered.

She did as she was told and forced her rapidly beating heart to relax.


About Sylvia Hubbard:

Detroit Author & Founder of Motown Writers Network, Sylvia Hubbard has published over 37 books on suspense romance and one book on Internet Marketing for Writers.

As a happily divorced mother of three, Ms. Hubbard has received numerous awards and recognitions for her work such as the Spirit of Detroit from Detroit City Council and State of Michigan Governor’s Certificate of Tribute Emerging Minority Business Leader Award. She’s spoken all over the United States and Canada about independent publishing, social media, 21st Guide to Marketing Online & Offline for writers and authors, How Readers can make money promoting their favorite authors and even how to be a single mom.

Recognized as an avid blogger by HoneyTech Blogs, Ms. Hubbard runs over five blogs including How To Love A Black and has had five #1 Best Sellers on Amazon. Her current work is Tanner’s Devil and she has six books coming up in 2016, including four live stories on her website. http://sylviahubbard.com

Connect with Sylvia:

www.SylviaHubbard.com

www.MotownWriters.com

www.HowToEBook.org

www.facebook.com/sylviahubbard

www.twitter.com/sylviahubbard1

www.instagram.com/sylviahubbard1

www.youtube.com/sylviahubbard1

www.periscope.tv/sylviahubbard1

www.snapchat.com/sylviahubbard

Get Your Copy of Tanner’s Devil at the following bookstore:

SMASHWORDS (ebook)| AMAZON (Paperback & Kindle) | B&N/Nook| Kobo Reader| iTunes Apple Bookstore

Also Available in Paperback wherever books are sold