The 2019 Interview Series Featuring Jacqui Murray

JMurray--early for TF interview

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

I primarily teach grad school online so much of my non-writing time is spent preparing for the classes, grading, or interacting with my students. Other than that, I do a lot of freelance work revolving around technology in education, writing for corporations, ezines, and other online websites

You’re invited to a dinner party are you:

Off in a corner talking to one or two people—I’m probably chatting with a few people but doing more listening than talking. I consider myself rather boring so enjoy digging into the interesting stuff others do!

bear trap

What common traps do aspiring writers fall into?

Thinking they don’t need some sort of guidance with their writing is a biggy. I’ll give you an example. There are tons of genres in writing and each has a set of rules that make the genre what readers expect. One might be thrillers where you must have a bigger-than-life flawed hero who regularly does the impossible with humility. Readers will be bored with a bumbling hero who stumbles into his victories—or doesn’t even succeed.

Do you view fellow authors as competitors, allies or are there some combination of the two? Why?

I can’t imagine considering them anything but allies. It’s not like there’s a finite number of readers that must be divided among the available books. Not at all! There are so many readers out there, good books will always find an audience.

Image result for patricia cornwellAre there any authors whose work you admired at first that you then grew to dislike?

Yes! Patricia Cornwell. I loved her early Kay Scarpetta books. They were almost procedurals in forensic medicine. But she seemed to lose her way, spending way too much time in later books on feelings and emotions rather than action. Sad…

Marketing

What marketing technique have you found to be the most effective? Ineffective?

The most effective marketing for me is through my blogs—developing a community, getting to know other bloggers who help me spread the word about my books (as I do for them). The most ineffective has been every single technique I ever paid for. That includes Amazon ads, paid marketing, ad placement on websites—nothing like that has ever worked.

What comes first in your writing, the plot or the characters?

Since my books are plot-driven, it’s definitely the plot. The characters are important and they drive plot development but the story revolves around the action that is taking place rather than the thoughts of the characters or their personal growth (though I do include both of those).

Blank paper with penDescribe your writing space.

I love where I write. I have a big wrap-around desk with two monitors and room for my iPad, Surface Pro, and smartphone (for research and virtual chats). Behind me are all of my writing and research books—shelves of them. All I have to do is swivel and I can put my fingers on my Urban Thesaurus or a book of character traits to inspire me.

Toolbox with tools. Skrewdriver, hammer, handsaw and wrench

What tools do you use to write? (Computer, notebook, software, etc.)

I write directly to a computer, mostly in Word. I have rheumatoid arthritis so my hands don’t work too well. Handwriting is a disaster. I draft, write, edit, and finish on my desktop computer.

What book(s) are you currently reading?

I’m currently binging on Westerns. I like the black-and-white characters, bias for action, and outdoors survivalist settings. They inspire me for the prehistoric fiction trilogies I currently write. I’m a whale reader so I consume these Westerns—up to six a week. There are a few Western authors getting rich off of me!

About Jacqui:

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and Born in a Treacherous Time, first in the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, an adjunct professor, an Amazon Vine Voice, columnist for TeachHUB and NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Survival of the Fittest, March 2019. You can find her tech ed books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning

Find Jacqui’s Books:

THAS-smallTo Hunt a Sub

From Kindle  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01K7VSPBW

TFD cover--smaller--officialTwenty-four Days

From Kindle https://www.amazon.com/dp/B072NZF8N8/

Born in a Treacherous Time - eBook small

Born in a Treacherous Time

From Kindle https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CTCR944

Survival of the Fittest - eBook small

Survival of the Fittest

Coming in March to Kindle

9780978780081

Building a Midshipman

From Amazon (print only)  https://www.amazon.com/Building-Midshipman-Jacqui-Murray/dp/0978780086/

Connect with Jacqui:

askatechteacher@gmail.com

@worddreams

linkedin.com/in/jacquimurray

Goodreads author page

Personal blog: Jacqui Murray’s WordDreams

Online resume: Jacqui Murray

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The 2019 Author Series Featuring Melanie Mezzancello

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What is your most interesting writing quirk?

I don’t know if it’s a quirk, exactly. When I’m writing, I can picture my story unfold as if I’m watching a film on a screen. I can imagine exactly how each character looks and sounds, down to the minute detail. In fact, when I was writing Love Snaggs, I could easily picture my story as an animated movie.

What do you think are the elements of a good story?

Of course, the plot has to be good; it has to draw me in. But for a story to be exquisite, you have to give your readers an immersive experience, not only with the plot but also with the characters. The characters have to be robust & realistic in such a way that the reader can truly empathize with them and make an emotional connection. And last, but certainly not least, the ending should leave the reader hungering for more.

You’re invited to a dinner party. Are you:

  • The center of attention
  • Off in a corner talking to one or two people
  • Standing by the door waiting for a chance to leave
  • At home reading or writing your latest work
  • Why did you pick the response that you chose?

This question made me laugh a little. In the old days, I would have been close to the center of attention at any kind of party. Nowadays, you’d catch me off in a corner taking to one or two people. I guess life shapes us in different ways, and for me I’ve become more introspective and thoughtful, and a bit less of the social butterfly I was in days past.

1953What is the first book that made you cry?

I had to really think about this one. It was probably A Tale of Two Cities. I remember reading it when I was in high school. It was when Sydney Carton switched places with Charles Darnay, knowing he’d be executed at the guillotine.

What comes first in your writing, the plot or the characters?

Honestly, the more I thought about this question, the more I ended up in a circular argument with myself. When I write, I am not structured at all. I prefer a free-flowing approach, and I usually develop both the plot and the characters as I go along. Although, I do have a “library” of characters that I’ve conjured up and put on ice for the time being!

Blank paper with penDescribe your writing space.

I’m not too picky, and I can write practically anywhere, but I usually prefer to write late at night when it’s quiet and free of distractions. A long time ago, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I got in the habit of carrying a journal with me wherever I went. I spent a lot of time in hospitals, and there was a lot of waiting. Writing in those journals was the outlet that helped to keep me grounded and calmed my fears during that difficult time. In fact, I wrote a whole book about my experience with cancer. I never published it though. It turns out it was much too personal a story to share with the world.

Toolbox with tools. Skrewdriver, hammer, handsaw and wrench

What tools do you use to write?

Besides my plethora of journals and colored pens, I predominantly use my iPad to write. I found a great and inexpensive app called TextilusPro. I like it because it’s the closest thing to Microsoft Word that I’ve found, and it’s easy to use and has some useful features. And of course, every writer needs a thesaurus.

Also, it’s not exactly a tool in the traditional sense, but you have to have some inspiration too! Personally, I sometimes feel bogged down by technology. It helps to find some time each day to unplug and get outdoors where it’s quiet so I can clear my head. Just being outside and connecting with nature really jolts my creativity.

koontzIf you could interview a famous author, who would it be and what three questions would you ask him or her?

Without a doubt, I would love to sit down and chat with Dean Koontz. Of all of my favorite authors, I’ve probably read him the most. Naturally, I would want to know how he keeps coming up with ideas for new stories, especially because his ideas are so wild and out there! But I’d also want to know more about him as a regular person. What’s his favorite meal? What makes him laugh? What kind of music does he like? Does he have any phobias?

bear trap

What common traps do aspiring writers fall into? 

I think the biggest trap aspiring writers fall into is believing “I can’t.” We spend so much time doubting ourselves and spinning our wheels about what we can’t do instead of just doing it. Sometimes our biggest obstacle is ourselves. We could all use a little Jedi training in that regard, right? Just ask yourself… what would Yoda do?

That being said, it’s also important to seek out feedback on our work. Accepting constructive criticism is an integral part of growing as a writer. It can be intimidating to ask for honest feedback, but it’s worth it!

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

When I’m not writing, I enjoy spending time with my family and my dog Wesley. I love to knit, crochet and play music on my ukulele & guitar. And I’m Italian, so I love to cook, and I’m one heck of a home baker too, if I do say so myself! I live in the beautiful State of Florida, and when the weather is nice, you’ll find me somewhere along Route A1A with the rag top down, headed to one of our lovely beaches.

I also really enjoy traveling, especially by sea. I’ve been to some amazing places. Last year I had the unique opportunity to visit Antarctica. It was breathtakingly beautiful and so inspiring. For me, it’s important to spend time in nature like that. And of course, hanging out with the penguins was just epic!!

About Melanie:

I’m Melanie, and I’m the author of Love Snaggs. I’ve always loved to write. If fact, writing
helped me get through some of the toughest times in my life, including battling breast cancer.

I’m happy to say that I’m a 10-year Survivor. I grew up in North Providence, RI, but I’ve called Central Florida my home for over 20 years. What else about me? I’m a huge New England Patriots fan, my favorite place is at the beach, I learned some of my best life lessons from Yoda, and I make a wicked awesome pie. Live a life of gratitude.
Love Snaggs is my first book. I’m proud to say that it has a 5-Star rating on Amazon! I hope that it brings as much joy into your heart as Snaggs brought into mine.

Find Melanie’s Book:

image1Amazon Book Listing: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1612969259

Walmart: http://www.walmart.com/ip/Love-Snaggs-A-Little-Dog-s-Courageous-Journey/231664767

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-snaggs-a-little-dogs-courageous-journey-melanie-joy-mezzancello/1126852966?ean=9781612969251

Connect with Melanie:

Facebook

@MJMezzancelloAuthor

https://m.facebook.com/MJMezzancelloAuthor/?ref=bookmarks

Twitter

@MJMezzAuthor

https://mobile.twitter.com/MJMezzAuthor

Instagram

@MJMezzAuthor

The 2019 Interview Series Featuring David Faucheaux

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What do you think are the elements of a good story? 

My favorite genre is historic fiction. To do it well, the author must pay close attention to setting. The reader should be made to understand the culture, the time, and place. I like lots of what are called info-dumps, though I understand many readers find them to be tedious and to also distract from the plot.  Perhaps info-dumps work best in science fiction. Kim Stanley Robinson uses them frequently. A well-written author’s note at novel’s end helps as well, especially when the author tells what is true and what has been invented. A bibliography is useful for those readers wanting to learn more about the historic aspects of the novel.

You’re invited to a dinner party. Are you:

  • Off in a corner talking to one or two people
  • At home reading or writing your latest work

If I’m there at all, I’m talking to a small group, or I’m at home reading a good book.

bear trap

What common traps do aspiring writers fall into?

I suspect that most aspiring writers think it’s easy and that they are going to be the next mega-bestselling answer to Stephen King, James Patterson, or Nora Roberts. The odds of that are very unlikely. Writing is a job! Treat it like one. Master your craft. Read, read, think, and write.

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Are there any authors whose work you disliked at first and then grew to like?

As to authors I might not have liked at first, that’s hard. My relatives liked those books written by Jean Plaidy. These seemed to me like books for refined, even stuffy, English ladies, but when I tried a Jean Plaidy book about Anne Boleyn, I rather liked it. Plaidy was known for inventing the subgenre of Royals Romance. We owe her a debt for solidly launching this sub-genre. Jean Plaidy was actually a pseudonym of Eleanor Hibbert, who also wrote books under these names: Victoria Holt, Philippa Carr, Eleanor Burford, Elbur Ford, Kathleen Kellow, Ellalice Tate, and Anna Percival. She wrote over 200 books in 50 years and according to Wikipedia, had this to say about writing:

“I love my work so much that nothing would stop me writing. I never think of the money I’m making. When I finish one book I start on the next. If I take even a week’s break I just feel miserable. It’s like a drug. … If anybody says to me, ‘You look tired,’ it’s because I haven’t been able to get at my typewriter. Writing excites me. I live all my characters and never have any trouble thinking of plots or how people would have said something, because I’m them when I’m writing.” I wish she could have loaned out this imagination. I’d have been happy to rent it for a year or so. Present-day writers such as Philippa Gregory, Alison Weir, Tracy Borman, and Anne Easter Smith are among her heirs.

Marketing

What marketing technique have you found to be the most effective? Ineffective?

I’m still new to this and have not found an effective marketing technique. I’m still looking. It’s hard to say what works. Some experts insist you have a Facebook page, a LinkedIn account, and a website. I am told that agents won’t look at you now unless you have a platform and a loyal brand following.  AuthorBuzz can put you in front of lots of book club readers. But I have not tried it; it’s expensive. A virtual book blog tour might help the writer of romance novels. I did not find it helped my nonfiction efforts.

Labels with social media icons. Concept.

How effective do you think social media is for authors? How should it be used?

It’s hard for me to say. I know it has worked well for several writers. EL James got her start writing fan fiction on an erotica website. Richard Paul Evans self-published his first novel to much success. I would use it, were I successful, to update my readers on what I was working on or just letting them know a bit about what I was doing. But I find it a bit overwhelming.

Do you write in only a single genre? If so, what genre? If not, what genres?

As of today, I have only written one book, a journal. I suspect my strength is in nonfiction. I’d have loved to write the kinds of historic fiction I enjoy reading. I would have loved to write a long, sweeping novel about a particular French empress who, in my humble opinion, is vastly underrepresented in this genre, but I just flounder when I try.

What book(s) are you currently reading?

I read many books and broke my previous record by reading 366 books in 2018. I just finished a fantasy book, Starless, by Jacqueline Carey and a young adult novel, Blended, by Sharon M. Draper. I plan to read The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding, by Jennifer Robson, which tells the story of the wedding dress of Queen Elizabeth II. I am to review it for Library Journal, which recently chose me as its Audiobook Reviewer of the Year for 2018. I have enjoyed my 12 years reviewing some 90 books for them.

If you could interview a famous author, who would it be and what three questions would you ask him/her?

I would interview these two authors: Gary Jennings and James Clavell.

I’d ask them these questions:

What made you want to become a writer of historic fiction?

Was there a book you wanted to write but were unable to?

Do either of you speak a foreign language? Your novels are set in the most exotic places, and knowing the language connected thereto would be a help in penetrating the culture.

And if they were up to it:

4)  What character do you think would make a fabulous historic novel? And what setting would be the most exotic and interesting to you?

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

I enjoy reading, dining out, and simply getting out to walk.  I think of myself as a reader who has writing ability, not a writer who must read to keep abreast of what’s out there in book land.

Find David’s Book:

35381000My 2017 book was Across Two Novembers: A Year in the Life of a Blind Bibliophile. It can be found at http://www.dldbooks.com/davidfaucheux/  The cover is there on the site. An abridged version of Across Two Novembers should be out by March. I do not yet have the cover photo for that version.

Connect with David:

I can be emailed at scopist65@gmail.com

About David:

I may very well be a member of the last generation of blind people who mainly attended a residential school. Some of us were, however, actually mainstreamed during high school for part of the academic day. That probably sounds strange: going to a residential school and being taken to a nearby public high school for several subjects each day. It was unusual to a point, but I do think it helped those of us who participated to better prepare for attending college and being in the so-called sighted world. I was glad to have had the chance to take Spanish I at the public high school, as our residential school did not offer it.  I was also pleased to participate in the Literary Rally for American history, placing first in state. These opportunities simply did not exist at the residential school. I do regret, however, the insistence of the administration of the residential blind school on sending mainstreamed students to three separate high schools in as many years. I never got a chance to put down roots at any. I am not the best at learning new places, and this was stressful, as I knew I would always be accountable to the blind school’s staff.

I can’t say much about college, as it was rather a lonely time for me. I originally wanted to major in Spanish, because I thought being a translator or interpreter would be interesting. After several semesters, I realized that whatever the mysterious language gene was, I might not have it. Rather than lose my Spanish credits, I switched to English with a linguistics option and minored in Spanish. I had been told that a major/minor combination was a good strategy. I recall feeling anxious throughout my college time. I worried I would not always be able to keep a full-time course load or would not do well in my courses. These worries mostly proved unfounded, as many worries are, though I did have a bad experience in a linguistics class. I look back on it and realize that I had no clue what to major in or how to pick a career. I would have benefited from an internship program of some kind midway through college to gain experience and even talking to a concerned mentor.

After graduation, I attended a training center to learn skills that would be helpful in my life. I have mostly lost touch with the people I met there. It was an exhausting time for me because the training was intense. I do feel thinking back on it that the state Voc/Rehab agency should have conducted exit interviews of clients attending this and other training centers. There seems to be little accountability or efforts to find out which centers truly have best-practices.

Then it was on to get a guide dog and to work as a medical transcriptionist. I ended up having to leave the medical transcription field because I was not able to maintain the extremely fast speed and achieve the high output of reports. It was then that I found a halftime braille teaching job which, I did for several years, until stress caused by an indifferent management made it necessary for me to leave.

I found myself back in college. This time it was to obtain a Master’s in Library and Information Science.  This was during the late 1990s, when the Internet and World Wide Web had suddenly become hugely popular. I thought I had picked a happening career. I enjoyed my coursework and met several people in my classes, two of whom I still email. My guide dog, Nader, died midway through library school, and friends helped me get to class because I was having problems with one of the long routes. I thought about getting a second guide dog, but I knew that if I left school, I might not return. I experienced difficulties in finding a job, but did do some consulting for several online library projects. I then learned that I have fibromyalgia and have found it hard to work since. I maintained an audio blog from 2004 to 2009, but then gave it up. I also attempted to study scoping, but had major problems with software incompatibilities. Scoping is a kind of legal editing. The scopist prepares what the court reporter transcribes.

I have recently been working with an editor, Leonore Dvorkin of DLD Books Editing and Self-Publishing Services, to prepare the abridgment of my first book for publication.  I also want to explore podcasting.

I’m rather glad we can’t see the future. This is not the future I had envisioned, and I hope I can get a handle on the fibromyalgia and figure out some way to have a part-time job. Friends from library school are at the point in their careers where thoughts of retirement are not amiss. I realized that won’t be a phase I’ll end up experiencing. I try to keep on keeping on and to find the positive in daily events and even to maintain a gratitude journal.

The 2019 Interview Series Featuring Ann Chiapetta

header - ann chiapettaThis edition of my author interview series features Anna Chiapetta. It’s always interesting to see what questions each author selects for their interview. It definitely gives us insight into what makes them tick.

Now, without further delay, please enjoy this interview with Ann Chiapetta.


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What is the first book that made you cry?

Wow, this one has a two-part answer: “Are You My Mother?” By Dr. Sues and as I got older, I read “Where the Red Fern Grows” by Wilson Rawls.  Needless to say, animals get to me.

What common traps to aspiring writers fall into?

bear trap

I can only speak for my experience. I fell into thinking friends and family would support me, be my sounding board. Wrong. After my friends and family made it fairly obvious providing more than trivial comments about my work, I made the decision to find critique groups to help me become a better writer. It was the best decision I made early on and would not be where I am today without the honest and often uncomfortable yet productive feedback (for me) from other writers.

Another trap is not understanding the effort it takes to rise above rejection. It sucks and it is part of being an artist. I found developing a mental strategy to lend strength when the subjectivity of others hurts most takes time and practice and sometimes a cheering squad.

Describe your writing space.

Blank paper with pen

My writing space is a converted dining area that used to be my son’s bedroom. It is 8 x 9 feet, has windows, and   I wish it was not half designated as a storage area. I love it, though; my desk, dogs, and books fit with a little room to spare. Others dare not enter or risk my wrath.

What writing advice have you found to be the most useful? (Book, blog, etc.)

I don’t have one moment of advice that rings like an epiphany, but I do recall snippets from other writers over the years. Author Michael Crighton said to be a better writer, write. Stephen King states, “I write to find out what I think,”.  One poetry instructor said to say as much as possible with as little as possible.  Each of these statements are just the top most in terms of advice and clarity I’ve gained over the   years.  Making each word count is what I wish to achieve when writing poetry and nonfiction. I subscribe to writing blogs and email lists to keep on top of calls for submissions and the craft and to stay connected with other writers.

What tools do you use to write? (Computer, notebook, software, etc.)

Toolbox with tools. Skrewdriver, hammer, handsaw and wrench

The tools I use are a Windows laptop, external Bluetooth keyboard, and assistive technology because I am blind.  Since I cannot navigate visually, the mouse stays on the shelf and I navigate with keyboard commands and speech output.  My manuscripts are formatted in Word and I don’t use any proprietary writing software. I use spreadsheets to keep track of submissions, expenses and income. I try to keep it as simple as possible and back-up my work with Carbonite and Drop Box.

How effective do you think social media is for authors? How should it be used?

Labels with social media icons. Concept.

I think social media is useful but only if one is immersed within the social media bubble. For example, I find Face Book to be useful. It pays but one must also invest time and money for boosting posts. If I don’t post weekly to all the pages and groups, sales drop. Keeping on top of a Twitter feed is similar. It is a constant pull on my writing time and this is what I find the most frustrating as an independent author. If only I could afford to pay a person to promote my books

Do you write in only a single genre? If so, what genre? If not, what genres?

I write poetry, both free and formed verse. I also write essays and nonfiction. My new book, “Words of Life: Poems and Essays” will be out in March 2019.  I write short stories and I am working on a collection which will hopefully be done for 2020.  I am working on a romance/suspense cross-over novel and a creative nonfiction novel based on my life growing up in the early 1970s.   I write short articles and find them challenging and satisfying. I’ve also done some content writing for websites and also find it fun especially when collaborating with others.

What book(s) are you currently reading?

38746485I just finished “Becoming” by Michele Obama. I also read “The Cycle of Arawn” by Edward W. Robertson.  I read different genres and don’t limit myself and I find it helps me with creativity and thinking outside the creative box.

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

I like to travel, shop, and cook. I am involved in civic-minded groups like the Lions Club and the American Council of the Blind of New York. I volunteer for my guide dog organization/school Guiding Eyes for the Blind. I work full-time as a trauma counselor for veterans and families.

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

I write whenever I get the chance. Being a mental health counselor, one writes progress notes. Being involved in leadership roles in organizations one writes email and other letters. The act of writing is not an issue, I get to practice all the time. The time to write a poem that has been percolating in my head for a while is the most difficult to do, though; it requires solitude and concentration.   The same goes for the other works-in-progress.  I write in blocks of time during the weekend or at night after work. I sometimes will put-off the urge until I can honor the Muse without the outside chance I will be interrupted.  My husband is understanding about my writing life and gives me the space and time to pursue it. My kids are older and have their own lives now, so only my dogs tend to poke at me to remind me it’s dinner time or time to go for a walk.

Find Ann’s Books:

My books, UPWELLING: POEMS (2016 and FOLLOW YOUR DOG A STORY OF LOVE AND TRUST (2017) can be purchased from all eBook’s sellers at http://www.dldbooks.com/annchiappetta

My author’s website is www.annchiappetta.com and my blog URL is http://www.thought-wheel.com

My nonfiction book is also available in alternative formats from Bookshare.com and as an audio book from the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.

About Ann:

Ann Chiappetta M.S. is an author   and poet.  Her writing has been featured in many small press publications and collegiate journals. Ann’s nonfiction essays have been printed in Dialogue magazine. And her poems are often featured in Magnets and Ladders. Her poetry is also included in Breath and Shadow’s 2016 debut anthology, Dozen: The Best of Breath and Shadow.  Her first collection, UPWELLING: POEMS and FOLLOW YOUR DOG A STORY OF LOVE AND TRUST, released in 2016 and 2017, are available in both e book and print formats from www.dldbooks.com/annchiappetta/.

Ann’s blog: www.thought-wheel.com. Ann’s personal website: www.annchiappetta.com

The 2019 Author Interview Series Featuring Richard Dee

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This installment of my 2019 author interview series features author Richard Dee. Richard selected 10 questions from my list and his responses will tell us a little bit about him.

Please enjoy:


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

I get up and write at 0530 most mornings. It’s a hangover from when I was working, early starts have always (unfortunately) featured in my life. If I get into the flow, I can have a good number of words down by breakfast. I might do a bit more in the evening; the rest of the day, I’ll do a little editing or light marketing, check my social media, update my website and generally relax. My wife and I might go out for lunch, or a picnic on Dartmoor/the coast if the weather is good. If I can, I like to get 2-3000 words a day down on new projects. Once you get into the routine, it’s easy.

quirk

  • What is your most interesting writing quirk?

Having more than one project on the go at a time. The idea is that if I run into a block on one story, I can switch to another. I currently have about six or seven half finished novels or short stories in progress. Many of my novels spring from short stories, after I read them back, I can often see how they could be expanded.

  • What do you think are the elements of a good story?

Location, plot and believability. I usually start with an idea for a plot, then I devise a location and a few characters that maximize its potential. Next comes loads of research to make sure that everything hangs together and sounds plausible. I used to think you couldn’t research the future, of course that’s true but it all has to start from where we are now, and that must be right. There’s nothing worse than having a good story spoiled because there is a credibility gap in the setting or the technology. I spend a lot of time on science websites and in reading news reports about the latest ideas.

  • Do you view fellow authors as competitors, allies or are there some combination of the two? Why?

I’d like to think that we are all one family, there are more than enough readers to go around. You have to remember that not everyone will like what you, or anyone else, writes. The Independent author community is full of people who have helped me tremendously, given me advice and encouragement without hesitation and I’m grateful to all of them. They have never seemed like anything more than friends. In an effort to do my part, I host a weekly spot on my website for other authors, to help them get more exposure, I know that you, and a lot of others do that as well. If we all help each other, there will be no limit to what we can achieve.

  • What writing advice have you found to be the most useful? (Book, blog, etc.)

Write. Just get the words down. Until it’s on paper (or screen), it isn’t a story, it’s an idea. You can always edit it, you can’t edit a blank page. And while we’re on the subject, should you choose to self-publish, make sure that your work is professionally edited, formatted and has the best cover you can afford. Make it indistinguishable from a traditionally published book. Then have the confidence in it to tell everyone about it. The best feeling is when someone you’ve never met sends you a message to say that they loved it. It’s even better when they ask you what happened next.

Toolbox with tools. Skrewdriver, hammer, handsaw and wrench

  • What tools do you use to write? (Computer, notebook, software, etc.)

I use ordinary word-processing software on my computer and my phone. I bought a plug-in keyboard for my phone after having a great idea and typing it with my thumb on my phone’s touchscreen. Never again!!

  • Do you outline? Are you a ‘pantser’? What techniques do you use to get started on a story?

Pantser all the way. My ideas come to me like watching a film in my head, I merely write down what I see on the screen. I can pause, view in slow motion and rewind to make sure I get all the action and detail. But, and this is the most frustrating part, I can never fast-forward. I only see the end of the novel when I get there. It’s as much a surprise to me as it will be to the reader (I hope)

  • Do you write in only a single genre? If so, what genre? If not, what genres?

I write Sci-fi, Steampunk and Cozy Crime, although the crime stories, featuring my reluctant amateur detective Andorra Pett all take place in a sci-fi setting. The science is never more important than the fiction, rather it’s another character, in the same way as I try to make the setting as important as any dialogue. Within that, my themes are mainly the triumph of the individual over faceless bureaucracy; corruption; love, loss and redemption and all that sort of thing. I have dabbled with Historical fiction and short stories set in the present but Sci-fi is my greatest passion. For my latest novel, Life and Other Dreams, I’ve combined the present and the future in a way that should get you guessing about the relationship between dreams and reality.

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  • If you could interview a famous author, who would it be and what three questions would you ask him/her?

I’d like to interview Arthur C. Clarke, one of the masters of Sci-fi. I’d like his opinion on the way that science has caught up with the ideas that he and his contemporaries of the forties and fifties had. I wonder if he realized that his dreams would be reality in so many ways.  Also, I’d like his advice on writing about Alien and artificial intelligence, as it’s something I don’t feel able to tackle. Finally, I want to know how he came up with so many brilliantly quotable phrases (check them out if you never have).

  • What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Walk along the cliffs near my home and let the ideas swirl around. I also bake pretty good sourdough bread and love cooking all the incredible produce we have in Devon. Having three daughters and several grandchildren also keeps me busy.

About Richard:

I’m Richard Dee and I’m from Brixham in Devon. I was never a writer, at least not for ages. I made up stories in my head, based on dreams and events in my life, but I never did much with them. Life, a wife, three daughters and now three grandchildren have kept me busy.

I spent forty years in shipping, firstly at sea, then in Port Control and finally as a Thames River Pilot, with adventures to match anything I could imagine. When I retired, I just moved them out into space, changed some of the names and wrote them down.

I write Science Fiction and Steampunk adventures, as well as chronicling the exploits of Andorra Pett, reluctant amateur detective. When I’m not writing, I bake bread and biscuits, cook delicious meals and walk the Devon coast.

My first novel Freefall was published in 2013, followed by Ribbonworld in 2015. September 2016 saw the publication of The Rocks of Aserol, a Steampunk adventure, and Flash Fiction, a collection of Short Stories. Myra, the prequel to Freefall was published in 2017, along with Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Café, a murder mystery set in space, the first of a series featuring the character.

Sequels to most of them have either followed or are in production. I also contributed a story to the 1066 Turned Upside Down collection of alternative history stories. I’m currently working on more prequels, sequels, and a few new projects. I run my own website and review fiction for several web-based book review sites.

Find Richards Books:

My books are on sale at Amazon and all other major retailers, or directly from my website, here are a few of the more useful links:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Richard-Dee/e/B00CN4TTCG

https://www.amazon.com/Richard-Dee/e/B00CN4TTCG

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15289756.Richard_Dee

https://richarddeescifi.co.uk/shop/

Connect with Richard:

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My website is richarddeescifi.co.uk. Head over there to see what I get up to, you’ll find free short stories, regular features on writing, book reviews and guest appearances from other great authors. Click the FREE STUFF tab or the PORTFOLIO tab to get all the details about my work and pick up a free short story.

I’m on Facebook at RichardDeeAuthor  and Twitter at Richard Dee Sci-Fi I can also be contacted at mailto:richarddeescifi@gmail.com

The 2019 Author Interview Series Featuring Susan Royal

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This edition of my author interview series features Susan Royal. Susan has selected 10 questions from my list of 20 to reveal to us a bit about her writing, motivation and inspiration.

Please enjoy learning more about Susan.


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

I tend to do a lot of writing in afternoon and early evening. After everything else is done. If I get stuck, I’ll walk away from the computer and nine times out of ten the solution comes to me.

  • What do you think are the elements of a good story?

It stays with you until long after you’ve finished reading the book.

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  • What is the first book that made you cry?

Black Beauty (First book I ever read from beginning to end. I was probably seven years old.)

  • What writing advice have you found to be the most useful? (Book, blog, etc.)

I was complaining about my story to a friend in a critique group, and he gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten. “It’s your story. You wrote it. There’s nothing there you can’t fix.”

what am i supposed to do text write on paper

  • What comes first in your writing, the plot or the characters?

I need to know who my characters are before I can figure out what they would do in any given situation.

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Blank paper waiting for idea with mans hand and pen

  • Describe your writing space.

I have small computer armoire in my bedroom. My book covers on the wall to help me remember how far I’ve come. Window to my left so I can see the birds at the feeder. TV to my right. If it’s not turned on, I’m listening to music. A cup of coffee or glass of iced tea and maybe something to snack on. When I’m on a writing roll, I may eat a meal off the metal stool sitting next to me.

Toolbox with tools. Skrewdriver, hammer, handsaw and wrench

Toolbox with tools. Skrewdriver, hammer, handsaw and wrench. 3d

  • What tools do you use to write? (Computer, notebook, software, etc.)

I keep a small spiral notebook with me to jot down notes whenever I get an inspiration, but I use a desktop computer. Not a laptop. They don’t work for me. My fingers hit everything but the return and I type so hard I wear the letters off the keys.

  • Do you outline? Are you a ‘pantser’? What techniques do you use to get started on a story?

I’m a pantser who does some plotting. More and more these days, depending on the story.

  • Do you write in only a single genre? If so, what genre? If not, what genres?

My first book was time travel. My second was a fantasy. The last book I wrote was a fairy tale. The one I’m working on now is a paranormal. They all have adventure and romance.

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  • What book(s) are you currently reading?

Hidden Legacy by Ilona Andrews

About Susan:

A native of Texas, Susan raised her kids in a 100-year-old farmhouse in the piney woods, and shared it with a music-loving ghost who harmonized with her son when he sang and played guitar.

She comes from a family rich with characters, both past and present. Her grandmother shared stories about farm life in Oklahoma Territory and working as a telephone operator in the early 20th century. She learned about the depression from her father and what it was like to be a teenager during WWII from her mother.

Susan loves taking her readers through all kinds of adventures. She’s written two books in her It’s About Time series, Not Long Ago and From Now On, and is working on book three. In My Own Shadow is a Fantasy Romance/Adventure, and Xander’s Tangled Web is a YA Romantic Fantasy. Look for her books at MuseItUp/Amazon/B&N.

Want to know more? Check back from time to time for updates and a peek inside this writer’s mind to see what she’s up to. You never know what new world she’s going to visit next.

Find Susan’s Books:

All books available at MuseItUp, Amazon, B&N, Goodreads

xanders tangled web-smallXander’s Tangled Web (fantasy, mystery)

https://tinyurl.com/yconklde

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In My Own Shadow (fantasy, adventure, romance)
http://tinyurl.com/bqbxm41

Book trailer

https://youtu.be/Wbg8Z-12ojY

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Not Long Ago (time travel, adventure, romance)
http://tinyurl.com/85vgye3

Book trailer

http://youtu.be/vOIQVdWUigU/

Connect with Susan:

http://susanaroyal.com/

 

 

The 2019 Author Interview Series Featuring Tracy Kauffman

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I’m happy to feature author Tracy Kauffman in this edition of the 2019 Author Interview Series. It’s interesting to see which questions authors select from my list to reveal a bit about themselves and their work to those of you that read their interviews.

Please enjoy meeting Tracy Kauffman.


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  • What do you think are the elements of a good story?

I believe descriptive words  relay the story so it makes the reader feel they are there instead of being told the details of the story.

  • Do you view fellow authors as competitors, allies or are there some combination of the two? Why?

I believe other authors are allies because they can help each other in so many ways.  Authors know how to get their work done, published, marketed etc…. It’s always good to keep your author coworkers as friends and allies.

Marketing

  • What marketing technique have you found to be the most effective? Ineffective?

Getting reviews is probably the most effective.  That way others can see what your book and writing is like.   Really any marketing technique is worthwhile so I don’t think anything is ineffective.

  • What writing advice have you found to be the most useful? (Book, blog, etc.)

More descriptions!  Ex. color of hair, eyes, smell in the air, noise in the background, etc…

what am i supposed to do text write on paper

  • What comes first in your writing, the plot or the characters?

The plot, then I write in the characters.  You can always change your characters after your basic idea or concept has been established.

Toolbox with tools. Skrewdriver, hammer, handsaw and wrench

  • What tools do you use to write? (Computer, notebook, software, etc.)

Computer because I believe I can type faster than write with pen and paper.  I can save it strait to a file and send it easy to someone , and corrections are so much easier to edit, etc…

  • Do you outline? Are you a ‘pantser’? What techniques do you use to get started on a story?

I usually have a basic concept of what I’m going to write about, then brainstorm a little on what type of elements will be added to make the story better, then I began writing.  I write on a computer so I can scroll forward and backward to edit details or add details or make sure than I put the correct name to someone, etc…

  • Do you write in only a single genre? If so, what genre? If not, what genres?

I’ve written in lots of different genres such as historical fiction, but focusing now on Young Adult and kids.

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  • What book(s) are you currently reading?

I’m reading romance at the moment: The Christmas Key by Lori Wilde.

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  • If you could interview a famous author, who would it be and what three questions would you ask him/her?

Jane Austen, because I love her writing.  If you could write something in today’s world, what would it be?  Did you realize that one day you would be so famous? What was your main reason for writing?

About Tracy:

Tracy Kauffman is a young adult and kids book author from Alabama.  She published her first book: Southern Adventures with Tate Publishing which gave her the courage to continue her writing.  She writes to inspire, edify and encourage others to fulfill their dreams.  Other works include: Richard the Lionheart, Southern Attraction, Gwendolyn’s Wish, My Boyfriend the Squire and Captain Honeybear.

Find Tracy’s Books:

captainhoneybearcoverCaptain Honey Bear- https://amzn.to/2AuxD66

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Southern Attraction- https://amzn.to/2VtMIxM

Connect with Tracy:

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Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/TracyKauffmanFictionAuthor/

Twitter page: https://twitter.com/KauffmanTracy

Amazon Author page: https://amzn.to/2Tx3eeF