Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and a Taste of Exquisite Darkness
Posts in Interviews
February 2nd Tour Stop with Archaeolibrarian

I'm tellin' ya, people, this is one pretty awesome interview I did with Archaeolibrarian during 'Daughter of the Drackan's' virtual tour. You get not one, not two, but three really cool excerpts from the novel (those close to my heart...and all of them completely different). I was feeling generous :)

Please come on by and say hello. Post some things. Ask about the book. Enter to win a $25 Amazon or BN gift card. Either way, I'll be there hanging out. Come join me!

Click on the link at the top of the page to read the entire interview.

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

Most of it is completely imagination and the movie in my head. In real life, I got Igetheyr’s character from a dream (he’s a fabulously powerful supporting character, and his role in this book and its sequel stand somewhere in the middle of major and hardly seen. I have been throwing the idea around of making him the protagonist in a sequel to ‘Daughter of the Drackan’, set centuries in the past, but it hasn’t stuck anywhere yet).

I think I also pulled all my negative emotions, aggression, disdain, and everything I wished I could do if it weren’t for societal mandates—and, you know, having friends—wadded it up into a mucky ball, and threw it into Keelin. She took it like a champ. I think Keelin is the way I get to channel my own inner, wild darkness without it ever having to see the light of day. Thank goodness.

February 1st Tour Stop at BooksChatter

Week three has begun! My virtual tour with 'Daughter of the Drackan' stops at BooksChatter today for another really cool interview (I think). My favorite part? BooksChatter kindly searched for the top music track which unequivocally inspired me to write this book (and is basically Keelin's theme song). Play the YouTube video in the background while you're reading the interview (and maybe even the book, when you get it), and you'll see what I'm talking about.

Stop by! Ask me the question bound to pop into your head when you listen to this music and read the interview. Check it out. And don't forget to enter your name in the Rafflecopter drawing for a chance to win a $25 Amazon or BN gift card. Plus, 'Daughter of the Drackan' is still $0.99. But only for the rest of the week until February 5th.

Here's a little excerpt for ya. Click on the top link to view the whole interview.

Keelin is definitely who I wish I could be sometimes.  That’s about as close as she and I get.  All the social norms I wish I could tear down, all the times I just want to punch somebody in the face instead of listen to their monotonous droning, Keelin gets to do instead.  Plus, who doesn’t like a naked assassin whirling in a flash of teeth and steel, cutting down anybody who crosses her?

Most of my characters are pretty physically skilled at something—mostly fighting.  I’m just not. I may come close to Keelin when I talk about rock-climbing, but let’s face it, she’s got me beat there, too.  She scales entire cliff faces for days…without a harness or a tie-in, without any ropes, leads, or hooks.  I don’t think I could ever do that."

January 29th Tour Stop at Deal Sharing Aunt

Last stop of the week, people! Deal Sharing Aunt was kind enough to host me today as I talk a little bit more about my writing life and my new release, 'Daughter of the Drackan'.

Here's an excerpt. Click the first link above to check out the whole interview.

What inspired you to write your first book?

My love of darkness, struggle, and a need for a higher purpose inspired me to write ‘Daughter of the Drackan’. I also really wanted a super badass character who could get away with (almost) anything. I always loved reading action and adventures, especially fight scenes, and I wanted so badly for Keelin to deliver some really superior fight scenes. My readers have told me it gets their hearts pumping just reading it, which is pure gold to my ears!

January 28th Tour Stop at C.A. Milson

Today, 'Daughter of the Drackan's' Virtual Blog Tour stops at C.A. Milson. I can't even begin to say how much fun I've had with the interviews this week. We've got a few unknown quirks about myself, what actors I'd choose to play most of the book's characters, and a much more thorough breakdown of Keelin's character (which I definitely enjoyed revealing).

What's in it for you? A super fun chance to say hello, ask me questions of absolutely any sort, and learn about the book! A chance to win a $25 Amazon or BN gift card (awesome), and of course, 'Daughter of the Drackan' discounted throughout the tour at $0.99 for the ebook. I want to see you there!

Here's just the tiny first snippet of my dive into the sexy, epically ferocious assassin demoness that is Keelin Kaht-Avmir, and you can read the entire interview by clicking on the link at the top of this post.

Keelin is like one of those electric bug zappers you hang on your porch, and everyone else is a bug. They can’t help but be attracted to her—they see her, want her, adore the strange quality about her they can’t quite place, and have to investigate further. But the closer you get to her, the more you risk your own destruction.

January 27th Tour Stop at Two Ends of the Pen

Today, with 'Daughter of the Drackan's' virtual tour at Two Ends of the Pen, I share a little bit more about one of the book's supporting characters (who is so very cool), and a lot of information/tips on self-publishing and launching an Indie Author career (from my experience).

Come and check it out! (I feel like a caller at a carnival.) Comment on all the things, ask me questions, don't be afraid to speak your mind. And enter the Rafflecopter contest to win a $25 Amazon or BN gift card.

One more excerpt for you. Click the second link above to read the whole interview.

Have you ever had a minor character evolve into a major one? Did that change the direction of the novel at all?

Aloran, the first human Keelin meets and her ‘guide’ within the human world, originally started as a very supporting character. He was the initial bridge between her and the humans, and was supposed to show her just a few tiny secrets in the beginning. It was not my plan to have him fall in love with her, nor to give him such a huge role as the leader of the underground assassin group, the King’s Knives. But it happened.

And when that happened, he invariably makes a second and possibly greater appearance in ‘Mother of the Drackan’. We get a little bit of a deeper look into his own life, where he came from, and when he meets Keelin again, he finds a connection to his past he never knew existed. It’s pretty important for the ending, too—Aloran has a huge role in the final epic scene.

January 26th Tour Stop at Kit 'N Kabookle

Well, this was exciting! I had fun questions waiting for me at the stop before I ever even got to the post this morning. That's what I like to see! Head over to Day 7's stop at Kit 'N Kabookle, where I answered some really cool questions about what I would do (and have done) if transported into the book's world, and which characters I'd go out with for drinks!

As always, come join me. Ask weird questions (I had some good ones already), sign up with the Rafflecopter drawing to win a $25 Amazon or BN gift card. Grab the book, discounted as an ebook at $0.99 throughout the tour. There's some really fun stuff in the interviews this week. You don't want to miss them!

Here's a little excerpt. Click the link at the top to see the whole interview.

I’d written myself into Keelin’s past before her story takes place in ‘Daughter of the Drackan’. The piece is in first person, and I put myself in her world in the cliffs of the High Hills basically just to mess with her. It was a really cool exercise in my relationship with both her as a character and the world I’d created. In that place, I’m a god. So I let Keelin see me (because I’d been invisible to her before, of my own choosing, of course), and threw rocks at her and got her in trouble with another drackan. Because I could.

January 25th Blog Stop at Room With Books

Happy Monday! And here we are, starting off the second week of 'Daughter of the Drackan's' Virtual Blog Tour at Room With Books.

It's been so much fun getting to answer all these interview questions about 'Daughter of the Drackan' and my writing life. Come join me. Leave a comment, ask a question. Don't forget to log in with the Rafflecopter giveaway - the more stops you visit with me, the better chances you have of winning a $25 Amazon or BN gift card. And of course, all this week, 'Daughter of the Drackan' is still discounted as an ebook for $0.99!

Click the link above to read the whole interview. Here's just a fun little excerpt below.

Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?

Mostly, I write the book first. Ideas pop into my head without titles, and most of the time I save them under the protagonist’s name until I find the title. When it hits me, I know what to call it. Titles, of course, are super important for a book, but they’re not necessary in order to actually write the book.

I have, however, written a few short stories based off of hearing something and thinking it a great title. Then I shape the story around the title. I love to share this story—I’d watched an episode of The Colbert Report when I was in college, and Stephen Colbert had some wacky thing on about colonoscopies. The words ‘rectal dyslexia’ came out of his mouth in the middle of a sentence, and I fell in love.

January 22nd Blog Stop at Laurie's Thoughts and Reviews

The last blog stop this week on 'Daughter of the Drackan's' Virtual Blog Tour visits Laurie's Thoughts and Reviews. I really enjoyed answering the questions on this one about my family's support in my writing career, who 'mentored' me, and what I hear from fans. Some good tips for beginning writers as well.

Here's a little excerpt. Click the link above to view the entire interview. Join me, say something, ask a question. You can enter to win a $25 Amazon or BN gift card, and 'Daughter of the Drackan' is still discounted. Grab it here.

I took away from that realization that, when we’re offered the chance to do what we love, we have to take it and embrace it. Feeling guilty or worthless over the gift of opportunity is like not eating a meal because you’ve made it perfectly. It doesn’t make sense. And I found myself able to embrace the turn my life has taken and really become the author I’ve always wanted to be (and maybe on some level never thought truly possible).

January 21st Tour Stop at Indie Author's Blog

And today, we head on over to Indie Author's Blog for tour stop number four! Questions about my favorite part of the writing process and how 'Daughter of the Drackan' chose me as its author.

I did a bit of snooping around this blog...I think my interview was five times longer than the other one-sentence answers... (shh)... ;)

Here's a little excerpt of something pretty cool I wrote about, and click the link above to see the entire interview. Comment while you're there, say something wacky! And during the tour, 'Daughter of the Drackan' is discounted at just $0.99!

Why choose these amazing people to be my co-authors? Honestly, if anybody did the choosing, they chose me, and for that I’m continuously humbled and flattered. These authors come from all different backgrounds (not to mention countries), and specialize in fiction of all different genres: we’ve got Romance, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Steampunk, and Horror, to name most of them. Melding my creative mind with other writers is such an incredible experience, and it stretches the limits of my imagination further than I ever thought possible. I’m sure I’ll be stretched some more.

January 20th Tour Stop at Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews

Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews is hosting a stop today for 'Daughter of the Drackan's' Virtual Blog Tour. This was a fun interview, and goes a little more in-depth into Keelin's character and what I do on an average day in the life of me.

Click the link above to see the whole interview. Comment, ask me questions, talk to me! You can also enter to win a $25 Amazon or BN gift card, and grab your copy of 'Daughter of the Drackan' throughout the tour at a discounted price. This is so much fun, and I love chatting with readers at this stop.

As a protagonist, Keelin isn’t necessarily for everyone. She’s gritty, haughty, and sometimes annoyingly whiney. Despite her violence, bloodlust, and infuriating stubbornness, she’s also loyal to a fault, independent, and remarkably good at what she does—namely killing. There’s a lot of my own wild side in Keelin; of course, that’s the side of me I’ll never let out, save for through my characters. She struggles constantly to discover who she is within two opposing worlds, neither of which want to accept her completely, and does the only thing she can to find the answers she needs—manipulating those around her in whatever way suits her purposes.

January 19th Tour Stop at Rayna Noire

Today, the 2016 Virtual Blog Tour for 'Daughter of the Drackan' stops at Rayna Noire. I talk about my early writing life, where it all started, and the bumps I hit along the way on my road to being an Indie Author.

Here's an excerpt from the interview. Click on the link for Rayna Noire above to check out the whole thing. Leave a comment, chat with me and tell me what you think, and enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card. And pop by Amazon - 'Daughter of the Drackan' is discounted at $0.99 through the entire tour!

I do remember vividly the night I wrote this novel’s final words—New Year’s Eve of 2007, and I was seventeen. Three different friends of mine had called me and asked if I wanted to join them for New Year’s Eve parties, and I had to turn them all down. I’d promised myself that I would finish the darn thing before the new year. As it turned out, I wrote the ending at 11:52 pm before jumping from my desk, hooting and hollering in my bedroom, and doing my own version of the happy dance while the ball dropped (no, I won’t go into the embarrassing details of my dancing techniques). Then, I wondered what came next.

January 18th Tour Stop at Rogue's Angels

We're starting the tour off on a good foot this morning! My first stop touring with 'Daughter of the Drackan' is at Rogue's Angels, where they've interviewed me on my writing and the release of this book.

The following is an excerpt from the interview, but head on over to Rogue's Angels to get the full interview. Leave a comment and chat with me there, and you're automatically entered to win a $25 Amazon gift card.

All kids have secret wishes, daydreaming about things they wish would happen in their lives or impossible things they want to be possible—like magic. My reason for writing was a combination of both. I had a bit of a rocky childhood, though I wouldn’t change a single bit of it for the world; it made me the person—and the writer—I am today. I spent years writing about things I ‘wanted’ in my life at the time, and most of it revolved around experiences I’d never had but hoped to have some day in the future when I ‘grew up’. Writing was a phenomenal outlet for me growing up, and it oftentimes gave me the hope I needed when nothing else would do. The other half of my inspiration came from my pretty ridiculous imagination—as I believe all writers have. Sometimes, the real world is just plain ol’ boring, and I found very quickly that I could spice it up a bit with writing about things that could never, ever possibly happen in this universe.

"Meet the Rising Star" Series: Interviewed by Cayce Berryman

This was such a fun interview conducted by Author, Editor, and Copywriter Cayce Berryman. Every week, she interviews a new author on their published work, current projects, and their writing life altogether. I got to talk about both my novel 'Daughter of the Drackan' (published this October), its upcoming sequel, and the next novel currently underway, the Dystopian Sci-Fi 'Sleepwater Beat'. Plus a few other little fun nuggets. This is just an excerpt from the interview, because I like sharing little snippets about all my work underway. If you'd like to read the full interview, check it out on Cayce's website here.

What are you currently working on? How did you begin working on it?

I both love and dread talking about this project, because it’s bigger than anything I’ve ever done before, and it’s a little terrifying. “Sleepwater Beat” is a Dystopian Sci-Fi set in the near-future US. The main character, Leo, is a homeless girl of 22 who is one of a growing group of individuals who have developed the ability to affect other people—psychologically, mentally, and physically—with the “superpower” embedded in certain kinds of words. Basically like X-Men abilities through storytelling. The novel also covers government/military control, pharmaceutical and media conspiracy, human trafficking and experimentation, black-market dealings, guerilla warfare, and a hint of LGBTQ flavor. What in the world possessed me to scramble all these things together? I’ll never be able to answer that question.

It started quite literally as an experiment in and of itself about a year and a half ago. I had a general feel for these ideas, and wondered what it would be like to write a long short story (about 35K words) purely comprised of short scenes without “filler” (because we all hate writing filler, right?). The trick was that I also wanted to scramble every scene into an order as far from chronological as I could possibly get. I managed to do that pretty well, and the experiment was a success, even though I would never do it again. I brought this piece to my weekly writers’ group when I lived in Charleston, SC, and they loved the ideas. Their input also inspired me to change some details, add new characters and plot lines, and I realized this thing now clawed through its outer layer to transform into an entire novel.

Fall Fantasy Interview Series: #11

Today is the last interview with author Jason Pere on his new release 'Calling the Reaper', conducted by Virginia Carraway Stark. These are just so much fun.

1. What frustrates you? In writing, in life, in love - what drives you crazy?

In writing, never enough time to write. I feel like a fiction junkie sometimes. If I am away from a keyboard for too long and don’t get a fix of creative expression, I become quite ornery and start scratching at the walls. In life, why did they make it so hard and where is the instruction manual? In love, those times where you just need to be a punching bag for the people you love because they just need something to hit. Luckily, I’m a scrappy little guy who is pretty well put-together and I don’t break so easy. What drives me crazy? I passed the town line for Crazy so long ago I don’t remember what I was driving - probably some kind of responsible, boring, economy car. Also, the two miserable felines that allow me to dwell within their kingdom surely have a role in my dementia.

2. What is the hardest part about writing for you? Do you think other writers share this problem?

I would say knowing where the lines you cannot cross are. I like to push boundaries and give readers things that they have not seen before. This often means going into some pretty dark places, and I am afraid that some of the things I write may be too taboo for the mainstream.

I’m sure that other writers have the same issue. If you want to write and attract readers, then I think you ether need to execute stories that are classically formulaic but done better than most other authors on the market, or you need to provide readers with a completely new experience. If you are going to try and explore new territory, pushing boundaries and comfort zones is a requisite on ingenuity.

3. If you were given $100,000 right now, how would it affect your writing? Would it give you more time or less if you had a big wad of cash to spend?

Oh, so much more time at first. I could quit my day job and then produce tons of material…that nobody would read and were ultimately unmarketable, so I would then be forced to try and get my old job back only to find that the position had been filled and I'd have to desperately try and get multiple minimum wage jobs to make ends meet and watch as my life became nothing more than a never-ending repetition of sleep, work, sleep, work, sleep and then I never get to write anything ever again, ever. So…I think you can keep the $100,000 for now.

4. What has been the biggest surprise you have had as a result of your writing? Was it a landmine or a revelation?

I am not a classically trained author and yet the response to virtually all of my work that I have shared is overwhelmingly positive. You hear that, kids? Drop out of school, its ok. Who needs that higher education jibber jabber? You can be a writer just like me.

5. If you were asked to unload a 747 full of jellybeans, what would you do?

First I would put in a call to Little Bunny FooFoo and cash in a favor. One time I helped the Foofur disappear a hotel room of dead field mice after she came down off a Peter “Oxy” Cottontail bender. LB FooFoo could arrange a meeting for me with one Mr. Bugs Bunny because they play squash together twice a month. I would then offer to take care of Mr. Bugs’ “Elmer Fudd” problem if he could arrange an introduction with the one and only Easter Bunny. If there is anyone who can move some heavy weight in jelly beans it is that Rabbit. And I am using the term Rabbit in the not-racist, politically correct way.

6. Who would win a fight between spider-man and batman?

Gambit, Cajun who knows his way around a deck of cards, no contest. Next Question!

7. If you could get rid of one state in America, which one would it be and why?

Connecticut because I like the idea of living in a Sovereign Nation where we could establish a proper Aristocracy.

8. What song best describes your work ethic when it comes to your writing?

Clearly it is Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up. Oh, Rick Roll! Seriously I think it would likely be Mindtraveler by the Swedish Folkmetal group Falconer. To me that song is the anthem for introspective creativity.

9. A penguin walks through the door right now. He is wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?

The only possible thing that could be said in such a scenario. “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die!”

10. How would you rate your communication skills? How would people communicate in a perfect world?

My communication skillz is are very good lots and I knowz whatz people is be sayinz when they speak words to my earz place. When Iz talkingz I is do a strong not badz jobs of makinz people know what is be the wordz my mouth are do to make.

In a perfect world people would communicate without the need for speech. They would simply understand what others required with flawless, intuitive interpolation.

11. If you were a kitchen utensil, what utensil would you be? Why?

Like a salad fork, or maybe a dinner fork. But that is a long way to go so maybe like one of those little shrimp forks or perhaps something that is not even a fork…like a ladle.

12. How do you think your writing affects your readers? How do you feel about that?

I would like to think that my stories stay with a reader because they cause the reader to feel some deep emotion. If I were to try and convey a single emotional concept with my writing, I would say “Bittersweet”. I think we are better able to appreciate joy and levity when it is contrasted with tragedy and sorrow. All sunshine and no rain clouds denies us a frame of reference and ability to appreciate the unclouded day.

You can grab your copy of Jason Pere's tragically brilliant new Fantasy novel, 'Calling the Reaper', here.


Fall Fantasy Interview Series: #10

This is my last interview in the series, conducted by Virginia Carraway Stark about my new release 'Daughter of the Drackan' and the things that make me tick as a writer. These were fun, intriguing questions (and I'm sure you may laugh at one or two of them, as I did). Stay tuned for the last two interviews in our Fall Fantasy Series, scheduled for next week.

1. What was the most difficult thing you ever wrote? Why do you think it was so difficult for you?

The single most difficult thing I’ve ever written was, in fact, the short synopsis for ‘Daughter of the Drackan’, back before I’d gone Indie and was still pulling out all the stops trying to get it traditionally published. This was also back when both ‘Daughter of the Drackan’ and ‘Mother of the Drackan’ were one, single, humongous piece of fiction. For some reason, it didn’t occur to me back then that something just over 200K words would be daunting for anyone to want to sign.

It took me about three weeks to finally get the 3-page synopsis written on the whole work. I still have all of the “drafts” of this synopsis saved on my computer, for hilarity’s sake. I was able to write first a 34-page summary, then pared it down to 25 pages, then 15, then 10, then 5, and finally 3 (and, in some instances with various agents, 1 double-spaced page. Yikes!). I never quite understood what other authors meant when they’d said writing a synopsis is the absolute worst part of the whole package that comes with writing and publishing a novel until I did this myself. It was intense, terrifying, frustrating, and I felt like I was just throwing out the baby with the bathwater on this one. But I did learn the valuable skill of not being verbose, and of cutting down all the intricacies of my brain into short, relevant, crucial sentences. I’d recommend doing this with any work, even if you’re planning on becoming, and staying, an Indie Author. There’s nothing quite like peeling back the skin of your novel and seeing all the guts that make it work.

2. Tell me about how your personal life affects your writing? Do you write your real life relationships into your fiction?

When I write Fantasy, I like to move beyond the realm of my own understanding and into something (worlds, characters, laws, and struggles) completely new. Of course, my own personal life experiences still come out within the character interactions, which is how readers relate to characters in the first place. They have to be believable.

I will say, however, that my short stories (which are mostly Literary Fiction), the collaborations on which I’m currently working, and my own work in progress, the Dystopian Sci-Fi ‘Sleepwater Beat’, draw much more from my personal experiences and relationships than my Fantasy does. I like to pick on one single aspect of people I know or have met, and inject that into characters. I think the reason I write such dark, emotionally driven (and not always in the most positive way) fiction is because a lot of my past comes into play. As I’m sure we all do, I’ve got some pretty dark “stories” in my past, and part of a way for me to celebrate how far I’ve come since then, and how grateful I am for my currently beautiful, blessed, wonderful life, is to keep writing in a way that expresses the possibility of transforming that darkness into something else entirely. The protagonist in ‘Sleepwater Beat’, for instance, has more of myself written into her character than I’ve ever allowed before. It’s a bit daunting, a bit scary, but I may never have felt more connected to one of my characters.

3. What has been the biggest surprise you have had as a result of your writing? Was it a landmine or a revelation?

Until just a few years ago, I went through a point in my life where I hadn’t written a single word of fiction in probably three years. And I do mean that quite literally—not a single word. I’d gotten so caught up in my own life and everything it entailed at the time that I went through this whole process of not feeling “worthy” of the written word, of wondering what it was I ever had thought I could do with it in the first place. The worst part about it was that once I considered writing again, and really diving into my work as I’d done before my little ‘hiatus’, I was absolutely terrified of the possibility that I may have lost all my “writing talent”.

It sounds kind of silly as I write this, but it was an incredibly palpable fear, and instead of choosing to sit down and figure out if it was actually true, I beat myself over the head about it for months. Something finally clicked, and I told my head to shut up and just write. To my complete bafflement and heart-stopping surprise…my writing style had managed to change completely without me ever writing a single thing. It was almost like getting a completely different hairstyle that I’d never had before—I recognized my face, obviously still had hair, but somehow it didn’t feel like me and I’d done absolutely nothing myself to invoke this physical change in my appearance. This is obviously a metaphor for my writing. I saw the same elements, the same drive for characterization and story, but my structure and voice had matured disproportionately to the amount of writing I’d actually done—which was zero. I realized then that I am a writer, just like every other writer, and the act of writing, of telling stories and wielding the saber of the written word, is ingrained in me just as deeply as all the other things that make me me. That was when the floodgates opened, and I don’t think I’ll ever be afraid of losing my “ability to write” ever again.

4. If you were a kitchen utensil, what utensil would you be? Why? 

Well, I have been a kitchen utensil, so there! Either my junior or senior year of high school, the Drama Club put on a production of Beauty and the Beast for our fall musical. In addition to being part of the chorus as a villager, I was also one of the inhabitants of the enchanted castle. We were all kitchen utensils, essentially (you know, before Belle breaks the spell and everybody turns back into people), and I was given the joyous honor of playing the pastry brush. Yes, I was a pastry brush. My costume was a barrel-shaped cut of brown foam, with straps to hang it over my shoulders, a grass skirt around the bottom to serve as the bristles, and to complete the ensemble, I was given a giant tubular piece of brown foam to place on my head. It was at least three feet tall with a round hole cut in the front for my face. I’ll let you picture that visual for a moment… I was all the rage. Needless to say, the pastry brush has a very fond place in my heart.

5. What (if anything) makes writing impossible for you? How do you overcome this? 

I am one of those people who just can’t sit down to write when I’m highly emotional. Angry, sad, afraid, anxious—it doesn’t matter. It didn’t always used to be that way. When I was younger, writing was the only outlet I had for those emotions, and I have a rather large box that’s now overflowing with all the little scraps of writing I pumped out around those feelings. I did, however, go through a period in my life where I learned the poignant importance of being able to sit with my emotions, to process them, accept them, and try to move forward past whatever I’m feeling at the time. For me, writing now requires a clean conscience and a clear head (except for the occasional ridiculous flash fiction pieces that get created when I decide to sit at the computer with a friendly glass of whisky next to me).

I’ve just recently started giving myself daily word quotas for my fiction (1,000 words a day, minimum), and it’s been extraordinarily helpful. When I get super emotional, I first try to sit with it a bit, grab ten minutes for myself and some mindful meditation, and then see how I feel. Sometimes, though, we all just need somebody to listen, and the writing community has been a remarkable outlet for venting my frustrations. There are a few people I go to with any struggles I might have, who have all consistently given more than helpful advice, guidance, and sometimes just validation. Writers know how writers feel, and I’ve found more kindred spirits within the writing community than any other group of peers in which I’ve taken part. Then, once I’ve expressed myself fully with no judgements…I take a look at the status of my daily writing, and remind myself that, if I want to stick to my publication schedule as an Indie Author, I better get back to writing.

You can grab a copy of my newest Fantasy release, 'Daughter of the Drackan' on Amazon and in the Kindle Store here.

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Fall Fantasy Interview Series: #9

Today, VS Holmes interviews author Jason Pere about his debut novel 'Calling the Reaper: First Book of Purgatory'.

1)Is fantasy your primary genre? If so, do you write in others?

Yes Fantasy is my “go-to” genre when it comes to fiction. I am always intimidated when I think of working on a project that is rooted in established facts or has to play by the rules of world history. I really prefer to spend my time writing and not researching when I get a “Writing Day”, so working predominantly in fantasy affords me that luxury. I know that as a story teller I have a very strong imagination and sense of creativity, so working in a genre that I can fully flex those attributes seems like a natural fit.

All that said, I do write poetry now and then. It is actually how I started writing seriously, so I don’t think I will ever fully abandon that style of writing. I have also dabbled in the children’s book genre. I am an avid fan of science fiction, and while I have not written any major works in that genre, I am far from opposed to doing so. I should also mention that I have recently discovered collaborative writing and I absolutely adore it. It feels like I am back in my improvisational theater days when I get to work in concert with other authors.

2)What speaks to you about the fantasy genre and have you always been a fan?

Yes I have always been a fan. In a word, imagination. Fantasy is the place where an artist can literally do anything. That is the major attraction to me. Fantasy feels like the genre that has the most potential because there are only the rules that the writer imposes on themselves. Everything else is fair game. I also very much enjoy that Fantasy tends to lend itself well to epic and large-scale storytelling. I prefer to experience a work that plays out on a grand stage with lots of scenes to experience characters to love and hate.

3)What was the biggest challenge you faced writing CALLING THE REAPER?

Well that whole editing, layout and formatting thing. Basically anything that had to deal with the non-creative element of writing was a pain in the neck, but this is a pretty boring answer so I’ll try and spice it up a bit.

Creatively, my biggest challenge was creating protagonists that were also my antagonists. This is a piece that speaks very much to the eternal conflict of good vs. evil, and I wanted to make my lead characters fall on both sides of the line. It was not easy to craft a person that had such a complex, layered degree of morality that they could do profoundly un-heroic things and still be considered the “Hero” of the story. Oh, and I had to do that for not one but eight gosh-darn characters. Get ready to “like” the bad guy and feel warm and gooey inside about doing it. I won’t tell.

4)Do you listen to music while you write? What is your go-to writing music?

Funny, that. I tend to avoid music when I write as it can often grab my imagination and run with it in a different direction. Every time I try and listen to music while I write, I struggle to maintain my focus. Its hard enough to hear the voices in my head without Eddie Vedder, Peter Steele, Chibi and the like putting in their two cents. That said, music plays a very heavy role in the inspiration of my material. I can easily point to several works in my portfolio that were born in music. Oh, want to see something cool? Captain Dante Ramos- Pink Floyd/Comfortably Numb Aristo-The God of War Soundtrack Lady Kathryn Petra- Poets of the Fall/Carnival of Rust Kenji Rei-Disturbed/Warrior Shiva-Iron Maiden/Run to the Hills Gemmell-Queen/Gimmie the Prize Marshal Jackson Bennet French- Bon Jovi/Wanted Dead or Alive Sir Lionel James- Rick Astley/Never Gonna Give you up…No Not Really…Sarah McLaughlin/Sweet Surrender Paradise Anthem- Audra Mae/The Unclouded Day Purgatory Anthem-Tool/Parabola

5)What is your favorite line or paragraph in the book? Why is that?

“And she possessed a tragic beauty, like the stripped branches of a cemetery tree cast against the steel grey sky of autumn.” I love this line because to me it sums up perfectly the concept of this magnificently broken woman. The line is sublimely beautiful, and I call for sabers at dawn against anyone who says otherwise.

Jason Pere's novel, 'Calling the Reaper', is available now on Amazon here. You won't be disappointed by the phenomenal darkness in these flawed and redeemable (maybe?) characters.


Fall Fantasy Interview Series: #8

Today, I'm interviewed by VS Holmes on my release of 'Daughter of the Drackan' last month, and my love for being a part of the Indie Author Community!

1)What made you decide to become an independent author?

That feels like a bit of a loaded question! But I'll answer it as specifically as it was asked. I tried my hand for a long time querying and submitting to agents and publishers...many, many times. I have an extensive collection of rejection letters, and I'll be the first to say I am absolutely not ashamed of them! It takes a lot of work - research, writing specific query letters, different lengths of synopses and manuscript submissions (almost for every single agent/publisher). I spent two years trying to go the traditional route, and then finally realized just how much energy and focus it actually took.

Many people had asked me at that time why I didn't just self-publish. I always had that in my back pocket as a last resort, knowing that I would never forgive myself if I didn't first exhaust all my available resources for traditional publishing. As you can see, traditional publishing resources = exhausted. That was the original reason I became an Indie Author.

However, I will say now with absolute certainty that I prefer being an Indie Author. Not only do I get to keep my hands on the entire process - from typing that first word to getting a book cover and promotion design, to marketing and monitoring - but the best thing that comes along with being an Indie Author is the INDIE AUTHOR COMMUNITY. I have networked my butt off, made friends, learned invaluable things, received invaluable services in trade, and gained far more support just by being myself and using that to promote my work. That's something I don't think I could have done had I been picked up by a traditional publisher, and I'm not sure I would ever change it.

2)How does your day-job factor into your writing?

Short answer: in every way possible. By day, I am a self-employed Independent Editor, Chief Editor of a collaborative fiction organization, Editing Director of a fabulously unique Publishing Company, and an Indie Author. By night, I am a self-employed...well, rinse and repeat. Basically, I never stop working, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm lucky enough to finally be able to say that I do what I love for a living, and I wake up excited and grateful every day. Granted, there are times when all my "non-Indie Author" jobs take up a lot of time and energy, and I find myself falling behind on the schedules I've laid out for myself in writing my own fiction. But I try really hard to schedule a few hours here and there into my week where I turn everything off (except the lights and Microsoft Word) and go to town.

I will say, though, that the relationships I've built - within the Indie Author community, through Editing clients (who more often than not turn out to become very good friends), and just by simply saying hello and sharing bits about myself - have led me to the place now where, even if I'm not vigorously tapping away at my own novels, I'm writing a short story for an anthology, or a chapter for a collaborative novel, or some other crazy compilation of frenzied fiction with others. Like I said, my day job fuels my writing, and vice versa.

3)Do you have future projects in mind? Are they related to 'Daughter of the Drackan', or something new?

Always. I have so many future projects bumping against each other in my head that "future" may just never become "present". But I try.

The sequel to 'Daughter of the Drackan', 'Mother of the Drackan', will be out early 2016. Right now, I'm thinking around February. And that's already written, so it just needs one more round of revisions (which will make it lucky revision #13), and then it will be here too! I've also toyed with the idea of writing a prequel to 'Daughter of the Drackan', taking place centuries before and focusing on the very first drackan-human fledgling, but that has yet to grow roots.

I am, however, currently writing a third novel, which is a Dystopian Sci-Fi titled 'Sleepwater Beat'. The best way I can describe this is: '1894' meets 'X-Men' in the very near future United States. So we've got iron government control, pharmaceutical and social media conspiracy, human trafficking, human experimentation, guerrilla warfare, black market deals, and all that fun stuff. The 'X-Men' part of it comes into play with the characters' "powers". Some people have developed an ability to illicit physical and emotional responses from anyone within listening distance...just by using certain types of words, specific to each unique "gift". Needless to say, this is a very big project - XXL - with a lot to say, and I find myself having to sit it down in the discipline corner and give it a talking to about respecting its maker and listening to what I make it easier for both of us. If 'Sleepwater Beat' should be out by April or May next year.

4)What about the writing community as a whole have you found most inspiring? What about something we need to work on?

I find the entire writing community inspiring! I think, though, what has stricken me as the most fabulous part is everyone's capacity for supporting each other, enthusiasm for giving feedback/critiques/new projects, and acceptance of each individual author for WHO THEY ARE. That's super important! I've come across all walks of life within the writing community, and I really mean ALL WALKS, and I have yet to see anybody left out, belittled, or intentionally discouraged. I mean, let's face it, writers are strange people. We have quirks and vices that, for the most part, only other writers understand. At least where I spend my time in the writing community, I have yet to see anybody shunned for what makes them them. And I'm pretty weird, so it's very encouraging.

I really haven't found a lot of things "lacking" in the writing community, which is what makes being a writer and Indie Author (not to mention all the other "titles" I hold) being so much fun! The thing I find most difficult, though, is being able to keep up with ALL the different groups, forums, projects, and organizations. There are way too many, and as much as I want to be an integral part of all of them, I'm very aware of the fact that, to get to that level of proficiency, I'd have to stop writing completely. There would just be no time, and then what would be the point?

5)We all have our secret favorite characters—usually one in a supporting role rather than the protagonist. Which of your supporting characters has a special place in your heart? Why?

This is kind of a hard one, because my favorite characters tend to be my protagonists…hence the story all about them! But there is one character in ‘Daughter of the Drackan’ that stands out in importance and splendor.

Igetheyr is the patriarch of the High Hills drackans (Keelin’s adoptive species, so to speak, and her only family). He’s the only drackan with obsidian black scales, is overwhelmingly enormous, and his mind-voice is a golden rich magnificence that echoes within the minds of all who hear him (drackans communicate through colors and visual patterns, telepathically and without spoken words). He was the first drackan to successfully wean a human fledgling—to give a human the drackan powers of communication, their instincts, and their bloodlust—and when Keelin becomes the second human fledgling, Igetheyr watches her through her life, and her journeys, with a keen eye. Essentially, Igetheyr is the most powerful being in the entire novel, but his bond with the drackans and the pact he’s made with the drackan gods keep him from interfering in the messes Keelin makes through her desperate search for answers.

I love Igetheyr. He’s powerful, wise, and patient; he doesn’t use his power and authority to belittle or intimidate anyone. He’s almost so powerful that anything he could do would make life as these characters know it obsolete. So he can only stand by and watch, occasionally giving advice and occasionally making crucial decisions (this comes into play in the sequel, ‘Mother of the Drackan’). My special tie to Igetheyr spans from the fact that everything about him came to me in a dream, before I had ever written chapter 5—including the spelling of his name. It was such an epic dream, where I heard him speak to me and watched him fly around a stone temple, that I couldn’t not make him an epic character in the book. If I do, in fact, decide to write that prequel to this series, there will be a lot more of Igetheyr.

Grab your copy of 'Daughter of the Drackan' here, available on Amazon and in the Kindle Store.

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Fall Fantasy Interview Series: #7

Today, VS Holmes interviews author Virginia Carraway Stark on her new novel, 'Carnival Fun', and her own writing process for pumping out fantastic fantasy and speculative fiction.

1)What book (or series) influenced you the most as a child / adolescent?

I was into JRR Tolkien and C.S. Lewis since before I started kindergarten. I love them both and I read them to pieces. It was rare that you would ever find me without at least one of them in my backpack or in my hand and as I entered junior high school I got involved with a group of people who did role playing in Middle Earth. After that I researched every land and people. My English teacher gave me a copy of a book of poetry by Tolkien that had been signed by him and was filled with beautiful illustrations. These series taught me the beauty of symbolism and the firm belief that goodness and love can triumph over hatred and despair.

2)What is an integral piece to your writing routine?

I pick up a pen, a pencil, or put my fingers on my keyboard. That is the only part that is absolutely integral (although I have also used a crayon and even written in the dirt or on wood if I was struck by an inspiration that could not wait for more civilized methods.)

It's nice to have something pleasant to drink that suits the season (but I'll forget about it as likely as not) and my favorite place to write in in my big lazy-boy chair with my special stain glass lamp that colors everything into soothing shades. I like to look out the window and watch my bird feeder and all the birds that come to it. I like to curl up in against the lamb's wool coverlet that covers the back of my chair and plan my next attack, but these are all luxuries that I enjoy when I have them and the rest of the time I just write.

3)What surprised you most about publishing and writing?

What continues to surprise me is what sticks with people. I've had people come up to me with tears in their eyes about something that I had nearly forgotten writing about and been told that it seemed like I wrote it just for them.

4)Can you pinpoint the moment the spark for your book first ignited?

Hmm, this is a hard one, first short story or first novel? Dalton's Daughter was my first published novel and it was sparked by a slow-cooker process that involved taking a small character from my husband and his friend's world and having her take up residency inside my own head. After that she spoke her story, and as it was slowly revealed, the novel took shape.

5)Are you a "Plotter" or a "Pantser" and has this changed over the course of your writing career? Why do you feel this works for you?

I'm mostly a pantser but I will also jot notes. I guess I would largely call myself a hybrid. When it comes to short pieces I'm a pantser but I find that a lot of novellas and novels require at least some vague notations for myself about things that need to be addressed or brought up. I feel this works for me because I put so much passion and heart into my writing that plotting it out would be likely to stifle my energy. It would seem mechanical to me and lack the waves of emotion and the sense of being lost in the creative reveal.

Carnival Fun is coming soon on Amazon! Stay tuned for news on its release.


Fall Fantasy Interview Series: #6

Today, I have been interviewed myself by Jason Pere, after my new release this month of 'Daughter of the Drackan: Book One of Gyenona's Children.' These were some fun questions!

1) If you had to cast an actor to play your main protagonist in a film adaptation of one of your pieces, who would you choose, and would you totally superfan it up and ask for an autograph?

For a really long time, and I mean years, I “scouted” film actors looking for the right person to play Keelin should ‘Daughter of the Drackan’ ever make it to the big screen. Complete daydream, of course, but I never could find the right person. So I gave up. And then just about a year ago, my husband and I started watching the Showtime series ‘Penny Dreadful’, and when I saw the evil, mysterious, and still scared-out-of-her-mind character Eva Greene portrayed through her role as Vanessa Ives, I lost it. That was it! Eva Greene would play Keelin E’Kahlyn, and I’ll have it no other way!

2) A young, hopeful-eyed, aspiring author flings themselves at your feet and says, “Oh, teach me, great master!” What is the first lesson you impart to your new Padawan?

After I rested my hand on said Padawan’s shoulder and gave them permission to rise, my first lesson would be two-fold. “Listen to what I say, but follow in your own footsteps, not mine. And embark on your training with the belief that you will be better than me.”

3) Okay, so you took your latest work in progress to your local writers group and everyone tore to shreds the text of which you were so proud. Other than a roll of tape, how do you handle something like that? Has that ever happened to you?

First off—yes, that has happened to me. I majored in Creative Writing Fiction in college, and brought such a manuscript to class one day to be critiqued and reviewed by my classmates. A lot of the writing I did for these college courses were based off obscure writing prompts, which I never really enjoyed back then. I wrote this silly, light-hearted spin-off of ‘The Frog Prince’ set in modern times. I thought it was fun, humorous, and obvious that it wasn’t supposed to make sense. My classmates hated it. They made a feast of overanalyzing the heck out of it, pulling out all the parts that didn’t work for them, shredding the plot, and burning the characters at the stake. It was frustrating, because it wasn’t a debate, I wasn’t there to “defend” my writing, but I wanted to scream at them that it was supposed to be a goofball story. I realized, then, that I’d submitted a short story to a classroom of other writers who were not particularly the best target audience for a silly fairytale.

I don’t know how I was fortunate enough to be able to separate criticism of my work from my actual work itself, but I’ve always known not to take someone else’s criticism or opinions personally when it comes down to my writing. Basically, I acknowledge criticism in proportion to how much said criticism acknowledged my writing. If someone yells and screams, or bashes everything about my work, but cannot tell me why (or may not take the time to figure the why out for themselves), I let it roll off my back. But the feedback and criticism that addresses issues within my work, problem spots of characterization or believability, and tells me why the problems exist is the feedback I accept gratefully, spend some time appreciating it, and make the choice then whether or not to incorporate those ideas into my work. Of course, there are also times when I say, “Nope, I don’t agree with you, and I don’t like your suggestions.” They’re few and far between, and the important thing for me to remember, and what I like sharing with other authors, is that the “reader” is not just one person, but potentially thousands, and it’s nearly impossible to make all of them happy. As long as you’re happy with your work, you’re good to go.

4) Do you prefer to write first and ask questions later or are you the type that will research and fact find every little detail into oblivion before starting a project?

I’m a pantser, totally. Outlining and researching kills the writing process for me, because I get so overwhelmed by the fact that I don’t have all the pieces (which of course, appear when the project is actually written). And all that over-thinking, planning, and fleshing out of “where is the story going?” feels like wasting valuable writing time. I’m not bashing outlining and researching as a way to write…it simply does not work for me.

For the most part, I have a general “vision” of what I’d like the story to be about, where it’s going, and some major scenes already playing out in my mind on repeat. Writing it down is the only way to turn that darn loop off! I will say, though, that I’ve branched out of my “pantser” routine with my current work in progress, ‘Sleepwater Beat’. It started out as an experimental short story, and once I finished it, I was badgered into turning the short story into a novel (badgered by myself, my writing group, and the story, of course). I’ve had to do a lot of surgery on this piece, moving it from a short story to a novel, and outlining was completely necessary in order to keep my brain on straight. When I do outline or research, I’ve found I can only do it section by section. I don’t think I’ve ever made a skeleton of something all the way to the end.

5) How do you know when it is time to stop writing? This is not a trick question.

This felt like a two-part question to me. So…1) I know it’s time to stop writing during the throes of creation when I realize I’m trying too hard. My favorite thing about writing is getting in the “zone”—picturing everything so vividly and connecting with the characters so viscerally that, before I know it, it’s two hours and four thousand words later. However, that doesn’t always happen. I’ve sat at my computer, typing sentences over and over again, deleting them, and realizing I’ve only managed to pull out two paragraphs that are actually worth anything. So I tell myself to stop and come back later. 2) The other “time to stop writing” is at the end of a story! Obvious, right? For me, the ending shows up in the weirdest ways, and it’s hardly what I expected. I’ve ended things in the middle of danger, or the start of a new adventure, or in the mundane moments between thoughts. I stop writing and add the words ‘The End’ when my characters feel satisfied. There may be “more to the story”, but when there’s nothing else screaming for a spot on the page, I call it finished work.

6) Have you ever been afraid to write a piece because you were not confident you could do it justice? Can you tell us about that?

I’m struggling with this currently, actually. I mentioned before my work in progress, ‘Sleepwater Beat’, which is a Dystopian Sci-Fi set in modern America. It has so many things to say! Not only is it a character-driven, “noir plus superpowers” adventure, but it addresses a lot of my own personal opinions on the current state of humanity, America, society at large. It sounds a bit trite, but I don’t want to give anything away. This is the first piece I’ve worked on that actually reflects my own feelings about something larger than character interactions and high-flying adventure. I didn’t even know where it was going when I started working on this project, and through a little writing and a lot of sharing and discussion, I had to dig deep to find out what the actual point of this thing was going to be. It turns out that it frightens me a lot, because I want to do it right and I’ve never written anything like this before. So far, all I can say is that as long as I keep writing, I’m headed in the right direction.

'Daughter of the Drackan' is available now on Amazon, both in print and ebook format, and FREE for Kindle Unlimited users. Grab a copy for yourself here and enjoy the ride!

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Fall Fantasy Interview Series: #5

Today, Jason Pere interviews author Virginia Carraway Stark on her new novel 'Carnival Fun'.

1. Pop Quiz Hot Shot, you sit down to write then story that you have been itching to get on the page and all of a sudden it’s nothing but blank pages and writers block. What do you do?

I start writing random words that come to mind. Seriously, get any words onto the page. Anything! If that doesn't break things loose I usually go have a bath and take a good novel with me. It's amazing what reading and relaxing can do for writer's block. I usually have a lot of different projects on the go, so switching between them lets my subconscious have time to actively work on my blocks. Usually I'll have as many as ten projects open on my laptop at any given time, and if inspiration strikes I'll switch to where the inspiration leads me. Ultimately, my tactic seems to be: don't force it, let it come. At the same time I keep my writing brain active so that my productivity doesn't flag.

2. Have you ever written something that got you so emotional that you had to take a break and find something to blow your nose with?

I was about four hours into the 24-hour poetry marathon when I found out my grandmother died. The very next poem was called: My Tears. In the marathon, you have to spend 24 hours writing a poem an hour, I think it was about eight hours of poems that I wrote out about my grandmother one after another. I cried my heart out each time I wrote one of the poems. By the time I was finished, it was like I had 'power grieved'. I was so at peace with the loss it was startling! I still get a little weepy about some of them when I read them.

3. Can you describe for us your writing style in eight words or less?

I write like I talk.

4. When your inner narrator speaks, who do they sound like?

It really depends. I guess I'm one of those writers that has a lot of different voices. I've been told that what I am working on can really affect my cadences and demeanor in real life. If I'm reading something of someone else's, usually it will be in a neutral version of my own reading voice.

5. Do you try to use your art to convey a particular message to the rest of the world?

I try to share my passion with the world through my writing. I want people to laugh and love and feel all the emotions there are to feel, and to come through it all and realize that they now have a better understanding of themselves for unlocking their heart's passions. I don't expect one story of mine to take them through all these emotions but I think by being totally open in my writing, and bleeding and loving and playing so freely on the page, I help other people to find the keys for their own hearts. At least, that's the hope I carry.

6. Is there any sort of content that you refuse to write?

If something feel honest to the writing, I will write it even if it is something that I find completely repugnant. The only content I would refuse to write would be to force characters to be out of character or to twist a story out of what feels honest to me.

Virginia's novel 'Carnival Fun' releases next week, on October 28th! Keep an eye out for this great new work of dark Fantasy.