Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and a Taste of Exquisite Darkness
Posts tagged Book One
Author Spotlight on Celebrate with a Book

I've had the extraordinary pleasure of getting to know the wonderful Tina Glasneck, Crime Fiction, Fantasy, and Paranormal Romance author. She's also the founder of Celebrate with a Book, her site dedicated solely to advocating other authors and getting the word out there about their best new titles.

Today, Tina's hosted me on Celebrate with a Book with some highlights of Daughter of the Drackan, just before Book Two, Mother of the Drackan, hits the shelves on May 31st. We've got another dragon-lover in the ranks here, and her enthusiasm made my day. Stop by and check it out!

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: #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: #2

This next interview is with VS Holmes, author of 'Smoke and Rain', the first installment in the 'Reforged' Series.

1) What was your inspiration for 'Smoke and Rain', and how many other books do you have planned for the 'Reforged' series?

Fall of 2002 I saw an image of ruins in a desert. I lay on the floor for hours, refusing to even get up to turn on a light, writing. I had about 20 terrible, handwritten pages by the end. Only one line has survived every revision since then, but the ruins of Cehn in the Sunamen desert and the young woman found in them are the same. Reforged is a quartet, so there will be three more in this series. There are two other quartets that take place in the same world. One takes place about 50 years after Reforged and the other 300 years before.

2) Are there any characters or themes in 'Smoke and Rain' with which you identify more than others?

It took me a long time to identify with Alea, but she shares some of my detached feelings. I identify a lot with Eras, the general of Athrolan's army, and with Bren's crass camaraderie.

3) What is your favorite part about writing Fantasy?

World building. My vocation as an archaeologist is all about finding the story and building a peoples' world from just fragments of stone. Writing is much the same for me. I'll see a single scene in my head and I just keep digging until I have all the details of their life.

4) If your main character showed up at your front door, what would you do?

Ah! I wrote a short story about this one! Depends on which MC. Alea and I would go on a long walk, though probably wouldn't talk much at first. Bren and I would go to a bar and drink and dance until the wee hours of the morning. Arman and I would probably have a shouting match that would end with dinner and a heart-to-heart.

5) What is your advice for budding Fantasy authors who plan to write and publish their own epic series?

Revise. Edit. Research (yeah you're creating a world, but humans are humans). Learn about the world in which yours is based -- is it European? Chinese? Lybian? Spend the time building the foundation. Find multiple beta readers from different demographics and listen to what they have to say. Get a professional editor. Keep writing.

You can find 'Smoke and Rain' on Amazon now, here!