Friday, April 3, 2020

Writing Warriors United Spotlight Author Interview - Jennifer R. Povey





Writing Warriors United Spotlight Author Interview with Jennifer R. Povey






What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
Honestly, I have never been on…oh wait, yes, I have. I’m not a mystery writer, but I did get some amusement from finding myself at the house that inspired Agatha Christie’s country manors.


I’m more likely to go somewhere that allows me to do stuff my characters might do. 


What is the first book that made you cry?
I think it was Watership Down. We give kids some pretty depressing books sometimes, and when Hazel went with Death at the end, yeah, there were definitely some tears.


I’d still give that book to a child. It’s still a classic.


Does writing energize or exhaust you?
I’m energized while I’m writing, then tend to crash afterwards. What really energizes me is writing “The End” on a novel – it’s an awesome feeling.


Surprisingly, editing energizes me too. I know a lot of writers who find editing a slog. Unfortunately, I’m energized more when editing something somebody else wrote.


What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Getting too bogged down in the “rules” of writing. Either you end up not writing anything or you try and throw out too many rules before you are ready to.


There are no rules. There are only helpful guidelines, and your story may or may not need you to break them. I’m a huge fan of prologues, and my books tend to need them; the one time I left one out my editor told me to add one in.


What is your writing Kryptonite?
Marketing. Absolutely, and definitely marketing. It’s an entire other job and skillset and I’m still working on it. I get very nervous and uncertain when I try to blow my own trumpet and make myself sound good.


I am good. It’s just hard to admit it.


What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I actually have a whole bunch of authors I hang out with at cons and online, although most of them aren’t close friends. But I’m going to call out the entire Balticon crew anyway, because they’ve all helped me come up with an idea at some point and they did find me the best cover artist.


How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
It motivated me. Once you know you can finish a book and get it publishable, trust me, the subsequent ones get easier and faster each time. And better.


Other than that, it didn’t change my process so much as solidify it. Now I know what works for me and I can tweak it and improve it.


What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Oh, tough one. But probably my lightweight netbook that allows me to write when I’m traveling. I can’t afford a full featured laptop, but the netbook is great, and because it’s cheap and stores everything in the cloud I’m not as worried about it being lost or damaged.


What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
I think probably the first time I picked up and looked at one of Shakespeare’s plays. It’s a horrible cliché, but anyone who writes in the English language needs to watch Shakespeare. Or failing that read it. It gives a strong lesson in how language can convey meaning, assist memory, and how it changes over time…and that’s okay.


What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
I would say it’s a book called Ascension by a writer called Jacqueline Koyanagi. It’s a small press novel that deserves much more attention than it gets…amazing plot, beautiful characterization.


But there are a lot of under-appreciated novels out there that people miss because they aren’t on the front table at Barnes & Noble or being discussed when award season rolls around.







As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
Oh, probably a cat. They’re cranky and they like to be alone for hours. I know that’s a really obvious one, but writers and cats go together for a very good reason.


What does literary success look like to you?
Seeing somebody reading my book in the wild. Knowing people are reading and enjoying my work. One of my best career moments was somebody who walked up to me with a copy of Transpecial and exclaimed “I hate you!” I won’t say what she was mad with me about because it’s a spoiler, but…let’s just say it wasn’t a negative I hate you at all.


Success is about making people feel something with your work, getting them to tell all their friends about it. Sadly, in today’s world, we do have to worry about money, but if you get readers that problem will solve itself.


What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
Honestly, I have never had any difficulty writing male characters. I often think it’s easier for women to write from a male POV than the reverse, especially older women. Growing up, we pretty much had to read so many books starring boys.


If I have to pick a difficult thing, it’s the worry that it won’t be convincing.


Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?
Oh, hrm…hrm…another tricky one. I think I’m going to go on a slightly negative path here, because what I’m now thinking of is a book I read as a child. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the title or the author. (I can remember a title, but all my research indicates it’s not the right title).


It was a kids book that had a picture of Herne the Hunter on the cover. The protagonist is on the train to summer vacation, and there are all these shenanigans with Celtic deities and cryptids, and a magical artifact. All this fun fantasy stuff.


Then he woke up still on the train.


This was the first time in my life I got angry with a book and an author. And the lesson I learned from it:


Don’t trick your readers. Fiction needs to have a certain honesty to it. You absolutely can have it turn out at the end of the book that you’re on Mars, not Earth. (I won’t say which book because spoilers), but you need to set this up. It was all a dream/all a hallucination in the looney bin/all made up by the protagonist is always going to be a trick and it never works.


Fantasy, in particular, needs to be very true to itself.


How do you select the names of your characters?
Depends. If I’m writing short fiction, or for minor characters, random name generators are my friend. I’ve also been known to drop into a writer chat and go “Help! I need to name a corpse.”


If it’s a protagonist for a book, a character I’m going to spend a lot of time with, then I’ll do research, try out different names, make sure I’m not accidentally naming them after a real person.


I also do use census data a lot if I’m naming a character of a specific ethnicity. There are also charts of names through time, which are great if you’re writing historical.


For names that aren’t based off of English, I come up with a few rules about names (for example, Ky’iin names have a gender-based suffix) and then just make them sound good.


Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
I don’t think I’ve ever consciously inserted any Easter eggs, no.


What was your hardest scene to write?

It’s a scene towards the end of Risen Day, where the characters have to open a portal to Hell, and it involves doing something pretty awful.


Even knowing that it was all going to work out in the end, instead of merely hoping like my poor protagonist, it was still harrowing to write. I was glad it was close to the end of the book…I had to blitz through the end and then take a break. It was artistically necessary, but man…


What is your favorite childhood book?
Out of the box, but the book that started me on my journey as a writer was, of all things, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea by Jules Verne. It was the book that made me go “I want to write, and I want to write science fiction.” I do write almost more fantasy these days, but I still owe it to Verne.


What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Starting a new book. Getting the idea solidly into the form I need it to be. I’m a gardener, but I still have to have a solid vision of where I’m going, even if it ends up changing later.


When you die – what would you like the universe to say to you as you walk into the next life?
“It was worth it.”


Sometimes I get a little bit of depression here and there and question whether my life is, indeed, worth it. I think a lot of writers do. (And does anyone here not have imposter syndrome?)


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Friday, March 27, 2020

Writing Warriors United Spotlight Author Interview with Curtis A. Cooper

Writing Warriors United Spotlight Author Interview with Curtis A. Cooper




What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
None that I know of, unless you mean spiritually


What is the first book that made you cry?
I couldn’t begin to answer that. My emotions are intense when I read or write, just as if I watched a movie


Does writing energize or exhaust you?
That depends on where I am in the story. Getting through the fodder that is necessary to advance a story can be extremely exhausting. But when I get past it and into an important part of a story, time slips away without me realizing it.


What are common traps for aspiring writers?
This is hard for me to say. I never intended to be a writer. I spent 2 years writing my first and only novel. Nine additional novels later, I can look back and see that I might have been aspiring at one time. I guess giving up on a story after rejection would be a common one. My breakout novel was rejected by four publishers. I reworked it and changed the ending twice, adding 3 chapters in the process. I submitted to 4 new publishers and immediately heard from one of them.


What is your writing Kryptonite?
Description. It’s not that I’m no good at it. It’s that I sometimes forget to add it in.


What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I have several author friends. I run a writer’s club, which has helped me pick out some of the mistakes I’ve made and offered other ways to write certain lines. But in most recent times, VJ Allison has been the biggest inspiration. She has an energy that kind of rubs off on everyone around her.


How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
I made the mistake of finding the wrong publisher right from the get go. I signed a contract with Publish America without knowing how much they planned on listing my novel for. After a year of no sales, I bought the rights back and self-published. They wanted to charge me $500 to buy back the cover I provided them. I got very strong response to my book once I published at a reduced price from $29.95 to $9.95 (they were charging $29.95 for Kindle, too), but I didn’t learn anything about the publishing work until my third novel. Looking back at that first one, the story was great, the mistakes in it—numerous. That’s why I tried so hard to get my fourth novel traditionally published


What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
I’m no salesman. And with the newest book coming out, I have every intention of paying for advertising, but I haven’t as yet found a site that will give me a return for my investment. The costs of some of the more popular sites look to me as a guaranteed loss. I’m looking for suggestions.


What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
My fourth novel was to become my first romance. Technically, I had no intention of writing in that genre, but I came up with an idea that exploded with potential. It was while writing “Straight from the Heart” that I found I could write and cause myself to tear up. If I could do that to me, all I could think of was the power of the story and the knowledge that I was going to make others cry—In a special way, of course.


What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
I would have to say the second of my Heart series, “Back to the Heart.” I felt the depth of the main characters were really portrayed. My professional critique said I had them eating too much, but she didn’t go into enough detail about the characters for anyone reading her critique to appreciate the story. Still, she gave me 4 stars.


As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
I don’t do symbolism.


What does literary success look like to you?
I haven’t achieved it. I would like the money, but I haven’t been able to get my own family to read my stories. My sisters have, but none of my wife or kids. I have turned that to my advantage in a way. I’ve been able to write some intense scenes without concern for their thoughts.


What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
I suppose the sex scenes. I think I have the dialogue down, but I have a little trouble with describing sensations from actions involving foreplay to intercourse.


Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?
No. However, I have read things that made me think carefully about purchasing self-published works. I’ve read some that are fairly good, but others that weren’t good enough to even be read for free. There is something to be said about traditional publishing. Even if you’re good enough to be published, there is nothing more important than the editors who help you hone the story. And believe me, I’ve had my share of disagreements with them, but I’ve learned to choose my battles carefully.


How do you select the names of your characters?
It’s the luck of the draw. I’ve tried things like naming one gender list starting at A and the other starting at Z, even doing it that way with first and last names, but it comes down to me thinking of a name I like and not using too many in the same alphabet for the same book.


Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
You bet. My “Heart” series is loaded with places that only those living in the town or my family would know because they are specific to my childhood memories. I made videos for all three of the novels explaining with pictures the actual buildings and places and placed them on my website. I really lucked out when I went there one Sunday with my wife to take the pictures. We arrived in town at exactly noon. I stopped outside the church that my parents were married in because I had characters marry in it. The pastor came out and we got to go in and see the inside. WOW! It was absolutely gorgeous. The video doesn’t do it justice.


What was your hardest scene to write?
I don’t have any difficulties in writing my scenes. I only write what will move a story forward. I have written male/male sex and female/female sex (this may have been my hardest) but in both cases, they only made a point. The story was in no way focused on those scenes. And in reading some of the other stories involving sex, my scenes are considered tame.


What is your favorite childhood book?
Curious George Rides a Bike. Loved the paper boat. And I learned how to make French Toast with the Snoopy Cook Book


What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
This is where I find that the other authors I know blow me away. I have difficulty coming up with an idea for a story. And once I have one, I need to come up with issues that occur in the stories. I’m amazed that some writers can turn out a book in two months. The best I ever did was six months, but that was after I designed a board game to write the story around.


When you die – what would you like the universe to say to you as you walk into the next life?
I’m not sure what I’d want the universe to say, but I say, “Please don’t bring me back as a cow!”



Curtis A. Cooper
Author - Extasy Books & Devine Destinies

   
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Friday, March 13, 2020

Writing Warriors United Spotlight Interview with Carrie Humphrey


Writing Warriors United Spotlight Author Interview with Carrie Humphrey



What is the first book that made you cry? 


 I’m a cryer so I can’t remember the first book that made me cry, most of them do! A few that stand out those have to be the House of Night Series by PC and Kristen Cast. I ugly cried a few times in that one. Also the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by JR Ward, another ugly cry there. Anything by Nicholas Sparks, there is no helping that one.

Does writing energize or exhaust you? 


I think it does both. I have all the energy in the world to write until I can’t. Then I get about half way through and am tired and want to stop. But, then the ideas pick up again and there goes the energy. It’s a weird eb and flow, but if I don’t write, i’m down right miserable.

What are common traps for aspiring writers?  


Thinking about what comes after the book. Sure, there is a lot to do, but you can’t do any of it unless you have a finished product. Avoid the what comes after trap and focus on just writing!

What is your writing Kryptonite? 


Youtube. Pinterest. The internet. Snacks. Squirrel! Wait, what? Writing is the easy part but staying focused long enough to do it. . . I am the worst!

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer? 


Authors are some of the best people I have ever met. And I’ve traveled a lot. We aren’t in computation with each other, we don’t fight over who gets who for fans and sales. What we do is share information, share readers, bounce ideas off each other, and show unconditional support. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for the fellow authors I have met.

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? 


This may be a weird answer, but I think it had to be what I spent on my first signing. That gave me a good look at what Indie authors do, the interaction between author and reader, the high that came with meeting new people, everything. Being an author can be lonely, sitting behind a computer jabbing away at the keyboard, but it doesn’t have to be all the time and doing a signing showed me that!

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal? 


A sloth? LOL. Just kidding, but kinda not. Goodness, I don’t know, that’s a hard question! If I’m being honest, my favorite animal is a flamingo so let’s say thats me, the wildly unique flamingo!

What does literary success look like to you? 


If one person I don’t know reads my works and likes it enough to review it or reach out to tell me, I consider that a success. I won’t lie, money would be great. A netflix deal, brilliant. But, when it comes down to it, having just one person say they loved what I wrote makes me feel like I’ve succeeded in what I set out to do!

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex? 


I want me to think just like me, and I am constantly reminded by my husband that they don’t. Men’s brains, to my understanding, are wired completely differently and sometimes that’s a challenge to get into. That and I don’t have a penis so writing about one is hard (see what I did there. . HAHAHAHA).

How do you select the names of your characters? 


I am the worst when it comes to names. Google is my friend. Credits from movies is another great place to find names. But generally, I’m super bad at coming up with them!

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find? 


I do! And I love when I get the messages from where those people have found the secerts!

What was your hardest scene to write? 


I don’t like killing anyone, so those scenes are always the worst. Also, at first, sex scenes were hard to do, my inner prude was a mess, but over the years that’s gotten easier.

What is your favorite childhood book? 


Not as a young child, but Lost World by Michael Crichton when I was in middle school. Life changer.

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process? 


My ADHD. I get so distracted! If I could just sit down and do the writing thing, I’d be set. But alas, I will continue to do a million things at once!

When you die – what would you like the universe to say to you as you walk into the next life? 


That was kind. That I did my best, tried my hardest, and was a good human. Then I’d like the universe to say: Buckle up kid, it's time for round two!
    


Check out Carrie Humphrey over at Amazon




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Friday, March 6, 2020

Writing Warriors United Spotlight Author Interview with L.D. Nash

Writing Warriors United Spotlight Author Interview with L.D. Nash 



What literary pilgrimages have you gone on? None yet, but one day I hope to travel to Scotland! 

What is the first book that made you cry? Honestly, I've never had a book make me cry. I've wanted to throw them through a window and hunt the author down to spank their butt, but I've haven't come across one that made me cry. I'm a tough cookie 😀

Does writing energize or exhaust you? Both! 

What are common traps for aspiring writers? In my opinion, a common trap is not having their work professionally edited. I've made the mistake of thinking my editing skills are good enough. GET THAT BOOK PROFESSIONALLY EDITED ✍

What is your writing Kryptonite? Someone or something bursting my "zone bubble." When I write, my mind enters the world I'm crafting and everything around me disappears. If I'm interrupted, then I'm useless for hours. 

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

I've recently started reaching out to other authors, especially if I've read their work, and Danielle Nevins, Christine Crawford, Beth Wordsell, Lorelei James, Sarah Wilson, S. J. West, Sherrilyn McQueen, and Lori Handeland are all super awesome! 

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing? It didn't. 

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? On professional services like book covers and editing. 



As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal? My spirit animal is the dire wolf. I'm relentless in my pursuit of storytelling and I don't back down. 

What does literary success look like to you? Seeing readers love my characters as much as I do. And a movie deal wouldn't hurt 😉

How do you select the names of your characters? My characters pretty much name themselves. There have been times when I've dragged out the 1001 BABY NAMES book in order to select a good fit. 

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find? I do! I place easter eggs referencing pop culture movies and fandoms, and other authors. 

What is your favorite childhood book? Bunnicula, hands down. 

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process? Getting my muse to cooperate. Im always in creative mode, and that really slows things down. I joked on twitter that my muse is a moose named "Crunches Loudly," and he's always hangry. 

When you die – what would you like the universe to say to you as you walk into the next life? Congratulations, you made a difference in someone's life. 
    

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Friday, February 28, 2020

Fiona Lehn : Writing Warriors United Spotlight Author Interview

Writing Warriors United Spotlight Author Interview with Fiona Lehn


  1. What literary pilgrimages have you gone on? Only one, and it was thrilling. After reading Pushkin’s poem The Bronze Horseman, I became fascinated by the Neva River and felt compelled to go see it. Off I went to St. Petersburg. For hours I sat on the bank of the Neva and at the feet of Peter the Great, and I thought of Pushkin’s tale, re-imagining the visions he’d created--ah, so humbling and very magical! 
  2. What is the first book that made you cry? Christa Wolf’s Cassandra. It’s a rewrite of history, told from a woman’s perspective. It’s a story of women and self-determination. When I read it, I had been writing stories with similar themes for years, but I thought I was the only one. Not only was Wolf’s novel amazing, it was touching, affirming, and inspiring to discover that I was not alone. 
  3. Does writing energize or exhaust you? Writing has always been a meditation for me. It grounds me, satisfies me, and helps me make sense of the world and my life in a way that nothing else can. So, I don’t know that I would say that writing energizes me, but it definitely feeds me. 
  4. What are common traps for aspiring writers? I think each writer is susceptible to her/his own peculiar potholes and pitfalls, which makes it hard for me to offer advice. I’ll share some of mine in hopes they may be helpful. Whenever I get an idea that doesn’t fascinate me but which I think will sell well, that’s usually a trap, and I wind up bored and frustrated until I abandon the project. Whenever I try to mold my writing to fit into a specific market, that’s a trap too. I have to be fascinated by the idea, and I have to write the story how I think it should be told. Persistence is also key. Keep sending stories out, regardless of how many rejections pile up. A lack of persistence is definitely a trap. 
  5. What is your writing Kryptonite? My health. I don’t have writer’s block, I don’t have paralyzing fear that my writing is terrible, but I do have severe cognitive and physical limitations that affect my energy, cause chronic pain, and interfere with my language skills. This restricts my ability to write well, to write a lot, and to read. My health slows me down a lot--like Kryptonite, it’s the only thing that can deprive me of my super writing powers!   
  6. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer? My author friends help make me a better writer by offering me merciless criticism and boundless encouragement. They spot storytelling issues in my drafts that I can’t see, point them out to me, and I go in and fix the problems. This makes for a much better story. I also have editor friends who spot grammar and spelling issues. Without my writer and editor friends, I wouldn’t be publishing anything. 
  7. How did publishing your first book change your process of writing? Getting my first pro publication gave me confidence, most of all. I had been writing for over a decade but hadn’t sent much out to publishers. That first publication set me on the path--I suddenly believed there was a market for my work and I might be good enough to get more published. After that, I sent out more and more stories, stuff I’d been writing for years and never believed was good enough. And then I got my next pro sale. I was on my way...
  8. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? Money spent on novels, novellas, and poetry by great writers. I’ve read those creations over and over and they’ve taught me much about writing, about dreaming and creating, and about me. Best money spent, hands-down. 
  9. What was an early experience where you learned that language had power? I became conscious of the power of language after reading stories such as 1984, Fahrenheit 451, and The Yellow Wallpaper. These books demonstrate how rhetoric can affect people and shape societies, and they clearly illustrated the power of language to young me. 
  10. What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel? It’s difficult to choose just one. Benefits by Zoë Fairbairns (1979) is in my top ten of under-appreciated novels. An exploration of women’s lives in a dystopic future Britain, Benefits illustrates the harsh realities that women face as second-class citizens. It also serves as a call to action. Fairbairns’ novel deserves the acclaim that Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale has received, and then some. 
  11. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal? A calico cat: playful yet fierce, creative and relentless in pursuit of her goals. 
  12. What does literary success look like to you? To me, literary success means writing the best I possibly can and making a living from my writing. Though it’s rare for writers to make a living from their writing, I never say never. 
  13. What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex? Probably the biggest challenge is making them emotionally real, not stereotypes, but I think if you write well-rounded characters, and you have fully embedded them in their culture/world, then the gender is just another facet of each character and easier to realize that way. 
  14. Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction? It might sound corny, but every time I read a book, whether it be fiction or a nonfiction book about the writing process, I read something that changes my thinking about fiction, about how I write fiction, and about what fiction can do—its transformative power. That’s why I feel it’s so important for writers to read, read everything, because it shapes your thinking, shows you possibilities, and leads you in directions you might not ever have gone on your own. 
  15. How do you select the names of your characters? I usually do research into the meanings of names and select something that is relevant to the character’s journey and/or themes.
  16. Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find? Not usually, but I did so in my latest release, Lift-Off. That novella has several “Easter eggs” that only die-hard science fiction lovers will notice and enjoy. 
  17. What was your hardest scene to write? Nothing specific comes to mind. All the scenes are hard, and painful. They are also easy somehow. That’s writing. It’s like devoting yourself to solving a koan. 
  18. What is your favorite childhood book? When I was little, I read all the Nancy Drew books, over and over. I wanted to be her, until I read Harriet the Spy, and then I wanted to be her...
  19. What is the most difficult part of your artistic process? Probably knowing when the story is done. It’s challenging to know when to stop fiddling with it and send it out into the world. 
  20. When you die – what would you like the universe to say to you as you walk into the next life? I’d love to hear a great “Ahhhhhhhh!” like a huge, heavenly chorus that is both beautiful and bone-rattling. And then a booming, “Welcome! Here you will always be healthy and free to create without having to scramble to get your next meal, your rent, or any other Maslownian deficiencies! And then music will blast all around--something epic, like Queen or Muse, perhaps--and I’ll eat chocolate and macadamia nuts, sip maple vodka, and sit down to write... (Yep, the next life will be an artist’s utopia! :-)

FIONA LEHN'S LINKS : 


BOOK TRAILER


https://www.facebook.com/FiFiHermitage/videos/452527895640755/

BUY LINKS


buy now at Devine Destinies: https://www.devinedestinies.com/fiona-lehn/

buy at Amazon : 
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0838RBKDH/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i2
   
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