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Author Interview Writing Life

Interview with Brian Fitzpatrick: Writing, Marketing, and Putting Yourself Out There

Today, we are fortunate to have Brian Fitzpatrick, author of the SciFi, YA novel Mechcraft, in our midst. Brian is going to talk with us today about Mechcraft, and the various techniques he’s employed to get his name out there and build his audience. You’ll want to stick around and hear what he has to say.

Welcome Brian! Your book Mechcraft hit shelves earlier this year. Can you tell us a little bit about the story?

Thank you for this interview.

In Mechcraft, Jake London’s ideal teenage life is thrown into chaos when he discovers the ability to control a swarm of shape-shifting nanotechnology that has, until recently, lain dormant in his DNA.

Mechcraft is the skill of controlling the nanotech, summoning and creating tools, weapons, and even machines. Being the first person born with the nanotech, warring factions desire to use Jake for their own sinister ends. Now, with two Mechcraft agents at his side, and a horde of enemies chasing them down, Jake finds himself in a desperate race to safety. . . It’s slick sci-fi action of The Matrix meets the awe and wonder of Harry Potter.

How about your protagonist? Are they inspired by someone you know in real life?

Jake is a 15 year old with a stable, easy life until the nanotech embedded in his DNA activates and reveals a god-like power. He’s kind, compassionate, a bit timid at first, but crisis reveals his true nature. He’s not based on any one person, but in some ways he represents the best in all of us.. what each of us aspires to be like. But he’s certainly not without flaws – and these will be dealt with deeper in the sequel.

Does Mechcraft carry a primary message?

Although this story is fast-paced and full of action, at its core Mechcraft is about Hope and Perseverance.

How important is research to you when writing a book?

For me, it depends on the subject. In many cases thorough research is required for authenticity. However, beyond the basics of nanotechnology, no other research was needed for Mechcraft. Most of this tech and the abilities stemmed from my imagination. Los Angeles plays a role in the story, and I provided a lot of detail of the geography. I live locally, so no research was needed in this case either. However, when stories are set in unfamiliar locations, research is vital to keep it real.

Do you believe it is more challenging to write about beliefs that conflict with the ones you hold yourself?

Surprisingly, it’s not difficult to step into the role of characters who hold conflicting beliefs to my own. In fact, sometimes those opposing characters are the most fun to write. In Mechcraft, the villain Sasha is perhaps secretly my favorite character despite her absolute madness.

Do you write down revelations and ideas as you get them?

I’ve paid the price in the past when ideas come and I tell myself no need to write it down, I’ll remember this amazing idea for sure. Nope! I would inevitably forget. So now I write down everything. Everything!

I’ve noticed that you have been participating in events such as signings and readings. Do you have any advice for authors wanting to increase their event presence?

This is where reaching out and getting to know people really helps. Call local bookstores. Drop in and speak to the manager. Go to conventions and network. Meet anyone and everyone. And always have something on hand to give interested people: a business card, a postcard, or even the book itself.

I went to Wondercon in Anaheim, Ca this past March and met wonderful, energetic, ambitious people of all success levels. Those connections have led to a radio interview I just did, a connection with a TV writer/producer, and a seat on a panel at the next Wondercon.

Many authors are introverted and aren’t comfortable putting themselves out in the public. I get it. I was one of these writers. I forced myself to initiate conversation and ask questions. I was awkward as hell at first, but over time and with practice, I became better and more comfortable. It is worth the effort.

What is your setup for book signings?

If it’s a table signing/booth, I have my vertical banner, a tabletop banner, a lighted marquee, and I like to have a high stack of books. The more 3-D you can make your table, the better. For a talk/signing I just have the vertical banner behind me as I speak.

What else do you do to market your own books yourself? Any advice on that front?

The honest truth is authors must market themselves consistently and often if they want to transition to earning their living writing. For authors who are satisfied with just completing and publishing books, then marketing is not so much a factor. If you want financial success and widespread readership, you must learn to put yourself out there. You must become social media savvy, be willing to do public appearances, and perhaps budget for PR. I commit to a minimum of one hour a day on marketing, often times more. Business cards, postcards, banners, social media interviews, podcasts, guest blogs, book trailers, book signings, audio book release… it’s all part of the deal. But as you become used to the process, it can actually be fun.

How active are you on social media? And how do you think it affects the way you write?

I’m extremely active on social media. The best advice for social media presence is to dive in. Get a dedicated FB page or group. Create a Twitter account. Create an Instagram. If you want to go deep, you can also add Snapchat and Tumblr. Post genuine, engaging content- not just advertisement for your book. You need some of that, but don’t overwhelm your audience. Post questions, polls, related articles, and of course updates on all things about your book. Learn to use hashtags on Twitter and Instagram- they will link you to wider conversations and draw in followers. Avoid the businesses that offer to get you followers for a fee. These are mostly BS and can ruin your credibility in the online community. Social media savvy is vital to success. Take the time to learn. There are dozens of YouTube videos to help you.

My writing is affected only by the time my marketing and networking takes away from actual writing. I’m working on balancing the two. The Mechcraft sequel is not going to write itself and I need to park my butt in front of the laptop and get some work done!

Do you have a new project on the horizon, and can you tell us a bit about it?

Mechcraft is just the beginning. The sequel, Mechcraft: Harbinger, is on its way. This will be followed by the conclusion, Mechcraft: Cataclysm. My goal is to land a film deal for this trilogy. I also have a TV series outlined, a graphic novel series, mobile apps, video games, action figures, and a trading card game all in the mix.

And my favorite question – if you were given the opportunity to join a book club with your favorite authors, dead or alive, who would you want to become a part of the club?

My dream club would be H.P. Lovecraft, Anne Rice, Ernest Cline, Peter Clines, Chuck Palahniuk, R.A. Salvatore, Robert Kirkman, and Stephen King.

Any advice you would like to give to aspiring writers?

Don’t give up. No matter if you get stalled, or stop. Start again. Never call it quits. The successful author is not necessarily the most talented, but the one who persevered.

What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with or follow you (website, blog, Facebook, Goodreads, etc.) and links?

I’m building a Facebook community at: www.facebook.com/Mechcraftbook
I’m also active on Twitter: @thewritingfitz
And on Instagram: @MechcraftOfficial
My website is a bit too simple and needs an overhaul, but it is open for visitors: www.writingfitz.com

More about Mechcraft by Brian Fitzpatrick

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Los Angeles – Jake London’s ideal teen life is thrown into chaos when he discovers the ability to control a swarm of shape-shifting nanotechnology that has, until recently, lain dormant in his DNA.

Mechcraft is the skill of controlling the nanotech, summoning and creating tools, weapons, and even machines. Being the first ever born with the nanotech, warring factions desire to use him for their own sinister ends. Now, with two Mechcraft agents at his side, and a horde of enemies chasing them down, Jake finds himself in a desperate race to safety.

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Author Interview Writing Life

Parents Who Make Writing Work: Michael Haase

Today’s parent/writer who is rocking it is Michael Haase, author of The Man Who Stole the World.

Becca: What was your writing routine before having kids?

Michael: I used to stay up into the wee hours of night writing to my heart’s content. I’d stay up past four in the morning quite often and sleep until noon. I could get down nearly 5,000 words a day back then.

Becca: How has that changed since having kids?

Michael: It has all changed. My kids go to bed at 8am and wake up at 8am. I’m lucky that they both good sleepers and stay on the same schedule. (And they both still nap!) But I can’t stay up as late as I used to. If I write after they go to bed, I’m usually out of steam by midnight. I’ve been slowly converting myself into being a morning person. Ideally, I want to get up by 5am to write, as I’ve realized my approaching-forty-years-old brain appreciates a sober mind in the early morning when it comes to productive writing.

Becca: How has your writing itself changed since having kids?

Michael: I’m not sure how much the writing itself has changed, but there are certainly more kids in my ramblings. I think the need to write has become more immediate, as I want my kids to have little bits of my brain in book form to keep around long after I’ve left this plane. If my mom or dad wrote a book, I’d probably be reading that at least a few times a year now that they’re both gone.

Becca: What advice do you have for parents of young kids who want to write?

Michael: I am a “stay at home dad,” which actually just means that I work night shift. That being said, my advice is to learn to roll with the punches, type quickly, and not to wait for inspiration to come. I’ve become productive by having my computer warmed up and ready. My kids are young, 2 and 4, and I’ve trained myself to be able to write something in those small breaks, sometimes only five minutes. But I’ve put down a few hundred words in several five minute “breaks,” and those add up quickly. Just be ready, and don’t expect to sit down at a desk refreshed and ready. Expect to have to fight for your writing time. It’s worth fighting for, right? That being said, take care of your kids first, of course.

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Author Interview Writing Life

Parents Who Make Writing Work: Robert Batten

Today’s installment of Parents Who Make Writing Work is from Robert Batten, author of Blood Capital

Becca: What was your writing routine before having kids?

Robert: My writing routine was inconsistent before kids. It seems counter-intuitive, but I rarely held onto a regular process for long. I think this was, at least in part, a confidence issue. I didn’t believe in the quality of my work, and so a voice in the back of my mind constantly questioned the justification for investing so much time.

Secondary to that, and likely fueled by it, I allowed life to get in the way. There were shows to watch, drinking and eating to be done, friends to see, and games to play. I would sit down and commit to writing for a short burst, then permit distractions to draw me away.

 

Becca: How has that changed since having kids?

Robert: I now write at least five nights a week, after our son is asleep, and have cut back day-job hours to free some daylight hours. Children demand an enormous amount of your time, either directly with them, or all the peripheral tasks that come as part of being a parent. And then, when your time isn’t consumed by raising a child, you’re exhausted.

In that light, it seems a little strange that becoming a parent helped me write more, but it did. Thinking about it now, I feel there are several reasons for that.

 

Disciplined, regular writing is hard. Sitting down when you’re fresh and inspired, when there’re no distractions around you, is easy. That’s what I’d been doing before our son. But in real life, you don’t often get those moments (children or no).

Being a parent has conditioned me to do things regardless of whether I want to, or how tired I am, or how many other distractions there are. It’s helped me develop a greater level of discipline. It’s also naturally removed some of my distractions. I can no longer play violent video games whenever I want, so my gaming has shifted to the back-burner. All those nights going to the pub with friends? That doesn’t work so well with bath night, or getting your child into bed at a reasonable hour. So we’ve become more hermit-like, which means I’m more likely to be home writing.

The last thing that’s driven the change is a shift in our priorities and perspectives. I want to do something rewarding that gives me greater flexibility to spend time with my child. Writing makes that possible (as long as I can earn a living from it) and is more rewarding for me, so I’ve been approaching it with a more structured plan and dedication to make it my future.

Last, it would be remiss of me not to mention how important it’s been to have a supportive partner who’s not just willing to put up with me dedicating this time to the work, but who encourages me. That’s nothing to do with having kids as such, but it would be infinitely harder without her backing me up.

Becca: How has your writing itself changed since having kids?

Robert: My writing has changed in tone and quality since having a child, but I don’t think it’s because I had a child.  Being a parent has given me better insight into how children think and behave, which will hopefully lead to better characters. It’s also inspired me to write stories for my son, which will be a big departure from my usual focus on adult / young adult sci-fi and fantasy. However, that plan is very much in addition to my other projects.

Becca: What advice do you have for parents of young kids who want to write?

Robert: Do it. It’s hard, and usually involves late nights at the keyboard after you’ve finally gotten the miscreants asleep, but it’s rewarding and it’s yours. We all need to retain a little sense of self, separate from our children. To know we’re still people in our own right. It could be anything: building miniatures, watching TV, jogging, knitting, whatever. However, if you feel the pull to create stories, you already know there’s a special sense of accomplishment in the act that little else can replicate.

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Author Interview Writing Life

Parents Who Make Writing Work: Cati Porter

In my most recent post, I shared tips that have worked for me when trying to balance my roles as a parent and as a writer. In this new series, Parents Who Make Writing Work, other writers who have children share their experiences, insight, and advice.

First up is Cati Porter, author of the forthcoming poetry collection The Body at a Loss

Becca: What was your writing routine before having kids? How did that change after having kids?
Cati: Before having kids, my routine was very non-specific. I didn’t really have one. I went through periods of writing late into the night, or I went through one phase where I wrote everything on an electric typewriter. I didn’t have to worry about “finding” time to write, and yet, what I found once I had kids was that I more productive.
Something about having to carve out dedicated time while they slept, or with them in my lap, or paying my sister to babysit (in the other room) while I met a deadline — that, strangely, made me far more productive than before I had kids even though there were fewer constraints then.
A little about constraints:
I think they can be useful tools. It’s one of the reasons why I turn to poetry in received forms (sonnet, villanelle, pantoum, sestina, etc.) when I’m feeling stuck. The constraints are paradoxically freeing. That was sort of how it was with having my first child, after which my first book came flooding out.
When you know you only have a limited amount of time (or space) to write, you are more apt to use it wisely.
Becca: Yes!! Same here!! I get things done so much more quickly now.
Cati: Seriously! I am much more efficient now.
Becca: Yes! It’s amazing what can get done in ten quiet minutes. How has your writing, itself, changed since having kids?
Cati: My writing itself has continued to change over time. Where once I focused almost exclusively on mama-centric work, that morphed into work that pushed the boundaries of the autobiography, into surrealism and fabulism, allowing a sort of respite from what was going in my life.
Becca: What advice do you have for parents of young kids who want to write?
Cati: My main advice for any writers with children is accept all offers of free time. Use it. And don’t ever let anyone tell you that having kids will limit the amount of work you produce.
Someone once told me that for every one child you have, that’s one book you’ll never write. I think that’s wrong. If it weren’t for my kids, I may not have written any books, just written aimlessly forever.
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Author Interview

Interview with Christopher Huang: On Writing a WhoDunIt? Mystery

Author Christopher Huang was gracious enough to spend some time answering a few questions for us on writing in the mystery genre! Christopher’s debut novel, A Gentleman’s Murder, will be released on July 31st. The publisher recently shared a photo of the galleys, hot off the press, and they are stunning.

Welcome Christopher. First, I want to say congratulations on your upcoming book, A Gentleman’s Murder. How does it feel to be close to the finish line?

I’m just keeping my head down and focusing on doing everything that needs to be done. There are still galleys and proofs to review, and I don’t feel like I can afford to get excited or feel any of the expected emotional responses. I’m too busy worrying about how to follow it up.

Or at least I was until I discovered that people are reading advanced reader copies and leaving reviews on Goodreads.

Can you tell us a little bit about A Gentleman’s Murder and what inspired the story?

Sure. It’s a classic murder mystery of the whodunnit variety, taking its cue from the more puzzle-oriented mysteries of the 1920s and 1930s. I’ve always loved those. I love playing games, and those books were really games themselves, deep down at their heart. As for what inspired this specific story, that’s a little harder to say. Things change and develop over time. I could tell you that it was inspired by the impact of the Dreyfus Affair on the central core of the French Impressionists, but I think you’d be very hard-pressed to find any relationship between the two now. Even at the first draft, the story quickly ceased to bear any resemblance or relation to that original idea. Also going into it was this idea that society in the post-WW1 era should have been pretty strongly marked by PTSD, which nobody really understood at the time.

Your book is a mystery. Can you tell those of us who may have never written in this genre what the process was like for you? Do you start at the end and work your way backwards?

I don’t pretend to be an expert. What’s worked so far for me is to throw a random collection of characters together and charge ahead. I don’t know whodunnit until about 10K or 15K words in. That gets me a first draft … a miserable piece of rubbish full of plot elements that don’t make sense. It gets completely rewritten from the ground up on the second draft, which is where things get rethought and hammered into something semi-workable. This is a much longer process, but at least I have a general idea of how things are supposed to work. For “A Gentleman’s Murder”, the first draft took one month; the second draft took five years. I’m going to have to step my game up for the next book, because I haven’t got five years to spend on a second draft this time around….

What is something you think readers generally don’t know about your specific genre?

Whodunnit, of course. But seriously, there’s lots of minor stuff, like the history of the genre and how it’s evolved over time. Edgar Allen Poe is credited with the first modern detective story (“The Murders in the Rue Morgue”) but I think it was really when people started treating the genre as a game, in the 1920s, that it really came into its own. In a way, these were really the video games of their time.

Your story takes place in 1924. Why did you pick this time in history, and how did you go about your research?

I picked the 1920s because so many of the mysteries I love seem to be set around that era, and then there was the whole post-WW1 PTSD issue that I mentioned earlier. And plus, it seems you can get away with so much more in a time before all the advances in forensic science were made–I mean, the police weren’t as much in advance of the ordinary civilian back then.

I didn’t think there’d be a lot of research that had to be done when I started. I thought it was basically the modern world with fewer electronics. But every so often, I’d hit something and wonder, what was this thing like back then? All the little bits add up … looking back now, the volume of research is astounding, and most of it was done on a “by the way” basis.

Tell us about your protagonist. Are they inspired by someone you know in real life?

Eric Peterkin? He’s a bit of an overgrown boy scout, and very much the honourable gentleman. He’s half-Chinese on his mother’s side. He was originally conceived as a human version of Reepicheep, from C.S. Lewis’s Narnia series, but I’d say he’s gone way, way beyond that characterisation by now.

Do you write down revelations and ideas as you get them?

Sometimes, or I wouldn’t remember them. And sometimes it’s important to get things straight on paper before working them into the story, or you forget the point you were trying to make. This is especially true in a mystery, where everything hinges on everything else. Drop one link, and the whole thing falls apart.

Are you working on something new? And can you tell us a little bit about it?

I’d better be! “A Gentleman’s Murder”, by its nature, has been extremely male-dominated, and I’d like to get away from that for the sequel. So, I’m thinking … bridesmaids. Something I think I’ll call “Best Man for Murder”.

Who are your favorite authors?

Agatha Christie is the most obvious; but I’m also very fond of Anthony Trollope. He’s got an incredibly conversational narrative voice, and his Barsetshire Chronicles saw me through a lot of my time in the army. I hope the Trollope estate won’t mind that I’ve specified “Barchester, Barsetshire” as Eric Peterkin’s home town!

If you could have one author read and review your work, who would it be?

A lot would depend on whether that author likes my work or not! Well, it would be pretty cool to have Martin Edwards, as he’s something of an authority on the detective fiction of that era. But ultimately, it’s more about being accepted into the ranks of the established pros–the world of mystery writing is, apparently, very much like a village where everyone knows everyone else–than about the approbation of any specific one.

What books by other writers have had the biggest influence on you?

“The Warden”, by Anthony Trollope. It presents a conflict between people without painting anyone as villainous; and the hero ends up choosing his opponent’s side even though his own side has effectively won, because, over the course of the novel, he comes to believe that his opponent’s position is the right one. For something that’s at most half the size of any of its sequels, it’s an astonishingly mature look at nuanced, conflicting perspectives and a great illustration of moral integrity. It’s something to aspire to, both as a writer and as person.

Did you have any differences with your editors while you were still becoming used to getting your work edited? How did you work through those differences?

Doesn’t everyone? Generally speaking, it’s a matter of talking things out and articulating one’s position on things. And humility. One has to always understand that outsiders see things that one does not.

What advice would you like to give writers who are working on their first novels?

Be polite; be professional; have a plan to kill everybody you meet. But maybe that last one only works for mystery writers and the US Marine Corps.

But seriously: always have a contingency plan for if the current plan doesn’t work out. And get to know your tools: grammar and vocabulary. Really, really get to know them. The fewer things you have to change due to grammar or vocabulary issues, the more likely it is that your expressions and voice will survive the copy editing process intact.

How will you celebrate the publishing of your first book?

I’m not sure yet, but it will probably involve the consumption of more food than is wise.

 

About A Gentleman’s Murder

Preorder A Gentleman’s Murder

The year is 1924, and Lieutenant Eric Peterkin, formerly of the Royal Fusiliers, is a new member of the Britannia―London’s most prestigious club. It’s a family tradition, but an honor he’s not sure he quite deserves. So, when a gentleman’s wager ends with one man dead in the vault under the club, Eric is only too ready to tackle the mystery head on.

Eric’s quest to resolve the murder quickly becomes an investigation of a mysterious wartime disappearance. It draws him far from the marbled halls of the Brittania, to the shadowy remains of a dilapidated war hospital to the heroin dens of Limehouse. Eric faces a Matryoshka doll of murder, vice, and secrets pointing not only to the officers of his own club but the very investigator assigned by Scotland Yard.

Threatened with expulsion and dogged by the racist shadows of the Great War, Eric presses on nonetheless. But can he snare the killer before his own membership becomes a thing of yesterday?

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Author Interview

Interview with Tony Valdez: Author of Space Opera Dax Harrison

Welcome Tony! Your debut novel Dax Harrison hit shelves last October. Congratulations! Can you tell us a little bit about the book and what inspired the story?

Thank you! Well I’m a pretty typical nerd born in the mid-80s. So needless to say, I’ve consumed tons of space adventures from Star Wars to Firefly to Mass Effect and so on. I actually grew up wanting to make movies, not books. So a little while back, I wrote a short scene about a drunk space captain who passes out at the wheel, almost crashes, and wakes up to blame his robotic co-pilot. I thought it would be a fun little thing to shoot with friends and throw on YouTube. Almost immediately though, I started imagining ideas for a full-blown adventure, and ended up with a full length screenplay. But since I don’t have the budget, connections, know-how, etc to make a giant epic movie, I re-wrote it as a small (but epic) book!

Your book is categorized as a space opera, for those who do not know, what constitutes a space opera and how is it different than science fiction?

Don’t call me an expert, but in my opinion, “space opera” has a bit of a throwback vibe to it. Where some modern stories set in space try to steer closer towards a more realistic tone (trying to keep the “science” in science fiction), space opera brings a sort of retro charm connotation. A more free-wheeling, fanciful style of sci-fi where it’s okay to bend and maybe even break the rules a little bit more, so long as it makes sense in your imagined world and the characters make you believe in it with their earnestness.

Tell us about your protagonist, Dax Harrison. Is he inspired by someone you know in real life?

Not so much in real life, but Dax is an amalgamation of my favorite kind of fictional heroes. The rogues, the goofs, the guys looking to save their own necks but maybe find some courage and heart along the way. You could point to any number of obvious examples from Han Solo to Peter Quill and be right. My favorite comparison though is a cross between Ash Williams from Evil Dead and Zapp Brannigan from Futurama. Terribly brash and inept one minute, and pulling through in a pinch the next.

Is there a message in your novel that you hope readers will grasp?

I really just wanted to write something fun, but I think it’s pretty natural for your personality and opinions to come out in the writing whether you mean to or not. (Mild spoilers) Dax goes from selfish charlatan to actual hero, a phony to the real deal. In a weird subtle way, it kinda reflects my own battle with imposter syndrome. I spent years blabbing to friends and family about pursuing careers in film, music, creative endeavors in general. But other than some scattered and half-hearted attempts, I never quite found the ambition, the discipline (or guts) to make things happen. To me, my little book is a milestone. I made a thing, a thing that I’m proud of! I started what I finished, and it’s not impossible. So if I can do it, YOU CAN TOO! Go make your thing! Write that book, paint that painting, build that IKEA desk despite the inexplicable directions! Learn to believe in yourself and be your own hero. Yeah, I know it’s cheesy. I’m a cheesy guy.

Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you keep a hold of the reigns?

I think I kept the reigns fairly tight because it was my first book and I was laser-focused on simply trying to put the pieces together and have everything make sense. As I’m outlining the next book though, I’m discovering some fun ways for these now established characters to grow, and I definitely didn’t plan on some of the character arcs that are brewing now. I’m excited and I want to share, but spoilers!

The cover for Dax Harrison is very unique, in that it was an originally an oil painting. Can you tell us a little bit about why you went that direction and what the process was like?

Again, this was my first book, and I had no idea if I would ever do this a second time, so I figured “go big or go home”. I wanted something memorable that would capture the old-school adventure vibe, like an old Struzan or Frazetta painting. By sheer luck I met an amazing artist, Jessica Van Huelle (theladyjessica.com), at a local event where she was live painting for a charity auction. We exchanged emails soon after, I gave her my thoughts, some examples of other art pieces and elements I liked, etc. She pieced together a mock-up of the idea, I gave a thumbs up, and she went to work! She sent the occasional progress photo, but nothing compared to seeing the finished painting in person. I love it. It’s in my apartment still waiting for a frame because I’m lazy and scatterbrained. I will most certainly be going back to Jessica for the next one!

Ah! And I also cannot forget my awesome friend Seth Kinkaid (sethkinkaid.com) who perfectly solidified the retro sci-fi book design, with the big bold titles, sharp red back cover, and aging effects throughout. Is it bad form to gush obnoxiously about your book cover? BECAUSE I LOVE MY BOOK COVER! 🙂

What, according to you, is the hardest thing about writing?

For me? Just sitting down and writing. I’m not a “write every day” writer. I wish I could be. I’m not sure if I have a “process”, but I can tell you that Dax 2 has been mostly outlined for months. I chip away at it, then leave it, binge on books and movies and TV shows for a while, get a really cool “a-ha!” moment in the shower and then work on it some more, rinse, repeat. Speed wise, I’m the George R.R. Martin of silly sci-fi.

What books by other writers have had the biggest influence on you?

If you’ve got a fantastical story with plenty of laughs, then it’s right up my alley. A few of my first favorites: Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament by S.G. Browne, Monster by A. Lee Martinez, and Christopher Moore’s Vampire Trilogy (Bloodsucking Fiends, You Suck, Bite Me)

What other genres do you enjoy reading?

I collected graphic novels for years, but I had to stop and be a financially responsible adult, haha. Right now I’m reading a bunch of suspense/horror thanks to my wife’s book club. I’ve also been on a kick with memoirs. I love first hand accounts from people I admire, especially comedians. Bruce Campbell, Chris Hardwick, Kevin Smith, Whitney Cummings, etc. When funny people spill their guts, they have a knack for brutal honesty that can make you laugh, cry, cheer and maybe even make you learn a little something about yourself, all at once.

Which fictional character do you most resonate with on a personal level?

I honestly have no idea. A weird, artsy Mexican nerd with warped humor and disgusting levels of optimism? If you know one of those, let me know!

Have you ever turned a dream or a nightmare into a written piece?

Not that I recall.

Some writers create a bubble around themselves until they finish a project – how true is that for you?

I try to, because it’s so easy for me to be distracted otherwise. I have to be that stereotypical guy with a laptop in a coffee shop working on “my next big thing”. Otherwise, I’ll find a zillion distractions/excuses trying to work at home.

Tell us a little about your plans for the future. Where do you see yourself as a writer in five years?

Rich and famous sipping a margarita on a beach somewhere, of course! Pshhh! No, seriously, I hope to have at least two more books under my belt. Dax 2 for sure, and either Dax 3 or a fun fantasy story that I currently have brewing in my head. Maybe both.

Tell us about the trailer for Dax Harrison(show below). Did you make it yourself, and did you find that it has helped with marketing your book?

I did make it myself. I’ve edited video for fun since I was a kid, and I’ve always enjoyed making fake movie trailers. For the Dax trailer, I searched several stock footage sites for anything space, bar and booze related. I came up with a little speech for Dax introducing himself (played by me recording myself in my car as a sound booth). Add some royalty-free music for a small one-time fee, sync the video edits to the music beat, and boom! Trailer. People responded really well. I’m not sure if it boosted sales, but I had fun doing it, and I’d love to make more for future projects.

What other marketing strategies have you found helpful? Any resources you would recommend to other authors?

I searched high and low for marketing advice. I didn’t have much of a budget, so other than a couple social media ads, I didn’t pursue much. In the end, every author blog and advice column ended up circling around the same point: Just keep writing. “The best marketing for your first book is your second, and your third, etc.” So Dax 2 is where I’m focused for the time being. Once I have a publishing date for that, I’ll start panicking again about marketing strategy.

Thank you Tony! What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with or follow you (website, blog, Facebook, Goodreads, etc.) and links?

Dax has a home at daxharrison.com. I’m @rockhollywood on Instagram, @rockhollywood8 on Twitter. You can DM. I don’t bite.

More about Dax Harrison

Well, this is a damned mess…

Dax was so close to leaving the hero business behind him. He’d done his duty, saved the galaxy a time or two, and made out like a bandit with the movie and merchandise rights.

Now, Alliance HQ is forcing him to be the poster boy for their “ten years of peace” hoopla. If that’s not enough, a disgraced alien general-turned-war-criminal with an unpronounceable name has escaped from an inescapable prison planet, and he’s got Dax in his crosshairs!

Scrambling to avoid the madman’s swath of destruction, Dax finds himself stuck with a crew comprised of an overly enthusiastic fanboy cadet, an aging physician, a suspicious and tough-as-nails lieutenant, and a possibly malfunctioning AI. And they are all looking at Dax to save the day… whether he likes it or not.

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Author Interview

Interview with Author Jason Pomerance

(Read through to the bottom, where there is a link to a free novella by Jason Pomerance!)

There’s a novel out now called “Women Like Us,” and it deserves your attention. It is a wonderful tale of a broken family picking up the pieces, trying to find compromise amidst dysfunction. Each character is wonderfully crafted, and the tale itself will move you to laughter as well as tears. The novel first caught my eye on inkshares.com, as its prose is honest, emotional, and flowing. I was caught up in the story immediately, and when I finally received my copy last month, the book did not disappoint.

“Women Like Us” is the debut novel of Jason Pomerance, who is no stranger to storytelling, being an author of screenplays (as well as a filmmaker). He was kind enough to grant me an interview, and I hope you enjoy getting to know this emerging author.

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Jason Pomerance, author CREDITED BY: Steven Murashige

Tell us a little bit about yourself, Jason.

I’m just your typical writer/reader/food-obsessed sometime chef and surfer (although I’m a much better surfer in my head than I am in reality. In reality I sort of suck at catching waves. But I just keep at it!).

What was the inspiration for Women Like Us?

I’m a huge fan of road trip stories. Maybe because there’s such great potential for transformation. There’s just something about being on the road that seems to have meaning in terms of growth and change for characters. So the original inspiration was to do a story about a mother and son on the road. In fact it started out as a screenplay, but the more I wrote an outline version the more it was feeling more like a piece of fiction so I just kept going.

How long did the novel take to write/what is your writing process like?

It’s hard to say exactly how long because I didn’t sit down and write it start to finish all at once. I’d pick it up, but then be pulled onto some other project and I’d go back to it when I’d get the chance. My process is not to outline too much or think too much about it ahead, but just let it flow. In fact I have to say on this book, the characters totally took me by surprise.

Edith Vale, for example, is the character who many people say stands out the most, but she started out as just a minor player. Then she sort of took on a life of her own and the plot diverged from where I thought it was going — so it became not just about mother and son but also about mother and slightly demented mother-in-law! I have to say also Mrs. Vale sort of came to life fully formed — I’m not sure what I was channeling but it was very clear early one who she was and what she was about.

Are there any autobiographical elements to the novel?

I think there’s always a part of us in whatever we write, so I’d say yes, for sure. Susan, for example, is a chef, and although I’ve never worked in a restaurant kitchen, cooking is big part of my life. There’s a little bit of surfing in the book and, like I said, I try to surf as best as I can. Like Edith Vale, I enjoy the occasional Manhattan (well, for her it’s pretty much nightly) and like Edith I can be a little persnickety about the way I think things should be done!

Do you have any advice for other authors and artists?

This might sound a little cliched but just follow your gut and follow your voice. There’s always going to be plenty of people telling you that you can’t do something, or you’re doing it wrong but if you believe in what you’re writing (or whatever you’re working on, if it’s some other art form) it doesn’t matter. The nay-saying is just noise. Also, never quit. Never give up. Just find a way to forge ahead no matter what because in the end it will pay off.

Like with Women Like Us. There were points I never thought this book would see the light of day, but now I can hold the book in my hand, which is such a great thing. I’ve seen it on the shelf in a couple of local bookstores and I see people writing reviews of it on Amazon. It’s all very gratifying but if I’d listened to the doubters it never would have happened.

Do you have any other stories or projects you are currently working on that you’d like us to know about?

Yes. I’m trying to get to the finish line on another novel. CELIA ON THE VERGE might fall more into chick-lit territory (for some that’s a good thing, for some not so much!). It’s about a woman who thought she had her whole future planned out but everything becomes upended when a package arrives in her mailbox 40 years late! When Celia tries to complete the delivery to its rightful recipient, many complications ensue!!

You are a filmmaker as well. Tell us a little more about your work in film.

I’d hesitate to say filmmaker because I’d reserve that for directors and I’ve never really felt the pull to direct. But I’ve been a Writers’ Guild-card carrying member of the movie business for a long time. I’ve sold a couple of pilots on the TV end, and worked and many studio projects. But it’s always tough seeing anything through to its final form — kind of like the book business but maybe even tougher because as a writer you have very little control.

I am a co-producer of a project that’s been a passion — it’s my screen adaptation of Charles Dickinson’s novel THE WIDOWS’ ADVENTURES, which until recently was set up with Diane Keaton and Jane Fonda attached to star. I fell in love with this book from page one, and somehow I am determined that the movie will come together at some point. It’s another crazy road-trip story, which makes sense because as I said I love them, but in this story, the one who does the driving on a cross-country journey is blind while her beer-swilling sister gives direction (they only drive on backroads in the dead of night and very, very slowly!).

The book, by the way, is available on Amazon in both physical and eBook versions — Anybody who likes road trip stories should check it out, or one of Charles’ other novels. He’s an extremely talented writer.

You are donating a portion of your profits to the Beagle Freedom Project. Tell us about the charity and what inspired you to work with them.

I’m not sure how I stumbled onto the Beagle Freedom Project, but we already had one beagle when I heard about the work they do — I had no idea beagles were even used for medical and cosmetics tests, and what The Beagle Freedom Project does is negotiate with the labs to get them released when the labs are done with them. Whether or not you are for or against animal testing, I don’t think anybody could condone what most labs do, which is euthanize the dogs (or other animals — BFP also works to free cats, rabbits, pigs and other animals).

Anyway, we signed up to foster and then adopt one of these dogs. Derric was part of a group called the Midwest 10!! He’d been in a lab for the first five years of his life. These poor guys have spent their lives in cages and don’t know how to do anything (never really even been outdoors) but he’s been a joy to have and I can’t imagine life without him! During the pre-order phase of Women Like Us, I did a couple of contests that were connected to a Beagle Freedom Project donation, so I just decided I’d continue it as a thank you, because there are a lot of supporters of the group, and they were very supportive of Women Like Us. Their link, by the way, is http://bfp.org

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Jason at home with his happy beagle, Derric

 

Related Links:

To view and buy “Women Like Us” on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Women-Like-Us-Jason-Pomerance/dp/1942645104/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1472761204&sr=8-1

The “Women Like Us” page on GoodReads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30007119-women-like-us

Jason Pomerance’s Website:

http://www.jasonpomerance.com

Jason also has a FREE four-part novella called “Falconer”, which you can read here: 

http://hollywooddementia.com/author/jason-pomerance/

 

Post originally appeared in Renderosity Magazine, 09/13/16

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Author Interview

Interview with Deborah Munro: On writing, science, and merging worlds

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Deborah Munro, author and biomedical engineer. Deborah’s debut novel Apex is currently in production and will likely be released in 2019. Let’s dive right in shall we?

Welcome Deborah! First, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your upcoming book, APEX?

I grew up in rural California in the historic gold mining town of Placerville. I spent much of my childhood outdoors, playing, camping, hiking, and fishing, and my parents were land surveyors, a family business I helped out with from a young age. I developed a strong appreciation for nature, and the animals in it. I moved to Portland, Oregon in 2008 to teach biomedical engineering at a local university, and the beauty of this state quickly won my heart. When I decided to write my novel, APEX, I chose rural Oregon, because the setting was similar to my hometown, but remote enough to support the theme of the book—genetic engineering gone horribly wrong.

Your book APEX deals with genetic engineering. Can you tell me about how the plot has been inspired by your real-life work as a biomedical engineer?

I am an avid reader, and I love science, so when I came across an article about walking stick insects and their extraordinary evolutionary history, I was intrigued. Scientists have discovered that walking sticks have had and lost wings at different points in time. As far as I know, this is the first example of a higher life form re-evolving a significant characteristic after losing it. My mind immediately starting thinking, “What if an animal could re-evolve a characteristic?” and APEX was born.

Science, technology, and innovation are all prominent themes in your book. What is the process like for you when you come up against a subject that isn’t in your wheelhouse?

My mind is like a sponge when it comes to learning about science and technology. I am an inventor myself, and I have almost a dozen patents. Whenever I learn about something new, I’m curious to learn more, and I’ll dive into the research with glee. I’ve read countless journal articles and books about the science in my book, and it was fun for me to do.

One of my goals with my writing is to educate people about science in an entertaining and exciting way. Our future on this planet has many challenges, most of them related to finding a balance between the needs of humans and those of other life forms. APEX explores one of those topics, which is right to life. Do all animals have an equal right to life, even if they were genetically created?

Your book is currently in production and expected to hit shelves in late 2018 or 2019. What have you learned during the editing process?

Everything takes longer than anticipated. My book has gone through an extensive rewrite and only partially resembles the manuscript I originally wrote. I just submitted my third draft to my editor, and I have no idea how much more work will be required to make it my best story possible. I think the key is to be patient and trust the process. My book has a birthdate, but I don’t know what that is yet.

What does your writing routine look like, and do you think there will be more novels in your future?

I’m not a fulltime writer, and my day job also requires a lot of critical thinking and writing, so I find I write in spurts. A week may go by where I’m unable to write on my manuscript at all, but I keep my writing brain active by participating in social media writing prompts, creating blogs, and posting newsletters. I find I make the best progress, however, when I work piecemeal. I set a goal of 1000 words per day, and I often break that up into two or more sessions of just fifteen to twenty minutes. That ends up being an impressive 7000 words a week, and it keeps the story fresh in my mind, so I don’t have to back track and reread before beginning again.

I fully intend to keep writing. I’ve set APEX up to have a sequel if I want, but it’s a standalone novel. I also have another partially completed manuscript that is waggling its eyebrows at me, and I’ve done the research for a third novel that will likely be a romance, but with lots of environmental issues thrown in.

I have a technical book coming out in June on DIY microfabrication. It’s a guidebook on how to collaborate with open-use national laboratories to design and build your own microsensors for use in medical devices, etc. I will be hosting a seminar in Chicago in mid-June, so I’m self-publishing my book to be ready in time for that.

What advice would you share with authors out there working on their first book?

The most shocking thing I’ve learned about becoming an author is that it’s not about your book. Yes, you have to write the book, but the key to success is marketing yourself (not your book) on social media and via email blogs. There are thousands of people out there who would love to read your book, but they don’t know you exist unless you advertise yourself. It is so important to invest your time in building a following several months to a year before you start promoting your book. People need time to get to know you as a person, and you want to become a trusted source of content. So post, post, post about topics in which you have a personal interest. If you’re funny, use it! I’m not, but I have a strong science background and a love of nature, and with that, I have gathered more than 5300 Twitter followers and 8000 newsletter subscribers in just six months.

When I finally get word that my book has been passed on to the copy editor, that’s when I’ll start pushing for pre-orders, but not yet. For now, it’s all about audience building, as I know some percentage of my followers, however large that number ends up being, are going to want to buy my book. The larger the number of pre-orders, the larger the pool of potential reviewers to boost my book’s ranking, and I’ve heard as a general rule of thumb that your book will sell double the number of pre-orders once released.

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If you would like to learn more about Deborah, you can follow her through her website – deborahmunroauthor.com. Her novel, Apex, can be pre-ordered here.

Interview first published on JacquiCastleWrites.com

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Author Interview

Interview with Cari Dubiel: On Writing, Libraries, and Podcasts

Cari Dubiel has been a librarian for twelve years, and currently has her first book, How to Remember (a novel billed as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind meets What Alice Forgot) in production for a 2019 release. Cari was kind enough to answer a few questions for us!

First, I want to say congratulations on receiving a publishing contract for your book, How to Remember. Is How to Remember your debut book?

Yes! I’m so excited to have achieved my crowdfunding goal with Inkshares. I met the goal for the Quill imprint before it was sun-downed.

Can you tell us a little bit about the story and where you drew your inspiration?

The story follows Miranda Underwood, a neuroscientist, and Ben Baker, a computer programmer. Both of them set out to solve their personal mysteries one year apart. Miranda searches for the cause of her amnesia in 2017, while Ben fills in the blanks in 2016. He’s investigating his mother’s suspicious death.

Most of my stories spring from my frequent crazy dreams. I woke up with this idea, and I started to wonder what would happen to someone who found herself with this affliction, especially if she was an introvert who didn’t have many friends. Cut off from her job – with a company that’s complicit in the situation – she has to reach within herself to find inner strength.

What does your daily writing routine look like? Do you always write at the same time each day?

I have two little kids and the schedule of a public librarian (a lot of evenings and weekends). Every day is different! I write at least one chapter a week, about 2500 words. I squeeze the time in when I can get it, either in the mornings before my kids get up or when they’re in bed. Then there’s the rare glorious time when my parents take them for the weekend!

In addition to being an author, you are also a librarian. As someone who is surrounded by her pick of books, who are your favorite authors? Any underappreciated gems that you have stumbled upon?

That is a tough one. I read widely – picking favorite authors would be like picking a favorite child! I’ll highlight a few of my recent favorites, though. I just discovered Tom Sweterlitsch (The Gone World, Tomorrow and Tomorrow) – he writes about bleak, dystopian futures, time travel, alternate universes. He explores the dark heart of humanity, which sounds depressing, but both books illuminate the human spirit as well. I also recently finished a preview copy of Ruth Ware’s The Death of Mrs. Westaway, a character-driven mystery in the style of Agatha Christie. I couldn’t stop rooting for the protagonist, Hal – yes, a likeable narrator in a thriller – they still exist!

Being a librarian, have you always known that you also wanted to write? When did you begin?

I’ve been writing since third grade. The two things I love the most in life are reading and writing, so I’ve always known I wanted to be a librarian and a writer. Of course, as a child I did not know that a librarian’s job is not, in fact, reading books all day. But we do get to talk about books, which is exciting!

What should new authors know about getting their books into the various library systems? Is the process different for self-published authors?

The first rule is to treat librarians with courtesy and establish a dialogue – a genuine, authentic conversation. Focus on why readers will like your book – make the librarian want to read it!

If you are traditionally published, the librarian might just buy the book for her collection. But for small press, indie, and self-published authors, you may have another hurdle to jump. It always helps if you are able to donate a copy, but if that’s not possible, make sure she knows where she can purchase it. You can also offer to present a program, but again, come prepared with the “hook” for potential attendees.

Always ask your librarian what you can do for her! Tailor your approach to each library as needed. I suggest starting with local libraries or those you have a personal connection with. Get the book into enough readers’ hands, and if it is a quality product, it might go viral.

Are there ways for authors to help each other out in regards to achieving a library presence?

As more authors make connections with libraries, they can share information about how individual systems operate. Libraries are so different – they have different resources, funding, populations. They offer services and programs based on the needs of their communities. Some writers’ organizations also have library outreach. I was the Library Liaison for Sisters in Crime for five years, and we did a lot of work helping authors connect with their local libraries and vice versa. I know the Horror Writers of America has a similar program.

Is there any additional advice you would give to new authors who wish to have their books in libraries?

Look into electronic distribution! Electronic media in libraries is growing more every year. In my library, the most popular services are OverDrive and hoopla (with the small “h”). Every library has different subscriptions, though, so check to see what your local library offers.

Tell us about the podcast that you are involved in – ABC Book Reviews Podcast.

Our podcast started in 2007, when my coworker, Beth, and I decided we needed an outlet to talk about books we loved. Back then, podcasts were not as sophisticated, though they were popular. The Wall Street Journal described us as “two girls talking on a bus.” We’ve retained that format, although we have revised our website, gone on many tangents, and had four kids between the two of us. We also took a break last year, since Beth got a library director job and I became a department head, but we’re back with new episodes now.

Podcasts are booming. What needs do you think creative podcasts are serving in the literary world?

I have to admit I’m not much of a podcast listener – not surprisingly, I prefer audiobooks! But I love the idea of podcasts as a way for creative people to produce and distribute their own media, amplifying diverse voices that may not otherwise find an audience. I’d like to seek out some writing-related podcasts to help me stay motivated, so I can hear those voices!

Thank you for your time, Cari. Any other parting advice that you would like to pass on as someone who is immersed in literature in both her day job and her personal life?

To stay sharp, I like to play outside with my kids – I hope better weather will come to Northeast Ohio soon! I also play the bassoon, and I love nerdy stuff, especially board games. The literary life is fantastic, but as with any job, breaks are essential.

 

Read more about Cari’s upcoming book How to Remember.

Interview first published on JacquiCastleWrites.com

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