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Anthology News News

The Submission Period for 2020’s DECEPTION! Anthology NOW OPEN!

THE SUBMISSION PERIOD CLOSED AS OF MAY 2, 2019—STAY TUNED FOR FUTURE OPPORTUNITIES TO SUBMIT YOUR WORK!

Below is the process for the submission for your own viewing, as the process will be similar for future submission periods.

Writing Bloc is taking short story submissions NOW!

Writing Bloc’s annual short story anthology is taking off with its second edition, and we’re looking for amazing stories incorporating the theme of “deception” in five thousand words or fewer. The submission period is open now through May 1st, 2019. Announcement of the accepted stories will take place on May 31st, 2019. The non-refundable submission fee is $10 (US) for all writers. To submit your story, use the link below to sign the acknowledgment of the Submission Guidelines and use the other link to pay the submission fee. Once both are received, you will receive a confirmation email within 48 hours. All major questions are answered within the guidelines, so please read them in full prior to submitting.

Additional questions? Ask us in the comments section below.

To Apply:

  1. Fill out the submission form below and submit it with your attachment of your story. (Microsoft Word documents preferred.) Your story should be no longer than 5000 words in length, utilize the theme “DECEPTION” in some way, and have your name and contact information on the front page. You will get a confirmation message when your form has been submitted successfully.
  2. Return to this page and click below to pay the $10 submission fee. Billing information will be kept private and will only be used for the purposes of validating the payment. You will also receive a confirmation message when your payment has been processed successfully.
  3. You will receive an email to the address you provided within 48 hours to confirm that we received both your submission packet and your payment.

Submission form and acknowledgment of official guidelines CLICK HERE: using the form located at (link expired).

Then click below to pay the submission fee:

More about Writing Bloc’s anthology series:

On January 1, 2019, Writing Bloc published its first short story anthology, comprised of stories from twenty authors. Writers were given a theme – Escape! – and each submitted a story centered around the theme. The result? An inspiring collection of western, sci-fi, fantasy, and genre-bending stories that demonstrate how vastly different the imaginations of 20 authors can be. You may check out ESCAPE! on Amazon by clicking here.

Cover for Escape! An Anthology by The Writing Bloc

The publishing process was entirely cooperative, as authors banded together to critique and edit each other’s stories. Everyone involved worked diligently to improve their own craft, as well as provide constructive feedback that spurred the growth of their fellow authors. It is this cooperative editing and publishing process that Writing Bloc would like to build on as we work on expanding our collection.

If you have a short story you would like us to consider for submission in our next anthology, we would love to hear from you. Submissions for Deception! A Writing Bloc Anthology are due midnight PST on May 1st, 2019.

The anthology will be published both in e-book format and in print in January 2020 (subject to change).

Contributors will be offered the opportunity to order print copies at wholesale prices, which they can then resell at retail value for profit. Please review the full publishing guidelines carefully before submitting your short story. This is a cooperative short story anthology, and authors will be expected to critique and edit a group of 3-5 stories other than their own. Only those who are willing to participate in this collaborative process will be considered.

Writing Bloc will be accepting short stories, each related to the theme Deception. The number of short stories will depend on the final editorial staff decision. Though the last anthology consisted of 20 stories, the DECEPTION! Anthology could be any number of stories. If your story is not accepted into this year’s anthology, we encourage you to try again in the future and to request to join our Facebook page and/or Our Newsletter for more collaborative opportunities.

To submit a short story, follow the directions above.

-The Writing Bloc Team (Michael, Becca, Robert, Chris, Jacqui, and Cari)


Public copy of official guidelines:

I. Who

A. Writing Bloc Indie Publishing Team is publishing a cooperatively-produced anthology of short stories to be released in January of 2020. Contributing authors will have the opportunity to be involved in production, promotion, marketing, and distribution of the finished work. The cooperative nature of the project is intended to be a group effort with tasks assigned and managed by the Heads of Writing Bloc.

II. What

A. The stories to be published in this edition of the anthology are to use the theme of “DECEPTION!” in some manner. There is open interpretation to the theme, and the theme is open genre. For a reference, you may look to our last published anthology titled “ESCAPE!” available on most digital formats and also available through physical formats via Amazon, but a link to download the book in both .epub and .mobi formats will be provided upon receipt of the submission fee.

B. Stories submitted should be no more than 5,000 words in length, and an original work of fictional prose. The target audience is adult, and there is no restriction on language or content, aside from the requirements in II.C:

C. Content Guidelines:

No hate speech (language or action that promotes or encourages racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, religious discrimination, ableism, or ageism).

Though sex can be a part of the story, it should not be explicit or the central action of the story. Stories may not glorify or normalize sexual assault or any non-consensual sexual acts. Any questions regarding what would be acceptable can be directed in an email to [email protected]

D. A story can be removed from the anthology at any time during the production process at the discretion of the Heads. Any cause for story removal will be discussed prior to any action taken and reasonable efforts will be made to resolve the issue prior to removal.  

III. Where

A. Stories should be submitted using the form located at (link expired) between now and May 1st, 2019, at which point the selection process for inclusion will begin. If there are any questions about the story and its acceptability as far as content guidelines stated above are concerned, please contact [email protected], but expect at least 5 business days for a response. No one will receive any indication that their story will be accepted into the anthology prior to May 31st, 2019, and no story will be considered without the submission fee paid in full.

B. The process of editing and a schedule for design and publication will be established after the selection process. This schedule will be determined after May 31st, 2019.

C. Any collaboration or discussion of stories with other members of the Writing Bloc on the group Facebook page is encouraged, but copyright ownership of each final story will remain with the individual author and plagiarism will not be tolerated.

IV. When

A. All stories to be considered should be submitted using the form located at (LINK EXPIRED) starting now but no later than midnight PST May 1st, 2019.

B. The anthology is planned to be published in January of 2020 in both ebook and paperback formats.The schedule may be adjusted to accommodate unforeseen problems related to writing, publishing, or distribution. Contributing authors will be notified of changes to the planned schedule ahead of time through the valid email address they provide through the submission process.

V. How

A. The anthology at this time is to be published by Writing Bloc Indie Publishing Team. The book will be available for all major e-readers and available to purchase as a paperback through Amazon. Cost of the end product will be determined at time of publication, and prices are subject to change at the discretion of the Heads.

B. All marketing and publicity is the responsibility of the authors being published within the cooperative. Basic marketing efforts will be made through Writing Bloc’s website (writingbloc.com), Twitter (@Writing_Bloc), and Facebook (facebook.com/writingbloc), and Writing Bloc Indie Publishing Team will direct efforts to market the final product.

C. Each selected author will receive a feature and short interview to be published on the above stated outlets in section V.B of these guidelines.

D. The submission fees and profits from sales of the anthology will be collected into a single account to be maintained by Writing Bloc Indie Publishing Team. The balance in the account will be used to pay all costs associated with publication first. Any remaining balance will be used to offset any management costs of the organization. Contributing authors can purchase printed copies of the anthology for their own distribution and profit. Any profit from physical copies sold directly by the authors are theirs to keep. Opportunities to purchase paperbacks at lower cost than the general public will be presented after publication.

VI. Why

A. The goal of the cooperative press is to have direct control over publication efforts and distribution, and all authors involved are expected to contribute in some way to the success of the publication. While there is no specific guideline for minimum contribution to the success of the publication, exerting no effort toward marketing or success of the published anthology is not in the spirit of the publication, and therefore might affect involvement in future publications. Enthusiastic and cooperative participation in this anthology may influence acceptance of future manuscripts for publication with the cooperative. Enthusiastic and cooperative participation may include helpful and supportive communication within the group Facebook page, assistance with marketing, distribution, project management, finance, and editing as requested by the Heads of these teams, or voluntary financial contribution not to exceed $100.

B. This is not a project with the expectation of high profit. This publication is collaboration-minded with the idea to cooperatively increase exposure and marketing efforts for all authors involved.

C. For this current run with the theme “DECEPTION,” there is a basic non-refundable $10.00 (US) submission fee. This cost is intended to offset the time and effort required to give each and every submission proper attention. For the submission fee of $10.00 (US), the author submitting will have their story considered for inclusion in the DECEPTION! anthology, a place in the closed Facebook community page (subject to obedience of established rules and regulations within that community), and a link to download free ebook copies of the previous ESCAPE! anthology.

D. All authors retain the rights to their work and may publish them elsewhere or use them for other publications and submissions.

E. No profits are to be distributed to any authors at this time. All monies made for the anthology will be pooled into the creation of subsequent publications in hopes of offsetting all costs and creating greater marketing and distribution for subsequent runs.

F. Every effort will be made to market each individual author equally, including access to place their other works into the store on writingbloc.com for extra exposure.

VII. Statement of Inclusion and Diversity

A. Writing Bloc Indie Publishing Team does not exclude any writers for any reason. We encourage writers from all walks of life to reach out and become a part of our community and/or our anthology.

B. The deciding process for inclusion in this anthology is based upon a blind read of all works by our editors. Final decisions will be made purely based upon writing quality, creativity, and inclusion of the theme. There will be no knowledge of the author when making final selections for the anthology. The author’s name will be replaced with a random number prior to assessment by the editorial team.

C. Writing Bloc Indie Publishing Team strives to create opportunities for every writer, regardless of cultural background, skin color, sexual orientation, disability either visible and invisible, religion, spirituality, and/or state of health. We focus on helping all writers embrace and expand upon their passion and their abilities. We insist upon an open culture of equality in all of our dealings and want all writers to feel free and safe to bring their authentic, complete selves to our organization.

D. Should any author or member of Writing Bloc decide to behave with a lack of tolerance or respect for the culture of Inclusion and Diversity we strive to maintain, that author will be met with removal from any contract or publication in process as well as removal from all public groups associated with Writing Bloc. We have a zero tolerance policy on hate speech, both within and outside of the Writing Bloc organization.

E. Our privacy policy is openly visible at writingbloc.com/privacy-policy/

F. Any and all questions regarding Inclusion and Diversity at Writing Bloc may be presented to [email protected]

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Fearless Self-Publishing Self-Publishing Writing Life

Fearless Self-Publishing Part 1: Every Keystroke Matters

This article is part of a series by Writing Bloc written to help indie authors put their best work forward when self-publishing.

Disappointment with ebook appearance? We’ve been there.

When Writing Bloc released our first anthology, Escape!, on January first, I couldn’t wait to download the ebook to my Kindle and read the finished product. We had worked hard and twenty different people pored over the manuscript to produce the final draft, so it was time to enjoy the fruits of our labor. When we uploaded the finished product to Draft2Digital and Amazon, we were confident and proud of what we had accomplished. So many eyes, so many corrections. The final product had to be perfect. I was beyond excited.

So imagine my surprise when the first story looked all wonky on my Kindle. The cover, copyright, and table of contents pages were all fine, but the manuscript was the bread and butter, and it just looked odd. The paragraphs all started at different places in their indentations. The line spacing felt strange. The quirks and problems in this “final product” were off enough to distract from immersion in the story. What had gone wrong?

via GIPHY

The problems weren’t even consistent throughout the book. Some stories came out perfectly aligned. Others only askew in a few places. Then the last story was just as jagged-looking as the first. Seeing as how we all spent months making this book gorgeous in its editing, I was frustrated with this digital publishing experience. And honestly, I blamed the format. I’m not the biggest fan of ebooks. I will read them, but generally I much prefer holding a printed book in my hand. As our next step was to format the paperback version (which is available now!), my concerns hit a fever pitch when approaching formatting. If a print book comes out looking strange, then you really can’t blame the medium of delivery unless the ink itself is smeared across the page. I combed through the manuscript as I prepared the print version, and soon enough, I found that the problem with the ebook wasn’t the technology at all, it was the way we told the technology the book should appear.

Look out for invisible problems

Writing in the modern age is much more than the words and letters you put on the page. It’s actually a little more musical than that, if you’d like to think of it that way. Music isn’t just the sounds, it’s also the silences. Writing in the digital age is definitely not just the words, it’s all the keystrokes. A few extra keystrokes caused our ebook to look off in many places. The problem is now solved, and after I solved it, I immediately thought I should share what I learned with the independent author community as soon as I could. Mostly because I’ve seen similar problems in other self-published manuscripts, and like so many other readers, I blamed the ebook itself. No matter who is receiving the blame, the end result is that the reader experience is worse for each and every error in a final product.

Specifically to Escape!, the problem was all the different styles of writing. We had twenty different authors from varying backgrounds contributing to the manuscript, and as it turned out, we had many different styles of starting a new line and indenting a paragraph. First, let me tell you the “right way”. If you can get into the habit of starting each new line of your story by simply pressing ENTER-TAB, then you will save yourself a ton of hassle down the road when you go to format your manuscript.

via GIPHY

This might seem like a silly thing to worry about, but it will turn out to be a big deal when publishing your book. Ebooks are just mindless computers displaying information exactly as they have been told. To your e-reader, all you have written is a series of keystrokes. It doesn’t really care about words or grammar. It’s been told to display something based on the information it’s been given, and hitting the space bar several times is different than one tap of the tab key. Pressing enter when you just want the same paragraph to continue on the next line means something completely different than just writing your sentences back to back.

Your published ebook is meant to be dynamic

Despite my distaste for ebooks, I realize their benefits. They have the ability to alter text sizes for different visual abilities. They can change the font for reader preference. Links to websites, blogs, and other works with which the author wishes to associate can be plugged directly into the script. Pictures can change placement and size depending on screen size. And the final product can be read on something as small as a cell phone and as large as a television screen. With print, what you see is what you get.

So when you’re producing the final manuscript for your ebook, remember that you aren’t actually giving your publishing program of choice your final product, you’re giving it the starting point for how you generally want your ebook to appear when readers open it. You don’t have control over what words will and will not wrap around a paragraph because you don’t know how large every reader will make your text appear. You don’t have control over how far your paragraphs indent because you don’t know how large of a screen each user will have. While formatting, you will have access to simulators (most often displayed as a “Preview” button) that will give you a general idea of what your final product will look like, but these simulators don’t cover everything. The best thing you can do is make your manuscript as clean and well structured with as few keystrokes as possible. Make sure your links work. Make sure your pictures are the right quality. These are things you have control over. But also make sure your paragraphs are consistent in their formatting. And keep it simple. ENTER for a new paragraph. TAB for an indent. One space in between sentences. Nothing more.

via GIPHY

Another good, sneaky double-check is to publish your ebook and not tell anyone. Then, download it yourself, or better yet, get a few beta readers with different e-readers to download it, and then search for errors in formatting that would distract your reader. If you find nothing, then congratulations! Tell the world about your ebook! If there are errors, go back and fix them, repeat the process with your betas downloading an updated ebook (by removing the old version from their device and downloading it again). Once it looks great, then you can go on selling your ebook with confidence.

The video below is a great place to start with how to format and upload your book to Amazon, as it points out a few tricks for keeping track of your keystrokes and spacing:

No matter what, take your time. No one becomes a bestseller overnight, so the publication day isn’t something to rush. We here at Writing Bloc want to make the indie publishing experience as great and painless as possible. In that spirit, we will continue this series, giving you any tips and tricks we’ve learned from our own experience and mistakes. Is there anything you need help with or have questions about? Let us know in the comments.

Thank you for reading!

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Categories
Software Review Writing Life

Why I Love Using The Hemingway Editor App

We all need an editor. Sure, asking friends or family can help, but sometimes you need an impartial set of eyes to look over your work. Having someone else to catch those simple errors or mistakes in flow is necessary for any writer. Many apps have arrived online over the past few years to help. A mainstay has been the Hemingway App, and with good reason.

The homepage of hemingwayapp.com greets you with beautiful simplicity. Everything the app does is explained in neat text on one screen. Read everything there, and you know how to use the app. Proceed, and begin editing.

Hemingway Keeps it Simple

At its core, the Hemingway App is a simple word processor. You can turn off all its editing tools by clicking on “write” in the upper right-hand corner. Once you do, the app gives you a simple distraction-free place to compose. Simple formatting tools line up across the top of the screen, and the composition area is in the center. The simplest options are the only ones available, though. No extensive font choices, no limitless point sizes, no colors. If you want more extensive for your writing process, you are welcome to copy and paste the text from any other file. Once you do, though, your text will revert to Hemingway’s font and size. This may annoy you, but it shouldn’t. The editing process is about the words, not the frills. You can reinsert all the fancy stuff after you pass through this process.

Once you finish writing, no matter where you do it, it is time to click on the “edit” button in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. This will engage the real power of the Hemingway App.

Screen Shot 2017-02-06 at 9.51.47 PM.jpg

The Power of Editing Mode

With editing mode engaged, your text becomes colorful, and a stats bar appears on the right side. This area of the screen displays the value of the app. The first thing you see is the “readability” of your writing, measured in grade level. This is based upon sentence structure and level of vocabulary used. Contrary to what you might think, the lower the grade level, the better. Ernest Hemingway’s own writing and books have been analyzed, and the consensus is that his most popular works are at a 4th to 6th grade reading level.

Why is this important? Why not try to make your writing be at a 12th grade level? The answer lies in your audience. Just because you are writing at a simpler level to read does not mean that your message has to be simplified. For example, why say “I am attracted to you in such a manner that is virtually unidentifiable in description other than to say that I feel this way toward no other human being on this or any other planet in the universe, past or present,” when you can say “I love you”? Keep it simple. If more people can understand your writing, then more people will read your writing. It’s as simple as that. The app only gives you a warning when your writing is at the 12th grade level, which should be reserved for academic papers.

A Plethora of Useful Stats

Below the readability analysis, a drop-down box of basic stats appears. This gives you facts about your writing that you may or may not find useful. If you do not find these stats useful, everything but the word count can be hidden from view.

Below the stats area is the bread and butter of the Hemingway App. A legend of five colors appears, corresponding to the highlighted portions of your writing. These are five important areas to focus on when reviewing and editing. The app can discover adverbs, use of passive voice, phrases or words with simpler alternatives, hard to read sentences, and very hard to read sentences. These areas are highlighted in your text, and the color-coded boxes on the right display statistics with suggestions inside.

For example, the app is not telling you to cut all adverbs, but it will suggest that you bring your count of adverbs down below a certain number relative to the length of your writing. Sometimes, the app misses things. Other times, the app highlights words that end in “ly” that are not adjectives. It’s not quite perfect, but it catches at least 95% of these typical problems in writing.

New 2.jpg

You Still Have Control

The app will not correct things for you. You still have to do the work, which is how it should be. It will suggest simpler alternatives for the words and phrases highlighted in purple, but that is the most direct way in which the app will intervene. Whether to take the app’s advice is completely up to the writer. But chances are, you will perform many edits based upon the Hemingway App’s suggestions.

The app can handle a tremendous amount of script, too. I’ve copied and pasted up to 75,000 words of text into the editor and it analyzed it in seconds. Quite impressive.

The online app is free to use, as well. The only drawback is that it will not save your work. To get that feature, you can buy the desktop version of the app, which goes for $19.99 and works for both Mac and PC. The desktop app comes with many benefits, including the ability to import and export to and from the most popular types of text files. Also, the app now has the option to publish your writing directly to your account on either Medium or WordPress.

With its simplicity and power, I find the Hemingway App to be an essential tool in my writing arsenal.

Here are before and after shots of this very article, as I used the Hemingway App to edit it:


Before

 


After

If you’re curious to learn more, here is an incredible video about Hemingway’s style and how it influenced the creation of the Hemingway App:

Related Links:

Hemingway editor App

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Categories
Anthology News News

Meet the Authors Behind Writing Bloc’s Escape! An Anthology

Cover for Escape! An Anthology by The Writing Bloc

Writing Bloc’s Escape! An Anthology is available for preorder now for your favorite ebook format (the Kindle link is separate, just click here)! The ebook is only $2.99 during this preorder phase, which is a steal for all of the stories you get from the amazing authors below. On New Year’s Day, the price goes up to $5.99, so grab your ebook today! Be sure to check out all of the author bios below, visit their sites, preorder Escape! An Anthology, and get the book to download automatically to your e-reader on New Year’s Day! Keep your eye out for the upcoming announcement about the print version…details coming soon!

For now, cheers to all these wonderful authors for their contributions to this amazing collection of short stories!

Jason Pomerance, Author of “Mrs. Ravenstein”

Photo Credit: Steven Murashige

Jason Pomerance has written film and television projects for numerous studios and production companies, including Warner Brothers, Columbia Pictures, FremantleMedia, and Gold Circle Films. His first novel, Women Like Us, published by the Quill imprint of Inkshares, debuted in 2016, and his novella Falconer was published in four parts on Nikki Finke’s site for showbiz fiction, Hollywood Dementia. He’s currently working on a new novel. Visit Jason at www.jasonpomerance.com, or on Instagram (@whowantsdinner), and Twitter (@whowantsdinner — and yes, Jason is always hungry!).

Jason’s “Women Like Us” on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/womenlikeusnovel/

Buy Women Like Us in our store!

Susan Hamilton, Author of “Chrysalis”

Photo Credit: Dean Cerrati Photography

Susan K. Hamilton is the author of Shadow King, Darkstar Rising, and the forthcoming The Devil Inside. She lives outside of Boston with her husband, Jeff, and their cat, Rio. An avid equestrian, when she’s not tapping away at a computer, chances are you’ll find her at the barn. She loves fun movies, pizza, and pretty much any furry creature on the planet, and is currently working on a new, follow-up project to Shadow King.

Susan Hamilton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/RealSKHamilton

Susan Hamilton on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hamiltonsusank/

Michael Haase, Author of “Cedric”

Photo Credit: Margaret Haase

Michael Haase is the author of the forthcoming book, The Man Who Stole the World, to be published by Inkshares. Michael is a happy husband, father, musician, and spontaneous comedian who does nerdy stuff like study computer programming in his spare time. He lives intentionally near Cleveland, believe it or not

Michael Haase on Twitter: https://twitter.com/authormikehaase

Michael Haase on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMichaelHaase/

Michael’s blog: https://talltalestold.com/

 

 

Peter Ryan, Author of “The Time Behind Dying”

Photo Credit: Neil Cole

Peter Ryan is a sci-fi lover, motorbike rider, darts player, and T-shirt designer, as well as being an English professor at a university in South Korea. He grew up in Perth, Western Australia, and has traveled much of the world. While on the move, he has done a variety of jobs, including sales support at an insurance company, laborer on the building sites of London and Melbourne, chauffeur/minder for an English lord, and business English consultant in Shanghai.

Peter Ryan on Twitter: https://twitter.com/SyncCityJack

Peter Ryan’s website: http://www.synccityjack.com/

Buy Sync City in our store!

 

Deborah Munro, Author of “Ambition”

Deborah Munro is a scientist and biomedical engineer from Oregon who recently expatriated to New Zealand. She is passionate about writing, especially hard science thrillers that engage readers on current issues.

Deborah Munro on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DebMunro_Author

Deborah Munro on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DeborahMunro.Author/

 

Durena Burns, Author of “I Wish It Happened”

Durena Burns currently lives in Southern California and has worked for special education in elementary. She mostly writes biographical stories about her family. Her first published book ‘Call Me Whitehead’ is about her late uncle’s experiences as a black man in the Vietnam War.

Durena’s “Call Me Whitehead” on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CallMeWhitehead/

Ferd Crôtte, Author of “Captiveedom”

Ferd Crôtte is an Internal Medicine hospitalist physician and is the author of ‘Captiveedom’ in this anthology. His debut novel, Mission 51, is currently in production by Inkshares. Ferd and his wife Gail live in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Ferd Crôtte on Twitter: https://twitter.com/FerdCrotte

Ferd Crôtte on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FerdCrotteMission51/?ref=br_rs

Christopher Lee, Author of “The Gilded Tower”

Photo Credit: Stacey Eichenauer

Christopher Lee is the independent author of Nemeton and Bard Song. Outside of his gig as an author, he is an avid history buff, amateur mythologist, bardic poet, Holistic Life Coach, Reiki Master/Teacher, Mindfulness Practitioner, and keeper of the old ways.

Christopher lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife and two cats.

Christopher Lee on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ChristLeeEich

Buy Nemeton: The Trial of Calas in our store!

Mike Donald, Author of “Something In Mind”

Mike worked for the BBC as a sound mixer, wrote for comedy sketch shows, and developed sit-com ideas. Brought up in Scotland and England, he worked as a script analyst for gap finance company Aramid Capital, and has written many award-winning screenplays.

Mike Donald on Twitter: https://twitter.com/smokingkeys

Mike Donald’s website: http://www.touchwoodpictures.com/

Buy Louisiana Blood in our store!

 

Christopher Hinkle, Author of “Cowboy For A Day”

Born in the backwoods of West Virginia, Chris Hinkle is a country boy down to his molecular structure. He now lives in New Zealand where he works for the Government and puts forth a reasonable effort at masking his inner-hick for the benefit of those around him.

Christopher Hinkle on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/christopherhenckel

 

 

Evan Graham, Author of “Breach”

Photo Credit: Plain Jane Photography

Evan Graham is the author of upcoming science fiction thrillers Tantalus Depths and Proteus. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Education Studies from Kent State University, where he triple-minored in English, Writing, and Theatre. He currently lives in rural Middlefield, Ohio and is extensively involved in local community theatre, both on the stage and behind the scenes.

Evan Graham on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorEvanGraham/

Tahani Nelson, Author of “The Faoii Of Ashwood”

Tahani Nelson is a Writer, Teacher and Nerd in rural Montana. Her debut series, The Faoii Chronicles focuses on strong female warriors in epic fantasy.

Tahani Nelson on Twitter: https://twitter.com/TahaniNelson

Tahani’s “The Last Faoii” on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheLastFaoii/

Buy The Last Faoii in our store!

 

 

Michael James Welch, Author of “Convict 45”

Photo Credit: Annette Sargent

Michael James Welch is a proud Western New Yorker, an even prouder snowflake, and above all, husband and father to a wonderful family. His first novel, PrOOF, will be published by Inkshares in 2019-20. He feasts on your derision and bathes nightly in your disdain.

Michael James Welch on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mikexwelch

 

Cari Dubiel, Author of “Art Imitates”

Photo Credit: Ed Dubiel

Cari Dubiel juggles writing, librarian-ing, mom-ing, and bassooning in Northeast Ohio. Her novel, How to Remember, is in production with Inkshares. She is a past Library Liaison to Sisters in Crime and the co-host of the ABC Book Reviews Podcast.

Cari Dubiel on Twitter: https://twitter.com/caridubiel

Cari Dubiel on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/caridubielauthor/

Becca Spence Dobias, Author of “Aspirant”

Photo Credit: Linda Abbott Photography

Becca Spence Dobias grew up in West Virginia and now lives in Southern California where she writes hard and moms harder. Her debut novel, Rock of Ages, is in production with Inkshares.

Becca Spence Dobias on Twitter: https://twitter.com/totallynotbex

Becca Spence Dobias on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BeccaSpenceDobias/

 

 

 

 

Grace Marshall, Author of “The Marking”

Grace Marshall is an author, mother, and TV enthusiast. She writes technical documentation as her primary profession but has also been known to post randomly on her site escapeoftheinnermonlogue.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daniel Lee, Author of “A Grave Ordeal”

Photo Credit: Megan Annis

Daniel Lee is the author of the novel AFTER DEATH, which won First Place in the Nerdist Sci-Fi Contest and is forthcoming from Inkshares. He lives in Los Angeles, where he makes his living as an editor of movie trailers. See more of his work at Dan-Lee.net

Daniel Lee on Twitter: https://twitter.com/dannyboylee

Patrick Edwards, Author of “Wendell, Wendell, & Wendell”

When he’s not busy mushing words into silly stories, Pat spends his time battling inter-dimensional shadow monsters and having tea parties with his two daughters. His debut novel, Space Tripping, is currently available wherever books are sold. Check him out on Twitter @ThePatEdwards

Buy Space Tripping in our store!

 

 

Kendra Namednil, Author of “Catching”

Photo Credit: Arthur Koch

Kendra Namednil was born in Northern California and began writing when she was 26, publishing her first full novel at 30. She has volunteered for many organizations, though her greatest joy was working with behavior-plan dogs with the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Kendra Namednil on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Kendra1337

Buy Borehole Bazaar (A Vow Unbroken) in our store!

Jason Chestnut, Author of “Like Clockwork”

When not working on computers to pay the bills, Jason Chestnut is a writer, musician, avid reader, and gamer. He lives in Asheville, North Carolina with his wife Shannon, their two kids and lazy pug.

Follow Jason Chestnut on Twitter: @atomicboywonder

 

 

 

 

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Author Interview Writing Life

Interview with Craig DiLouie, Author of Southern Gothic Novel, One of Us

Today we speak to Craig DiLouie, whose book One of Us debuted on July 17th and has been described by Peter Clines as “disturbing, beautiful.” Craig shares insight about his writing process and publishing, and his advice for new authors.

Can you tell us a little about One of Us? What inspired it? What influences did you draw on while writing it?

Thank you for having me as a guest at the Writing Bloc!

Published by Orbit, One of Us is a dark fantasy about monsters living in the real world. In the 1970s, a genetic disease produces a generation of monsters, who are now growing up rejected and abused in ramshackle government orphanages throughout the deep South. Some of them are beginning to exhibit frightening powers. When a “normal” kid is murdered, a plague boy stands accused, which might be the spark of revolt.

Misunderstood monsters and mutants with powers are familiar ideas in fantasy, but what makes this telling fresh and gritty is casting it as a Southern Gothic. This venerable American literary tradition—occupied by greats such as Cormac McCarthy—is dark, violent, and deals with topics like the taboo, grotesque, and society in decay. The result is a misunderstood monster novel about human monsters and monstrous humans. About prejudice and whether monsters are born or made. Author Claire North (84K) called it The Girl with All the Gifts meets To Kill a Mockingbird, which sums it up perfectly.

How long did it take to write the book?

It took me six weeks to write. It really poured out of me. That being said, there was quite a bit of preparation before I started writing, and the editing process took way longer. Bradley Englert, my editor, really proved his value with excellent suggestions for improving the novel, which resulted in a lot of back-end work. I couldn’t be happier with the result. It’s really the most powerful, gut-punching thing I’ve ever produced.

Did you have any moments while writing One of Us that you thought you might give up? How did you move past these?

One of Us was a rare book for me in that I wrote it with a fierce joy without the usual speed bumps. I knew exactly where I wanted to go and how to get there. I was barely typing fast enough to keep up with the words forming in my head.

Tell us a little bit about your writing process. Do you aim to complete a set number of pages or words each day?

I’m lucky in that I write as a day job, providing journalism and education services to the lighting industry. This trained me to treat writing as a job done with discipline. It’s also given me a lot of flexibility, though not a lot of time between a very full client roster and being a single dad.

Once I was ready to start, I’d commit to writing it in the morning and getting back to my client work in the afternoon, but the novel wouldn’t let go of me. Next thing I knew, I was writing it every free minute I had until it was finished.

Your bio says you are a Canadian American author and your book takes place in the Southern United States. What inspired you to pick this setting and what kind of research did you do to write about it? What role does place play in the story?

I set the novel in the rural South to fit the Southern Gothic mold. The world in One of Us is a very small place, where the characters come across as ordinary and yet larger than life. Everything is small town and tight knit, from the relationships to the history to the thinking to the witticisms passed down through generations. At the same time, there is a mythical feel to it, again hitting that “small yet larger than life” vibe. This setting is very important to the novel, from the farms to the swamps to old plantations in ruins, all of it feeding a rich, earthy, brooding atmosphere.

I’ve been to the South but didn’t grow up there, so yeah, this required research. This was twofold, split between factual research into things like local geography and common proverbs, and Southern Gothic literature, to get the mood just right. Overall, the research phase is one of my favorite parts of writing a novel. All sorts of ideas pop into my head during this time.

As a side note, I also set the novel in 1984, and I did that for several reasons. I wanted to convey that this is an alternate history, where one big thing changed everything in America’s timeline. I liked the low tech feel of nobody having cell phones and other devices. The AIDS epidemic and its stigmatization occurred in the 80s, which is appropriate thematically. And finally, I was going for nostalgia. Not the on-the-nose nostalgia of Stranger Things, but a general nostalgia for the past.

What do you most hope readers will get from reading your book? Is there a main takeaway you want them to have?

As with all my books, the one big thing I hope readers will get from my work is an engaging experience that will make them feel something and then reflect on its themes.

What are your thoughts on self-publishing vs. traditional publishing? Can you tell us about the process of finding a publisher? How did you feel when your book was accepted for publication?

As a “hybrid” author who both self-publishes and also gets into print with big publishing companies, I love both, though I write very different books for these outlets. For large traditional publishers, I tend to write standalone big idea novels, while when I self-publish, I tend to write series of highly targeted, pulpy dime novels.

The path to publication for One of Us was so surprisingly simple it felt like a hammer to the head. I’d written it, sent it to my agent, he loved it, he sent it out, and then there were just rejections, one after the other. Then at the last minute, three offers came in from great houses. Book publishing is a “no, no, no, no, no, yes” business, so you can imagine how cathartic that yes was. Working with Orbit was a dream come true, so I grabbed their offer in an instant. For me, it was the culmination of thirty years of struggle working my way up through the publishing world, both gratifying and humbling. So, yeah, it was an amazing moment receiving the offer, accepting it, and seeing my book on the shelf at the local bookstore.

That being said, I’ve gotten just as amazing a feeling from self-publishing. Putting out a series of short military fiction novels and having total control of everything, seeing the Amazon rankings and sales add up, and getting fan mail. It used to be self-publishing was considered cool but not as cool as working with a big publisher, but I don’t think that’s the case anymore and actually never really did. If you’re putting out a book and readers are enjoying it, you’re making it.

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

I can share a few things I’ve learned, noting your mileage may vary, as there are so many types of writers out there.

Many writers produce faster if they plan out their work. Learn story architecture—I’d suggest Larry Brooks’ Story Engineering. Then learn character arcs—I’d suggest Take Your Pants Off by Libbie Hawks, a book about plotting for pantsers. Start with a big idea that is wrapped around a strong question or nonfiction theme, then build out where you want it to go. By the time you plan out the major plot points and character arcs, writing the novel won’t seem daunting.

Write your logline as soon as possible, ideally the first thing you do, though you can of course refine it. The logline is an elevator pitch for your novel that sums it up in 1-3 sentences, ideally one sentence. That logline should identify the protagonist, the problem facing him or her, what he or she wants, what antagonistic person or force is in their way, and where/when this is all taking place. This becomes the bible for the story. Many writers try to come up with the perfect pitch after the novel’s done—if you do it before you start writing, you’ll write the story with that logline internalized, and your story may be more focused.

Write the novel then write the next. One of the best things that ever happened to me was writing as a day job—first in advertising then in magazine publishing and now as a freelance journalist and educator. Writing for publication tends to be a long game. Put in the hours, produce good work, and keep producing it.

Finally, don’t think of yourself as writing. Don’t write. Tell a story. That is what you’re doing.

What advice do you have for authors hoping to publish their work?

At some point, new novelists will bump into somebody who achieved some success, and that somebody will say, “Just do what I did.” I think one could learn from whatever that author had to say, but overall “just do what I did” doesn’t really work. I often describe my own career as looking like somebody falling up a long flight of stairs—how do you tell somebody how to do that?

That being said, I could offer some very simple advice that I think is universal. First, be hungry, but also be patient. It’s always wonderful to hear of somebody writing their first novel and getting a big publishing and TV show deal—I know a guy who did just that—but it’s rare. In this game, one small success tends to lead to another. Again, treat it as a long game. To keep those successes rolling in, always be writing and learning, and be professional at all times in dealing with others. 

Another thing I’d advise is don’t be shy about attending writing groups and especially conferences. You’ll be amazed at the friends you make and the things you’ll learn. Networking is very important for writers trying to maximize their odds. Be professional and you may make valuable contacts, not to mention some good friends.

Manage your expectations. Success is up to each writer, and it is not always one thing or another. Success is a very long ladder with many rungs, not a pass/fail thing.

Finally, and this is probably the hardest thing an aspiring author will ever hear, is whether you fast-track and self-publish or struggle your way into traditional publication, there is an elusive X factor, which is just plain luck—being at the right place at the right time with the right book. Nobody knows exactly what will catch an editor’s eye or set the market on fire. The main thing is to find your voice, produce quality work, and get it out there, hoping it will be the new spark.

Thanks again for having me as a guest!

 

Thank you, too, Craig, for your thoughtful and inspiring answers to our questions!

Published on July 17, 2018 by the Orbit brand of Hachette Book Group, One of Us is available in hardcover, eBook, and audiobook formats. The 400-page hardcover edition, launched at San Diego Comic Con, is available at any physical or online bookstore. The trade paperback will be published in February 2019.

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Author Interview Writing Life

Interview with Novelist and Screenwriter Mike Donald

Mike Donald is a UK-based novelist and screenwriter. His current novel, Louisiana Blood, started out as a multiple award-winning screenplay that earned him some great attention in the Hollywood scene. Mike adapted the screenplay into a novel, and Louisiana Blood was published late last year. The novel is an incredible and thrilling mystery involving alternate history (more specifically, an intense conspiracy involving Jack the Ripper never having existed), and it is a thoroughly enjoyable read. I had the pleasure of interviewing Mike about how his novel came to be and his perspective on writing. Enjoy.

When did the idea for Louisiana Blood first strike you?

Louisiana Blood was really an amalgamation of ideas. I’d been filming in New Orleans and found the whole place really atmospheric, so subliminally this is where the location came from. I went to quite a famous restaurant there called The Court of Two Sisters, which became Crawdaddy’s in the Novel. I’d also loved the film “There will be Blood”, and “All the Kings Men.” Which gave me more atmosphere, and the governor Huey Long as an important figure who believed in doing whatever it took to get the job done…a big picture man, not bothered by the niceties of sticking to the law.

I was working with a couple of producers at the time and from them I knew that a lot of productions were being set up in Louisiana so that gave me a nudge to that location for more practical reasons. I had recently read a book about one of the main Ripper suspects called Tumblety who fled England to the US and wound up in St Louis…so he became the way of linking Victorian London to modern day Louisiana. With all of these components whirling around like some sort of creative tinder, it only took a creative spark to ignite the fire that would end up being my crazy idea. That being…What if Jack the Ripper never really existed? At which point I imagine it was around 2008.

Once I had the general idea in my head I read as many Jack the Ripper books as I could get my hands on. My idea was to absorb all of the theories and suspects and blend perceived reality with fiction to produce a dramatic story, rather than to try and add to the supposed canon of authors claiming to have discovered the Ripper’s true identity.

How long did the process take to get from idea to novel?

Between 2007/2008 I was working on the research and screenplay. My producers were involved with a large Canadian film fund with access to around $600m in funding. As well as setting up a project with Ferrari to do the life story of Enzo, they were also budgeting $10m and $30m for two of my projects. I had written a supernatural cop film called DEADEYE in conjunction with a Jake West a director friend of mine who produced cult hits like Razorblade Smile and Evil Aliens.

Along with Louisiana Blood I had been commissioned to write a screenplay re-imagining Pumpkinhead as a militarised character to relaunch the franchise for producer Brad Krevoy (Dumb and Dumber.) So things were busier than normal. As happens all too often in the screentrade, the Canadian film fund fell out with our co-producers and this coincided with the 2008 financial crash which hit the fund badly. This left the project in hiatus.

In 2010 I took Louisiana Blood the screenplay to Hollywood via many contests and film festivals. It won or placed in about 20 of them and I got invited to L.A to tout my wares. Despite numerous meetings I couldn’t get anybody to option the script and so it went on the backburner. A few years passed and I decided that Louisiana Blood was too good an idea to for it die on the vine, adapted it into a novel. I’d heard about a new publisher called INKSHARES which was a mix of traditional publishing and crowdfunding. You had to demonstrate public enough interest to convince them it was a worthwhile project and they would publish. It took six months to raise the money and I finished off the manuscript in 2016. I had the cover designed to my spec and submitted the whole package to Inkshares. The novel was published in Dec 2017.

I’m hoping the success of the book will help me back-engineer the book into a film and I’ll get a second chance to get it onto the big screen. The feedback so far is amazing, mainly from female readers which is very satisfying as in my experience women are looking for a more emotional experience from a book than men. I think they are surprised that it isn’t as graphic as the word BLOOD in the title might imply. The phrase Louisiana Blood cropped up in my research as a description of the oil business as it was back in the days of the first oil strikes where money was made and lives were lost. One of the most fascinating images I saw during my research was of Huntington Beach…all along the coast oil derricks soared into the sky giving it a sort of demonic feel and bringing to mind the phrase Satanic Mills.

What is it about your characters that inspired you to carry them into a series of stories?

Well, it was part my love of the characters belief their longevity, and part fiscal prudence in wanting them to live on maybe in the small screen arena. Nowadays there is more money spent on Netflix and Amazon than some feature films. The budgets for boxed sets such as Westworld, The Man in the high castle and Game of thrones is huge. Looking forward to the second in the series, Bruges Blood, with Detective Hoog and Katja, I think it’s high time to plunder the ashes of Van der Valk and kick start a Bruges based detective series.

When I started writing Bruges Blood I imagined a series of catacombs beneath the police station where Hoog decimates cardboard cutouts on the firing range to the sound track of Dua Lipa’s “Be the one.” No one was more surprised to discover that there really are catacombs beneath the station! The police were very generous in letting me nose around.

 

And on that note VENICE BLOOD is another series I’d like to spin off. I’ve never heard of a Venice based police series and the place is really atmospheric. Controlling the interaction of all the detectives and countries they live in will be a challenge, but that’s all part of the fun.

Are there bits of yourself in your characters?

Mmmm, difficult to say. I think there’s parts of me reflected in Chandler and maybe the technical side of Roxie. But I generally try to remain omnipotent. I suspect that most writers are under the skin, control freaks.

Give us an idea of what your writing process is like.

I generally try to be down at the gym by 04:00, do some cardio till 05:00. Then back for breakfast, before going to the cabin down by the lake where I’ll write until the sun comes up which is when I do a jog round the lake. Then I’ll usually write straight through until I’ve done my 5000 word total for the day…is what I’d like to say! In reality my day is totally unstructured. I usually have around 2 Hrs a day during the week and longer over the weekend, but that is unfocussed time. I’m marketing Louisiana Blood at the moment and itching to continue with Bruges Blood and research Venice Blood. Once I can dedicate a specific time to write I’m pretty fast. When I was writing Pumpkinhead I was on holiday in Scotland and I was told they needed the script done in 2 weeks…I remember sitting down by the loch which was the only place I could get Wi-Fi at the time and sending stuff back and forwards. Once I’d finished I was told that the project was for the Sci-Fi channel…as a result my epic was way over their budget and they ended up doing a story which was pretty much featured an actor in a rubber suit. Like most writers it’s a constant battle to get momentum on a finished project while getting the next one up and running.

You are a screenwriter as well. What is the greatest difference between writing a screenplay and writing a novel? Do you prefer one over the other?

The greatest difference between a script and a novel for me is the amount of description and backstory you can add into a novel. That and the time scales. By that I mean in a script a man pulls up outside a house and we cut to the gun battle or whatever inside. In a book we follow our character as they head to the house, maybe ruminating about what he thinks he’s heading into. Show what the weather’s like, what the traffic’s like, show him checking his weapon, maybe a bit of internal thought on his choice of gun etc…on the one hand this is great because you can really give an atmosphere to the piece…on the other hand you have to write three or four times as many words as a script. Louisiana Blood was way too long as a script, probably around 130 pages, and I had to cut that down to 100 once I started showing it around L.A. This meant I had to lose a whole sub-plot that I was able to reinstate in the novel. Also because I was writing a book I was able to plot in all sorts of clues and characters that were going to interweave through the next two books in the series. But if I’m blunt the most important difference is that if you write a novel and get it published, that process isn’t governed by budget or an actors availability. It’s also a piece of creativity that is more permanent than a screenplay. A screenplay is like a blueprint to build something. It gives birth to a film and it’s the film that lives on through history. The script that begat it is consigned to the vaults and held in awe by nascent writers who read the work of their peers so they can see the nuts and bolts of the master at work.

Who are some of your influences?

From a screen-writers point of view, I’d say Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.) and Christopher Nolan, (The Prestige, Inception.) From an author’s perspective, I’m going through a Jack Reacher phase, also Michael Connelly and his Bosch series on Amazon. Growing up I devoured everything Sci-Fi, and was a big fan of William Gibson, Asimov and Arthur C Clarke. I’m also dipping into some of the more recent novelists that I’ve been introduced to on Inkshares. Sync City published by Pete Ryan, and another one he has in the works Destiny Imperfect, are both great reads in the hard boiled sci-fi genre.

What are some of the projects you’re currently working on?

I always have a selection of screenplays going out to producers and on top of that there’s obviously the Trilogy of novels Louisiana, Bruges, and Venice Blood.

I’d like to thank Mike Donald for the interview. Please visit the links below to explore more of his work or to purchase the incredible “Louisiana Blood”.

Mike Donald standing by Hollywood sign

Related Links:

Mike Donald’s Websites: www.touchwoodpictures.com www.louisianablood.com

Mike Donald’s blog: www.louisianablog.louisianablood.com

To Purchase “Louisiana Blood”: Via Amazon Via Inkshares


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Author Interview illustrator interview Writing Life

Interview with Phil Rood, “That Illustrator Guy”

Phil Rood is someone you should know.

He is an illustrator out of Florida, and his work is marvelous. He is a master of body language, and each individual illustration of his tells a story. In my adventures as a writer, I’ve stumbled across uncountable talented people. Phil Rood’s talents left an impact on me almost immediately. He was recommended to me by fellow authors Rick Heinz and J.F. Dubeau, and so I started following Phil’s Facebook page. I recommend you do the same.

Not only are Phil’s illustrations carefully detailed and just downright fun, but the man is a study in dedication. He illustrates every single day and posts his work for all to enjoy. Often he will post videos of his illustration process using Facebook’s live feature, putting himself on the spot without hesitation.

He has a website (which I encourage you to access by clicking here) where you can peruse his portfolio, check out his latest creations, and purchase his books as well as individual hand-drawn works. Not only is he talented, but he is also an easy fellow to talk to. And he responds to any fan comments or questions with great efficiency. I had the pleasure of interviewing him. I hope you enjoy the result. A few of his works and a video of his process can be found below.

cowboy and lady standing by piano

When did you first discover your love of illustrating?

Probably around 12 years ago when I finally got around to going to college. I’ve always drawn, but when I went to school and studied graphic design, I started to really see the ability for me to practically apply drawing and illustrating.

Who are some of your greatest influences?

Bill Watterson and Gary Larson influenced me early, both in aesthetic ways and in the way their art carried so much humor. Stylistically, I’m influenced a lot by comic artists Jake Parker and Skottie Young and illustrator Ralph Steadman, who is able to cram so much energy into his drawings that they practically move on their own. That’s the kind of thing I keep looking for. From a career overview, I think comedian Marc Maron has been very influential to me as well. He’s spoken a lot about how he found success by not trying to please everyone, by staying true to his voice, and letting his audience find him. I think there’s a lot to be said about that and I’ve tried to walk that line.

Do you have a favorite illustration or story that you’ve completed?

Generally, my favorite illustrations tend to be whatever is most recent. I’m constantly trying to improve and if I’m doing it right, I’m happiest with the newest thing off my desk. There are some that have stuck with me over time as being favorites, like a drawing of three demons I drew for my “Monster Alphabet” series. They are modeled after my three sons. As for stories, I recently finished a really simple 14-page comic called “Sally” and I’m very proud of a lot of the work I did in that.

judgmental cat illustration

Give us an idea of your process from concept to complete.

I basically do a couple rough sketches of an idea to try to get an idea of composition and how it’s going to be executed. After I’m happy with that, I pencil the drawing on a sheet of Bristol, then I ink right over top of it. That’s it. The entire process is pretty laughably simple, but keeping things simple is pretty key for me. If I’m doing a longer form project, like a comic, it gets a bit more complicated, but that’s just because there’s more things than drawing going on.

Storytelling, pacing, layout, and visual storytelling with clarity all have to be taken into consideration. The entire comic/book gets planned out in sketch form, just like I would do for a single illustration. It’s pretty much the same process on a bigger scale. When the actual drawing is done, I scan it in, usually at a healthy 600dpi, and open the scan in Photoshop where I can clean it up and get a nice, clean high-resolution bitmap version of it.

Do you have a routine or do you wait for inspiration to strike?

I tend to be of the school of thought that thinks if you sit around and wait for inspiration to strike, you’ll be staring at a blank piece of paper for weeks on end. You have to draw something every day, even if it’s a 5-minute sketch. If that’s all the time I have, then I put all the effort I can into that 5-minute sketch, but I do it and it’s something I stress in the classes I teach.

Do your illustrations inspire your stories, or do your stories inspire your illustrations?

There’s no hard and fast rule for me either way, but I’d say the tendency is for a drawing to inspire a story, which in turn spawns more drawings, whether that be a written piece or a comic. The initial drawing may just be a character or vehicle I sketch or scribble, but it’s enough to get the ball rolling. Sometimes it takes and I get a full illustrated story. Sometimes it ends up in a pile of nothing… the ever growing pile of nothing…

cowboy gunslinger illustration

What tools do you use for illustrating?

I’ll start with paper since that’s an easier answer: My go-to is basically just industry-standard Strathmore 300 Series smooth Bristol. It’s heavy and stands up to the abuse I can sometimes put a sheet of paper through. My pens are sort of shifting constantly because I’m a giant pen nerd. At the moment, I’m using Copic Multiliner and Micron tech pens because I’m loving the simple line I get from them, but I also employ various brush pens, markers, and crow quills. I am constantly experimenting with new pens and seeing what kinds of lines and results I can get from them.

What software do you use?

Digitally I just use an old copy of Photoshop Elements for cleanup and color. I’m not much of a colorist, so when I do use it, it’s very simple and Elements meets my needs for it, as does the ProCreate app on my iPad. I have played around with that quite a bit in the last year and colored almost all of my “Ink & Sunshine” illustrations with that. As for straight-up digital line drawing, I don’t do much, but when I do, I use Sketchbook Pro. It’s an older program. Kari Simms and I are developing a video podcast right now that involves live sketching and that is likely going to be our go-to software for that.

Do you have a favorite character out of all the ones you’ve created?

Not really… I have some affinity for a lot of them that I’ve told stories with. Some have just been drawings I’ve made in passing, then put into a folder with the idea “I’ve got to tell a story with this guy”, but as you probably know, the idea file grows fast and we’re forced to pick and choose what we have time for. I like a lot of my characters very much, but it’s tough to pick a favorite. If I keep drawing them, there’s something I love about them, and it’s different in each one.

What kind of story are you working on right now?

I have a couple ideas kicking around in my head, but I’m not really working on a story at the moment. I got into the podcasting world about six months ago and have been working with the crew at Blazing Caribou Studios. I have a few shows coming up with them and have been doing an illustration per episode for their “Varmints!” podcast, which I am finding to be all kinds of fun. It’s nice to take a break and do some stand-alone illustrations for right now.

Do you ever get into slumps or have periods of creator’s block? If so, how do you get out?

Of course I do, the trick is to not let it stop me from getting to the desk. For me the key is to keep showing up, even if no quality is coming out of it. If you want to get over creator’s block, you’ve got to create. You’ve got to draw something. You’ve got to write something. I think for me, a lot of it lies in forgetting that I have creator’s block and being open to ideas, even simple ones. If I see a person who looks interesting to me, I remember them, I go home, and I draw an exaggerated version of them in my sketchbook…I make something out of something I see. I take it the next step away from reality. That’s creating and it helps get the flow moving again.

Any advice for other illustrators or storytellers?

Write or draw every day. Lack of time is not an excuse. If it’s truly important to you, you will find the time.

Related Links:

Phil Rood’s website: http://philrood.com/

Phil Rood’s Facebook page: Phil Rood, That Illustrator Guy

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Author Interview

Interview with Peter Ryan, Author of Sync City

It’s rare to be able to get excited for a new book to come out when it’s from a first-time author. Peter Ryan is an exception. His novel, Sync City, is a powerful, hard-hitting sci-fi romp through a dystopian future, and I have been patiently waiting for this book through its early production stages. Sync City grabs the reader from the opening lines and does not let up. If you enjoy hard-nosed science fiction, this is a book you do not want to miss. Here’s the book’s pitch:

“In a post-apocalyptic future, fractured timelines are wreaking havoc on the world. Only a tough, hard-drinking enforcer named Jack Trevayne can hold things together. This is gritty, hard-boiled sci-fi with attitude. The future is complicated. Jack is not.”

I had the opportunity to interview Peter Ryan about Sync City, being an author, and what it takes to be a writer.

How did you come up with the idea for Sync City?

I love sci-fi and hard-boiled detective fiction. I’m also a huge fan of dystopian/post-apocalyptic settings. I wanted to combine all three of these. The main character, Jack, came first. I was in Saskatoon, Canada at the time, and this provided the initial backdrop. Then I just started to write. The idea evolved as I went along.

What inspired you to pursue novel writing?

A party with a few mates of mine – we were lamenting the lack of originality in TV and movies. The next day, November 27th, 2013, I started writing a story titled Godspiracy. I’ve pretty much written every day ever since. Before this, I’d never even written a short story.

Who are some of your influences?

For Sync City, Richard Morgan in terms of concepts, William Gibson in terms of background/technology and James Crumley (a fantastic hardboiled crime writer) in terms of characters. My influences seem to change depending on what I write.

Did you have any moments while writing Sync City that you thought you might give up?

No, quite the opposite. I loved writing this story. So much so it’s ended up as a trilogy.

Give us an idea of your writing process.

Generally, in my writing day, I start writing strong and finish weak. So the first thing I do is tweak the stuff I’ve written the previous day. With my stories, I don’t work to a plan, so I don’t say no to any new ideas. I just write them until I write myself into a corner. The next day I find a way to write myself out of the corner and keep the story going. Some of my readers have commented that Sync City is almost serial in nature, which makes sense given the process.

Did anyone in particular inspire any of your characters, particularly Jack, Sync City’s protagonist?

Jack pretty much jumped fully formed into my head. In retrospect, he’s a combo of few people I know and a few characters from stories and movies. Clint Eastwood’s character William Munny in Unforgiven has to be a significant inspiration, as well as Mel Gibson’s Mad Max. The voice in my head when I write Jack is a mix between Harrison Ford in Blade Runner and Edward James Olmos in Battlestar Galactica. Hmm, lots of movies there and not many books.

Author photo final.jpg

What were you doing when the idea for Sync City first struck you?

Sitting at my mother-in-law’s kitchen table getting slightly stuck on another story I was writing. I wrote the opening passage to Sync City imagining the events to be happening in her basement. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t look at the basement the same way anymore.

What other stories have you written or are you working on?

I’ve just finished the first draft of Destiny Imperfect, a video game based story. I’m doing the second draft of the follow-up to Sync City (working title: Sync City Jack), and I’m going to take a look at my very first story attempt (Godspiracy which is an American Gods-meets-The X-Files type thing) and see if I can hammer that into shape. I like to work on two stories at once if I can.

What advice do you have for writers working on completing their first novel?

Have an understanding partner or be single. Seriously, you have to have a lot of time to write. There’s no way around this. Stick your butt in front of a computer on a very regular basis and just keep writing.

What quality do you have that makes writing such a great fit in your life?

A strong enough ego?? Is that a quality? Deliberately or not, you put a bunch of yourself into a story. You then need to be confident enough that people are going to read it. You also need to be confident enough to deal with criticism of your work.

In what ways has your experience living in a country where the native language is not your first language shaped your writing?

Interesting. Probably not so much the language – my Korean is terrible, but definitely the culture. A few sections of Sync City are based on the experiences I’ve had while living in Seoul and the interactions I’ve had with Koreans in general. I also do a lot of writing in Sri Lanka. If you read Sync City and the background is all gray and urban, then I wrote it in Seoul. If it’s all leafy and green, then I wrote it in Sri Lanka – I only realized this after I finished the story.

All of the books on the planet are being destroyed. You can only keep three hidden and safe for you to read. Which three do you choose?

Right now? Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan. Burning Chrome by William Gibson. The Mexican Tree Duck by James Crumley. I owe them all another good read.

Sync City is released upon the world. Follow the links below to learn more and pick up a copy.

Peter Ryan’s bio:

Peter Ryan is a sci-fi lover, motorbike rider, darts player, soju drinker, and T-shirt designer, as well as being an English professor at a university in South Korea. He grew up in Perth, Western Australia. He has traveled much of the world and done a variety of jobs along the way, including sales support at an insurance company, laborer on the building sites of London and Melbourne, chauffeur/minder for an English lord, and business English consultant in Shanghai. Peter lives with his Canadian wife in Seoul, and has done so since 1999. There is no synchrotron in Seoul, though there is plenty of soju.

Sync City Links:

Peter Ryan’s website: http://www.synccityjack.com/

Peter Ryan on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/peterryanauthor/

Inkshares page for Sync City: https://www.inkshares.com/books/sync-city

Sync City on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1942645457/ref=nav_timeline_asin?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

Sync City at Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sync-city-peter-ryan/1125339887?ean=9781942645450

Sync City at the Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Sync-City-Peter-Ryan/9781942645450

Sync City on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33377334-sync-city?ac=1&from_search=true

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Guest Post Writing Life

Adapting Books to the Screen (And Vice Versa) by Liz Kerin

“Adapting Books to the Screen (and vice versa)”

by Liz Kerin

“To be honest, I liked the book a lot better.”

Adapting books to the screen is always tricky business.  When we read, we’re given the freedom to imagine something that fits perfectly into our preferred worldview. Violence is as visceral as we want it to be. We might picture our romantic lead with a few personalized characteristics. The world just feels a certain way in our minds. A good author allows their audience imaginative space to do this. But a good screenwriter or director needs to make bold, specific visual choices. And sometimes, those choices come at the expense of something you might have really loved about that book. It’s always a balancing act.

A few months ago, I was asked to put together a pitch to adapt a series of YA novels in which the main character’s inner monologue really drove the narrative. Because of this, there was a distinct “voice” in the book, and a lot of the practical information about our world and how people felt about each other was conveyed this way. It was all very internal. My job would ultimately be to make that internal external—to make the story cinematic. And it turns out that can be really, really tough sometimes.

Sometimes you just can’t capture the essence, the voice of a good book. Hollywood loves mining IP from literally anywhere, and if a book is popular for any reason, someone is likely to snatch up the rights. Producers and studios don’t always consider the challenges of the adaptation.

camera and coffee in front of a screenplay

It’s a strategic dollars-and-cents move: fans of the book will come out to see the movie. The property has a built-in audience. The writer (often writers plural) and director of the project often participate in a “bakeoff” of sorts. The person with the most cinematic, exciting take on the material gets the job. And, by the way, that’s not the “most exciting take on the material” as determined by fans of the book. It might not even be a decision the author has any say in. Tweet about your dream cast/director all you want. This decision is being made by whoever bought the rights to your favorite book.

Okay so, you’re an author. Cool, so am I! Nice to meet you. If you’re anything like me, you want your book to one day become a beloved movie that defies the odds and is received just as warmly as your book was. If that’s an end-goal for you, keep your future screenwriter and director in mind as you pen your manuscript. Make their job easier. Make sure your book feels cinematic.

“What does that even mean, though? How do you make something feel cinematic?” Well, simply put, it’s externalizing the internal. Novels, particularly literary fiction for adults, are often deeply introspective and character driven. They run the risk of meandering and feel more like a rhapsody on a theme than a hard-and-fast narrative. But take, for example, something like “Gone Girl,” a novel for adults whose suspenseful twists and turns translated perfectly to the screen. Gillian Flynn is a master at this, and she’s got a successful dual-career as both an author and a screenwriter.

Now, I’m not the authority on what goes on inside Gillian Flynn’s head when she writes, but I’d imagine it has to be similar to my own process. If I can’t write a book that also feels like a movie, I can’t write it at all. I consider setting—is this a world we’ll want to live in, onscreen? I think about my characters and how they move about this world—are they active and motivated at all times? Do they have a key objective, and is that objective something we can get invested in? Where’s the drama?

Three-act structure is king in screenwriting, and I also apply it to my book writing. The most successful book-to-screen adaptations I’ve seen are successful because the book and the screenplay had the same structure, the same DNA. It just makes sense.

“Well, what about when screenwriters go and change everything about a book that I liked! What gives?” This one is tough. We change things for all sorts of reasons, but you can usually trace it back to this whole question of what makes a story cinematic. Here’s an example: I was hired to adapt a book (and this project is still in progress, by the way, so you’ll forgive me for not naming it). The producers purchased the rights to this book not because the book itself was insanely popular, but because they saw potential in a very specific demographic.

When I first met to pitch, I was told I had free range to alter anything I wanted in the adaptation. The buyers weren’t satisfied with the story as it stood, and once I read it I agreed with a lot of their misgivings. It felt “soft,” which is a Hollywood way of saying the stakes were too low. I knew we had to up the ante and the tension. Our main character (who was super intriguing and cool!) had to face some really serious obstacles. It had to feel dramatic and dangerous. You know—cinematic.

I’m not sure how this project will be received once it’s produced, but I have faith that fans of the book will feel like we did right by our main character. We gave her an engaging world to inhabit with serious, emotionally complex challenges. Fingers crossed.

clockwork gears on screenplay

As for my book, I’m hoping I’ve managed to follow my own rules. My forthcoming novel “The Phantom Forest” was actually written as a screenplay first, when I was in my early 20s, new to LA, and knew nothing about anything. I saw it as a darkly whimsical animated film, like Miyazaki’s “Princess Mononoke.” Upon completing a first draft, however, I knew it needed to be a book before it could be a film. IP rules Hollywood, and I had the potential to create my own IP instead of waiting for a producer to dump somebody else’s into my lap.

I’m now writing my second book and planning for “Phantom Forest” sequels, as well as watering my screenwriting garden. For me, it’s been hugely beneficial to play both sides. If you’re an author, try adapting 10 pages of your book to screenplay form and see what sticks. If you’re a screenwriter with a script that just isn’t gaining traction, maybe that script is meant to exist as a book first. Try both! Try them at the same time! Wear all the hats! Worst case scenario, you’ll conduct a fun creative experiment and become a stronger writer.

Photo of Liz Kerin

Liz Kerin is an author and screenwriter. Her debut novel The Phantom Forest will be released by Inkshares in late 2018 and was shortlisted for the 2016 Launchpad Manuscript competition. To pre-order, visit: https://www.inkshares.com/books/the-phantom-forest

She’s also the co-founder of Script Prescriptions, a story consulting service. More info at www.ScriptPrescriptions.com

Twitter: @Liz_Kerin

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Author Interview Writing Life

Interview with Evan Graham: On Crowdfunded Publishing and Writing Hard Science Fiction

Today, as part of Writing Bloc’s Author Interview Series, Evan Graham is here with us! We’re going to talk about Tantalus Depths and Proteus, his two upcoming sci-fi novels, as well as his journey with crowdfunded publishing.

Welcome Evan. Your book Tantalus Depths is currently in production, and you are also in the middle of a crowdfunding campaign for another book, Proteus. Can you tell us a little bit about the stories? 

They’re both science fiction thrillers set in the same universe, but the stories are set most of a century and several thousand light-years apart, and they deal with very different themes.

Tantalus Depths is about a small survey expedition to the planet Tantalus 13 that goes immediately off the rails when they discover it isn’t a planet at all, but a planet-sized artificial structure built and abandoned by an alien civilization thousands of years ago. Curiosity gets the better of the crew, and they take it upon themselves to explore the interior of this impossible structure, but the secrets it holds may spell the doom of not just the crew, but all of mankind. Adding to the danger is SCARAB: the self-constructing, artificially intelligent mining facility that arrived on Tantalus 13 two years before the crew. SCARAB is hiding secrets of its own; secrets it seems willing to kill to protect.

Proteus is a science-fiction adaptation of Shakespeare’s Richard III. It’s set on a colossal multi-generational colony ship that’s just passed the halfway mark on its 150-year journey to establish a new colony on the distant planet Bella Rosa. Our protagonist is Jacob Sicarius, a cyborg veteran destined to be the leader of the new colony: a destiny that is stolen from him when his cryonic stasis pod is sabotaged. He awakens from stasis to find that the fourth-generation crew of the ship have fallen into mutiny, with half the crew dedicated to continuing the mission and the other half determined to turn the ship around and return to Earth. With his AI combat implant making him a literal killing machine, Jacob sets out to wipe out the mutineers and preserve the mission, even if it costs him his mind and soul.

You successfully crowdfunded Tantalus Depths, selling over 750 backer copies before production began. What did this crowdfunding process look like for you, and why did you chose to go this way for publication?

Crowdfunding Tantalus Depths was, without question, the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It took me farther outside my comfort zone than I’ve ever been by forcing me to beg friends, family, and complete strangers to invest in a project that none of them would ever care about as much as I would. It was such a long road; I experienced every kind of setback imaginable. Campaigning became a full-time job; at one point I was putting in 16 hour days where I did nothing but bug people for pre-orders. It was worth it, though, and through that experience I learned I had way more people in my life who I could count on than I’d ever realized before. Some of my biggest supporters ended up being people I hadn’t spoken to in years, who I never would have thought would be willing to invest so much in my dream.

I went with Inkshares initially because they were hosting a contest that was a really good fit for Tantalus Depths. I didn’t end up winning that contest, but I did come in the top five, and by that point I’d already gathered enough orders that pushing through to the end goal just made sense. I definitely didn’t realize what I was getting myself into at the time, but even if I had, I would have preferred going through all that to the even more soul-crushing work of pursuing traditional publishing. It’s one of the hardest industries for an outsider to break into. I once went to a literary agency’s website to send in a query, then turned right around and left when I saw “Agents typically receive 500 queries a week and only follow up on ten. No repeat submissions.”

When you’re up against that, you’re completely at the mercy of luck. No matter how good of an author you are, there’s no way you can guarantee an agent’s going to see the quality in your writing when you only have one shot to get a five-page excerpt noticed among 500 others. At least with Inkshares, I knew if I could put in the effort, I would reap the reward. So I did.

Tantalus Depths and Proteus are both characterized as Hard Science Fiction. For those who may not know, what are some of the differences between Science Fiction and Hard Science Fiction?

Science fiction comes in all kinds of subgenres. You can really combine just about any other genre with science fiction and get a great story out of it. That’s one of the things I like about it; its versatility. All those different subgenres are going to fit into one of two categories, though: “hard” or “soft” science fiction. The only real difference is how much the story actively tries to stay scientifically accurate.

Soft sci-fi doesn’t try very hard to follow real scientific laws and principles, if at all. Usually the “science” element just isn’t that important to the story it’s trying to tell. It has more in common with the fantasy genre, in many ways, just with a sci-fi flavor to it. You’ll see aliens and robots and laser guns and the like, but most of what you see wouldn’t hold up in science class. Doctor Who is a prime example of soft sci-fi.

Hard sci-fi does try to stay within the realm of the theoretically possible. It’s more grounded, more realistic. You’ll see things that don’t exist in the real world, but most of them are going to be logical progressions of technology we already have, or involve scientific concepts we mostly understand. It takes a lot of research to do hard sci-fi well, and it can also be tricky to make it still seem interesting and not seem like it’s spilling out of a textbook, but if it’s done well, it lends a degree of realism that makes the reader feel like these things could really happen someday, which I love. The Martian is a solid example of hard sci-fi.

How realistic are your books?

I strive for as much realism as possible. It’s not easy, and it requires a lot of research. You have to spend a lot of time learning new things, especially if you’re like me and don’t have a natural gift for the physical sciences, but that’s part of what I like about it. I like having to learn new things, and I enjoy the satisfaction of strengthening my storytelling with newfound knowledge.

That being said, I definitely cheat. I’ve got made-up, entirely unscientific McGuffins in the shared universe of Tantalus Depths and Proteus. Faster-than-light space travel is possible, for instance, though I have very strict rules about what it can and can’t do. There isn’t a real scientific principle that allows for this, but I’ve chosen to give myself the ability to break that rule in order to tell the kinds of stories I want to tell; namely, in order to give the characters in my stories the ability to travel to other worlds we’d never be able to reach with conventional science.

Which of your books took you the most time to write?

Definitely Proteus. I first came up with that one almost eight years ago, and I’ve been fussing with it on and off the entire time. I’d probably still have it on the back burner of my brain if I hadn’t finally taken the plunge with Tantalus Depths and finally started my career as an author.

Do you invent new vocabulary words to use in your book or resort to the existing ones? 

I invent them on an as-needed basis, but I try to keep them as plausible as I can. Since I’m going the hard sci-fi route with these books, I try to name things in a way that feels true to reality. There are no aliens in these stories who speak fictional languages, so I can’t just call a new planet “Zalaprax” or something else entirely made-up. Instead, I look at how we name things right now, and extrapolate how that might be done in the future. We often name stars and celestial bodies after famous astronomers, so I named some of the planets I mention after real or fictional people who could conceivably be important enough to earn that honor, like Hayden, Showalter, and Tahani. We also name celestial bodies after characters from mythology, which I show with planets like Tantalus 13, Atropos, and Buyan. I try to draw from many cultures, so I’ve pulled from Greek, Hindu, and even Slavic mythology.

As far as technology goes, I try to keep that as real as possible. If there’s a real-world term for the thing I’m trying to create, I use it. I am constantly amazed by the sorts of ideas the scientific community comes up with. Some of the real theoretical science out there is wilder than anything I could ever come up with. I love integrating those cutting-edge theories into my writing, though. My favorite so far is SCARAB: the Self-Constructing Autonomous Resource Acquisition Base who serves as the villain in Tantalus Depths. It’s a hyper-intelligent AI that’s designed to build itself using the resources available to it. Science already has a name for that kind of robot: a Von Neumann probe. Ironically, the real concept of a Von Neumann probe is so over-the-top amazing that I had to tone back its capabilities for SCARAB. Reality is just too crazy to fit in fiction sometimes.

Tell us a little bit about your writing process. Do you aim to complete a set number of pages or words each day?

Oh gosh, I wish I had a writing process. I’m the last person anyone should go to for writing advice. I am a chronic procrastinator, but I’m also obsessive about my work, so I often go for days without writing anything, getting more and more stressed and feeling more and more guilty the longer I go without putting words down. Then, when I can’t handle the guilt anymore, I’ll sit down and write for eight straight hours.

I don’t recommend that method to anyone, but I’ve managed to harness my mania and make it work for me.

I think that’s the best thing any writer can do: figure out your own strengths and your own weaknesses, and tailor your writing process to use both of them to keep you productive. As long as you make steady progress toward your goal and put down writing you can be proud of, it doesn’t matter what method you use.

Tell us a little bit about the world building that went into Tantalus Depths and Proteus, and what that process was like for you.

A lot of things happen on Earth between now and the time these books take place in. Earth goes through a near apocalypse called the Corsica Event at the hands of a Rogue AI towards the end of the 21st century, wrecking the global economy  and leading to a period of rebuilding that lasts about 80 years. Resource depletion and overpopulation have forced humanity to colonize new worlds in order to survive. AIs are heavily regulated to keep another cataclysm from happening. New technology arose as a result of the Corsica Event has given us the ability to travel faster than light, so we’re exploring areas of the universe we never thought we’d reach thanks to technology we don’t really understand.

Establishing all that world building in both books has been tricky, since they both take place so far from Earth. They’re still affected by what’s been going on at home. I try to establish a lot of that backstory in offhand, in-character dialogue whenever possible. I like to avoid info dumps whenever I can, because I want this universe to feel like a place where people live and work and establish relationships, rather than a series of encyclopedia entries. The universe in these stories doesn’t look much like ours, but I try to make the people feel like folks you’d meet anywhere, and I want to give the reader the idea that they could step into this world and fit in.

Not that they should, mind you. This universe is a dark and dangerous place. I sure wouldn’t want to live there.

Which writer’s work do you believe most resembles your work?

I feel a kinship between my stories and James S. A. Corey’s The Expanse series. It’s also a hard sci-fi setting, full of intrigue and conflict , where humanity would be its own greatest enemy if the universe didn’t have such dark and deadly tricks hidden up its sleeve. If anyone likes the parts of The Expanse that deal with mysterious remnants of an alien civilization that pose a deadly threat to the survival of mankind, they’ll like Tantalus Depths. If anyone likes the parts of The Expanse that deal with warfare and corruption and conspiracy in a sci-fi setting, they’ll definitely like Proteus.

All books say that characters are fictional, but are they really all made up, or do you base them on people you have known in your own life? 

I try to give my characters unique personalities, but I definitely draw on what I know in order to do that. I’ll take a particular personality quirk I’ve seen in someone I know, or someone famous, and I’ll attach it to a character I’m developing, but I never use more than one or two from the same source. I never set out to make a character a clone of someone else.

I have extensive experience and education in theatre, which has proven to be an incredibly useful tool when it comes to character creation. When you portray a character on the stage, you learn how to think inside that character’s world. You see what drives them, what affects them, what they want and what they’re willing to do to get it. I apply the same lessons I’ve learned as an actor to my writing, making sure every character has a unique, true-seeming personality, definitive goals, and character-specific tactics they’ll utilize to get to those goals.

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?

Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Jim Butcher, H.G. Wells, Timothy Zahn, Oscar Wilde, and William Shakespeare. Although, if I was in a book club with all of them, I’d never get any writing done. I’d spend the rest of my life fanboying over everything they were working on.

Where does the crowdfunding campaign for Proteus stand right now, and what can people do to help?

Currently, Proteus is very close to the 500 pre-orders mark, and we have until the end of August to reach 750 pre-orders. We’re about two-thirds of the way there, which is very encouraging, but we still have a lot of ground to cover.

The main thing people can do to support Proteus is simply to pre-order a copy, but word-of-mouth publicity is also invaluable. Anyone who’s a fan of grim and bloody military science fiction, or anyone who likes the idea of a science-fiction adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s greatest plays, should find plenty in Proteus to enjoy.

Also, Tantalus Depths still doesn’t have a release date, but we’re about to go into copy edits, so it won’t be much longer until that one launches. Pre-orders are live for that one as well.

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

I haven’t set up an author website yet, but that’s one of the many things I’m currently working on. Meanwhile, my main social media platform is my author page on Facebook, which you can get to here.

I also have a Twitter and a Youtube channel. Both have been inactive for a while, but as we get closer to launching Tantalus Depths I plan to put out a lot more content on all my platforms.

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