Ask the Author: Heather Hayden

Dear Friends,

Today I have the pleasure of having with us the fantastic Heather Hayden, author of Augment.

As most of you know, I’m a fairy tale happily-forever-after person. But recently, I read a short story written by Ms. Hayden in the JL Anthology “From the Stories of Old”. It hooked me and left me reeling at the tragic yet sweet end. It’s one of the few tragedies that I actually liked.

So, naturally, I had to meet her and ask her a few questions about her writing process 🙂

Here are a few snippets of our conversation:

Krisna: Thank you so much for joining us today, Heather. Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you? 

Heather: Oh dear, that’s taking me way, way back… Honestly, I’m not sure I do. I have vivid memories of many children’s books, but I was able to read by the time I was five, and I don’t really have any memories from before then. I know one of my favorites was about a magic pebble—Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. Since fantasy is one of my favorite genres to read and write today, I’m guessing that may have had an impact on me!

Krisna: Ooh, a story about a magic pebble! Interesting. Any tips on what to do and what not to do when writing? 

Heather: From my own experience, forcing yourself to write doesn’t often result in anything you want to see again, much less edit or publish. If you’re banging your head against a story, set it aside and do something else—go for a walk, do chores, hang out with friends or family—for a few hours, or days, or weeks. If you enjoy working on multiple projects, pick up a different one or start a new one. Don’t punish yourself for not writing. That negativity will become linked to writing for you and you’ll start to dread sitting down in front of the computer.

I find that music can help inspire my writing—I often have specific soundtracks for different stories. I also work on multiple projects at a time so if I’m not making progress in one, I can work on another. It can also be good to set a goal—pages, word count, time limit—for a writing session, whatever works best.

Don’t stop to check your social media sites, or email, or do the dishes, while you’re working toward that goal. Your mind might try to convince you that a minute or two of procrastination is fine, but don’t listen. Tie your muse down and just write.

Krisna: Those are some fantastic tips, Heather. Thanks a lot! LOL! I’m one of those who gets distracted by “1 minute” in twitter or FB or Scribophile 🙂

Where is your favorite place to write? 

Heather: Any place quiet, where I can listen to my music, away from distractions, and just write. I’d love to be able to write on the beach in the summer (and late spring and early fall, before it gets too chilly…actually, any time of year!), but unfortunately I can’t sustain writing by hand for long. I have issues with my wrists at times, and handwriting aggravates it, which is why I use my computer. Maybe someday they’ll invent a computer that’s safe for beach use.

Krisna: How do you relax? 

Heather: My favorite way to relax is to curl up with a good book, and maybe a mug of tea (or a glass of iced tea in the summer.) I also love going for walks on the beach, and listening to music. All of these are great ways for me to recharge my writing battery.

Krisna: Now for some questions on the JL Anthology… Your writers’ group, the Just-Us League, recently released “From the Stories of Old: A Collection of Fairy Tale Retellings.” What was it like collaborating with other authors to produce the anthology?

Heather: Overall, it was a lot of fun! Coordinating everything and making sure we all met our set deadlines was sometimes stressful, and it took a lot of hard work on everyone’s part to ensure our anthology was perfect when we released it, but I learned a lot from the process and I’m looking forward to working with everyone on future anthologies.

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Krisna: Could you tell me a bit about your story in this anthology? What inspired you to choose this story?

Heather: My story, “Beneath His Skin”, is a retelling of a selkie myth. I’ve always been fascinated by mythical creatures, especially those related to the sea, so when it came time to choose a fairy tale to retell, I found myself drawn to that of the selkie myth.

Selkies have always had two very distinct mythos–one involving female selkies, and one involving male selkies. In my story, I twisted the myths a bit, while staying true to the core of what it means to be selkie.

Krisna: It’s a powerful and heart-breaking story, wonderfully written.

Thank you so much, Heather, for taking the time to be with us today and sharing tips and tricks on the writing process. I wish you all the best in your writing career.

ABOUT HEATHER:

KODAK Digital Still CameraThough a part-time editor by day, Heather Hayden’s not-so-secret identity is that of a writer—at night she pours heart and soul into science fiction and fantasy novels. In March 2015 she published her first novella, Augment, a YA science fiction story filled with excitement, danger, and the strength of friendship. She immediately began work on its sequel, Upgrade, which continues the adventures of Viki, a girl who loves to run, and her friend Halle, an AI.

Her latest release is a short story “Beneath His Skin,” which is part of an anthology her writer’s group put together called From the Stories of Old: A Collection of Fairy Tale Retellings. You can learn more about Heather and her stories through her blog and her Twitter, both of which consist of equal amounts of writerly things and random stuff she’s interested in.

 

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YA/NA Parley: Sue Seabury

I’m a big fan of YA stories. And if they have lots of magic and dragons, they go right to the top of my “Must-Read” lists 🙂

So this year, I’ve planned to interview some writers from the YA/NA genre, in addition to Fantasy. This month we have with us author, Sue Seabury.

Sue likes exotic travel, good food, and great conversation. Since she doesn’t often get to enjoy any of these things, she makes up stories about them 🙂

You can find her fabulous stories here.

So without further ado, let’s dive right in…

Krisna: Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books?

Sue: I’m no expert, but marketing is marketing. Give away something people want cheap or free.

Krisna: LOL! That’s a great way of putting it. Marketing is a field that most authors are wary about. But I guess, it’s all about building relationships. And when we give more than what we take (which is what giveaways are all about), we give our readers a good-feel and build trust. 

Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future?

Sue: I suppose I made them in not doing more research into how to market. I plan to correct that.

Krisna: That’s a good tip. Writing is one aspect, but to get our novel the exposure it deserves is critical too. Would you or do you use a PR agency?

Sue: I do not, but I would consider. As an introvert, marketing is automatically not my forte.

Krisna: There’s a lot of discussion among authors about book covers. Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?

Sue: Yes. I believe everyone judges a book by its cover, no matter what they say.

Krisna: What advice would you give to your younger self?

Sue: Ignore negativity. It reflects on that person, not you.

Thank you, Sue, for stopping by. I wish you all the best in your writing career!

Fire Your Inspiration: Extra-Ordinary Things

Happy New Year, my dear friends!!

This year, I’m starting a new series of posts that is all about kindling our inspiration and keeping the fires of creativity and determination blazing in our hearts.

Any creative work including writing is all about inspiration. Our stories, our characters, our magical worlds touch our hearts and inspire us so much that we find no rest until we pen them down.

But there are times when inspiration is solely lacking from our lives, when the daily struggles of the “real” world bog us down and keep us tied for days and weeks together. One of the things that really helped me get out of this and get inspired again was watching inspirational videos. So in the “Get inspired” Posts, I’m going to share all the video clips and techniques that really touched my heart and pulled me up from the quagmires of banality.

Here’s one such video about Ordinary People Doing Extra-ordinary things.

Think your goals and dreams are almost impossible because of life-situations? Take a look at this video and think again…

At the start this year, I swear to myself I’ll not rest till I achieve my dreams just like these “ordinary” people did…

What about you?