Category Archives: author interview

Ask the Author: Eleanor Konik

Hi Friends,

In this month’s ‘Ask the Author’ interview, I had the pleasure of talking to one of my fellow authors in Scribophile – Eleanor Konik.

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Eleanor Konik was born and raised in a close-knit neighborhood just outside of Baltimore, where she is putting the final touches on her teaching certification. She spends her free time gardening and playing cards with coworkers. She also enjoys fishing, hiking, and visiting attractions around the city. Her

Her blog showcases insights she’s gleaned while researching THE LAST COLLARED MAGE, a fantasy mashup of Rome’s greatest defeats.

Here are a few snippets of our conversation:

Krisna: Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?

Eleanor: Barely. I was very young when I started writing. I remember that it was a high fantasy adventure, and I spend a lot of time worried about the architecture of the little ranch that was going to be attacked during the course of the book. I still have a bunch of architecture books that I salvaged from my father’s library and refused to let my mother ever throw away.

I took it into work once, and a coworker almost purged it, because it was from 1947.

Krisna: What’s the hardest part of worldbuilding, for you?

Eleanor: Introducing flaws into my perfect system is definitely something I struggle with. Once I finish coming up with a viable economic, political or social system for my fictional world, I realize there’s no conflict in utopia. Countries with a high happiness index and few problems rarely make the news.

I often hear people complaining that the American system of government is broken. It’s certainly a flawed system — as is every system because people are human — but I believe it’s working mostly as intended. There are lots of systems that are perfect on paper — communism, for example — but broken governments all break for the same reasons. Once you add people to the mix, things get out of control.

For an invented world to feel real, it has to be a little broken, and that’s a hard thing to make up when you’re trying to make something that’s believable in the sense that it can function and make sense to a reader.

Krisna: That’s really good advice. Flaws and conflicts are the things that make the story world and characters real. How often do you write, and do you have a special time during the day to write? 

Eleanor: I try to write every day, or at least make some sort of forward progress on my novel. I do pretty well as long as I’m not super busy with social obligations. I don’t really have a special time of day, though. For awhile, I tried to set aside time in the mornings, but there was always something else more important to do — like eat, and shower. Now, I fit 25 minute focused blocks of time whenever I can, and scribble notes when I can’t.

Krisna: Do you read much? 

Eleanor: I read a lot, actually.  I used to get into trouble in school for reading too much. I’d get sucked into a book and not pay attention when the teacher transitioned from one assignment to another, because I usually finished things early. Back then I was averaging a book or two a day. It only takes me about three hours to read a full-length novel.

These days, I usually only manage to read once book a week. I’m busier, and there are fewer books I’m interested in — back in school, I had the whole of the library’s backlog to keep me entertained, and nowadays I rely on new books. So every Tuesday, I read whatever new thing was on my calendar. I’d read more if I could find more books that I really liked.

Krisna: Who are your favorite authors?

Eleanor: I have a couple of authors that I follow pretty religiously. Jim Butcher, L. E. Modesitt, Ilona Andrews, and Nalini Singh top my list — I don’t think any of them have ever written anything I didn’t like. Still, it’s a pretty long list. Kelley Armstrong has written a lot of books that I really like, and so have Seanan McGuire, Faith Hunter, Patricia Briggs and Anne Bishop. Michelle Sagara and Gail Carriger are both a lot of fun…. I could go on, but I’ll spare you.

Krisna: Where do you see publishing going in the future? 

Eleanor: Honestly, I don’t know. There are a lot of blogs out there where people way more qualified than I am have expounded at length on publishing trends and marketing trends and commercial changes and what Amazon means for authors, but I don’t always know which ones I believe. That said, I do have one observation to make: I think that the big publishers and the self-publishers are in the midst of changing their dynamic.

I think there’s this idea that big publishers are just in it for the money and that they’re very commercial, whereas writers with a very specific, innovative artistic vision tend to self-publish because the big publishers “just don’t understand them.” But what people sometimes forget is that successful self-published books have a lot in common with other very popular genres: many are very pulpy adventures or have a strong romantic element.

For decades, the success of the romance genre has basically subsidized the mid-lists of other genres. Marketing folks aside, most of the people involved in New York publishing do it because they love books, they love storytelling and they want authors to succeed. I think that as time goes on, we’ll find that a lot of self-publishing is crassly commercial, with cliffhangers and lots of unresolved sexual tension to keep us reading, whereas some of the more artistic literary works will come out of big publishing instead.

Not that big publishing never uses cliffhangers and UST, of course. Penguin Random House is responsible for the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning, which I think is a particularly egregious example of it. I know the series has a lot of fans, and I enjoyed a lot of elements of the first couple of books, but the lack of resolution started to grate on me and I felt like my emotions were being jerked around by cliffhangers so that I’d buy the next book. I don’t like feeling manipulated, so I stopped buying the books.

Krisna: Yes, I remember being very frustrated after reading Karen Moning’s Fever series too. I hate cliffhangers especially if I have to wait a year to read what happens next!

Thanks a lot Eleanor for your wonderful tips and for taking the time to answer my questions.

 

YA-NA Parley: Melion Traverse

Dear Friends,

Today, I have the pleasure of introducing a very special author that I’ve come to admire in the last few months.

Melion Traverse writes things 🙂 When not writing ‘things’, Melion still lives with one spouse, two dogs and an acceptable amount of chaos. She is occasionally found playing with swords, studying martial arts, and lifting weights. Other times, she hides with a book and an energy drink as she avoids the tumbleweeds of dog hair overwhelming her house.

Melion’s short stories have appeared, or are forthcoming in, Deep Magic, Fantasy Scroll Magazine, Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores, Cast of Wonders, Scarlet Leaf Review, Havok, and T. Gene Davis’s Speculative Blog.

Check out her haphazard blog: http://delusionsofsanityblog.wordpress.com/

Here are a few snippets of our conversation:

Krisna: What do your fans mean to you?

Melion: Wait . . . I have fans? In all seriousness, if I’m fortunate enough to earn the respect of fans, I’d find it humbling. To have people spend their resources on my work, be it in the form of time or money, would help validate my reasons for taking the writing off my computer and setting it loose in the world. I want to give people an opportunity to experience a new world, or to see their world in a new way. If I succeed at that, I’ll be happy.

Krisna: I totally agree! It’s one of the main reasons I write stories too. Speaking of stories, could you give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?

Melion: I suppose the ready answer is that my character, Alessa, goes through a portal into another world, becomes a unicorn rider and finds herself fighting to save a barony. However, when I wrote Alessa, what I intended to make her special is something more personal and quiet than grand quests and rifts in the space-time continuum.

Alessa confronts her insecurities and her self-doubts. That doesn’t sound particularly special when I lay it out, but to me, that’s the point. She has to struggle against herself. In real life, many people—myself very much included—fail in that struggle. We look back on our lives and realize how often we let the insecurities and the demons rise up and control our destiny, sometimes without any resistance from ourselves.

Krisna: That’s really deep. I’m sure most readers would really connect to a character that struggles with an internal conflict that we all face in our lives. What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?

Melion: Speaking as somebody new to the publishing world, I can really only answer based on what I’ve observed and read during the researching phase, as opposed to what I’ve experienced first hand.

I’m opting to self-publish because I like the challenge of taking a book from idea all the way to publication with my involvement at each step. Will that hurt the book in the long run? I’ll be honest and say that it might. After all, I have no marketing experience and I have no “in” with the industry. It also means that I’m relying on my own judgment to make edits and changes to the book, and I can tell you horror stories about where my own judgment has gotten me on occasion.

However, the positive of self-publishing means my book will be published and will have its chance to reach an audience. If I went with the traditional publishing route, I’m well aware that my book could never see the world outside my hard drive. After all, agents and publishers are looking for a book they can maximize profits on. Whether that is a good book or a weak book, the name of the game is profit margins. I have the leisure to take a chance on a book; agents and publishers do not have that option.

Krisna: A very practical answer. As a supporter of self-publication, I agree that it might be a lot of work and risky for those of us who’re new to the game, but it does give us a lot of freedom and satisfaction to be involved in every aspect of the publication. With self-publishing or trad publishing, PR agencies are a good way of marketing. Would you or do you use a PR agency?

Melion: At the moment, I do not. However, depending on the price and the services being offered, I cannot say that I would rule out the option.

Krisna: Now for one last question. Hm, let’s see …. something not about writing… 

What do you want your tombstone to say?

Melion: In fancy, stylized script, I would like it to read, “Semper ubi sub ubi.” Alternatively, I will accept: “In event of zombie apocalypse, do not stand here.” Really, however, I think by the time I need a headstone, the wording will be the least of my concerns.

Krisna: LOL! 🙂 Thanks for the warning, Melion, and for all your tips and ideas on the writing process. 

I wish you all the very best in your writing career!

 

Author of the Month – Elise Edmonds

Dear Friends,

I’d promised you a special interview with Ms. Elise Edmonds, author of the exciting new novel Where Carpets FlyAnd here it is at last 🙂

For those of you who missed my previous post, here’s a gist of Where Carpets Fly:

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Mystery and adventure meet in a magical land of flying carpets, vibrant cities, and seafaring folk. Follow Elina Faramar’s journey from the village flying carpet shop to magic school in town. What’s her new magic teacher hiding? Why won’t anyone discuss the nearby, volatile country of Pallexon?

The situation turns to a nightmare when friend Kara is mistaken for a spy.

Can Elina’s wits and magic save Kara and unravel Pallexon’s secrets?

I had the pleasure of reading this amazing novel and was really impressed with the way the story was written, the characters and the fantastic story world which was a unique blend of the magical and the practical. So, naturally, I rushed to interview Elise for tips and suggestions 🙂

Without further ado, here are some snippets of our conversation:

Krisna: Welcome, Elise! It’s great to have you with us today.

Elise: It’s my pleasure, Krisna.

Krisna: As I’d mentioned before, I really loved Where Carpets Fly. What inspired you to write this story?

Elise: I’ve always been a fan of both children’s fantasy books and school stories – long before Harry Potter came into the world. I grew up on Enid Blyton and Narnia. So writing a fun, immersive fantasy story full of adventure but also including school and coming of age themes is basically me writing the book I wanted to read as a kid! It’s got a bit of everything I enjoy reading about.

Flying carpets have always held a fascination for me. There’s something exciting and exotic about them, and I wanted to capture that feeling in my world. I read a Diana Wynne Jones book about flying carpets (Castle in the Air – the sequel to Howl’s Moving Castle), and I can say she’s also influenced my writing.

Krisna: Flying carpets are one of my favorite things too! Magic and flying – a wonderful combination 🙂

One of the things I love the most about your novel is your story world. It’s a perfect blend of whimsical, magical and practical at the same time. Could you share some tips about creating a believable and gripping story world?

Elise: Thanks! I think it’s important to spend some time worldbuilding before you start to write a fantasy novel. It doesn’t have to be formal or even on paper, but traveling there in your imagination can help you picture the everyday life of your character. What do they eat? What do they wear? What occupation do they (or the adults around them) do every day?

Magic systems are often a key aspect of a fantasy story, and I like to define magic, and give it limits and practical applications so it feels like a tool your characters are using. In the same way that I use a smartphone in my everyday life, my characters use the magic at their disposal to help them through life.

I also find drawing a map very useful: it can focus you on practical things like climate and the positioning of types of terrain and where populations are situated. This can come in useful when your characters travel, to make journey times and methods of transport feel believable. It can be helpful to base fantasy countries on real life countries, and use elements of cultures that already exist to give the reader a feeling of familiarity.

Krisna: Thanks for the awesome tips on world building. I’d recently read an article about magic systems in your blog. It was really insightful and helped me a lot in my story world.

Another thing I really liked in your novel is your characters.  All of them have their own personalities and speech patterns. What is the inspiration behind these characters?

Elise: I’m afraid I’m one of these writers who just lets her characters develop as they choose. I plan the plots, but sometimes character motivation forces me to change the plot, because it doesn’t feel right for the character. It feels kind of silly to say the characters tell me how they feel, but that’s the closest I can get to it.

I knew I wanted a girl who longed to get away from her dull home life, and I wanted to give her a BFF. And that was my starting point!

Aunt Clauda has a little real-life inspiration. I have a single aunt myself, and as a child, I always enjoyed spending time with her. She’s not crazy like Aunt Clauda, but she did represent someone outside the family unit who was interested in me and happy to help out.

Krisna: LOL! That’s really interesting. Speaking of characters, who’s your favorite character in Carpets and what makes him/ her so special?

Elise: Elina is always my favourite. I know that’s kind of boring, but I chose my main character because she was someone I was interested in reading about. I wouldn’t say she’s meant to be me, but she has characteristics in common with me: being keen to leave home (although I was a little older than Elina when I finally did!), a longing to travel and see some excitement, but quite naive about the big wide world. She has goals which teen me would have identified with strongly.

Krisna: It’s not boring at all. I think the main character is the one that most readers are going to relate and connect to as the story is told from her POV. So it’s a great tip to have a main character that the author loves. It definitely shows in the writing.

Thank you so much Elise, for taking the time to answer my questions. I wish you all the very best in your writing career. I’m looking forward to the sequel to Carpets.

Elise: Thank you, Krisna 🙂

CONNECT WITH ELISE:

elise-author-picBorn in Staffordshire in England, Elise Edmonds has always been an avid reader, especially of fantasy and young adult books. Elise moved to Bristol in her teens, to attend university, and undertook a career in the finance world.

Now living in a quiet South Gloucestershire village, she spends her free time with her husband and two cats, and enjoys attending local fitness classes, watching movies, and playing the piano. Pursuing writing in her spare time as a creative outlet is a way to bring the magic back into her everyday life.

You can connect with her via her Amazon Author PageWebsite, Facebook, Twitter,  GoodreadsInstagram and Wattpad.

Check out this amazing novel by Elise Edmonds. It’s available both in paperback and kindle formats.

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!

Ask the Author: Lynn Miller

Hello Friends,

For this month’s Ask the Author post, we have with us Lynn Miller, author of The Sons of Rebellion.

lynn-millerLynn lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. Her love for storytelling started before she was able read or write but she only found the time to pursue this lifelong passion once she sold her software business. Her magical tales weave the blurred grey between good and evil with love, family and friendship.

The Sons of Rebellion, her debut series, tells the story of a family of fallen angels and their struggles balancing a personal and professional life with battling demons.

 

Krisna – Welcome, Lynn! It’s great to have you with us today.

Lynn: Thank you, Krisna. It’s my pleasure 🙂

Krisna: It’s really great that your love for storytelling started at such an young age. What is the easiest thing about writing?

Lynn: Developing the characters and allowing them to interact with each other. Dialogue and Character Dynamics are favorite parts of writing. It’s the part that comes easiest to me. How much do they share with one another? Who gets along with who? I am fascinated by how that just falls into place. Even if I didn’t plan with a particular dynamic in mind, I will go still go with it. On-Page chemistry is favorite tool.

Krisna – What has been the toughest criticism you’ve received?

Lynn – “Cut the first two chapters. It only gets interesting from chapter 3.” Seriously. I spent so much time tweaking those first chapters, it was a bitter pill to swallow. The person then went on to explain why and how and it turned out to be the best piece of advice I’ve received.

Krisna – Ha ha! I had a similar experience with my novel. Had to cut my prologue which was one of my favorite chapters because it wasn’t too relevant to the plot of book 1. But it’s more critical to book 2, so it’s definitely getting included there 🙂 

Without spoilers, is there any part you regret writing but is integral to the plot?

Lynn – There’s a death pretty early on in the story. I always knew that character would die, and I knew why. It was only once I started writing the scene that included them that I regretted not having the opportunity to dig deeper and find their story.

Krisna – I’ve found that writing the death of a character is always a tough thing to do especially if he/she is close to the MC. As the creator of that character, we’re more involved and know their potential. Speaking of main characters, do you prefer a single main character or an ensemble team?

Lynn – Ensemble. Always ensemble. I use three to four point of view characters per book but over the course of the series there is no real main character. Each character showed up because they are integral to the story. I just need to figure out why?

Krisna – Wow! Three to four POV’s is a tricky thing to write, with each character having a unique voice and characteristics.

*regretfully glances at clock* We have time for one last question. Writing is always a personal experience and each writer has ways that work best for them. Which do you prefer? Writing alone or in public?

Lynn – I stick my headphones in and pretend I’m alone. Most of the time, though, I’m interrupted because someone has “something very important” to tell me. In an ideal world, I would spend a lot more time at my favorite coffee shop. The waiters there know me and how I like my mocha. They won’t interrupt me to ask if I want a refill. And they’ll bring out an extension if there are no seats near a plug point. Sadly, it’s impractical to do that more than once a week.

Krisna: LOL! If only we could have more than 24 hours in a day… Thank you so much, Lynn, for stopping by. I really appreciate the time you’ve taken to answer all my questions.

Lynn: It was my pleasure!

CONNECT WITH LYNN MILLER:

You can connect with Lynn Miller through her website and Twitter.

Check out her debut novel, The Witch’s Pride (Sons of Rebellion, Book 1)The Witch’s Pride tells Jet and Laken’s Story.

Fallen Angel Jet has two weeks to find a witch or lose the most important weapon in the fight against The Devil. The powers that be decided eons ago that Jet will marry her and start a new generation of magic. Instead, he falls for a woman from his past: Laken – a fellow ER doctor and single mom with secrets of her own. Falling for her new boss seems masochistic, and that is before she learns about Jet’s part in her family’s secret and troubled history.

 

 

From The Stories of Old – A Fairy Tale Anthology

Welcome back, dear friends!

As most of you know, I’m a die-hard fairy tale fan. I’ve devoured tons and tons of fairy tale retellings and dreamed about charming princes, dragons and brave maidens (or knights 😉 ).

Today I have a special treat for all fairy tale lovers like me! A new publication of fairy tale retelling short stories called ‘From the Stories of Old’ written by authors of the Just-Us League.

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Intrigued? Here’s the blurb…

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“In this international collection, new life is given to fairy tales, both classic and obscure.

Mythical creatures put the fairy in Fairy Tale. Mermaids, selkies, and ocean guardians experience the best and worst of humanity; sisters encounter an unusually friendly bear; a brave bride meets a silly goose; and a spinner of gold sets the record straight.

Urban fantasies modernize classics: a Frenchman learns the truth about magic, his past, and his girlfriend; a girl sets out to find love but receives a curse; and today’s naughty list makes Old Saint Nick not-so-jolly.

New worlds bring a fresh sense of wonder! In the future, a young woman fights for her people and herself; a bastard son finds acceptance in a world ruled by women; and a farmer’s wits win the heart of a frosty king.

Discover unexpected twists on old favorites, and fall in love with new tales and worlds to explore!”

~*~*~

The JL Anthology is scheduled to be published on December 7th 2016.

And today, I’m really excited to have with me, author Louise Ross, part of the Just-Us League.

Louise Ross is a writer from the Kansas City Missouri area. When she is not sewing or working, she writes in a silent corner and dreams of what it would be like to live in a fantasy setting. She has a blog at https://83louross.wordpress.com/tag/90-days/.

Krisna: Welcome, Louise! It’s a pleasure to have you with us today. 

Louise: Thank you, Krisna. I’m very happy to be here.

Krisna: So tell us a little more about the JL Fairy Tale Anthology.

The JL Anthology is a collection of fairy tale retellings. All the authors in this edition come from an online writing community that I belong to. We support each other by critiquing, editing, and encouraging each other’s writings. One of the things the group has enjoyed doing is entering themed contests. We’ve had good success in these contests and chose to assemble an anthology around a group-chosen theme. I wanted to write about superheros, but fairy tale retellings are fun too.

Krisna: That’s really exciting. What’s your story in this Anthology about and what inspired it?

Louise: When I learned the theme would be fairy tale retelling, my need to different kicked in. It’s this little voice in my head that says I shouldn’t do things the same way everyone else has done. I should be different. I’m a writer after all. I should have more than one idea. A challenge. Make the contest a challenge.

*laughs* Lesson: it’s not always smart to listen to my inner voices. So I wanted to pick a fairy tale that was not a traditional tale. I knew I did not want to pick a princess-type story because I was never the princess sort of child. When I thought back on the stories that had the biggest impact on me, it was the scary stories: the Girl with the Green Ribbon, Goosebumps, Bloody Bones. I wanted to write something along that line, and when I thought of fairy tales that would work well with a darker theme, one of the first was The Struwwelpeter.

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The Struwwelpeter is not a story or collection of stories told a lot, or at least many of my friends did not know about it. It is actually a set of poems about children who do naughty things and are punished. The very first poem in the collection is about receiving gifts at Christmas if a child is good. I decided to take that opening poem, make it into the unifying theme, get rid of some of the poems that did not fit in my setting, and try to make the poems fit today’s society better.

Krisna: Ooh! So you picked a scary fairy tale! What was the hardest part of writing this story?

Louise: The hardest part was making the naughty scenarios fit today’s society. Some of the poems are ones that are not inherently “bad” behavior. The Struwwelpeter, for instance, is named that because of a poem about a child Peter who fails to take care of his own hygiene. His hair is crazy and he has dirt under his nails. Another story is about a boy who walks out of his house in a rain storm and is carried away by the wind. I had a hard time placing these situations in the context of Santa Claus and Krampus.

In my story, I left Peter with poor hygiene but speculated on why he might let himself get so dirty, and the boy with the umbrella simply wanders off instead of staying with his mother.

Krisna: An anthology is essentially group work. Tell us a little more about your experience in working on this Anthology with fellow writers.

Louise: Working on this anthology has been fun, a learning experience, and very fulfilling. It has been fun because there is an energy that builds when a whole team is working toward a common goal. That energy gathers speed when the group shows success toward that goal.

As the other stories came in and feedback happened, the closer the end goal approached. I started out calm and now that we are within a month of publishing, it’s hard not to jump up and shoved the cover proofs at everyone.

I have never been involved in the publishing process. Seeing the time and planning placed in this anthology has given me a new perspective on the process behind the scenes. Also, it is fulfilling to see a project like this come together and so quickly. The League is very dedicated and hard-working. It gives me a sense of pride and accomplishment to be a part of this.

Krisna: Outside the anthology, what are you working on currently?

Louise: Outside of the anthology, I am working on a few projects. My novel Distilled is in editing and revision at the moment. Distilled is the story of Nik, an alchemist, who is being hunted by mercenaries. A waitress desperate to help her brother escape the local gang becomes the key to Nik’s survival.

I’m also working on a story about four brothers. I like to think of it as Little Women featuring cyborg men.

Krisna: Interesting! Tell us more…

Louise: The story is in the third act and will be completed shortly in draft form. I am also drafting a non-fantasy piece set in southern Missouri post-civil war. A sheriff is trying his best to restore peace to his town, but an angry hog farmer, some escaped convicts, confederate sympathizers, and the skirmishes with the Indians force the sheriff to place his life and beliefs between a prisoner and the bushwhackers breaking him out of prison. This story is at the midway mark and has taught me how much I enjoy writing fantasy; way less research.

Krisna: Thank you so much, Louise, for stopping by. I’m looking forward to the JL Anthology. 

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Check out The Struwwelpeter and all the other fantastical tales in the Just-Us League Anthology vol. 1 due out December 7th, 2016!

 

Ask the Author: Lesa Mckee

Dear friends,

For Ask the Author this month, I’m very happy to have with us Ms. Lesa Mckee.

Lesa grew up at her Grandmother’s knee, listening to the French folk-tales her animated Grandma Ida shared. A love of stories was born and her imagination took off!

She’s now living her dream as a Christian Indie writer of feel-good fiction, including a short story series of far-out space cats, titled ‘Operation Space Cats’. These purrific feline adventures are filled with faith, friendship & fun!

Krisna: It’s a pleasure to have you with us, Lesa. *shakes hands* 

Lesa: Thanks, Krisna! I’m very happy to be here.

Krisna: Every author has something inside that makes them take the pen (or laptop) and start giving life to the stories in their minds. Why do you write? 

LesaFor me, writing is an escape. At times it’s relaxing while other times I’m on the edge of my seat bursting with excitement, and sometimes I’m filled with laughter. I enjoy spending time in other worlds I’ve created.

Krisna: It’s so wonderful to live the lives of our characters while we write them, isn’t it? I confess, it’s one of the reasons I write too. What is the hardest thing about writing? 

Lesa: The hardest thing about writing for me is I have lots of wrist & hand pain.  I use dragon speech recognition software, but I find writing by ‘talking’ out a story is very hindering to the flow, and it slows me down a lot. Still, I’m grateful to be able to continue my writing, no matter how I have to do it. Also, at 46 I’m starting out pretty late in life, but my passion for writing is what counts!

Krisna: I’m so sorry to hear about your wrists and hands, Lesa. But I really admire your dedication and passion for writing. You’re absolutely right. That is what really counts!

 What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Lesa: Three things- And these are things I’ve done.

1) I’d tell them to get connected. Other writers are your best friends. No one can relate to your writing, and your writing journey more than your fellow writers. Join writing groups on social media like facebook and goodreads. Admit you’re a newbie and ask for advice.

2) Write, but don’t write aimlessly. Invest in some good books on writing, take a seminar, and follow good blogs on writing. You have the desire to write, now do all you can to learn your craft. All workman must study their craft to show themselves approved.

3) Join a critique group, at least one. You want to get as many eyes on your work as possible. Make sure to critique others too. This is a one of the best ways to learn how to write. Really, it works.

Krisna: Thanks a lot for those fantastic points, Lesa. You’re right. I’ve found a lot of motivation and support from my author friends in my critique group. One of the mistakes that many newbies make is to try to do it all alone. But honest feedback and encouragement from other writers really helps in making our story much better. And in the end, we want to give a high-quality gripping novel to our readers.

So speaking of feedback, What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?

Lesa: Good reviews- Love ‘em. Bad reviews- Hate ‘em.:)

Krisna: *laughs*

Lesa: But really, what’s my take on them? Either appreciate them, learn from them, or ignore them … and keep writing!

Krisna:  That’s really good advice. Instead of getting demotivated by negative reviews, we take an honest look at our novel. If the feedback of the reviewer is true, we learn from it and change. If it’s not, we ignore and keep writing.

*glances at clock* We have time for one last question. I really loved the stories in your book Operation Space Cats, The Rescue Mission. What’s the tagline of your story?

Lesa: My tag-line is on the back cover, placed just before the blurb. ‘Furry crew to the rescue’.

Krisna: Ha ha! I love the image it brings to my mind. Thank you so much for being with us today, Lesa, and for your insights and tips. I wish you all the very best in your writing career.

Lesa: It was my pleasure, Krisna!

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CONNECT WITH LESA MCKEE:

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You can connect with Lesa through her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and Pinterest.

Ask the Author – Allie May

AT LAST! The 20th of August is here!! Time for another “Ask the Author” post 🙂

This month, I’m very happy and excited to do an interview of Allie May. Allie is a very talented writer who weaves gripping stories with awesome characters. I’m a great fan of her writing. And she was kind enough to answer some of my questions.

So without further ado, here are some snippets from our conversation:

Krisna: Allie, it’s a pleasure to have you with us today. Could you tell our readers a little about yourself?

Allie: I am Allie May, fantasy author and mother of the world’s cutest dog. I run the blog, Hypergraphia. Hypergraphia means the overwhelming and uncontrollable impulse to write, and I combat it by writing fantasy novels and blogging twice a week.

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When I’m not writing or working, I’m usually at Disneyland. I’m currently editing my novel, Powerful, while working on another novel that I started when I was twelve called A Fairy’s Tale.

On the weekends, you might catch a glimpse of me in the shadows as a lightsaber-wielding superhero. Maybe.

Krisna: Another Star Wars fan! Awesome 🙂 What are your ambitions for your writing career?
Allie: It would be nice to gain a small following of readers and make some money, but my main goal is to be able to create relatable characters that readers can connect with. I want readers to be friends with my characters.

I struggle with depression, and whenever I felt alone, there was always a character or story to help me. I want my books to be able to help someone else the way books helped me.

Krisna:  I think it’s really admirable to write not just for entertainment but with the aim of helping others too.  Speaking of your characters…

If you could be any one of your characters, who would it be and why?

Allie: Of course, I’d be Kylanore. I took parts of my personality and put them into her character, then made her even better 🙂

She’s snarky, sarcastic, and a little bitter about her unfair situation in life. And even though she doesn’t want to be Crown Princess, she puts up with it wonderfully.

I’ve learned a lot from her attitude towards life, and who wouldn’t want to have her powers? Well, she doesn’t want her powers because people judge her for them (that happens when your parents use alchemy to enhance your magical abilities), but I’d love to be able to control the four elements.

Krisna: Kylanore sounds really interesting! You write great fantasy stories, Allie. What’s your favorite fantasy creature and why? 

Allie: Fairies are the coolest!
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They have magic and they can fly. I’ve had ankle problems for years. When I wrote the first draft of A Fairy’s Tale ten years ago, I wrote that the MC sprained her ankle and had to fly around everywhere because I wished that I could fly so my ankles would stop hurting all the time.
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Krisna: Aw! I hope your ankles get better very soon. But it’s a great idea to use the problems we have faced in life for our MCs. It helps us to add depth to the characters and makes them very relatable. Thanks a lot for your valuable tip. 

You mentioned that you’ve finished the first draft of A Fairy’s Tale. After the first draft, do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit? 

Allie: I usually let the book stew for a bit before coming back to it. Even when I get the original idea, I plot what I can, then let it sit before actually starting to write. Stepping away gives me a better perspective on the story as a whole so I know what works and what doesn’t.

Krisna: For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?

Allie: Traditional printed books all the way. I can’t do ebooks. I need the paper in my hand. I think it’s similar to how I’m better at writing by hand than on a computer.

Krisna: LOL! I was like that too. I love the feel of paper on my hand and it gives a very satisfying feeling once I finish a paperback book. The first time I read an ebook, it felt weird. But then Amazon deviously reduced the cost of ebooks, took advantage of my greed to read more and lured me to the dark side 🙂

Thank you so much, Allie, for taking the time to answer my questions and for your insights into your writing process. I really appreciate it!

CONNECT WITH ALLIE MAY:

You can connect with Allie May via her blog Hypergraphia, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest.

And look out for her exciting YA Fantasy novel, Powerful.

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Ask the Author – H.S. Cook

Yay! It’s time for another Ask the Author post.

This month, we have exciting new author H.S. Cook with us. Working in a world of logic and reason, while dreaming of one filled with magic, Ms. Cook lives between her scientific research and her fantasy writings. A molecular biologist by day, she finds ways to inject the magic of her worlds into daily life, making time to write. She is currently working on an epic fantasy series: The Blood King Chronicles.

Here are some snippets of our conversation:

KS:  What is the easiest thing about writing?

HS.Cook: World building is the easiest part for me. I am always imagining fantasy realms: geography, races, the languages, treaties and wars. When I find a world I particularly love, like Cyrell and the Known World, I am in a much better place to write about the history than the story I’m currently working on. My plot bunnies turn into spin-off ideas set in the world’s lore and history.

Krisna: What inspired the world building for your current novel?

HS.Cook: It is hard to pinpoint anything exact. I draw on other fantasies I have read, maps I have seen and places I have visited. For example, the Forest of Dean has played a large role in creating the elvish country of Eihäldär. Ancient/archaic language then adds to the linguistics of the world – the main language of magic was originally inspired by Old English, though much of the dictionary is now more unique.

Krisna: That’s really fascinating! Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing as far as content?

I really struggle with dialogue – particularly informal dialogue. I can speak with kings and distant lords, but when two friends lay into one another, I cannot get it quite right.

Krisna:  How long on average does it take you to write a book?

HS.Cook: Ask me again when I’ve finished.

I have previously written some complete novels, but not gone further with them. They were both YA Fantasy and the first took me six months, the second a little more than a year and the third never made it past the first draft.

My current WIP has been brewing for years, though I have only been actively writing since April and expect to need around three or four months more. Depending on work commitments, of course. I can churn out a first draft in a month thanks to NaNoWriMo, but I rarely take those books further.

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

HS.Cook: Do not try for stupid NaNo Word Counts and take it easy! My wrists have never recovered that crazy year of writing!

Krisna: LOL!  I haven’t tried NaNo yet. I joined the NaNo Camp this year, but had to drop off due to family commitments. Thanks for the warning 🙂

Now for the last question, something other than writing… What is your favorite movie and why?

HS.Cook: That’s a hard one to pin down. I like so many films for many different reasons. The film that had the biggest impact in recent years would be Studio Ghibli’s Grave of the Fireflies. It was really moving and is definitely on that list. Bicentennial Man is also up there as a film that really made me think.

Krisna:  Thank you so much, Ms. Cook, for your insights into your writing process 🙂

HS. Cook:  Thank you for taking the time to talk with me. By the Blood, may the Fates show mercy.

Connect with H.S. Cook:

Check out her website

Follow her on Twitter

Like her on Facebook

Check out my next month’s Ask the Author post on August 20th.