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.

 

 

Review: Heart of the Winterland By Kristen Kooistra

HotWThe Princess
On her 200th birthday, the enchantment that holds Princess Calisandra in a state of apathy breaks. Full of questions about her kingdom’s history and what lies outside the borders of her snow-cursed kingdom, she leaves home in search of answers.

The Sorceress
Fate has always been against Amee. Orphaned as a baby, she grew up with darkness snuffing out what little light she could find in her life. When her spirit breaks, she sequesters herself in the border forest. Powerful and angry, she waits …

The Guardian
An orb formed to protect Cali, Voice has never had a purpose beyond caring for the princess’s needs. But as she joins Cali on her journey and the spell that confined her breaks, she starts to wonder about her place in the world.

The Captain
Captain Kota, in forced exile from her homeland, swears that never again will she be powerless. Ascending the ranks of the Shayal guard, her latest mission is to find the one who has escaped Duke Bludgaard.

The Fugitive
A desperate search has brought Angel far from her home, but now Captain Kota’s relentless pursuit keeps her from her task. When she crosses paths with a naïve princess and a sage orb, she finds more than she anticipated.

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My Review:

Rating: 5 Stars

A fantastic story with gripping characters!

I just finished reading Winterland and am already itching to read the next book. I loved everything about this novel – the story, the characters, the plot twists and the amazing way Ms. Kooistra has weaved the back-story with the present.

Heart of the Winterland takes us through a magical journey with Princess Cali who wakes up after 200 years with new emotions that bombard her senses as the dampening spell cast upon her weakens. She leaves her home, Trabor, which is cursed to be a land of eternal winter to go on an adventure to meet other humans outside her borders.

Ms. Kooistra has done a fantastic job of showing us the range of emotions Cali feels as she meets different people on her journey and how she evolves from a child-like, innocent princess to become a queen who’ll lead Trabor into the future.

Cali and her guardian (the magical orb, Voice) meet various people along the way – the mysterious fugitive Angel, Captain Kota, Rose and others who help Cali to become the queen she is meant to be.

But of all the characters, my favorite is Amee, the dark sorceress who took revenge on the royal family of Trabor. Ha ha! You heard me right 🙂 I love the antagonist of the story too. That says a lot about Ms. Kooistra’s talent in writing gripping characters. From the first moment I met Amee, I connected to her, felt all her pain and rooted for her.

And that’s one of the things that really touched me about Winterland. It shows throughout the story that no one is completely evil. Everyone is shaped to be who they are because of things that happened in the past and, if they’re given a second chance, they can come out of the trap of negativity they are in and find their path.

All in all, I really loved reading this novel and would recommend this for all lovers of fairy tale, fantasy adventures and magical worlds.

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!”

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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: Kristen Kooistra

It’s time for another Ask the Author post 🙂 I’m having great fun with the World Blog Tour, meeting different authors and discussing with them about the craft of writing. I’ve learnt quite a lot (writing tips, advice and resources) in this wonderful venture and I’m really grateful to all of them for being so helpful.

This month, we have with is Ms. Kristen Kooistra, author of the fantastic novel, Heart of the Winterland.

Kristen-KooistraKristen fell in love with reading at a young age and never resurfaced. She loved solving mysteries, riding across the prairie, and sailing on the open sea. But her favorite books were those that held the fantastical. So when the time came for her to seriously approach publishing a book, it had to be fantasy!

Living in Michigan(her own winterland) with her husband, three kids, and two cats, she has lots of free time . . . Okay, so more like she squeezes in writing time late at night when only the cats are awake to pester her.

“Heart of the Winterland” is Kristen’s first novel, and though it started as a whim, it grew into so much more and has inspired a sequel(in progress), “Heart of the Sorceress”.

Here are a few snippets of our conversation:

Krisna: Let’s start with inspiration. Writers find inspiration from everything around them – from snippets of everyday conversation, pictures, books, movies. The major things that inspired me to become a writer were books by Enid Blyton and movies (Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings).

 What is your favorite movie and why?

Kristen: This is a hard one! I really, really, really love BBC’s Pride and Prejudice mini series. I watch it like a movie, but technically it was a tv show. Sticking to it having to be a movie, I’d say Star Wars is my favorite, and no, I can’t pick which of the originals are my favorite! I love them all equally.

 

Krisna: Ha ha! So you aren’t a great fan of the Star Wars sequels? 🙂 I totally agree with you. I felt the originals had less technology, but more heart to them than the prequels…

Now coming back to the subject of inspiration, which writers inspire you?

Kristen: Oh I hate this question! *looks around guiltily* I shouldn’t say this, but it’s the truth, so I will. I’m not really inspired by writers. I’ve been inspired to keep going and never give up by writers who I consider friends, but if we’re talking “one day I read x’s book and I just felt inspired”, that’s never happened.

Until I started writing(seriously), I never thought about the (wo)man behind the curtain. I was happy to let Oz do his thing and enjoy the magic show. In other words, I love stories, lots of them, but I rarely had any interest in who wrote them. At most my interest would extend to “I like this story, what’s your name so I can see what else you wrote”.

That’s led to a bit of embarrassment in general when it comes to author interviews/bios and such(I say as I’m doing an interview), because I expect most readers to be like I was(am, let’s be honest, not much has changed) and not care two figs about me. I don’t mind that really. I’m happy if people enjoy my stories and don’t notice the puppeteer holding the strings.

So I’m thankful to the thousands of writers whose work I’ve read and enjoyed. Writers as a group inspire me, because I see what they create and I know what kind of journeys those adventures took me on and it’s made me what to be part of that. I want to take someone on a fantastical ride.

Krisna: Speaking of a fantastical ride, what drew you to write fantasy?

Kristen: I never even considered writing in another genre. I love reading fantasy, historical fiction, and as a kid I loved mysteries also (Trixie Belden, Boxcar Children, etc.). But I could hardly solve a mystery before the reveal, so I can’t imagine writing one. As for historical fiction, that involves a lot of research and a passion for either a time period or a historical figure/event that I simply don’t have. I like reading about them, but any research I do is purely recreational and light.

Fantasy was the natural choice. It’s my favorite genre and allows me complete flexibility to focus on a story without worrying about being historically accurate. Or even just modern-day accurate. I make up my own world, countries, people, languages, history, etc. I’d rather have to focus more creative power on inventing things than willpower to research.

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Krisna: That’s great! This is one of the major reasons I love writing fantasy too. It’s my world and I get to make all the rules 🙂 Now coming to the writing process, do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?

Kristen: Both. I have lots of people, mostly writers, go over them and pick them apart for errors. I also go over everything myself because I find that I can pick up a mistake even after reading it for the bazillionth time. The last pass, for what I’d consider proofreading, I gave my manuscript to an editor and then went over it again afterwards myself. Most things I can catch, but I’m terrible with commas. I never know when they go somewhere and when they don’t, so I really need an outside eye for those.

Krisna: You know I’m a great fan of your characters. What’s your favorite method for coming up with names for your characters and locations?

Kristen: Mix-n-Mash is my favorite for locations. I take a handful of words that describe the place and look up their translation in a few different languages. Then I take two of those words that have the best sound and mix them together.

Rokuhai, Mazushuĭ, and the Tónghuà Forest are three of the locations in my novel, Heart of the Winterland, that I created using that method. I don’t expect people to be able to pull them apart and figure out what they came from, but it’s fun for me. Rokuhai for example is a port town and Hǎi is Chinese for sea. For the life of me I can’t remember what word or language I got the “roku” part from.  But I think I used town/village/port as inspiration to find that half.

For characters, I either take a name that I feel connects to the character in some way—my sister-in-law and a friend both have the same name and I took aspects of them to create the characters Rose and Kaya, the first being close to what my friend used as a nickname and the second being similar to their real names—or I start with a name and swap/add/delete letters until I have something new.

Some placeholder names I had were Dath and Tank. A friend pointed out that I was very fond of four letter names(I like to keep it simple apparently!) and since I wasn’t in love with either of those names, I changed them to Dikala and T’Nakhe. For Dath I decided to go back to my original inspiration for the character and mash (so yes, I do the mashing thing for names occasionally too) the two alias that person went by to form a name.

Krisna: Thanks for all those awesome ideas on character and location names, Kristen! I especially loved how you mix-and-matched words from different languages to come up with the location names. They sound exotic and, when really looked at, actually have a meaning too.

Now for the last question: Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?

 Kristen:  Yes, yes, and YES! There are so many books out there that regardless of the “don’t judge by the cover” expression, it’s one of the easiest ways (if not the easiest) to narrow down your choices. I look at the cover first, if that grabs my attention, then I check the genre, then read the blurb, etc. Unless something has come strongly recommended, I won’t even give a novel the time of day if the cover doesn’t grab me.

Not everyone has the same eye appeal standards though. I know with talking to other writers that there are those who hate people on covers. I love people on covers! There are covers without people that I find interesting as well, but I see a person on a cover and think “I want to hear their story”. Assuming they look like a person with a good story to tell.

That’s really how I look at it too. Many authors put so much effort in writing a wonderful book, but because of an unattractive or amateur cover, lose on a lot of potential readers.

Thank you so much Kristen for taking the time to answer all my questions. I’m really looking forward for your next book, Heart of the Sorceress.

CONNECT WITH KRISTEN:

You can connect with Kristen through her social media (Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads), author blog and official website.

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Don’t forget to check out her fantastic novel, Heart of the Winterland.

 

World Peace Through Individual Peace

Dear Friends,

September 21st is the UN Peace Day. This year, a massive global effort is taking place all over the world where thousands of people from all walks of life are joining hearts and meditating to foster world peace through inner peace at the individual level.

Peace, one of the most important things in life, is very much lacking in this world. Most of us despair at the state of the world today thinking that there is nothing we can do to improve it.

BUT WE CAN!

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We are part of this world, part of one family.

Like each drop together makes the immense ocean, every one of us is part of this human race and make it what it is. If majority of us have love and peace in our hearts, then the state of the world changes too.

At the simplest level, take the family for example: When I’m angry, my daughter becomes restless and cranky. When my husband is tensed about something in his office and comes home with that anxiety filling his heart, automatically all of us feel that tension and become stressed too.

Everything that is in our hearts touches and influences the hearts we are connected to. 

It all starts with the small drop of the ocean, our individual hearts. Amidst all the tensions, conflicts and stresses in our lives, if we’re able to be peaceful and full of love, then it influences the people closest to us – our family and friends.

Our family life becomes peaceful and full of love.

Their hearts are touched and they in turn touch other hearts in the neighborhood and work place. It’s like like a ripple in a pond. It starts in one tiny heart and spreads all over.

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How does meditation help in establishing peace?

Following is a beautiful excerpt from Shri Kamlesh D Patel, the spiritual guide of Heartfulness meditation taught to everyone around the world free of charge:

Often people ask out of curiosity, “Why do you meditate?”
I may answer, “To regulate the mind.”
“Why do you need to regulate the mind?”
“To attain a state of peace.”
“But what will you do with a regulated mind, with the stillness and calmness that exists within you when you meditate?”

This is a wise and stimulating line of inquiry.

What can we do with that meditative experience that helps us to rise above fickle tempers and ascend the pedestal of a steady and unruffled peace?

A lot is possible.

When peace prevails within us, and our hearts are serene and content, can we fight with one another? When we are in a calm state and we interact with family and community members, co-workers and strangers, are we not more considerate of their worries, their troubles and also kinder in our response? 

Shri Kamlesh Patel, De.mys.ti.fy.ing Meditation

So this year, join hands … No, join the thousands of hearts around the world. Meditate together with us and help in taking the first step towards a world of peace and love.

HOW TO BE A PART OF THIS INITIATIVE?

 

Join the free Live Heartfulness Webcast on 21st September 2016 and sit for meditation as per the guidance provided.

Don’t worry, in case you miss it…

I’ll be posting any recordings of the webcast or summarize the points discussed in this blog.

Between 21st to 30th September, you can also sit for meditation following the below process at your home for 30 minutes at any time of your convenience and then contact your nearest HeartSpot to learn more…

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GUIDED RELAXATION AND MEDITATION VIDEO:

This Youtube video will guide you through the whole process of relaxation and meditation.

Just put on your headphones, relax, meditate and enjoy the state of peace in your heart 🙂

**Photos from heartfulness.org and pixabay.com contributed by geralt in CC0 domain.

ASK THE AUTHOR: CORINNE MORIER

Welcome! In this month’s “Ask the Author” post, we have a very special guest with us – Ms. Corinne Morier, author of The Red Sorcerer Trilogy.

Corinne is a very talented writer and one of my dear friends. She is a bibliophile-turned-writer with a penchant for writing stories that make readers think. In her free time, she enjoys blogging, playing video games, and swimming. Her motto is “Haters gonna hate and potatoes gonna potate.”

And she is amazingly witty, especially with memes  🙂

I’m very excited to have her with us this month and grateful for all the insights she has shared. Here are some snippets of our conversation:

KS: Any tips on what to do and what not to do when writing?

Corinne: Yes, of course. You should most definitely write every day. No excuses. If you’re just writing for a hobby, then it’s a hobby and you pursue it when you have time. But if you’re intending to make it a career, you treat it like a second job and write every single day. A surgeon doesn’t not perform an operation because he’s having a bad day. A lawyer doesn’t not go to court because she’s “not inspired.” So if you want to be a professional writer, you have to write. It’s okay to write shit. It’s easier to edit shit than it is to edit nothing.

Another thing you should do is find a group of writerly buddies who can be your critique partners and can also help you to brainstorm stuff, because if you’ve got other people holding you accountable, you’re more likely to write and get things done.

KS:  Thank you so much for the wonderful tip, Corinne. Many of us suffer from the dreaded writer’s block because we wait for the inspiration to start/ continue writing. But developing a habit of writing daily really does wonders, doesn’t it? 

So what is your favorite motivational phrase?

Corinne: That hasn’t changed since high school.  When I was in high school and the time came to choose the quotes that would go underneath our senior photos in the yearbook, I chose Liv Tyler’s somewhat-famous quote: “I’m not perfect at all.

It reminds me that nobody’s perfect, especially not me, so I don’t have to beat myself up if I make a mistake. And yet at the same time, it reminds me that I have to keep trying and reaching for that goal.

KS: Really profound quote! I think many of us get demotivated or stop trying because we expect perfection at the beginning. It is very important to know that it is ok to make mistakes or fail. But it is more important to get up and try again.

Does your book use any references to mythology or real-world folklore?

Corinne: I don’t think it does. At least, I didn’t intend for it to. As far as I know, everything is 100% original out of my own brain. But while I didn’t intend to write it that way, my book has a lot of similarities to Romeo and Juliet: two lovers separated by their families’ hatred for each other.

KS: You have some amazing characters in your book Corinne. If you could be any of your characters, which would you be and why?

Corinne: I wouldn’t want to be any of my characters because A) they go through tons of crap that I, as their creator, made them encounter, and B) I love who I am right now and don’t want to change that.

KS: LOL! Now that I think about it, I have to agree with you. As writers we make our characters go through so much, tragedy after tragedy, to build up the conflict and tension. Poor guys! I’d hate to be in their shoes  🙂

Speaking of characters, what’s your favorite method for coming up with character names and locations?

Corinne: For character names, I use a fantasy name generator and just pick my favorites out of that. Sometimes I rearrange the names a bit – like switching out one letter or syllable for another – to make them fit into the linguistical structure of the language that I’ve created. For Elven cities, I look up names of old Latin place names and use my favorites – Irisia, Aralia, etc. or I just throw together a few syllables that sound good – for example, Yamasi Grove.

KS: Very interesting. I’ve never used a fantasy name generator. I’ll give it a try. One last question: Do you let the book “stew” – leave it for a while and then come back and edit it?

Corinne: Yes, of course. Some books I let stew for a shorter period of time than others. Right now, the book I’m working on has stewed for three years – I wrote the first draft back in 2013 and then never did anything with it. Only once did I try to edit a book the day after I finished the first draft, but I quickly realized that it didn’t work because I couldn’t figure out what to do with it.

KS:  Exactly! I find that I get a clearer perspective of what needs to be changed/ improved when I’m away from my book for a while.

Thank you so much for all your insights and tips on the writing process, Corinne. I really appreciate it! Looking forward to reading more of your work…

WANT TO CONNECT WITH CORINNE MORIER?

corinne-morier

You can follow Corinne on FacebookTwitter and keep up with her latest news and posts by following her blog, The Pink Notebook.

 

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.

Quote-Allie

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!
Faerie
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.

 

ELEMENTS OF A STRONG HOOK

FICTION WRITING TIPS #2

What makes a gripping hook?

What is it that grabs the reader’s attention to our books, enticing them to pick it up or borrow it from Kindle library? Is it just an intense and perfectly-written chapter 1 or Prologue?

I think it takes much more to create a gripping hook. If the reader is not hooked into picking our book first, the question of a perfect chapter 1 doesn’t come to being.

Let’s look at this from a reader’s perspective. He walks through the aisle of a book-store or browses through amazon. What is it that grabs his attention first?

  • AN CAPTIVATING BOOK COVER

An alluring and professional cover goes a long way to grab the reader’s attention.

It is our first sales pitch.

A well-designed cover assures the reader that the author is meticulous enough to ensure that all aspects of the novel are as perfect as possible. It also gives him hints about the tone of the book (humor, dark/ horror, romantic, fantasy, sci-fi etc.) And if the cover is intriguing, he picks it up.

Now what is it that is going to entice him to look deeper?

  • A CATCHY TITLE

The title of the novel gives him information of what the novel could be about. For example: Let’s say the story is about a boy who enrolls at a magic school. He fights against the teachers who turn students to the dark side of magic. Below are two possible titles:

* School of Dark Magic

* The Courageous boy

Which one grabs your attention and why?

When combined with an alluring cover, the title will give the reader a better idea about what the book is about, make him turn the book and read…

  • A GRIPPING BOOK DESCRIPTION

If the cover and title hooks the reader, an amazing book description reels them in. It reveals hints about the story world, the characters, internal conflicts/ obstacles, the stakes and the consequences of failure.

A well-written book description makes the reader feel the need to read more, find out what happens in the story. So he turns the page or clicks on…

  • THE BOOK EXCERPT (CHAPTER 1 or PROLOGUE)

Now comes the part where the readers goes through the first chapter and prologue. The chapter 1 or prologue is a powerful teaser that should be able to help the readers connect to the characters or the story line enough to continue reading. But is this all that is required to hook the reader? Again, no. We need…

  • SUCCEEDING CHAPTERS THAT DEEPENS THE HOOK

Many readers (like me) read at least four or five chapters before deciding whether they want to continue reading the story. There have been books which have a spectacular Chapter 1, but the succeeding chapters don’t keep the promise/ expectations raised by the chapter. And the book ends up in the DNF list. Why? Because I was not invested enough in the story-world, characters or plot. Or there were so many logical holes at the beginning that I got frustrated and kept it aside. So the book grabbed my attention, but failed to hook me in the succeeding chapters.

So to conclude…

Technically, the hook could be defined as a strong beginning.

But, according to me, a gripping hook has stages. It starts with the element (mostly the cover/ title) that catches the attention of the reader and makes him read the enticing chapter 1. But it doesn’t stop there. Like the hook has to be attached to a rope/ thread, the strong beginning should be connected to well-written, intriguing chapters that keeps them turning the page, eager to read each scene till they reach the end.

And if they’re invested enough in our story, they’ll hopefully leave a review and buy the next book in the series 🙂

Look out for a detailed post on each of the above elements every week.

Next post on Fiction Writing Tips: ELEMENTS OF A CAPTIVATING BOOKCOVER

*Pictures in CCO domain taken from Pixabay (Foundry)