Friday, September 25, 2015

Another solid review for my novel!


A Novel About Hollywood by Jim Vines


"I wasn't really sure what to expect with this book but it was an awesome read. I think I read it in only four sittings which is saying a lot because a) I'm really busy with two jobs and four kids, and b) it's over 300 pages long....I loved the parts of this story where the main character, Trent, got down to writing. There were tons of awesome scenes of him getting the writing done driven by inspiration, a deadline, or both. It's always cool to see how others write, and even though Trent is a fictional character, he sure feels real when you're reading the book. I loved seeing him struggle—and, man, did he struggle. It made me root for him big time. Jim Vines writes a great story [and it] moves at a great pace. It's not clogged up with unnecessary scenes or description. Just story. Even though the book is fairly long I sat down and before I knew it I had read like 74 pages. The crude language and sex scenes in this book weren't my cup of tea [but] I did appreciate...that the [sex scenes] would always end before going into much detail....I loved how the book was written in first person. It was like reading a memoir more than a fictional story, which was pretty sweet. The story had a great flow and it was fun to go for a ride through Hollywood with Trent as he struggles to get his art onto the page, and hopefully, onto the big screen."  Review by Dan Absalonson (4 out of 5 star rating)



Available in paperback from Amazon.com 
and Kindle e-Book!


Also available on KOBO!


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

INDIE AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: ROBERT EGGLETON



Q: Robert...what made you become a writer?

A: Can any writer answer the question about what caused an overwhelming compulsion to write? I don’t know why I feel so driven, but I can tell you how I got to the place that I’m now acting to resolve my compulsion to write. In the 8th grade, I won the school’s short story contest. “God Sent” was about a semi truck driver so consumed with theological debate that he caused a terrible accident. I began to dream of becoming a rich and famous author. As it often does, life got in the way. I worked and went to school, never finishing any more stories that I’d started, until recently when I incorporated some of those unfinished stories into Rarity from the HollowI recently retired as a children’s psychotherapist for our local mental health center. It was an intensive day program. Most of the kids in the program, like myself as a child, had been traumatized, some having experienced extreme sexual abuse. One day at work in 2006 it all clicked together and the Lacy Dawn Adventures project was born – an empowered female protagonist beating the evil forces that victimize and exploit others to get anything and everything that they want. Rarity from the Hollow is the first full-length adventure in a prospective series. While my protagonist is a composite character based on real-life kids that I’ve met over the years while working in children’s services, one little girl was especially inspiring. Her name is Lacy Dawn. Rather than focusing on her victimization, she spoke of dreams – finding a loving family that respected her physically and spiritually. She inspired me to make my own dream come true — to write fiction — and I haven’t stopped writing since I first met her that day during a group therapy session. That little girl, unknowingly, prompted me to write Rarity from the Hollow.


Q: What is your typical writing day like?

A: After fifty-two years of contributions into the U.S. Social Security fund, the last forty in the field of child advocacy, I recently retired from my job as a children’s psychotherapist for our local mental health center.  For the last four month I’ve lived in front of my computer. So, my typical day right now is to devote most of my time to some writing related activity. Unfortunately, much of this time is spent on self-promotion of Rarity from the Hollow instead of my true love – writing. Even more unfortunately, I broke and will need to get at least a part-time job soon. This means that my typical writing day is about to change, assuming I can find someone who wants to hire somebody old enough to retire.

Q: Do you outline? If so, how extensive are your outlines?

A: Yes, I outline my stories. Rarity from the Hollow became the novel that exists today exactly as planned, in detail. However, in this day and age of fanfic and formula products, a little qualification of my answer would more fully answer your question. Fiction cannot always be measured when a reader has turned the last page of a novel. In my opinion, good fiction prompts a mental integration process whereby the story soaks in and subsequently affects the reader in immeasurable ways for many years, perhaps without that person’s awareness or attribution of source. As an author, I know where I want to go when writing. I detail steps toward what I want to achieve in each scene and build toward a preplanned plot. While I consider other factors, such as target audience, the one-book-after-another busy schedule of book reviewers who may not have enough time to invest in contemplating convolutions of a story, and a host of other factors, I do not write toward markets or book reviewers. Rarity from the Hollow was not intended to be a quick and easy read with a standard straight forward plot line, on purpose. I’ve written other stuff that was intended as such, on purpose. I start a story with one very general outline consisting of three parts: beginning (bunch of blank space), middle (more blank space), and end. I scribble notes that I use for reference instead of for control of my writing. I have pens and notepads handy in every room of my house, and even take something to write with when I go out, such as to a restaurant. My scribbles fill in the blanks of the outline, and are always subject to modification. 

Q: How many revisions will you typically do on a novel?

A: I couldn’t count the number of revisions of Rarity from the Hollow. I over-revise when I write, and sometimes the work suffers in the end. This is a practice that I need to work on – seriously. I can’t seem to learn my lesson, so to speak. I have a background in auto body repair, not professionally, but I’m damn good and have made money at it on the side. I don’t do that type of work anymore, and if you saw my truck you would agree. But, I had the same type of problem when painting cars – when it’s good, it’s good. I need to control myself – seriously.

Q: What is your best tip for editing a manuscript?

A: My best advice for editing a manuscript is to not do it yourself. One tends to read what one intended to write, at least I do. When it’s good enough, like we just talked about, start with trustworthy folks that you know and move up a step at a time until you have a professional editor, or a person who would otherwise qualify to be one, cut the heck out of it. I recommend that a manuscript be looked at by different types of people: one who looks for style and grammar, and the other to look for content – do the scenes make sense to the average reader? I totally got lucky with Rarity from the Hollow. A woman that I met on-line, the former Acquisitions Editor for the University of Michigan’s Ancient History Reference Library took an early interest in the project. She was highly skilled. It took six months of mailing the manuscript back and forth

Q: Which writing habits and/or tricks of the trade have made you a better writer?

A: Personally, I like to use a lot of dialogue to achieve “show don’t tell.” I don’t think that I could force myself to read another novel that uses adjectives and adverbs excessively, or that needs two or three paragraphs to set up a brief exchange between characters. That’s just me. Some readers eat it up, especially in the fantasy and romance genres it seems.

Q: Do you ever suffer through writer’s block? If so, how do you fight it?

A: I’ve only experienced writer’s block for brief periods, and even then it is not really a block so much as it is balancing scenarios in a scene.

Q: What drew you to write your preferred genre(s)?

A: I selected the SF/F backdrop for Lacy Dawn Adventures because it was the best fit by process of elimination. While Rarity from the Hollow, my debut novel, is a fun read, the story does include early scenes or references to child maltreatment, poverty, domestic violence, and mental illness in contemporary America . As such, it was not a good fit to the historical or western genres, although these social problems have existed throughout history, including in the Wild West, and are not restrained by our world’s geography, cultures, or religions. The systems in place to help victims of these types of problems are woefully inadequate. I felt that the literary, biographical, and nonfiction genres wouldn’t work because the story would have been so depressing that only the most determined would have finished it.

I felt that the story had to be hopeful and especially wanted it to inspire survivors of child maltreatment toward competitiveness within our existing economic structures, instead of people using past victimization as an excuse for inactivity. I didn’t think that anybody would bite on the theme of a knight on a white stallion galloping off a hillside to swoop victims into safety, like in the traditional romance genre. That almost never actually happens in real life, so the romance genre was too unrealistic as the primary. There was already enough horror in the story, so that genre was out too. What could be more horrific than child abuse?

The protagonist and her traumatized teammates needed fantastical elements to achieve empowerment. But, as in life, one cannot overcome barriers to the pursuit of happiness by simply imagining them away. That’s where the science fiction came into play. It provided a power source. I tied the science fiction to Capitalism because in today’s reality it will take significant financial investment by benefactors to improve the welfare of children in the world, and to invest in economic development. As symbolized in the story, I feel that our governments are unlikely to fund effective solutions to social problems in the near future because of the politics.

Q: Do you utilize beta readers?

A: I’ve been lucky so far by receiving profession quality editing without spending any money. Since author proceeds from Rarity from the Hollow have been donated to prevent child abuse, I’m hopeful but not necessarily optimistic that the same will happen with my next novel, Ivy. Since I’m so broke, it is a tough situation. I wouldn’t want my name associated with writing that had not been professionally edited, but….

Q: In your most recently published novel, what’s one scene you really enjoyed writing—and why?

A: I really enjoyed writing a scene in Rarity from the Hollow titled, “Welfare Fraud.” Ironically, if I had to cut a scene out of the novel, that would be it. I guess there’s a big difference between a writer enjoying the creation of a scene, and whether it is a good fit to the story from a reader's perspective. This scene takes place in an Administrative Conference Room of the local Department of Welfare. Jenny, the protagonist's mother, had been charged with the illegal receipt of food stamps. In addition to Jenny, the characters were an administrative hearing officer (judge) and three Suits  female lawyers there to prosecute Jenny. Jenny played it masterfully in the scene. I don’t want to spoil anything for readers, but it was a classic David vs. Goliath type of scene that was very fun to write. It was filled with comedy and satire. As a stand-alone scene, it was fun to read. But, frankly, this scene slowed down the action of the novel a little.

Q: What makes the main character(s) of your most recent novel so special?

A: Lacy Dawn, the protagonist of all Lacy Dawn Adventures, is special because she exudes contradictions. In Rarity from the Hollow she is powerful as a skinny little girl, highly intelligent yet colloquial, naive but all-knowing, and mostly she’s special because Lacy Dawn inspired me to finally get my butt in gear and write some fiction that quite of few people have said they have enjoyed reading.

Q: What is your best advice for author self-promotion?

A: My best advice for author self-promotion is to keep your email correspondence. Well-meaning and very nice people sometimes get busy and may not follow through with commitments that have been made. I’m talking about bloggers, not friends or social acquaintances, such as on social media. I’m far from an expert on any of this stuff. I’m a novice, and many people reading this interview are bound to be much more knowledgeable than I am about self-promotion. I’m just sharing my experience with trying to self-promote Rarity from the Hollow over the last four months.

Q: How do you deal with negative reviews?

A: In my opinion, there are types of negative reviews, and I deal with them all, but I’ve gotten a couple of fake reviews that were the hardest to figure out. If I’ve solicited a review and it is not what I’d hope for, well, that’s my mistake for not restraining my zeal to self-promote. Rarity from the Hollow is not mainstream fiction. It is literary science fiction that is character driven. If I’ve asked a book reviewer who is heavily into hard science fiction, for example, to review my novel, and if the review is not favorable, that’s “my bad.” Similarly, Rarity from the Hollow was not written as Young Adult, or for the prudish, fainthearted, or easily offended. If I look at what a book reviewer has focused on and find a lot of religious focused stories, even if the stories are in a science fiction genre, such could be an indication of conservative personal values which would affect the person’s review of my novel. If I make a mistake in soliciting reviews, and the review is not what I’d hoped for, I will be able to deal with that just fine.

I’ve gotten a three, maybe four, what I consider “fake” reviews. I have no idea what motivate a person to write a review, positive or negative, about a novel that the person obviously has not read. I’ll tell you about one. A person posted a one star, two sentence review of Rarity from the Hollow. Essentially, the review’s author stated that she didn’t like “war stories.” The only thing gunshot in my novel was an imitation Barbie used for target practice by neighbor boys – a metaphor of the impact of poverty on the self-esteem of children. There was no war in Rarity from the Hollow.

I reacted to the negative review. It was perturbing. However, I didn’t contact the reviewer directly. I wrote a polite inquiry to the Goodreads admin., which essentially said that it did not intervene in such situations. Two weeks later the review disappeared. Good? Not! Now, the text of the review is gone, but the one star rating stands, bringing down the overall average score of Rarity from the Hollow. In the long-run, it would have been better to have kept my mouth shut and hoped that somebody else would have commented on the dishonest review. I’m learning.  

Q: What is your favorite aspect of being an indie author?

A: After decades of suppressing my need to write fiction, [being an] Indie, and the technology which makes it possible, provides hope that I can write something that will be read by others. I have no delusion of making much money. Author proceeds from Rarity from the Hollow have been donated to a nonprofit child abuse prevention program from the start, so I’m not disappointed that “rich and famous author” is the equivalent of telling one’s mother, “Mommy, when I grow up I’m going to be an astronaut.” The opportunity to raise a little money is my favorite aspect of Indie publishing. I hate holding bake sales to raise money for a good cause. My brownies never turn out perfect.

Q: What is your least favorite aspect of being an indie author?

A: My least favorite aspect of [being an] Indie is the constant need to battle with my own common sense about spending money on fancy sounding self-promotions packages. Technology has generated new industries and one of the most predatory targets aspiring authors because we are so susceptible. I desperately want Rarity from the Hollow to succeed. I see expensive and inexpensive author promotions packages all the time, with testimonials by supposedly satisfied customers who I do not know or trust. In my income bracket, I can’t afford to pay for self-promotion of my writing, but I’m constantly tempted to do so.

Q: What is your current writing project?

A: I always have several writing project in various stages of progress at the same time. Since I’ve recently retired, the difference is that I’ve become productive. Instead of ideas, partially developed and then abandoned because life has always seemed so complicated, I’m reaching closure on a ton of older half-baked stories. A new short story just got rejected by a major science fiction magazine, so I’ve got some work to do on it, especially since I agree that it was prematurely submitted. Ivy, my next novel, is almost ready for professional editing. I’m holding off, trying to build name recognition before I submit it to the publisher for consideration. My dream with respect to writing fiction is to get to the place where I no longer need to request book reviews, but instead book reviewers ask the publisher for a copy of my work to review. I’m hopeful that I’ll get to that place with Rarity from the Hollow and then have the release of Ivy perfectly timed so that I can concentrate on writing instead of promotions. Overly optimistic? Of course.

Q: What are three of your favorite novels?

A: I don’t think that I can actually pick three favorite novels. I have tons of favorites. Here are three, but that doesn’t mean that the fourth or fifth, for example, would be less favorites: Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut; Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Collins; and, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

Q: If you could have lunch with any novelist, living or dead, who would it be? What would talk to them about?

A: I would love to have lunch with Abby Hoffman (Steal This Book) so that I could ask him to share his views about how the youth counter-culture of the late ‘60s and ‘70s did or did not influence America as a leader in the world, and why he held whatever views that he shared with me.

Q: What is your best piece of advice for budding authors?

A: I have advice for budding authors, but that doesn’t mean that my advice is sound, that they will listen, or that my advice will have applicability in this rapidly changing technology and marketplace. If I would have listened to the advice of established and well-meaning authors when I started writing fiction, Rarity from the Hollow would have never been published. My best advice to budding authors, therefore, would be to listen to your heart, impose self-discipline with respect to productivity, and pay attention to the changes that are going on before your eyes. What worked in the past for someone else may not be the least bit relevant to whether you achieve your dream to become a successful author.

Q: What is your favorite inspirational quote?

A: My favorite quote, but I don’t know to whom to attribute it, would be, “Don’t let the buttholes get you down.”

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Monday, September 14, 2015

INDIE AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: MELISSA SILVEY



Q: Melissa…what made you become a writer?

A: I don’t think I had a choice. I’ve been writing for as long as I could hold a pencil. I have all of these stories in my head, and when I was in my late twenties and had a computer, I decided to write them. I kept them on a disk and didn’t do anything with them forever, until my mom suggested I self-publish. So a couple of years ago I self published my first book, and I’ve been doing it ever since.

Q: What is your typical writing day like?

A: Usually the muse hits me at night. Sometimes I wake up with an idea and start writing. Sometimes I don’t think I have control over it, it just happens.

Q: Do you outline? If so, how extensive are your outlines?

A: I don’t normally outline, but if I start a sequel, I will outline to keep previous facts straight.

Q: How many revisions will you typically do on a novel?

A: Not many. I will edit some, but I rarely do revisions.

Q: What is your best tip for editing a manuscript?

A: My best tip: If you have the money to pay someone else to do it, do it!  Look for beta readers, and sometimes they might point out typos for you...if you’re lucky.

Q: Which writing habits and/or tricks of the trade have made you a better writer?

A: Just keep writing. Don’t write to get rich. Write because you have to write, write because you have to tell a story. 

Q: Do you ever suffer through writer’s block? If so, how do you fight it?

A: I suffer through writer’s block, and I walk away from it and don’t write until the muse hits me again. It helps to take a short break occasionally.

Q: What drew you to write your preferred genre(s)?

A: Anything with people who fall in love and are together in the end.

Q: Do you utilize beta readers?

A: When I can get them!

Q: In your most recently published novel, what’s one scene you really enjoyed writing—and why?

A: I really enjoyed writing the scene where the male lead breaks down crying and the female lead comforts him, and that leads to the answer to the next question.

Q: What makes the main character(s) of your most recent novel so special?

A: The male lead is the one in trouble, and the female lead is the one saving him. I like flipping the script and giving people something different.

Q: What is your best advice for author self-promotion?

A: I’m still waiting for someone to give me some good advice!

Q: How do you deal with negative reviews?

A: I used to worry about them, but I don’t anymore.

Q: What is your favorite aspect of being an indie author?

A: I control everything.

Q: What is your least favorite aspect of being an indie author?

A: I have to beg people to read my stuff!

Q: What is your current writing project?

A: Two sequels, which are both for novels that I love. 

Q: What are three of your favorite novels?

A: The Outsiders, The Hunger Games, and Odd Thomas.

Q: If you could have lunch with any novelist, living or dead, who would it be? What would talk to them about?

A: I would probably choose Stephen King. I’d like to talk to him about where he gets his ideas.

Q: What is your best piece of advice for budding authors?

A: If you really love the stories in your head, don’t give up. 

Q: What is your favorite inspirational quote?

A: “Never give up.”

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No witches, warlocks or vampires...
just a sexy tale about trying to live the Hollywood dream...


SUCCESS STORY OF THE WEEK: THIS MOM IS AN EROTIC NOVELIST!



This mom hit a home run with her erotic novels...





Sunday, September 13, 2015

INDIE AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: S.L. SHELTON



Q: S.L....what made you become a writer?

A: I like telling stories. There's something very satisfying about sitting down with an idea and being surprised where it guides you. I've told stories longer than I've been writing but something clicked one day about thirty years ago and made me realize these great stories (spoken and unspoken) were vanishing as the memory of them faded...so I started writing them down. I was a prolific writer, sometimes pounding out ten or fifteen thousand words at a time. But that would usually be enough to satisfy my desire and I stopped. It wasn't until the longing occurred to see a book cover with my name on it, that I finally sat down and got serious about the hard work involved in writing a book.

Q: What is your typical writing day like?

A: I start each day with my social media. Networking with other authors and trying to drive new readers to my books is the business I get out of the way first thing. Then, hopefully, I'm motivated to drive my story forward. If not, I fall into the same trap as many writers and play solitaire until I'm so disgusted with my lack of progress that I either turn off the computer or go back to my manuscript.  

Q: Do you outline? If so, how extensive are your outlines?

A: I do outline. That's what allowed me to break out of the dozens of first chapters I had written with nothing else to show. Outline rarely constrain me. In fact, I'd say not a single book has ever followed the outline. But then again, I usually just need a frame to fill in my story. Bullet points for each chapter are usually plenty to get me going and I almost never have to go back to it once I start writing.

Q: How many revisions will you typically do on a novel?

A: I typically do three writing passes. First draft, second draft, and then developmental edits with my editor.

Q: What is your best tip for editing a manuscript?

A: Hire an editor. Authors are too close to their work and need the second (or third) set of eyes for clarity and objectivity. Be sure you choose an editor with a compatible vision. Otherwise, there will be unnecessary conflicts.

Q: Which writing habits and/or tricks of the trade have made you a better writer?

A: Writing habits would include excessive amounts of coffee and a comfortable writing space. If you aren't comfortable in your physical world, it's nearly impossible to exit it to create a fictional one. Tricks? Reading out loud. Reading my books aloud has given me a much better sense of rhythm and flow. I believe that is one of the major reasons my work improved so dramatically between the first and subsequent novels. Also...don't be afraid to go back and rewrite previous works to make them consistent with your current level of expertise. It may be old news to you, but as long as those older works are out in the world, new readers will see them and judge your skill by them. You can stop revising after you're dead. If you haven't perfected your skill by then, there's not much you can do about it.

Q: Do you ever suffer through writer’s block? If so, how do you fight it?

A: Yes. All writers suffer from writer's block. It usually comes from an unfortunate combination of lack of self confidence (hopefully temporary) and trying to force a story in a direction it doesn't want to go. Writing fiction is not a force of will. It is a translation of an idea in the subconscious to a real medium. If you try to muscle the story out, you kill the creative process and it stalls. To fight it, I imagine myself as a silent observer in my story and watch what happens when I let it play with no control... If I like what results, I write it down. If I don't, I back up further and repeat the process. Works like a charm every time.

Q: What drew you to write your preferred genre(s)?

A: I love the action, I love secrets, and I love liars. The idea of writing people who fight for good, but are raw, flawed and full of personal quirks and hangups is so appealing to me. But in all honesty, I feel I could write in most genres if I'm allowed to produce the same sort of characters. I plan on testing that theory more fully in the short term.

Q: Do you utilize beta readers?

A: Yes. And more than that, because the novels have become so popular, I'm able to choose beta readers who will give me scathing feedback...I love the brutal truth when it comes to early reads. They allow me to refine my story and make it better entertainment.

Q: In your most recently published novel, what’s one scene you really enjoyed writing—and why?

A: Harbinger is my most recent. It's number five in a seven part saga. My favorite scene is a confrontation he has with another character (and love interest) midway through the story. I'd recount it but it would involve a major spoiler and I'd prefer not to do that.

Q: What makes the main character(s) of your most recent novel so special?

A: At first glance, my main character is perfect. He's genius level intelligence, physically more than capable and sees so much of the world around him he is almost omniscient at a local level. But when you reach down into the "why" he is that way, you begin to realize not only is he flawed, but he's pretty seriously f***ed up. He's dysfunctional, paranoid, driven by a strange combination of patriotic loyalty and counterculture angst letting him rationalize it's okay to break the rules for the greater good. He's quite a bit more broken than even current readers know, relying on his incredible gifts to manufacture a "human" mask while he is driven forward to destroy his foe...and honestly, he hasn't even stopped to ask himself why he's doing it. I find him to be the perfect representation of each of us, presenting as much false perfection to world as we can, while blindly doing what we feel is right even if we never stop to ask why.

Q: What is your best advice for author self-promotion?

A: Social media cross networking. Love other authors and promote them. Review their work and post it ad nauseam. Remember, you may have seen it posted ten times in one month, but your new followers haven't. The better you are to other authors, the better they will be to you.

Q: How do you deal with negative reviews?

A: After the initial freakout? Kidding. I usually read them objectively to see if the criticism was justified or if it was just a nasty review by someone who didn't take to the story. Constructive criticism can result in changes to the manuscript. The rest get ignored...not every book is for every person. If you happen to be unlucky enough to get a rare angry reviewer, just realize a few bad reviews lend credibility to the good ones. If you have more bad reviews than good reviews, then it might be time to revise the story.

Q: What is your favorite aspect of being an indie author?

A: The control I have over the process.

Q: What is your least favorite aspect of being an indie author?

A: The control I have over the process.

Q: What is your current writing project?

A: Predator's Game is the sixth novel in the series. The energy for the series has been building to the conclusion (it's a seven part series) and the tension in this one is the highest yet. Collisions of story lines occur with violent and brutal consequences.

Q: What are three of your favorite novels?

A: Dune by Frank Herbert. 2001: a Space Odyssey by Arthur C Clarke. Iceberg by Clive Cussler.

Q: If you could have lunch with any novelist, living or dead, who would it be? What would you talk to them about?

A: That's a tough one. Most of my favorite authors I know to be real a-holes in real life. That would just ruin much of it for me. I guess I'd go way back and try to enjoy a meal with Jules Verne. Being a non-French speaker myself, I'd have to rely on the natural pauses created in clumsy communication with a non-native English speaker to defuse his contrarian nature. If I were to discover he was fluent in English, I would spend the entire conversation pretending not to understand him through his accent...yes, just so I could honestly write tension into the description of my meeting with Jules Verne.

Q: What is your best piece of advice for budding authors?

A: Don't worry about a selling books. Assume you won't sell any and write for the joy of telling the story. Listen to your beta readers and don't get defensive about criticism...you are creating entertainment. If it doesn't entertain, you either have to adjust or you have to not care.

Q: What is your favorite inspirational quote?

A: "Everything you want to change about your life is outside of your comfort zone" or some variation. I don't know who the original quote belonged to, but the message is clear. Be satisfied with what you have or don't. But if you want to change, you can't do it while stuck in the rut of your current life.

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No witches, warlocks or vampires...
just a sexy tale about trying to live the Hollywood dream...

Thursday, September 10, 2015

INDIE AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: BENITA J. PRINS



Q: Benita...what made you become a writer?

A: I don't believe I became a writer - I always was a writer! Perhaps it was the Little House on the Prairie books that first inspired me to get writing. I remember, when I was a little girl, writing a book about a girl named Lucy Larson. The story itself is long lost, but I know it began with her making a list of words that started with each of the letters of the alphabet. (I recall this because I thought myself very clever for using "Xerxes" rather than "xylophone," my usual go-to for X.) Later in the story, she went blind; hence why I think Little House was one of my earliest inspirations.

Q: What is your typical writing day like?

A: I generally set aside some time in the afternoon during which I snuggle up in bed with my laptop. I need to be comfortable to write. Depending on my mood, I write as little as a sentence or as much as two or three chapters. With Starscape, I found it took me about an hour to write one page, so three chapters is about my outer limit for one sitting.

Q: Do you outline? If so, how extensive are your outlines?

A: For my first draft of Starscape, I had an outline. However, the first draft turned out pretty awful! When I wrote the new version of the story, I knew, in general, where the story was going in the end, and I had some ideas for the middle, which I wrote down; but other than that, I no longer try to outline. It seems to make my writing dull and lifeless. And after all, Tolkien didn't outline - so why should I?!

Q: How many revisions will you typically do on a novel?

A: Starscape went through three different versions. I tend to do my revising and editing as I go.

Q: What is your best tip for editing a manuscript?

A: Print the manuscript, put the pages into a Duo-Tang so it feels like a printed book, and then read it through, making notes of typos etc. I find it's very hard to edit well on a computer screen.

Q: Which writing habits and/or tricks of the trade have made you a better writer?

A: To be honest, I don't know. None have particularly influenced me, although I'm sure some of them have snuck into my mind and influenced me without my realizing it.

Q: Do you ever suffer through writer's block? If so, how do you fight it?

A: Oh, yes! Writer's block is my nemesis! When it attacks, I let the story sit for a few days, until I have a great idea for later in the story. A desire to get to that [later] part enables me to force myself to write whatever I'm stuck on.

Q: What drew you to write your preferred genre(s)?

A: I've gone through numerous preferred genres, historical fiction being a biggie in my tweens and early teens. Around that time, however, I read The Lord of the Rings for the first time. From then on I've loved fantasy.

Q: Do you utilize beta readers?

A: Four of my best friends, plus my two younger sisters, always want to read what I'm writing, so I suppose you could say that I do have beta readers. It's not a formal thing.

Q: In your most recently published novel, what's one scene you really enjoyed writing -- and why?

A: The scene where Eloderay is running from the wraith and falls into the underground lake was my absolute favorite scene to write. It was from her POV and of course she was terrified in this scene, so I wrote it in long, run-on sentences that were slightly disjointed at the same time. That was very different from the way I've always written and it was extremely fun.

Q: What makes the main character(s) of your most recent novel so special?

A: There are really four or five (or six) main characters in Starscape, and I think what makes them special is that each one ceased being a character and became a real person to me as I came to know them better.

Q: What is your best advice for author self-promotion?

A: Be yourself! Yes, I know that's trite, but it's true. I personally have a wacky sense of humor, so I let that find its way into my stories, blogs, and social media posts. From what I can tell, people enjoy that.

Q: How do you deal with negative reviews?

A: Ignore the unconstructive negativity and learn from the constructive.

Q: What is your favorite aspect of being an indie author?

A: I love having final say about everything that goes into my book, including cover design, interior design, and so on. Organizing things is one of my compulsive traits, so that part of me has had a field day over self-publishing. I also enjoy the feeling of being truly independent.

Q: What is your least favorite aspect of being an indie author?

A: It's so hard to get the word out about my book. When I do reach people, there can be negativity due to its being an indie book.

Q: What is your current writing project?

A: Here's where I'm supposed to begin enthusing over how I'm writing a sequel to Starscape...but no. Starscape is a standalone. My current story, Seascape, is another fantasy set in a totally different world. It's the story of a teenage boy, Einur, who is sent to find a lost tribe and their king. After this, a sacrifice must be made to bring down the evil cult of the Great Achiel. Einur's second task is to discover what this sacrifice might be. I already have a plot for a third book in mind!

Q: What are three of your favorite novels?

A: The Lord of the Rings will always come first on this list. Second is John Buchan's The Thirty-nine Steps, along with the other Richard Hannay novels. (Richard Hannay is the closest I've come to a literary crush since I was twelve and obsessed with Aragorn from LOTR!) Third would be all the Jeeves novels by P.G. Wodehouse, who is a comic genius for sure. I always laugh at his books.

Q: If you could have lunch with any novelist, living or dead, who would it be? What would you talk to them about?

A: I would love to have lunch with Tolkien and get him to teach me Elvish properly. Online Quenya courses could never take the place of that!

Q: What is your best piece of advice for budding authors?

A:  Do not write for the riches you might receive. Write because you love writing, and write what you love to write. If other people love it too, that is simply a plus.

Q: What is your favorite inspirational quote?

A: I have a lot, but this one by Thomas Edison is high up on the list: "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."

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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

INDIE AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: ISABEL CURTIS



Q: Isabel...what made you become a writer?

A: It kind of all began in a casual way. I've always felt like I had something to say, so as I grew up I felt the need to put my thoughts in writing, until characters and stories and plots just started taking form, and that's how my first book came to life.

Q: What is your typical writing day like?

A: I try to be as constant as I can. Unfortunately, writing isn't my only job, so there are days when I am unable to write. But the days when I force myself to just focus on writing I usually wake up, take the dog out (which is a great excuse for a morning walk and doing some exercise before sitting at the computer for hours), grab a cappuccino and I'm ready to start writing. If I haven't written in a couple of days then I probably have tons of things to write down: I can either start by writing from where I left off right or try to make an outline of what I want to write. If I'm having some kind of writer's block, I might start off the day by reading, or listening to music...doing whatever might trigger my inspiration. Apart from random interruptions or doing small chores around the house, I try to spend my writing day on the computer as much as I can. I try to take breaks every couple of hours by talking a walk around the neighborhood (again, the dog), but aside from that I pretty much just “sit at a typewriter and bleed”.

Q: Do you outline? If so, how extensive are your outlines?

A: I'm used to making a very broad outline of the book I want to write. Mostly it's something like: “I want to tell this kind of story, which begins with A then something like B-C-D happen and E is the outcome.” Then I start writing, letting my spur of the moment inspiration take me from a A to B, etc. If I have sub-plots (which I pretty much always have) I try to make general outlines of that, seeing how they can fit in with the main plot. I'm not the kind of author who does detailed outlines for every chapter and who already knows how everything will evolve right from the start. I tried that “technique” once, but it just doesn't work for me.

Q: How many revisions will you typically do on a novel?

A: Many. I tend to re-read what I write a lot of times and I end up making lots of revisions along the way.

Q: What is your best tip for editing a manuscript?

A: As common as it might sound, I'd say hire a professional proofreader/editor. Have more people read your book before publishing it, because as much as you re-read your writing there will always be something you miss.

Q: Which writing habits and/or tricks of the trade have made you a better writer?

A: The only habit I can think of is reading: the more I read, the better I become at writing. I think it's a universal rule for all authors.

Q: Do you ever suffer through writer’s block? If so, how do you fight it?

A: It happens, yes. Not so much as “I have no idea what I want to write next in this chapter,” but it's more like I get stuck on how to put the words down on paper. So whenever that happens I try to take my mind off that particular scene and maybe I jump on writing something else, or I might simply get up from my desk and go for a walk. Reading or watching a movie/TV show or listening to music is also a great way to get my inspiration moving along.

Q: What drew you to write your preferred genre(s)?

A: I mostly write young adult novels and new adult contemporary romance novels probably because those are the genres I love reading most. I feel like the stories I want to tell and the messages I [want] to convey are best for young adult readers; they are the perfect audience to whom I can still relate (although my ID says I'm not exactly a teenager anymore).

Q: Do you utilize beta readers?

A: I've never utilized beta readers, and I don't plan in a near future either...but never say never!

Q: In your most recently published novel, what’s one scene you really enjoyed writing—and why?

A: There are a few scenes during the second half of the book I just published (Before Life Happened, the Before series #1) where a pretty important character comes into action and I had a lot of fun writing the dialogue between this character (Sunrise) and the main protagonist of the story (Hayden). Sunrise is supposed to be a pretty funny and easygoing person, while Hayden is the opposite, so their interaction (and their forced journey together) was pretty entertaining to write.

Q: What makes the main character(s) of your most recent novel so special?

A: Hayden is an average teenage girl struggling with grief. Like many kids her age she is faced with peer pressure and choices to make. When life takes an unexpected turn we see her make every wrong step toward destruction, but in the end she will find her way back (thanks to Sunrise). She's the emblem of how things can get out of control in an instant, and getting back on track can be hard...but not impossible. She's special because she doesn't give up.

Q: What is your best advice for author self-promotion?

A: First of all, get a Twitter account and build a website to promote yourself and your books. Then try to contact as many book bloggers and book review websites as possible to they can review/read/promote your novel. Try to think as a reader, and figure out how you – as a reader – might come across your own book and promote yourself there. Also, offer an e-book for free (maybe the first in a series). It's a great way for people to notice you. Giveaways are a great promotional tool as well.

Q: How do you deal with negative reviews?

A: I try to not get too demoralized, since I already know that not everyone will like my work. I try to accept everyone's opinions. If [the opinions] are productive, that's even better; I can improve my writing and fix my flaws as suggested. So far I've received more 5 star reviews than low reviews, which obviously makes me happy.

Q: What is your favorite aspect of being an indie author?

A: Reinventing yourself every day. By being your own boss and an entrepreneur you get to chance to be a marketing specialist one day, a social media manager the next, a graphic and cover designer and website developer on Monday and a foreign rights expert on Friday...you never get bored!

Q: What is your least favorite aspect of being an indie author?

A: Unless you can afford to pay people to help you, you have to do all aforementioned tasks on your own. It can get overwhelming sometimes. Writing should be the primary focus for a writer...but you cannot put aside marketing and publicity, otherwise you end up writing only for yourself.

Q: What is your current writing project?

A: I'm currently working on my first contemporary romance series. The first book, Unexpected Love, will be published for free as an e-book within the month; the second part, Unexpected Returnwill be published a few weeks after that.

Q: What are three of your favorite novels?

A: Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut; Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk; Ocean Sea by Alessandro Baricco

Q: If you could have lunch with any novelist, living or dead, who would it be? What would talk to them about?

A: I'd like to meet Chuck Palahniuk…and would ask him how on earth he pronounces his last name! Then I would mostly praise him for his genius work.

Q: What is your best piece of advice for budding authors?

A: Do it your way. I've spent days reading online tips and advice on how to become an author, how to self-promote yourself, the do's and don'ts of writing... in the end it all comes down to what you really want and how you feel more comfortable achieving your goals. This is your journey, so you can't walk it in someone else's shoes.

Q: What is your favorite inspirational quote?

A: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover” – H. Jackson Brown Jr.

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