Saturday, 17 October 2015

Christy Nicholas

Author's Name: Christy Nicholas
Best Known Works: Legacy of Hunger; Ireland: Mystical, Magical, Mythical; Scotland: Stunning, Strange and Secret
Where You Can Find ThemFacebookWebsite
Top Writing Tip: Write every day. Even if it's twaddle. Even if you hate it, write. It gets better, truly it does. Give yourself a comfortable minimum, and don't sleep unless you make that minimum. It's a fantastic feeling to finish a first draft.


Hi Christy, welcome back! Thanks for catching up with us.

When and why did you begin writing?
I had just written my first novel (which is still in the editing process), about my parents' love story. It was a tale that needed to be told. I enjoyed the writing of the novel very much and was eager for more. I have always been incredibly attracted to Irish history, and the magic of that land, so I wanted to portray it in such a way that others could know the magic.

When did you realize that you were Pagan?
When I was about 16, I was heavily involved in the Presbyterian church. I began to study other religions and discovered that my soul was definitely more at home in a different belief system.

What are the main life experiences that have led to this book? 
I've always been someone who tries new things. I am an accountant, but I make jewelry, take photos, paint, and sew. I also have no children, yet still wanted to make a mark on the world.

How did the topic of your book(s) come to you?
I have always been a fan of Irish history, and a big fan of such novelists as Juliet Marillier and Morgan Llewellyn, who combine history with mythology and magic. I wanted to do something similar, bringing the Great Famine into a greater public scrutiny. 4 million people either left or died in Ireland during that time, a full half of the population. I wanted to show someone taking the opposite journey - traveling TO Ireland during that horrific time.

Tell us a bit about your story, key characters, and plot.
Valentia McDowell is a rather spoiled young lady in Pittsburgh and is bored. She is determined that she wants to go on a quest - to find her grandmamma's family in Ireland. She corrals her brother, Conor, into the journey, and, of course, her maid and his valet. She has been haunted by tales of a special family heirloom for years, a mystical brooch her grandmother had left behind. She takes one of the first steamships across the Atlantic, traveling in style and wealth. But when she arrives in Ireland, battered by illness and already disillusioned of her quest, she discovers the plight of the Irish people during the Famine. She continues her quest but conceives of a new one - to help the people as much as she can.

Do you plan your stories before you begin?
Yes, and yes. I'm definitely a planner, not a pantser. I am an accountant, so I love order. I write out my synopsis, building it layer by layer (see The Snowflake Method for details). Then I make a spreadsheet with all my scenes, and only then start the writing process.

How long does it take you to write a book, are you a fast writer or a slow writer?
I'm a pretty fast writer, but a slow editor. While I set myself a minimum of 1000-2000 words a day (with weekends off), I can usually get a novel-length first draft in about 2 months. I love writing the first draft, and when I get in the zone, my fingers fly as fast as my thoughts. It's an almost orgasmic experience to finish that first draft. However, then comes the hard part. I hate the editing. It's a painful process for me, and I tend to procrastinate it. I'm doing that right now, as a matter of fact!

Is this your first published piece or have you had work published before?
I've had my two travel guides, Ireland: Mystical, Magical, Mythical and Scotland: Stunning, Strange and Secret published in 2013 and 2014.

Are you published or self-published, and what has been your experience of this process?
I am both. My first couple of photojournals of my travels were self-published. My two travel guides for Ireland and Scotland are published by a small press publisher in Ireland (Tirgearr). They are also publishing my first novel, and I am very grateful for all the help they have offered me along the way. It's a very long process either way, but highly rewarding.

How important are reviews of your work, do you read them?
Absolutely, and yes! We all have an innate need for approval. It's hard-wired into us, and a review is a critique of something you have sweated long hours to create. It's as if someone is judging your child. Of course, you must have some thick skin for those that just don't like it - I do understand that. However, the good reviews make you glow inside that you've brought some delight and joy to another person. You've shared your love with them, in a way.

Who encourages/inspires you? 
People. There is such kindness in the world, in the face of cruelty and hardship. I think it's the strongest force in the universe.

Do you ever dream about writing?
All the time! In fact, that's where I get a lot of my ideas. It's also where I tend to solve plot issues, or come up with new scenes. I used to train myself to remember my dreams by writing things down as soon as I wake up. I did this for a long time, and now I'm very good about remembering what I dreamt.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you most like a writing retreat?
The west coast of Ireland. Specifically, County Donegal, hopefully on a high coastal cliff overlooking the sea. Ireland holds a piece of my soul, and I call it mo anam bhaile, my soul's home. My inner self feels grounded when I am in Ireland, in a way I never felt in the US, Canada, or even England or Scotland.

What are your future plans for writing?
I've already written two prequels to this novel, and a first draft of a stand-alone story, called Call of the Morrigan. I'm hoping to next work on a novelization of the tale of the Children of Lir.


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Thank you, Christy, for updating us on your projects. We wish you all the best for your new series!




T.J. Perkins

Authors Name: T.J. Perkins
Best Known Works: Four Little Witches
Where You Can Find ThemAmazonFour Little WitchesWebsiteFacebook
Top Writing Tip: Write what you like to read and stick with it.  If you like mystery - write mystery. If you like fantasy - write fantasy.  You should always stick with what you know.  Then decide if you like writing in first person, 3rd person or narrator.  Once you choose, write in that 'voice' until you're a master at it.





Hi T.J., thanks for taking the time to talk to us!

When and why did you begin writing?
I got into storytelling when I was a kid.  Friends loved to hear them and kept asking for more.  I learned to type on a manual typewriter and continued writing short stories as I grew up.  It wasn’t until after I became a mom that my children and their friends became my new inspirations for my YA mysteries and earliest fun short stories.

When did you realize that you were Pagan?
I’ve been Wicca for the past 10 years.  When I figured it out it was sort of an ah-ha moment.  I was seeking a new Path and realized that, being a country girl, I was pretty much doing the same thing during the holidays and seasons that Pagans did. At that point, everything just fell into place. I’ve never been happier.

What are the main life experiences that have led to this book?
I have been writing for 15 years.  I have published eight YA mysteries published by GumShoe Press, a five book fantasy series for teens, published by Silver Leaf Books, and now Four Little Witches, a picture book published by Schiffer Publishing, that teaches about the elements for Pagan/Wiccan/Heathen children ages 0-6.  I also have gotten several short stories published through many anthologies. I love archery, fencing, martial arts, gardening (especially flowers and herbs).  I like to hike and find a place away from people to meditate and connect with the elements.  When I write I do so while my cat, Lealu, supervises.

How did the topic of your book come to you?
I felt driven to teach after my Dedication and Initiation.  During that time, it was discovered that I had a deep connection with the elements.  I have incorporated that in my fantasy series and now in Four Little Witches.  The idea of Four Little Witches came to me in meditation – so I know the Goddess was guiding me.

Tell us a bit about your story, key characters, and plot.
I’ve been told by many that this book is a first of its kind, as there aren’t any teaching books for young Pagan children.  Each little witch represents an element.  There are colors, the quarters and all sorts of subtle representations for each of the elements.  When disaster strikes they work together to heal the earth and make everything better again.

Do you plan your stories before you begin?
I do a rough outline, then create character outlines, and then I draw out an action timeline.  These are only guidelines – I don’t always stick with it, I leave room to go off in other directions as I write.

How long does it take you to write a book, are you a fast writer or a slow writer?
It really depends on the book.  If it’s a picture book, two weeks to one month. If it’s a novel, over a year because I work 2 jobs and my time and energy is limited.

Do you socialize with other writers or are you a solitary author?
I’m solitary.  Though I’m always asked by new authors for suggestions on how to help them be successful, which I happily provide. I mingle more at all of the conventions I attend: Far Point, Shore Leave, Ravencon, Chessiecon, Marscon and Balticon


If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you most like a writing retreat?
Ireland.  What a magickal, mystical, historical place.  So much life and whimsical energy to connect to.

How important are reviews of your work, do you read them?
Reviews are an amazing thing!  And yes, I read them and pass them on to my publishers so they can use them for marketing/promoting.

What are your future plans for writing?
I’d like to keep writing teaching picture books for young Pagan children, but I am also writing a new high fantasy trilogy for adults, which also contains a ton of Celtic/Germanic Pagan/Wiccan representations.

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Thank you again for giving us a glimpse into your passion and your process. We wish you the best of luck with your picture books and your novels! 



Sunday, 2 August 2015

Zaro Weil

Author's Name: Zaro Weil
Best Known WorksJOURNEY BACK TO THE GREAT BEFORE
Where You Can Find ThemWebsite
Top Writing Tip: Write down everything and don’t immediately judge your work. Be generous to your writer self.



Hi Zaro, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us!

When and why did you begin writing?

I began writing poetry a long time ago. And when, as a 22-year-old, I started a childrens’ theatre dance company in America (which I  directed and performed in for 10 years), I found myself writing all of the pieces we performed. It just came easily. From there, my poetry for children began to be published and when I moved to London in 1981, I continued writing. And even during the years when I founded and ran a publishing company, I kept on writing. 

How did the topic of your book come to you? 

It came to me because I saw the animals doing odd or funny or touching things. And this nourished my interest in the natural world. 

When did you realise that you were Pagan?

I suppose I realised after finishing this book, that indeed I was a part of the picture, that in other words, Nature and I were one and the same and that my links with the animal and plant world were the most important elements of my life. And I suppose I am pagan in as much as I put my faith and trust in the natural world.

What are the main life experiences that have led to this book?

Being mostly a city girl, I had no idea of the complexities and richness of animal life and my association with “nature” was limited to buying flowers in Chapel Market in London every week. Then things changed. We moved to a remote hill in southern France and at once I was face to face with the natural world. I saw things that befuddled and amazed me: owls flying down chimneys, bats rolling around in the sky every twilight, mice sitting on the back of toads, wild boars snorting outside my door, watching the entire sky light up with fire during rainstorms, seeing the earth quickly swell with water and so on. These and other natural events struck something within me. They felt magical.  And so I wrote them down.  They became little stories and finally a book.

Tell us a bit about your story, key characters and plot.

The book opens in an ancient graveyard where a historic meeting is taking place between Owl, the King of Guignolet Haut, and his Council - White Horse, Hawk, and Dog.  Owl announces that a prophecy of great destruction is coming to pass and that there is little time left. The ‘Right Humans’ must be summoned back to the hill.

Having set out from London on what they imagined to be simply a summer holiday, the chosen family, (mother Zinnia and father Coriander, and Verbena aged eleven and Cosmos aged nine) wind up at Guignolet Haut, an old farm house in southern France. 

The humans meet Kharma, the dog, and are amazed to learn that she can talk. She leads them to The Great Book and over time they decipher its ancient markings and the prophecy. They are helped in their animal understandings by the enigmatic Madame Aligot. She is a ‘confectioner of potions,’ as she explains to the family, and has strange powers. She insists that the family develop their ‘mind’s eye’ so they can truly understand the world around them, just as the animals do.  Only in this way will the animals trust them enough to allow them to comprehend their languages.

The Family find themselves drawn into a series of encounters with idiosyncratic animal characters – a mouse and toad who fall in love, a giant lizard rapper who lives in the garbage can, badgers who meet for a Philosophy Challenge, busybody donkeys who boss the other animals around, Hawk who as chief scientist predicts the weather…. They are then faced with nine challenges, which involve them in a series of bizarre, frightening, instructive and yet at the same time often hilarious adventures.

As the humans re-establish their links with nature and slowly learn to see things through the prism of their  ‘mind’s eye’ they come to understand the world from the animals’ point of view, to develop empathy with the natural world, and to appreciate that things aren’t always what they seem. 

Do we see some of you in your book?

YES. You can find me in every character!

Is there any “back story” that inspired you to write this book?

Living in the middle of the French countryside, after years of city life and the continual commercial hum of running a publishing company, I found myself closely drawn to the natural world.  I observed more, listened keenly and had some strange encounters. My horror at the environmental degradation of the planet grew stronger, and became the main social theme in the book.  I think of the novel as a wake-up call for the planet, and who better to understand the beauty and power of the natural world than kids?  I want my audience to understand what is at stake.  But I dislike preaching at kids, which gets no one anywhere. I want the story to be just that, a tale in a classic tradition: a dazzling epic with a cast of thousands and a powerful literary adventure. 

Do you plan your stories before you begin?

I never plan. I just have a feeling and go with it. I never know what I have to say in advance exactly. Writing for me is a process of question asking. And the epiphany comes when you get to the end and you have answered your own questions. I find it is the same with poetry.

Are you a fast writer or a slow writer?

This novel took me seven years to write. I did a lot of re-writing along the way. I found narrative writing hard to learn. I had been used to writing poetry and plays.

Do you socialise with other writers or are you a solitary author?

I would love to socialise  and have dialogues with other writers, but I don’t live close to a writers’ community. Anyway, it is essentially a solo act.

Who encourages or inspires you?

Of course the answer is clear…..the creatures, the flowers, the trees, the mountains, the clouds. I am dotty about what I experience around me every day.

Are you published or self-published, and what has been your experience of this process?

My poetry has been published by a number of publishing companies. My first novel, JOURNEY BACK TO THE GREAT BEFORE is published by my own company, MQP BOOKS, which I set up expressly to publish my own work. I did it this way because I wanted to keep control and I know how publishers work…and it is not very often in the favour of the writer.

What are your future plans for writing?

I am planning my new poetry collection for children to be published Sept 2016: MORE MUD MOON AND ME; THE COMPLETE COLLECTION OF ZARO WEIL. And a short story for younger kids called THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF SPOT GUEVARRA- WONDER DOG.

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Thank you again for giving us a glimpse into your passion and your process, Zaro. We wish you all the best with your poetry and we look forward to reading your novel!





Sunday, 26 July 2015

Marion Grace Woolley

Author Name: Marion Grace Woolley
Best Known Works: Those Rosy Hours at Mazandaran, Lucid, Angorichina
Where Can You Find Her?: Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook
Top Writing Tip: You're in it for the long haul. Give yourself time, be patient, learn well from  others, and write lots and lots of words. Eventually they'll sparkle. 




Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us!


Tell us a little about yourself, when and why did you begin writing?


My background both in literature and life is pretty eclectic. I went to the BRIT School of Performing Arts before uni, which was a great place for learning what makes a good story and how to express myself. 


I went on to combine my love of drama with a passion for British Sign Language. I studied Deaf Theatre at Reading, then an MA in Language and Communication Research at Cardiff. My academic background has always been far less vocational than it has been artistic, although to call art non-vocational is perhaps a disservice. It's just how I feel when I check my bank balance.


In 2007 I signed up with Voluntary Services Overseas and went to Rwanda, where I helped to develop the first Dictionary of Rwandan Sign Language, published in 2009. I've called Kigali my second home ever since. I currently work as the program director for a small human rights organisation focused on post-genocide countries.


It was during my first time in Rwanda that I decided to try to write a novel. I didn't have a TV, radio or many books, and the internet back then was fairly shonky, so I had a lot of spare time on my hands with few distractions. 


Rwanda has always been a very productive country for me writing-wise.


What are the main life experiences that have led to this book? 


Those Rosy Hours at Mazandaran was less about life experience, and more about inner fascination. It's dark Gothic fiction, strongly inspired by Gaston Leroux's The Phantom of the Opera.


Leroux hinted at another story, one set in Northern Iran prior to the Paris Opera House. There were enough breadcrumbs dropped to bake a loaf, yet the full story was still something of a mystery. 


Susan Kay tackled it in her 1990 novel Phantom, but I chose to approach it from a different angle. I wanted to explore what could make a young girl, the daughter of the Shah of Iran, so twisted in her pleasures. What drew her to indulge in darkness and murder? 


So I wrote the story through her eyes.


Is this your first published piece or have you had work published before?


This was my first book published by Ghostwoods Books. I can't recommend them enough. I think they saved me. Rosy Hours  was really my last push. I'd had three novels published before, but the publishing houses, although enthusiastic, didn't have a marketing budget to promote the work.


Ghostwoods have been incredible. Not only did they rustle up a modest marketing budget and a talented cover designer, they also split the profits 50/50 with their authors. 


At the time they picked up the book, I was quite discouraged by the publishing industry. Looking back at my first attempts, I'm sort of glad they never got a wider readership. There was a lot wrong with them. But I knew that this time I'd written something good, something that deserved to be loved, and that's what Ghostwoods did, they really looked after it. 


The finished product was a beautifully produced book, and also an audiobook. That was a really big experience for me. I'd never had anything turned into an audiobook before and the whole process, working with my editor Salomé Jones and Emma Newman, was something I'll always remember. 


When did you realise that you were Pagan?


My dad collects Green Men, my mother once told me we should 'respect the land upon which we are born and the spirits which dwell upon it,' and I come from a small village in the Midlands famed for witchcraft. I'd have been surprised if I turned out anything else. Though over the past few years I've made a steady transition towards Humanism.


Where do you go when you need to recharge?


The page. 



How long does it take you to write a book, are you a fast writer or a slow writer?

On average, it tends to take me five to eight months to write a novel. I don't usually write every day, but once I'm on a roll I can write between 2,000-5,000 words in a sitting. Sporadic, but regular enough to get to the end. I usually know whether a work is going to be a novel around the 20,000 word mark. If I sail past that, it's onward to the 100,000 mark. If I struggle to get to 20,000 then it's usually a short story or an idea for the bottom draw.


Do you think ebooks have changed the publishing market for better or worse?


I think e-books are magnificent. 


That doesn't mean I love paper books any less.


I've never understood this either-or mentality. Surely anything that gets people reading has to be a good thing? 


I work with an organisation called Isaro Foundation in Rwanda. They distribute around 45-70,000 books to public and school libraries across the country. Last year they set up the first e-library. They received around thirty Kindles and created a stock of free-to-download and donated e-books at a school. Within a few months they recorded a 70% increase in kids reading for pleasure. Partly because the books were affordable and easy to access, and partly because the kids just loved playing with technology.


In the face of that, the argument 'e-books aren't as good as paperbacks' seems a little silly.


It's the stories and characters we fall in love with, whichever format they come in.


Who encourages you?


My editor and satisfied readers. Ghostwoods did such a good job on Rosy Hours that I feel inspired to keep writing and to improve. My family and close friends also play a strong role, those who tend to coat any criticism with kindness. But I'm not sure how much encouragement comes into it. I've never needed much encouragement to write. It's habitual. I think I'd need drastic intervention to stop.


Tell us a bit about your story, key characters and plot.


Those Rosy Hours at Mazandaran is set in Northern Iran in the mid-1800s. A time of political tension and attacks against the Bábí faith. The story focuses on Afsar, the eldest daughter of the Shah, born into ultimate wealth and privilege.


For her birthday, her father brings her a travelling circus, and she strikes up an unlikely friendship with a masked magician called Vachon. Their characters are very similar, and it isn't long before they goad one another into cruel games.


Whilst engrossed in these games, the politics of Iran play out about them, and eventually threaten to overwhelm. 


It's not a book for the faint-hearted. I departed from Phantom as a love story and took it back to its original Gothic roots. But if you like your fiction on the shadowy side, and your characters complex, you should enjoy this.


Has your style changed over the past five years – how and why?


Oh gods, yes. 


I think there are two key parts to writing: technical ability and imagination.


In terms of technical ability, I've made huge strides. I was a very late developer when it comes to grammar. I didn't really start to grasp it until my early twenties. A love of writing taught me to embrace grammar, and now I do a passable impression of someone who can apostrophise a contraction. I've also become slightly less homonymically challanged, no longer preying at the alter of rite and wrong. 


Thanks to a couple of really good editors, and to advances in online tools such as Google's Define function and Etymology Online, I've learned a lot. 


As for imagination, I wrote my first couple of novels with no awareness of the market at all. I just wrote what I wanted to write. I still write what I want to write, but now I do have half an eye on the market. I've never had much trouble getting published, but selling books is really tough going.


Like most authors, I'm never short on story ideas, but now, when I'm weeding through them, deciding which to nurture, I have the haunting voices of publishers and editors in my head warning me that unless I want to spend six months writing a book no one will read, I should probably be a little more mindful of my style.


I suppose, having read more and written more over the past five years, I'm just developing greater awareness of what makes a good story. Hopefully in another five years I'll be a total aficionado...


If you could pick one book you wish you’d written, what would it be?


Bem Le Hunte's The Suduction of Silence


What are your future plans for writing?


I've just completed another novel, The Children of Lir, an epic retelling of the original Irish legend. 


It's a very different sort of book to Rosy Hours - 1850s Northern Iran to Iron Age Ireland - but it's a story I've always wanted to write, so I'm glad I got around to it. 


I hope to be able to make a happy announcement about it later this year. It's had some positive feedback so far. With any luck it'll be available for reading in 2016.



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Thank you again for giving us a glimpse into your passion and your process. The best of luck with The Children of Lir, we look forward to reading it.



Monday, 6 April 2015

D.A. Roberts


Author Name: D.A. Roberts

Best Known Works: The Ragnarok Rising Saga
Where Can You Find Him?: Email, Facebook, Book Page, Blog, Website
Top Writing Tip: I would have to say, to never give up. Writing is a skill that takes work and practice to perfect. I still have a great deal to learn and I plan to never stop learning. Know your craft, study other writers and keep writing. Even if you aren't ready to publish now, it doesn't mean you won't make it. It just takes work and commitment. 



Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us!

Tell us a little about yourself, what are the main life experiences that have led to this book?

I was born to a large family. We lived on a farm when I was young and I loved it. I remember those days with fondness, knowing it was that rural upbringing that would mold my view of the world. I've always believed in hard work and perseverance. You work hard and reap the benefits of your labor. It was also the farm that gave me my love of literature. My mother encouraged me to read, fanning the flames of my desire to write my own stories. Through the years, I continued to write but I never gave it the attention that it deserved. Despite a few minor publications, I didn't have anything significant published until I was in my early 40's. 

When did you realise that you were Pagan?

I've been walking my own path since I left the military. I began exploring alternative paths in the early 90s when I first discovered Wicca. Although Wicca turned out to be interesting and informative, it wasn't the path I was meant to follow. It wouldn't be for a number of years before I learned about Asatru. That's when I discovered that I had found the right path. I am a corrections officer with the Sheriff's Department where I live. I've been doing this for eight years. The Asatru connection fits perfectly with my job, my writing and my personality. It's a warrior's path and I love that aspect of it. 

When and why did you begin writing?

I've been writing since I was a kid. I've wanted to be a writer as long as I can remember. Although it took me years to develop the skill and discipline to complete a project that was worthy of publication, I never gave up on that dream. 

How did the topic of your books come to you? 

The idea to create a zombie series came as a conversation I had with some friends. A group of us, all officers, were having coffee one night. The topic turned to horror movies and then to zombies. When someone asked "What would we do if zombies hit here?" We all laughed, but then began discussing what we thought would happen in our hometown if the dead were to rise. I found that after the jokes were done, I couldn't quit thinking about the concept. Soon, I had a full-fledged story idea and began work on the first installment of the Ragnarok Rising Saga.

Tell us a bit about your story, key characters and plot.

My series centers around the main character, Wylie Grant. Like me, Wylie is a Corrections Officer and follower of Asatru. When the dead rise, he has to chose between his duty to his family and his oath as an officer. When things get bad, he does the best he can do. He gets his family to safety and returns to duty to help save as many people as he can. The twist in the series is how I work in the Norse references. I've had to change some of the Norse legends to fit the story, but the core is still there. The values espoused by Asatru are all there. That despite the fact that the world is ending; honor, courage, loyalty and sense of duty are still important. Maybe more important than ever before. Facing the dead will challenge more than Wylie's faith. Especially when he learns that the rising of the dead are part of Ragnarok.

Do we see some of you in your book?

I think that you see some of every writer in their books. It's impossible to create anything without putting something of yourself into it. Art, writing, food…whatever you create, you express yourself through it. It's inevitable that part of ourselves…of our personalities…would show through.

Do you ever dream about writing?

Oh, all the time. Some of my best story ideas have come from dreams. I try to keep paper and a pen handy so that I can jot down my dreams. Sometimes I get crazy ideas that might one day end up in print. Who knows? Dreams are those glimpses of our psyche that touch on our deepest thoughts and memories. What better place to inspire your creative side?

Who encourages/inspires you?

My wife is and probably always will be my muse. She encouraged me, even when I didn't believe in myself. She believed in me when no one else did. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn't be the writer I am today. As a matter of fact, I wouldn't be the man I am without her. She's been there for me through the worst parts of my life and remained my rock and my strength. She's the mother of my sons, the rock of our family and my inspiration.

Where do you go when you need to recharge?

I like to get outdoors. Camping, hiking or just driving in the countryside. I feel drawn to the woods and rivers of my native Ozarks. I feel a deeper connection to everything around me when I can't hear the sounds of the city or the engines of cars. The wind, the water and nature play us a symphony, if we would only take the time to listen to it.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you most like a writing retreat?

Hmm…that's a difficult question. There are so many places that I would love to visit. I'd like to write in an old Scottish Castle, or along the shores of a remote lake in the Highlands. Scotland would be my first choice for a retreat. If I ever were to become financially able, I'd love to buy an old manor house in Scotland and live there. That would be amazing, to live among so much history. How could I be anything but inspired there? 

Is this your first published piece or have you had work published before?


I have four novels currently in release and am working on two additional projects slated for release by summer of 2015. One is the fifth installment of my Ragnarok Rising Saga and the other is the first in a new sci-fi series based on the video game The Infinite Black by Spellbook Studios. I was contacted by them to create back-story for the game and they liked my work. They then asked if I would like to create fiction, set in that universe. This book will be called The Lost Legion: Perdition's Flames. You can download and play the game for free at Spellbook.

Are you published or self published, and what has been your experience of this process? 

Although I began my career as a traditionally published author, I have found that the Independent Path was best for me. It's been a tremendous amount of work, but completely worth it. I've met some amazing people on this journey and it's taken a farm kid from rural Missouri to places I never thought I'd reach. I've learned a lot of things along the way, not the least of which was self-confidence. I know that if I put my mind to it, I can make it happen.

Do you think ebooks have changed the publishing market for better or worse?

E-books have made it easier to carry books with you. You can carry an entire library with you in a small bag. With the advent of game systems and smart phones, I feel that anything that keeps people reading the written word is a good thing. We should always take time to enjoy good stories. E-books have made it easier to publish and distribute your work on a global scale. You don't have to have a major publishing house to publish your work, now. Self-publishing is taking the industry by storm. More and more authors are learning that if they do it themselves and can handle the marketing aspect of it, then they can make far more of their own royalties than ever before. Authors no longer need a publisher to take 60 to 80 percent of the pie, just to publish their work. It has put the power back in the hands of the writer. To me, that's where it should be. The writer is the one who creates the story. Why shouldn't they reap the majority of the reward?

What are your future plans for writing?

One of my favorite writers is Cormac McCarthy. He's well into his 80's and still writing. I hope that I can still be writing books and stories when I reach that age. I have a long way to go and no intention of stopping. I plan to still be taking this journey for a long, long time.
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Thank you again for giving us a glimpse into your passion and your process. The best of luck with your future books, stories and game tie-ins! 


Friday, 20 March 2015

Alexandra Chauran

Author Name: Alexandra Chauran
Best Known WorksHow to Talk to Me After I’m Gone: Creating a Plan for Spirit Communication
Where Can You Find Her?: Website, Facebook, Twitter
Top Writing Tip: Definitely write things and finish what you start. Learn how to work even with frequent interruptions or when you’re not in the mood for writing. As a mom of two young children, I’ve had to teach myself to write under extremely distracting circumstances, and I’m thankful for that skill.


Hi Alexandra, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us!


Tell us a little about yourself, what are the main life experiences that have led to this book?

I’ve been a fortune teller since I was a kid. It sounds strange, but really I had the most supportive parents in the world, and an intuitive mom to boot. In fact, later on, my mom and I actually worked a Psychics on the Sea cruise ship together!  I always joke that I could scry in a toothbrush. I started writing books and never stopped. Now I write at least three a year. Some book ideas come to me in dreams. Some of them are given to me by others. I’m easily inspired, and always open to suggestions!


When did you realise that you were Pagan?


I grew up as a sort of pantheist. When I was a teenager I dedicated myself to Paganism, and was initiated into Wicca as a young adult.


When and why did you begin writing?


I’m going to give a shout out to my junior high school writing teacher, Sue Moroz. She died of breast cancer, but before she did, she made me promise to keep writing!


How did the topic of your book(s) come to you?

I mostly write about my day job, fortune telling. I also love to write about magic, spirit communication, and Wicca. Occasionally a fiction manuscript jumps out of me and wanders around my house begging to see the light of day.

Tell us a bit about your story, key characters and plot.

I mostly write non-fiction books about body, mind and spirit. Though I did write a romance novel called Horned Hunter of the Night which features a young woman falling in love with the Horned God of the Wicca.

Do you ever dream about writing?

I had a dream about living my spirit life.  When I saw my book, How to Talk to Me After I’m Gone in the dream, I immediately told my publisher.  I received a positive response on 12/12/12 and signed the contract in about a month, which is lightning speed in the publishing industry, let me tell you.  My editor observed that this book must be good therapy for me, and it was. 

Do we see some of you in your book?

I pretty much pour my soul out in personal stories in all my non-fiction books. And you can literally see me on the cover of How to Talk to Me After I’m Gone, along with my mother and daughter. Technically my son is pictured too, but he was inside my big pregnant belly in that photo. People always ask if those are my hands on the cover of Crystal Ball Reading for Beginners. They’re not. They belong to a model selected by the fabulous art department at Llewellyn Worldwide, although plenty of hands familiar to me appear inside Palmistry Every Day

Who encourages/inspires you?

My mom is definitely my biggest supporter and encourager. I’ll let you in on a little secret that she’s my first and best proof reader. My husband and kids are amazing supporters of my zany writing addiction. And, of course, my editor at Llewellyn, Amy Glaser, is a peach!

Tell us a little about the community you’re building through your blog and social media.

Well, I already mentioned that I’m easily inspired, so I often ask my readers through my blog social media for ideas when I’m pitching new books or writing up outlines for proposals. I also give away a lot of audiobook download codes on social media. In general though, I’m woefully bad at self-promotion. The good news is that I’m not a spammer!  You can find me on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin and blogging at Earthshod.

Do you socialise with other writers or are you a solitary author?

I’ve joined Pagan Writers Community, haven’t I? Doesn’t that count as socialization? Seriously, though, I also am a member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association. I’m planning to get together with other writers to write more once my small children are old enough to not cause someone concentrating to have an aneurism.

If you could pick one book you wish you’d written, what would it be?

I definitely have a lot of Wicca book ideas in my head that are just begging for the right publisher to decide they’re marketable. I’d love to write a book about my tradition of British Traditional Wicca, Kingstone, while its founding elders are still alive and kicking to help me with the history. I’d also like to write a Wicca book that throws away all the tools that are barriers to folks practicing on a budget or in limited environments like hospitals, prisons, and homes filled with jumpy parents or roommates. I also think there needs to be more books written for Wiccan couples, since it’s a religion often given to practicing in loving pairs.

Is this your first published piece or have you had work published before?

I’ve had over a dozen books published.

Are you published or self published, and what has been your experience of this process?           

I am lucky enough to be a multi-published author. I’ve had a really excellent experience working with several publishers. I really can’t rave enough about working with a good publisher. I’m just not good enough to self-publish. I need teams of editors and marketers and an art department to make magic!  I’ve had wonderful experience publishing with Llewellyn Worldwide. I’ve also had different but equally charming experiences working with smaller indie presses like Jupiter Gardens Press, Pagan Writers Press, and Megalithica Books.

What are your future plans for writing?

Well, my book Clearing Clutter releases on July 8th, so I’m excited about that one being released in time for people to clean house for summer guests. I also have 365 Ways to Strengthen Your Spirituality coming out November 8th. I’m writing two more contracted books right now for 2016: Compassion is the Key to Everything and Runes for Beginners, so I’m super pumped about those topics right now.
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Thank you, Alexandra, for sharing your process and your passion with us! The best of luck with your new releases this year and all your future projects!


                                              

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

C.S. MacCath

Author Name: C.S. MacCath
Forthcoming WorkGrandmother Mælkevejen's Belly: A Novelette of the Lodhuven
Where Can You Find Her? : Website
Top Writing Tip: Never, never, never give up. It's simple advice, but I believe it's both the hardest and most important thing a writer can do for her career.




Hi C.S., thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us!



When and why did you begin writing?

I began writing science fiction in the 5th grade when my class was assigned a creative writing project, and I never looked back. In fact, my 6th grade teacher separated me from the rest of the class for sharing my stories and poems and forced me to sit beside her because she felt I was a distraction to other students. A better case for home-schooling I never did see.

When did you realise that you were Pagan?

When I was a girl, I had the experience so many Pagans report of a deep connection with the natural world, but I didn't have the language for that connection then that I do now. In my mid-teens, I was introduced to The Spiral Dance and The Mists of Avalon. The first book gave me that language, and the second gave me a vision of spirituality tied to the Earth, the divine feminine and my own body, mind and spirit. That's when I began using words like 'Pagan', 'priestess' and 'witch' to describe myself. My words are a little different now (Druid and Heathen, most notably), but my core spirituality is still tied to that connection with the land, sea and sky.

How do the topics of your stories come to you? 


They come from everywhere! Science articles, other stories, conversations with my husband and friends, spiritual experiences, dreams. In fact, my story "Sing the Crumbling City" is the retelling of a dream I had some years ago. It's featured at Mythic Delirium during the month of April 2015, and you can read it there free of charge (though I encourage you to subscribe to the magazine if you like good speculative fiction and poetry).

What are the main life experiences that have led to this story?

The original draft of "Grandmother Mælkevejen's Belly" was written during the final week of the Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers' Workshop in 2006, an infamous year for the course by any estimation and an experience I wouldn't repeat for my weight in gold or chocolate. The second draft came a few years later as a sequel to a story that appeared in Murky Depths Issue #7 entitled "The Longest Road in the Universe." That story is still available, but you don't need to read it to enjoy this one. 

I was playing djembe in a West African performance ensemble during the writing of that second draft and thinking about the often-contentious relationship between spirituality and science. I wanted to write a story about a strong spiritual community and a strong scientific community in need of each other to solve a hard problem. So I created a group of drummers and dancers who made out-of-body excursions into a supermassive black hole, interviewed a couple of friendly physicists to make certain the science in my fiction was plausible and expanded my original short story from Clarion into a longer piece. 

Tell us about your story, key characters and plot.

The Lodhuven are a sub-species of humanity genetically-altered for various reasons, most notably to enslave them. This enslavement is generational and manifests as a Lodhuven addiction to their masters. In "Grandmother Mælkevejen's Belly," the descendants of these slaves, who have long since broken this addiction at great cost, are seeking a way to repair the devastating damage to their genome and become fully human again. 

The scientific community has at its disposal a string engine (think Hadron Collider) of massive proportions left behind by the slavers when they disappeared five hundred years ago. Banthren Kavid is the science director of this string engine; a man who believes the best way to repair the human genome is to bring the engine online and use it for that purpose. 

However, a group of drummers and dancers called the Bodh Speakers stand in opposition to the scientific community. They believe there are two vessels full of healthy human beings trapped in the event horizon of the supermassive black hole the string engine orbits. Gryph is the lead drummer of this group, which uses an entheogen to induce out-of-body shamanic journeys into the supermassive in search of these vessels. They believe the best way to repair the human genome is to rescue these people somehow and make use of their genetic samples. But if the Yost String Engine comes online, the vessels and their precious cargo will quickly be destroyed. 

When Aris, lead dancer for the Bodh Speakers, deliberately steers her own vessel down into the supermassive in solidarity with the people she thinks are trapped there, the scientific community and the Bodh Speakers come to blows.

What, or who, do you enjoy reading?

Science fiction, fantasy, comics, scientific non-fiction, spiritual non-fiction, animal rights non-fiction and anything else that strikes me as interesting. My Kindle presently contains books by Garth Nix, Peter Watts, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Dion Fortune, Nicholas R. Mann, H.R. Ellis Davidson, John Michael Greer, James Gleick and people like them. I'll read anything Lois McMaster Bujold writes. Not kidding. Pass me her grocery list.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you most like a writing retreat?

Siberia. It's where my next novel is set, so I'd love to spend some time there. 

If you could pick one book you wish you’d written, what would it be?

American Gods, by Neil Gaiman. Hands down. What a novel.

Who encourages/inspires you?

My husband Sean, who is my anchor, cheerleader and patron of the arts. My friends, who understand that what I do is a career and treat it like work. My fellow writers, who never give up on their own craft. My readers, who 'get' my writing in ways not even I do sometimes.

Are you published or self published, and what has been your experience of this process? 

I'm a hybrid writer, which means that I'm both traditionally-published and self-published. On the traditional publishing front, I've had some success selling my short stories and poems to semi-pro and pro markets (semi-pro and pro are pay categories and not statements about the quality of a given publication). I've completed the first novel in a series and shopped it out to agents and publishers with some expressions of interest but no offers of purchase, so I'm revisiting the beginning of that series at a different point in the universe's timeline with another book I'll begin drafting in April 2015. 

The traditional publishing market is extremely competitive right now for both long and short fiction, which makes self-publishing attractive to many writers, myself included. But while self-publishing provides a ready platform for publication, fewer people are actually reading, and fewer still are attracted to independent work for a variety of reasons. So I'm not inclined to pursue a career as a solely independent writer. I think my career benefits from the attention my traditionally-published work receives, while self-publishing provides me with an additional outlet for work readers might be interested in.

What are your future plans for writing?

As I mentioned, I'll begin drafting a new novel in April. I'm also writing for an ongoing anthology series based on the letters of the alphabet, edited by Rhonda Parrish. A is for Apocalypse is already in print and contains my Pushcart-nominated short story "N is for Nanomachine," and B is for Broken is forthcoming with my novelette "C is for Change." I'll be writing stories for the "C" and "D" anthologies this year. I'm also planning to write a one-act Pagan, science fiction play for possible local production via a Pagan friend and actor. In the meantime, I'm working on the production of an audio version of "Grandmother Mælkevejen's Belly", which I hope to release through Amazon/Audible soon.

On that note, here's a blast from the past as well. I recently completed a bit of practice recording using poetry and stories from my first collection, The Ruin of Beltany Ring: A Collection of Pagan Poems and Tales. This practice work is freely available via SoundCloud, and you can buy the collection itself in either paperback or Kindle from Amazon.
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Thank you again for giving us a glimpse into your passion and your process, C. S. We wish you all the best with your stories, novelette and novels!