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.

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.
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!

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

LFA Turppa

Author: LFA Turppa
Best Known Works: The Raven Chronicles
Where Can You Find Her? : Facebook and Amazon and Blog
Top Writing Tip: Don't  listen to critics, or even the rejection letters (but definitely keep them, and let them push you forward!). You cannot judge your own worth or talent from the traditional standards of writing or publishing, and I truly feel this is why self-publishing and independent publishing were created. So that those of us with stories are worth telling, can tell them.

Thank you 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?  

Honestly, I just sat down one day and began writing, and before I knew it, it was a trilogy. I love the idea of adult fairy tales- the PG 13, edging on R, kind.

When did you realise that you were Pagan?    

I was exposed to several denominations of Christianity in my life, and as I got older, I started wondering why I was Christian when I didn’t entirely relate to it. I learned a lot about paganism through fiction, and I think that got me interested in the real live version. As I learned, I realized that this was where I felt comfortable.

When and why did you begin writing?  

I have been writing for almost as long as I can remember- even when I was little I had written a story “Journey into the Oesophagus’ or something to that effect. I read and wrote in order to escape- as most people, I suppose. But I certainly felt I had more to escape from. And to this day, one of the main reasons I write is so that others like me can escape a horrific reality. Or, to escape just for fun.

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

I have short stories and poems that have been published in the past, as well as said ‘self-publishing’ company. In terms of what I have personally put out there? I have published 9 novels, and they are all available in Kindle edition and paperback.

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

I almost wish I could say something cool like ‘It came to me in a dream’, or a vision or something like that, but in reality, I just got bored one day and started writing about this girl who’d lost her magick.

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

The story is about a mage named Lisyra who has lost all of her magick, and begins to get physically ill because of it. As she weighs her options, and realizes that not even the healer of neighbouring town Prist can help her, she decides the best thing to do is take a journey to find a cure. She comes upon several likeable characters, including the Whisky-Maker, Darh, a Dwarf named Durgrim, and, most surprising of all, a raven, whose name and importance she does not learn until later in the Trilogy.

In these travels, she learns that she is more important than any simple mage ought to be, and has to find the strength to survive. This means fighting against the sickness inside, and an evil she cannot name.

Do we see some of you in your book? 

I think my humour comes across- I like to sprinkle my weirdness here and there.

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

Fast, I suppose. If my muse is with me, I can write a book within six months.

Do you plan your stories before you begin? 

Somewhat; I hoard index cards and do research, depending on my topic. I like to include historical facts when writing in a non-fantasy world genre.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block and, if so, how do you overcome it? 

I do, and any writer who says they don’t is lying! I usually overcome it by taking a little bit of time to crochet or draw; maybe watch a movie. Sometimes we just need a breather to get the juices going again. I am a firm believer that my stories write themselves, and I am honoured to be their vessel.

Who encourages and inspires you? 

My fiancé, for one. He has been one of my biggest cheerleaders. I also have a pretty small internet fan base, and they have been pretty loyal and that helps a lot! What drives me, in general, is the feeling that I get inside, like my heart is swelling a thousand times its size, when I think about writing. It’s a passion, and I feel that it doesn’t really matter if I don’t write like Dean Koontz or Mercedes Lackey (though I adore them both), because it’s what I love to do, and if I didn’t do it, I feel like a part of me would die.

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

Definitely The Hunger Games

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

I had a horrible experience with one of those self-publishing companies, but I am taking it in stride. Eventually I hope to buy my rights back and use my current mode of publication to re-release. I now self-publish through Amazon, and it’s wonderful. I have full creative control- the only thing I have a problem with is editing! I don’t believe I edit in the traditional way, you know, at the end of the story? I tend to edit as I go along.

What are your future plans for writing? 

To do so until I die. A little macabre, I know.


Thank you again for sharing your process and your passion with us! We wish you the best of luck with your future novels and stories!