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Shultz-photo-128x128 Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, Jill Shultz. Jill Shultz has always been enthralled by the places where the wild meets the fantastic. She’s the award-winning author of Angel on the Ropes, science fiction with a Cirque du Soleil vibe. For most of her career she’s zigzagged between environmental and arts organizations; some of the strange but true consequences can be found on the author page of her website.

Born in Brooklyn before it was cool, she now lives upstate, where she awaits the arrival of transporters to whisk her to the sage flats of Yellowstone every dawn.

Jill Shultz’s latest book, Angel on the Ropes, is a novel circus and science fiction fans are sure to enjoy. A quick summary for my readers—Amandine Sand lives to fly. Unfortunately, she’s hobbled by a life-threatening secret: she’s one of the spotted humans wrongly accused of being a plague carrier. These “leopards” are hunted by zealots to protect their off-world colony from the scourge. Despite this threat, Amandine spends her days guiding other leopards to an underground shelter run by the pacifist Seekers. At night, with her own spots hidden, she soars on the trapeze, the one place she feels free and gloriously alive.

When the persecution of leopards explodes into widespread violence, the Seekers demand more of her time. But her circus is teetering toward bankruptcy and desperately needs her, too. She has no time to breathe…then she meets a stranger who leaves her breathless—and might be the biggest risk of all. If her trust is misplaced and she’s unmasked, everyone she loves and everything she’s fought for could crash.

To survive, Amandine must draw upon all of her circus and Seeker skills. But can a pacifist defend her violent enemies to stop a civil war? And can this reluctant angel fly beyond her limits to save her life, her love, and her world?

AR_cover-trade_120312.indd Where did the idea come from for your latest book, Angel on the Ropes?

The origin of this novel was quite unusual for me. Generally, my curiosity is piqued by some unusual fact or phrase or experience that prompts research, which deepens my intrigue and eventually develops into a story. Angel on the Ropes, however, began with an emotion. For a day or so I walked around feeling my protagonist’s longing. I had to figure out what she wanted so badly—she was driving me nuts!

Once I realized she was an artist and a performer, I decided to focus on the circus (based on an experience some years before that transformed the way I thought about circus.) Amandine’s personality was inspired by interviews with professional circus artists. When I uncovered her biggest problem and her secret dream, I had the story.

Who is your favorite character in the book—and why?

Amandine Sand, the protagonist. She longs for the basic things that most of us want: love, happiness, a sense of accomplishment… but she’s caught between two opposing worlds, and to make matters even worse, she has a life-threatening secret. So this very flamboyant and passionate trapeze artist is also secretive and constrained. I love passionate people who are full-throttle, and is she ever. Her transformation was so satisfying.

Interestingly, I’m terrified of heights. Imagining what it was like to adore flying was truly entering a new world! I did try flying trapeze during my research and actually launched the book from a flying trapeze, because, “book launch.” How could I resist?

Is your book traditionally published, indie published, or self published?

Self-published. For me, the key advantages of self-publishing are creative control, nimbleness in marketing, and longevity. I had a great relationship with my editor and cover artist. Of course, when you’re acting as both writer and publisher—in effect, starting a business—there’s a lot more work to do and higher costs. Plus, science fiction and fantasy is not yet as open to self-published authors as other genres, so many promotional opportunities are unavailable.

What is your writing process like—are you an architect (planner) or gardener (pantser)?

I’m both. I tend to do a lot of research before I begin writing, and develop character profiles based on psychological theory. With my current novel, I’m pushing myself to create fairly detailed chapter summaries first. That’s tough but productive.

The research continues as I write, though it changes. If I simply need to fact-check something, I just leave myself a note in the margin to do that later, which allows me to keep up my momentum. If I can’t write a scene effectively without more information, then I’ll stop and do the research I need right then. Of course, if a fabulous interview opportunity arises, I’ll make time for it.

During the first draft, I’ll write scenes that are rattling around in my head and not worry about whether they’ll end up in the story, knowing they’ll contribute to a deeper understanding of my characters, if nothing else. The combination of planning and writing into the unknown helps me navigate my doubts while still remaining open enough for those lucky discoveries.

For me, the most fun happens during revision.

What was your favorite book as a child?

The first book I remember falling in love with was Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson. Just thinking about it makes me smile. That book was so full of joy and discovery, so boundless, so magical.

Like many others, Anne McCaffrey was one of the first science fiction and fantasy authors I encountered, beginning with the Dragonriders of Pern series. I wanted to be best friends with a dragon, though I probably would’ve freaked out while flying (see fear of heights above). I’m still a sucker for dragons. And witches. And shapeshifters of all types. I’m equally drawn to science fiction and fantasy.

I’ve always been a voracious reader and a member of the Bad Decisions Book Club (readers who make bad life choices they know they will dearly regret the next day because they just can’t stop reading a good story, even if they toothpicks to prop their eyelids open).

What writing project are you currently working on?

A novel about a wolf biologist in Yellowstone who’s going to have to make some very hard choices to protect what she loves most. In the process, she’ll wrestle with a pack of werewolves who are radical environmentalists. It’s full of wildlife geekiness, moral challenges, and love…which pretty much sums up my life.

What’s the best writing advice anyone ever gave you?

“Don’t flinch.”

Andre Dubus III said that during a workshop. The more I learn about writing, the more it makes sense to me. My early drafts are full of flinches. Sometimes when the discomfort is really bad, I’ll just write notes to myself about the work I need to do and move on. Does that count as a half-flinch? Other times I try to push through right then, knowing that if I wrestle with this, I may discover something powerful. Learning is often uncomfortable, after all.

A special offer from Jill: If you’d like a free copy of the ebook version of Angel on the Ropes, send a message to Jill here.

Want to learn more about Jill Shultz and Angel on the Ropes? Check out her:  Website and Amazon Authors Page.

Or better yet, purchase a paperback copy of Angel on the Ropes.

Thanks to author Jill Shultz for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author Wendy Van Camp on March 19, 2019. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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MLC_meriah Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, Meriah L. Crawford. Meriah Lysistrata Crawford is an associate professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, as well as a writer, editor, and private investigator. Among her publications are short stories in several genres, essays, poems, a variety of scholarly work, and the co-written novel The Persistence of Dreams, which was released in 2018. Meriah has an MFA in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA program, and a PhD in literature and criticism from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Her work as a PI, over fifteen years, has included investigations of shootings, murders, burglaries, insurance fraud, auto accidents, backgrounds, counterfeit merchandise, patent infringement, and missing persons.

Meriah L. Crawford’s latest book, The Persistence of Dreams, is a novel fantasy and alternate history fans are sure to enjoy. A quick summary for my readers—It is 1636: five years after a West Virginia town from the year 2000 arrived in Germany in a flash of light and altered the course of history. Now, down-time master artist Daniel Block is troubled. No mention or proof of his name or life work, of which he has long been proud, made it through the Ring of Fire; it’s as if he never existed. What can a talented and proud artist like him do, to make sure this new world remembers him long after he’s gone?

Daniel develops a plan to make himself one of the greatest artists the world has ever known, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to see his dreams fulfilled. Even if it means risking himself, his wife, and his children.

Intent on changing his own history, Daniel journeys to Grantville to learn about these Americans and their wild and outrageous art forms. But while there, he runs afoul of the up-timers’ strange attitudes—and the law. What follows upends seventeenth century art, threatens the emperor, and changes Daniel and his family forever.

persistence cover_meriah Where did the idea come from for your latest book, The Persistence of Dreams?

My co-author, Robert E. Waters, and I have been writing in the 1632 universe for a while. This is a series of novels and stories begun by Eric Flint, about a town in West Virginia transported from the year 2000 to Germany in 1631, into the middle of war and other upheaval. Most of my collaboration with Robert has focused on an artist named Daniel Block, who is a real person born in 1580. Robert and I thought it would be interesting to delve a bit into the art world of the early seventeenth century with the assistance of a man who was a well-known and highly regarded court painter, as well as a bit of a drunk and a troublemaker. We also complicated his family life quite a bit, and involved him in some major political drama.

Who is your favorite character in the book—and why?

That’s a tough question. I really like so many of the characters. For the novel, though, I wrote an appendix from the perspective of an art history teacher named Elaine O’Meara, who also appears in the beginning of the novel. She’s shown herself to be smart, independent, committed, thoughtful, and funny. She also really knows a ton about art. She was inspired by a really wonderful history teacher I had in high school named Alice Fearen, who instilled a love and a solid grounding of knowledge about art that I have valued deeply ever since. For all of these reasons, I think I’d rather have a cup of tea with Elaine more than anyone else in the book.

Is your book traditionally published, indie published, or self published?

It’s published by a small publisher: the Ring of Fire Press. The only real disadvantage is a small marketing budget, but that’s something most authors deal with, even with larger presses. The people have been great to work with, and have moved faster and been more responsive than many larger companies are able to be, so that’s been great, too.

What is your writing process like—are you an architect (planner) or gardener (pantser)?

I’m actually very into lists and planning, and if I’m working on a nonfiction project, it will absolutely have a structure early on. But my fiction is often a lot more organic. That’s why, for example, I have a story that started out as a piece of flash fiction, but is now over 63,000 words. (Oops!) It’s also why I stopped working on it: I realized that the novel really needs to be in the third person, but I wrote it in the first. This is exactly the benefit of planning, though of course planners also find that they make mistakes along the way. Going forward, I’m planning to try to plan more. We’ll see how that goes. 

What was your favorite book as a child?

I have so many answers to this question, but I particularly remember a book named Pidgy’s Surprise, by Jeanne Mellin. It was the first “real” book I read all of by myself. Like many people, the main character spends a lot of time wishing her life were different. In her case, she wishes she had a horse instead of a pony. As the novel progresses, she comes to appreciate what she has when she nearly loses her pony Pidgy. It’s a great lesson, and one that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about as the years have passed: it’s so easy to focus on wanting what we don’t have, but most of us have SO MUCH already. And feeling and expressing gratitude for that makes us a lot happier.

What writing project are you currently working on?

I always have a lot of projects in the works. Over winter break, I aim to finish and submit some articles (about teaching assistants, James Joyce, and dialogue tags), put the finishing touches on a short video of a huge dust devil I filmed in Jordan this past summer, and spend some hours on a book I’m writing about the second person.

What’s the best writing advice anyone ever gave you?

Writer’s write. I’ve learned over the years that a huge amount of writing advice should really start with “Here’s what works for me.” Much of it—maybe most—is not one-size-fits-all. Find your own path!

Want to learn more about Meriah L. Crawford and The Persistence of Dreams? Check out her:  WebsiteBlogFacebook pageTwitter,  and Amazon Authors Page.

Or better yet, purchase a copy of The Persistence of Dreams.

Thanks to author Meriah L. Crawford for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author Juliana Spink Mills on February 19, 2019. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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CLundoff Publicity photo Whimsical Words welcomes guest author-editor-publisher, Catherine Lundoff. Catherine Lundoff is a Minneapolis-based award-winning writer, editor, and publisher. Her recent stories have appeared in Tales of the Unanticipated, Curious Fictions, The Cainite Conspiracies: A Vampire the Masquerade V20 Anthology, The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper Tales and The Mammoth Book of the Adventures of Professor Moriarty. Her books include Silver Moon, Out of This World: Queer Speculative Fiction Stories and as editor, Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space). She is the publisher at Queen of Swords Press.

Catherine Lundoff’s latest book, Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space), is a new anthology fans of pirates and adventure are sure to enjoy. A quick summary for my readers—Think pirates are all about the rum and the pieces of eight? Let these fifteen tales draw you into the adventures of a new kind of pirate. Sail with them as they seek treasure, redemption, love, revenge and more. Raise the Jolly Roger and sharpen your cutlass (or recharge your raygun) and climb aboard for some unforgettable voyages. Featuring stories by Ginn Hale, A.J. Fitzwater, Geonn Cannon, Joyce Chng, Elliott Dunstan, Ashley Deng, Su Haddrell, Ed Grabianowski, Mharie West, Matisse Mozer, Soumya Sundar Mukherjee, Megan Arkenberg, Peter Golubock, Michael Merriam, and Caroline Sciriha.

ebook QoSP Scourge 432 x 648 72 dpilundoff Where did the idea come from for your latest book, Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space)?

I started my own small press last year and I wanted to publish an anthology. Originally, it was on a different theme and was going to have a different editor, but that fell through, so I decided to go ahead with another theme that I liked. I’ve always had a fondness for pirates, fictional as well as historical, starting with reading Treasure Island when I was a kid. Since pirates historically turn up all over the world, as well as in fantasy and science fiction, I thought it would be a great opportunity to solicit stories from writers from different countries as well as subgenres. I also opened it up to stories featuring protagonists of any gender or orientation to try and get to a reflection of the diversity of the topic.

Who is your favorite character in the book—and why?

Ooh, that would be a challenge! I really like all the stories in different ways. I think you really have to get to a point where you appreciate all the strengths of every story you accept when you’re editing an anthology. Between story selection and rounds of editing, you’re going to be reading and rereading those same stories a LOT. Multiple rereads in, I still love all the protagonists in a book with stories that range from the aftermath of the Trojan War to outer space, (most of) the 7 seas and the lands beyond!

Is your book traditionally published, indie published, or self published?

It’s traditionally published in the sense that it’s being released by a publishing house; however, Queen of Swords Press is my small press so things get a bit complicated there. I have edited or co-edited two previous anthologies for a different small press though, so I have something to compare it to. The contrast between editing for someone else and doing it on my own is the scale of work involved. I’m doing all my own publicity for Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space) as well as for other Queen of Swords Press titles and I’m taking all the financial risks. On the other hand, I get to make my own decisions without needing to answer to anyone else and pick stories based on what I like. I’m pretty pleased with the mix of stories that I selected and I know that it would look somewhat different if I had to answer to a different publisher.

What is your writing/editing process like?

I’ll talk about my editing here, instead of writing, because that’s been my latest focus. In terms of story selection, I tried to put a lot of thought into the kind of anthology that I wanted to publish. I wanted a mix of pirate stories set in different parts of the world as well as in fantastical settings and in outer space. I wanted a range of protagonists to somewhat reflect the historical diversity of pirate ships and crews. Add to that, I wanted authors from different parts of the world as well as protagonists of different genders and sexual orientations. So I did an open call where I specifically asked for international authors and for protagonists of any gender or orientation. I ended up getting submissions from authors in fourteen countries, which was pretty amazing.

From those submissions, I had to go through and pick the strongest of the stories that I got, then decide which ones I wanted in the anthology. I tried to pick based on my goals: having a diverse range of pirate stories and an anthology Table of Contents that wasn’t all white guys or all cis people or all from the U.S. Fortunately, I had a lot of really good stories to choose from so it was a more a matter of picking “best in class” rather than “I must take it because it’s the only thing like it that I have.” Editing themed anthologies can be challenging that way. I say this despite this being my third one, so you would think it would get easier with practice. At any rate, everything after the story selection part was reading and rereading and providing feedback to the authors and incorporating changes and getting copy edits back and so forth.

What was your favorite book as a child?

I had a LOT of favorite books as a child and they changed every couple of years. The first book I ever read on my own was Alice in Wonderland, then I went through a lot of Robert Louis Stevenson, fairy tales and other related work. Alexandre Dumas and Jane Austen got me through my early teens. On bad weeks, The Count of Monte Cristo is still a map of my mental landscape. When in doubt, I can always count on getting a mental image of tunneling out of the Chateau d’If with a spoon. Puts everything in perspective. I have a list of every book that I’ve read since I was ten years old so I can backtrack through the Narnia years, the Lloyd Alexander years, and so forth. I owe my fragile sanity entirely to reading, but I have to say that it was a collective effort. I can name ten to twenty favorite books, but not just one.

What writing project are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on Blood Moon, the sequel to my menopausal werewolf novel, Silver Moon. Blood Moon focuses on the same protagonists as in the previous novel and has more mystery and romance elements than the first book. Apart from that, I’m working on a couple of new short stories and some gaming-related projects. And the next books for Queen of Swords. I like to keep things lively.

What’s the best writing advice anyone ever gave you?

It’s a toss-up between “Learn to love rewriting” and “Pick a day job you don’t hate, because you’ll spend more time there than anywhere else.” They are both useful, if somewhat depressing, in their own way. I think both pieces of advice are also very realistic and sometimes, we need to hear that. I know there’s a strain of thought, particularly in genre fiction, that “real writers don’t need day jobs,” but I think that gets less and less realistic for most of us as the field changes. And rewriting for me is like painting: you do a sketch, and then, start adding layers. Those layers add depth and beauty, if you do them well, in the same way that rewrites help you to create a better story and become a better writer.

Want to learn more about Catherine Lundoff and Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space)? Check out her:  WebsiteFacebook pageQueen of Swords Press Website, and Amazon Authors Page.

Or better yet, purchase a copy of Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space) from Books2Read or IndieBound.

Thanks to author-editor-publisher Catherine Lundoff for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author Meriah Crawford on February 14, 2019. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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suz-headshot-18 Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert. Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert writes horror, dark fantasy, science fiction, and the occasional poem. Her short fiction has been published in the anthologies Killing It Softly, The Deep Dark Woods, and The Final Summons. Her poetry has appeared in places such as the anthology Wicked Witches, Tales of the Zombie War, “The Wayfarer: A Journal of Contemplative Literature,” and “Eternal Haunted Summer.” Suzanne is a freelance editor and content creation expert. She’s currently writing several more works of short fiction in between meeting the incessant demands of her feline overlords.

Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert’s latest published story, “In Darkness, She Sheds,” appears in The Final Summons (New England Speculative Writers, 2019). A quick summary for my readers: In a land where the human Master controls both humans and fae, a chance accident enables Savron d’Fae—Master’s Elixir-Mistress and former concubine—to glimpse the true nature of Master’s rule.

Where did the idea come from for your latest published story, “In Darkness, She Sheds”?

I wrote the first version almost two years ago, as a reaction to the fury I felt watching Kellyanne Conway stand up and lie and defend Trump’s actions on whatever that day’s disaster was. I kept thinking, “Why do women not support each other and make alliances with men who are innately against their best interests?” I kept turning that thought around in my head and I wrote the story to get out some of that anger.

Who is your favorite character in the story—and why?

That’s a tough question. Probably Darron, even though she gets introduced halfway through the story. Savron, who begins the story, is also a compelling character. What I like about both of these fae women is that they are very brave and decisive despite being literal slaves and discovering that their realities were not what they thought.

final sum Where and when will this story be published?

This story appears in the just-released anthology The Final Summons, which is the premier anthology from the New England Speculative Writers. They formed about two years ago and have amazing and dedicated leadership. They quickly came up with the idea for this anthology and put out the call for submissions to writers in New England. They had a good number of submissions, so I was really happy to make the cut.

The anthology was crowd-funded in order to pay fair compensation to the contributors, editors, and artist. They were also able to hire a blurb writer. I think it was a successful model, and the anthology will be available in both print and electronic versions.

I encourage any aspiring writers who feel daunted by writing a novel to try writing short stories first, and getting them placed in anthologies with more established writers, if possible. It’s great exposure for you, and you’ll learn a lot from your fellow contributors.

What is your writing process like—are you an architect (planner) or gardener (pantser)?

I’m a short story writer, not a novelist (yet!) and I’m a total pantser! I get into my writing mindset, and the characters “tell” me what’s going to happen next. Having said that, I do make notes and do some character studies. But I’ve found that when I put too much on paper, it inhibits my creative flow. I do a lot of work “in my head.” I do hope to get better at outlining. I attribute my inability to successfully write a novel (yet!) to getting too bogged down in the outline process. But I believe I’ll figure it out eventually!

What was your favorite book as a child?

As a child, I adored the Little House books and read them over and over. I liked a female protagonist, reading about perilous situations, and I liked that Laura was a person not afraid to stand up for what she believed.

When I got a bit older, I fell in love with dystopias. I believe I was about ten when I first stumbled upon Animal Farm at my grandmother’s house. Then, I read 1984 and Brave New World in quick succession. My mind was literally blown by the concept that people could manipulate each other so capriciously, and that others could so easily fall prey to misinformation.

What writing project are you currently working on?

I’m currently finishing up another short story, “Unafraid,” which is horror. On the back burner are two novellas (one scifi/fantasy; the other scifi/horror) that need more editing, and I have an idea for a horror novel that I haven’t been able to successfully write out. It’s based on what was initially a short story and it’s about 35% done.

What’s the best writing advice anyone ever gave you?

Do what works for you! That is honestly the best advice. I was bogged down for years thinking I’d never be successful because I didn’t write every day (and still don’t.) Find your own rhythm. Make your own path. Although it doesn’t hurt to try others’ “sage advice” to see if it resonates.

Want to learn more about Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert and her short fiction, including “In Darkness, She Sheds”? Check out her: Website–Voices in my Head, Twitter, Facebook page, Bookbub, Goodreads, and Amazon page.

Or better yet, purchase a copy of The Final Summons.

Thanks to author Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author Catherine Lundoff on February 12, 2019. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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rebecca g farrell Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, Rebecca Gomez Farrell. Rebecca Gomez Farrell writes all the speculative fiction genres she can conjure up. Her first fantasy novel, Wings Unseen, debuted in August 2017 from Meerkat Press. You can find her short stories in over 20 anthologies, magazines, and websites including Dark Luminous Wings, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Fright into Flight. Becca co-leads the 400-member strong East Bay Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Meetup group and organizes a chapter of the national Women Who Submit writing organization, which encourages female writers to send their work out for publication. She also co-moderates Facebook resource groups for female-identifying writers and is a regular participant in the Bay Area literary reading scene. Becca’s food, drink, and travel blog, theGourmez.com, has garnered multiple accolades and influences every tasty bite of her fictional worldbuilding.

Rebecca Gomez Farrell’s latest book, Wings Unseen, is a novel fantasy fans are sure to enjoy. A quick summary for my readers—When Vesperi, a Meduan noblewoman, kills a Lanserim spy with a lick of her silver flame, she hopes the powerful display of magic will convince her father to name her as his heir. She doesn’t know the act will draw the eye of the tyrannical Guj, Medua’s leader, or that the spy was the brother of Serrafina Gavenstone, the fiancèe of Lansera’s Prince Janto.

perf6.000x9.000.indd As Prince Janto sets out for an annual competition on the mysterious island of Braven, Serra accepts an invitation to study with the religious Brotherhood, hoping for somewhere to grieve her brother’s murder in peace. What she finds instead is a horror that threatens both countries, devouring all living things and leaving husks of skin in its wake.

To defeat it, Janto and Serra must learn to work together with the only person who possesses the magic that can: Vesperi. An ultimate rejection plunges Vesperi forward toward their shared destiny, with the powerful Guj on her heels and the menacing beating of unseen wings all about.

Where did the idea come from for your latest book, Wings Unseen?

Way back in college, a decade and a half ago, I began thinking about writing Wings Unseen, though it had no title then, of course! I knew I wanted to tell an epic fantasy story, and I knew it would involve a prophecy about a silver stag, a prince and his betrothed having to confront how destiny might have different plans for their idyllic love, and a woman raised to be cruel in a country that prizes power and greed above all else. I had pictures of my characters and their motivations right away, and the plot was born out of that over many years, when I had free moments to write.

Who is your favorite character in the book—and why?

The book’s three main characters are the nearest and dearest to me, and I refuse to pick between them. I do quite love two of the side characters, though: Jerusho, a portly young man who inspires Janto to chase his own dream by hunting a mythical creature despite everyone’s doubts that it exists; and Lourda, a bubbly woman with wild hair who couldn’t be more different from Serra, but also couldn’t be a truer friend to her while Serra is dealing with her brother’s murder and the mysterious Brotherhood.

Is your book traditionally published, indie published, or self published?

Wings Unseen is traditionally published by Meerkat Press, a wonderful small press out of Atlanta. I wanted the traditional experience in part because I wanted the validation of someone else believing in my work enough to be willing to invest in it through the full publication process. I also went that route because I didn’t want to be the sole person in charge of marketing the book – Meerkat Press has access to the big industry magazines that I would not have on my own. The disadvantages are that it takes time to publish a book traditionally; my book came out about a year after I signed my contract, and that’s a fast turnaround time for the industry. It was also four years after I finished the book, as I spent three years submitting it out to publishers and agents. If you want your book out now, not later, then self-publishing is the way to go, especially if you have the smarts and passion to undertake book marketing.

What is your writing process like—are you an architect (planner) or gardener (pantser)?

I’m a gardener, for sure, and a gardener that used to only work in fits and bursts, discovering the plot as I went and then editing to accommodate that changing plot. Typically, that means it took me a long time to write a book, but it’s done and polished by the third to fourth draft.

I’m working on the sequel to Wings Unseen right now, and it’s the first time I’ve written anything where I’m just focused on getting the words out before going back and revising. It’s a different technique for sure, and I’m not certain I like it, but it is nice and inspiring to see myself make progress in word count over a shorter time. I fear how much work there will be to do once that first draft if done, though!

What was your favorite book as a child?

The Search for Delicious by Natalie Babbitt was one of the first books I ever read with a map and a quest for fantastic creatures. The characters are rootable, the conflict fun, and there’s a great sprinkling of the everyday (the plot is about defining the perfect food) and the mythical (the plot is really about saving a fairy). I still enjoy re-reading it on occasion.

What writing project are you currently working on?

As mentioned, I’m working on the first draft of my Wings Unseen sequel. Once that’s done, I’ll be working on the third draft of Natural Disasters, the first book in an intended post-apocalyptic, paranormal romance trilogy about a future Earth on which natural disasters now operate like weather systems and romantic relationships have been outlawed to preserve people’s mental health. Hopefully, I’ll have that off to agents by spring. I’m also working on a handful of short stories, and I keep meaning to start writing personal essays.

What’s the best writing advice anyone ever gave you?

Remember the details – What are the groceries and/or discarded items in your character’s trunk? They may be about to fight a space warlock in an abandoned carnival, but knowing they have a battery charger in case of a flat is what makes them relatable to those pesky humans, your readers.

Want to learn more about Rebecca Gomez Farrell and Wings Unseen? Check out her: Fiction Website, Twitter, and Amazon Authors Page.

Or better yet, purchase a copy of Wings Unseen.

Thanks to author Rebecca Gomez Farrell for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author Eddie Louise Clark on February 2, 2019. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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January 3rd is J. R. R. Tolkien’s birthday. Yes, yes, I know that is tomorrow–but if you are to celebrate properly, you must prepare.

I say, look for a birthday tree and make certain to sit beneath it on January 3rd with The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, or another book by Tolkien. Read a chapter or two, and allow the magic of Middle-earth to brighten this everyday world for a few minutes. Laugh at Bilbo’s reluctance to embrace adventure. Smile at the antics of Pip and Merry. Wish for a friend as faithful as Sam.

I recently read an interesting post at The Writing Cooperative about Tolkien by Hunter Liguore, The Tolkien Toast, which you might enjoy.

So when tomorrow arrives, lift a glass to one of the giants of fantasy literature–for as Tolkien wrote: “It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life.”

 

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carolemcd300pixels Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, Carole McDonnell. Carole McDonnell is a writer of Christian, supernatural, and ethnic stories. She writes fiction, non-fiction, poetry and reviews. Her writings appear in various anthologies, including Griots, Steamfunk, So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonialism in Science Fiction, Jigsaw Nation, and Life Spices from Seasoned Sistahs: Writings by Mature Women of Color among others. Her reviews appear at various online sites. Her story collections are Spirit Fruit: Collected Speculative Fiction by Carole McDonnell and Turn Back O Time and other stories of the fae of Malku and her stand alone novels are: Wind Follower, My Life as an Onion, The Constant Tower, and Who Gave Sleep and Who Has Taken It Away?

Her novels also include books in the following series: The Brothers Worth Series: Black Girls Have Always Loved Cowboys, A Town for Timothy, A Year and A Day; The Nephilim Dystopia Series: The Daughters of Men, The Chimeran Queen; and Novels of the Malku Universe: The Charcoal Bride, SeaWalker, How Skall Dragonrider Won His Three Wives. Her Bible studies include: Seeds of Bible Study, Scapegoats and Sacred Cows of Bible Study, Blogging the Psalms, A Fool’s Journey Through Proverbs, Great Sufferers of the Bible, and The Christian Laws of Attraction. Her book of poetry is: The King’s Journal of Lost and Secret Things.

She lives in New York with her husband, two sons, and their pets.

Carole McDonnell’s latest book, The Charcoal Bride, is a fantasy story set in an unique world. A quick summary for my readers: The Malku universe, which is the setting for this novel, is a world where fae, merfolk, and humans live together in varying degrees of harmony. In some continents, the faes are honored. In other continents or worlds, the faes and their descendants are treated casually. But wherever they happen to be, they are feared because no one wants to get on the bad side of a fae. The merfolk live in streams, rivers, and oceans, and they have different species as do the humans and the faes. However, in some areas, they are treated badly.

charcoal b In The Charcoal Bride, the first book of this trilogy, a war is set in motion because a prince reneged on a vengeance oath he had made to the God of War. Because of this war, wars with the fae. The fae ally themselves with his son and conquer the prince, setting up his only son as king. This son, Skall, has no desire to be king. He is a stranger to Hanrisor and would rather be back home on his little island home. In addition, his being king doesn’t sit well with the aristocrats and peasants of Hanrisor. The fae determine that he must travel the kingdom in order to understand and love the nation he is to rule over.

Where did the idea come from for your latest book, The Charcoal Bride?
Well, I’ve always liked quests stories and road movies so when I was thinking of what the second book of the Malku trilogy would be, I thought, “It would be great if the king and his friend had to tour this new country the king has begun to rule over.”

Who is your favorite character in the book—and why?
Skall’s friend is Nohay. Nohay is the SeaWalker. Nohay was disabled as a child and lived alone under the care of a maid his sea-farer father hired for him. But when Nohay grew older, a fae–Prince Hark—took interest in him and mentored him. Nohay stayed with Prince Hark until Hark gave him as a friend to Skall. Nohay is about thirty years old and Skall is about seventeen. Neither of them are worldly but Skall is decidedly more “of the world” than Nohay is. They both have different things to learn and being among the common folk.

I’d say it’s Nohay. There is a sweetness about him. He is totally human but he has never lived with humans. He only knows how faes and merfolk behave, but is utterly lacking in any experiential knowledge of human culture and behavior. It’s the kind of character that makes a writer have to think about what such a person would be like.

Is your book traditionally published, indie published, or self published?
It is self-published. My previous books, Wind Follower and The Constant Tower, were–are—both traditionally published. They were critically well-received, but they didn’t sell well. I think the advantage of traditional publishing has to do with one’s publisher having the finances to push your books. When you’re self-published, you have to market yourself more. The advantage of being self-published is that a writer can be more fully herself.

What is your writing process like—are you an architect (planner) or gardener (pantser)?
I’m definitely not an architect but I’m not much of a gardener either. I write notes to myself about what the next chapter should contain. Not much, just certain things that are necessary. When I write, I just sit down and write and let whatever comes comes. If I hear something in the news or hear a song, then that might end up in the story as well. I tend to write without caring how it all comes out and I totally trust that it will all come out perfectly in the end. This makes my books somewhat unpredictable because I didn’t know what was coming. Only my fingers, fate, and coincidence did. I often look at my stories and think, “Wow, this is amazing. How did I do that? Did I write this book? If I had planned this, I could never have written it.”

What was your favorite book as a child?
I loved poetry and the Bible, especially all the tragic princes like Shechem, Jonathon, Absalom, and of course, Jesus Christ. So all I did was read a lot of poetry. I also loved Shakespeare, and was madly in love with Hamlet, Edmond, and all those tragic princes as well. So those really had an effect on me. I’m a black woman, but so many of my main characters are young males, and several of them have been white. So I think they affected my consciousness. I also loved anthropology. I’d watch tons of programs on PBS and read my mother’s anthropology and archaeology books. So that is where I got my fascination with clans, tribes, rituals, and culture. My books and short stories are always about different clans living together with their cultures rubbing off on each other.

What writing project are you currently working on?
I’m going through the editing on SeaWalker now, and am currently writing The Chimeran Queen, which is the second part of the Nephilim Dystopian trilogy. The first book in the trilogy was Daughters of Men. This story is about yet another world with various kinds of humans. In this case, there are chimera, Nephilim, clones, and standard-issue humans. There are also different religious ideas. The Chimeran Queen is Medusa. She doesn’t have snakes for hair, but because she is chimeran she has worms in and around and through her body. She is horrendous to behold, but she is the queen of the chimeran world, Otaura.

What’s the best writing advice anyone ever gave you?
That was Will Horner. He was critiquing a story he had accepted for one of his anthologies – Black is the color of my true love’s hair– and he said two things which I often find myself repeating to other writers. The first was: “This sentence is doing too much work.” And the second was, “This is redundant. You already said that.”

Want to learn more about Carole McDonnell and The Charcoal Bride? Check out her :
Website & Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Twitter 2, and Amazon page. Still want more? Check out her YouTube channel and Wattpad page.

Or better yet, purchase a copy of The Charcoal Bride.

Thanks to author Carole McDonnell for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author Lana Hechtman Ayers on January 3, 2019. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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