Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘guest author’

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

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Claire Davon bio photo Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, Claire Davon. Claire Davon has written on and off for most of her life, starting with fan fiction when she was very young. She writes across a wide range of genres, and does not consider any of it off limits. If a story calls to her, she will write it. She currently lives in Los Angeles and spends her free time writing novels and short stories, as well as doing animal rescue and enjoying the sunshine.

Claire Davon’s latest book, Water Fall, is a novel fantasy fans are sure to enjoy. A quick summary for my readers—Lara thought she had time to ease into her role as water Elemental, guardian and defender of the sea and all its creatures. Time to learn the skills to rise to the next Challenge, many decades away. Then she felt the shift. When Sullivan intrudes upon her oceanside sanctuary, stirring memories of the blazing night he bound her to him, body and soul, the shark king confirms her suspicions. A new Challenge is upon them. And Sullivan, the prime suspect in her predecessor’s death, demands her trust.

Sullivan remembers the carnage—human and paranormal—the last time the Elementals failed to win Challenge. It must not happen again. But in the six years since he reluctantly left Lara’s side, she hasn’t learned nearly enough to defeat a rapidly rising enemy. A gargantuan Demonos that makes him look like a minnow. Shifters don’t normally aid Elementals, but Sullivan made a deal with the gods to teach her to fight. Now if he could only convince his wayward body to put aside the searing memory of her touch. Because distraction now could spell disaster to them all.

Where did the idea come from for your latest book, Water Fall?

WaterFall_Digital_Large claire Water Fall is the third book in a five-book series called Elementals’ Challenge. Each one centers around an Elemental, who is an immortal being with powers related to their element. In this one the water Elemental, Ondine, is new to the Elementals and has to find her core strength in order to fight her enemy. I loved writing about a new Elemental, one who was human not so long ago and who had to figure out her new station while facing a great threat to the world, and to herself.

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

As much as I love Ondine (the Elemental) I think my favorite character in this book is her love interest, the shark shifter/demi-god Sullivan. He is a both a strong character with a core of steel but also a romantic who has wanted this woman for eight years. He does what needs to be done.

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

This one is self-published. The series started out at a publisher (Samhain,) but they closed two weeks from releasing the second book. At that time, I opted to self-publish the remainder of the series (a total of five books) for many reasons, but the primary one is control over the subject matter and the covers. I love my covers. This series and the covers are interwoven to me.

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

I am a total pantser. I think about reforming and becoming a plotter, but it never works out for me. My books ebb and flow and take unexpected turns. I usually start a story by simply starting, with a general idea of what I want to write about, but no real idea of how I am going to get there. Maybe someday, I’ll plan…but I’m not holding my breath

What was your favorite book as a child?

If by child, you could say a twelve/thirteen-year-old, then hands down my favorite book was Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey. My parents had tons of books laying around, and I picked this one up and my world changed. It was not only my introduction into SF/fantasy, but also an introduction into my own fantasy life. For years, I wanted to be a dragonrider and would invent elaborate stories around the world and dragons. I think my interest in SF/fantasy started the day I picked that book up, and it has never waned.

What writing project are you currently working on?

I just sold the second book in the Universe Chronicles series to Soul Mate Publishing. In addition, I am working on edits for the fourth book in the Elementals’ Challenge series, as well as writing a paranormal romance that is going to be in a box set the middle of next year. I’ve usually got a short story or two in the pipeline, but at the moment my focus is on the novels.

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

There are two pieces of advice that stick with me. The first is to write every day, and I do that. The second is to write a story, send it out, and start working on a new one. Both pieces of advice have served me well. I may not always like what I put down on paper every day, but it gives me a framework to go off of. You can’t edit what doesn’t exist.

Want to learn more about Claire Davon and Water Fall? Check out her: Website, Facebook page, Twitter, Pinterest, and Amazon Authors Page.

Or better yet, purchase a copy of Water Fall.

Thanks to author Claire Davon for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert on February 7, 2019. Happy reading! – Vonnie

Read Full Post »

Eddie Louise Final-square med-res Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, Eddie Louise. Eddie Louise has had a lot of experience writing. As a child, she composed nonsense songs to keep herself company herding cattle across the lonely Wyoming plains. Discovering the theater led her to write melodramatic plays full of artful alliterations, which in turn led to composing the book for a musical on the beaches of Monterey. She ran away from home to live in Edinburgh, Scotland, where she explored her passion for writing novels. Having landed back in California she is writer of the hit Audio Drama Podcast, The Tale of Sage & Savant and the novel TransMIGRATIONS, The Tales of Sage & Savant Book One, published by Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing.

2018-03-26-TransMIGRATIONS_Cover-DRAFT Eddie Louise’s latest book, TransMIGRATIONS is a novel steampunk fans are sure to enjoy. A quick summary for my readers—Telesensation agent Justin Bremer studies time—specifically the effects of journeying through it. His assignment, funded by a mysterious organization, ‘Les Charges de L’Affaires,’ is to observe the timeline of a young Victorian scientist who lived approximately 2000 years in the past.

Equipped with an AI neural-interface, Bremer carefully documents the experiments of Dr. Petronella Sage and her archaeologist friend Erasmus Savant. The Doctor, while investigating the effects of electricity on human flesh, becomes obsessed by the curious and vivid shared hallucinations induced after she and Savant are accidentally electrocuted.

Each fantastical adventure (which they call a ‘transmigration’) takes the intrepid duo into the unimaginable lives of persons and places throughout history. Justin Bremer observes and dutifully records it all.

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

It is terribly clichéd to admit this but the idea came from a dream. I am a very visceral dreamer and often my dreams play out with cinematic clarity. I also have serial dreams where a story will continue over many nights. This is a talent that is very helpful in writing stories! Unfortunately, sometimes I get ‘stuck’ where the same dream or snippet of a dream plays over and over, night after night. Sage and Savant came from just such a dream. Every night for about two weeks I dreamed the same fragment: I was a female scientist in the Victorian age (corset, long skirts, lots of hair) and I had been given a VERY limited time in the Galvanistic laboratory to prove my thesis to the male supervisors of my program. I would set up a bank of very complicated electrical equipment and then electrocute myself. That was it—each and every night I electrocuted myself which would shock me awake and my first thought would be, ‘It worked!’ Eventually I decided I had to write about this scientist and figure out why anyone would do such a thing and think of it as a victory.

VarnerPhotography-6550 Who is your favorite character in the book—and why?

Doctor Petronella Sage. She is clever, complicated, and conceited. She has never met a problem she couldn’t solve through sheer obstinacy. She loves passionately, yet denies herself the expression of that love because it would end her career. She is a mad scientist whose motto is ‘Death is no barrier to science!’and I love her!

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

I am traditionally published with Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing out of Canada. Edge is the Canadian equivalent of Tor. The chief advantage of the traditional route is that you have a whole team helping your book into the world. The cover art Edge secured for me is amazing and all four books will be consistent and visually stunning. The typesetting on the inside of the book helped deal with some really gnarly problems I had created. (Namely conversations that take place via neural implant and ALSO out loud in the same dialog section—my publisher figured out how to indicate out-loud speech separate from thoughts, separate from in-head conversations without breaking the flow of the scene—they are geniuses!) The disadvantages—well of course you are not in control of timelines or price points. In truth, I plan on becoming a Hybrid author with some self published titles alongside my traditional titles.

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

I love the choice. I would say I’m an architectural gardener. I like to lay out a basic plot line (I call it my Tentpoles) but then free write everything else. For me some remarkable things happen when I do this. For example, I am currently writing Book Two, TransANIMATIONS and I had to deal with a plot hole I had created in the 3rd episode of Season Two of the podcast. EXCEPT it turned out it wasn’t a plot hole—it was foreshadowing for something that we find out about in Season Three. I had no idea of this when I wrote the original story, but my subconscious had it all worked out and let me know about it when the time was right.

What was your favorite book as a child?

I grew up on a 20,000 acre cattle ranch in the middle of Wyoming. I had never seen a body of water larger than a reservoir and a creek. At age seven, I read Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island and I knew I would grow up to be a pirate and sail the seven seas. That book opened an entire world as magical to me as Narnia was when I read that the next year. The ability for this arcane magic we name story and inscribe on the bones of trees to create truth out of thin air, to open portals, to transport us is alchemy of the soul and RL Stevenson was my first tutor in that art.

What writing project are you currently working on?

I am just putting the finishing touches on TranANIMATIONS, Book Two of The Tales of Sage and Savant, and of course I have a monthly episode to keep abreast of. By next week I am hoping to dive into the final edits for Palace Du Mers, a Steampunk novel set on an elegant ship that I plan on self publishing in spring.

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

My writing teacher in Scotland said: “Drafting a novel is like a potter throwing a pot. Step one is to mix the clay. Your first draft is just this—the clay from which you will form your pot. The only thing you need in enough clay for the pot you envision. Don’t worry about the pot shape; that will come later when you put it on the wheel. For now, just mix the clay.” This advice freed me to write a messy first draft. Sometimes I write a scene two or three times sequentially trying different approaches. Then when I move the clay of my novel onto the wheel of editing I choose what serves and what doesn’t.

Want to learn more about Eddie Louise and TransMIGRATIONS? Check out her: Website, Sage and Savant WebsiteGoodreadsTwitter, and Amazon Authors Page.

Or better yet, purchase a copy. Available in Kindle, Nook, Kobo and bookstores everywhere or for a Signed Copy go here.

Thanks to author Eddie Louise for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author Claire Davon on February 5, 2019. Happy reading! – Vonnie

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

jayne barnard ice falls Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, J.E. (Jayne) Barnard. J.E. (Jayne) Barnard is a Calgary-based crime writer with 25 years of award-winning short fiction and children’s literature behind her. Author of the popular Maddie Hatter Adventures (Tyche Books), and now The Falls Mysteries (Dundurn Press), she’s won the Dundurn Unhanged Arthur, the Bony Pete, and the Saskatchewan Writers Guild Award. Her works were shortlisted for the Prix Aurora (twice), the UK Debut Dagger, the Book Publishing in Alberta Award (twice), and three Great Canadian Story prizes. Jayne is a past VP of Crime Writers of Canada, a founder of Calgary Crime Writers, and a member of Sisters In Crime. Her most recent book is When the Flood Falls, a small-town psychological thriller set in the Alberta foothills west of Calgary.

whenthefloodfallsnew compressed 1 J.E. Barnard’s latest book, When the Flood Falls, is a novel mystery/thriller fans are sure to enjoy. A quick summary for my readers—Her career in tatters and her marriage receding in the rear-view mirror, ex-RCMP corporal Lacey McCrae trades her uniform for a tool belt and the Lower Mainland for the foothills west of Calgary. Amid the oil barons, hockey stars, and other high rollers who inhabit the wilderness playground is her old university roommate, Dee Phillips. Dee’s glossy life was shattered by a reckless driver; now she’s haunted by a nighttime prowler only she can hear. As snowmelt swells the icy river, crashing whole trees against the only bridge back to civilization, Lacey must make the call: assume Dee’s in danger and get her out of there, or decide the prowler is imaginary and stay, cut off from help if the bridge goes under. Can she find one true clue either way before Mother Nature make the decision for her? Can they both survive until the floodwaters fall?

Where did the idea come from for your latest book, When the Flood Falls?

It started long ago and oh, so far away, when my oldest high school friend left the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) and her husband for no reasons that she could articulate. Even years later she had no words for how she was feeling at that time, except to say, “I woke up one day and I couldn’t do it any more. Any of it.” Because I believe that most of what people do has some reasoning behind it, even if they’re not consciously aware, the character of Lacey began as an exploration of possible motivations for my friend to leave her job, then her spouse, then her province, and set off alone across the country with just her vehicle, precious little in savings, and no job prospects waiting. From that point forward, my story is all fiction, so instead of what actually happened—moving her to one of Canada’s biggest cities and giving her a relatively stable life there—I put her in a beautiful, quite wild and natural setting (Bragg Creek, in the Alberta foothills) and added an impending flood to echo the chaotic currents in her heart and mind.

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

My favorite character in the book is often assumed to be Jan, the neighbor, because she has the same chronic illness as I do (ME/CFS) and her constrained life is basically my life except in a much cooler house, cantilevered over the beautiful Elbow Valley with a view for 200 miles to the snow-capped peaks of Waterton Lakes National Park, which abuts Glacier National Park at the US border. But really, I like Rob the most; he’s the manager/curator of a brand-new Arts Center and museum, which is kind of my dream job. Although often in over his head, and worried about being outed as gay to the potentially violent ranching types who frequent the local bars, he’s so enthusiastic about his job, his friends, his surroundings. I really like people—fictional or otherwise—who have a zest for life and aren’t afraid to show it.

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

deadly diamond jayne bk When the Flood Falls is traditionally published, by Dundurn Press of Toronto. My other series, The Maddie Hatter Adventures, are from an indie press—Tyche Books. The advantage of the first, Dundurn Press, is their distribution and their promotion budget. My books were available across Canada the same day they came out, and showing up on library shelves within a couple of weeks too. Dundurn staff monitor social media and amplify all my initiatives, find me interview opportunities beyond my personal sphere, and make sure there’s stock showing up in advance of any bookstore events. I’m also part of a huge stable of mutually supportive authors writing across many different genres.

Tyche Books, the woman-centric Calgary indie, doesn’t have the distribution or the marketing, so most of my sales with them are e-book and I do most of my marketing myself. Another difference is economies of scale the indies can’t access. Not many people realize the production cost differential between a big house’s print runs of 500 or 1000 books, and small/indie orders of 50 or 100. When shipping must be factored in it’s quite possible to lose money on every Maddie book (indie publisher) sold at the same bookstore event where every Falls Mystery (traditional publisher) makes us all money. That’s really a pity, because Tyche Books found a fabulous cover artist for my 3 books with them, and the utterly charming Robin Robinson covers really deserve to be seen by a wider audience. Indie presses live a precarious existence and many deserving publishers—and authors, and books—fall by the wayside due to simple economics.

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

I started off devoted to architecture, but it’s not a coincidence that my wind-down Netflixxing is often some travel series titled, for example, Great Gardens of Georgian England (if that series truly existed I’d own it!). I still like to have the underpinnings firmly in place, but my stories need those riots of unpredictable blooms, shaded walkways, and patches of overlooked thistles just waiting to snare the unwary reader. Like all the great gardens of Europe, my stories should end with that moment when the gardens open up to a vast landscape in which all things are at once possible and impossibly remote.

What was your favorite book as a child?

Little Women. Jo the teen scribbling in her garret was my role model from early on. I played Jo at our fifth grade Christmas assembly. At the next assembly I was one of Macbeth’s witches, which may have been the early seed of my love of play-readings and my later detour from psychology into theater school.

What writing project are you currently working on?

The editing of the second in The Falls Mysteries (Dundurn, July 2019). In this one, Lacey’s traded her active policing role for the job of care-taking her injured friend. She’s been looking forward to a peaceful foothills Christmas, but between her friend’s terminally ill mother hijacking the holiday to discuss assisted dying, the hunt for a young intern gone missing in a blizzard, and her own flashbacks to last holiday season with her abusive ex, it’s not exactly a winter wonderland she’s walking in. I hope to be finished this book by New Years Eve, when the terrifying climax occurs, so I can send it off to the editor and then go celebrate the end of 2018.

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

Your process outside the writing has to support your writing process. You need a time, a place, a space—and these have to be mental at least as much as physical. If you’re stressed and/or obsessed with some online or real-life drama, your brain can’t do the deep dives that inform truly compelling fiction. When I’m immersed in the creation of the story’s world, everything I watch or read, every conversation I have, will either deepen my connection to the story or disrupt the themes that are weaving themselves together in my writing brain. It takes daily discipline to keep running your life around a low-gratification, low-pay task like producing a novel that won’t see the light of day for two years and even then might sink unremarked in the vast and ever-growing sea of published books. You must work to keep up the belief that this is all worth it, even if nobody else ever reads your beloved project but you.

Want to learn more about J.E. (Jayne) Barnard and When the Flood Falls? Check out her: Website, Falls Mystery Facebook page, Maddie Hatter Adventures Facebook page, Twitter1 and Twitter2, and Instagram.

Or better yet, purchase a copy of When the Flood Falls and/or purchase a copy of Maddie Hatter and the Deadly Diamond.

Thanks to author Jayne Barnard for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author Rebecca Gomez Farrell on January 29, 2019. Happy reading! – Vonnie

Read Full Post »

laurel anne hill for ewl promotional Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, Laurel Anne Hill. Laurel Anne Hill—author and former underground storage tank operator—grew up in San Francisco, with more dreams of adventure than good sense or money. Her close brushes with death, love of family, respect for honor and belief in a higher power continue to influence her writing and her life. At age eleven, she won her first writing contest. By age eighteen, she won enough essay-writing contest money to fund four years of college tuition and books.

As an adult, Laurel has authored two award-winning novels. Her published short stories and nonfiction pieces total over forty. She has served as a program participant at many science fiction/fantasy conventions. She’s the Literary Stage Manager for the annual San Mateo County Fair, a speaker, writing contest judge, and anthology editor. And Laurel has even engineered a steam locomotive.

Laurel Anne Hill’s latest book, The Engine Woman’s Light is an award-winning steampunk novel. A quick summary for my readers—Laurel says: “I’ve made Chapter One of The Engine Woman’s Light a prologue of sorts, the story of how Juanita’s maternal great-grandmother rescues her from an asylum train and potential death. Chapter Two opens when Juanita is nearly sixteen years of age. She has gone to wash clothes. The spirit of the creek whispers the Chapter One story to her, but the words come out jumbled.

At this point, Juanita experiences her first “big” mystical vision: An airship with a ghostly captain. No surprise that he commands her to prevent California’s thrown-away people—including young children—from boarding trains to an asylum. That institution’s director plots murder to reduce the inmate population. Yet to save innocent lives, Juanita must take lives of the corrupt. How can she reconcile her assignment with her belief in the sacredness of all human life? And will she survive to marry her betrothed?

The spirits expect a mystic’s compliance. That’s the way I built her world. Juanita sets out despite inner trepidation to sabotage the railroad. Her ancestor, Billy, the ghost of a steam locomotive engineer, guides her. Then bit by bit, Juanita discovers the gut-wrenching truths all of her ancestors neglected to reveal.

To complicate matters, I made sure Juanita encounters members of California’s ruthless Mendoza family. Mendozas are connected with the asylums and the trains running there. The resulting dark and disturbing confrontations, including rape, scar her very soul. Yet Juanita’s inner strength and insight continue to grow. Her determination to love, forgive, and do what needs to be done becomes her salvation.”

Where did the idea come from for your latest book, The Engine Woman’s Light?

laurel book A dream I had in the early 1990s provided my initial inspiration for The Engine Woman’s Light. In that dream, an elderly woman condemned to euthanasia escaped from a death train, an abandoned infant girl in her arms. She walked at night toward a distant light and safety.

The resulting short story I wrote never worked, even though the voice of the old woman spoke to me inside of my head. Subplots burdened the story’s structure, failing to address the destiny of the rescued child. I had a novel on my hands, a book that would take me twenty years to complete. The fictional world I created in the process reflects a number of my personal experiences.

For example, The Engine Woman’s Light contains two scenes where spirits hide inside of clocks. I own an old wind-up alarm clock that used to belong to my maternal grandmother. I bought Gran a new Baby Ben—which was easier to wind—around 1988, and kept the old one for myself. The old Baby Ben stopped working about the time Gran died in 1989. Regardless, I continued to keep the timepiece on the shelf of my bed’s headboard. A terrible and unknown illness hit me a couple of years later. My back muscles went into non-stop spasm for six weeks. The pain was excruciating. I didn’t know how I was going to cope. Would I spend the rest of my life as an invalid? At my rock-bottom, mental low point, the broken Baby Ben started ticking. The minute hand advanced. Encouragement from Gran’s spirit? Several minutes later, the clock stopped, never to run again.

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

No doubt about it, I choose my protagonist: Juanita Elise Jame-Navarro. Her determination to complete the life-saving mission the spirits of her ancestors have assigned her—and do so even in the face of heart-wrenching adversity—is heroic and amazing. And so many of her thoughts and critical decisions, as the story progresses, result from her increasing understanding of the world and her place in it. Yet Juanita makes significant mistakes, as any believable character must do. She is both a gifted mystic traveler and a vulnerable young woman.

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

The Engine Woman’s Light was indie published by Sand Hill Review Press. The advantages of working with Sand Hill Review Press included my close involvement in the publishing and book promotion process, even during the cover design. I was, and remain, a member of the Sand Hill Review Press “team.” As to the disadvantages of working with a small indie publisher? The “big publishing house machine” for sales and marketing isn’t there. The scale is far smaller. Also, I received no advance.

Luckily, Editor-in-Chief Tory Hartmann from Sand Hill Review Press is both savvy and eager to provide advice. She entered The Engine Woman’s Light in the Independent Press Award contest and the novel won the gold award in Steampunk. This encouraged me to send my book to “Kirkus Reviews” and they gave me a “starred review.” Now my novel has won a total of twelve honors and awards.

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

On the first draft of my fiction manuscripts, I listen to my characters and follow their story-gardening advice. What grows, grows. I evict the plot weeds on subsequent drafts and trim back the bushels of unruly wording, ensuring that my story and character arcs work, that my showing far exceeds my telling. I start a project as a pantser and finish it as an architect.

What was your favorite book as a child?

As a child, I adored Gigi, The Story of a Merry Go Round Horse by Elizabeth Foster, a chapter book set in pre WWII Vienna. Gigi’s mother was a pine tree, and his father was the wind that sweeps through the Vienna woods. In this story, children could hear the wooden horses speak—until those children grew so tall that their feet reached the stirrups. Reflecting upon this book as an adult helped me learn how to bring the fantastical to life using ordinary prose.

What writing project are you currently working on?

I’m working on a YA/historical fantasy/magical realism novel with a tentative title of “Plague of Flies.” I’m sure that won’t be the final title. I’ve set the story in California, 1846, during the Bear Flag Rebellion (which was one of the preludes to the Mexican-American War). Catalina, my teen heroine, loves Angelo, the son of a wealthy rancher in Mexican Alta California. However, Angelo’s father looks to Spain to find his son a suitable match. Angelo enlists in the Mexican Army to prove he is man enough to choose his own bride—Catalina. Meanwhile, a local vaquero’s prophesy is fulfilled when a mysterious spirit man arrives on the scene. And then the spirit man enlists Catalina to help stop a potential invasion of Alta California by new Yanqui settlers. Settlers with little respect for Mexicans or Native Americans.

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

Write close to the point-of-view characters. Show the story through the eyes of those characters, rather than through the author’s eyes or an omniscient narrator. This advice has served me well.

For example, point of view became a big challenge when I wrote The Engine Woman’s Light, part of the reason the novel took me so many years to write. Most of the time, Juanita is Juanita. Yet sometimes, the spirit of an ancestor possesses her. How could I minimize potential reader confusion? The published novel uses first person to tell Juanita’s story and third person when she is possessed. Both point-of-view approaches remain quite close to their corresponding

Want to learn more about Laurel Anne Hill and The Engine Woman’s Light? Check out her: Website, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon page.

Or better yet, purchase a copy of The Engine Woman’s Light.

Thanks to author Laurel Anne Hill for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author Jayne Barnard on January 24, 2019. Happy reading! – Vonnie

Read Full Post »

rebecca buchanan Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, Rebecca Buchanan. Rebecca is the editor of the Pagan literary ezine, Eternal Haunted Summer. She has been published in a wide variety of venues. She has released two short story collections with Asphodel Press: A Witch Among Wolves, and Other Pagan Tales; and The Serpent in the Throat, and Other Pagan Tales. Her first poetry collection, Dame Evergreen, and Other Poems of Myth, Magic, and Madness was recently released by Sycorax Press.

Rebecca Buchanan’s latest books: Dame Evergreen, and Other Poems of Myth, Magic, and Madness and The Fox and the Rose, And Other Pagan Faerie Tales, are awash in myth and magic. A quick summary for my readers:

r buchanan book The world is magic. The world is stories. Dame Evergreen brings together forty poems of myth, magic, and madness, many original to this collection. Here, a butterfly Goddess weaves the world of her own color and light, a God reaches into the abyss to pull the runes into creation, a red-cloaked witch hunts the wolf who took her daughter, a turtle carries a fragile world upon its back, the doors to fairyland are tragically opened, princely spirits trapped in a briar hedge slowly go mad, and there is no happily ever after for a shape-shifting frog. Journey through a world that is beautiful, horrible, magical, and mad.

The Fox and the Rose, and Other Pagan Faerie Tales is a collection twenty stories, combining elements of classic fairy tales and myths to create a wholly original collection.

Where did the idea come from for your latest books, Dame Evergreen, Other Poems of Myth, Magic, and Madness and The Fox and the Rose, And Other Pagan Faerie Tales?

The idea grew out of my mutual love of fairy tales and myths. Most of the fairy tales which have come down to us are heavily Christianized; the Pagan elements which survive are hidden. I wanted fairy tales which retained their Pagan nature, with very obvious Gods and Goddesses and other Powers as characters. And too many of the old myths treat the Deities like jokes, or present a misogynistic worldview.

So, I started writing. When I was done, I had one poetry collection—Dame Evergreen; and one short story anthology—The Fox and the Rose.

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

Oh, tough question. In the case of The Fox and the Rose, it’s hard to pick a favorite. But it’s probably a toss-up between Eirawen (the main character is my retelling of “Snow White”) and the One-Eyed Crow (the messenger of the Goddess of the Underworld) in the story of the same name. I like Eirawen because she is brave and frightened, smart and a smart-ass. The One-Eyed Crow is totally devoted to his Goddess, but he also recognizes—and rewards—friendship when he finds it in unexpected places.

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

Dame Evergreen was released by Sycorax Press, a small speculative poetry publisher which is slowly building an impressive bibliography. The Fox and the Rose will be released by Asphodel Press, a Pagan publishing cooperative, right after the new year. They specialize in Pagan and polytheist and fiction and nonfiction, in both print and ebook formats; many titles are published at little to no cost to the author as an act of devotion.

Sandi Leibowitz at Sycorax Press was a delight to work with, and did virtually everything herself, from laying out the interior to creating the cover; it was great to be in close contact with her throughout the publication process. And I love working with the folks at Asphodel Press; one definite advantage is that they understand (and support) Pagan authors. The only real disadvantage with both Sycorax and Asphodel is that neither has much in the way of PR or advertising; that all falls on the author, so sales are entirely dependent on the author getting the word out.

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

Both, but it depends on the type of story. In the case of poems and short stories, I usually get a scene or character in my head first. I write the poem over and over by hand, changing it bit by bit until it’s done; for short stories, I write a rough outline by hand, then start typing.

In the case of novellas and novels, I write out chapter-by-chapter outlines and in-depth character profiles. When I have a fairly solid idea of what will happen and why, I start typing. (Well, usually; my current novel project started as a single scene, and I’m working out from there. I have no idea what it will be be when it’s complete.)

What was your favorite book as a child?

Again, another tough question. 🙂 I can’t pick an absolute favorite. Near the very top of the list, though, is Robin McKinley’s The Door in the Hedge and Other Stories. It not only contains my favorite version of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses,” but also taught me that fairy tales were not just for children. Fairy tales can be dark and sensuous and romantic and filled with strong, intelligent women.

What writing project are you currently working on?

I’m working on several projects right now. One is a collection of poems, tentatively entitled Not a Princess, But (Yes) There Was a Pea, and Other Fairy Tales to Foment Revolution. In this anthology, I twist and tweak traditional fairy tales, looking at them through a more subversive lens, bringing out the elements that encourage independence, strength, and compassion.

I am also working on The White Gryphon, a heterosexual fantasy romance novel; The Secret of the Sunken Temple, a gay paranormal romance set immediately before World War II; and The Cat, The Corpse, The Cursed Ballerina, an urban fantasy novel centered around a mage of mixed Maori and British descent.

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

Never submit your first draft.

Want to learn more about Rebecca Buchanan and Dame Evergreen, and Other Poems of Myth, Magic, and Madness and The Fox and the Rose, And Other Pagan Faerie Tales? Check out her: Website and Amazon page.

Or better yet, purchase a copy of Dame Evergreen, and Other Poems of Myth, Magic, and Madness.

Thanks to author Rebecca Buchanan for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author K.G. Anderson on January 17, 2019. Happy reading! – Vonnie

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »