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Posts Tagged ‘Jeopardy!’

David Healey Thanks to historical book author, David Healey, for stopping by and answering a few questions.

VWC: When did you decide you wanted to be an author? What are some of the things you did to reach that goal?

DH: I’ve always wanted to be a writer. That was it. I suppose I’ve been lucky that way. As a kid I was always writing stories and reading, reading, reading. There’s really no better way to become a writer than to be a voracious reader.

VWC: How has your background as a newspaperman helped you with your career as an author?

DH: Working at a newspaper you learn how to write very quickly and can’t afford the luxury of writer’s block. You also learn how to take some criticism and to work in a noisy environment. For a long time, it was a great job and it seemed important.

VWC: How do you find a publisher for your first book?

Sea Lord Chronicles DH: First I found a wonderful agent named Esther Perkins who taught me a lot about the difference between simply writing fiction and writing fiction that might be published. Unfortunately we never landed a book deal together. When Esther retired I found another agent who gave me a whole new crash course in writing fiction. The agents are the ones who find a publisher.

VWC: How do you find a publisher for a book now?

DH:Publishing has changed so much in the last twenty years. You still need an agent to get a book deal with one of the big publishers. You needed a press to print a newspaper. Technology has changed all that.

VWC: Have you ever self-published a book? If yes, what are the greatest challenges for a self-published author?

DH: Self publishing is a great option. Dickens was a self publisher, after all, cranking out serialized stories for magazines that he owned—but he was also a great storyteller. I have self published a book with some success but with a lot of help from paid designers, copy editors and marketers. I would highly recommend hiring a pro to help you publish the best book possible.

VWC: You’ve written thrillers, historical novels, non-fiction, mysteries, and the Sea Lord Chronicles for younger readers (MG or YA?), do you have a favorite genre?

Ghost-Sniper DH: I read all sorts of things, and as a result I’ve written a lot of different kinds of books.

VWC: What book that you’ve written is your favorite and why?

DH: The best book I’ve written is the one I just finished. Somebody else actually said that, not me! My favorites are Sharpshooter, because that was my first novel; and I really take pride in Rebel Train, and not just because it was a Jeopardy! question. I wrote that novel in longhand over several months between the hours of midnight and two a.m. I would come home from the night shift at the newspaper and write, and then, be up first thing in the morning with our daughter so my wife could go to work. That’s how badly I wanted to write.

VWC: In addition to your historical nonfiction books, many of your novels are based in history. Do you enjoy research? Do you visit the places mentioned in your books?

DH: History really comes alive for me when I try to imagine the people who lived through historical events. I love the research and try to visit all the historical locations I can because it helps to get the atmosphere right.

VWC: How have you managed to write and publish 8 books in the last 2 years?

Rebel Train DH: Is it that many? I figure I’m good for about 30 books. That’s my ultimate goal. We’ll see.

VWC: Do you work on more than one book at a time?

DH: Yes, I usually have one almost finished and then one in the outlining stage.

VWC: Do you have any time-management secrets for writers?

DH: An outline is very important. It took me a long time to learn that, so save yourself a lot of grief and spend the weeks you need to write an outline. My outlines are very rough and incorporate character back story and plot points, but by the time I sit down to write most of the story is “there” just waiting to be written. The other factor is time. It does help to have some sort of schedule. I have the luxury now of writing in the morning or right after lunch. For many years I wrote late at night and on weekends to get things done.

VWC: What projects are you working on now?

DH: I’m working on a sequel to my World War II story, Ghost Sniper.

VWC: What advice do you have for writers trying to get a book published?

DH: Read all you can and write all you can. Writing is definitely a craft that you have to work on over time, so it helps to read craft books, attend conferences, or just sit there and ask the age old question, “Is this showing not telling?”

VWC: Who was your favorite author as a child?

DH: The wonderful frontier adventure writer William O. Steele.

Sharp Shooter VWC: Who is your favorite author now?

DH: I would say that I never miss a John Sandford thriller.

VWC: What was the most valuable piece of writing advice given to you?

DH: The game changer for me was going to school at Washington College in Chestertown and discovering this whole community of writers there. Through that I learned that you know what, it’s okay to be a writer.

VWC: And now, the final and most important question: What’s your favorite kind of cookie?

DH: Pepperidge Farm Chesapeakes with a much of tea.

For more information about David Healey and his books, visit his website and blog. And you can find his books on Amazon.

Thanks, David, for stopping by. Watch Whimsical Words for more Guests, Quotable Wednesdays, Writing Tips, Recipes, and lots of other interesting posts. Have a historical Monday! – Vonnie

PS. If you want to show some love, visit my Amazon page and buy one of my books. 😉

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Sandra Ulbrich Almazan Thanks to author Sandra Ulbrich Almazan for stopping by and sharing Seasons Beginning’s journey from short story to novel. Enjoy!

From Short Story to Novel by Sandra Ulbrich Almazan

“A long time ago (but not in a galaxy far, far away), I wrote a short story called “Demon’s Diamond.” I never submitted it anywhere, as it was a story I’d written just for me to help me understand the fantasy world I was writing about in my novels. The story focused on an incident that triggered a magical vendetta against an entire nation. (This vendetta is the focus of later stories in this world.) I did put the short story on my old website, but I have no idea if anyone read it.

Many years later, I revisited that fantasy world and decided it was time to expand on that short story. I’d come up with new ideas about how magic worked, what the characters were like, and how the history in the short story related to the main story I wanted to tell. But starting with a story of about 5,000 words and expanding it to nearly 80,000 words is a daunting prospect. Where do you start?

There are two main ways one can turn a short story into a novel: you can add more material throughout the story to lengthen it, or you can use the ending of the short story as a plot point in the book and develop the events that occur after it. I wound up doing a combination of both.

Demon’s Diamond” became Part One of Seasons’ Beginnings and grew to nearly 18,000 words. Obviously the pacing of this section is more leisurely than that of the short story. Much of the material I added develops the characters and the world. We get to see more background of the main characters that explains why they make the choices they do. Some characters who play a more important role later on in the story are shown briefly, as are some of the locations. Some material was added to the climax, and I had to change some details to be consistent with my overall plans for the series, but the ending of Part One is similar to that of “Demon’s Diamond.”

Although adding new material to the end of a story sounds easier than reworking the entire story, that wasn’t the case for this book. Perhaps it would have been if Part Two started immediately after Part One. However, about a year elapsed between the two parts of this story, and that break was jarring for my beta readers. I originally wrote Seasons’ Beginnings with just chapter breaks, not part breaks, but I identified Parts One and Two to make the transition more obvious. The first scene of Part Two is set in the same location as the first scene of Part One. I set that up deliberately to show the changes that had happened to my character in the meantime. I also added a brief conversation at the start of Part Two where my main character talks about some of the key events that happened between Parts One and Two. This helps orient the reader before returning her to the main plot.

Seasons rgb, FINAL, med, low res Whether you write short stories, novels, or both, I hope my writing experiences have given you some ideas you can try with your own stories. If you’re a reader, I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into the writing process. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.”

For your reading pleasure, here’s the Seasons’ Beginnings Blurb:

“Kron Evenhanded is an artificer, able to enchant any man-made object, but he finds people more difficult to work with. When he visits the city of Vistichia, he encounters Sal-thaath, an extremely magical but dangerous child created by Salth, another magician Kron knew at the Magic Institute. Kron attempts to civilize Sal-thaath, but when his efforts lead to tragedy, Kron is forced to ally himself with a quartet of new deities and their human Avatars. Together they must defend Vistichia as Salth attempts to drain its life and magic. But Salth has Ascended halfway to godhood over Time. Will Kron’s artifacts be enough to protect the Avatars, especially the woman he loves, or will Time separate them?”

About the Author: Sandra Ulbrich Almazan started reading at the age of three and only stops when absolutely required to. Although she hasn’t been writing quite that long, she did compose a very simple play in German during middle school. Her science fiction novella Move Over Ms. L. (an early version of Lyon’s Legacy) earned an Honorable Mention in the 2001 UPC Science Fiction Awards, and her short story “A Reptile at the Reunion” was published in the anthology Firestorm of Dragons. Other published works by Sandra include Twinned Universes and several science fiction and fantasy short stories. She is a founding member of Broad Universe, which promotes science fiction, fantasy, and horror written by women. Her undergraduate degree is in molecular biology/English, and she has a Master of Technical and Scientific Communication degree. Her day job is in the laboratory of an enzyme company; she’s also been a technical writer and a part-time copyeditor for a local newspaper. Some of her other accomplishments are losing on Jeopardy! and taking a stuffed orca to three continents. She lives in the Chicago area with her husband, Eugene; and son, Alex. In her rare moments of free time, she enjoys crocheting, listening to classic rock (particularly the Beatles), and watching improv comedy.

To learn more about Sandra and her books, visit at her website, blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.

Like to buy one of Sandra’s books? Here are a Buy Link for Amazon (Kindle) and Createspace (paper).

Thanks again to Sandra Ulbrich Almazan for her guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, Quotable Wednesdays, Owl Posts, blogs from me, and occasional Readers & Writers Recipes. Have a magical day! – Vonnie

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