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Posts Tagged ‘Vonnie Winslow Crist’

Just last week, I had to write another author bio. Though I reluctantly did so, I hate writing an author biography for a publication, website, con booklet, etc. Either I feel like I’m “bragging,” under-selling myself, or selecting the wrong things to include.

The simpler is better wisdom doesn’t always apply. Sometimes, if your bio is too simple, you appear unprofessional or inexperienced when compared to other writers included in an anthology, magazine, con directory of panel participants, or writers’ conference.

Then again, you don’t want to include every place you’ve been published, every award you’ve ever won, and every education tidbit. Judicious selection is best–so what’s that?

Depending on the location where your bio is to appear, you select those professional achievements which most closely align with the interests of the readers or attendees. What do I mean?

When I have a story appearing in a science fiction anthology, I don’t typically mention I’ve been published in “Faerie Magazine” and other fantasy publications or Killing It Softly 2 or other horror publications. Instead, I focus on writing which is science fiction in nature, listing Lost Signals of the Terran Republic, Outposts of Beyond,  Defending the Future: Dogs of War, or other places which have published my science fiction stories.

This means, I have a science fiction bio, a fantasy bio, and a horror bio–but wait, there’s more! A writing conference bio needs to reflect your experience and expertise in the subjects of the panels or workshops you’re presenting. Plus, it needs to lure an audience into attending.

For more on writing multiple bios, here’s the link to an informative post from author friend, Steven Southard: Tailoring Your Author Bio.

Thanks for reading, and keep on writing! – Vonnie

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As the school year begins, and most of us are finished taking vacations (or holidays for my British friends) — it’s time to set a few writing goals. I read a recent post from author Raymond Daley in which he challenged writers to submit a story everyday in September. (Poet and non-fiction writers can take this on as well). Here’s the link to his original challenge.

I’ve decide to accept the challenge!

“Why?” you might ask. Well, for me, I need a challenge or a goal to write toward. It’s not enough to have editorial responsibilities or long-term writing projects — I must have an immediate challenge which has an end in sight.

Will I use already written stories? Yes. Will I write new stories? Yes. Will every sent submission result in a published story? Of course not! But I’ve discovered that persistence is the key to being published. If I believe in a story, I’m willing to find markets and send it out as many times as is necessary for it to find a “home.” So the September Challenge will push me to persist.

On October 1st, I’ll report on my September submissions. Will I know the fate of every story? No, but I’ll know that I have at least 30 chances to be published.

I encourage all of my writing friends to design their own September Challenge or accept Raymond Daley’s (at least)* One Submission a Day for 30 Days Challenge. *Yes, I added that “at least” in there, because in the case of 100-word stories known as “drabbles,” one hardly seems a submission at all!

As for readers, why not set a goal to read a specific number of pages per day — or to read three new authors in the month of September. For those who knit, crochet, embroider — set a certain number of hats, scarves, or other item to be completed in September. For my artist friends, set a specific number of paintings to be completed.

This list could go on, but the important thing is to set goals, and to work toward achieving them. Now, I must leave you and get working on today’s story…

 

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Wendy Van Camp Headshot 2018Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, Wendy Van Camp. Wendy Van Camp writes science fiction, regency historical, and scifaiku poetry. No Wasted Ink is her platform featuring essays, poetry, flash fiction, and author interviews. Wendy’s stories and poems appear in magazines such as “Quantum Visions,” “Scifaikuest,” “Lit Up,” “Writing Cooperative,” and “Far Horizons.” She has won Honorable Mention in the Writers of the Future Contest, and is a graduate of the James Gunn Speculative Fiction Workshop.

Wendy Van Camp’s latest book, The Curate’s Brother, is a novel fans of the Regency time period are sure to enjoy. A quick summary for my readers—In the summer of 1806, a young curate is surprised by the arrival of his brother, who is on shore leave from his battles in the Napoleonic wars. Commander Frederick Wentworth has come to Somerset to spend time with the only family he has in England as he waits for reassignment.

All the good Commander wants to do is flirt and dance with the ladies until he is called back to sea, but when his flirting extends to an outgoing beauty that Edward Wentworth always disdained as “a child,” the curate becomes aware that his opinion of the girl is sorely outdated. Meanwhile, Frederick becomes drawn to the shy wallflower, Anne Elliot. She is the daughter of a baronet and above his station, but Frederick pays no heed to his brother’s warnings that class may prevent their union.

At the end of summer, a letter and package arrive that will change everything for the two brothers. Which will prevail? The bold action of the commander or the quiet manners of the curate?

The Curate's Brother Book Cover Novelette (sidebar)wendy Where did the idea come from for your latest book, The Curate’s Brother?

The idea started out as a different story that I called “Letters From The Sea” that awakened in me a few months after I read the Austen novel, Persuasion, and I fell in love with the characters. Most of the story was told through the point of view of Anne Elliot and Frederick Wentworth. Only the first chapter was told via Edward Wentworth’s eyes. The chapter simply did not fit with the rest of the book. One day, I thought to myself that I should take this one chapter and turn it into a stand-alone short story.

I brought this short story to my science fiction critique group. It did not go well. Half the men refused to read it because it was “romance” and most of the others flat out hated it. Only one writer thought it had promise. She told me, “the story needs ten thousand more words,” and she outlined the main plot points of my short story for me. I had a plot there. A true beginning, middle and end, but it was lacking in details.

Over the next two weeks, I wrote like a demon and the majority of the scenes were added, making the story a novelette in length. I could not get the science fiction critique group to agree to reread my story. I took it to another critique group, one that had a mix of genre. There my new story was greeted with a different tone. Most of the people loved it and several said that they felt it was ready to publish. So a week or two later, that is what I did. The novelette has done well, selling thousands of copies.

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

I am fond of Frederick Wentworth because he goes through so much growth in the story. He begins as a rash young officer in the navy and gradually overcomes much adversity, both emotional and physical, to become a mature young man. He grew in a similar manner in Austen’s original novel, but I wanted to showcase more of his life and the culture of the English people during the Regency era.

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

My book is indie published. I enjoy keeping complete control over my creative products, be they books, artwork, or jewelry items. I also keep most of the profits of my sales. There are a few disadvantages in that I do need to pay for everything upfront from my own pocket, from editors, to cover artists, and formatters. Since I am a bit tech savvy I can manage to most of the work myself, but this also takes time from my writing schedule.

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

I used to lean more toward being a pantser when I first started writing. I still like to leave plenty of room for the characters and situations in the story to grow organically. However, I’ve learned the value of leaving myself a trail of breadcrumbs to follow as I write. In the last few years, I’ve become more of a plotter.

What was your favorite book as a child?

That is a tough one. I have many favorites. I was one of those kids that practically lived at the local library. Of course, where I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, it rained a lot. The library was a comfortable dry place to hang out in! The book that got me hooked on reading science fiction was A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. The sheer adventure, the gallantry and the spirit of Dejah Thoris and Sola called to me. In my middle years, Anne McCaffrey was my biggest influence and it was a real toss-up between The White Dragon and the Harperhall Trilogy. I loved Pern with its protective dragons and the pet firelizards, but also the music. I still love Celtic folk music to this day, and I believe my first exposure to this came from Irish transplant, Anne McCaffrey.

What writing project are you currently working on?

I am in the process of finishing up my historical regency series. The other three books are drafted, they need revision and polish before release. But I do have a new potential series in the works. It takes place on the planet Mars in the near future. I want this to be more of a hard science fiction story with attention to the real science behind living on the Red Planet and focusing how it would affect the lives of those that colonize this new world. In conjunction with this new Martian series, I am creating a chapbook of Martian poetry that will feature my scifaiku poems and longer form free verse all on the theme of surviving on Mars. I tend to write haiku poems as I research a new setting for a novel. A haiku captures tiny moments or emotions in connection with a place. The poetry lets me get a good feel for a world before I start writing the book.

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

Be consistent in your writing and get a little bit more done every day. I try my best to follow this advice, although I do take a day off now and then for family and friends.

Want to learn more about Wendy Van Camp and The Curate’s Brother? Check out her:  WebsiteNewsletterFacebook pageTwitterMediumWattpad, and  Amazon Authors Page.

Or better yet, purchase a copy of The Curate’s Brother.

Thanks to author Wendy Van Camp for stopping by. I’ll be posting over the next two weeks, then watch for more author interviews in April. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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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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denise laughing “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” – A.A. Milne

I said goodbye to a dear friend less than a week ago. Not a fare-thee-well because she was moving to the midwest — though she’d done that about a year ago. Not a see-you-soon because she was going on a trip to a distant land for several years — though she’d done that decades ago when she taught in Japan. Not a see you next year on vacation at Lost River State Park (if not sooner) — though I’d done that nearly 60 times. Not even a thanks for letting me stay at your place, but I need to get to the writing conference on time so-long — though I had spent a night with her when she lived in Virginia before going to a writing conference. No, I said goodbye until I see you in heaven.

Some of you reading this might not believe in heaven — but I do, and so did my friend. So when I thanked her for being such a good friend for over 50 years, and told her I’d miss her for the rest of my life until we met again — for me, and for her, it was true — we will meet again.

Which brings me back to the opening quote from A.A. Milne — for me, and those of you who have wonderful people in their lives — how lucky and blessed we are to have had friends, partners, and family whom we care about so much that it hurts to say goodbye.

And so, in honor of Denise, I will end, as I began — with a quote from A.A. Milne:

“‘We’ll be Friends Forever, won’t we, Pooh?’ asked Piglet. ‘Even longer,’ Pooh answered.”

 

 

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Rhoads Headshots 9-18 FINAL-1782 Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, Loren Rhoads. Loren Rhoads is the co-author (with Brian Thomas) of Lost Angels and its upcoming sequel Angelus Rose. On her own, she’s written a space opera trilogy called In the Wake of the Templars and a nonfiction guidebook to 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die.

Loren Rhoads’s latest book, Lost Angels, is a novel fantasy fans are sure to enjoy. A quick summary for my readers—In the days before the Flood, Azaziel had been a Watcher, sent down to help God’s creatures on Earth. He fell in love with one of Cain’s granddaughters and they passed her mortal life in bliss. Now, he’s imprisoned in the Los Angeles basin. His angelic brethren, Heaven’s misfits, don’t understand the longing Aza feels: once he had been loved entirely for himself.

The succubus Lorelei doesn’t know any of this when she sets her sights on Azaziel. All she knows is that the angel’s fall will bring glory to Hell and acclaim to any succubus who accomplishes it. Of course, it never occurs to Lorelei that Azaziel might try to tame her by possessing her with a mortal girl’s soul. Can the succubus find an exorcist before the fury of Hell is unleashed?

Rhoads LostAngels cover Where did the idea come from for your latest book, Lost Angels?

I wrote a short story for a friend. There was an apartment building in his neighborhood called The Lorelei, so that became the name of the succubus in the story. This was the first time I wrote a story as a serial. I’d write a scene or two each day, then send it to him. Usually, I write things all out of order, then rearrange the scenes in revision, but this time I wrote things linearly.

As it turned out, he couldn’t wait for me to finish the original short story so he could write chapter 2. And then suddenly we were writing a book.

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

I genuinely like Lorelei, even though she is a morally gray character. She is based on a woman I went to university with who lit up every room she walked in to. Everyone had a crush on Kim, because she was so much fun. Lorelei actually likes her prey and works hard to see that they enjoy themselves before she takes their souls. And then she meets Azaziel – and she definitely bites off more than she can chew.

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

The book was originally published by a small press, but I got the rights back a couple of years ago and republished it under my own company. The advantage of doing it myself is that I really like the new cover. The text is exactly the way I wanted it. I’m sort of a control junky.

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

Oh, I really like gardener better than pantser. What a great term! I don’t like to know too much about my stories when I start them. I almost never work to an outline. Instead, I write scenes as they come to me, then piece them together like a puzzle. I really love the process of fitting everything together. It’s actually my favorite part of writing. Sometimes I can’t see the whole picture until I get all the scenes assembled and read it through. It’s a revelation to see what the story is really about. I have a friend who says that the author is always the last to know.

What was your favorite book as a child?

I was 10 when I read Dracula for the first time. I’d grown up watching the black and white Universal horror movies on Saturday afternoons. My mom pointed out that a lot of my favorite characters—Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, The Invisible Man – were based on or inspired by books. (She was a junior high school librarian.) So I started with my favorite monster and read his book while we were on a family vacation.

All these years later, I still have a soft spot for monsters and outcasts.

What writing project are you currently working on?

When Brian and I wrote the original book, which we called As Above, So Below, it was huge. It look more than a ream of paper to print out the whole thing. The story had a natural climax about halfway through, so I cut the book in half and got it published as Lost Angels.

I spent Nanowrimo 2018 putting together the sequel. Most of the story was there, but it didn’t stand alone, so I went back in to write character introductions for everyone, along with lots of description for readers who might be encountering these characters for the first time. Or for the first time in a while, since the first book came out in 2016.

I wanted to make the second book more romantic, too. Brian describes the As Above, So Below books as Romeo and Juliette with angels and devils. I wanted those crazy kids to go on some actual dates and have some fun together, in amongst the damning people to hell.

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

I met Ray Bradbury once, when he came up to San Francisco for a book signing. I told him I was working on a book, but it was a real struggle. He told me, “Don’t think so much. Just write. You’ll figure it out as you’re writing.” I realized he was completely right. I can research everything, make sure I know everything in advance, or I can just write and leave placeholders for the things I need to research later. If you write before researching, then you know what you need to know. That’s been game-changing for me.

The key has been getting out of my own way. And it helps a lot to write with someone like Brian, who was a researcher in the library at 20th Century Fox. His research made for really rich backstories for our characters.

Want to learn more about Loren Rhoads and Lost Angels? Check out her: BlogFacebook pageTwitterInstagramPinterest, and  Amazon Authors Page.

Or better yet, purchase a copy of Lost Angels.

Thanks to author Loren Rhoads for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author Jill Shultz on March 14, 2019. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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bo balder pic 2016 Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, Bo Balder. Bo lives and works close to Amsterdam. Bo is the first Dutch author to have been published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and Clarkesworld. Her fiction has also appeared in Escape Pod, Nature and other places. Her science fiction novel, The Wan, was published by Pink Narcissus Press. She is a member of SFWA, Codex Writers and a graduate of Viable Paradise.

Bo Balder’s latest book, The Wan, is a novel science fiction fans are sure to enjoy. A quick summary for my readers—In a far future, on a faraway planet, humans have become infected by The Wan. The alien Wan are creatures that communicate by feeding each other poems composed of their own flesh. Obsessed alien and former human biologist Ing infects Frog, a barren slave girl and Firdaus, deposed ruler of the human settlement, with the alien fungus. When a once-in-a-millenium reproductive event threatens to destroy all human life on the planet, Frog and Firdaus must choose between transforming their loved ones into cadaverous toadstools, and surviving—or watching them all die in a planetary holocaust. Unless Frog can come up with a third solution…with the help of her greatest enemy.
wan front cover bo Where did the idea come from for your latest book, The Wan?

The same place all my ideas come from, a strange place between waking and sleeping, between trance and relaxation. At first the book was set in darkness, catacombs beneath a city, and it was only when I decided to go above ground in the bright sunlight that the whole plot took its (mostly) final shape.

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

I think it’s Ing–she is kind of the villain, but she’s also a mover and a shaker and a wounded human being who only ever tries to do good. Her story is a tragic loss of memory and identity, of everyone she’s ever known. I’m happy that some of her lives on.

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

It was published by a small independent press, Pink Narcissus. The advantage to having an indie publisher is that the communication is very direct and personal, the disadvantage is of course the lack of money for PR and distribution channels.

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

I’m a bit of both! I outline in advance, but only in a very global way, so that within the limits of a scene the pantser part of my writer persona still gets to play.

What was your favorite book as a child?

I was blown away by The Tripods by John Christopher. It was the first science fiction book I got my hands on and I absolutely loved it. I had seen science fiction TV (The Thunderbirds) without realizing what it was, but The Tripods was a much more creative and personal story. The protagonist in The Tripods was a child, like me, caught up in circumstances not of his own making. The idea of aliens just fascinated me. Once I realized there was a whole genre devoted to this stuff I was off. A fan for life.

What writing project are you currently working on?

I’m editing a couple of short stories, and will soon be writing more, but I’m also preparing/ brainstorming/ outlining a new space opera novel.

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

Let your subconscious do the writing for you and only put on your editor hat when it’s finished. Don’t read back, don’t spellcheck, don’t second guess yourself.

Want to learn more about Bo Balder and The Wan? Check out her:  WebsiteFacebook page Twitter,  and Amazon Authors Page.

Or better yet, purchase a copy of The Wan.

Thanks to author Bo Balder for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author Loren Rhoads on March 12, 2019. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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