Five Reasons YOU Should Compete in the Writer’s Games 2017

What are the Writer’s Games you ask? A chance for YOU to flex your creative mind for a chance to be PUBLISHED in a volume of 72 Hours of Insanity: Anthology of the Games. For the specifics on how it works, click here.

Why should you compete in these awesome challenges? This is why:

1. YOU HAVE THE CHANCE TO BE PUBLISHED!!!!

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If you are anything like me, you have probably stopped reading at this point and are already signing up. If not, hopefully these other four reasons will convince you.

2. You have more than one chance to WIN

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Yup, you read that right. So let’s say your first story isn’t your best work and you don’t win. NO BIG DEAL!! You have plenty of other chances to get your writing in the anthology before the Writer’s Games are over!

3. You will get some great practice at hitting those deadlines

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As the title of the anthology hints, each story has to be written in 72 hours. While this is completely do-able, some people (read: me) tend to procrastinate and sometimes end up cutting it pretty close *ahem, me*. But the wonderful thing about the Writer’s Games is that you will have plenty of chances to practice hitting those 72 hour deadlines, and by the end of the Games, you will be a pro.

4. You can write poetry too

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So lets say that you read a prompt and say to yourself “Hmm, I have a wonderful idea for this but for some reason my mind is telling me to write it as a poem” (don’t laugh, it happens). WELL YOU CAN! As long as you meet the requirements of the given prompt, you can write however you want! How cool is that!?

5. I AM A GUEST JUDGE!!!

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Of course I saved the best for last. You should enter because I am a guest judge, and you all know (or at least should know) THAT I LOVE READING!!! AND I WANT TO READ YOUR WORK!!!!

Just FYI, registration for this AWESOME event doesn’t end until April 30, so you still have time to join! And, if you do sign up, you are not required to do every single event, so if you miss one its nbd.

If you want to sign up (which, duh, you do) then go ahead and click here to go to The Writer’s Workout webpage and register. Also, if you are super excited to learn about one of the amazing sponsors of the Games, visit the Pacemaker Planner website (a great writing resource btw) by clicking here.


Hopefully by now I have successfully convinced you to join (and to tell all of your friends and basically everyone you pass on the street to join). If you are as pumped as I am for this, let me know in the comments below! May the pen be always in your favor.

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Guest Post- 3 Things You Need To Know Before Crowdfunding

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Hi everyone! Today I have a special guest author, Grace K. Francis, who has written a guest post about her experience Crowdpublishing her novel. Grace is a German writer and her debut novel, Codename: DEREC was published in April 2016 with the help of publishing company Kladde. Read about her experience and the pro’s and cons of Crowdfunding!


The term crowdfunding has been around for what seems like forever, hasn’t it? Platforms like Kickstarter have given it a huge boost in the last few years. When I first heard about it, I thought it was a great idea for young entrepreneurs to find financial support for their business. I had no idea that the same thing existed for books, which is also known as crowdpublishing.

After finishing the last edit of my manuscript at the beginning of 2015, I had already long forgotten about crowdfunding. The thing I worried about at that point in time was whether I should contact a traditional publisher or dare to go down the path of self-publishing. Self-publishing seemed pretty intimidating to me so I discarded that idea pretty quickly; although I admittedly didn’t do much research on it. Instead, I went on the search for a German publisher, and like every young author aiming to make their debut, I was terribly insecure.

During fall, 2015, I found Kladde, a small publishing house in Freiburg, Germany. That was when the term crowdpublishing entered my life again. Kladde publishes their authors’ books via crowdfunding only, because that’s how they collect the money they need in order to pay their proofreaders, editors, cover designers and so on.

By referencing my own “publishing journey”, let me tell you the most important things you need to know when considering crowdpublishing your work.

1. You still have to decide whether to publish traditionally or self-publish

The number of publishers like Kladde, who only publish via crowdfunding, is significantly low; even more so in the English-speaking publishing world than in the German one. You could, of course, start a crowdfunding campaign for yourself to raise the money you need for your project. But keep in mind that with self-publishing you have to do everything yourself from editing to marketing and everything in between. If you go with a traditional publisher when you crowdfund, they will set up the campaign for you, advertise your novel, and you’ll be able to profit from their experience.

2. There is the risk of not getting fully funded

The thing about crowdpublishing is you take a big step at a very early stage of your publishing journey, and at that early stage you have to be convincing.

The website of my campaign contained a short video of me introducing myself and my novel, an extract of the novel, a synopsis, and a list of “perks” that those who donate receive in return (example: someone who donated 10€ received a copy of the E-Book and a handwritten Thank You card).

This early step can be a blessing and a curse: your audience (aka your possible readers) are the ones who decide whether your book gets published or not. They decide whether it’s interesting enough for them to read. Once they decide “Yes, I want this novel in my shelf,” they will most likely donate, which is of course a great thing because it’s a way for readers to actively be involved in shaping their personal, literary preferences. However, if you’re not convincing enough, they’ll just close the tab of their browser and move on (which would be bad).

It will make you doubt yourself and your work

Trust me, I’ve been through self-doubt with my debut novel.

My campaign started off really well; probably because the first people who donated were family and friends who I had told about my project. I reached the first 15% of the funding threshold within the first two days and I got incredibly excited!

My crowdfunding was set up so that I had a total of 55 days to collect 3000€. After my initial friends and family head start, I received several donations from people I didn’t know (but who most likely read about the campaign on my publisher’s Facebook page). I didn’t start to feel the self-doubt until about 5 days prior to the end of my campaign, when the donation number stopped going up.

You have to know, I can be very pessimistic at times. That was such a point. It made me feel like my book wasn’t good enough to be published. I began to doubt my writing skills, my style, my entire novel because I knew that if I didn’t reach my campaign goal, my novel wouldn’t get published. I was dependent on these readers, and if they left me hanging so close to the goal, I surely must have been not convincing enough, right?

Wrong.

I ended up reaching my goal just a few hours before the deadline ended. I even reached more than what I would have needed.

It was then that I realized that crowdpublishing is indeed a risk, but it’s a risk worth taking, because at least you’ll have people supporting you who are genuinely interested in your book. Of course you’re dependent on them, but hey, at some point in life, everyone is dependent on someone, right?

I’m glad that I took the step of crowdpublishing for “Codename: DEREC” because although it’s nowhere near perfect (the sequel will be so much better), I learned a lot from the experience itself. I learned how to represent my novel and myself as an author on the internet and on social media. I also learned how to deal with self-doubt and even with 2 star reviews, after it was published. And knowing those things can help a great deal once you’re really getting into the “industry”.

And remember, if there are any new opportunities opening themselves up to you, take them. As long as you’ve got “your book’s back,” you can do anything!


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Grace K. Francis is a bilingual author born 1997 in Germany.

She began writing at the age of 10 and published her first book “Codename: DEREC” on April 20th, 2016.

While working on its sequel, she’s now started to work on her first English-speaking project, a homoerotic novel set in Japan.

Grace K. Francis has a partiality for everything Japanese, music, tattoos and cats.

Grace is currently searching for Beta Readers for her newest novel! If you are interested, message Grace on her Twitter (click here).

Author Q&A- Ian Jackson

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing I. D. Jackson, the author of Deadly Determination and Dead Charming. He is currently working on his next novel, so if you haven’t read his books yet, now is the time to catch up!

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Q: When did you start writing?

A: I began writing as a child. Whenever we had people around my parents would wheel me out as the ‘party trick’ and ask their friends to come up with a character and a situation and I would be expected to create a fascinating story on the spot…I was about 6 they tell me! My first books were adventure stories written when I was about 10 and passed among my friends and family – unfortunately none survive, but I can still see and ‘feel’ them in my mind…. yes, I’m strange!

Q: What inspires you to write? Do you have a muse?

A: You know what I don’t, but probably should. Psychology and human nature fires my imagination to write.

Q: Tell me about your books Deadly Determination and Dead Charming. What were the original ideas behind them?

A: My interests lie in psychology and I’ve always been fascinated how seemingly normal people can be affected by an event or perhaps another person in their lives which then drives them on to commit heinous crimes. A germ of a story began emerging in my mind that eventually went on to become my first novel, Dead Charming which was greeted with critical acclaim. Deadly Determination is the second book (not a sequel) and carries through these themes. Both novels are crime thrillers with a twist that will take the readers breath away.

Q: How much ‘grunt work’ went on behind the scenes of writing your novel?

A: Many hours of research as well as interviews with detectives, coroners and some criminals – fascinating stuff.

Q: You have written articles for magazines such as Concept and Style Guide. How is this process different than that of writing a book?

A: When I wrote for magazines and newspapers it was a job to be completed, whereas now I get to write about things I’m interested in – thrilling crime!

Q: Did your days as a local magazine and sports program publisher help you in your quest to publish your novels?

A: Surprisingly not – the contacts I have through publishing magazines are completely different to novel writing and literary agents – like chalk and cheese really.

Q: What is some advice that you wish you had received when you began writing?

A: Start pitching your book as soon as you’ve written the first three chapters and have a tight synopsis ready for the rest – literary agents and publishers only want to see the first three chapters anyway and will base their decision on your writing style and the synopsis of the book.

Q: How has becoming a published author changed your life? Has it always been your goal?

A: My life hasn’t particularly changed as such. I love the fact that I have two books in print, but it wasn’t one of my ambitions as a young man.

Q: You got married to your wife, Susie, not to long ago. Has she read your books? Does she like them?

A: Yes, she has. She helps me as I go through reading chapters and commenting on characters and plot-lines. I think she enjoys the creative process and she says she likes the books…but then she has to really!

Q: What is something you want the world to know?

A: Labels are dangerous and anyone can work to improve their psychological imbalances, however severe they are. I believe in redemption for everyone when they are ready and I hope that readers identify with, and even feel sympathy for, some of my darker characters.

Find Ian Online:

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Author Q&A- Ruthanne Reid

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing an amazing and inspiring self-published author; Ruthanne Reid. Ruthanne has been writing since she was eight, and her dedication shows. Her book, The Sundered is out now!

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Q: How long have you been writing? Why did you start?
A: I’ve been writing with the intention of storytelling since I was eight, when I crafted my first masterpiece: a My Little Pony story in which all the ponies were murdered by the snake kingdom except for one single princess pony, who was just so pretty and precious they couldn’t kill her, but adopted her as their own instead.
That’s right. It’s a Mary Sue/My Little Pony/Genocide story. I typed the whole thing on my mother’s typewriter with red ink because I thought it was pretty. Take that, child psychologists.
I do have to note, however, that even this demented early tale shows the seeds of what my current universe became: genre-mixing, dramatic tragedy, and overwhelming cuteness. Oh, dear.
Q: What inspires your writing? Do you have a muse?
A: I don’t have a specific muse, per se; good storytelling is what gets my engines going every time. The format doesn’t matter, either; animated, written, or simply told, a good story is the fuel that drives mine.
I have had favorite characters over the years who showed up in any stories I imagined (Grimlock, Vegeta, Chang Wufei, Severus Snape, Steve Rogers). Weirdly enough, crafting a world around a known character often helped me to suss out the details of that world and its needs. From there, original characters were easier to build – especially since I’d already analyzed just what I loved so much about other people’s characters.
Q: Tell me about your book The Sundered. What was the original idea behind it?
A: I can answer this one of two ways: with the plot “hook,” and with the themes. How about both?
THE SUNDERED is about a young man who has to make a horrible decision: he can either save the human race, or save the aliens the humans enslaved. What’s “fair” in this situation? There’s certainly no easy answer, and in the midst of a world flooded by water that kills when touched, revisionist history and abusive homes, Harry has a lot of growing to do before he can even begin to answer that question.
I touch on the question of what makes a life worthy of survival; of what makes “right” and “wrong” in situations where no one is innocent; and on the challenge of making a “good” choice when no choice comes without heavy consequences.
(It’s a cheerful little tome, really)
Q: What challenges have you faced in your writing career? What have you done to overcome them?
A: The biggest challenge I faced was during the period of time I tried to get an agent. Over and over, I received personalized rejections from literary agents with essentially the same wording: I love this story, but it’s too weird for me to sell because publishers don’t like to take risks. If you could change the story to make it more normal (add a romance, change the gender of the protagonist, change the entire ending, etc.), then I could take you on and sell this book.
 
My challenge was literally deciding whether to change my story down to the core in order to sell it, or keep it as it was and try to make it on my own.
The last straw for me was an agent who told me he couldn’t possibly represent the book for the same reasons already mentioned, but he really had to know how it ended, and so asked me for the rest of the manuscript AFTER he’d already turned me down.
 
That told me I had a story worth telling. So I chose to self-publish.
That was one of the best and hardest decisions of my career. The more I’ve marched down this path, the more I’ve realized what a good idea it was for me. It’s not for everyone, by any means; but for someone like me, whose mind isn’t quite normal, it was the only way to retain my writing integrity.
I may still get an agent someday, but now I know enough to do this without compromising my stories.
Q: What advice do you want to give to budding writers?
1. Read EVERYTHING. Read fiction and non-fiction, classics and current best-sellers. Read indie; read how-to books.
2. Learn how to write by thinking about what you read. Learn how to write by writing, and writing, and writing.
3. Forgive yourself. Remember this: EVERYBODY sucks starting out. Absolutely everybody. Ira Glass put it really well in this amazing video that you should go and watch right now:
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners[:] All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. 
 
But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. 
 
And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. 
 
Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
 
That right there may be the most important advice anyone has ever given a writer.
Q: Did you anticipate how well received you and you books would be?
A: Not even a little – and it must be emphasized that they were not always well-received! No matter what you write, some people will love it, and some people will hate it. That’s okay. That’s normal. At first, when I got a bad review,  I’d honestly flip out a little; it took me a long time to see that everyone’s taste is different, and bad reviews are okay.
Now, the good reviews… those are delicious, gold-coated chocolate. Edible gold, that is. I genuinely had no idea starting out that this book would ever appeal to as many people as it has. It’s been a real encouragement to me. I may be weird, but evidently, so are a lot of others. 😉
Q: Which of the characters you have created is most like you? In what way?
A: There’s a little bit of me in every single protagonist I have.
  • Harry has father issues and has had to reevaluate everything he was ever taught.
  • Katie is so done with the drama of the world she grew up in, and she ran away to New Hampshire. That was LITERALLY me.
  • Grey is fearful and doesn’t want to be a hero; when he finds courage in himself, it’s more of a surprise to him than anyone else.
  • Notte has a gift for seeing all sides of a story, which means he doesn’t always assume he’s the good guy. It’s a sobering perspective I’ve had to grow into over the past ten years
Q: What is one thing you wish you knew in high school?
A: That I didn’t have to please other people the way my folks wanted me to. I felt like my whole world was my family and their acquaintances, but that simply wasn’t true. There are SO MANY people out there, and someone WILL “get” you in time. Keep looking; don’t give up because of rejection. Who you are matters, and who you are is who God made you to be, and there will be other people out there who understand. You just have to find them.
Q: If you could go anywhere in the world in any time period, when and where would it be? Why?
A: Does it count if I pick a time that might not have existed? I’m REALLY fascinated by cryptoarcheology. I want to see the really ancient metropolises of the world – the ones that sank and were lost, or were abandoned so long ago in the jungles that we don’t even realize they’re there without satellite imagery, or the ones that lie hidden under desert sands.
Q: What is something you want the world to know?
A: It’s worth pushing through.
There’s so much trouble and pain in this world that sometimes, it might not seem worth it – but it is. It’s worth getting hurt to try again. It’s worth trusting and fighting and forgiving.
It’s worth pushing through. Don’t ever give up.
Find Ruthanne Online:

Author Q&A- Rose Montague

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing and amazing author named Rose Montague. She is coffee, chocolate, and wine lover, as well as an amazing writer. If you haven’t read her books, you are missing out big time. Read the interview below.
Q: How long have you been writing? Why did you start?
A: I experimented with writing when I was a teenager and even submitted a few short stories. It never went anywhere and I didn’t try again for a long time but I love to read and I kept that up. Four years ago I decided it was time to write my first novel and was fortunate to see Jade published in 2013.
Q: What inspires your writing? Do you have a muse?
A: I get most of my story ideas when I am half asleep. Sometimes I remember to write them down and sometimes they are forgotten. Most of my writing is done in the early hours of the morning, well before sunrise.
Q: Tell me about your series Norma Jean’s School of Witchery. What was the original idea behind it?
25116933A: You know that SNL skit with Christopher Walken demanding more cowbell? I was writing Jane, the sequel to Jade and my beta reader, Hans Markus kept saying we need more Jewel. Jewel was a young teen witch who helped Jade, Jane, & Jill. The more cowbell, more Jewel eventually led me to spin off a new series featuring Jewel and Norma Jean’s School of Witchery was born.
Q: What makes your witches different than other witches in books and movies. What did you base their powers off of?
A: My goal was a Harry Potter style school for older teens with more romance and more of the things teens think about. One of my reviewers said it “Makes Hogwarts seem like a play school”. I like that quote. Magic is not hidden in the world of Norma Jean’s and the setting is in the United States. There is a ton of action to go with that romance.
Q: You have also written Jade and the sequel, Jane. Tell me a little about these. What inspired them?
18820229A: Jade is an action paranormal mystery with a little romance on the side. I loved writing this one because of the mystery and I drop clues here and there than most readers don’t catch until the mystery or surprise is revealed. The biggest mystery is Jade herself. That was so much fun. My main goal in writing is to have fun writing fun books to read. Jade is the prime example of that. Jane is more of a roller coaster ride of a road trip, packed with enough action to fill three books. I can only describe it as a war. There is a wedding, and a funeral. Both were a ton of fun to write. The wedding of Jade & Jane is my favorite scene in that series.
Q: What is the strangest place you have ever come up with an idea?
A: Usually when eating or drinking. A word search of Jade will show coffee mentioned 20 times, espresso 11, wine 39 (LOL), & chocolate 13. If you like those things you will love Jade.
Q: Which of your characters is most like you and in what way? Which is least like you?
A: I would like to think that Jewel is most like me. She doesn’t hesitate when it’s time for a decision to be made. She goes 100 percent constantly. She values friendship and she knows what is right and wrong. She doesn’t second guess herself even when the result of her decision does not turn out exactly like she wanted.
Q: If you could be a character in any movie, who would it be and why?
A: I like Selene from the underworld series.
Q: What are some of your favorite books? What about them do you like?
A: I love urban fantasy and young adult reads. My favorite authors are Jim Butcher, Faith Hunter, Ilona Andrews, & Patricial Briggs. My favorite book is Sunshine by Robin Mckinley.
Q: What is something you want the world to know?
A: My books are a lot of fun but it’s not all fun and games. There are some life lessons and messages in my books. I wrote a blog post about this here if you are interested in finding out more….
Find Rose Online:

Author Q&A- K. M. Weiland

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing the lovely K. M. Weiland. She is the award-winning and internationally published author of the bestselling Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel. Read the interview below.

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Q: How long have you been writing? Why did you start?

A: Stories have always been my mode of interpreting and communicating with the world around me. I made up characters and told myself stories from a very young age, but I didn’t start writing them down until I was about twelve. During high school, I edited and published a small newsletter that featured short stories and informative articles. From there, it was a natural progression to novels.

Stories are like breathing. Life without a story in my head is one-dimensional, stagnant, vapid. I love the life God has given me, but I think I love it better because I’m able to live out so many other lives on the page. I’m more content to be who I am because I’m not trapped in that identity. When I sit down at my computer and put my fingers on the keys, I can be anyone or anything, at any time in history. I write because it’s freedom.

 Q: You have written many fictional books as well as non-fiction books. Tell me a little bit about what it is like writing in these different genres.

 A: Most of my stories fall into under the headings of historical and speculative fiction (and sometimes a combination of the two), but, in general, I dislike pigeonholing myself in a particular genre. As a reader, I enjoy many different types of fiction. If it’s a good story, I’ll love it, regardless of genre. And that’s pretty much how I feel about my writing. I’d love to write something in every genre before I’m finished!

Q: Where do you get the inspiration for your books? Do you have a muse?

 A: I like to say that inspiration is everywhere—and it really is. I’ve picked ideas from such disparate places as the dust on my windowsill (I’m a terrible duster) to my pets to the grapefruit I had for breakfast. It’s really just a matter of being open to whatever you’re experiencing at the moment.

But I will say that most of my inspiration is usually the result of other people’s art. The three big ones are most definitely:

 

  1. Books
  2. Movies
  3. Musi

I feed off other people’s stories and glean little tidbits that inspire stories of my own. The characters and themes in books and movies and the half-answered questions in songs are endless sources of inspiration for me.

Q: What advice to you have for budding authors and bloggers?

 A: Write for the love of it, first and foremost. As Anne Lamott says, “Being published isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. But writing is.” Write the stories of your heart, not the stories you think the market wants. Write the story you’d want to read if you were one of your own readers.

Q: What is something you want the world to know?

A: That sometimes starting is the hardest thing you’ll ever do. But it only takes five seconds of courage, and it only gets easier from there.

Find K. M Online:

K.M. Weiland’s Bio

Twitter

Website

Author Q&A- Jonathan Moeller

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Jonathan Moeller. He is an amazingly fast writer, and has written several awesome books for his various series! If you haven’t read his series, I suggest you get on it! Keep reading to see what Jonathan had to say in the Q&A.

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Q: How long have you been writing? Why did you start?

A: My second year of high school. So, a real long time ago!

I started writing because I used to run RPG campaigns for my friends in high school, and eventually I realized I was much more interested in the storytelling aspects of it than the mechanics, the die rolls and the character sheets and so forth. I started writing short stories, and it sort of snowballed on from there.

Q: What inspires your writing? Do you have a muse?

A: A combination of current events and historical events, mostly.

If I have a muse, I think it’s a combination of discipline and habit. When I’m working on something new, I like to get at least 3,000 words written a day, preferably more. Even if I would rather take the day off and play computer games, I still try to get a minimum of 3,000 words a day. I don’t always succeed, but I do hit my 3,000 words most of the time when working on a new book.

Q: You have written seven series of books, including The Ghost Series, The Frostborn Series, and The Cloak Games Series. Which has been the most fun to work on?

A: Each one has its own merits, I think, and its own enjoyable aspects to write.

For The Ghosts, Caina Amalas has evolved into a very interesting protagonist to write. One reviewer called her a mixture of Sherlock Holmes, Batman, and Valeria from RED NAILS, which I thought a good description of her character. I also like the rules I have for that world – sorcery as a badly understood form of science, no nonhumans except for spirits, and a world that’s kind of like the Western Roman Empire survived to the Renaissance.

For Frostborn, I wanted to write a big, long epic fantasy series (it’s going to be 15 books) that recreated the feel of a really good RPG campaign, one where the characters start out dealing with minor local events of no significance, and ends with them deciding the fates of kings and empires.

Cloak Games is fun because it’s the only series I write from a first-person perspective. Nadia is an interesting protagonist to write. I’ve said that the Cloak Games series would be about a bad guy very slowly and very much against her will learning to be a good guy, and that definitely applies to Nadia.

Q: How much ‘grunt work’ goes into each book you write?

A: Not much, I would say. I used to unload trucks when I was younger, and THAT was definitely grunt work!

In terms of writing a book, I just write it until it’s done. I can usually do a 90,000-word rough draft in about twenty-five days or so.

Q: Which one of your characters do you identify most with?

A: Probably Laertes in GHOST EXILE. Every group needs someone competent to attend to the details, and in my real life that’s usually me. 🙂

Q: Which one of your characters would you want to meet the most?

A: None!

If they ever met me, they would (quite rightly) blame me for their various sufferings, and likely concoct some elaborate means of revenge.

Q: How did you come up with the ideas behind each of your series?

The Ghosts started when I wrote a short story about chivalrous romance that got rejected. So the next story I wrote was the exact opposite, about a cynical spy, and The Ghosts grew out of that.

Demonsouled came out of an Arthur Schopenhauer quote about the innate evil of man.

The Frostborn series began because I wanted to write a series that matched the feel of a good RPG game, and I wanted to write a series that was planned from the beginning, since both The Ghosts and Demonsouled happened pretty organically.

The idea for the Cloak Games series came when I read a really long and slightly boring article about how the mass media is frequently used to influence the public in favor of certain social and political positions. I wondered what that would be like in the hands of someone clever, and I came up with an idea where magic-using Elves from another world conquered Earth and used carefully managed propaganda to keep their hold on power, and the Cloak Games series started.

Q: What are your favorite books? What about them do you like?

A: My favorite books are the ones that adhere closely to the rules of storytelling – as a writer, you can see all the nuts and bolts of a story, so I suppose it’s like a builder visiting a house and admiring the craftsmanship of the construction.

So some of my favorite books are THE LORD OF THE RINGS by JRR Tolkien, KNIGHTS OF DARK RENOWN by David Gemmell, THE HOUR OF THE DRAGON by Robert E. Howard, THE ICARUS HUNT, THE THRAWN TRILOGY, and CLOAK by Timothy Zahn, THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS by CS Lewis, THE BROKEN SWORD and THE HIGH CRUSADE by Poul Anderson, AWAKE IN THE NIGHT LAND by John C Wright, THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES and THE SIGN OF FOUR by Arthur Conan Doyle, IVANHOE by Sir Walter Scott, STEELHEART by Brandon Sanderson, CRYPTONOMICON by Neal Stephenson, and the entirety of the DRESDEN FILES by Jim Butcher.

Lately I’ve been reading THE EXPANSE series by James SA Corey and I like it.

For nonfiction, I think THE MIDDLE AGES by Morris Bishop is one of my favorite nonfiction books. I also like THE DAY OF THE BARBARIANS by Alessandro Barbero, THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE by Peter Heather, BATTLE CRY OF FREEDOM by James McPherson about the US Civil War, THE SECOND WORLD WAR by John Keegan, and Alison Weir’s books about the Tudor period.

Basically, my nonfiction reading is all history and technical manuals. (I think MORE DOS FOR DUMMIES by Dan Gookin was perhaps the best technical book I ever read, but it is sadly out of date at this point, though many of the basics of DOS are still applicable to modern Windows.) I do think it is a good idea for a writer to read a great deal of history.

Q: What advice do you wish you received when you started writing?

A: Finish as many books as possible, because in 2011 you’ll discover this thing called the Kindle, and your unpublished manuscripts will suddenly become much more useful!

Q: What is something you want the world to know?

A: If you are a writer starting out, it is better to self-publish than to bother with traditional publishers. I think the best approach (as of February 2016) for a new writer is to write a novel series, and then eventually make the first book free, which will help slowly but surely build an audience.

If you’re a nonfiction writer, I think it is best to start your own website and publish regular articles with an eye towards turning them into a book eventually.

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