Author Q&A- Christopher Westley

Today I had the honor of interviewing an amazing author as well as a veteran; Christopher Westley. When he is not flying in a helicopter or travelling the world, you can find him at home, writing amazing books and editing Seven Days To Brooklyn, his newest novel.

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

A: I have been writing for nearly two decades, starting in college.

Writing is a good escape from the daily stressors of life, just as reading a book or watching a well-made movie.

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

A: Inspiration comes from many avenues, but I am inspired mostly to do my best. Big name Authors, but mostly I am inspired by the sense of accomplishment when I finish a novel.

My muse or source of inspiration: Clive Cussler, Stephen King and a few others. This is why you need a good editor….because, mostly is mostly overused!

Q: You were enlisted in the U.S. army for a three-year tour. Does that have any influence on your writing? How did that experience change your life?

A: The Army will always influence those that served. Many of the situations that I detail in Seven Days to Brooklyn are based on military protocols and experience. Although, I will state that I never went to war even though I served during desert storm and never shot anyone. I am thankful for that and am grateful to have served and appreciate those that are still serving, we owe them more than we could ever pay them. Military life instills discipline and structure; at age 19, it was a good fit for me. Every day, I use things in daily life that I learned in the military.

Q: You are an avid traveler. Tell me about the places you’ve been. Where was your favorite place? Least favorite?

A: I recently drove to Alaska, up the Alcan Highway with my wife and cat (Angel). The rest of last summer, we lived in a 16×16’ cabin on a remote lake on the Kenai Peninsula, while I flew for the US Forest Service, fighting wildfires. Other places of note include: Belize, Honduras, Mexico, Canada and I have been through every state, adding Alaska last year. My most favorite place is Puerto Vallarta Mexico. Least favorite, Virginia; it is not a bad state, we just prefer to live in the western states.

Q: If you could visit one of the places you’ve travelled but in a different time period, when and where would it be? Why?

A: The Yukon, during the gold rush. It is still a very remote place and one of the most beautiful places I have visited on the planet. It is refreshing to drive down the highway and not see another car for hours. I am a risk taker, so I’m pretty sure if I had lived in the 1800, early 1900s, I would be out there digging for gold in a mountain stream.

Q: How much ‘grunt work’ goes into your writing?

A: Writing is tough work. The headliners spend months on end, 14+ hours a day or more banging away at the keyboard throwing their mental energies into trying to make a story readable and acceptable to the public. It took four years to write Seven Days to Brooklyn, and a couple of months editing (we are just finishing up now.) The next two books, I wrote in four months. Just to clarify, the two I just wrote in the last four months, was full time writing nearly six days a week at least four to eight hours a day or more. Once the juices get flowing, I just go with it. Writing is like that, some days you can bang out 7000 words, the next day you will be lucky to get 500. I also spend a lot of time researching what goes into the book, just to make it as accurate and truthful as possible, even though it is fiction.

Q: You have said that you love coffee; especially a cappuccino. How much coffee would you say you drink every day?

A: Cappuccino is my kryptonite. Some days I drink 1 cup of coffee, other days as much as six, but I try to stick to two cups a day.

Q: Which of the characters you have created is most like you? In what way?

A: My characters are fiction, but I guess they all have a piece of me in them. My experiences definitely play a part in what or how the character reacts. I’ve never killed a zombie before, but do know how to chop some brushy jungle down with a machete’ and have spent days on end walking in the Army. I also fly helicopter and have a fixed wing rating (airplane) so my main character Sara Robinson, fly’s and I use firsthand knowledge but keep the terminology simple for my reader (nobody wants to hear the technical jargon of wing twist, etc., lift and those boring things, unless you are reading a technical publication on aircraft. Sara is a survivalist, like myself and has to overcome many things en-route across the states, much like I have with various jobs and travels.

Q: What advice do you wish you received when you were in high school?

A: High School advice: High school teaches you the basics. I.E. how to go to lunch, add a+b to get c and basically interact with other students. What they need to teach you is how to function in the job market and how to deal with difficult bosses and difficult work situations. You learn this by doing. Myself, I have learned it by making lots of mistakes.

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

A: All humanity should know that life and people are generally good. To put it simply; the Dalai Lama and Buddhist teachings view all people as their mother. In doing so, this makes them appreciate even the most difficult person or someone they really do not like. Viewing that person and treating them with respect and kindness like they would do for their mother alleviates a lot of problem in and of itself. The golden rule, that’s what they should teach you daily in school.

Find Chris Online:

Website

Twitter

Author Q&A- Michelle Hauck

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Michelle Hauck, a chocolate loving bookworm who also happens to be an amazing author. Read the interview below.michelle_h (2)
Q: How long have you been writing? Why did you start?
 
A: I’ve been writing for about six years and really got started not long after a health crisis was resolved. I’d been feeling poorly for so long without knowing it that the sudden return to health also brought a return of my imagination. I’ve not looked back since. I just love writing.
Q: What inspires your writing? Do you have a muse?
A: I believe the only muse I need is the desire to surprise my audience. I love leaving cliffhangers and taking unexpected turns as you’ll see in my latest epic fantasy, Grudging
Q: Tell me about your book, Grudging. What was the original idea behind it?
Grudging (1)A: I got the idea from the lyrics of a song, Come Along with Me by Vicci Martinez. A city in the desert in peril. But the original scene that popped into my head is one of those unexpected turns, so I can’t be too detailed. 😉 
 
The book blurb makes it seem about a knight and a witch, but it’s so much more. We see both sides of the conflict. As a favorite review said, Grudging is about more than good versus evil. It’s culture versus culture. 
Q: Where is the strangest place you have come up with an idea?
A: My usually places for ideas are in the shower or when taking my dogs for a walk. Just before I fall asleep is a good time also. Sometimes ideas come to me when I’m vacuuming. Fantastic ideas seem to spring when I’m doing something that leaves my mind free. Then it’s good to have my phone near to quickly text them to myself so I don’t forget! 
Q: You are the host of Query Kombat (#QueryKombat) and Sun vs. Snow (#SunvsSnow). Tell me about these. What are they? What are their goals?
A: #QueryKombat and #SunvsSnow are a few of the yearly contests I host to give writers a chance to find their agent. I host these on my blog and writers email their query letter and first 250 words during the submission window. My co-hosts and I pick the best entries and post them for the agents to come and make requests. I’m always hosting some kind of contest, and I’m thrilled to say the books from these success stories started coming out in the last year. I’ll soon have a bookcase full of them! It’s a great feeling to match a writer up with their future agent, or to hear of a book deal for something that I read as a query letter. The best way to know when I have another contest coming is to sign up for my newsletter over at my blog. 
Q: If you could only have one type of chocolate for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A: Oh my! You don’t pull any punches. That’s so tough. So many choices like Fannie May meltaways and M&Ms. Cadbury Creme Eggs might be my choice. Love those! Either that or just regular Cadbury milk chocolate. I rely on a daily dose of chocolate.
Q: You have an upcoming novel, Faithful. What can you tell me about it?
A: Faithful is the first sequel I’ve gotten to write. It’s very exciting to be granted a trilogy. I’m so thrilled to spend more time with the same characters! So many secrets about what’s going to happen. Of course, things are going to get worse for all of the characters. I can say that we find out more about the witches in Faithful and their culture. And there will be a fifth POV character in Teresa. She’s also a LGBT character. 
Q: You have told me you compete in writing contests. Which ones? How many have you done?
A: It’s been a few years since I entered contests. That ended when I got my agent. Back then I entered Pitchwars and PitchMadness and there were some more which have now stopped running. I heard that I came close to being picked a few times, but never made it into any big contests. I got my agent from a query letter. Kind of strange considering I run my own contests now. But I always say they are for fun, learning about writing, and making connections with other writers as much as the agent requests. 
Q: What advice do you want to give to budding authors?
A: Be persistent is one often heard advice suggestion. I prefer to say something more tangible: read in your genre. Reading newly released books in your genre will help you understand pacing, tone and style. Also get involved on social media and you’ll learn even more. Writing is a craft that has to be learned, just like an other form of art. 
Q: What is one thing you want the world to know?
A: Many of my followers are newer writers who are looking for agents. I would remind them that finding an agent is the beginning of your journey, not the end. There is always another goal on the horizon when you are a writer. Keep aiming for those goals and you’ll do fine. 

Author Q&A- Don Bruns

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Don Bruns, the award winning author of two mystery and thriller series. Read the interview below.

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Q: How long have you been writing? Why did you start?
A: I wrote my first story at age 12, sent it to Alfred Hitchcock Magazine, and they promptly sent it back. I wrote ad copy for years…that was mostly fiction, but I have written novels for fifteen years.
Q: What inspires your writing? Do you have a muse?
A: I simply have dozens of stories rumbling around in my head and until I can tell them all I will continue to write.
Q: You just won the Silver Falchion Award at Killer Nashville for your book, Reel Stuff. How did that moment affect your life?
A: I’ve received dozens of awards…local and national. Dozens of reviews, mostly, thank God, positive. They don’t change my life, but I do try harder…I want a positive result no matter what I write.
Q: Where is the strangest place you have gotten inspiration in?
A:I am inspired by winter because I only want to write about warm climates. I am inspired by poverty, because I want my writing to be profitable. I am inspired by too much blandness because I want to write about exotic locations.
Q: If you were in one of your books, who would you be? Why?
A: A writer is, like it or not, part of every character he or she creates. Bad or good, I am some of everyone.
Q: When do you do most of your writing? Do you have any ‘rituals’?
A: I create more in the evening after a glass or wine. Or two. Or three.
Q: What is some advice you wish you had gotten when you began writing?
A: Persevere. In writing, searching for an agent, finding a publisher…keep on keeping on.
Q: You have published two mystery/thriller series. Tell me about them. What were the original ideas behind them?
A: Last week I signed a contract with Severn House Books in Great Britain for a third series. The first book, Casting Bones, releases in England and Australia in June in the States in October. It’s about a New Orleans homicide cop and a voodoo queen who solve a murder. The Mick Sever series is about a journalist who covers the entertainment industry, and the Stuff series is about two 24 year old private eyes who have no idea what they are doing and they get in all kinds of trouble.
Q: If you could be a character in any movie, who would you be and why?
A: Chili Palmer, in Elmore Leonard’s “Get Shorty.”I love a good con man.
Q: What is something you want the world to know?
A: The world? That I tell great stories!
Find Don 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.

Find Jonathan Online:

Twitter

Facebook

Website

Using Wattpad- Get Your Story Noticed

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Wattpad is a great place to read and write stories. It is a website that allows you to create “projects” and periodically update them, all while gaining followers and “votes”. You are basically generating a following while writing your book!

I created a Wattpad account back in November of 2015, when I was looking for some new books to read. And read I did. Wattpad lets you add books to your library and access them offline. This way, I was able to read anywhere I wanted. The only downside to it was actually finding a good book. There are countless Wattpad users, and most of them write; so you need to weed out the bad stories and find the one you will actually enjoy.

When I decided to start writing on my Wattpad account, I thought that getting people to notice my story would be easy. The truth is, when you start writing on Wattpad, your stories go down to the bottom of the search feed. That means that when people search tags you used or the name of your book, yours will show up at the bottom, which means at about page 15.

I talked with some Wattpad experts (Oliva Rose was very helpful) about how to get your story noticed. First of all, Wattpad fame does not happen overnight. Many people have the misconception that if your story is good, you will get thousands of views and votes within no time. However, this is not true. It takes time and dedication to grow your Wattpad following.

One of the biggest challenges with Wattpad is the fact that they allow anyone to create a free account and start writing. That means that people can start stories and abandon them. For this reason, most people looking for something to read on Wattpad only search the completed books. So, in order to start growing your following, you need to actually complete something (whether it is a short story, novelette, or full length book).

Once you have done this, you will start popping up in more searches, especially when uses check the “search completed only” box. But why wait until you finish something to grow your following? You can start right away.

Another great feature of Wattpad is the community. You can join several groups and interact with other users. You are not allowed to promote any of your writing, but chances are that people will view your profile and read your story if you do the same.

You can also follow other users. That means that you will receive an update any time they post something new. The more people you follow on Wattpad, the more people likely to follow you back.

Many people also like to reach out to other members and request a “read for read”. This basically means that you read their story, and they read yours. The more people that read and vote on your story, the higher it will be in the search results, and the more fans you will get.

Wattpad also holds many contests. Users are allowed to host them as well. You can see the one I am hosting here. Contests are a great way to get your name into the community, and have some of your work viewed by other members. If they like what you write for the contest, then they are likely to look at some of your other work.

Wattpad is not just good for getting you name out there. There are other benefits as well. When you become “Wattpad famous” you are allowed to apply to be a Wattpad Star. This opens up endless possibilities for expanding your writing career. They give you jobs such as promoting major productions and products, and having a chance to get your name up there with the “big guns”. How’s that for motivation?

In the end, Wattpad is a great was to practice writing and see what audiences respond too. You can interact with the people reading your stories and see what they like and what they don’t. Even if you just want to write for fun, Wattpad is the place to go.

 

 

Author Q&A- Clive Culverhouse

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing a very talented author, Clive Culverhouse. Between raising awareness for mental health and blogging, he has created a whole new world in his book, The Legend of Heliodor.

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Q: When did you start writing?

A: I have always enjoyed writing, whether it be short stories or comedy sketches for television. I started writing my book The Legend Of Heliodor: The Crystal Spirits in 2010 after finding myself with a long period of time suddenly on my hands. Writing a book was something I always wanted to do but never got around to it until I was injured out of my career as a Paramedic and then I had all the time in the world so eventually I began to write it.

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

A: I’ve always had an urge to write something no matter what it is. Life is full of inspiration. I like the stories people tell. When I was a paramedic I got to hear a lot of what people said as we chatted in the back of an ambulance. Everyone has a story to tell.

Q: Tell me about your book The Legend of Heliodor. What was the original idea behind it?

28688701A: One thing I like about books, especially the fantasy genre, is the world that can be created out of the imagination. I always liked the world of Tolkien, the lands and the maps. I had the idea to invent my own world, a magical land far away. I combined that with a long-time passion of rocks, minerals and crystals to come up with a world and a people who worship and use crystals. I also wanted the people to be named after the crystals we know today. The other main thing about the book I was keen to install is also Tolkien-like and inspired by the bible. I’m not religious but I do like the fact that we have all grown up with ancient tales, folklore and myths. I wanted my book to be centred on an ancient story that has been passed down for generations where it suddenly springs to life as the current characters are thrown into the legend and then become part of its continuation.

Q: You raise awareness of mental health, and have been depressed before. What is one thing the world needs to understand about depression and mental sickness?

A: It was the loss of my job and career due to injury that sent me into a long clinical depression. I lost my function, my role, my purpose both in work and at home in my family. I let friends go and drifted into a world of solitude almost losing my family too. I cut everyone off. But I did come back to reality after a long and difficult fight. In fact I retrained as a counsellor and gained qualifications in mental health. I now co-run a mental health support group. So it is there that recovery IS possible, a new life can come from the ashes of the old. The life I have led since and especially the people I met along the way is something I wouldn’t change, so therefore I look at the depression and mental illness I suffered and think it was necessary to make me who I am now. The illness and experience doesn’t have to be negative, for me it is all positive and I wouldn’t turn back the clock. I still have bad days and re-occurrences from time to time but I cope a lot better now. They are just little nudges to remind me to self-reflect.

Q: If you could give advice to yourself when you first started writing, what would it be?

A: Just to plan and plan again.

Q: Are you currently working on any writing projects? If so, what can you tell me about them?

A: When I was planning The Legend Of Heliodor I wanted it to be told over three books. So I’m working on the next two instalments. Although actually, they’re taking a back seat because I decided to write a book called The Legend Of Heliodor: Tales From The Realm. It’s a collection of short stories, tales, myths and fairy tales from the world I created. It’s a way I suppose to draw people into the main story. I’m really enjoying the experience of writing short stories using different writing styles and formats. Good practice!

Q: Which of your characters do you have the strongest bond with?

A: I think the character would have to be my main character Kyan. With him being the main one, it’s him that I have had to be with most of all. He finds himself thrown into a world due to things happening to him, not by choice and in a world where he has to learn quickly and he’s unsure with worries and fears. He shows self-doubt and needs reassurance and support. I think that sounds like me!

Q: Do you have any advice for budding writers?

A: I think if you’re creating a world then that world has got to work. A society needs to function and so there has to be a logic that needs to be thought through and that will need a look at all aspects of that society to remove inconsistencies or things that wouldn’t work for whatever reason. I like my magical world to be believable even though it’s just fantasy. So the key is to plan and plan again. Then again. With magic there has to be a way the magic works, it can’t just work any old how, in my world of Heliodor the magic comes from the mind linking with the crystals. People in my world can’t just summon up magic, there needs to be a crystal. So I think the most important thing about writing is the story, the plot, the world and the magic all needs to work with no flaws or contradictions. You can have the most bizarre world imaginable but if it functions logically then it will work!

Q: If you could travel anywhere in any time period, where would you go and why?

A: I’ve always liked the Victorian era of the 1800’s. It was a time where science started to take off and a lot of inventors are from this period. A lot of things were getting started, and they were the first to realise that life needn’t be hard work and so they invented leisure! They were the first to go on holidays! Some of the great writers and works of fiction came from this period. Science fiction, fantasy and horror all came from this period. Plus my great great great grandfather was a chemist and apothecary, his father before him was a chemist and I like to believe an alchemist. I’d love to have a look around their laboratories, shops and back rooms.

Q: What is one thing the world should know?

A: I discovered that instead of suffering from something, whatever it is can be used. It’s a tool for your toolbox of life. I wrote a blog post called ‘A Lightbulb Moment’ which explains it well. I use my mental illness to be non-judgemental and understanding of others, I don’t ‘suffer’ it. I still have depression from time to time but depression doesn’t have me! I use it now, therefore I have ownership of it and it has made life easier thinking of it like that.

You can find Clive online:

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Author Q&A- Kev Heritage

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing the amazing Kev Heritage. With several books under his belt, and a new one releasing soon, he is definitely an author to watch! Read the Q&A below!

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

A: I was introverted as a child. Reading books and disappearing inside of them made me want to write stories. So that’s what I started doing at about age 14.

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

A: No muse, per se. Inspiration comes from everyone and everywhere—to be honest, I sometimes feel bombarded by ideas. The discipline for me is to try and write them all down. I do, mostly. I record all ideas in my smartphone and transfer them to story folders (both physical and virtual) and then never look at them again…

Q: Tell me about your latest release, Vatic. What was the original idea behind it?

A: I’m a ‘pantster’ – I write by the seat of my pants, not to any pre-conceived set of notions. I learnt a long time ago that it’s a waste of time for me to plan ahead as I have no control over events and characters. They refuse to go the way I want them to, and besides, it’s more of a thrill ride to let myself be swept along as the story unfolds, although I can sometimes dig myself into such a 27302333big hole that it’s impossible to get out! It’s a difficult, annoying and sometimes unhappy process but I’ve learned to trust my instincts.

With Vatic, I fancied writing something in first-person-limited, just to see if it was easier than third-person. So I thought I’d knock out a quick short mystery for a compilation that I’ve been working on for a while now called The Lady in the Glass. I had no idea about who Vatic was or who he may be, but I knew I wanted to write a mystery—and that it would start with someone thrown out into space with no oxygen. And off I went!

I literally had no idea who any of the people were until the moment they arrived. And yet, who they were influenced how the story developed. I find by far the most interesting part of the process is in the conversations. It’s through them that everything unfolds (and, as often as not, becomes more complicated).

Vatic’s affinities and dislikes are all organic, so that when we get to the denouement, we don’t feel cheated. Or at least, Vatic didn’t. All the clues were there from the start. Even if I didn’t know what they were at the time!

Q: Your writing falls under the popular genres of sci-fi and fantasy. What challenges have you had breaking into the market? What makes your books unique?

A: Sci-fi, fantasy and mystery fans love my stories, but I have fans who just like a well-crafted story, regardless of the genre.

The challenge of any author is ‘getting into the market’. I see writing like creating an album of music. You put in equal work, time and effort into writing each song, and hope that amongst them there will be a hit – and everyone will go out and buy the rest of your output.

Unlike songs, books, take a lot longer to write. And I tend to write what I fancy writing, rather than to anything prescribed by the market. But having said that, the more I’ve written, the more I’ve discovered my niche. I’m a mystery writer at heart—and that is reflected in the way I write, which is finding out what the hell is going on! So that’s what I do. I write sci-fi and fantasy adventure mysteries, with the emphasis on fast-pace, great characters and to never, ever cheat the reader.

Q: You have published many books, including the Into the Rip series and the IronScythe Sagas. Which was the most fun to write? Which was the hardest?

 They are all equally as hard and as fun as each other. I go through the same process of excitement, elation, depression, confusion, relief and desperation and always think that the finished product isn’t any good… And then a big side-order of surprise, when the reviews come in and the readers like it. Phew!

The most mentally challenging work was Blue Into The Rip. It was my first release, and at that time I didn’t have any editors, so it was a risk to edit the novel myself and put it out there. A big risk. Luckily, I have a strong work ethic and I’ve been an editor for most of my working life, so I got away with it! If anything, I’d say it’s slightly over-edited.

 Q: How much ‘grunt work’ goes into each of your books? Is there a lot of research involved?

A: I do no or little research. I have an expansive knowledge of science, astronomy, astrophysics etc. which I also use. For anything I’m not sure about, a quick Internet search does the trick.

The rest is pure grunt work. The first draft is always hell. I hate it. I don’t write with any plan, so at about 70K words in, I have an idea what the novel should really be about and then I have to rewrite from the bottom up. As they are usually mysteries, this makes this approach onerous. The process usually involves weeks of no writing and outright panic until I have my eureka moment and find the thread that I need to continue—although, sometimes, I have to abandon. A low moment after months of work. But it is what it is.

And then it’s redraft after redraft. About twenty of them before it goes off to my editors (it’s greedy, I know, but I have four!). After that there’s a few more edits before my final, final, last edits.

Q: If you were implanted into one of your books for a day, which would you want it to be and why?

A: Blue into the Rip – simply because it’s a modern take on a boy’s own adventure, with time-travel, rocket ships, genetic engineering, a globally-warmed future, space-walking and a cracking mystery thrown in for good measure. My main character, Blue, doesn’t have it easy, but it’d have to be my choice simply for all the cra-mazing things he gets up to.

Q: Which of your characters do you relate the most to?

A: Pretentiousness Alert!

I’m afraid, it’s all of them—in some way or another. They’re all mostly little bits of me with other people thrown in for good measure. So the question is really ‘which bit of myself do I like the most?’ Heh. Hmm. Difficult. But I’m going to go for the combination of Vareena and the Cowl from The IronScythe Sagas. Vareena arrived as a bit character and became so a lot more. She is very much her own woman—irrepressible, strong, full of verve and enthusiasm but also unpredictability. I’m presently writing Part Four and it’s all about her dark destiny. The Cowl on the other hand is a disfigured outcast, a loner forced to live his life under a hood, and to forever carry IronScythe—a blade of forbidden metals and golds—for without cursed iron, he is nothing. Together, they make an unlikely pairing, but it works. The pair represent the Ying/Yang of my own personality, perhaps, also seemingly made up of these kinds of polemics.

 Q: Where is the strangest place you have ever come up with an idea?

 A: As I have said, I’m always having ideas. So if you can imagine any human activity, I’ve pretty much come up with an idea at the same time…

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

A: My secret identity, which I have to keep hidden from the world. But one day…

You can find Kev Heritage online:

Amazon Author Page: US | UK

Website: http://kevheritage.com

Twitter: @KevHeritage

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/KevHeritageAuthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/KevHeritage

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/KevHeritage/

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Author Q&A- Caitlyn Duffy

Today a had the honor of interviewing the amazing Caitlyn Duffy! She has been one of my favorites for a long time, and her books are definitely worth reading- again and again and again.

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Q: When did you start writing?

A: I started writing as soon as I learned how to hold a pen! Really! I loved making little “books” out of construction paper and pencils even as a little kid. I probably first started writing more seriously in high school, when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do professionally. I’m not going to lie – most of high school was pure misery for me – but I had this fantastic English teacher named Sonia Kallick who thought I had talent. Her encouragement made it seem like becoming a writer was a possibility.

 

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

A: Just about everything I write is based on personal experience, at least on an emotional experience. For example, my dad is not a rock star (he’s just about the furthest thing from a rock star: a nuclear engineer) but I created the character of Taylor when I was grieving the loss of someone close to me. Her journey is about making peace with your life when circumstances beyond your control change. I wouldn’t say that I have a muse, necessarily, but a lot of readers on Wattpad have inspired me to keep writing.

 

Q: Your series, Treadwell Academy, follows girls from the school and deals with serious issues such as abuse, anorexia, and the death of a parent. What challenges did you face writing about these subjects?

A: Each of the books is pretty different, so the challenges were different. For Emma’s story, which is about anorexia, I wanted to be very careful to keep the story from triggering a condition in a reader, and to prevent it from making an existing condition worse for any reader already struggling with an eating disorder. For Grace’s story, it was a challenge to both represent her religious faith authentically and still keep the story engaging for any readers who might not be religious at all. With Taylor and Betsey, both of those characters could be kind of bratty sometimes, so I wanted the reader to empathize with what they were enduring.

 

Q: Do you plan on continuing the stories of any of the Treadwell girls? Are there any more girls to come?

A: I have at least ten more books outlined, and I’m not kidding! It’s just a matter of finding the time to write them. People have been asking me to write a proper sequel to the Taylor book for four years, so that’s probably next. Others on the horizon would be about Juliette, whose father is convicted of running a lucrative Ponzi scheme; Paige, who struggles with alcoholism, and Stacy, who’s a lesbian in love with a girl at school who is struggling with her own sexuality (you might be able to guess who).

 

Q: When you wrote The Rock Stars Daughter, did you know there would be more Treadwell girls after Taylor?

A: Yes. I started writing an outline for the entire Treadwell world back in 2003! I knew that there would at least be a book about Allison, Taylor’s best friend, and that Chase Atwood would be one of the judges for the reality TV show on which Allison was competing (that book, Center Stage, is free on Wattpad right now.

 

Q: What books do you like to read? In your opinion, what makes a book good?

A: I think the best books are ones in which the main character undergoes some kind of change, and it’s a change that the reader truly emotionally feels. I read a lot, and my reading tastes are all over the board. I’m a huge fan of Rainbow Rowell, Stephen King, and Neil Gaiman. Margaret Atwood and Lois Lowry are probably my two all-time favorites. Margaret Atwood posts a lot of new, experimental material to Wattpad, which I think is the coolest thing ever. And I have always loved – and will always love – Judy Blume.

 

Q: Of all the characters you have created, which is most like you and why?

A: That’s a tough question! Probably Taylor, because although she’s highly opinionated and very self-sufficient, she’s also a little bit of a lost soul. Throughout her whole life, no one has ever really taken care of her, and when her father and stepmother take a genuine interest in her, she’s not sure what to make of it! I was very independent at a young age, so my relationship with my parents has always been kind of atypical. And Allison, too, because I very distinctly remember feeling like I was invisible in high school. Allison got kind of a bad rap in The Rock Star’s Daughter, but it’s a pretty natural reaction to feel jealous when someone you know is being showered with all of the things you want most in life for yourself.

 

Q: If you could go back to the beginning of your writing career, what advice would you give yourself?

A: To start publishing sooner. I was very caught up in the belief that you need a literary agent and a formal publishing deal with a major publisher to be a proper writer. Without having either of those, I wrote The Rock Star’s Daughter, and it was on the iTunes Children’s Top 10 list for about 2.5 years in four countries. I’ve received emails from readers all over the world about that book; it’s a story that’s made a difference in the lives of a very wide variety of readers (girls in Nigeria, UAE, Australia, I mean – everywhere, and of all ages)! That means more to me than anything else I’ve ever accomplished professionally, and if I’d waited for a literary agent and a big publisher to tell me that my writing was good enough, I’m pretty sure I’d still be waiting.

 

Q: If you had two hours to waste on anything, what would you do?

A: Either run on the treadmill while listening to Drake, or watch four back-to-back episodes of The Mindy Project on Hulu.

 

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

A: I would want young women to know they are capable of so, so much more than the culture surrounding them constantly tells them. We live in a world of ironies; we preach #girlpower in social media while still force-feeding young women relentless messaging implying that looking a certain way should be their biggest priority. That’s a load of crap. Appreciating how spectacularly unique you are, and making sure everyone you meet realizes that you’re amazing – that should be your biggest priority.

You can find Caitlyn Online:

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