Guest Post- 7 Tips to Write, Make Deadlines, and Not Get Lost in the Process

Hi everyone! Today I am very excited to bring you a guest post by Max E. Stone, an author who knows the struggle of writing, hitting all the deadlines, and staying focused on the task at hand. He has agreed to share some of his tips and tricks to help you be able to manage the crazy  writing life!


If your life tends to be stressful and hectic like mine, keeping deadlines is tough to say the least. Maintaining a cool head in the face of that turmoil is harder still. Add “Writing” into your “already-crazy” schedule and you could downright lose your mind.

Speaking from personal experience, there were times I’ve worked myself into so much of a ball of stress that I swore up and down it was Tuesday morning on a Friday afternoon. Since that time, exactly a year and a half ago, I’ve learned a few things about keeping cool and managing my time.

  1. Set workable deadlines

You know you better than anyone else knows you. You know what you can do in a given timeline and you know what is important to you. So dig deep. Ask yourself specific questions. One of the things I ask myself whenever I put together my work for the day, week, or month to come is this: “Of everything on my to-do list, what are the most important things?” From there, set deadlines you can work with and make provisions for changes that may come along the way. Which leads to the next tip…

  1. Start early

Life gets in the way. I’ve been there. You’re into the hour you’ve schedule for writing when suddenly you get a phone call that’s going to send you out the door for what you know will be at least another hour or two.  I’ve found that, if I have a task due in two weeks, I’ll begin for a half hour two weeks early. Then, I will do a little bit of it each day until it is completed early or on time. This way, I’ve made room for the changes that might come in the day, I can complete my other tasks, and I haven’t driven myself completely nuts in rushing to the end of that one thing to do.

  1. Don’t freak if/when you don’t make those deadlines

As hard as you or I will try, there are going to be times when you don’t make the deadline set. When that happens, don’t freak out. Don’t worry. It happens.  Just keep going and keep pushing.  You do that and everything will get done.

  1. Exercise/Get some fresh air

Straight from my mother’s mouth.

Both fresh air and exercise have numerous mental and physical health benefits. Sometimes, you have to step away from the computer, desk, etc. in the middle of the day because, frankly, you’re sick of looking at it or in my case, your eyes are burning and your bottom’s sore from sitting. At that point, I strongly encourage you to go outside, get active, go for a walk, or do some yoga. During the mornings, I run, and during the middle of the day, if I feel the need, I’ll go for a walk. So do what you can. Your body and mind will not only thank you but the quality of your day and work will immensely improve.

  1. Read

Books are awesome. No doubt about that. However, the mental advantages are similar to that of exercise and fresh air. I read for about an hour a day, whether its fiction, non-fiction, or education. I just read and let my mind take me away for just that hour. When I come back to my tasks, I’m fresh and all set to finish up what’s needed.

  1. Ask others

I spend a good portion of my day asking questions. No one person has all the answers to every question. Researching and asking questions is so essential. If you know someone who has mastered the art of managing their day, talk with them. Pick their brain and find what works for you.

  1. Rest

I learned this one the hard way and ended up not only losing a day but driving myself crazy in the process. So do yourself a favor. If you’re tired, go to sleep. Get a nap. If it’s late at night, go to sleep. It’s not only refreshing to do so, but medically necessary. Not getting enough sleep can’t hurt you and, among other things, impair your sense. Your body does a lot for you. Take care of it. Let it relax and reload.


Max doesn’t remember ever not creating a story, pen or no pen.
A writer and lover of books since the age of nine, Max first set pen to page as a hobby, constructing stories that were anything but fit for children. Entertaining classmates 13692597_1057472987641139_8414948098222036885_nwhile simultaneously concerning surrounding adults with blood-ridden tales of gory mysteries and heavy suspense that “just came to mind”, Max, with the help of family and the encouraging words of an inspiring fifth grade teacher, continue to develop this gift.
Little was it known at the time, but said gift would become a lifeline.
From horrific trauma in max’s teen years, writing played an instrumental part in the difficult recovery and the Warrens, Bennetts, and Johnsons, three interconnected families all with issues, mysteries, and secrets that threaten their livelihood and lives, were born.
Max reads everything and everyone and relishes the journey, learning something new each day.
Find Max Online:
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Artist Spotlights- Bad Carrot Studios and Day Light Full

Along with my undying love for books, I happen to love art. All kinds of art, from acting and dancing to painting and drawing. So I decided to shine whatever spotlight I have on some wonderful artists that combine my love of books to my love of art.

What art form does this? Fan art.

After looking through pages and pages of fan art on Etsy (which is pretty much my favorite online store at this point) I found two incredibly talented artists who agreed to do some art for me! For the purpose of this post, I sent the artists identical descriptions of some of the characters from my current work in progress (Candy Wrappers  ) to see what they came up with.


The first artist is Brittany from Bad Carrot Studios . Here is a little bit about her:

Brittany is an actor with a youthful and energetic voice. She has a background in singing and a Masters in Fine Art from the Savannah College of Art and Design. She majored in Sequential Art, and after graduating in 2008, she became the primary artist for the first eight chapters of the webcomic Snow by Night. Since then, she’s been working as a freelance artist through Etsy as Bad Carrot Studios.

Along with a talent for art, Brittany has had a passion for Acting and Voice Acting since she was young and has been working in the industry since 2012. She completed the full training course from Voice Coaches and continues to further her education at Nick Conti’s Professional Actor’s Studio for acting and with Deborah Richards Studio for voiceover.

Brittany is currently working as an actor in various productions around Atlanta, GA and doing commercial voice overs nationwide.

Brittany did two sketches for me: one of Malia Reed, who is my female main character, and one of Warren “Ren” Hartman, who is my male lead.

Brittany was able to draw the characters with only a brief description of them, and her full blown fandom art is unbelievable.

It was very interesting to watch the sketches go from first draft to finished. Each draft had a little bit more of the characters in them, and she worked tirelessly until they were perfect.

I love Brittany’s style of art because of how well proportioned they are. They look like they could walk right off the computer screen and flop down in the chair next to me.


 

The second artist I worked with is Whitney from DayLightFull. Here is a little on her:

I’m 21 years old and I’ve been drawing since I could hold a crayon. I’ve drawn all my life but only in the last 4-5 years have I been able to draw exactly what I see in my head. I have a tremors in my hands and an very dyslexic which make my two favorite things in life (art and writing) a challenge. The tremors in my hands make it very hard to draw smooth and precise lines but I never let that stop me! Even though the tremors get worse as I get older, I’ve worked hard and long enough to where you can hardly tell I have the disability in my art! So I’m always encouraging people to never give up on their passions because of a diagnosis. Art is my passion and I love making people smile with it!

Whitney’s art style is much different than Brittany’s, but unbelievably beautiful. She drew Malia and Ren, as well as a few other important characters in the plot line. Here is what she came up with:

I love Whitney’s art because of how much I can feel that characters personalities coming off the page. She did a wonderful job of capturing their attitudes and expressions.


I want to say a huge thank you to both of these talented artists for making these beautiful pieces of art for me. I encourage all the readers of this post to go look at their other work; you will be amazed!

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!


GKF

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).

Book Review- Billy Bedivere in the Quest for the Dragon Queen

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Billy Bedivere in the Quest for the Dragon Queen: A Kingdom of Legends Adventure  by Alan Sproles
Published by Bookbaby on December 3, 2015
Genres: Children’s Books, Fantasy, Fairy Tales
Pages: 222
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Amazon

Would you like to leave on a camping trip poor and come back rich? But what if that meant fighting a vicious huge blue bunny, or a big black bear, or man-eating trees or a two-headed dragon guarded by giant spiders? That’s what happened to Billy on a weekend camping with his dad and friends. Told by his dad not to cross the creek, Billy does just that when he hears the call for help from inside a large cave in the side of a cliff. Billy, the good scout, goes in the cave alone concerned that someone was in trouble. As he moved deeper and deeper into the cave Billy falls into a vortex that sweeps him into another world. It is a brilliant but very strange place. It appears to be a one-way trip until he acquires some very strange and even famous characters as friends starting with a rose that has been calling out for help because a large bunny has been eating them. Rose informs him that the only person who can help him get home would be the genie and tells him how to get there. On the way Billy encounters Hansel and Gretel who accompanies him on his journey. After their near fatal encounter at the chocolate house of the witch they make it to the genie who informs them that the only way home is to defeat the Dragon Queen, a two-headed dragon at Flagara’s house of Sad Faces. To return home Billy must grow up fast if he is to survive and conquer the biggest challenge of his life- if he can. Does he have what it takes? He’s just a kid but he’ll need to be a man to get home. Billy Bedivere must defeat the Dragon Queen but first his life will change forever along the way! It changes because of his new friends- a droll named Sparkie, a pixie named Pippy and a talking dragon named Dreadon to name three, and there are many more. Billy succeeds in getting through the Dark Forest and to Flagara’s house of Sad Faces where the great dragon is protected by a hoard of giant spiders. The Dragon was once a princess that was cursed by another very evil witch. Billy is victorious in his battle with the dragon but that victory will reveal something even more shocking. And that will change everything again!

Billy Bedivere was an interesting book. The story itself makes a good children’s story, however, it did not feel like I was reading a children’s book. The writing style was strange… some version of third person present tense, but there were several places in the book where it slipped in to second person, which did not exactly read well. If anything the way the book was written kept it from being more exciting.

This is a book that would be amazing if it were rewritten. The story itself is somewhere between Narnia and The Magic Tree House, and definitely has a lot of potential. It’s just the writing that makes it fall short. The writing takes away some of the magic.

All of the characters in the book are great. There is a good mix of fairy tale characters and magical creatures that team up together to go on an amazing quest/adventure. It’s a heart warming tale and I really did find myself enjoying it, and I do think that I will read the second one when it comes out. I just really wish the writing was a bit different… I think that would make a huge difference.

I am going to give Billy Bedivere in The Quest for the Dragon Queen three out of five hearts.

♥ ♥ ♥

*This book was sent to me for free by the author in exchange for an honest review. This has not in any way affected my views or opinions of the book.

Author Q&A- Michael Connick

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Michael Connick, author of Trapped in a Hall of Mirrors, which is based off his life working with the NSA and SAVAK. Read the Q&A below!
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Q: How long have you been writing?
A: The short answer is since September of last year (2015). That’s when I started writing my novel, “Trapped in a Hall of Mirrors”. I’ve been a voracious reader all of my life and I promised myself that when I retired I would write a novel. That’s exactly what I did late last year. I actually had no plans on publishing this novel, I simply wanted to write one. However, I got lots of encouragement from the few people I shared it with, and especially my wife, and so I actually did get it published. Much to my surprise, especially as it’s my first novel, it’s gotten very good reviews and has sold quite well. Apparently, I can actually write – I’m really pretty amazed!
The longer answer is that I’ve been writing all my life. However, it’s been “business” writing. When I worked with the intelligence community, I had to write voluminous reports. When I transitioned my career to becoming a management consultant – again, I had to do lots of writing and learn how to communicate complex ideas clearly and skillfully. Between all the reading I’ve done and the business documents I created, I somehow learned how to write a novel. It’s certainly been a non-traditional way to do it, I know!
Q: What inspires your writing? Do you have a muse?
A: I’ve always loved to tell stories. I don’t really have an external muse, as such, just a yearning to write stories that I enjoy and that others seem to enjoy reading, too.
I’m still frankly astonished when people come up to me and tell me how much they enjoyed reading my novel. I’m shocked when someone asks to have their picture taken with me. I’ve actually been interviewed twice on television about my novel! I must admit that all of these kinds of incidents are really reassuring to me, and they help motivate me to continue writing whenever I start to doubt my ability to craft stories that people will actually want to read.
Q: Tell me about your debut novel, Trapped in a Hall of Mirrors. What was the original idea behind it?
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A: The title page contains a line that really summarizes its driving idea: “A Novel Based on True Events”. The book actually starts out as a fictionalized autobiography of me. Its protagonist, Stephen Connor, is a fictionalized version of me. Like Stephen, I grew up and was raised in San Francisco, worked with the NSA at their headquarters in Fort Meade, MD, and consulted with the SAVAK in Iran. I also lived and worked in Vienna, Austria. So I’m really telling something of my own story in this novel. Many of the characters in it are real people and I’ve sometimes even used their real names. Others are based on real people but have had their names changed. Finally, some were completely fabricated by me. However, once Stephen gets to Austria, the novel starts to becomes highly fictionalized. Unless he got himself into a whole lot more trouble than I actually did there, it would have ended up being a pretty boring book! Nevertheless, the entire book is historically accurate and I think very true to life.
Which brings me to the secondary purpose for my writing this book – I really wanted to write a realistic spy novel. Most of the spy novels I read are extraordinarily inauthentic. The protagonists are supermen, their weaponry ridiculous, and their descriptions of the way the intelligence community is actually run are completely absurd. I really wanted to create a story that was based on reality. My protagonist is quite flawed, naive, and makes some pretty foolish decisions. He accidentally stumbles into some very devilish situations. The KGB completely misinterprets his activities. That’s what the intelligence world is really like – spies stumbling around in the dark trying to make sense of what they see and likely misinterpreting quite a bit of it. I also tried to give readers a feeling for the bureaucratic nature of the management of the intelligence community.
Q: How has the time you spent consulting with the SAVAK influenced your writing?
A: Again, the portion of the book that deals with the protagonist’s time in Tehran is all based on what really happened to me while I was there and what was going on in Iran at that time. The Shah was about to fall from power and no one realized that was going to happen. Iran was really a fascinating place to live at that time. I really tried to give readers a feel for what life was really like in that country during that time period.
Q: You have traveled and lived all over the world. What have been your favorite and least favorite places? Why?
A: My absolute favorite city is Copenhagen. It’s a beautiful place and the Danes seem to be incredibly happy and extremely friendly people. I also am in love with Grand Cayman Island in the Caribbean. I’ve visited there on three different occasions and have found it to be the closest thing to a tropical paradise that I’ve ever encountered. A bit of trivia – the picture of me on the back cover of my book was actually taken on Grand Cayman Island.
My least favorite place? That would have to be strictly a matter of degree, because I’ve always found something to enjoy in every place I’ve lived or visited. If pressed, I guess I’d have to say Greenland was my least favorite place. That’s because the sole part of it that I visited was a US Air Force Base that was fairly primitive in its amenities – and it was COLD!
FYI: here’s a list of the countries I’ve either lived in or visited: Austria, Belgium, Canada, Cayman Islands, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, France, French Polynesia, Germany, Greenland, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Namibia, Netherlands, South Africa, United Kingdom, and the United States.
Q: Are you currently working on any writing projects? If so, what can you tell me about them?
A: So many people have asked for it, so I’ve now started work on a sequel to “Trapped in a Hall of Mirrors”. It will be called “Funhouse Mirrors” and will continue to follow Stephen Connors’ CIA career in Vienna. This book will be almost totally fictionalized in contrast to the highly autobiographical nature of my first novel. Nevertheless, I am continuing to strive for realism and it will be very historically accurate. It will also continue the tradition of the first novel in trying to convey the ongoing sense of confusion and misunderstanding that permeates the real intelligence community. Working within it really is like being trapped in a hall of mirrors!
Q: What is something you want the world to know?
A: Life is wonderful if you are willing to take risks to fully live it. I have certainly been blessed with luck and good fortune, yet I also think that much of what I have accomplished has been due to a sharp focus on goals and plain old hard work. If you really want something, take the risk to actually work towards getting it and I think you will be amazed at what you can accomplish.
Find Michael Online:

Author Q&A- Thomas Fleet

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Thomas Fleet, a world building, fantasy writing author who recently published his debut novel, The War of the First Day! Read the interview below.

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Q: How long have you been writing?

A: My earliest relevant memory is from a Spanish class in high school. We were practicing conversation by discussing career choices, and when it was my turn, out popped “escritor” (or whatever the Spanish word for writer is).

I first wrote a complete story when I was 25. It lay dormant for a long time before being submission-ready. It’s about a woman in the 1600s who’s accused of being a witch and has no tools with which to save herself but her own wit. She has to figure out how to threaten, beg, seduce, or razzle-dazzle her way out of it.

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

A: There are two things that inspire me. One is just that cool idea or image that pops into your head. For example, there’s a witch in The War of the First Day who constantly has little copies of herself running around all over her. This ended up as the cover image. I don’t remember the origin of this idea. Where do images like that, or story ideas, come from? It’s a mystery, isn’t it?

The other thing that is inspiring is reading great fiction by other writers. A really innovative writer will blow open your conception of the possibilities of fiction. Jorge Louis Borges, with his “Fictions,” did that to me. Even if it doesn’t rise to that level, if it’s fun and capably executed, good fiction makes you want to hop back on the computer and start writing.

The sheer range of possibilities in fantasy is energizing. Two recent examples of this are Scott Lynch’s Gentleman Bastards series, which follows the insane adventures of a gang of con artists in another world, and Lev Grossman’s Magicians series, which imagines what magic would actually be like in this world if brilliant twenty-somethings got their hands on it. They’re very different (and they’re both very fun).

Q: Tell me about your debut novel, The War of the First Day. What was the original idea behind it?

A: The novel is a fantasy novel about a war between two groups of witches. The idea is to combine pacing which (I hope) takes your breath away with intellectual and emotional themes that engage other parts of your brain. Action novels are all about ka-boom, obviously, but you need some emotional weight to ground the ka-boom.

Its genesis was a vignette in which a young woman wanders across a forbidden border and is captured by a witch. The witch tells her that as punishment for her transgression, she must kill or be killed. I became intensely interested – cough, obsessed, cough – with this vignette and reworked it again and again in my mind before writing it down. Later, that sequence of scenes was to develop into a core sequence in The War of the First Day. The book grew vastly around it, and the captor had her moral rough edges filed down somewhat, but it’s still the heart, in terms of the heroine’s internal conflict, of the novel.

How this got to be embedded in a war of extermination between rival camps of witches, I don’t remember. There’s that mystery again!

Another thing I wanted to do was to get back to the roots of the western world’s fairytales, but that goal sort of got tossed out the car window along the way. E.g., as one reviewer noted, the dialogue sounds fairly modern; it isn’t much like stereotypical fantasy novel dialogue. Ultimately the classic fairytale roots ended up in the setting: The area is roughly medieval politically and technologically, and a lot of it is northern climate with craggy rocks and lots of pine trees. It’s very witchy. I have a lot of affection for this classical fantasy setting and may return to it in the future.

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

A: A great thing about fantasy is that you get to make up your world. You could probably get away with very little grunt work, in terms of research, compared to, say, science fiction. Every now and then there’d be something that I’d want to not embarrass myself about, so I had to do a little research. Fortunately, my setting (although in the future) is roughly medieval-ish, and the medieval period in Europe had a pretty broad range of economic arrangements, building styles, weapons technologies, etc., so the writer has a lot to choose from.

I’m also helped by the fact that I’m story-oriented, not world building-oriented, so I don’t have detailed fictional languages, etc., to keep track of. My world building supports the story; beyond that it keeps out of the way.

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

A: One of the many things I learned in the course of writing TWOTFD is that writing a good novel, one you put your heart, mind and soul into, is emotionally and intellectually exhausting! So the brief answer to your question is, a bunch of short stories! I am going to re-charge my batteries for a while before I start in on another novel.

About half of the stories are fantasy. The non-fantasy ones are all over the place: A crime story, a fanciful book review a la Borges or Stanislaw Lem, and a story about a person who house-sits for her vacationing neighbors and gets snoopy. You can play that sort of scenario for horror, as in the classic Bluebeard story, or, as I’m doing, just for amusement value. A short one, which I flung up on my web page instead of trying to get published, is a take on the classic “inertialess drive” from SF. What happens if you actually try to take the physics of that idea seriously?

Q: If you could become a character from any book, who would you be and why?

A: From *any* book, whoa! Hmm… Most stories that are entertaining drag the hero/heroine through some horrible times, so it wouldn’t really be fun to be them. But there certainly are lots of worlds that would interesting to take part in. For instance, the worlds of…

The Magicians, by Lev Grossman. You’d be one of a group of very smart people with magical powers. Also, you can go to R-rated Narnia if you want. ’Nuff said.

Illuminatus, by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson. I wouldn’t want to be Hagbard Celine, but hanging out with him would be great, because he’s creatively crazy. You get the sense that he might do anything at any moment, yet most of it actually has a purpose. He’s the owner and captain of a submarine made of gold, LOL.

Man to Hagbard: “You take yourself too seriously.”

Hagbard: “What do you mean? I own a yellow submarine; it’s straight out of a rock song.”

Dark is the Sun, by Phillip Jose Farmer. A crazy SF book set billions of years from now in which evolution has created tons of weird animals and plants, and remnants of high-tech civilizations are left strewn around to be used or abused by the current inhabitants. A setting in which anything could happen. It would be hair-raising to live in this environment, but you’d never be bored. Come to think of it, maybe I’d just stay home watch the documentary on Animal Planet.

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

A: Good fiction proceeds from who the writer is. If you’re a left-brained person who likes action novels, write like a left-brained person who likes action novels. If you’re a right-brained person who is entranced by the possibilities of meta-fiction, then you should nevertheless write like a like a left-brained person who likes action novels. No, just kidding! Write like a right-brained person who is entranced by the possibilities of meta-fiction.

And if you are made to do this, you’ll make your own contribution. You’ll look at the world of fiction and think, why is everyone else ignoring this thing that they could be doing with fiction? That’s the thing you should do.

Find Thomas Online:

Website

Goodreads

Library Thing

Author Q&A- Jordan Mason

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Jordan Mason. He is the author of several ghost stories, including The Man In Black, which you can read more about below!

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

A: I think my first word put down on paper was something horrifying, something ghastly. I’ve written short stories and ghost stories ever since I was a young boy, and so to place a beginning on my writing would be near impossible. I remember being around ten and writing the most terrifying stories I could think up; the horror films didn’t help; I was obsessed with The Exorcist even then.

As far as “professional” writing goes, not very long. I decided to become an independent author because I like control. There’s something satisfying about being the puppet master, wielding the strings.

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

A: I grew up reading Stephen King and Susan Hill, two very different writers. One is very American, and one is very British. The two always spoke to me the same, though, and they inspire to this day. Their style is impeccable.

Aside from their direct influence, I suppose my dreams inspire me a lot, but you don’t want to know what goes on up in there, trust me.

Q: Tell me about your upcoming book, The Man in Black. What was the original idea behind it?

A: The idea was to tell a ghost story as precise as possible without jamming the thing with a whole load of filler. Ghost stories shouldn’t delve too much into that, they should never sidetrack, but should always focus on the present and remain fast and consistent. You should indulge in backstory to set up something worthwhile; characters are essential, but you have to get things done very quickly in a ghost story and not a lot of people can tap into that anymore, which is a real shame.

Its setting came from growing up around the industrial towns of the North East. I wondered how spooky a terraced home would be if it were haunted, and how I could channel that through a short story. ‘The Man in Black’ wouldn’t work as a novel, it’s just too small of an idea, but as a short I thought it could really thrive.

Q: What are the greatest challenges you have faced while writing The Man in Black?

A: The most difficult thing was to convey the language and the setting as accurately as I could while still maintaining a sense of the norm so that readers around the world could follow it with as little trouble as possible. The dialogue alone was tricky, because the North of England, especially the North East, has such a strong and distinctive dialect that I simply couldn’t rinse over; realism would be lost, and I wanted to keep things as real as I could.

Marketing the book was, and still is, a great challenge. Being an independent author has its uphill struggles, but it has its rewards, too.

Q: Which of your characters is most like you? In what way?

A: I think there’s a little bit of me inside every one of my characters, whether it be in this story or in another. It’s a conscience thing. Unavoidable, like death, or good bourbon.

Q: What would you do if you were caught inside your book, The Man in Black?

A: Move house. Quite simple, when you think about it. But then there wouldn’t be a story, would there?

Q: What is your favorite thing to do besides writing?

A: I enjoy reading, networking, and spending time with my girlfriend and my close family. You can’t beat a good horror film, neither. I love sitting down with a wealthy glass of bourbon or a nice beer, only to lose myself in the magic of the movies surrounded by my home comforts.

I love the outdoors, too. I walk as much as I can, and I try and eat well. That keeps me alright.

Q: If you could be in any movie made in the past two years, which would it be any why?

A: Anything by Paul Thomas Anderson or Quentin Tarantino. The Hateful Eight enriched me when I saw it at the cinema. I wouldn’t mind being in that.

Q: What is something you want to do before you die?

A: Get every single one of my stories out there. I have a head full of ideas that are just aching to get out. Whether or not I’ll publish more than one novel in the future is uncertain; I have one in the pipeline, but somehow I’ll get my work noticed. Determination is key. I’m very focused on getting my novellas and my short stories out there, starting with ‘The Man in Black’.

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

A: The world should know how important the traditional ghost story is, how its foundations paved way for the wide spectrum of horror we all know and love today. Drama, even, wouldn’t be drama as we classify it today without the bread and butter of the Gothic ghost story.

I also want the world to know how incredible Bob Dylan is. He really is. Just, fantastically incredible.

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