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Author Interview Series: Behind The Scenes with Elaine Wolf

Behind The Scenes2

Everyone’s journey to publication is different and unique. In Behind The Scenes, I interview writers who tell us how they started and got to where they are today. With the knowledge that comes from experience, they share their words of wisdom with us. If you’re a writer, I’d love to hear about your journey! Please contact me here if you’re interested in being interviewed. New interviews featured every second and last Monday of the month.

With me today is Elaine Wolf. Known as the anti-bullying novelist, her books Camp and Danny’s Mom dig deep into the issues kids face today and why speaking up is important.

 

1. Tell us a bit about your writing journey. How did you get started, and how did you get to where you are now?

I always dreamed of being a writer, but work and family responsibilities got in the way.

When I was 45, my husband noticed an announcement about a writers’ workshop at the local library, and he encouraged me to enroll. So I started racing out of work early once a week to attend that workshop. And I loved it.

My husband knew of my dream; he had heard me speak about the first story I ever wrote, way back when I was in second grade. The other kids wrote a paragraph or two. I wrote ten pages about a dog named Magic. The teacher had me read my story to the class, and I loved being acknowledged for having written something worth sharing.

Fast forward a few decades. As a public school district program director, I found lots of excuses to write memos, which teachers said they actually enjoyed reading. Yes, I really loved writing –– and my big dream was to write a novel, to attract the attention of a reputable literary agent, and to get my book published.

With my husband’s support, I quit my job when I was not quite fifty to become a full-time writer. I enrolled in writing classes and workshops, and I wrote every day. I started with short stories and then went on to write the manuscript that became Danny’s Mom.

When a New York literary agent signed me on, I wrote another manuscript, which evolved into the novel Camp. And now I’m known as “the anti-bullying novelist,” with books that show what really can happen behind the closed gates and doors of our camps and schools.

 

2. Anything you would’ve done differently if you could do it all over again?

I wish I could do it all over again! I would start my “writing life” long before turning 50. I would figure out how to dedicate time to write even while working a full-time job…or figure out how to get by with a part-time job so I could have time to write. That said, I’m delighted to have the opportunity now to focus on writing, and I feel blessed that, at this stage of life, my work as “the anti-bullying novelist” is making a difference.

 

3. What advice would you give to new and aspiring writers?

My advice is to never give up. I know that sounds hokey, but I really believe it.

Never give up on a manuscript that you know is good –– even when agents and publishers say NO. I’m so glad I didn’t give up on Danny’s Mom and Camp. I knew they were good stories, so I revised and revised and revised. And when my agent said that editors loved the manuscripts –– the writing and the characters –– but that bullying was too small a story, I put my novels on the back burner, but I never took them off the stove. I revised yet again and found different ways into the stories. I never gave up. And when bullying finally made it to our national radar screen, my agent tried again, and both books sold quickly.

 

4. Is there any book you’ve written that is particularly special to you? Which one and why?

When people ask me which of my two novels I like better, which is more special to me, I sort of feel like a mother being asked which of her children is particularly special to her. Both Camp and Danny’s Mom are personal works: I wrote Camp to honor the memory of my mother, whose story as a survivor and an immigrant I can only imagine; I wrote Danny’s Mom to honor colleagues with whom I worked, teachers who went above and beyond for their students –– and for students who desperately need adult advocates and yet often have to face the perils of high school unprotected and alone. So, both Camp and Danny’s Mom are really special to me.

 

5. Who would you say is your favorite character(s) from your books, and why? What is it about this character that makes him/her tick?

I tend to be the champion of the underdogs, which is probably why Charlie is my favorite character in Camp and Liz Grant is my favorite character in Danny’s Mom.

Charlie is the protagonist’s kid brother in Camp. He’s on the autism spectrum (although in the early 1960s, when the novel takes place, he is labeled “handicapped”). Charlie’s mother is unduly harsh with him, and the only one who seems to understand him is his older sister, Amy, the protagonist. Charlie is petrified of dogs –– and, of course, a family with a large dog lives down the block. I grew to love Charlie during the two years in which I wrote Camp, and I sobbed (really, I did) as I wrote an important scene concerning Charlie toward the end of the novel. When you read Camp, you’ll know exactly when I cried.

Liz Grant, my favorite character in Danny’s Mom, is a troubled high school sophomore who suffers with anorexia. She’s an easy target at Meadow Brook High School, where mean girls practice bullying as if it’s a sport. Liz desperately needs adult support, yet her mother is convinced that the bullies will go away if Liz simply ignores them. The protagonist, Beth, a guidance counselor, tries to help Liz, but Beth is thwarted by school administrators who cling to don’t-rock-the-boat policies.

 

7. Tell us about your latest project. What are you working on at the moment, and what can we expect from it?

Currently, I’m working on a novel that’s much lighter than Camp and Danny’s Mom. It takes place in another dimension, and it’s kind of a fairy tale for adults. And, yes, there’s bullying in that other place, too –– because bullying seems to grow organically in everything I write.

I’m also working (with a film agent) on movie rights for Camp and Danny’s Mom…so stay tuned.

 

8. Are you self-pubbed or traditionally published? What made you go for this model? What advice/tips can you share with writers working towards the same goal?

I’m traditionally published. The truth is, I never considered self-publishing ¬¬–– although I have friends who have had positive self-publishing experiences. After I wrote (and revised and revised and revised) the manuscript that became Danny’s Mom, I researched literary agents and started the querying process. I was prepared to face rejections, and they came. But then a top New York agent signed me on. And the rest, as they say, is history.

My advice to other writers working toward being traditionally published is to never give up. Keep querying, and if you’re lucky enough to get feedback from agents who say “no thanks,” consider their comments, incorporate any suggestions that make sense to you, and rewrite and revise.

In order to be traditionally published, you need talent, perseverance, and timing. The bullying theme in Camp and Danny’s Mom was considered “too small” for traditional publishers when my agent first submitted the manuscripts. But when bullying became part of our national dialogue, both books sold.

And, finally, keep writing. Even if you don’t get an agent, keep writing. Even if you have an agent but your work doesn’t sell, keep writing. A writer is someone who writes. Being published is certainly great, but the act of writing is what’s important: it will keep you growing –– as a writer and as a person.

 

Author Bio: Known as “the anti-bullying novelist,” I write about what really goes on behind the closed gates and doors of our camps and schools. The issues I explore in my novels are those I am passionate about and know well.
I was a camper and camp counselor for many summers. When I entered “the real world,” I taught in public schools in California and New York. In my most recent teaching position, I served as a middle school and high school reading/language arts specialist, and then I became the district language arts chairperson. In that position, I designed and supervised reading/writing programs for students at all grade levels, facilitated reading groups and writers’ workshops, and selected books for classroom libraries as well as for ancillary and summer reading lists.
One of my greatest joys was getting wonderful books into the hands of students, teachers, and parents. In the time before Kindles, iPads, and Nooks, I spent countless hours stocking shelves with “good reads.” And I dreamed of seeing my books on those shelves. Now I’m thrilled that Camp and Danny’s Mom are there.
Although critics call my novels “mesmerizing” and “must-reads,” what pleases me more than great reviews is the fact that Camp and Danny’s Mom have given me a literal bully pulpit –– a platform from which to carry on the anti-bullying conversation so that, in concert with professionals, we will make our camps and schools kinder, more embracing communities for everyone. I’m committed to keeping this conversation going until the bullying epidemic ends.
My husband and I raised our children on Long Island, where in addition to teaching I was a co-facilitator of a writers’ workshop. Now we live in Northampton, Massachusetts, a community brimming with readers, writers, artists, and musicians. Shortly after moving here, I won a prize for short fiction (the perfect welcome for me). And both of my novels, Camp and Danny’s Mom, will be released in paperback in June 2015. Next up is a move to the west coast. California, here I come!

Where to find Elaine:        Website       Facebook       Twitter       Goodreads

 

 

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Author Interview: Behind The Scenes with Alex J. Cavanaugh

Just Get It Written

Behind The Scenes2

For this edition of Behind The Scenes, I’m excited to have a chance to interview the Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh. He is the best-selling author of the Cassa series and founder of Insecure Writers Support Group.

1. Tell us a bit about your writing journey. How did you get started, and how did you get to where you are now?

I knew I should’ve taken a left at Albuquerque… I started when I was a teenager, inspired by Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars, and author Terry Brooks. My first book, CassaStar, was a complete rewrite of a story I wrote during that time. My wife prodded me to submit the manuscript and Dancing Lemur Press LLC picked it up. I only wanted to write the one book, but my fans wanted more. So here I am, still writing…

2. Anything you would’ve done differently if you…

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Author Interview Series: Behind The Scenes with Elizabeth Varadan

Behind The Scenes2

Everyone’s journey to publication is different and unique. In Behind The Scenes, I interview writers who tell us how they started and got to where they are today. With the knowledge that comes from experience, they share their words of wisdom with us. If you’re a writer, I’d love to hear about your journey! Please contact me here if you’re interested in being interviewed. New interviews featured every second and last Monday of the month.

Elizabeth Varadan joins me in this edition of Behind The Scenes. Her latest novel, Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls, is a middle-grade mystery; available at your favorite retailers on June 15. When Sherlock Holmes was called in to solve the case, Imogene–a budding detective in her own right–has her own ideas about solving the mystery!

 

1. Tell us a bit about your writing journey. How did you get started, and how did you get to where you are now?

I’ve written all my life – poems and small stories while growing up, going through college, and during my teaching career. When I took early retirement a few years ago I was able to focus on writing full time, and my work started being published – poems and stories for adult magazines and children’s magazines. A few years ago, I self-published a middle grade fantasy novel. Now, MX Publishing – a publisher specializing in Sherlock Holmes-related books – is publishing my middle grade mystery involving Sherlock Holmes, Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls. It was a long trek, but worth the journey.

 

2. Anything you would’ve done differently if you could do it all over again?

Not really. I loved my teaching career, and I came to that late, as I had to work my way through college. I never stopped writing, but I knew I could look forward to that once I no longer taught. I really had planned it that way, in stages, and I kept writing all those years.

 

3. What advice would you give to new and aspiring writers?

Follow your own dream and not someone else’s. My mother wanted me to be a musician. I love music, but the musical world wasn’t for me. And, since we were poor, I had to make my own dreams work: college, a teaching career, and then a second career in writing. It all came true. I have no complaints.

 

4. Is there any book you’ve written that is particularly special to you? Which one and why?

Oh, that’s hard. Every book I write is my favorite at the time, especially after I’ve polished it up and consider it ready to submit. So, right now, I have to say Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls. It was great fun to write! I love history (I was a history major in university), I love mysteries, and I especially love Sherlock Holmes. I had to do a lot of research to get the Victorian setting just right, but I loved that, so it was an enjoyable book to write.

 

5. Who would you say is your favorite character(s) from your books, and why? What is it about this character that makes him/her tick?

In Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls, it’s Imogene, because she’s so curious and spunky and determined. But I also became attached to rusty, the mudlark who becomes her friend and fellow sleuth.

 

6. Tell us about your new book. What can we expect from it?

In Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls, ten-year-old Imogene has harbored a secret desire to be a detective. This is unusual for a Victorian girl from a middle class family. When her mother’s pearls disappear, her parents call in Sherlock Holmes to find them, and Imogene sees her chance to learn from the great Mr. Holmes. Before long, Imogene is acting independently – too independently for her own good – and her life is in danger.

 

7. Are you self-pubbed or traditionally published? What made you go for this model? What advice/tips can you share with writers working towards the same goal?

Actually, I am both. I self-published an earlier fantasy, The Fourth Wish, because traditional publishers hadn’t picked it up. (It’s a rather gentle read compared to the popular high-action fantasies.) So I decided to self-publish it, and it was a great experience. It jump-started me into the world of blogs and Facebook and Twitter – the whole cyber world, although after the fact. Now I actually have a wonderful network before publication of Imogene, so I’m glad I went that route.

For my mystery, though, I wanted a traditional publisher, and I was fortunate enough to find the perfect fit in MX Publishing. Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls comes out June 15th, but I’ve already had a pre-publication signing and a school visit, with more to come after it’s released. I’m also in company with a great group of like-minded writers – Holmes fans, who write Holmesian fiction.

My tips to writers would be to try it everything, and don’t give up. Write stories and poems for magazines. It’s a great heart lift when they get accepted while you keep working on longer pieces. Keep searching for the publisher that fits your work. Belong to writing groups who are both supportive and hard-nosed – you won’t grow as a writer unless you know what isn’t working in your manuscript as well as what is.) And then – read, read, read. Write, write, write. Persist, persist, persist.

 

Elizabeth VaradanAuthor Bio: Elizabeth Varadan is a former elementary school teacher. She taught most elementary grades, but her favorites were the middle grades, and she now writes middle grade fiction. She and her husband live in Midtown Sacramento. Her children’s fiction and poetry have appeared in Ladybug, Friends, and Skipping Stones Magazine. Her middle grade fantasy, The Fourth Wish, was self-published in 2008. Her new middle grade mystery, Imogene an the Case of the Missing Pearls, will be released by MX Publishing June 15, 2015.

Where to find Elizabeth:  Blog      Her Victorian Blog      Facebook     Twitter      Amazon Author Page

 

 


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Author Interview Series: Behind The Scenes with David J. Delaney

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Everyone’s journey to publication is different and unique. In Behind The Scenes, I interview writers who tell us how they started and got to where they are today. With the knowledge that comes from experience, they share their words of wisdom with us. If you’re a writer, I’d love to hear about your journey! Please contact me here if you’re interested in being interviewed. New interviews featured every second and last Monday of the month.

Joining me today in Behind The Scenes is David J Delaney. He writes gripping crime thrillers and his debut novel, The Vanishing, is the first book in his Detective Dean Cornell Series.

 

1. Tell us a bit about your writing journey. How did you get started, and how did you get to where you are now?

I started writing in high school. I always had a pretty active imagination as a kid so when it wasn’t all that cool to play with toys anymore I started to write. Now it wasn’t very good and I never thought about pursuing it beyond English class so I chose to study psychology and then eventually nursing.
It wasn’t until I was waiting to start my first nursing role that I sat down at my laptop one day and thought ‘why not write a novel’. I had 3 months up my sleeve so I sat and wrote a 70,000 word story that still sits unedited on my computer. From this 70k boredom breaker though I decided to write more and more. I read Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ and ‘Write, Publish, Repeat’ from the guys at the Self Publishing Podcast and from there decided that writing was something I wanted to pursue.

 

2. Anything you would’ve done differently if you could do it all over again?

I wouldn’t have spent a year writing short stories, I would have written a novel or two as well. I thought I’d follow Stephen King’s example and focus on short stories which I’ve had a number published but they didn’t really promote me much as a writer. The 70k manuscript I had just seemed far too daunting to even consider editing so I focused on 5k – 7k shorts. It was only when I started to talk more and more to other writers that I realized I needed to write longer works.

 

3. What advice would you give to new and aspiring writers?

Get a professional cover and make sure to get a professional edit. These are two areas that still plague indie authors.

 

4. Is there any book you’ve written that is particularly special to you? Which one and why?

I’ve only the one, ‘The Vanishing’ and this taught me so much about writing and myself as a writer. I think it’ll always be special to me as it’s the first.

 

5. Who would you say is your favorite character(s) from your books, and why? What is it about this character that makes him/her tick?

I loved Joanne Saunders from ‘The Vanishing’. The one word I had in mind when writing her was ‘gumption’. She’s a strong character who doesn’t hold back. She hides her fear and is mature beyond her 15 years. She’s a character I’d love to explore further in my books as she grows into adulthood.

 

6. Tell us about your latest project. What are you working on at the moment, and what can we expect from it?

Book 2 in the Dean Cornell series. My goal is to release this book by late June, early July and the third by end of year. The characters are starting to become more and more lifelike and I see them saying and doing things I never thought they would. I suppose the more you grow to know your characters the more real they become.
I want to make each book unique in its own way. Each book will take on a different theme and hopefully flesh it out as the book goes on.

 

7. Are you self-pubbed or traditionally published? What made you go for this model? What advice/tips can you share with writers working towards the same goal?

My short stories were traditionally published with various anthologies and magazines whereas my novel was self published.
The reason I went the self publish route with my novel was to focus on writing and not trying to break through the insurmountable wall that is traditional publishing. I feel if my book is found by someone who wants to publish it then I can look at that but in the mean time I will be writing more novels rather than query letters. I think the chasm between self and traditional publishing will narrow someday but I’m not sure how that will look. I think publishers sitting by and waiting for the next Harry Potter or Twilight to fall into their lap is lazy and they should be more involved in the self publishing world as there is some great stories waiting to be plucked.
Either way, I’m thoroughly happy with how my publishing journey is going and can’t wait to get the next book out.

 

David J. DelaneyAuthor Bio: David J. Delaney is an Irishman hailing from Dublin but now living in Sydney, Australia. He believes that we’ve all got a story to tell whether we write it down or not; and if a story causes you to feel any one of the myriad of emotions we all possess as human beings then he’s done his job as a writer.

Sitting through English class as a teenager was the only period in school where he stayed awake and learned something. There’s not a form of entertainment he doesn’t like. Movies such as Ghostbusters, Beetlejuice, Jurassic Park and Blade Runner kept him up late into the night as a kid. He would discover video games soon after—Resident Evil and Silent Hill on the original iteration of the PlayStation blew him away. Books, however, was the one thing that remained a constant, even as he fell in and out of love with movies and games. The first book he ever read was Ted Hughes’ ‘The Iron Man,’ borrowed from a traveling library that came to his school when he was eight years old. He then moved on to the Famous Five, The Hardy Boys and every Roald Dahl novel he could get his hands on. As he got older he began to love the likes of King, Cornwall, Koontz and Barker. He is inspired by them as well as other great writers such as Neil Gaiman, Kylie Chan, Sean Platt, Johnny B. Truant, David W. Wright, J. Thorn, J. F. Penn and David Gaughran.

Where to find David:     Website       Blog       Twitter

 


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Author Interview Series: Behind The Scenes with Callum McLaughlin

Behind The Scenes2

Everyone’s journey to publication is different and unique. In Behind The Scenes, I interview writers who tell us how they started and got to where they are today. With the knowledge that comes from experience, they share their words of wisdom with us. If you’re a writer, I’d love to hear about your journey! Please contact me here if you’re interested in being interviewed. New interviews featured every second and last Monday of the month.

Callum McLaughlin writes gripping suspense thrillers and is also a published poet in his own right. His latest offering, Seeking Solace, showcases his talent in a collection of sixty poems.

 

1. Tell us a bit about your writing journey. How did you get started, and how did you get to where you are now?

I first started out professionally a few years ago. I volunteered my time at a local magazine, gaining experience in various forms of research and writing, as well as undertaking a short photo-journalism course. With this training on my CV, I started to work on a freelance basis, allowing me the perfect balance of time to also work on my own creative writing.

 

2. Anything you would’ve done differently if you could do it all over again?

Probably not, to be honest. Things have gone fairly well thus far and I’m happy to keep working away at my craft, hopefully learning and improving as I go.

 

3. What advice would you give to new and aspiring writers?

The most obvious yet crucial piece of advice is simply to write. It’s surprising how many people want to but never actually get around to it, constantly coming up with excuses or reasons why we think it will never happen. As they say, you can edit a load of rubbish but you can’t edit a blank page: Just write, write, and write some more.
Other than that, I’d say it’s just as important to read. The more you surround yourself with literature, the more your own style and voice can develop.

 

4. Is there any book you’ve written that is particularly special to you? Which one and why?

They’re all special to me in their own way and I suppose they always will be. I would say that my most recent release, Seeking Solace, feels particularly precious right now. Being my first poetry collection, it was a real tick on the bucket list and something I’d have scarcely believed possible a few years ago.

 

5. Who would you say is your favorite character(s) from your books, and why? What is it about this character that makes him/her tick?

Like with the books themselves, it’s tough to single out any one character. My two protagonists, Eva and Abi – from The Vessel and False Awakening respectively – are very special to me because they carry their particular stories, and though their circumstances are very different, they are both ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary situations and simply strive to do the best they can.

 

6. Tell us about your latest project. What are you working on at the moment, and what can we expect from it?

I’ve been enjoying the release of Seeking Solace recently but as for current works in progress, I’m writing poetry as ever and have a new piece of fiction in the planning stages. It’s something totally different from what I’ve done before that I’m getting very excited about delving into.

 

7. Are you self-pubbed or traditionally published? What made you go for this model? What advice/tips can you share with writers working towards the same goal?

I’m self-published thus far. It’s not to say I don’t see the merits and drawbacks in both routes, it’s just been what I believed was right for me and my books up until this point, which is the approach I will always take. I was attracted to the notion of taking things at my own pace and keeping control of my own work, which felt right particularly when entering the industry for the first time.

To anyone looking to follow a similar path, I’d say set clear goals to keep yourself motivated, as being your own boss can be both a blessing and a curse, but also don’t be afraid to change your mind if need be (that is, after all, the beauty of self-publishing). Aside from that I think the most important thing is to surround yourself with good people. Be they online or offline, feeling part of a like-minded community will pay dividends when it comes to the big release day. It can be all too easy to write away for months without so much as breathing a word of your intentions to publish, but you’ll be thankful for the helping hand and moral support later down the line.

 

Author Bio: Born and raised in the Scottish countryside, Callum McLaughlin works as a freelance content writer and in November 2013, published his first book. He has since followed this with a second novel and outside of fiction, he is also a keen poet and a lover of all things literature, music and nature, taking his biggest inspiration from the world around us.

Where to find Callum:     Blog     Goodreads     Twitter

 


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Author Interview: Behind The Scenes with Annalisa Crawford

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Everyone’s journey to publication is different and unique. In Behind The Scenes, I interview writers who tell us how they started and got to where they are today. With the knowledge that comes from experience, they share their words of wisdom with us. If you’re a writer, I’d love to hear about your journey! Please contact me here if you’re interested in being interviewed. New interviews featured every second and last Monday of the month.

Annalisa Crawford joins me in this edition of Behind The Scenes. Annalisa is a contributor in The Cat Who Chose Us and other Cat Stories–a must-have for cat-lovers everywhere. She is also the author of That Sadie Thing and Other Stories and Our Beautiful Child.

 

1. Tell us a bit about your writing journey. How did you get started, and how did you get to where you are now?

I remember writing a brilliant story about a flying golden horse when I was about 8 – I guess that’s where it started! My dad bought me a subscription to a writing magazine when I was still at school, and that’s when I began submitting to literary journals. At 20, I had two short stories published within two months of each other. But then it all slowed down a little – one acceptance every couple of years or so.

I kept writing though and by 2011 I was getting ready to shelve my novella, Cat and The Dreamer. On a whim I sent it to a publisher – Vagabondage Press – just to have someone read it one last time. They accepted it, and later took my novella trilogy, Our Beautiful Child, as well.

 

2. Anything you would’ve done differently if you could do it all over again?

I wish my career had started properly sooner, but because I write novellas and short novels I guess had to wait for the rise of ebooks to get a foot in the door. Not many traditional publishers would want to risk a 73 page novella by an unknown writer. So, actually, no I wouldn’t have done anything differently – the time and the place were perfect.

 

3. What advice would you give to new and aspiring writers?

• Don’t fear rejection – it’s a learning curve.
• Don’t submit, or publish, your first draft – you might think it’s brilliant now, but it probably needs a little more work.
• Use beta readers – and accept constructive criticism.
• Don’t give up.

 

4. Is there any book you’ve written that is particularly special to you? Which one and why?

My most recent book, Our Beautiful Child, took me a long time to write. The first two stories came quite easily, but I knew I wanted to make it a trilogy and the third story eluded me for a long time. In the end, the trigger was a song I used to listen to all the time – whenever I heard it, I’d get this feeling, until one day the whole story just appeared. I remember the relief when I realised my trilogy would become a reality.

 

5. Who would you say is your favorite character(s) from your books, and why? What is it about this character that makes him/her tick?

My favourite character is Murray from one of the stories in Our Beautiful Child. He’s based on a couple of people I went to school with. He’s the mysterious love interest, dark and dangerous, with a secret. As I was writing him, he took on a whole backstory that I hadn’t expected.

 

6. Tell us about your latest project. What are you working on at the moment, and what can we expect from it?

I’ve returned to my first love, short story writing. It’s been a long time since I’ve written – or submitted – short fiction, so I’m looking forward to seeing what I can come up with. I love writing with no idea of where the story is going. I take advantage of the short form to avoid explaining anything, to just dump the reader into something extraordinary or confusing.

 

7. Are you self-pubbed or traditionally published? What made you go for this model? What advice/tips can you share with writers working towards the same goal?

I’ve published both ways. I love having a publisher, because I need to have someone believe in me, which you don’t get with self-publishing. However, I self-published a collection of short stories, That Sadie Thing, because they’d all been either published in literary journals or had placed/been on the shortlist of competitions – I call it my greatest hits collection – and it was just an easy way to get them in front of new readers. Some of the literary journals had very small print runs, and I’m sure no more than a couple of people read them originally!

My advice would simply to be aware of your options, and know why you want to take one path over another. They are both rewarding, in very different ways.

 

AnnalisaCrawfordAuthor Bio: Annalisa Crawford lives in Cornwall UK, with a good supply of moorland and beaches to keep her inspired. She lives with her husband, two sons, a dog and a cat.

Crawford writes dark contemporary, character-driven stories, with a hint of the paranormal. She has been winning competitions and publishing short stories in small press journals for many years, and published her first book, Cat and The Dreamer in 2012.

Where to find Annalisa:    Website      Blog      Goodreads      Twitter

 


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Author Interview: Behind The Scenes with Lori L. MacLaughlin

Behind The Scenes2

Everyone’s journey to publication is different and unique. In Behind The Scenes, I interview writers who tell us how they started and got to where they are today. With the knowledge that comes from experience, they share their words of wisdom with us. If you’re a writer, I’d love to hear about your journey! Please contact me here if you’re interested in being interviewed. New interviews featured every second and last Monday of the month.

With me today is Lori L. MacLaughlin. Her debut novel,  Lady, Thy Name Is Trouble, is an epic fantasy story of swords-for-hire sisters Tara and Laraina Triannon, and is now available at your favorite retailers.

 

1. Tell us a bit about your writing journey. How did you get started, and how did you get to where you are now?

Thank you so much for having me here! My writing odyssey began way back in the 1980s when I was working on my parents’ dairy farm. Some of the chores, like mucking out stalls, spreading sawdust for bedding, and throwing down hay for the animals, didn’t require a lot of thought, so my mind would wander, and I’d make up stories to pass the time. One day my Mom suggested I write down the stories in my head. I tried it and discovered a whole new realm of joy.

I’d always considered writing a hobby until the last year or so. At that point I made the conscious choice to start treating my writing as a business with the ultimate goal of self-publishing my work. I made a list of all the things I’d need to learn about and do, and step by step, reached my goal.

 

2. Anything you would’ve done differently if you could do it all over again?

I wish I’d gotten serious about my writing a lot sooner. But then life has a way of shifting priorities…

 

3. What advice would you give to new and aspiring writers?

Start building your social media/marketing platform long before you’re ready to publish. Revise your work until it’s as good as you can make it, then hire an editor and revise some more. Invest in a good cover designer. I think those are the most important things.

 

4. Is there any book you’ve written that is particularly special to you? Which one and why?

I’ve written two and a half novels, the first of which has just been released. This first book, Lady, Thy Name Is Trouble, will always be most special to me. The main character, Tara, is my alter ego. If I lived in a world such as hers, I would be her.

 

5. Who would you say is your favorite character(s) from your books, and why? What is it about this character that makes him/her tick?

That is a tough question. My first inclination is to say Tara, because she’s such a part of me. She’s an adventurer, vulnerable on the inside but hard and cold as the steel of her blade on the outside. She’s been hurt too many times to let anyone inside her guard.

However, I’m teetering toward choosing Captain Natiere, the wolf-like executioner known as the Butcher. He claims the wolves as his kin, though he’s not a shapeshifter. He’s also been shaped by a traumatic past, but there is so much more to him than anyone realizes. He holds many secrets in the unfathomed depths of his soul.

 

6. Tell us about your new book. What can we expect from it?

Lady, Thy Name Is Trouble is a fantasy adventure, sword and sorcery with a side of romance. It’s about two sword-for-hire sisters who get into a heap of trouble by being in the wrong place at the right time. Here is the really short blurb:

A brutal invasion. A terrifying assassin empowered by wolves. A swordswoman, gifted with magic and cursed by nightmares that are all too real. With the help of her sword-wielding sister, an aging adventurer, a secretive soldier of fortune, and a sorceress whose spells often go askew, Tara Triannon must stop an army led by a madman and fend off an evil being caught in a centuries-old trap who seeks to escape through her dreams — all while keeping one step ahead of the Butcher.

 

7. Are you self-pubbed or traditionally published? What made you go for this model? What advice/tips can you share with writers working towards the same goal?

I am self-published. I originally started down the road to traditional publishing, but the long wait times between hearing back from submissions and the shrinking market sent me down the self-publishing path. I also much prefer having sole control over every aspect of the publishing process.

My advice would be to research both models and choose which one is right for you. The Internet is full of resources, and countless bloggers generously share their publishing experiences. Take advantage of all that’s out there. If you decide to self-pub, invest the time and money to put forward your best product.

 

Author Bio:

Lori L. MacLaughlin traces her love of fantasy adventure to Tolkien and Terry Brooks, finding The Lord of the Rings and The Sword of Shannara particularly inspirational. She’s been writing stories in her head since she was old enough to run wild through the forests on the farm on which she grew up.

She has been many things over the years – tree climber, dairy farmer, clothing salesperson, kids’ shoe fitter, retail manager, medical transcriptionist, journalist, private pilot, traveler, wife and mother, Red Sox and New York Giants fan, muscle car enthusiast and NASCAR fan, and a lover of all things Scottish and Irish.

When she’s not writing (or working), she can be found curled up somewhere dreaming up more story ideas, taking long walks in the countryside, or spending time with her kids. She lives with her family in northern Vermont.

Where to find Lori:    Website      Goodreads      Twitter

 


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Author Interview: Behind The Scenes with Rachel Schieffelbein

Behind The Scenes2

Everyone’s journey to publication is different and unique. In Behind The Scenes, I interview writers who tell us how they started and got to where they are today. With the knowledge that comes from experience, they share their words of wisdom with us. If you’re a writer, I’d love to hear about your journey! Please contact me here if you’re interested in being interviewed. New interviews featured every second and last Monday of the month.

Joining me today is Rachel Schieffelbein, who writes YA novels. Whether you’re into zombies or modern-day retellings of fairy tales (which I absolutely love!), Rachel is sure to take you an a thrilling adventure.

 

1. Tell us a bit about your writing journey. How did you get started, and how did you get to where you are now?

When I first started I wanted to write picture books, but I wasn’t very good at it. It wasn’t until much later that I decided to try my hand at YA, and I’m thankful I did. That’s where I found my voice. I also started blogging a few years ago and met a lot of wonderful writers, including my critique partners, and without them I would probably still be writing in circles. Writing, but not improving. I owe a lot to them.

 

2. Anything you would’ve done differently if you could do it all over again?

Maybe be more patient, which is something I still struggle with to be honest. In the past I’ve sent queries when I wasn’t ready. It’s a hard mistake, but I learned from it.

 

3. What advice would you give to new and aspiring writers?

As everyone says, “Write, write, write. Read, read, read.” But also, connect. Get online, meet other writers, read writers’ blogs, agents’ blogs, book reviewers’ blogs. There’s so much to learn that way.

 

4. Is there any book you’ve written that is particularly special to you? Which one and why?

RUN FOR THE ROSES is set within the world of Arabian horse showing, something I did for many years before I had kids, and have started to do again. It’s a unique setting, it really is like its own little culture in some ways. And I really loved being able to share that world with my readers, and to (hopefully) show the bond between a rider and her horse.

 

5. Who would you say is your favorite character(s) from your books, and why? What is it about this character that makes him/her tick?

One of my favorites characters to write was Anya, from DON’T FALL. It’s a contemporary Rapunzel retelling, and she was my Rapunzel. She’s sweet, optimistic, and enthusiastic. It was her enthusiasm that made her so fun to write, to get into her head and just enjoy the world and all it has to offer.

 

6. Tell us about your latest project. What are you working on at the moment, and what can we expect from it?

I’m working on a YA contemporary about a teenage girl who has a pregnancy complication that leads to her moving away from home, and her boyfriend. She goes to stay with her aunt and uncle, so she can be at a hospital where she’ll receive better care. She’s dealing with the pregnancy, her cousin and her snotty friends, and a growing doubt about whether or not to give up her baby.

 

7. Are you self-pubbed or traditionally published? What made you go for this model? What advice/tips can you share with writers working towards the same goal?

I have two YA novellas and one novel published by Swoon Romance, and a YA zombie novel that I self pubbed. I’ve enjoyed both experiences. It was great having a team behind me for the YA contemporaries, I love my editor at Swoon, Mandy Schoen. But the freedom that comes with self-publishing can be great as well. For example, since I wrote the zombie book for my husband, I was able to release it on his birthday, which was fun.
Whether you plan to self pub, or seek traditional publishing, the best advice I can give you is to put your best foot forward. Make sure you’ve written the best story you can, get it critiqued by people you trust, revise, revise, revise. The more work you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it.

 

Author Bio:

Rachel Schieffelbein grew up in a tiny town in Southeast Minnesota reading books, riding horses, and participating in speech and theater. She is now married with four kids and enjoys reading books, riding horses, and coaching speech and theater. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

She enjoys writing characters she can relate to, ones she would want to hang out with, or fall in love with. She hopes her readers will love them, too.

She is the author of SECONDARY CHARACTERS, RUN FOR THE ROSES, DON’T FALL, and FLESH EATING ZOMBIES AND EVIL EX-GIRLFRIENDS. She also writes New Adult under the pen name Georgia St. Mane.

Where to find Rachel:    Facebook     Blog     Twitter

 


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Author Interview: Behind The Scenes with Lynda R. Young

Behind The Scenes2

Everyone’s journey to publication is different and unique. In Behind The Scenes, I interview writers who tell us how they started and got to where they are today. With the knowledge that comes from experience, they share their words of wisdom with us. If you’re a writer, I’d love to hear about your journey! Please contact me here if you’re interested in being interviewed. New interviews featured every second and last Monday of the month.

Lynda R. Young is with me today to talk about her journey. She mixes her love of storytelling with game-development. She is a contributor in The Insecure Writer’s Support Group Guide to Publishing and Beyond, which is available as a free download, thanks to the wonderful people at IWSG.

 

1. Tell us a bit about your writing journey. How did you get started, and how did you get to where you are now?

Despite being a slow reader, I couldn’t get enough. The authors made writing look easy. I didn’t realize how much work goes into making the writing look effortless. So with no clue whatsoever, I embarked on my writing journey with a head full of dreams and a heart full of possibility.

It took me nine years to finish my first epic of 219k words. Back then, finding information on the industry was next to impossible unless you knew someone on the inside. I knew no one. Consequently, I remained clueless and eventually gave up trying to get published. It took ten years before writing drew me back. The internet opened up new possibilities. Armed with new knowledge and an online support group of writers, I charged forth. I even wrote books that were almost publishable. While I’ve found success getting short stories published and even a novelette, I’m still working on getting a novel published.

 

2. Anything you would’ve done differently if you could do it all over again?

If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t have given up so easily. Yes, it’s a difficult industry to break into, but it’s not impossible and we have so many more choices today. Also, when you stop writing for an extended time, you lose some of your writing skills and confidence. It takes a long while to get them back.

 

3. What advice would you give to new and aspiring writers?

My advice to writers is if you are serious about getting published, then go ahead and eat a slice of reality pie: Writing is the easiest part of it all and that’s still not easy. Once you’ve digested that morsel, enjoy what you do, learn everything you can about the craft, the market, and the industry as a whole. Read a lot and don’t give up. Keep writing.

 

4. Is there any book you’ve written that is particularly special to you? Which one and why?

The first book I ever wrote is particularly special to me. It remains a hot mess, I might’ve been clueless, I may have made a gazillion mistakes about character arcs, word count, and general storytelling, but I completed it the best I could at the time. I didn’t let fear hold me back.

 

5. Who would you say is your favorite character(s) from your books, and why? What is it about this character that makes him/her tick?

My favorite characters are the ones who are nothing like me because they are a challenge to write and fun to get into their head.

 

6. Tell us about your latest project. What are you working on at the moment, and what can we expect from it?

My latest project is one that’s taken me in an unexpected direction, a different avenue of storytelling. I’m currently working on a game based on a world I created for one of my books. It has presented a whole set of new challenges, but I’m loving it.

 

7. Are you self-pubbed or traditionally published? What made you go for this model? What advice/tips can you share with writers working towards the same goal?

I’ve experienced both self-publishing and traditional publishing. Each project demands its own route for various reasons. For example, I’ve chosen to self-publish a daily devotional this year because the traditional market isn’t in demand for this kind of book. My advice is to remain flexible to the many options available to us. Don’t choose self-publishing because you think it will be easier. It’s not. However, both paths are equally rewarding. And don’t forget to keep writing.

 

Author Bio: Lynda R Young writes speculative short stories and is currently writing novels for young adults. In her spare time she also dabbles in photography and all things creative. She lives in Sydney, Australia, with her sweetheart of a husband who is her rock. You can find her here: Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads

 


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Author Interview: Behind The Scenes with Dianne K. Salerni

Behind The Scenes2

Everyone’s journey to publication is different and unique. In Behind The Scenes, I interview writers who tell us how they started and got to where they are today. With the knowledge that comes from experience, they share their words of wisdom with us. If you’re a writer, I’d love to hear about your journey! Please contact me here if you’re interested in being interviewed. New interviews featured every second and last Monday of the month.

Joining me today is Dianne K. Salerni. She writes MG and YA Fantasy and her latest novel, The Inquisitor’s Mark, comes out on January 27.

 

1. Tell us a bit about your writing journey. How did you get started, and how did you get to where you are now?

First of all, thank you for having me here on your blog! I’ve been writing all my life, but I was always very shy about submitting my work anywhere. It was my husband who encouraged me to try self-publishing a YA historical novel I’d written about the Fox sisters which I called High Spirits. To my surprise, I was contacted by an independent Hollywood producer for film rights and an editor at Sourcebooks who wanted to put the book under contract, revise it, and republish it with a new title. This became my first traditionally published book, We Hear the Dead, and eventually a 6-minute short film called The Spirit Game was produced, too. (It’s currently being pitched in Hollywood as a TV series idea.)

 

2. Anything you would’ve done differently if you could do it all over again?

I would have looked for an agent sooner. I didn’t start to query agents until after We Hear the Dead came out. I didn’t realize how necessary it was to have an agent for negotiating contracts and looking out for your interests with publishers.

 

3. What advice would you give to new and aspiring writers?

Do your research on the publication process! Read up on agents and publishers and what’s expected for books in your genre/target audience. I wandered into the whole process backward and really didn’t know what I was doing. First I published a book. Then I got a book contract. Then I queried agents and found one. At that point, it felt like I started over again and only really learned the process when my agent sold my next book, The Caged Graves.

 

4. Is there any book you’ve written that is particularly special to you? Which one and why?

My first middle grade book, The Eighth Day, is special to me. I wrote my YA historicals – including two that have not yet found a home with a publisher – while working full time as a fifth grade teacher. When I started working on The Eighth Day, my students said, “It’s about time you wrote something for us!”

And writing for middle grade turned out to be so rewarding! There’s a lot more fun and humor in these books than in any of my others, even though it’s an action adventure. Plus, I moved out of my established genre (historical) into urban fantasy, which I wasn’t sure I could do. The Eighth Day taught me to take risks with my writing.

 

5. Who would you say is your favorite character(s) from your books, and why? What is it about this character that makes him/her tick?

My favorite character is Riley from The Eighth Day. First of all, he’s a YA character in a MG book, so he links my two target audiences. At the beginning of the book, my main character Jax, hates Riley, his 18-year-old guardian, believing him to be a no-good slacker. But when Jax learns more about Riley’s past, finds out who he is and how far he’ll go to keep the people under his protection safe, everything changes. Developing their brotherly relationship was one of my favorite parts of writing the series.

Furthermore, Riley invented himself. When I started the first draft of The Eighth Day, I had entirely different plans for this character. But he took control of himself from page one. This is who I am, he told me. Oh, and I need tattoos and a motorcycle, thanks.

Based on reader feedback, I have found that while everybody likes my main character Jax, MG readers aspire to be Riley and YA readers swoon over him.

 

6. Tell us about your new book. What can we expect from it?

My newest book is The Inquisitor’s Mark, the second in the Eighth Day series. This one was a lot easier to write than the first one, since I already knew the characters so well. I also had the fun of putting Jax in an impossible situation. What does an orphan want more than family, right? In The Inquisitor’s Mark, Jax finds out that he has an uncle, cousins, and grandparents who want to give him a home. Too bad they’re members of a corrupt clan Jax’s father fled long ago – and they would really like to see Riley dead and Jax’s other friend, Evangeline, as their prisoner.

The scenes where Jax meets his nefarious relatives were really fun to write – plus there’s betrayals, chase scenes, magical vermin, and oh yes, a monster, all set in a luxury apartment building in Manhattan alongside Central Park.

 

7. Are you self-pubbed or traditionally published? What made you go for this model? What advice/tips can you share with writers working towards the same goal?

As you can see, I self-published first, then got one of those offers everyone says never happens: a traditional publisher approached me. Over all, I like working with traditional publishers because they have such a far reach in terms of getting your book into stores. You also have more street cred with librarians. However, traditional publishers are very cautious about acquisitions and if they don’t think your book fits the market, no matter how good it is, they won’t buy it. I might self-publish again in the future, but I would always try the traditional route first, because it gets more respect in the publishing field.

My advice for any writer, before choosing a path, is to thoroughly research all the pros and cons – and believe me, no matter which path you take, there are plenty of both.

 

Dianne SalerniAuthor Bio: DIANNE K. SALERNI is the author of The Eighth Day fantasy series (HarperCollins) and YA historical novels, The Caged Graves (Clarion/HMH) and We Hear the Dead (Sourcebooks). Dianne was a public school teacher for 25 years before leaving the profession to spend more time hanging around creepy cemeteries and climbing 2000 year-old pyramids in the name of book research.

Where to find Dianne:    Website        Twitter