Author Spotlight: Greg Alldredge

Welcome to another installment of my ongoing “Author Spotlight” series where I bring new and talented authors to your attention. Today’s guest is author Greg Alldredge.


Hi Greg, thanks for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

The other day I had a professor tell me I had a unique way of reinventing myself every few years. I like the sound of that and I might steal it. Writing is my fifth career. Before that I was a teacher, an actor, a plant manager for a medical manufacturing company, and a sailor for twenty years. At one time or another I sold insurance, appliances, paint, and delivered pizzas all since I was eighteen. I would like to think I’m a well-rounded person, pun intended. Though I have lost some weight and I am not nearly as round as I once was.

 

How long have you been writing?

Since the early 80s. “Lights in the Night” is the first novel I have completed, but I have been writing in one form or another since the early 80s. It just took me a long time to finish something.

 

What inspired you to start writing?

When I started in the early 80s it was for school or work. There was nothing fun or exciting about that writing. Now, I think for everyone there is a time when something motivates you to do something else. I had an idea that just couldn’t not be written down.

 

Tell us a little bit about your current project. Is it a novel, short story, or something else? Is it part of a series?

The only book I currently have for sale, I like to call a proper novel. That’s how I explain it to my friends so they don’t think I wrote a pamphlet. When I originally thought of the idea it was a standalone book, but the deeper I got into the story the more I enjoyed writing it and I wasn’t finished with the story after one book. That’s how it became Book One of the Ostinato Series. I am currently halfway finished with Book Two but other obligations have sidetracked me specifically writing a couple of short stories for upcoming anthologies.

 

What genre do you prefer to write in, if any?

I prefer Science Fiction. I believe in science fiction you can write with a flavor of the other genres. Though I am going to write a straight suspense, horror, and I have an idea for a Western. I know I should pick a genre and stick to it, but right now I’m writing to please myself and I don’t want to pigeonhole myself, there are plenty of people in the world willing to do that for me.

 

What authors influenced you?

So many, but I think Douglas Adams, William Gibson, and Parke Godwin. I’m also a theatre teacher so I must add Tom Stoppard, David Mamet, and Samuel Beckett.

 

What are you currently reading?

“Man of Two Planets” by Judith Rook.

 

Do you write every day? A few days per week?

I still work full-time as a teacher, so I write every day just not on my novels. Normally I think about writing more than I write. That sounds like I procrastinate a lot, and I guess I do, but normally when I sit down to write a book I have the story mapped out, including much of the dialogue. This way I can do a couple thousand words at a sitting. This last summer I completed my last year towards my Master of Theatre Education degree. That had me writing a lot, just not the kind I wanted to be writing.

 

Do you listen to music when you write? Does it influence how you write?

Yes, depending on the scene I’m writing, is the music I will choose to listen to. I feel the rhythm and tempo of the music help guide me when I’m writing the words for certain scenes.

 

How do you think your writing has changed from when you first started?

I finish things now. Over the decades I started a couple of novels and for one reason or another life’s distractions caused me to look away and never finish. Now I am motivated to finish what I start. Maybe it’s an age thing, I don’t know, I just feel ready to finish my novels.

 

Cover2smallHow do you create the covers for your books?

I use online software and royalty-free images off the Internet.

 

Are there any non-literary influences for your writing?

I think everything influences my writing. I think my theatre studies and being an actor helps me to tell the story I want to tell. I think learning about history and the styles of writing before the modern era also influences my writing. I also feel traveling enriches the soul, plus it gives me great ideas for stories.

 

Where can we purchase your current book? What about previous books?

For now I only sell on Amazon though I am looking at the other platforms to increase my reach. Here is the link for the kindle version: http://amzn.to/2fyvxuA

 

Where can we find you online?

Amazon Author Page

www.greg-alldredge.com

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

 

What is your favorite book and why?

“Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” I love the writing style. There are other books I have read but that one matched my sense of humour.

 

How do you market your books?

Some might say not well enough. Mostly through social media and a few advertisers. I do suck as a salesman, I probably need to find someone to help me sell my books and pay them a percentage.

 

Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share?

Not at the moment, they are still in rough draft and everything I’m working on needs work.

 

If you’re an indie author, what made you choose that route?

I wanted to get my work out there. My first book I honestly didn’t even think about sending it to a publisher I wanted to make a name for myself and control my own work. For the second book, I’m considering sending it to publishers but I’m still thinking that over.

 

Any parting words for writers?

Sure, don’t expect friends or family to buy your book. Don’t expect people you think care about you, to understand what and why your writing. It may sound cynical, but you cannot control the actions of others, if you don’t expect them to do something, you can never be disappointed when they fail to do it. Peace out!

 

Author Spotlight: Mercedes Prunty

If you’ve been following along this year, I’ve featured many new and “new to you” authors on my blog. I believe in supporting my fellow authors and I hope you’ve been able to find new authors to follow and read. Here’s my latest “Author Spotlight,” author Mercedes Prunty, author of Junia and many more books.


Hi Mercedes, thanks for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Hi, well I’m a mother, wife, author and blogger and I currently reside in a small seaside town in East Sussex in the UK. I trained as a hairdresser before finding out I was pregnant with my eldest and it was on my maternity leave when I was bored (Before the baby arrived) that I really started writing. I had always written things as a teenager such as short stories and poems in my notebooks in class instead of paying attention so I guess it’s always been in me to write but I didn’t think I would pursue it. But I didn’t actually write and self-publish my first book until after I’d had my second child. I just needed a confidence push to get me going, which my husband gave me with a pep talk of ‘If you don’t try you’ll never know’ and I’m so glad he told me to.

 

How long have you been writing?

Properly, about 4 years. Not properly, my whole life.

 

What inspired you to start writing?

My first proper novel idea came to me whilst visiting my grandparents. My baby was asleep in her travel cot and my grandad had a documentary on TV about temples in Peru and ancient gateways around the world and to be honest I’d always loved things like ‘Tomb raider or Indiana Jones’ and that was when the idea hit me. So I wrote it down and threw it in a drawer, that was until a night feed at 1am one night and I was wide awake, so I wrote the first chapter, the next night the next chapter and so on. It still took me a year to write but that’s what awakened the true writer in me. Thanks Nan and Grandad.

 

Tell us a little bit about your current project. Is it a novel, short story, or something else? Is it part of a series?

It’s a novel which is going to be around 50,000 words, I’m writing it for a competition and that’s around the limit they want, because normally my novels are 100,000+ words. It will be a stand-alone and it’s a Zombie horror novel set in my home town. (I mean why not right?) The idea for this one came to me in a dream and I began writing it, then I spotted the competition and thought, why not.

 

What genre do you prefer to write in, if any?

Fantasy and Horror and those are the genre’s I mainly read although I will read pretty much anything just depends on my mood.

 

JuniaWhat authors influenced you?

Funnily enough one of the authors who influenced me a lot was S.D.Perry who wrote the novel adaptions from the Capcom game ‘Resident Evil’. As a teen I was obsessed with Zombie horror (I still am) but I loved those books and read them to death, literally, I had to buy them all again they were unreadable after the 57th time. Another author who influence me was Laurell K Hamilton, this mainly influenced my voice as for most of my works I write in first person as she did with the Anita Blake novels but with my new WIP I am in third person which is actually a nice change.

 

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading the Resident Evil series that are adaptions of the films. (See I told you I liked zombies). I recently brought the last book in the series but thought I would read them all in a book marathon so I remember what happens and can envision it like one long film. Although I have seen the films hundreds of times over too.

 

AloneDo you write every day? A few days per week?

If and when I can. I have two young children and it’s hard to find the time sometimes. So I just wing it and if I have a quiet day I’ll write, if it’s crazy I don’t.

 

Do you listen to music when you write? Does it influence how you write?

I have to listen to music when I write, I get so easily distracted by other noises, even the fridge talking distracts me. (My desk is in the kitchen. I’m not really a piggy…much). I tend to have a separate playlist for each novel but I mainly listen to film or video game soundtracks. For my book Junia I listened to the Final Fantasy X soundtrack on repeat for months.

 

How do you think your writing has changed from when you first started?

It’s neater and by that I mean less sloppy, my vocabulary is broadening, my ideas getting more vivid, less mistakes but still a few, the formatting and page layout has improved. I take it all in my stride though and learn as I go along.

 

KeeperOfTheKeyHow do you create the covers for your books?

I’ve done photography and art in school and college (Before I went off to do hairdressing), so I love drawing and taking photos so I tend to use them as my covers. One day I would love a cover to be made for me but my finances can’t accommodate that so I use my own, which isn’t a bad thing as people have commented on how they like my covers as they are not all the same generic ones you get from the shop.

 

Are there any non-literary influences for your writing (movies, actors, music, etc)?

The Resident Evil films and games, The Last of Us video game (Honestly if you haven’t played it you haven’t lived, it is awesome and so is the soundtrack), Final Fantasy X video game, (I like video games if you haven’t guessed and yes I am a bit of a geek). The Walking Dead… Just anything Zombie horror and Fantasy.

 

Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share?

‘Suddenly Alicia stopped, it looked as if she was trying to listen to something behind the scream of the alarms. Joel stopped and raised his gun up still holding onto the case, then his eyes widened. “RUN!” he screamed grabbing Maria’s hand and dragging her along the corridor.

Glenn turned to see a whole army of the turned chasing after them, their eyes focused on one thing, “The case Joel, drop the case!” He shouted as he also took Alicia’s hand and ran behind them.’

It’s not been edited yet but I’m working on it so this part may or may not change.

 

What is your favorite book and why?

Hard to choose just one but… Maybe… The Enemy by Charlie Higson. (Yes it’s another Zombie horror book)

 

How do you market your books?

Social media mostly because it’s cheap / mostly free although I have been planning to try and branch out a little into the paid Facebook and Amazon ads so we’ll soon see if they bring any more punters in. I have also been to a few book festival type events and sold a few copies there too.

 

Where can we purchase your current book? What about previous books?

They are all available on Amazon…

From Amazon.com

Junia

Alone

Lone (Alone Book 2)

The Keeper of the Key

From Amazon.co.uk

Junia

Alone

Lone (Alone Book 2)

The Keeper of the Key

 

Where can we find you online?

Twitter – @MercedesPrunty

Facebook author page

Blog

 

LoneIf you’re an indie author, what made you choose that route?

I chose the Indie route because I have so many ideas in my brain for stories, that I worried I would forever be trying to find agents or publishers and not have time to write. I have been told by many that even if you score a publishing deal with a traditional publisher that they might not want to take on all your works, so that would mean finding new agents again and I can’t be harassed with that. Although if one day I decided to try it I wouldn’t mind giving traditional a good go. I guess right now the indie scene suits me and it’s so hot right now it’s a great and inspirational scene to be involved in.

 

Any parting words for writers?

Never give up, keep writing, even when it all feels like rubbish and your failing you truly are not. True writers never give up, quitters are the people who didn’t believe and you must believe.

Author Spotlight: Myrod Byers

Today’s “Author Spotlight” is Myrod Byers, author of the memoir “The Literary Works of Me.”


Author Spotlight: Myrod Byers

 

Hi Myrod, thanks for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Hello my name is Myrod Byers. I was born in 1968. Grew up in rural Indiana, Mt.Vernon, New Harmony. Was born into Islam. My father was a shoe repairman. Enlisted into the US Navy after High School where i served for 7 years. Went to USI to study Social Work. I have 3 brothers/3 Sisters. Have worked in manufacturing for the last 23 years. Have 4 children. 3 boys and 1 Girl.

 

How long have you been writing?

I actually have only been writing since 2013.

 

What inspired you to start writing?

I am not sure as to what inspired me to write. I woke up one morning and started to write. Maybe it was something spiritual, although I am not a spiritual person.

 

Tell us a little bit about your current project. Is it a novel, short story, or something else? Is it part of a series?

My current published project is a memoir. It is a collection of personal thoughts on a variety of different topics from life to death, success to failures, and from friendships to enemies.

 

What genre do you prefer to write in, if any?

I like to write memoirs. I like the aspect of inspiring people. Try to make a change for the better in one’s life for the better.

 

What authors influenced you?

I like Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson, Dan Brown, and Robert Ludlow.

 

What are you currently reading?

Dan Brown’s “Inferno.”

 

Do you write every day? A few days per week?

My writing comes in spurts. I have 2 completed memoirs and I am also working on my first novel.

 

Do you listen to music when you write? Does it influence how you write?

I actually don’t listen to music when I am writing. I just have a literary flow in my head. I write until it runs out.

 

How do you think your writing has changed from when you first started?

When I first started writing, I wrote about different topics. Now I have fine tuned my writing where I focus on 1-2 key topics.

 

How do you create the covers for your books?

41e2pe0mtlI have only published one book. The publishing company designed my book cover for me.

 

Are there any non-literary influences for your writing (movies, actors, music, etc)?

Actually I like DL Hughley and Joey Zsa Zsa as they have personally supported my book.

 

 

What is your favorite book and why?

My favorite book is “Nightmares and Dreamscapes” by Stephen king. I like it because of the short story format. I loved “Dolan’s Cadillac.”

 

How do you market your books?

I mainly market my book through Facebook and through various local book signings.

 

Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share?

Sure.

Lots of people not only think within the box, But they live also live within the box. Therefore, they are limiting their own potential in dealing with life skills.

 

Where can we purchase your current book? What about previous books?

My current book can be purchased from me directly and also on my publishers website www.tatespublishing.com, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon.

 

Where can we find you online?

I am on Facebook as Myrod L Byers, also have a book page on Facebook titled The Literary Works of Me- Myrod L Byers. I am on Twitter as Slimboi68, also I am on Instagram as Nerdyauthor68.

 

If you’re an indie author, what made you choose that route?

I am not an indie author on this book, But I plan on being one on my upcoming books. I feel i have a great support team in place.

 

Any parting words for writers?

I can only say if you want to do it, do it. Don’t give up on your dreams. You may impact someone’s live in a way you never thought of.

 

Author Spotlight: Lucinda Moebius

In my ongoing “Author Spotlight” Series I’m pleased to present Lucinda Moebius.


Author Spotlight: Lucinda Moebius

101_0680Today I’m fortunate to present Lucinda Moebius author of a number of books published through Haven Novels Publishing.

Hi Lucinda. Thanks for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Hi back and thank you for giving me the chance to talk about my journey as an author. I grew up in Idaho as part of a large family. I am the third out of eight children, putting me smack dab in the middle. As a middle child I was always torn between wanting to be included with the “big kids” and being responsible for the “little ones”. I never quite fit in with any of them and as a result ended up needing to find ways to entertain myself. When I was eight we lost a sister to SIDS and this loss sent our family into quite a tailspin. We found joy in the birth of another sister, but some wounds can never heal. I struggled and as a result found escapism in fictional worlds. There were never enough books out there for me to read so I started writing my own.

My family was poor. We always said we were lower middle class, but looking back on our situation I realize we could only be described as poor. At one point we actually lived in a cabin in the Idaho mountains. It was a tiny, two-roomed structure heated by a wood stove and lit using gas lanterns. Our running water consisted of running down to the creek and filling up the water buckets. My parents didn’t let us know we were living in the cabin because we were poor. For us it was a grand adventure. A year and a half long camping trip in which we learned to live off the land and entertain ourselves without the benefits of television (the home computer was only just becoming accessible to the general public not that it would have mattered much because the cabin didn’t have electricity). We moved from the mountains to a trailer park. Yes, I lived in a trailer park. In fact, the majority of the town was a trailer park. Even the church was a trailer. My class was held in the bathroom. Our chapel was built a few months after we moved into the town.

My parents gave us the best gift they could: the gift of the desire to gain knowledge. They pushed each of us to get an education. It worked. Five of their surviving children have bachelor’s degrees and a sixth will graduate with hers soon. Two have Master’s and one (me) has a Doctorate.

 

How long have you been writing?

I have been a storyteller for as long as I can remember. I started writing them down about the time we moved into the cabin. We moved the summer I turned eleven. My mom would always hit the back to school sales and stock up on spiral notebooks. It’s a habit I keep to this day. I always had a notebook handy for writing stories. Although I do most of my writing on a computer now, I still have a collection of notebooks full of story ideas and outlines.

 

Tell us a little bit about your current project. Is it a novel, short story, or something else? Is it part of a series?

I have so many stories bouncing around in my head at one time it’s difficult to tell you about one current project. I am writing two novels right now: Hunter: Book Two of Chronicles of the Soul Eaters and Lakota’s Strength: Book Three in the Haven Novels series.

My goal is to finish both books this year and send them off to editors and proofreaders. If I can stay on track with my writing Hunter should be out about mid-summer and Lakota’s Strength should be available in early 2018.

 

What genre do you prefer to write in, if any?

I write every genre. The Haven Novels series is Science Fiction and the Chronicles of the Soul Eaters is Paranormal. I have published books in the following genres: Science Fiction, Paranormal, Literary Fiction, Romance, Non-fiction, and Children’s books. I have a few Fantasy novels planned out. Once I have finished the two series I am currently working on I will get started on the Fantasy series.

 

What authors influenced you?

There are too many to name. I am a huge fan of the bard! William Shakespeare understands the true spectrum of the human experience. He wrote every genre even Fantasy and Paranormal (Witches, Spirits, Magic, Histories, Insanity, Love) He wrote it all.

My favorite book as a teenager was Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I was supposed to read it as an assigned book in High School. I found it under my bed one hot summer day between my Junior and Senior year. I think I read it in one night. I don’t know how many times I read it that summer and I don’t know how many times I read it since, but it is still one of my favorite books.

I think I read through every Science Fiction and Fantasy book in our school library as well as the ones I found in my brother’s bedroom (I might have also read a few of the letters I found from his girlfriend, too). He had quite a collection of comic books and I might have “borrowed” a few X-Men and ElfQuest comics from his collection. He used to steal my babysitting money to fund his collection so I don’t feel too guilty about it.

 

Do you write every day? A few days per week?

I try to write every day. I may not be able to write on my current WIP, but I at least try to get some kind of writing done.

 

Do you listen to music when you write? Does it influence how you write?

No, I watch TV. There are a few shows I binge watch: Star Trek, Grey’s Anatomy, Law and Order, CSI, Criminal Minds and although I don’t really pay attention to the shows the background noise allows me to concentrate. I like music, but my auditory perception of the world is different than the average persons. I had my hearing tested once and it was discovered my hearing is 10% above the average human beings so I don’t hear music the same way as most people. I can’t zone out and just let the sound wash over me and I become overstimulated easily.

 

How do you think your writing has changed from when you first started?

Every book I write allows me to improve. The most important skill I’ve developed is the art of Showing vs. Telling. Most importantly, I have learned I still have a lot to learn. I am not afraid to take critique and improve my writing.

 

How do you create the covers for your books?

41gveqdiqwlI have some very talented friends who create covers for my novels. Amazon has a cover making template I use for my 30 Days Stream of Consciousness novels. I use my own photography for the images on these novels. I am going to continue exploring my cover options in the future.

 

Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share?

Excerpt from Hunter: Chronicles of the Soul Eaters book 2

I could feel the creature’s energy pushing at my back as I followed the Warrior out into the street. Her energy pulsed and grabbed deep in my core. Every ounce of my soul reached out to draw her in to my existence. I wanted her to be a part of me, to become intertwined with my being. The raw power in her soul called to me, pulling like the moon pulled on water. Since the first day I saw the creature in the graveyard so many months ago she consumed my thoughts and invaded my dreams. I couldn’t explain my desire to possess her, I just knew she belonged to me like nothing else in my past ever did.

The monster had a name, Maria Christine, but I couldn’t bring myself to call her by the name I had spent my entire life regarding the name as the most holy of holies. Even now, when I know I would never complete the path to the priesthood I still couldn’t see calling this creature the name I regarded most holy from my earliest memories.

We were moving fast. Buildings flashed by in streams of light. There were people on the sidewalk but we breezed past them as if they weren’t even there. We melted through the crowds, passing through their energy like a hot knife cuts through butter. I could see the bodies all around me. They were crowded in front of me and on all sides, pressing in as I made my way down the sidewalk. None of them moved out my way, but somehow I passed by all of them, keeping pace with the fast moving slayer ahead of me.

 

Where can we purchase your current book? What about previous books?

All of my books are available on Amazon.

Echoes of Savanna: Book One: The Parent Generation

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006RM66QM

 

Raven’s Song: Book One: T1 Generation

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006YJ92GO

 

Write Well Publish Right

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product

 

Feeder: Chronicles of the Soul Eaters Book 1

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0615968325

 

30 Days Stream of Consciousness V. 1

http://www.amazon.com/30-Days-Streams-Consciousness-1-ebook/dp/B01BW8JXBU

 

30 Days Streams of Consciousness Vol 2: A Haunting

http://www.amazon.com/30-Days-Stream-Consciousness-Haunting-ebook/dp/B01D7T9CFY

 

30 Days Streams of Consciousness Vol 3: Abduction

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01F1DMOBI

 

30 Days Stream of Consciousness: Fire and Ice A Love Story

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01GGL8QUM

 

Raising Grandpa

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OPP1FCI

 

I Know I am Awesome

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00QYAQBZI

 

Oh Brother!

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01A1PC5YM

 

How can we follow you online?

Lucinda Moebius Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/Lucinda-Moebius-Fan-Page-136358979707547/

 

SFF Promo Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1132459036786385/

 

Twitter Handle https://twitter.com/?lang=en

 

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4176363.Lucinda_Moebius

 

Blogs:

Your Next Favorite Author: http://mynextfavoriteauthor.blogspot.com/

30 days Stream of Consciousness:  http://30daysofconsciousness.blogspot.com/

 

If you’re an indie author, what made you choose that route?

I was originally published through a small independent press. The owner made a lot of big promises and when it came time for follow through he quickly faded. I lost creative control and my work suffered for it. I paid for editing and proofreading and the quality or the work was sadly lacking. When I gained creative control back I decided to self-publish. I love the control self-publishing gave me. It’s a lot of work to promote and try to get my name out there, but I doubt I ever go the traditional publishing route again.

 

Any parting words for writers?

Write. Every day. Just write. People tell me all the time they want to write a book but they don’t know how. If you want to write a book you should just write the book. Then join writing groups and hire editors and proofreaders to fix the issues you have with story structure and grammar. Stop telling people you want to write a book and just do it. That is all.

Author Spotlight: V.R. Craft

Today in my series of “Author Spotlights” I present author V.R. Craft.


Author Spotlight: V.R. Craft

vrcraftToday I’m fortunate to present V. R. Craft, author of “Stupid Humans.”

 

Thanks for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I always heard you should write about what you know, so I decided to write a book called Stupid Humans, drawing on my experience working in retail and my subsequent desire to leave plant Earth. (Nowhere will you meet more stupid humans than in retail.) I also worked in marketing, advertising, and public relations, where I found even more material for my book. I’m now self-employed, and I consider myself a professional shopper. I enjoy the contact sport of shopping clearance sales, slamming on the brakes for yard sales (seriously, you do NOT want to tailgate me), and wasting time on social media, where I find inspiration for a sequel to Stupid Humans every day.

 

How long have you been writing?

Since I was a kid, really. I wrote for some local newspapers and magazines, but never got paid much, if anything, so that made me lose interest in writing for a while. I have a background in journalism, but was always more interested in making up my own stories than writing the truth. I guess it was either politics or writing, and I’m not much for kissing people’s asses, so writing it was.

 

What inspired you to start writing?

I guess I have a lot to say. I’m opinionated. I want everyone to know what I think, and I’d like to think my books and stories make a point. They’re also humorous, because I think sometimes the best way to make a point is to get people laughing and hope they think about the absurdity of the topic.

In Stupid Humans, I poke fun at stupidity, and a lot of things we do in society that don’t make sense. In the book, humanity has discovered that some super-smart humans left Earth about four thousand years ago—the lost colony of Atlantis. So we find our long-lost, distant human relatives, and five minutes later we’ve started a war with them. I honestly think that’s what would really happen if that scenario were true. Or if we encountered intelligent life on other planets. If there’s one thing human beings are good at, it’s picking fights over stupid stuff. In the book, this manifests in a peace rally that goes great until someone starts throwing peace symbols, and then the whole thing deteriorates fairly quickly. It’s a funny scene, but it also makes a point about how we human beings are.

 

Tell us a little bit about your current project. Is it a novel, short story, or something else? Is it part of a series?

Well, I have several projects. I have some short stories that will be published this year—Not Enough Scotch in Scotland, Don’t Feed the Trolls, and A World Without Stories. All are variations on alien abduction stories, which I also do a lot of on my blog, vrcraftauthor.wordpress.com.

Stupid Humans is also being adapted as a serial, due out in early 2017. It’s interesting watching it be adapted into a shorter form.

I’m also working on my next novel, a parallel universe story that will probably be out sometime in 2018.

 

What genre do you prefer to write in, if any?

I mostly write science fiction, because that’s what I like to read.

 

What authors influenced you?

Jack McDevitt, Ben Bova, Douglas Adams. I loved The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy because it was so funny, but it also had a lot of science fiction themes that were interesting. I guess that inspired me to write comical science fiction.

 

What are you currently reading?

Right now I’m reading Saturn Run by John Sandford and Ctein, then I’m going to read Death Wave by Ben Bova.

 

Do you write every day? A few days per week?

It varies. When I’m attempting a Nanowrimo, every day. Or if I’m trying to finish a project. Funny story about Nanowrimo—I started Stupid Humans in November of 2012, thinking I was actually going to write it in a month. Now the finished version of that book is about 140,000 words. The first draft was about 176,000. I finished it in November, all right—November, 2014. Hey, they never said it had to be November of the same year, right?

But there are also some days and even weeks when I don’t write. I know I should write every day, but mostly I write sporadically.

 

Do you listen to music when you write? Does it influence how you write?

Yes, I sometimes listen to music. I don’t really know if it influences how I write. I’m a pantser, so I don’t have anything planned when I write, music or not. I wrote most of the second half of Stupid Humans while listening to Bruno Mars’ Unorthodox Jukebox playing on repeat. It’s still one of my favorite albums, and sometimes I remember writing a scene when I hear those songs.

 

How do you think your writing has changed from when you first started?

I’ve learned a lot about writing style, like deep point-of-view and avoiding passive voice. That’s the main thing. I also try not to overwrite as much. Like I said, Stupid Humans was 176,000 words in its first draft. Part of that was due to being a pantser, but most of it was due to writing a whole lot of crap readers don’t care about. When I edited the first draft, there was so much stuff that I looked at and said, “Do I really need to spend two pages on this? Can I just sum it up in a sentence or two?” Mostly if it was neither relevant nor extremely funny or interesting, I decided the answer was no. The second draft was only about 155,000, and I later cut more from it.

 

How do you create the covers for your books?

My publisher, a small press called Oghma Creative Media, designed the book cover. I really like how it turned out.

13445360_1236045719790054_1771228305834197707_n

 

Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share?

Absolutely! Here’s an excerpt of about 600 words. This is the peace rally scene:

For reasons Hailey didn’t quite understand, the second the shaking stopped, everyone ran for the exits. Hands pulled apart, feet pounded the floor in heels and soft soles, and signs fluttered to the ground as their holders fled.

“This door is locked!” someone screamed from the end of the concourse.

“So is this one!” Clark had joined the fleeing crowd. She’d thought better of him than that, but he’d been dating a Human, and while stupidity wasn’t contagious, people sometimes picked up each other’s habits.

Farley, running through the crowd in his “Peace for peace’s sake” t-shirt, threw the first peace symbol. Samantha said something Hailey couldn’t hear to Sheila, as she flounced out the door of her restaurant and surveyed the scene. Sheila grabbed for the nearest emergency exit door, jostling Samantha, who stumbled into Farley.

“This one’s locked too!” Sheila bellowed.

“It locks automatically after an impact to protect the inner part of the station in case of….” No one could hear her over the noisy crowd, and finishing the sentence with “a hull breach” would only worsen the panic, anyway.

“This is your fault, Human!” Farley yelled at Samantha. “I bet you caused whatever just happened, didn’t you? Your people can’t stand peace.”

Two minutes earlier he’d been holding hands with two Earthers and singing some old Human song, the lyrics of which sounded a lot like, “Come buy bombs.”

“Oh, that’s great!” yelled a Human at the back of the crowd. “Some peace organizer you are.”

“Seriously? You helped organize this display?” Samantha sneered at Farley.

“Not anymore!” He slammed his peace symbol onto the ground. Due to the lightweight plastic and the lightweight gravity, it bounced off the floor and flew up into the crowd, smacking Clark in the face.

Sheila shoved Samantha up against the wall, grabbing the collar of her black jacket. Was that messing up one of the camera shots? “Time for you to stop asking questions and start answering them. What do you know about this Human attack? Which of your people blew up that ship, and how stupid was their reasoning? Or were you in on it, Human?”

“Leave her alone, or I’ll make sure you stop getting an Economic Crisis discount on your rent.” Hailey hoped to come off as a beacon of peace instead of a miserly manager. It was so hard to gauge these things before they hit the news nets.

Sheila let go of Samantha and stomped back into her restaurant, slamming the door on other frantic fleers, but the Human/People clash was far from over.

While Hailey yelled at the crowd to calm down, every peace symbol in the room was lobbed at someone. Fortunately, the cheap plastic limited the damage, but a few pieces managed to leave red marks. One found its way to the mouth of a shop owner just as he yelled, “You people are sub-Human!” The peace sign drove his lip into a nearby tooth, and blood trickled down onto his “Give peace a fighting chance” t-shirt.

What was she doing? She was supposed to be in charge here, and she was gaping at this idiocy like, well, an idiot. Remembering her data pad, she called up the emergency preparedness plan she’d signed off on after Clark wrote it last month. She hadn’t actually read the plan, so hopefully Clark knew what he was doing.

 

Where can we purchase your current book? What about previous books?

Here is the book link for Stupid Humans on Amazon. It is also available on BN.com, and other online stores where books are sold.

 

Where can we find you online?

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/VR-Craft-104391266655648/

Pinterest:

https://www.pinterest.com/vrcraftauthor

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/vrcraftauthor

Book Link on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01H7FQ3VU

Author Page on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/V.R.-Craft/e/B01H7POQPU/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Blog:

https://vrcraftauthor.wordpress.com/

 

Any parting words for writers?

Find a good writing critique group. I go to a couple, and they have helped me improve my writing a lot. Because of them I learned about things like deep point-of-view, avoiding passive voice, and other things that tighten up your writing a lot. I also learned how to condense two pages worth of back story into a short conversation in a way that still gets the necessary info to the readers without boring them in too much back story.

 

Author Spotlight: Merri Halma

In my continuing “Author Spotlight” series, I present to you author Merri Halma.


Author Spotlight: Merri Halma

merri2Today I’m fortunate to present Merri Halma, author of the Indigo Traveler Series (Indigo Traveler Book 1 and Keys to the Shadowlands Book 2 of the Indigo Traveler Series).

Hi Merri, thanks for agreeing to this interview.

Thank you for having me, Jason.

 

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

 I studied Children’s theatre and children’s literature when I was younger. I really wanted to be a writer from a young age. I graduated though with a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies with an emphasis in Social Studies and the Humanities. Two years later, I earned a Master’s of Science in Counseling-Psychology. I still had the overwhelming desire to write and be published. Back then, I wasn’t aware of the writer’s groups like I am now. My whole goal after graduating was working in my field and attending prayer groups at my Church. After leaving my field and moving to Idaho, I saw a whole new world open. I realized there were writer’s groups and began joining them and seeking out others to work with. Digital publishing started and computers became the normal. Still, I am struggling to get my name out as other indie authors are.

 

How long have you been writing?

 I always had an active imagination growing-up. I used to tell myself stories at night when I was going to sleep. I would often dream in stories or hear songs with lyrics, though I couldn’t write the music to go with the words. I also had a speech impediment, so at 11, I started writing down the poetry, and lyrics as well as stories. Writing became my way of expressing myself. My dad gave me my first journal book at 12 and taught me to never write in pencil. He knew I would write about my feelings because that is what I knew and felt. Words had power to me. Words, the taunts the peers lashed out at me with, had power to cut deep. Those words echoed through the brain. Eventually, that became one of my monsters in Shadowlands. Without expressing my feelings, I knew I would be dead. I discovered all writers feel deep and write from a wounded soul. I write to heal myself as well as to expand my inner self and journey toward Spirit.

 

What inspired you to start writing?

My need to express myself and feel like I am being heard. As someone with a speech impediment, I wanted the friendship and felt fulfilled when I wrote down the words pounding in my brain.

 

Tell us a little bit about your current project. Is it a novel, short story, or something else? Is it part of a series?

 I am currently almost finished with my third book, tentatively titled Many Paths which is the third book in the Indigo Traveler Series. I realized this week that I will likely write another draft and deepen most of the theology bases on that current world as well as work with more development of the new characters that are introduced. I will find readers first to read through this draft to get comments.  I am also doing my best to post a blog on Niume every week. I am hoping to post about two or more times, to drive up interest in my page and draw in more readers.

 

What genre do you prefer to write in, if any?

I have coined the phrase Spiritual Fantasy because I explore the whole concept that we cannot avoid addressing Spirit, however we see Spirit. I view it as a sense of self. I have grown from the view of Christianity as the only way to embracing a more world view that says all spiritual paths have truth in it. The ultimate truth resides deep within each person. My characters all strive to find their self-acceptance while struggling to realize how they fit into the whole Spiritual world or whether they really believe in the Creator of All worlds.

 

What authors influenced you?

After I read the Hunger Games, I began writing like Collins, but it didn’t last. I can’t say any one really influenced me, per se. I love to read, but mostly I have that inner drive to write. If I don’t write every day or work on my book everyday, then my characters begin bugging me or yelling at me. I’ve had my Lynx character begin telling me he was stuck where I left him and he was itching to move on. He gave me ideas of what he wanted to do next.

 

What are you currently reading?

The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin. She won a Hugo award this year for one of her books. I found her on Patreon.com earlier this year and was fascinated with her campaign and began following her on Facebook. The Fifth Season is a very deep world but watching as she develops the story and the characters is also fascinating. It is not for the light of heart to read because I find I must concentrate and spend time with it and engage my brain. I highly recommend this book to others.

 

Do you write every day? A few days per week?

I have been doing my best to write every day even if it just in my journal. I have to devote my time to finishing my novel, though.

 

Do you listen to music when you write? Does it influence how you write?

Sometimes I listen to instrumental music when I am the only one home. Right now, there is a Doctor Who marathon going on while I answer these questions. Since I’ve seen most of the episodes, I can write and watch it.

 

How do you think your writing has changed from when you first started?

When I first started writing, and hadn’t gotten published yet, there was only traditional publishing. If someone were to self-publish, they had to spend a small fortune on the printing and finding distributors for the books. I remember stories of the author of the Celestine Prophecy giving his book out for free wherever he went because he couldn’t sell them. The more people who read it, the more they talked with others his book swept through the country and he was awarded a book contract. I read it and it was horribly written, yet the plot, story and message were the driving force of the success. After that, he had someone help him write the second book in the series and it was better.

 

How do you create the covers for your books?

I usually get an idea of what I want, and hire a graphic artist because I can’t draw. I can visualize what I want, I can’t duplicate what I see on to paper. That is why I am a wordsmith, as another friend calls it.

indigo

 

Are there any non-literary influences for your writing (movies, actors, music, etc)?

I really love the Moody Blues. Their lyrics and music sends me into dreams and inspires me to write.

 

What is your favorite book and why?

I have many favorite books. I love the Harry Potter series, Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, J.R.R. Tolkien, Percy Jackson series and many more.

 

How do you market your books?

I have one Youtube book trailer that I posted below. I am still learning to market and create the ad copy and how to use PowerPoint. I plan to start teaching classes on how to journal to Journal to Your Soul and hope that platform will lead to people buying my books.

I am doing my best to write every day and learn how to get feedback from my audience.

 

Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share?

An Titus found himself in a dark forest. The trees grew together so densely no light could filter through the canopy. It was grey, black and off white, but had no natural light. For a few moments, Titus stood completely still, not daring to breath. Finally, he took a cautious step forward and then another. Soon he was roaming through the dense woods. He felt lost, afraid and not sure of how he got here. Voices could be heard in the distance. Some were whispering but they were overshadowed by a few shouting voices. His heart pounded in his chest. He felt alone, yet knew something was there, watching him, waiting for him to make a move.

 A creature made of sticks and stones wobbled out from amongst the trees. The creature’s eyes grew wide when it saw Titus, then cowered on the ground trying to cover his body in fear.

 “Names are names. Just labels that can’t hurt me. Words are empty and meaningless,” it said. “I can hurt you worse.”

 “Your words are brave, yet you cover your body as if you fear me.”

 “Aye–, I am afraid of giants like you. You erupt at a moment’s notice – your temper – your rage. You hurt people with that whip you wear around your waist and send them to a dark place.”

 “Dark place? You mean a place like this?”

 “No, dark places within them, belittling them, telling them they are useless, don’t measure up to your expectations and are no good. From then on, all they do or see is reinforced. It is the dark place that you are experiencing now. You, you, you see, see what you have done.”

 Rustling steps echoed from deep within the forest in the distance, like leaves being displaced as something came through. Titus’ whipped his head around, listening and trying to see what was approaching him.

 “No, no, I can’t bare this! Take me away!” he screamed. “I’m sorry for the pain I’ve caused others. I can’t ever be happy again. Sticks and Stone, Sticks and Stones, they heard and break my bones. But the words are replayed over and over and over. My mother and father could never see me for what I was or wanted to be. The village kids hated me for being the prince. Take me away!”

 “No, I can’t take you away. But I can lead you to another place where you see more. Do you dare continue?”

 *Excerpt from Keys to the Shadowlands Book 2 of the Indigo Traveler Series

 

If you’re an indie author, what made you choose that route?

I was not sure I could land a traditional publisher. I had made friends with individuals who had published on CreateSpace, and they encouraged me to use that because it would cost less and I could control how it is marketed better.

 

Where can we purchase your current book? What about previous books?

My books are all available on Amazon and Kindle. Indigo Traveler Book 1 is also on Smashwords.

http://amzn.to/2e4Mb1n

http://amzn.to/2ftkzVX

 

Where can we find you online?

https://www.facebook.com/IndigoTravelerbook/

https://www.facebook.com/authormerrihalma/

https://www.facebook.com/Clarence-from-Indigo-Traveler-Series-926226174154752/

https://twitter.com/MerriHalma

https://niume.com/profile/96169#!/posts

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmTn8r679IQ&feature=youtu.be

 

Any parting words for writers?

Write every day. Find writer groups that you can join and learn from. Do not be afraid to share your work nor give up who you are because others say it doesn’t work. If you agree with them, then listen. Above all, it is your book and your words. Consider your message and what you want to say and then say it. We need your voice so please finish that book and get it out there.

Author Spotlight: Lisa Wylie

Here’s the latest in my continuing series of “Author Spotlight” interviews. Today I interview Lisa Wylie.


Author Spotlight: Lisa Wylie

Today I’m fortunate to present Lisa Wylie, author of Burning Suns: Conflagration.

Hi Lisa, thanks for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Hi, and thanks for inviting me. I’m from Scotland, I live just outside Glasgow, and I work for a research software group at an academic publisher. I’m a scientist by training and a sci-fi geek by nature, and I dabble in photography and cooking as well as scribbling in my spare time.

 

How long have you been writing?

In fits and starts since I was a kid – any time there was a writing assignment at school, I’d make up a story. As a hobby, since I was at university, and it’s been a continuous passion since then, so let’s say twenty years.  Yipes…

 

What inspired you to start writing?

The catalyst was having a bunch of friends who were also interested in writing.  We started with our own Star Trek fanfic ship and crew, writing stories for original characters and their adventures within that universe. I fell in love with it at that point. We then moved on to an original work, and writing that, at first as a way to keep a connection, and then for the sake of the story itself, is what really got me hooked.

 

Tell us a little bit about your current project. Is it a novel, short story, or something else? Is it part of a series?

Burning Suns: Conflagration is a project of interesting beginnings, actually. Burning Suns itself is a board game produced by Emil Larsen at SunTzu Games. It’s a sci-fi based game, so Emil had got together with a bunch of artists and produced a galaxy that was populated with fantastic races and locations, and he wanted a story to go with that galaxy—which, for me, was like being a kid given full run of the toy store. When you get a picture like this, there’s a story just waiting to be told…

4268502_orig

And thus Conflagration was born. It’s a three-book series following the adventures of two of the playable characters in the game, although the story is totally standalone – you don’t need to play the game to follow the books. There’s a lot of potential for sequels and other timeframes in the world-build as well, so I hope it’ll keep me busy for some time.

 

What genre do you prefer to write in, if any?

Sci-fi. I dabble in fantasy as well, but I’ve always loved sci-fi a little more, and it was a natural progression from reading and watching to writing. Though, perversely, I think I own more fantasy books.

 

What authors influenced you?

David Eddings, Tom Clancy, Robert Heinlein, Alistair MacLean, Janny Wurts, and Richard Morgan.  That’s an odd list when you read it back, right? Eddings at the top because he was, and is, my favourite author, and even if you haven’t read his other books, the Rivan Codex, which is a companion piece to his Belgariad fantasy series, has a whole wealth of insight into how he wrote the books.  The thing that sticks with me to this day is the advice to: “Write a million words. Then throw them away. Now you’re ready to begin.” It really underscores the importance of practice.

 

What are you currently reading?

The Three-Body Problem, by Cixin Liu.

 

Do you write every day? A few days per week?

I try to write every day, if only for five minutes, although some days I do take a complete break.  Habit is a powerful ally against writer’s block, I find.

 

Do you listen to music when you write? Does it influence how you write?

Usually, and yes, very much so.  I often use it to set my mood.  I love movie soundtracks, I always have. I love the way it’s an emotional amplifier for what you see on the screen, and that once you’ve associated a piece of music with an emotion, it can be difficult to ever shift that conception that you’re supposed to feel “this” when you hear “that” piece. So if I need to tackle a scene or chapter that has a certain emotional tone, I’ll pick the music to put me in the right mindset. And sometimes, that needs to be a terribly cheesy power ballad, hah!

 

How do you think your writing has changed from when you first started?

I’m sure I’m echoing many others in a hope that it’s gotten better! But I think it has. I’m more comfortable with different styles, more confident in trusting to the content of a story rather than dressing it with too many fancy words, more aware that you can’t spend ten thousand words describing something in loving detail no matter how cool you think it is. Getting feedback really helps with that.

 

How do you create the covers for your books?

Burning Suns has a very talented artist crew, and they create the artwork that supports the books and the game. The book covers are a team effort between me, Emil, and our principal story artist, Angelita Ramos, about whom there are not enough superlatives I can use. I adore her work, and I’m really lucky to be working with her. You can see some of that artwork in our trailer for Conflagration – you really get a feel for the scope of the galaxy, I think.

 

Are there any non-literary influences for your writing (movies, actors, music, etc)?

Sci-fi movies and TV series of all shapes and sizes, I would say, and even the odd computer game – Mass Effect was a strong influence on my decision to start writing fanfiction again after a long break. And that led me to the opportunity I have now, so it was definitely a positive influence!

 

What is your favorite book and why?

HMS Ulysses, by Alistair MacLean. The fact that it’s written from experience lends it an authenticity that’s hard to surpass, but the way in which in portrays the better angels of human nature against a setting of such extraordinary hardship and in the midst of war is utterly magnificent.

 

Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share?

Not excerpts as such, but a series of small stories called snapshots that fill in some background and work as teasers for the main story, available here: https://wyles77writes.wordpress.com/snapshots/

 

Where can we purchase your current book? What about previous books?

My new book, the third and final installment of Conflagration, will be released May 11th. Book One is free to download on Smashwords, and if you sign up for my email list, you can get Book Two for free as well (otherwise you can pick it up on Smashwords or Amazon.)

Where can we find you online?

My website

Facebook

Twitter

My Amazon bio page

Smashwords

 

If you’re an indie author, what made you choose that route?

I’m not really an indie, since technically I have a publisher, but we’re a two-man army so pretty much we do this on our own.  We’re occupying a niche between indie and trad, thanks to the setup of the game world, so we need the control that the indie option brings.

 

Any parting words for writers?

Ooh, gosh—have fun with it! Whatever you’re writing, however far along with it you are, whether it’s fanfic, original fic, poetry, or factual. When you’re putting this amount of time into something, enjoying it is crucial!