For Your Reading Pleasure

Interview with Dan Alatorre

A few weeks ago, I was able to snag an interview from the awesome and very interesting Dan Alatorre. Aside from having a really cool last name, Dan is the author of numerous bestsellers, host a YouTube show, Writers Off Task With Friends, and has helped several up and coming authors (myself included) learn the ropes of self-publishing.  Today’s a special day for Dan because his newest book, The Navigators released. I was privileged enough to get to read this book (review to come soon) and let me just say…thrilling. You don’t want to miss it!! But first, let’s read about Dan’s writing process. 
1. Tell us about yourself. May include links to Facebook, twitter, blogs, websites, Amazon author page)

My blog is DanAlatorre.com

Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Dan-Alatorre/e/B00EUX7HEU/

Twitter @SavvyStories

Facebook author page is http://www.facebook.com/Dan-Alatorre-Author-1461486214171365/

Pinterest, Instagram, Goodreads… just search for my name. I can’t remember all that stuff.

 

2. How do you choose names for your characters?

I’m terrible at that. Terrible! I come up with the WORST character names. Look at The Navigators. Barry… Melissa… Yawn. I have a friend who comes up with great names. I’m going to have her name my characters from now on. In Poggibonsi, I had to change the wife’s name three times because everybody hated it. Each time I changed it, my critique partners said, “Thanks. I hated that other name.” Now I just use the names of the kids in my daughter’s kindergarten class, picking them at random. Honey, who’s that boy in your class with brown hair? Jimmy? Jimmy’s my next male character name. It’s still awful but at least it’s faster now.

 

3. Do you talk about your book/characters as though they are real?

I only talk about the nonfiction characters as if they are real. Um… nonfiction… yeah, that’s right. Because they’re real. The fictional characters – I totally get that they become your “friends” and all that, but no. Mine are in my head and on paper, and not, you know, running around coming to lunch. That’s not how I roll. Not judging authors who do that. Okay, a little, because it’s freaking crazy – all due respect to authors who do that. Get help. They’re pretend.

 

4. Do you listen to music when you write or edit? What kind?

No, no music. I know LOTS of authors who do that, and I kinda wish I did, because it’s cool. They are cool for doing that, getting all up in their Pandoras and everything. I can’t. When I started writing it was because my infant daughter needed a bottle and I couldn’t fall back to sleep after feeding her. I wrote in the near-dark, at 3am and 4am, and didn’t dare make a sound for fear of waking her back up and getting even less sleep. After a few years of that, you don’t need Pandora. I usually write in my office in silence except for occasional swearing at the computer. I occasionally drag my laptop to the kitchen table and write while watching TV, as in, I’m writing and a football game or news program may be on, so I can be aware of outside world events, but also because it helps me stay awake when I’m on a roll.

 

5. How long have you been writing?

Not long enough, according to some readers; way too long according to others. I started writing about five years ago and published my first book Savvy Stories, a collection of humorous anecdotes about babies and childhood, about two years ago. I was very lucky it did well, and I’ve been writing ever since, only now with fewer typos. My first novel, The Navigators comes out in June 2016. It’s awesome. You can quote me on that.

 

6. Tell us about when you realized you were ‘meant to be’ a writer.

I’m looking forward to that day. Actually, I was always a talented writer. That’s not mean as a brag; people always told me I was good at it, naturally making even work reports interesting. It’s a gift. When I started posting humorous anecdotes on Facebook about becoming a first time dad when most of my friends were sending their kids to college or posting their kids’ wedding pictures, they enjoyed vicariously re- living the baby years through me, and encouraged me to write a book. I kept saying no, and finally broke down and wrote a chapter to show them how bad it was. Instead, they loved it and support for a book grew, and the rest is history. 17 titles later (in 12 languages), somebody likes my stuff.

 

7. Do you have a muse?

Yes. For the Savvy Stories book series, it was a few of my female high school friends rolled into one composite person. For The Navigators it was a very specific person, and for the other books it’s basically that same muse. It sounds odd, but when you write to one person, or as narrow an audience as you can, you’ll do well. Write to your mom. Write to your wife. Find one person and write the book to that one person, because when you attempt to appeal to everyone, you appeal to no one. In some books, I am writing to my six-year-old daughter for when she gets to be the age of the main character, subtly suggesting lessons and guidance. Shh, don’t tell.

 

8. How do you improve as a writer? (Workshops, conferences, reading)

I connect with writers better than I am through a critique group and hound them mercilessly until they give in and help me. Honest. That probably won’t work for everyone but I have an honest face. I don’t read much, unless you count reading works by new authors, and then I read a LOT. I am also a critique partner for a few GREAT writers, including one New York Times bestselling author. I go to the Florida Writer’s Association conferences and will be doing a roundtable discussion at the FWA conference this fall in Orlando. If you’re in town, stop by. The EPCOT food and wine festival is going on the same time, so it’s a party.

 

9. Writing quirks or superstitions?

Nope. None.

 

10. Tell us about your current work-in-progress.

No, no, no. I never talk about WIPs! That’s bad luck. Okay, so I may have a few writing quirks and superstitions.

 

11. What book are you reading now?

I am reading two novels by friends, helping them edit. Both are very good friends so I’ll say both are very good books, but really only one is and now they have to guess which one. Actually, I am about to start editing the second book of a friend’s trilogy, and I’m in the middle of two other very good books I’m critiquing.

 

12. What genre do you write in? What about POV?

This is a fun one. I started in nonfiction humor and decided to write a story in each genre hoping to either find one I enjoyed or was good at. I’ve done romance, fantasy, sci-fi, paranormal, children’s books, cookbooks…If I had to only write one genre for the rest of my life, it’d be romantic comedy. I love making people laugh and we all tend to find the same universal things funny if presented properly. Plus, I’m really good at it. I’ve put people on the floor. Intentionally. My fans think I’m quite the romance writer, though.

 

13. Tell us about writing preparation. Character Profiles? Outlines?

None of that, really, but hear me out. Before I really start writing in earnest, I have a beginning, a middle, and an end to my story. We may not go where I think we will, because I allow myself to be completely creative when I’m writing, but we have a target and an ending. If I come up with something better, a different ending, I’ll change it and go with the better one, but at least I have one. I feel “pantsing” – the alleged art of writing by the seat of your pants – is the main reason for writer’s block and why so many books never get completed. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done; many great works are written without the use of an outline. Just not mine. Since I have the characters so deeply rooted in my head, no character profiles are needed, but I’m open to an author doing whatever they need to do to get the story out of their head and into the computer. You wanna make sure that if Barry’s nervous habit is biting his nails, he does it in chapter one, chapter 15, and chapter 36, and doesn’t stop somewhere along the way or start having an eye twitch. Unless the story is how he’s degenerating from some neurological disease. Then that’s different.

 

14. Do you know how your stories will end?

Yeah. Sorry, pantsers, I use a simple outline of beginning, middle, and end, so I know how the story ends before I start writing. I allow myself to have a better ending if I think of one, but I have at least one before I start out.

 

15. Do you books have a message or theme? Or are they purely for entertainment?

You know, no interviewer has ever asked me that. Good for you. Bonus points. The answer is YES. Several of my stories have messages on different levels, but you can read them just for the main story and never miss anything.

 

16. Do you have any favorite snacks or drinks that you eat/drink while writing?

No, but I drink Crystal Light peach green tea by the gallon, so maybe that counts. But it’s not part of writing, it’s part of living.

 

17. Tell us about your other passions.

I am totally and completely devoted to my amazing daughter, so I go to all the field trips and stuff. It’s amazing to be around lots of little kids. They so smart and curious and open to ideas. It will refresh your energy while simultaneously wearing you out. I’m also very invested in helping new authors get over the numerous hurdles they face in writing, so my critiquing and blog and marketing books series address that.

 

18. What’s something interesting about you?

Gosh, lots of things. I went to President’s Circle with two different Fortune 500 companies. As a manager I was able to help people make more money than they’d ever made before in their entire lives. I swam with sea turtles in Hawaii and sharks in the Bahamas, rode a dolphin and came face to face with a baby humpback whale. I cracked a tooth eating a frozen Chiclet on a glacier in British Columbia and gazed in absolute awe at the beauty of the Grand Canyon. I’ve been shot at (more than once) and I rescued two girls who were about to drown in the Gulf of Mexico. I was a drummer in a rock band. I took a single engine boat to Key West in six foot swells that could have easily sunk us. I created the largest social media group in the world for a rare heart condition, helping thousands of families in dozens of countries. I’ve helped a new writer launch a bestseller and opened the eyes of other new writers as to how to make their novels terrific. I’ve fallen head over heels in love, had my heart broken, and lived to tell about both.

 

19. Share a small sample (limit to one paragraph, please) of your writing… can be a WIP or already published.

We can be this far into an interview and you can still ask that? One paragraph, huh? Hmm. Well, how about a conversation from The Navigators?

 

“She cautioned me, though. She told me physical beauty does not last, and should not last. ‘A beautiful woman’s breasts will eventually sag and her hair will turn gray. What will you be married to then? If you choose wisely, you will be married to a beautiful personality and a curious mind, that loves your children and who would do anything for you.’ That is true beauty.”

“Hmmm.” Melissa closed her eyes, appearing to postulate on the idea.

“I know. Where’s the fun in that, right?”

 

20. Anything you’d like to say to your current and future readers?

If you’re a fan, thank you; if you’re not yet a fan, don’t worry, you will be – there’s still time. And if you’re a writer, I believe everyone has a great story in them that they can tell. Get it out of your head and into the computer. It has been my great fortune to be able to make readers laugh and cry, on purpose, sometimes on the same page; to hold their breath, swoon, and/or be afraid. I play my audience like a piano – and they love it.

Thanks so much, Dan. Good luck with The Navigators. 

For Your Reading Pleasure…Tara Benham

  

Tara Benham is with us today. Let’s read about her writing process. 

1. Tell us about yourself. May include links to Facebook, twitter, blogs, websites, Amazon author page)
Hi!! I’m Tara Benham. I’m an Occupational Therapist, photographer and author. I have a fur baby and live in Kentucky. I have creative ADD, (as well as regular ADD) which can be spotted in my works. My first book was YA sci-fi/suspense but my WIP is YA paranormal. 

http://www.facebook.com/TaraBenhamAuthor
Link for my book 
http://www.amazon.com/At-Nights-End-Tara-Benham-ebook/dp/B015HXP5WM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1442580645&sr=8-1&keywords=tara+benham

2. How do you choose names for your characters?

Most of the time my characters choose their names. With “At Night’s End” I had McCaid and Ever’s names before I even had a story. 

3. Do you talk about your book/characters as though they are real?

You mean they’re not? Kidding. Yes. I do talk about them as if they were real. 

4. Do you listen to music when you write or edit? What kind?

I listen to music even when I’m not writing. It is my muse. I listen to all kinds of music. However when I’m writing it’s usually Imagine Dragons, X Ambassadors, or Hollywood Undead. They really help with setting the mood for me. 

5. How long have you been writing?

I’ve wrote on and off for as long as I can remember but I got serious about it in 2011 when I started At Night’s End. 

6. Tell us about when you realized you were ‘meant to be’ a writer.

There are still some days I’m unsure if I’m meant to be a writer. I love to write though so I will continue even if it’s just for myself. 

7. Do you have a muse?

Imagine Dragons. 

8. How do you improve as a writer? (Workshops, conferences, reading)

I attend UtopYa Con (now Utopia) this past June. It felt like finding home. I was surrounding by people who got me. It was very motivational and educational. 

9. Writing quirks or superstitions?

My characters talk to me, and I talk to my computer or them as I write. I suppose that is a quirk? No superstitions though.

10. Tell us about your current work-in-progress.

My current WIP is titled “Falling” it’s the first in The Soul Collector’s Series. It’s about Bayla who is a soul collecting angel. In the first book, she is beginning her newest rescue mission.  

11. What book are you reading now?

It’s really hard for me to read when I’m writing. I’m always afraid the other authors idea’s or voice will bleed into my story. 
12. What genre do you write in? What about POV?

I write YA and usually in first person. It flows better for me. 

13. Tell us about writing preparation. Character Profiles? Outlines?

I’m a total Pantser (fly by the seat of my pants) writer. I have no preparations, profiles or outlines. Just a general idea of the plot line. 

14. Do you know how your stories will end?

Usually I do, however sometimes my characters act up and change things on me. It happened with the Falling book recently. I find it fun and exciting for the most part. 

15. Do your books have a message or theme? Or are they purely for entertainment?

If there’s a message or theme it’s purely accidental. I usually write for entertainment. 

16. Do you have any favorite snacks or drinks that you eat/drink while writing?

I’m obsessed with coffee and Sunkist. 

17. Tell us about your other passions.

I love reading when I’m not writing. I also own a photography business that I love doing. It gives me a different creative outlet. 

18. What’s something interesting about you?

My A&P teacher was the kid from The Shining. 

19. Share a small sample(limit to one paragraph, please) of your writing… can be a WIP or already published.

From Falling 
Dinner was a fun event, Hannah joined us during her break. It was a nice distraction from my thoughts as we sat around the table at the café having fun, and laughing. Declan turned the charm on full blast, regaling us with his adventures of his travels. Whether they were stories made up for his part he was playing or if they were true, they were funny. He was in the middle of telling us about getting lost in a country that he wasn’t familiar with the language, and after some confusion, was able to procure a bed for the evening. He proceeded to explain that because of the lack of communication, he ended up sharing a bed with a little old lady, who thought he was sent as an answer to his prayers, and he spend the majority of the night fighting off her advances, or hiding in the bathroom of the hostel. We were in tears by the time he finished his story. Hannah had spit water everywhere, and Mr. Whitstock almost fell off his chair. Declan chuckled some at his story, but mostly he looked amused at his ability to make the four of us laugh so hard. We were just calming down when Gray headed our way for his break. Hannah gathered herself, and waved bye as she went back to work. Gray took her seat.

20. Anything you’d like to say to your current and future readers?

I love books that create worlds that allow you to escape. Even if just for a moment. I truly hope that I can provide that to you all with my books. Thank you for your support!!!

For Your Reading Pleasure…Colleen Nye

  

Today, Colleen Nye is with us. We’re glad she’s here! 

1. Tell us about yourself. May include links to Facebook, twitter, blogs, websites, Amazon author page)
I am a published author. Along with several anthologies, I have two novels, When in Maui and Immersion. I am also an event coordinator.

http://www.colleennye.com
Email – author.colleennye@gmail.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/authorcolleennye
Twitter – @Colleen_Nye
Instagram – Authorcolleennye
Pintrest – @WriterNye

2. How do you choose names for your characters?
By basically, I think of a name, think of any rude nicknames or if the strength of the name feels like a fit for the strength of the character. Then I think about how it would sound of a fan would be raving about the book and how the name would sound int hat conversation. I go through names until i find one that seems to fit.

3. Do you talk about your book/characters as though they are real?
Yes…. I try not to, but yes, I do.

4. Do you listen to music when you write or edit? What kind?
I do! When in Maui actually has the Blue October discography as like a soundtrack. I had a playlist for when I was writing Immersion as well.

5. How long have you been writing?
Since I was a little girl.

6. Tell us about when you realized you were ‘meant to be’ a writer.
I think I always knew it. But when I started writing when in Maui and finished it so quickly, it felt right.

7. Do you have a muse?
The world around me. Everyone.

8. How do you improve as a writer? (Workshops, conferences, reading)

Reading, gaining life experience, watching movies and listening to what readers say about the books they’re reading.

9. Writing quirks or superstitions?

Shhhhh…. if I tell you, then you’ll jinx me.

10. Tell us about your current work-in-progress.

Which one? LOL I have a few. #1 When in Doubt (When in Maui, book 2). #2 I am co-leading a 5 book anthology set called The Debut Collective and have a short story in all five books. #3 I am leading an anthology set that’s a unique take on anthologies. I write the over-arching story line for each book, each book has it’s own theme. Each book also has a group of guest authors that write short pieces that are embedded in the story line that I write. So basically, a full novel with guest authors’ pieces throughout. Book 1 is going to print. Book two is started. Book three is gathering authors. #4 My writers’ group is starting their 4th anthology. (I’m in the second and third) #5 I have a sci-fi trilogy that’s knocking on my writer’s brain waiting for me to have some of this all completed so I can start in on that. #6 I have a published short story that has turned into a full novel in my head. I’m slowly working on that as well.

11. What book are you reading now?

I just closed two books. I need a break and am writing currently. But the were Stacey Rourke’s Steam and Amy Bartol’s Darken the Stars. Both AMAZING books!

12. What genre do you write in? What about POV?

I skip around, but I prefer clean NA

13. Tell us about writing preparation. Character Profiles? Outlines?

I get an idea and start writing… I take notes along the way.

14. Do you know how your stories will end?

When I write it. 

15. Do you books have a message or theme? Or are they purely for entertainment?

I would think every book has some sort of message. But I think it’s up to the reader to figure out what that is to them.

16. Do you have any favorite snacks or drinks that you eat/drink while writing?

Water… gotta keep hydrated! Smart water to be specific. And Dove Chocolate Bars. 

17. Tell us about your other passions.

Marketing. I love to market and network. And I’m starting a small publishing house to help some other great authors out that just don’t have a home yet for their book babies.

18. What’s something interesting about you?

Oh, i suppose that’s up to the observer. I’m strange, quirky and often misunderstood. But aren’t we all?

19. Share a small sample(limit to one paragraph, please) of your writing… can be a WIP or already published.

Who turned the sun on and why hasn’t anyone slapped them? I thought to myself and pulled the comforter over my head.

A few minutes later, I pulled the comforter back down, just enough to reach up and pull the curtain back a little. I peeked out the window and watched the snow falling gently over the landscape. The trees, grass and lawn ornaments were all covered. We had just had a slight ice storm a couple days prior, and this snowfall was covering the ice on the electrical lines and tree limbs making everything look like it was covered in white glitter in the sun shine.

20. Anything you’d like to say to your current and future readers?
Keep reading and letting your imaginations grow! Thank you for your support! And PLEASE don’t forget to leave reviews on Amazon and other platforms! It’s like food to writers! We require them to grow!

For Your Reading Pleasure…JB Havens

  

1. Tell us about yourself. May include links to Facebook, twitter, blogs, websites, Amazon author page)My pen name is J. B. Havens, for obvious reasons I don’t wish to disclose my legal name. You can find me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/J.B.Havens. I live in rural Pennsylvania with my husband and three children. When not taking care of them, working at my evil retail day job, I’m reading and writing. Recently I find myself spending a lot of time self promoting and getting ready for the release of my debut novel, Core of Steel, available on kindle for pre-order and will launched on October 16th in print as well as Kindle. 

US http://amzn.to/1LbCWqx

UK http://amzn.to/1Gr8Olr 

I just turned 28 and have gotten to that point in my life where I am ready to do what I love, not just what pays the bills. I want to mesh the two. I love coffee in its many forms, especially this time of year when Pumpkin flavored everything is available. 
 

2. How do you choose names for your characters?

I sometimes use names from people I know in real life, either first or last. That is usually for main characters. Secondary characters or characters that only make a cameo, I look up on baby name websites. I go with a first letter sometimes or a particular meaning I want to convey.

3. Do you talk about your book/characters as though they are real?

 YES! All the time. In my head, they are real. I have their lives and personalities, everything about them, in my head. For me writing is just telling the stories that already exist in my imagination. 

4. Do you listen to music when you write or edit? What kind?

 Yes, I do a lot. Depends on what particular scene I am in. Sometimes just the radio but for action scenes in particular I have my MP3 player going with Korn, Godsmack, Breaking Benjamin or Rob Zombie. Anything like that. I have very eclectic taste in music. Which is reflected in my book. Music is a main theme throughout. 

5. How long have you been writing?

Since high school but only recently have I actually completed anything to a point where I am ok with others reading it. 

6. Tell us about when you realized you were ‘meant to be’ a writer.

I wish I could pinpoint a particular moment. I have always had stories I wanted to tell. It was just a matter of believing in myself enough to get them written down.

7. Do you have a muse?

Not a muse per say. More an inspiration. I love strong female voices in fiction. Real kick butt women. I wanted to create that type of character. 

8. How do you improve as a writer? (Workshops, conferences, reading)

I read. A LOT. Though oddly I tend to not read my genre. I have close to 200 books on my kindle and that’s not counting books I have in print. I study the styles of other writers, see things I like and things I don’t. Then go from there with my own writing. Also I find the writer’s group on Facebook extremely helpful. Lots of different opinions and outlooks on writing. Helps you stay creative.

9. Writing quirks or superstitions?

I am slightly superstitious about letting too many people read my entire manuscript before publishing. I have sent bits and pieces to many people in my writer’s group but only a few close family members and friends have read Core of Steel in its entirety. 

10. Tell us about your current work-in-progress.

I am currently working on the second book in my Steel series. Book one, Core of Steel will be available for purchase soon. Book two, Hardened by Steel is still in its infancy. I find starting the hardest part. Once I get a couple chapters down it comes easier but the first bit is a struggle.

11. What book are you reading now? I just finished Zombie Fallout 6 by Mark Tufo. I will be starting Zombie Fallout 7 shortly.

 12. What genre do you write in? What about POV? Military suspense. Core of Steel isn’t a spy novel but it has some of the aspects of one like cool cutting edge technology and sweet rides. The POV is split, the main character is written in First Person, past tense. The rest is third person, past tense. I did it that way to make, Mic stand out more.

 13. Tell us about writing preparation. Character Profiles? Outlines?

I don’t do a traditional outline. I scribble notes and tack them to my cork board in my office. It’s disorganized and messy but it works. When a thought or bit of dialogue comes to me, I jot it down and save it. To a degree I do character outlines, especially the farther along I get I need to keep who is going to be doing what, more organized.

14. Do you know how your stories will end?

Usually yes. I have the beginning and the end well ahead of time, I just need to fill in the middle.
15. Do you books have a message or theme? Or are they purely for entertainment?

The only message I have isn’t a deliberate one. I want people to see what our veterans do and sacrifice for us but my main goal is entertainment.

16. Do you have any favorite snacks or drinks that you eat/drink while writing?

Yes. Coffee! I always have coffee near at hand. As for snacks, nothing in particular. If I have to eat while writing I just try not to get too many crumbs in my keyboard.

17. Tell us about your other passions.

Tattoos. I am hugely passionate about tattoos. I have several and I love everything about them. The art, the deep meanings they portray. 
18. What’s something interesting about you?

That’s an extremely difficult question. I don’t feel like there is anything overly interesting about me. It’s my characters that are interesting.

19. Share a small sample(limit to one paragraph, please) of your writing… can be a WIP or already published.

This is the first paragraph in Chapter 1 of Core of Steel. There is a prologue that explains the chair reference.
I sank into some stretches, trying to work out the kinks left over from our last mission. Today was my first day back, both to the track and my normal warm up. At least this time around I had no serious injuries to contend with, just some left over stiffness in the muscles of my arms and legs. Being tied to a wooden chair for days will do that to you. No new bullet holes to report, for me at least, can’t say that for the other guys. I slipped my ear buds in and the pounding bass of Godsmack filled my head. I finished up my stretches and slid my Ray Bans on to guard against the glaring summer sun.

20. Anything you’d like to say to your current and future readers?

Thank you for your time, thank you for going on this journey with me. There is no greater joy for an author than sharing their stories with their readership. Mic is an amazing woman and she has many more stories to tell. Stick with me and we’ll go on an adventure.

For Your Reading Pleasure…Shantella Benson

  
Today’s feature is Shantella Benson. We’re glad to have her today! 

1. Tell us about yourself. May include links to Facebook, twitter, blogs, websites, Amazon author page) I’m a debut author. The first book in my Dystopian trilogy releases March 2016. After that, I will be published in the DC Anthologies, a five book anthology by group of eager and inspired authors who met at UtopYA 2015 (now called Utopia). I have two paranormal short stories in two different books. 

I also have a book blog called The WordSmithe at thewordsmithe.wordpress.com. I review books that inspire my writing—mostly YA and NA Dystopian/scifi, paranormal, and urban fantasy. I even will review Contemporary Romance. The only genre I won’t review on my blog is erotica. I’m not opposed to reading it. I’m just thinking of my audience which does include teens.

2. How do you choose names for your characters? I have a few websites I frequent for names. In my trilogy, The Alliance Chronicles, the main characters are ethnically diverse. In their society, multicultural people are known as Hybrids and their names usually reflect their ethnicities. The male main character is Zared Aoki, a Hybrid of Indian and Korean heritage. The female main character’s parents wanted to hide her Hybrid status, but her name (Truly Shara Shepard) has a special meaning in the story.

3. Do you talk about your book/characters as though they are real? Of course, doesn’t all writers?

4. Do you listen to music when you write or edit? What kind? Yes! I actually create playlists on Spotify. Each book in the trilogy has its own list (Regress, Rescue and Restore). I also have a playlist for paranormal writing and one for my urban fantasy. 

I like to choose music with lyrics that mean something to the story. They may set a scene (intimacy, loss, challenge) or simply put me in the mood for writing a certain character (Eminem when I’m writing about Zared, for instance).

5. How long have you been writing? I have been writing on and off for years. A year ago, however, I got serious and decided to participate in NaNoWriMo. I wrote the rough draft for Regress: The Alliance Chronicles Book One.

6. Tell us about when you realized you were ‘meant to be’ a writer. This happened recently when I started world building for my urban fantasy. I enjoyed creating maps, doing research, and creating a Pinterest board for the project. I realized this was something I used to do as a kid writing stories. Back then, I clipped pictures of possible characters from magazines and catalogs. I took cardboard and created maps. I even took pictures from decorating magazines to create scenes.

7. Do you have a muse? Yes, and she can be quite temperamental. I tried to plot the second book in the trilogy. She let me write about 6,000 words and then shut up. When I put the carefully crafted plot to the side and returned to my pantser ways, she spoke again. Lesson learned.

8. How do you improve as a writer? (Workshops, conferences, reading) All of the above. I attended my very first conference, UtopYA Con, back in June. It was phenomenal. I participated in workshops/panels and learned a lot. I also picked up a critique partner from that convention. She has helped me immensely. I learned what my writing was lacking, and it has been a delightful journey with her.

9. Writing quirks or superstitions? Not yet. My husband may beg to differ, though.

10. Tell us about your current work-in-progress. I actually have a few things I’m working on. It’s the great thing about writing. It feeds my need to stay busy. I just finished the rough draft for book two in the trilogy, Rescue: The Alliance Chronicles Book Two. I’ll be writing the rough draft for my urban fantasy during NaNoWriMo. It’s based off the folk tale called The Raven by the Brothers Grimm. In their tale, there’s a young child who is turned into a raven because she was bothering her mother. In my story, the girl was transformed into a raven to protect her identity from a demon uncle who wanted her dead. There are shapeshifters and portals into another world.

 
11. What book are you reading now? I’m reading a few at the moment: Forsaken by J.D. Barker, Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray and Secrets by Christina Benjamin.

12. What genre do you write in? What about POV? Dystopian and Paranormal/Urban Fantasy. I love first person POV.

13. Tell us about writing preparation. Character Profiles? Outlines? Believe it not, the sparks to my writing prep usually start in the shower. I get an idea in my head and I kind of flesh it out in the shower. Once I get an idea, I start imagining characters. I like to do the secret boards on Pinterest. I’ll pin images of the characters and scene ideas. 

I don’t really outline. I write out a story premise. For the trilogy, I created propaganda quotes to begin each chapter. So, I decided how many quotes I wanted and that determined, roughly, how many chapters were in the book. For the Urban Fantasy, I just started writing scenes as they came to me.

For the short stories, I used the same process, but I had to determine Beginning, Middle and End. I had to adhere to that structure more closely to stay within the word count required.

14. Do you know how your stories will end? With the short stories most definitely. With the trilogy and even the Urban Fantasy, I listen to my characters. With the rough draft I just completed, I didn’t know how to end it until a few days ago.

15. Do your books have a message or theme? Or are they purely for entertainment? There’s a message in the trilogy. Right now, the Urban Fantasy is just entertainment. Oh, and there’s a theme for the short stories.

16. Do you have any favorite snacks or drinks that you eat/drink while writing? I love Welch’s Fruit Snacks, but I need to eat healthier. So, I gave them up. It’s hard. Now, I’ll reach for some microwave popcorn (not the same pleasure). If I’m not guzzling water, I have a glass of wine for the evening writing session.

17. Tell us about your other passions. I love tv marathon sessions! I also enjoy acrylic painting, sewing and discovering new crafts.

18. What’s something interesting about you? I’ve worked in a variety of industries—tv news, community newspaper, veterinary medicine, video duplication, computer software development—just to name a few. I also use to groom Samoyeds for dog shows. We owned three Samoyeds, one was a show dog.

19. Share a small sample(limit to one paragraph, please) of your writing… can be a WIP or already published. 

This is the opening paragraph from Regress: The Alliance Chronicles Book One.

Someone once compared living in New Detroit to having a religion. It was a fanciful idea about living a life full of hope despite the presence of tragedy. Illogical. Irrational. Life in my town required a lot more than hope. It required a blind eye shutting out the ever-present insanity on our streets. It helped if you could block out the scars from our wars. Fortitude was a better word.

20. Anything you’d like to say to your current and future readers? Check out my blog. I post updates on my writing each week. I’ll be posting more about my upcoming releases too.

For Your Reading Pleasure…Susan Burdorf

  

Welcome back to For Your Reading Pleasure. Today’s guest is Susan Burdorf. 

1. Tell us about yourself. May include links to Facebook, twitter, blogs, websites, Amazon author page)Hello. My name is Susan Burdorf and I am the author of a YA Contemporary book called, “A Cygnet’s Tale” which is a modern retelling of the story of The Ugly Duckling. I am also a mom, a grandma, and I work full time as well as write. Here are some links to keep in touch with me (I LOVE it when my readers send me messages) Twitter: @susanburdorfauthor Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/susanburdorfauthor website: http://www.susanburdorfwrites.com

Buy Link: a Cygnet’s Tale
2. How do you choose names for your characters?

    Character names are not that hard for me. For some reason, maybe because the characters are contemporary, I do not have to work too hard to find names. I am a Girl Scout Leader and work with teens a lot so I draw my names from their names.

3. Do you talk about your book/characters as though they are real?

Yes, I do.

4. Do you listen to music when you write or edit? What kind?

I do listen to music, but I do not pick songs to match scenes like a lot of authors do. I find that music, or the tv playing, or the grandkids running around in the background is like white noise – I hear it, but I don’t really pay attention to it. It soothes my mind to be around noises that are familiar, but otherwise I ignore them. I really enjoy listening to James Blunt, One Republic, The Calling, or Enya when I write. Sometimes I like instrumental music like 2Cellos or Lindsey Stirling.

5. How long have you been writing? 

Someone else asked me this question the other day and I told him the story of my “What I Did Over the Summer” essay that we all had to write when I was in school. It was third grade and I wrote such a long essay that it was twelve pages (in my defense, it had been a very busy summer) and a teacher told me I should be a writer. I never stopped writing, but the real question here is not how long I have been writing, but how long have I thought of myself as a writer. And that question’s answer is – since I was a teen. I have numerous stories buried in a box that someday will be rediscovered as my “lost manuscripts” ala Harper Lee (no, not really, I am nowhere near her skill level and know it, but it is nice to dream) and then I will know I made it! I love to write, always have. As a young teen I wanted to go to college to be a journalist, but my parents talked me out of it. Every job I have ever had I have had a way of making writing a part of it. I love stories, I love plots, and I love to see my name in print.

6. Tell us about when you realized you were ‘meant to be’ a writer.

See the answer above.

7. Do you have a muse?

I do not have a muse. Although I believe I have a writing fairy who keeps sending me story ideas…usually when I am in the shower or in the car driving someplace or sleeping. Everywhere you can be where you cannot write down the ideas the ping pong around inside my head and that I wish I could write down! But, I think every writer has that issue!

8. How do you improve as a writer? (Workshops, conferences, reading) 

I am lucky to have started getting very serious about writing when UtopYA (now known as Utopia Con) began. I made connections and new friends. I joined groups on Facebook devoted to writing. I attend a monthly call with Heather Hildenbrand (the guru of everything writing) who invites guest speakers and allows fantastic conversations. I joined local writer’s groups to help me get started, and attend several conferences a year at which I am lucky enough to meet with and converse with folks who have made it onto best sellers lists and they let me pick their brains. The Indie writing community is vast and generous. I also attend workshops. At first I went to every workshop on writing I could find – query letters; plotting; character development, etc until I felt that they started repeating the messages. Now I am much more selective. For newbie writers I always recommend knowing what you want out of your writing and direct your outside activities toward achieving those goals. And I also tell them to READ. Read everything, not just how to books, but also books in and out of your genre. Write down phrases that make you think or are interesting to you and analyze them – it will help your writing improve. And make friends. Make friends with your fellow authors and your fans. WE, the writing community, are the best resource to improving writing, both our own and the rest of our community.

9. Writing quirks or superstitions? 

I don’t have any.

10. Tell us about your current work-in-progress.

I have a series of YA novellas that will release beginning in January 2016 with each one releasing each month. The series will involve a party where all the female guests come dressed as their favorite Fairy Tale character. Unbeknownst to the lead character who has invited her friends and their boyfriends, a demon has been released into their midst and forces them to act out the fairy tale of their costume with a twist…they must battle the demon and if they lose, he gets their souls. I am having a blast with this one, because it is so different and dark from anything I have ever written before. It is called the “A Little Midnight Madness” series. But before that one comes out I have two stand alone books releasing this year. Both are YA. “Breaking Fences” is the YA Contemporary story of Cutter Boone and his inability to release his guilt over the death of his father until he meets Melodie Graham, a former barrel racer and feisty daughter of a drunk who beats her. Both help each other discover the mystery of some cattle rustlers and face down three rabid coyotes along the way. The next book, due to release in December 2015 is called “Clockwork and Lace” and is a Steampunk novel about a young girl who must find her grandmother utilizing the help of a metal dragon who can talk and time travel.

11. What book are you reading now?

I am a moderator on a panel for Southern Festival of Books in Nashville, TN in October 2015 so I am reading the books of the panelists I will be introducing. One is “The Same Sky” by Amanda Eyre Ward and the other is “Dear Carolina” by Kristy Woodson Harvey. I just finished reading “The Orphan Queen” by Jodi Lawrence Meadows which I highly recommend.

12. What genre do you write in? What about POV?

I have written so far in YA Contemporary and one book, “A Cygnet’s Tale” is in first person POV. “Breaking Fences” is also YA Contemporary and is in third person. I know most YA books are first person, but I like the freedom of third person.

13. Tell us about writing preparation. Character Profiles? Outlines?

I do like to do character sketches for my complicated characters. Sometimes I have as much as 7 pages of information listed that show me where the character was born, what they like to eat, if they like designer clothes, what they watch on tv, what their favorite subject at school is, etc. I like to look online for pictures of people I think look like my image of the character. I outline some of the story to keep things on track, but I have found that as I write I tend to go off track anyway, the characters sometimes hijack the story…and at those times I let them take the lead.

14. Do you know how your stories will end?

Yes, I do. I know the beginning, the middle, and the end of all my stories. That helps keep me on track. I find that not doing this first sends the story all over the place. That is no fun to read, and definitely no fun to edit.

15. Do you books have a message or theme? Or are they purely for entertainment?

Yes. I like my books to carry one theme since they are YA I want people to know they are okay just the way you are.

16. Do you have any favorite snacks or drinks that you eat/drink while writing?

Nope.

17. Tell us about your other passions.

My family is very important to me. I also love to hike and photography is something I enjoy. I also like to collect DVD’s. I have a pretty extensive movie collection. I like hockey, and enjoy going to games.
 
18. What’s something interesting about you?

I am a conservationist. I helped create an Arboretum in a town I lived in. We also created a Nature Trail and a butterfly garden which a local school uses to conduct science experiments like rainfall totals and plant growth.

19. Share a small sample(limit to one paragraph, please) of your writing… can be a WIP or already published.

This is the beginning of “A Cygnet’s Tale”:
“Fairy tales don’t always have a beautiful princess…or a happy ending.
Sometimes they have ugly ducklings who never grow into their wings.
And sometimes they have something altogether different, just because they can.
There are no rules in fairy tales, except that they must start with ‘once upon a time, in a land far away, there lived a… and then you get to fill in the blank.”

20. Anything you’d like to say to your current and future readers?

I want to remind readers to READ. Whether you read my books or not, just read. And after you read, please take the time to leave a review. Your author friends will appreciate it very much. Thank you for taking the time to visit with me and I hope to hear from you soon!

Susan Burdorf, Author

A Cygnet’s Tale (released May 2015)Breaking Fences (releasing soon)

For Your Reading Pleasure…Janey Edkins

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Our feature today is Janey Edkins. Let’s see what she says about her writing process. Enjoy!

1. Tell us about yourself. May include links to Facebook, twitter, blogs, websites, Amazon author page)

I’m British, but lived a good chunk of my life in South Africa. A few years back I suddenly yearned for home, so I up sticks and moved back home and now live in the smallest county in the UK called Rutland. I live with my partner Peter Barker, who is a professional landscape artist (look him up!) in a dinky little stone built cottage in the village of South Luffenham where it overlooks fields of sheep and birds flock every day. Sounds ideal, doesn’t it? Well shall I let you into a little secret: it is!

2. How do you choose names for your characters?

Names are really vital and I changed my characters names many times until I got the perfect fit. It worked for me, but it may not work for some.

3. Do you talk about your book/characters as though they are real?

You mean they’re not? Seriously though, the scary part about that is that they are more real to me than my own neighbours!

4. Do you listen to music when you write or edit? What kind?

No, I have tried, but I find I can’t concentrate.

5. How long have you been writing?

About five years.

6. Tell us about when you realized you were ‘meant to be’ a writer.

It dawned on me years ago when I’d leave messages pinned to friends’ doors that could never be short and succinct; they would always end up as long as the Dead Sea Scrolls. I always had a story to tell, whatever shape or form.

7. Do you have a muse?

No not really. I have a few authors whose books inspire me when I feel a bit low and unloved, but other than that, no, it’s a lonely journey. And I have a huge confession to make. I very rarely read, (a) I’m too busy writing my own stuff, (b) I find myself analysing the style too much, and (c) I get bored and want to get back to my own adventures.

8. How do you improve as a writer?

Just keep on writing and writing. Writing is like an apprenticeship; the more you hone and sharpen you gain confidence. I’m still doing it. Every time I look back on my work, I find more ways to improve, every single time!.

9. Writing quirks or superstitions?

None, I’m afraid.

10. Tell us about your current work-in-progress.

I’m doing a follow up on Walking on Marshmallows. I was in two minds, but I have so many more adventure to fulfil.

11. What book are you reading now?

The Help’ which is a very moving story, but I generally love humour, so every now and again I dip into a couple of old novels I bought at a charity shop. One in particular: Pastures Nouveaux by Wendy Holden, a ridiculously funny pastiche of characters and situations. This author is a very, very clever writer, and beyond funny.

12. What genre do you write in?

Contemporary women’s fiction with lots of humour and gutsy characterisation.

13. Tell us about writing preparation. Character Profiles? Outlines?

Honestly, I wing it as I go along and let the characters take me where I’m going.

14. Do you know how your stories will end?

I thought I did, but the characters take over, veering much to my own surprise in a totally different direction.

15. Do your books have a message or theme? Or are they purely for entertainment?

Both: my stories are always laced with humour, but weaved with practically every inescapable human emotion there is.

16. Do you have any favorite snacks or drinks that you eat/drink while writing?

Actually, I forget about eating when I’m writing, so for those who want to lose weight take up writing.

17. Tell us about your other passions.

Beyond writing: three daughters, art, Peter, wildlife, beautiful jam-packed gardens, the sight and soundlessness of drifting snow, good wholesome food and a glass of wine, British dramas, The Great British Bakeoff, Strictly Come Dancing, amateur dramatics – which translates to me making a total arse of myself- and to let off steam I’m the member of our local choir.

18. What’s something interesting about you?

I used to be a Playboy Bunny .

19. Share a small sample (limit to one paragraph, please) of your writing… can be a WIP or already published.

Here goes…

“Hello Sleepy Head
Guess what? You’re mad, and you drive me mad, but I’m mad about you…
Happy Anniversary, darling.

Mmmm…a little shiver passed through Angie as she thought back to earlier that morning – Matt waking her with the spongiest of kisses, their eyes locking, mouths seeking each others out and intensifying and intensifying and intensifying into the biggest, most frenzied, most delicious tongue-duelling sno –
‘Stop! For the love of God, stop!’
There was a split second’s confusion, during which Angie let out a hideously girly scream, did a dithery pin-toed cha-cha then slammed with wild abandonment into the well-padded contours of her mum’s arse.
‘Mum! Jesus Christ!’ she staggered about, finally righted herself. ‘What the hell?!’
‘I can’t do it!’ wailed Bridie dragging a theatrical hand up to her quivering mouth.
‘Do what?’ hissed Angie, glancing about with utter embarrassment as she bent down to retrieve one of about thirty try-ons she’d been carting about– in this instance a pair of elasticised slacks for the fuller figure (size 18-masquerading-as-12).
‘This?’
‘What?’
‘I can’t bear it, this place, it’s horrible.’
By this place Bridie meant Oxford Street’s Top Shop: totally upbeat and crammed with every conceivable accessory of inner, outer and under wear, but notorious for inducing heart attacks for anyone with even the slightest disposition of feebleness.
‘But you wanted to come here,’ said Angie, trying to conceal an exasperated eye-roll.
‘I know,’ said Bridie, looking sheepish for a second before spouting forth. ‘But I didn’t know it was going to be like this!’
‘Like what?’
‘…Dante’s Inferno.’
‘Mum, don’t be so bloody ridic—’
‘I can’t do it,’ said Bridie, hysteria mounting again. ‘It’s vile! It’s the devil’s lair! You have to get me out of here!’
Angie narrowed her lips and gripped the strap of her handbag until her knuckles turned white. Get her out of here, did she just say: get.her.out.of.here? Where the hell did she think she was in the bloody jungle lying on a makeshift hammock on I’m a Celebrity. When only milliseconds ago she’d been swanning up and down the aisles and inspecting labels (with her ridiculous, pretend glasses on) as if she was bloody-bleeding-pissing Kate Middleton’s personal shopper.”

End of sample

20. Anything you’d like to say to your current and future readers?

I am more than grateful to the people who have downloaded or purchased my book Walking on Marshmallows which is available on Amazon. And will be even more grateful if you read the next one and give me some feedback! You can contact me on My Blog – Janey’s Jottings, or email me at janeuknow@gmail.com – or best of all flex your fingers and get a review on Amazon; it only takes about thirty seconds!

Great! Thanks so much, Janey, and good luck!!
E&M