The Rules

Jo Robinson
Jo Robinson

A lot of indie authors are pretty rigid with their writing rules. There’s nothing wrong with this when it’s your style, and self-imposed. You’ll have problems though if rigid rules don’t fit well with your character, and you’ve only inflicted them on yourself because a successful and well known writer said that that’s what you should be doing if you ever want to succeed. “Must” is often the word lurking behind procrastination in any field, and when it comes to creative souls, I believe it could shut down production pretty well.

The minute we’re told we must do something, our subconscious goes into overdrive, bombarding us with all the ways we could fail, and settles like a lump in your mind, effectively blocking all those wonderful sentences that had been champing at the bit to leap onto your pages. This fear can be good in small doses. When you have to do one particular finite job, it can goad you into stepping up to the plate and giving it your best shot, purely so that you can put it behind you and move on. But if it’s a rule that you see looming into your entire future career, it could very well be daunting enough for some to throw in the towel rather than risk failure.

If you are told that in order to be any sort of author worth your salt that you MUST write a minimum of X amount of words every single day, and you MUST avoid adverbs, and you must this or that or the other thing – and you believe it – even though your writing regime and style are miles away from that, you’re pretty much going to knobble yourself. If it is your own personal goal to churn out ten books a year, and your personal writing style is naturally succinct, then apply those rules to yourself without fear. On the other hand, if you like to toss in a couple of flowery or acrimonious adverbs now and then (as I do), and if forcing yourself to write thousands of words every day raises your cortisol levels to terrifying heights, then you really shouldn’t, because even if you do manage to get any words down they’re not likely to be the ones that you would have written under your own steam. Fine for businesslike articles, but not so much for creative fiction or non-fiction.

We have more than enough fear already as writers, whether previously published or not. Thoughts pop up that what we publish will be laughed under tables all over the place, or that readers will guess which bits of our fiction aren’t really fiction at all, and think that we’re just plain weirdoes, and so on, and so on. Write your own book at your own pace, and in whatever style is yours without worrying about what anyone will think, until you’ve written the very last word of it. Then you can worry about grammar while you’re doing your dreaded edits. And just because a particular way of writing is believed by many modern authors to be the most well received, that doesn’t mean that it’s true. There is nothing wrong with a couple of well placed adverbs in any story for instance. They can add feeling and depth to a sentence. We use them in our speech after all, so why should they be excluded from the written word?

So yes, read what other authors say about their own success stories. Read all the advice out there, but think it through first as it would apply to you, and follow your own heart and style when you write your own. Many of the most wildly successful books were written in styles and by writers who conformed to nobody but themselves, and broke so many of the rules that they wouldn’t have stood a chance if they had followed the pack.

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Q&A P.S. Bartlett-The Blue Diamond: THE RAZOR’S EDGE @PSBartlett

Reviewed by Michelle Stanley for Readers’ Favorite
“It’s not often I read stories about female pirates and I am impressed with The Blue Diamond (The Razor’s Edge Book One). P.S. Bartlett writes an entertaining novel that offers great action, adventure and witty dialogue. The personalities of Ivory and her cousins are complex, but I easily connected with them. These are independent, free spirited women with lusty appetites, especially Miranda. Their sense of humour shines through any situation they are placed in. I liked this romantic story which includes some historical data to make it appropriate for that era.”

*This Book Was Given To Me By The Author In Exchange For An Honest Review* Amanda Masters of Nerd Girl Reviews 5 out of 5 Stars
“Great Story! full of adventure and pirates! P.S. Bartlett is a wonderful storyteller and her characters are full of life and woe and they go from ship to ship plundering and pillaging. I found myself caught up more and more by their story as I got to know more about them and I can’t wait to read more! These are some of the mose interesting pirates I have come across in a long time!”
Kindle Ninja 5 out of 5 Stars
“There’s a feisty pirate at sea and she’s not to be messed with. Swashbuckling Ivory “Razor” Shepard, with three of her equally fearless female cousins, set sail to escape the manhunt, err femalehunt. Forget damsels in distress, you won’t find them in here. Instead, you’re treated to a rampaging story dressed up in the trappings of pirate lore.”
 ps-bartlett

 The Blue Diamond: THE RAZOR’S EDGE

 

History, adventure and a touch of romance. Is there any wonder why I wanted to interview my guest today? Veteran of several novels and a great conversationalist, I might add, P.S. Bartlett was a must as soon as I met her. So now without any more words, meet  . . .

Author_Photo

 

RW: Where does a Pirate Adventure Romance author live?

P.S.: I was born and raised in Baltimore, MD. I grew up in a corner row home in South Baltimore. Now they call it Federal Hill but when I was growing up there, Federal Hill was just a big hill overlooking the inner harbor where we rode our bikes and went sledding because the hills were awesome. It is also a national monument.

RW: Why do you write about Pirates?

P.S.: I love history. I love doing research and learning something with each book I write.

RW: Where did the title The Blue Diamond – The Razor’s Edge come from?

P.S.: The reason for choosing that name is simple; the book is about a big blue diamond. The Razor is the main character and the Razor’s Edge means…well, you’ll have to read it to figure that part out for yourself. 😉

RW: I did read it but I won’t give the reason away. Tell those that haven’t read the book what The Blue Diamond is about.

P.S.: The best way I’ve found to describe it in a simple way is: Charlie’s Angels meet the Pirates of the Caribbean. However, here is the blurb: Ivory Shepard didn’t want to be a pirate when she grew up but she didn’t plan on being orphaned and alone at thirteen with her three cousins either.

RW: Ivory and her cousins were basically orphaned after a Spanish raid, that’s not giving away anything of the story, what happens next that ends up leading them to lives as pirates?

P.S.: Ivory held her cousins together, trained them to fight for their lives and led them to a life of quiet refuge on the banks of the Ashley River. Out of reach of the hands of unscrupulous men, they found life on the farm a tolerable substitute for the traditional alternatives life would force onto them—until the night the pirates showed up.

Setting foot on that first pirate ship was nothing compared to the life of freedom and adventure awaiting them, once Ivory and the girls were through playing nice. Only one man believes he can stop her and he won’t need a ship full of guns to do it.

If it were only that easy…

RW: Is it ever that easy when romance is involved? Tell us what inspired the book?

P.S.: Who knows where my crazy ideas come from, right? I love pirates, adventure and stories about powerful women. I mushed them all together and this is what came out my head.

RW: Ivory and the man Maddox Carbonale are the main, I guess I will say love interests, protagonists in the book. In my review I referred to their relationship as similar to Rhett and Scarlett from Gone with the Wind. Two leaders, strong willed and strong minded who meet and fireworks begin, tell us about them and who else we’ll find in The Blue Diamond-The Razor’s Edge.

P.S.: Ivory is strong, proud and capable but she is also wounded deep inside. She’ll kill or die to protect her family—and has. Fortunately, she and her cousins are survivors. All four women are completely different but I believe they represent women of every century.

Cassandra: The voice of reason and logical thinking.

Miranda: Passionate, willful and loving—and perhaps a bit promiscuous.

Keara: Stern and matter of fact. She’s small but she’s a spitfire and true leader.

The male protagonist is Maddox Carbonale. He is a rival captain and an interesting man. He enjoys the finer things in life, even if he does steal them. He reads Shakespeare and isn’t the sort to engage in down and dirty deeds.

Alphonse Green is Maddox’s Quartermaster and best friend. He’s a native Jamaican and is both Maddox’s right hand and his conscience.

RW: Describe your book in one word.

P.S.: Fearless!

RW: The Blue Diamond-The Razor’s Edge is your first trip into Adventure, but you’ve written two other books, one that has actually won a few awards. Tell us about them.

P.S.: My first two novels: Fireflies and Hope From the Ocean are the first two books in a series about the Whelan family. They are an Irish immigrant family. Both stories take place in the 19th Century and have paranormal elements and tell quite a bit of the family saga.

RW: You failed to mention the Reader’s Favorite Awards for Fireflies. But I just did so we’ll let it go for now. So being a pirate lady, is your favorite beverage rum with gunpowder in it like Blackbeard?

P.S.: Coffee—the darker roast the better. No sugar but I love sugar free flavored creamers of pretty much any kind.

RW: What did you learn about yourself from writing this book?

P.S.: Besides the fact that I can write an awful lot, I suppose that I really am living out some great fantasies through my writing.

RW: What are you working on right now?

P.S.: I am currently writing book three in the Fireflies series and preparing to launch The Blue Diamond.

RW: Tell us about your publishing as it stands right now.

P.S.: I am currently with Ravenswood Publishing but down the road, I would hope an agent could be a possibility. Obviously I want to be a bestseller some day and I know someone is going to have to sell my books up the chain. Right now, I’m very happy with Ravenswood and the owner, Kitty Honeycutt. She’s been a fabulous advocate for my books.

RW: What is your biggest tip for someone to getting published?

P.S.: Write the BEST possible book you can. Learn as much as you can about the publishing industry so you can make the right choices for yourself.

RW: Sometimes our stories or our characters just don’t cooperate with us and we want to tear our hair out. What do you do to let that go?

P.S.: Playing with my three granddaughters or just hanging out chatting and having fun with my girlfriends watching a football game.

RW: What book are you reading at this time?

P.S.: I’m finishing up the first book in the Outlander series. I’m hoping to read book two by Christmas. When you work a full time job, write, have a family, grandchildren and husband, finding precious time to read is a blessing.

RW: Who are your favorite authors?

P.S.: If I’m going way, way back, I’d have to start with the master himself, Stephen king. I loved horror and after I read Carrie in middle school, I was hooked. I also love Anne Rice, Jane Austen and in high school, I was obsessed with William Shakespeare.

RW: If you could have written any book that exists, other than your own, what would it be and why?

P.S.: Gone with Wind. I don’t know why. I suppose because it is a masterpiece of historical fiction.

 

How to acquire P.S. Bartlett’s books at Amazon!

The Blue Diamond-The Razor’s Edge

Fireflies

Hope From the Ocean

 

Where to find P.S. Bartlett online:

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Self-Publishing is the Future-Guest Post by Author-Kimberly Castillo @K_A_Castillo

Self-Publishing is the Future

by Kimberly Castillo

Kimberly_Castillo

 

 

 

 

Author of The Convenience of Lies

 

Two separate small publishers offered me contracts to publish The Convenience of Lies. I turned both of them down because I didn’t like the terms they were offering. For both contracts I would receive minimal royalties (less than $0.25/copy sold), would be required to do all of my own publicity, and I would have to sign away the rights to my book. One publisher even required me to pay my own editor! At that point, it seemed like all the publishers were really providing for me was cover art and prestige, and for a very high price.

To be honest, I didn’t want to sell myself out like this. The Convenience of Lies is a project I started 10 years ago and I have truly invested my heart, time, money, and soul. While I was shopping my book around the traditional publishing world, it fell into the hands of an editorial reviewer, who gave me a glowing review of my work. Not only that, but my mom is a high school English teacher and she’s had boys in her class who don’t like to read complete it in one night, by choice. I was not about to let a traditional publisher take advantage of my creation.

At the same time as I was querying publishers, I was also researching self-publishing. I discovered that I could self-publish through Amazon’s CreateSpace and receive royalties of over $5.00/copy, which is more than a 20x increase from traditional publishing. Also, CreateSpace has a cover creator tool that I could use to generate the cover, and has a print on demand option. Meaning, when someone orders my book from Amazon, CreateSpace prints it, takes their cut of the profit, and sends me the royalties. There is no up-front cost for either party.

Not only is self-publishing arguably a better business decision, due to the internet it is now the choice of the future. We are in an era where we don’t need a publisher to reach our audience. The internet has cut out the middle man and made it so that artists can reach their audience directly. This applies not only to publishing your book, but also to promoting your book. Between tumblr, twitter, facebook, reddit, and the blogosphere, you can reach out directly to readers as I am doing now. Keep in mind that many traditional publishers require authors to do this promotional work. So, let me ask you, what is that traditional publisher really doing for its authors?

As ironic as it is for me to say as an author, the world of traditional publishing is ending. Artists can now affordably create professional works and also reach their audience as never before. Not only that (and a real cincher) the author can also keep possession of the rights to their works through self-publishing. The world of traditional publishing is simply taking too much from authors and not giving them enough in return. The internet has cut out the middle man with the connections and has given you direct access to those connections. As they say, it is simply up to you to seize this opportunity.

 

Kimberly Castillo  

http://www.kacastillo.blogspot.com/

Buy Convenience of Lies at Amazon

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The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of either ronovanwrites.wordpress.com or litworldinterviews.wordpress.com. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.

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Jo Robinson #Kindle #Books #Free & .99 #Amazon !!!! @jorobinson176

You can still get Fly Birdie and The Visitation each for .99! The other special prices have expired.

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African Me & Satellite TV

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Q&A Jo Robinson African Me & Satellite TV @jorobinson176

AM Cover V1 - CopyAfrican Me & Satellite TV

Jo Robinson

“Even though this is not the type of story I would normally read, I enjoyed the other three different themed books by this author (Fly Birdie, The Visitation and Shadow People) so much that I decided to try this latest one – and I’m glad I did, because it let me see yet another aspect of her talent as a writer.”-Chris Graham

The author has done a masterful job describing a wide range of characters. The artistic Suzette, the rugged men who work the land, the cook, maid, and tragic gardner – all have distinct personalities that leapt off the page. Enter the villainous couple who I wanted the smack from the moment I met them.”-Mark Myers

There is never a dull moment in the Hertzog household, which consists of Suzette, her loving husband Herman, their cook, Precious, the gardener, Christopher and their dog and cat who are like their children.
The novel is set in today’s Zimbabwe and Suzette, the main character – a white woman of Afrikaner heritage – cares a lot about justice and despises prejudice of any sort. Her problem is that she doesn’t want to rock the boat, is scared of most things but especially public speaking.
When the Shermans move in next door, with their ugly, racist and mean attitude, Suzette is beginning to find it difficult to contain her rage.”-Carol Balawyder

 

I met my guest today through what I call Blog World, the land of blogdom. We followed each other and enjoyed each others posts. Then I discovered she was an author and . . . of course . . . I had to ask for an interview. I don’t ask everyone, but she’s an amazing lady and I find her posts enjoyable and I needed to find out more. So without any more from me, it’s time to meet . . .

Jo Robinson

Jo Robinson (2)

 

RW: Tell us where you’re from?

JO: I was born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, but spent most of my childhood in Johannesburg and my

twenties in Cape Town.  After that I lived in Zimbabwe – out in the rural lands – until last year, when I

came back home to South Africa.  And very happy to be back, even though I’ll never forget the people

I met, the adventures I had, and the lessons that Zimbabwe taught me.

 

 

RW: And who would you say are your favorite authors?

JO: There aren’t many genres that I don’t like to read, so my favorite authors probably look a little mismatched.  I’ve always loved horror, with Stephen King at the top of that pile for me. 

Ever since I read Carpet People by Terry Pratchett when I was young, I’ve been madly in love with that man –I’ve read most of his books at least three times each. 

I’m a big sci-fi and fantasy fan too, so James Herbert, Asimov of course, Anne McCaffrey, and Piers Anthony are major faves. 

I also love Joanna Trollope’s gentle style of writing, and Philippa Gregory’s historical books.

 

RW: What is your favorite beverage to drink, any kind?

JO: I very seldom drink anything other than water during the day – boring, I know, I know, but I’m a big fan of wildly colored cocktails with umbrellas and swizzle sticks in them for now and then, and champagne and orange with breakfast now and then is not a bad thing at all.

 

 

RW: What is your favorite word?

JO: Goodness!  I never knew I had one, but the first word that pops up now is love.  It’s the answer to most questions and problems after all.

 

 

RW: What is your background in writing, what makes you a writer?

JO: I started writing quite abruptly a couple of years ago.  I never thought about it, or planned it.  It just happened.  I was sitting at the kitchen table writing out a shopping list, and it went something like: Milk – Bread – Bog Roll – and then the first few paragraphs of African Me & Satellite TV happened. I’ve never changed them either.  The way they are now in the book is the way that they came out then.  I’d actually forgotten until recently, that I had just started a new job as a reporter for a small town newspaper when I was eighteen, and I got to interview the junior Miss Bethal and write up the article just before my mother passed away.  It was published without any editing and I got a pat on the back for a job well done, but things got a bit crazy after that and writing never occurred to me again.

Reading on the other hand – I did that all the time.

 

 

RW: What is your escape from writing when you are at that about to explode point?

JO: I have quite a lot of loves, and fortunately these days my writing helps to bring them all together.  I paint, and cook, and garden, and just lately I’m trying my hand at photography and digital painting too.  The art and the photography aren’t guilty pleasures because those two things will hopefully help with future covers and book projects, but being out in the sun, or spending hours in a kitchen full of gorgeous aromas are pretty good explosion stoppers for me.

(I have to intrude, I now want to be in her kitchen.)

 

 

RW: What genre does African Me & Satellite TV fall into?

JO: Fictional Drama

 

 

RW: Tell us a little about your book.

JO: It’s about heartbreak caused by hatred and racism, and about healing with love and courage.

“For many years Suzette has managed very well to live her life without actually taking part in

it, avoiding any possibility of pain by very carefully ignoring reality. Until something happens.

Something so terrible that she has no choice but to abandon her cocoon of safety.

After the brutal beating of an elderly domestic worker, Suzette takes her in, and sets off a chain of events that leads to devastating heartbreak. And then an unexpected hero changes everything.

Finally finding her voice, she speaks out, and her world explodes, culminating in the death of a very special man.

On her path to make amends, she discovers the story of his life, connects with the people of his past, and finds the chance to fully live her life once again if that’s what she chooses to.”

 

 

RW: What inspired the book?

JO: I saw a terrible verbal racist attack take place on a street in Zimbabwe.  White person screaming abuse – black person standing silently looking at the ground until the white person made an exit with screeching wheels bouncing off the pavement.  It sort of smacked me in the face then that we had all just stood and gaped.  Not a single one of us had uttered a word or stepped in, when somebody really, really should have.  The foulness of that incident stayed in the back of my mind for a long time, and eventually became the inspiration for African Me.

 

 

RW: Tell us about your main character(s) and what you think will them connect to readers.

JO: hey’re human, and they have flaws.  Suzette has quite a few to be honest, and until you get to know her you might want to give her a little shake or two.  Christopher has suffered a great deal in his life, and fallen at one of life’s hurdles, so he’s also flawed.  But they have strengths too.  I think that all of the characters in this story came to life with their own very distinctive traits – good, bad, or just plain odd, and I’m pretty fond of most of them, warts and all.

 

 

RW: Who would play your main character(s) in a movie?

JO: Funny you should ask that – it has occurred to me.  I suppose all of us scribblers consider that now and then.  I would go for Charlize Theron and Morgan Freeman – in fact they were made for these roles!  Hang on a bit – just off to email them…..

charlize_theron morgan_freeman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RW: What message do you think your book delivers to the reader?

JO: That all humans need to respect all other humans as equals, and treat them as such, because at the end of the day it is the truth.  And that when some who feel so terribly superior to others have hatred in their hearts, and act out on it, only sorrow and loss can result.

 

 

RW: Describe your book in one word.

JO: That’s a sneaky one!  I think it will have to be “Live”, as in – Live your life.

RW: Where can we get your book now?

JO: There are several options:

Amazon

Smashwords

Barnes & Noble

iTunes

 

 

RW: How do people connect with you through all forms of social media?

JO: Mainly through my blog, which is my favourite place to be online, and I have Contact Me pages there and also on my website.  Google+ is lovely and interactive, and Twitter is great for chats.  I don’t have much time to spend on Facebook these days, although I’m going to try and make some.  The problem with Facebook is that once you open it up, you fly through some sort of warped and twisted portal that turns what you think are minutes into hours. And of there is also Goodreads.

 

RW: Do you currently have representation? If so who, and if not describe what qualities you would like in an agent and what you would bring to the relationship.

JO: I’ve never looked for an agent or publisher, and the couple that offered didn’t look overly fantastic to me.  I’ve worked very hard to learn what I know now about independent publishing, so I would have to be offered a very good deal to hand over the reins to any of my work, and with my control issues I don’t think that I’d be easy to work with.  I wouldn’t like to work with me that way.  Apart from my short story with Springbok Publications I only represent myself.  Like it like that.

 

 

SP2 The Hunger - Version 1 2

 

RW: What are you working on right now?

JO: I’ve had a lot of major interruptions to my work this past year and things have piled up, so I’m working on polishing three books at the moment, and I’ll publish all of them within weeks of each other probably.  The Hunger is the second book in my Shadow People series.  Emmaline, which is the first in my Ghost Writer collection, and a third, which even though it does have a title, I probably won’t share that until I publish it.  Or maybe I will – just not yet.

 

RW: What book are you reading at this time?

JO: I have a large pile of indie published books that I’m reading my way through to review right now on my Kindle, but at the same time I’m slowly reading the paper version of Further Along The Road Less Travelled by M. Scott Peck.  I loved the first book, and this one is also the kind of book that takes time to read in little bits, because of all the long pauses to stop and think a while.

 

 

RW: What is your biggest tip for someone to getting published?

JO: Write it and then do it.  For an indie published writer, my advice would definitely be not to publish the book that you’ve been slaving away on for years first.  Publish a shorter story to begin with to learn the ropes a little, figure out how things work, see how other authors are marketing their books, and then head on in with your novel.  Especially if you don’t already have much of an online presence -you’ll be to talking to the wall if there’s nobody in the room to buy your book.  Also, don’t be shy to ask for help with the technical bits.  Writers are kind souls, and they are mostly all willing to help you with your first time round.

 

 

RW: If you could have written any book that exists, other than your own, what would it be and why?

JO: I can think of a couple that I would have liked to have watched being written so I could get inside their authors heads, but I can’t think of any that I would have liked to have written myself – apart from Harry Potter because if I had I’d be rolling in dough and have all the time in the world to write my own stuff, and not have to worry about crusts of bread and so on.

 

~~~~

I would like to thank Jo for agreeing to the interview today and I am going to be begging for her to come back when it’s time for the release of her new books. I think when she described her book in one were she was describing what she does. I think we can all agree that Jo Robinson does live a life to its fullest.

 

GET HER BOOKS Starting Saturday September 20, 2014 for .99 and FREE for Kindle. See our other note about it.

Remember to buy her book at one of the following:

Amazon

Smashwords

Barnes & Noble

iTunes

Follow her at

blog,

Contact Me

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I followed them all, so why not you, right?

Much Respect

Ronovan

 

 

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Q&A w/Cyril Bussiere of The WorldMight @cyrilbussiere

new-cover-sept-2014-4

“The writing is utterly descriptive and sensory oriented and it really gets you to experience what the characters are going through.”-Dan

“This book is set in a fantasy land, and Bussiere does a fantastic job at painting a scene. You instantly fall in love with the characters, and the character development is phenomenal. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fantasy fiction.”-Alyssa from Lubbock, TX

“Spell binding. I didn’t want the book to end. In The WorldMight Cyril Bussiere weaves together a world of fantasy and the deep, complex questions of life. The characters are wonderfully and fully drawn.”-V.C.

 ~~~

I’ve known Cyril Bussiere for some time now. He’s a guy with a great sense of humor but who is way to smart at times. Sometimes you just wish he could stop thinking, but you know it’s not going to happen. Cyril did an interview with me back when I first started doing them but now we have a new one about his book The WorldMight and of course a little about the man behind it.

Now it’s time for you to meet . . .

Cyril Bussiere

copyright_Cyril_Bussiere_All_Rights_Reserved@cyrilbussiere

RW: Tell everyone your interesting path to where you currently find yourself?

CYRIL: I was born in Avignon, France and spent my youth in Marseille, Provence by the Mediterranean Sea.

Cyril Journey

After high school and a brief stint in Med School, I left for the US. There I got my B.S. in Biology from the University of Utah and then my PhD in Microbiology from the University of Texas at Austin.

RW: Who are your favorite authors?

CYRIL: Tough one, among a good fifty, the ones that marked me the most are Kazantzakis, Nietzsche, Stephen King, and Emile Cioran.

 

RW: What is your favorite beverage to drink, any kind?

CYRIL: A light beer like a Shiner or a Blue Moon. But they don’t last long.

 

RW: What is your escape from writing when you are at that about to explode point of overload or writer’s block?

CYRIL: Something mindless. Right now I’m getting back into classical guitar after a five year hiatus, so I do a lot of that. I’m also involved with Big Brother Big Sister and my little lent me Grand Theft Auto V so I’m playing that too.

RW: What is your background in writing, what makes you a writer?

CYRIL: I was trained in microbiology and the last thing I wrote before getting into fiction was my Ph.D. thesis (you can find it here if you’re into that kind of stuff, or would enjoy a headache right about now). I wrote a lot as a youth, but  only poetry and some short plays.  Most people who knew me before I graduated from high school were surprised when I went into science rather than literature.

As far as being a writer, I instinctively shy away from labels, they always feel so reducing (as if we’re not stuffed into enough boxes already). So instead of calling myself a writer, I prefer saying that I write, the difference is probably more about how one feels about it than anything else, but that’s where I stand.

RW: What genre does The WorldMight fall into?

CYRIL: I’d say it’s a mystical fantasy imbued with romance. It contains a good dose of philosophy too and has spiritual stuff interwoven throughout the plot. At its core it is a drama in the classical sense where events long passed have far reaching consequences in the lives of people and there is not much they can do, knowing little or nothing about them, to change the flow of events they find themselves sucked in.

RW: Gives us your book jacket version of The WorldMight.

CYRIL: It is the end of fall in the kingdom of Alymphia. Princess Aria and Prince Hob are readying themselves for yet another Fall Passing Festival. But unbeknownst to them, change is coming to the kingdom. Change brought on by dark forces and events that occurred generations prior. And those changes will unfold over their lives like a flood that nothing can stop.

In another place and another time, a mysterious prince walks the world, trusted steel at his belt and a mystical stone imbued with magic at his neck. He is looking for a word that has never been said; a word that would save his love from the grip of an ancient beast.

RW: What inspired the book?

CYRIL: The idea came to me while driving a U-haul truck across Texas (I was helping my wife move from Austin to Lubbock). It was a simple thought, about a princess trapped in a sleeping beast and her prince trying to free her; and he needs a word that has never been said to wake the beast up and rescue her. That was it; like I said, simple. That idea stayed dormant for a year and a half. I finished my PhD, moved to Lubbock and one morning, in October 2011, out of the blue I started writing what became the prologue of The WorldMight. The strangest thing is that I didn’t stop writing. And from those first few paragraphs the rest of the novel came to life more or less of its own accord.

RW: Tell us about your main character(s) and what you think will make them connect to readers.

CYRIL: There are really four main characters. But one ends up being the most preeminent, so I’ll tell you about that one.

The prince is described in the first lines of the prologue as follow: “His father was no king and his mother was no queen, but he was a prince nonetheless.” He is a mysterious character who one mindedly searches the world for an equally mysterious word which would save his love. His whole quest is wrapped in mystery and learning more about who he is and what the word is is one of the drives pulling the reader along the pages.

He is the embodiment of devotion and perseverance; he relentlessly forges forward in his quest and faces off with many natural and none-natural obstacles and enemies, some coming from within. I think we’ve all gone above and beyond for someone we love, though probably nothing as epic as what the prince goes through, but we can relate to that feeling of going to the end of the world for someone we deeply cherish.

 

RW: Who would play your main character(s) in a movie?

CYRIL: Well, let’s see, he’s a young man, so without giving it to much thought, I’d pick Xavier Samuel

Xavier_Samuel

RW: What message do you think your book delivers to the reader?

CYRIL: I’d say there are many,  faith, governance, self-cognizance, but in the end it is the tragic story of the prince and his love, and the take-home message is that in the face of chance, of all the things that pre-determine who we are and where we stand in life (think genetics and environment – which are everything and are completely determined by chance, or randomly if you want to put it that way) there is little we can do within these tight and often insurmountable constraints but persevere forward toward our goals, however unreachable they might appear or actually be.

RW: What did you learn about yourself while writing The WorldMight?

CYRIL: First thing would be that I can write a novel. That was not something I was sure of until the epilogue was finished.

Second, that I don’t have much control over the writing process. It happens more than I make it happen. It’s both engrossing when it flows and utterly frustrating when it doesn’t.

Third, that I pour a lot of who I am in my characters. They might be very different from me, but there’s always a crucial aspect about them that is a reflection of an aspect of my own persona. Sometimes, I don’t see it right away and it’s only on the umpteenth reread that it jumps at me, but it’s always there.

RW: Describe your book in one word.

CYRIL: Introspection

RW: Where can we get your book now?

CYRIL: At this moment it’s available at Amazon for Kindle.

RW: How do people connect with you through all forms of social media?

CYRIL:

By email at: cyril.buissiere (at) gmail (dot) com

Also to follow:

cyrilbussiere.wordpress.com 

@cyrilbussiere

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RW: Do you currently have representation? If so who, and if not describe what qualities you would like in an agent and what you would bring to the relationship.

CYRIL: Since I enjoy writing in various styles and in different genres, flexibility would be important in an agent. Also, given my attachment to well written sentences, one who is ruthless when it comes to editing would be a definite plus. And of course someone who would know how to get my work in the right hands both publisher-wise and to reader-wise.

 

RW: What are you working on right now?

CYRIL: Right now, I am working on a novel, BLUR.

blur-logo

The story takes place in Austin, TX, and follows Barrett, a scientist and wannabe writer, and, Pete, the protagonist of Barrett’s first novel. In it I explore love, lust, and the effect childhood experiences have on intimate relationships. It’s a raw, sometimes graphic work, that’s very different from my first novel. I’m six chapters short of being done, so I hope to have it out by beginning 2015.

RW: What book are you reading at this time?

CYRIL: I’m between two books from authors new to me: American Gods by Neil Gaiman (a friend’s recommendation) and Death’s Hand by SM Reine (a random internet freebie find)

 

RW: What is your biggest tip for someone to getting published?

CYRIL: Hmmm, I’m self-published so that’s very different from being traditionally published but I think having a good story and a tight manuscript trimmed of all the excess fat and well edited is definitely a good starting point either way.

RW: If you could have written any book that exists, other than your own, what would it be and why?

CYRIL: Hands down Report to Greco (or Letter to Greco in French)  by Nikos Kazantzakis. An amazing book, beautifully written, deep and thought provoking. Ha! What a life that man lived, so much fire, unyielding in the face of the void, deeply spiritual in the most life-affirming way. One can only hope to live half a life such as his.

Thank you Cyril for this interview. I encourage all to get a copy of The WorldMight, as I have my own as well, and no I had it long after my first interview with Cyril. For that interview click here. It has much more detail about many things you might find interesting, including his original book cover art and book trailer. Also you can see Cyril with his guitar.

Again to purchase a copy of The WorldMight click here.

 

Much Respect

Ronovan

 

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Q&A with Alysha Kaye Author of The Waiting Room @alyshakaye7

Book Description

“Jude and Nina are the epitome of that whole raw, unflinching love thing that most people are jealous of. That is, until Jude dies and wakes up in The Waiting Room, surrounded by other souls who are all waiting to pass over into their next life. But unlike those souls, Jude’s name is never called by the mysterious “receptionist”. He waits, watching Nina out of giant windows. He’s waiting for her. What is this place? How long will he wait? And what will happen when and if Nina does join him? The Waiting Room is a story of not just love, but of faith, predestination, and philosophy, friendship and self-actualization, of waiting.”

 

Alysha Kaye Author of The Waiting Room Interview

 

Today I’m spotlighting newly published author Alysha Kaye. Her debut novel The Waiting Room was just released at the end of June and we are fortunate to be a part of her tour.

Alysha Kaye Author The Waiting Room

I immediately wanted to be involved with this tour when I saw not only the premise of Alysha’s novel but also the fact that she’s a teacher. This old man holds a fondness for the noble profession.

Alysha received her BA in Creative Writing from Texas State University and was accepted into Teach America ending up in of all places, Oahu, HI. I am still recovering from that piece of information.

But even Hawaii, where she received her Masters in Education from the University of Hawaii couldn’t keep her from the her home state where she now teaches 7th Grade in Austin.

 

 

Now for the interview!

Having read the summary of The Waiting Room, I just had to start off by asking;

RW: Where did the idea for the book come from? Was it some event or what that sparked the idea?

 

ALYSHA: I had a dream about waiting for my boyfriend after death. I was in a strange room that looked a lot like an airport terminal. I wound up writing him a (very cheesy) poem about it and somehow, that became an entire Cover of THE WAITING ROOM by Alysha Kayenovel! I just couldn’t get it out of my head.

 

RW: Alysha, I know from having been in the classroom that free time is rare, even at home. Many people don’t realize the time you have to put into teaching, unless you have a very good system in place. How do you balance teaching and writing, managing the other aspects of your life?

 

ALYSHA: It’s extremely hard! Teaching is exhausting, especially my lovely middle schoolers haha but I adore them. I try to get all of my lesson planning and grading done at school so that when I come home, my night is free for writing/blogging, and everything else in between.

 

RW:  I know from reading what I’ve written things surprise me in what I learn. What did you learn about yourself while writing this book?

 

ALYSHA: I definitely learned that I am much more of a philosopher than I ever realized! THE WAITING ROOM asks questions that we’ve all wondered–What happens after we die? Do our souls still exist in some way? Can we find our loved ones again? The novel is a romance, but it’s also so much more. It offers various perspectives on the afterlife and welcomes new discussion.

 

RW: I know I always seem to connect with one particular character the most when I write a novel. What character do you most identify with in your book and why?

 

ALYSHA: This is hard. I think a lot of myself went into Nina, who is also an English teacher. But Jude, her husband, is extremely sarcastic, which is what I live for!

 

RW: That makes a lot of sense. You’re the writer, the creator so you do often times end up channeling parts of yourself into the characters. Now for something I know my Friends want to learn. How did you go about being published?

 

ALYSHA: I decided to self-publish and the experience has been amazing (although difficult). I wanted to get it out as soon as possible since it had already been collecting dust on my laptop for 3 years. I also wanted creative control- which large publishing companies don’t really offer. I used Expert Subjects for editing, cover design, and website design. Then the novel is published through CreateSpace and Amazon.

 

RW: Alysha, you said the novel collected dust for 3 years. How long did it take you from idea to now for the project?

 

ALYSHA: I began writing THE WAITING ROOM while interning at Simon & Schuster Publishing in New York. I was so inspired, but also so young! I didn’t finish it until I was out of college, about three years ago. Ever since then, it’s just been sitting patiently in my laptop.

 

RW: Then it wasn’t an overnight thing. Being that you are an English teacher I just have to ask, are you an outliner or a seat of the pants kind of writer?

 

ALYSHA: Definitely seat of the pants (although I stress to my students the importance of outlining so shhh!). I loathe editing.

 

RW: I take gift certificates to all Mexican restaurants for staying quiet. Now I know writing and throwing yourself into a book can take a lot of your time, and the subject matter must have taken some emotional energy as well. How has your family and friends been as far as support during this time? How did they handle your devotion to the project and did they see any changes in you as far as the way you thought about subjects you discuss in the book?

 

ALYSHA: My family has always thought that I’m a little crazy, I think haha I’m a bit of a black sheep. When I decided to major in Creative Writing they reacted as most families do: “But…what…are you going to DO?” Now that I’ve published, my parents are realizing how serious I am about writing. I understand though–it’s hard to take someone else’s passions and hobbies seriously until they prove that they’re MORE than simply “passions and hobbies”.

 

RW: What project are you working on now or do you even have the time?

 

ALYSHA: My energy has been completely devoted to marketing this novel, now that it’s released. However, I hope to start the next one very soon!

 

RW: Finally, what were/are your go to munchy food and beverage while writing?

 

ALYSHA: One word and one word only: caffeine. No music, no food, no people…just caffeine of some delicious sort!

 

It was a great honor to be part of Alysha’s Book Tour. Much appreciation goes out to her for agreeing to let us be involved and answering questions I am sure she’s been asked a million times before. Make sure to watch the Book Trailer for The Waiting Room below.


 

Get The Waiting Room by Alysha Kaye in print or for Kindle here at Amazon.

Be certain to Follow Alysha Kaye everywhere:

AlyshaKaye.com

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads


REVIEWS OF THE WAITING ROOM

A list of reviews of The Waiting Room can be found here. But I included two for you that I thought would really make you want to read Alysha Kaye’s novel.

“I love the whole afterlife concept that Alysha Kaye created, because it looks so ‘normal’ and so ‘human’. The Waiting Room is a light, fun reading that comes with great message behind it. I read it like one day. It totally answered my question about true love.”

Virna Aryanita-Indonesia

 

“I think my final comment is that The Waiting Room built characters that I cared about. I cared about not only Jude and Nina but supporting characters as well. I even cared about the Waiting Room itself and was glad to see how it changed and grew throughout the book. Fantasy lovers, romance lovers, lovers of a thoughtful story – all of these readers will enjoy The Waiting Room. I wish the book success and I hope to read more by Alysha Kaye in the future.”

Tara Olivero-Indiana

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One decision can be a life changer: Book Review of The Convenience of Lies by @KCastilloBooks

Title: The Convenience of Lies
Author: Kimberly Castillo
ISBN-13: 978-9527114476
ISBN-10: 9527114470
Website:  http://www.kacastillo.blogspot.com/
Pages: 242
Genre: Young Adult (YA) Romance/Suspense/Drama

It’s 2013 and Mackenzie begins a letter to her old friend Kira. It’s 10 years after the events that changed their lives. The book then begins with new girl in town, Mackenzie and local girl, Kira as best friends forever, and then there is Ramon, a crush and ex-boyfriend in a small California town. The three send us on a trip of real teen life and feelings mixed with some unexpected surprises along the way with a group of vandals and thieves thrown in who make their attacks personal. Who has it in for these three friends?  This story is told in an authentic teenage voice as Mackenzie Fairbanks recalls that particular summer before her senior year in high school.

The book flows well taking the reader  from one chapter to the next. It is an absorbing  read, well written not only in story but in structure and grammar as well. The author conveys vivid emotions and dialogue throughout the book, with captivating prose for example, scenes describing a character’s intoxication and the resulting actions that are spot on. I like the fact you don’t notice the writing. You are in the story and there are no odd moments where you wonder what is that word doing there.

The emotional content within the book is realistic and appropriate as scenes transition well.  The emotional jolt near the end is handled exactly right, as one would expect such a situation to be in real life. The emotional moments throughout the book are presented in an amazingly genuine teen/coming of age point of view.

The story keeps ones attention and you want to see what happens and to whom.

Was I surprised by events in the book? Not entirely as the author provided sufficient clues for the discerning reader to figure things out.

Just to let those who might purchase this as a gift without reading it first, there is some profanity used, but we are talking about teens. Some teens of certain environments grow up using certain language while others do it to be cool. I believe the author handled this well as she doesn’t have every character do it, an excellent job in my opinion. And to be honest, if there hadn’t been any profanity it would not have been an authentic book.

You are inside the main characters head a lot, but that’s to be expected in the type of story being told. This is a diary type of story. The only time I really had any problems with it was in the very beginning where things were being set up for us to know what is going on. Once past that first chapter or two of setting things up, the story takes off and you are ready to go.

Reading The Convenience of Lies shows you what is possible inside the life of teens. And I do mean what is truly possible. Having been a teacher and youth pastor I know what can happen. The reader will identify or recognize the struggles teenagers encounter in their world, how they perceive themselves, and that lessons have to be learned in their own time no matter how painful they may be or who they may hurt. Do you lose a best friend, a crush, a dream?

Read The Convenience of Lies by Kimberly Castillo and experience a slice of teenagers’ world through what happens to Mackenzie and her friends.

The elements about where McKenzie is as an adult and how she got to that point are things you need to think about as you read the book. The Convenience of Lies is more than you think if  you know what to look for going in.

If I were to categorize the book it would be difficult to say. Young Adult? Yes. Marital Issues? Yes. Although not a category. Domestic Abuse? Yes. That can be defined in many different ways so don’t jump to a conclusion there.

Ratings:

Realistic Characterization: 5K.A. Castillo/5

Made Me Think: 3.5/5

Overall enjoyment: 3.5/5

Readability: 4/5

Recommended: 4/5

Ovearall Rating: 4

Buy it at: Amazon

Format & Pricing:

Paperback: 10.46 USD

Kindle: 2.99 USD

Author Kimberly Castillo

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Q&A with Vashti Quiroz-Vega Author of The Basement @VashtiQV

THE BASEMENT

by Vashti Quiroz-Vega

 

Book Description

 Robbie is a meek boy in New York City who struggles with the desire to prove himself to his friends, his enemies, and himself. Robbie’s father is a stubborn man determined to teach his son through tough love. When he witnesses Robbie being bullied, he forces his son to face his fears. Robbie is sentenced to a frightening challenge––staying in the basement alone for a night. But what lies in the dark recesses of the basement? Will Robbie make it out alive and well? Will the urban legend about the terrifying creatures that hide in the dark basement prove to be true? And most importantly, will Robbie prove to his friends and his father that he is brave enough to take on the challenge? The Basement is a tale of angst, teamwork and solutions, treasure hunts and adventure, and facing fears. It focuses on the small world of one group of preteens and the very real and wondrous challenges they face.

I never expected a book like this from a lady like this. When I first approached Vashti, who I met through her blog, about an interview I wanted to learn more about the author behind The Basement. I still want to learn more but in truth, I want to know about this book and how it came to be and what else this author has planned for us. I’m going to get out of the way of this interview, simply ask the questions and let you meet . . .

VASHTI QUIROZ-VEGA

Ron Cover ShotRW: Vashti Quiroz-Vega. Love the name. Tell us a little about your ancestry. I am very into history. And your name spins all sorts of imagery through the echoes of my mind.  And is there a meaning behind your name?

 

Vashti's Web PhotoVASHTI: My first name, Vashti, is Persian in origin and has very little to do with my ancestry, I’m afraid. Vashti is the name of a queen in the old testament of the bible in the book of Esther.

 

Ron Cover ShotRW: Your book, The Basement available on Amazon,where did the idea come from?

 

Vashti's Web PhotoVASHTI: The Basement began as a short story I wrote in high school. I won an award for it and put it away in a box, along with a bunch of other stories. Years later, I came across it. After reading it again and with the encouragement of others, I decided to expand the short story into a novel.

 

Ron Cover ShotRW: The book is about an 11-year-old boy and his troubles, how did you connect with the character?

 

Vashti's Web PhotoVASHTI: I have a brother and two sisters. I’m close to all my siblings, but I grew up especially close to my brother (maybe determined by the fact that I was a tomboy). The Basement is loosely based on memories I have from childhood. The main character, Robbie, was inspired by my brother and my nephew, Joshua.

 

Ron Cover ShotRW: And the abuse parts?

 

Vashti's Web PhotoVASHTI: There has been no abuse in my household, but I did know a child growing up who was verbally and physically abused by a parent. The parent did not try to hide this from anyone. I saw and heard this child being abused on many occasions. This experience and the memory of this child have stayed with me till this day, which is why I tolerate no kind of bullying or abuse of any kind.

An ex-boyfriend once told me that I was a perfect mix of femininity and masculinity because I am feminine and very much a woman, but I am also assertive, straightforward and I love basketball, action movies, UFC and camping.

 

Ron Cover ShotRW: What did it feel like writing the character of Robbie, the 11 year old boy in the book, as you had to basically become him for periods of time?

 

Vashti's Web PhotoVASHTI: When I wrote The Basement, I essentially became an 11-year-old boy. I felt vulnerable––like my life was not in my control. I guess I felt like a child in a scary world.

 

Ron Cover ShotRW: For those reading who may not be familiar with you can you give an example of an author and perhaps a book that would give them an idea of what this book is like as far as feel and style?

 

Vashti's Web PhotoVASHTI: That’s a tough one. Some people have compared my storytelling to that of several other writers, including Stephen King and Anne Rice, who are two of my favorite writers and whose books I have been reading for years. So I don’t doubt that there is some of their influence in my writing, but I believe that I’m developing my own style. Not that I wouldn’t love to write as well as Stephen King and Anne Rice, but I don’t think I’m quite there yet.

 

Ron Cover ShotRW: Are you a character in The Basement?MC_99732309_4

 

Vashti's Web PhotoVASHTI: Let’s just say that several of the characters in The Basement have some of my personality traits.

 

Ron Cover ShotRW: Tell us about your writing process. You took a short story and turned it into a full-length novel. How did you go about that?

 

Vashti's Web PhotoVASHTI: As I re-read the story, I added, changed and rearranged sentences, and I replaced and deleted words. I had read so many books and learned so much since writing that story in high school that expanding it was not that difficult. Even now, I feel that I have learned so much since publishing The Basement. I guess that’s how it is with writers. We are constantly reading, learning and improving. I feel that my second book, Lilith, will be much better written than my first, and my third book, Dracul, will probably be better written than my second, and so on. That doesn’t mean any of my books are badly written. It just means that as I learn and gain experience, my work will reflect that. I have noticed this when I compare Stephen King’s earlier books with the books he’s written in the last couple of years. But I have always enjoyed all of his books.

 

Ron Cover ShotRW: Can you walk us through how you went from complete and satisfied manuscript to now available for purchase? Many will be reading this who haven’t gone through it yet, and since you have on a number of occasions, I know I would personally like to hear it from a pro like you.

 

Vashti's Web PhotoVASTHI: Wow! You flatter me, Ron. 😉 I’ve actually gone through the entire process only once with my book The Basement. The best advice I can offer anyone who has finished writing a story is to give the finished manuscript to several trusted people and ask for their honest opinions. Then after revisions (if any), hire a professional editor.

 

Ron Cover ShotRW: Ah, I get the impression you have published several because of how professional everything seems. What other works do you have available and what are you working on presently?

 

Vashti's Web PhotoVASHTI: I have written a variety of short stories, from horror and dark fantasy to sci-fi and romance. You can check them out on my blog.

I’m in the final stages of editing my book Lilith. This is a dark fantasy about angels aimed at a young adult/ adult audience. I’m hoping to have it available in early 2015.

 

Ron Cover ShotRW: Is there a lot of romance in your work or sensuality?

 

Vashti's Web PhotoVASHTI: There’s always a little romance because I believe that’s part of life and reality. There’s also some sensuality in my work-in-progress because that’s part of who I am, and that part of my personality comes through in the story.

 

Ron Cover ShotRW: How understanding are your friends and family when the writing mania takes hold of you?

 

Vashti's Web PhotoVASHTI: Some are very understanding, especially other writers because they’ve been there. Others––not so much.

 

Ron Cover ShotRW: What would be your ideal agent be like to sign with?

 

Vashti's Web PhotoVASHTI: I would love an agent who truly enjoys my story. The editor that’s working with me on my second book ‘Lilith’ truly loves the book. It is obvious by her enthusiasm, the comments she’s made and the questions that she’s asked me. It makes a difference when the agent loves the genre and story. Also, an agent that is hardworking and self motivated is great. One that will stop at nothing to get you the best deal possible for your book. I would love to get into one of the big publishing houses.

 

Ron Cover ShotRW: Now for a few fun and trivial questions. What’s your go to beverage while writing?

 

Vashti's Web PhotoVASHTI: Water. I know you’re thinking, “boring,” but I prefer to be sharp and focused when I write. Being well-hydrated does that for me. I don’t drink much coffee, beer makes me bloat like a blowfish, wine puts me to sleep, margaritas and rum are fun, but put me in the wrong frame of mind, and I get distracted easily. So while I’m writing, it’s water for me.

 

Ron Cover ShotRW: What is your escape from writing when you need that break before burnout happens?

 

Vashti's Web PhotoVASHTI: Reading, cooking, baking, hiking, kayaking, getting together with family and friends, watching one of my favorite shows on TV (Criminal Minds, Law and Order, Castle, Modern Family . . .) or going to the cinema, playing with my dog, and other things I shouldn’t mention––not necessarily in that order.

 

Ron Cover ShotRW: And finally, as a writer, what is your favorite word and why?

 

Vashti's Web PhotoVASHTI: Wow! There are several words I love, but the first word that comes to mind is “Dulcet.” Why? Because it’s a beautiful word, I enjoy pronouncing it and writing it down. Meaning: 1: sweet to the taste 2: pleasing to the ear 3: generally pleasing or agreeable.

Thank you, Ronovan, for inviting me as a guest author to your awesome blog. I appreciate you.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I want to thank Vashti for taking the time to answer a few questions for us. And I hope she comes back when her next book is due out.

Her various contact information appeared in some links throughout the interview but I am putting them all here together so you can follow her everywhere. Also here are some some fan art of her and one of her characters from The Basement, Natasha. Don’t worry, she won’t mind, I already do and if she will let me follower her she’ll let you too. And we are all about supporting each other here, right?

 

ScaredGirlFinal FanArt
Fan Art of ‘Natasha’ from The Basement.
Vashti5
Fan Art of Vashti

Website

Author Site

The Basement Fan Site

Goodreads

Twitter

Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Q&A with Amira Makansi of THE SOWING. How a dream became a novel. @AKMakansi

Have you ever wanted to know how a book goes from idea to the hands of a reader? I have someone who can tell you that, not only as an author but as part of a family in the book publishing business. She used to be one of the people that read the Author submissions. Meet . . .

 

Amira Makansi

Co-Author of The Sowing

A Writing InterviewAuthors Photo

 She’s the one in the middle.

(Be still my heart if I were ever in the same room with all three for an interview.)

THE SOWING - Book One of the SEEDS TRILOGYTheSeedsTrilogy.com

RW: Amira, you have a book out now, with another one closing in on completion of the process, tell us about your book, The Sowing.

 

AMIRA: The Sowing is, at its most basic, a story about two people coming to terms with each other and the world around them. In the future society of the Okarian Sector, Okariascience rules all, and the food you eat has the power to change who you are. Sector ‘Dieticians’ program certain individuals for specific roles using genetically modified seeds and chemically-altered food; some are programmed for success, others for servitude. The majority of the Sector is kept in the dark about the true extent of the manipulation taking place, but some have learned the truth and are fighting back. The Resistance, a small, underground group of guerrilla fighters, has sworn to stop the Sector’s oppression of its citizens. Remy Alexander is one such fighter; when her sister was killed in a classroom massacre, her parents fled, taking their surviving daughter underground to join the fight against the Sector. But now, Valerian Orlean, who once loved Remy and has never forgotten her, is put in charge of a military operation to hunt and destroy the Resistance. The two are set on a collision course that could bring everyone together – or tear everything apart. 

 

RW: I think I may have a few friends who would like you to write their book jackets for them. You are a co-author, who are the other authors of THE SOWING?

 

AMIRA: Two of my favorite people in the world: My mom, Kristina, and my sister, Elena. 

Authors Photo

 

 RW: I can’t imagine working on such a creative project with family and not wanting to perhaps do some type of bodily harm one another but we can get to that later. Real quick, where can my Friends purchase your book, THE SOWING?

 

AMIRA: You can get it in print or get an e-book from Amazon or Barnes and Noble. (Thanks in advance!) 

 

RW: I want to focus on your writing process during our time today because we’ve discussed you coming back for an interview for when your next book is set for publication. With that being said let’s get into your writing process, and please use THE SOWING, which I have a copy of, (And no, it was not a gift.) as an example so we can see the process in real action.

First, what is your background as far as education, degrees? What brings you to the writing arena?

 

AMIRA: I have a bachelor’s degree in History from the University of Chicago. UChicago is a grueling place with a strong emphasis on academia. I wrote countless papers in college, which, I think, honed my ability to write from a structural and grammatical perspective. Studying history is also where I really found my love of storytelling, and therefore, writing. History is just the assembled story of hundreds of thousands of lives, and studying history, at its most basic, is nothing more than discovering, analyzing, and retelling those stories. 

 

RW: As a Historian myself, degree thereof, bravo. (I have never actually written the word bravo before. You must try it. Fascinating.) Now we know about your background to be a writer, let’s take this step by step: how did you come up with your book idea?

 

AMIRA: It was definitely not my idea. I wish I could take credit for it, but it’s actually Kristina’s, my mom. She had a dream almost four years ago that sparked the original concept of THE SOWING. In her dream, two young adults are fighting in an abandoned city at night, on opposite sides of the battle. The girl skids to the ground and falls. The boy reaches his hand out to her. When their fingers meet, a flash of electricity pulses through the two of them – and then the dream ended. Kristy woke up and knew she had to tell the story of these two young lovers. Although the electric jolt has since been removed from the novel, this fundamental scene became the crux on which the entire first book rests: when Remy and Vale meet again for the first time in three years, on opposite sides of a battle with enormous ideological consequences. 

 

RW: So your Kristina has the idea, she brings it to you and your sister, what did you do next?

 

AMIRA: After Kristy decided she really, really wanted to write this story, she and my sister Elena sat down and drafted what ended up being that scene. Then they went back and wrote what eventually became Chapter One of THE SOWING. They showed both chapters to me, and I was really impressed. So impressed that I sat down and wrote Chapter Two, but this time, I wrote it from Vale‘s perspective, instead of Remy‘s. The dueling protagonist narrative was something we’d never seen before in a novel, but we wanted to tell both sides of the story, so we took it and ran with it. My sister and I went back and forth like that for a while – she would write several chapters from Remy’s perspective, and I’d write a few from Vale’s. We kept going that way, plotting out the next few chapters, but without a fully-conceived idea of where the book was going and how it would end. In a way, it was a stroke of good luck that the first draft came out as well – and as coherently – as it did. I think we were all a little surprised when we finished writing. We kind of looked at each other and said, “Well, now we have a book. What do we do with it?” 

 

RW: So it sounds like there really wasn’t any outlining really or even really the seat of pants writing, but as technical as THE SOWING is how did you make the book flow considering there were two writers?

 

AMIRA: We didn’t really outline in THE SOWING, although we always tried to make sure we knew what the next few chapters would be. It was kind of like driving at night – we could only see as far as our headlights, but we always knew there was more road ahead.

 

RW: And the research?

 

AMIRA: Most of the actual research we did came in draft two, when we focused on perfecting the science and making the world believable. When you’re dropping words like ‘hovercar,’ ‘airship,’ ‘DNA encryption,’ and ‘genetically modified’ on almost every page, we knew we’d have to do a fair bit of research to make the science at least feasible. I like to think we succeeded.

 

RW: How did the writing go for THE SOWING, was it smooth and just come easily for the first draft?

 

AMIRA: It was very smooth. The first draft was, in many ways, radically different from the book that we eventually published. For example, Remy had superpowers – we called it “bird vision”, and she could see in frequencies that no one else could. But we threw that baby out with the bathwater – we didn’t want to write another superhero novel, and we wanted our protagonists to be powerful because they are good, strong people, not because they have superpowers. But the first draft came very smoothly. We just went back and forth, chapter by chapter, until we came to a good stopping point and we said “I guess that’s that!” 

 

RW: You mentioned writing the book with your mother and  sister, how easy or difficult did that make the initial creation of the book?

 

AMIRA: The initial creation was so much fun! Working with Elena and Kristy was a thrill, as both of them bring unique abilities to the table. We all complement each other. For example, Kristy is very imaginative, and is really good at filling in plot holes. A lot of the times, when Elena or I were stumped about how to move forward or to make a chapter work, Kristy would come up with a really good idea and Elena and I would just be like, “Why didn’t we think of that?” Elena, by contrast, is a very emotional writer. She spins these gorgeous phrases that just knock you off your socks and make you totally empathize with the protagonist. Also, both Elena and Kristy tend to be much better at writing humor. My own writing is starker, and more serious. I’m also the one who brings the “science” to the “science fiction”. I’m not a scientist (though I do work in a laboratory!), but I do tend to be the one who makes sure everything’s correct, consistent, and yet readable for a layperson. 

 

RW: Let’s say you have your first draft done, did all of you walk away and leave on the shelf for a time like so many say to do?

 

AMIRA: Yes. We did, and I think that was enormously helpful. I recommend it to everyone who’s editing a novel. We finished writing the first draft of THE SOWING in November of 2012, and we handed it to some trusted friends and writers for a beta-read. The feedback we got was not only really encouraging, but also critical to shaping what the book eventually became. This interim period was when we came up with one of the most critical elements of THE SOWING, which was the mystery of the DNA encryption. Without giving too much away, the DNA mystery became a driving force in the first novel. We dove back into editing two months later, in January of 2013, and that was when we shaped the book into, essentially, what it is today.

 

RW: How many drafts did you do for THE SOWING?

 

AMIRA: It’s hard to say, because we did so many different stages of revisions. I would approximate that we did five major drafts. Three of those were re-writes for structural changes, and the last two were line-by-line edits for language and style. 

 

RW: Who did the editing for your book?

 

AMIRA: All three of us! And boy, was that a challenge. If writing the first draft with three people was smooth sailing, by draft three, we’d hit stormy seas. We all had very strong opinions about the book and believed passionately in the story, which meant that we were willing to fight tooth and nail to get rid of parts we thought weren’t good enough and to keep our favorite parts in. Editing with two other writers is a humbling experience. You realize that not every word you’ve written is gold, and that your opinion is by no means the right one. It was both an honor and a challenge to write with two other equally talented authors at my side. 

 

RW: Is there a favorite “darling” you had to “kill”, and can you explain to some of my Friends what it means to “kill your darlings”?

 

AMIRA: For me, killing your darlings means sacrificing parts of the story or phrases you love for the improvement of the novel as a whole. It means prioritizing the big picture over that scene you wrote one night that you absolutely love. One of my darlings was a scene I wrote early on in the story where Vale accompanies a squadron of soldiers on a ‘training’ mission to show him how to be a commander. In this chapter, Vale watched a fellow soldier die, killed by poisonous flowers planted by the Resistance, and his reaction was one of righteous anger and a desire to take revenge. At the time, I loved that scene, because I thought it helped justify Vale’s passion at the beginning of the novel, and it upped the ante on both sides of the war. But in the end, it didn’t fit in the overall narrative. We neither had space for it in the beginning, when we really needed to get to the heart of the action, nor did it make sense for Vale’s character arc. We cut it, and it was definitely the right choice. 

 

RW: How long did it take from the idea to the final in the hands of the publisher of THE SOWING take?

 

AMIRA: We really started writing in January of 2012, and we had a published book by August of 2013. So, almost exactly a year and a half. 

 

RW: Once the publisher had your book, how long did it take to make it out to the masses?

 

AMIRA: Well, our publisher was us! We self-published the novel, a choice I’m still proud of. It gave us more control over the art and the story, and it allowed us to get the story to the public much more quickly. We had a finished book in mid-July, and we published the whole thing in early August. So our turn-around time was about three weeks. For most books, the time between when your agent sells your book and the finished product actually hits bookshelves is around eighteen months to two years. So the fact that we put the book out a mere three weeks after finishing it is frankly pretty amazing. 

 

RW: What has been the most difficult part of the whole novel process from idea to actually selling your book to the masses?

 

AMIRA: People aren’t joking when they say that writing the book is the easy part. Marketing, and learning how to sell in this new, strange world of digital books and independent publishing, is one thousand times more difficult than writing. I love writing – it’s something that comes naturally to me, no matter how tired I am or how burnt out I am on a story. But marketing, selling, advertising, spreading the word – that’s the hard part. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about marketing a book on social media, it’s simple: Just be yourself. There’s a writer on Twitter I very much admire named Ksenia Anske, and for a little while, when I was new to Twitter, I tried to emulate her. I was at my most boring, then, when I was trying to be her instead of myself. My follower count started jumping (not that it’s anywhere near hers) and people started really listening to me when I decided to stop being her and to start being me instead. (It was a lot easier, too!) 

 

RW: When you had those moments of frustration, exhaustion, almost burnout, what did you do as an escape?

 

AMIRA: Whiskey. And beer. And wine. No, I’m not joking, and I’m not trying to play the ‘tortured artist’ card, either. Food, drink, and good conversation with good friends, has always been my escape during times of stress. And since my co-writers are also two of my best friends, it’s easy to find an escape in a bottle of wine and a heated debate over environmentalism or economics or whether an IPA is a better beer choice than a porter. 

 

RW: What gets you pumped to write?

 

AMIRA: Music! When I’m lacking in focus, I’ll close out all my social media tabs and turn up the music. I’ll listen to everything from classical piano to jazz to indie folk to classic rock. 

 

RW: Who is your favorite author right now?

 

AMIRA: That’s a hard question to answer. I don’t know that I’ve had a ‘favorite author’ since I was much younger. I’ve been trying to read books by a lot of different authors, instead of delving deeply into the works of only one. But I will say that the book that most recently blew my head off was INFINITE JEST by David Foster Wallace. The book is enormous, and it took me almost six months to finish, but I don’t think I’ve ever been so overwhelmed by how thoroughly a writer inhabited so many different writing styles. DFW is like a shapeshifter for writers – he transitions effortlessly between countless voices. I was astounded. 

 

RW: What book are you reading now, or the latest book you read that you really enjoyed and recommend?

 

AMIRA: Right now, I’m reading IRONWEED by William Kennedy. So far, so good. The most recent book I would recommend is THE VAMPIRE LESTAT by Anne Rice. Technically, it’s a prequel to INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE, but you don’t need to have read Interview in order to understand Lestat. I didn’t expect a book that was so enormously popular and ‘hip’ to be so philosophical, or so emotional. But it was both. It really resonated with me as a story about trying desperately to make connections in a world where loneliness is so prevalent, and about trying to understand the world from an outsider’s perspective. 

 

RW: What writing resources would you recommend to my Friends, including sites, anything?

 

AMIRA: Joanna Penn’s website on publishing and writing is fantastic: http://www.thecreativepenn.com/, although to be honest, I haven’t read very many books about writing. Personally, I’ve found that the best way to learn how to write is simply to read a lot and write a lot, and that if you don’t do those two things, no amount of writing ‘advice’ is going to help. 

 

RW: What is your favorite beverage?

 

AMIRA: I’ll take a really nice Riesling or a whiskey sour, depending on my mood. Also, dry rose wine, which is chronically under-appreciated in the United States, is the perfect drink for sitting on the patio with friends and family. 

 

RW: What is your favorite munchy food while writing, and if you don’t while writing what is it anyway?

 

AMIRA: Cheese and olives. 100%. Cheese is manna from heaven, and olives are the perfect complement. 

 

RW: Would anyone be surprised if I told you she had some Greek in her? What is your favorite word and why?

 

AMIRA: Oh, but I have so many! Recently I’ve been really digging the word ‘loquacious’. It’s just so weird, and I love weird words. Look at it, how weird it is. ‘Loquacious.’ It means ‘talkative’, but I can’t help but think of lollipops and Dr. Seuss whenever I think about it. I don’t know why.

 

THE REAPING COVER 8.13

RW: And a Bonus Question: When can we expect THE REAPING, the next of the THE SEEDS TRILOGY to be out?

 

AMIRA: We are shooting for October 15.

 

I hope everyone likes the cover of THE REAPING. It was revealed Friday, and I had to sit on my hands not to let everyone see it early as I was able to get a peek at it early. I thank Amira for the trust.

 

I want to thank Amira for doing this interview. Hearing her experience from beginning to end was a learning time for me. I learned that my thoughts and ways of doing things aren’t completely off the mark, and I see how you have to keep working. Even if you had a publicity machine behind you, you still have to keep working. Even walking away from your draft doesn’t mean you aren’t working on another project, you best be.

 

Amira has agreed to come back for an Author Interview when The Reaping is released. Who knew a simple follow on Twitter would turn into a great friendship. I just wish the time zones were the same.



 

Amira didn’t ask for all the links and the like in the interview and she definitely didn’t ask for the below but I wanted you to have everything in one place. By clicking on each book cover below you can go to the Amazon.com site for each book showing. THE SOWING is in both kindel and paperback.

COVERTHE SOWING - Book One of the SEEDS TRILOGY

The Seeds Trilogy Facebook Page

TheSeedsTrilogy.com

Follow on Twitter

 

Much Respect to Y’all

Ronovan

 

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