Meet Devon Ellington [Author Interview]

Meet Devon Ellington | Author Interview | RachelPoli.com

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I publish under multiple names in fiction and non-fiction, and am an internationally-produced playwright and radio writer. I spent the bulk of my career working backstage on Broadway, and a little bit in film and television production.

How long have you been writing for?

I started writing when I was six; I was published in school literary magazines, and, in high school, published in local papers when I handled publicity for the music department.  I started working professionally in theatre when I was 18. In college, my major was film and television production, and I veered away from the writing and more into technical aspects. Working off-Broadway, I started writing monologues for actresses looking for good material; that grew into plays, and then back into short stories and novels. So I’ve been writing for A Very Long Time.

What motivates you to write? How did you begin writing?

Writing is how I make sense of the world. How I explore other lives from the inside and the outside.

Do you have a writing routine? If so, what’s a typical day like for you?

I do my first 1K of the day on what I call my  “Primary Project” (whatever’s being drafted) early in the day. Feed the cats, do my yoga/meditation practice, write my first 1K of the day.

The rest of the day shapes up depending on if I’m doing only my own work, or a mix of my own work and client work and other freelance writing gigs. It’s shaped by what’s on the tightest deadline and the highest paycheck. I prefer to write in the morning and edit in the afternoons. Since I’m always juggling multiple projects, there are usually a handful of projects in various draft stages, and then some more in editing or galleys.  Scriptwriting usually requires a much tighter turnaround than books, so when those jobs come in, they take priority. Sometimes, I just have to stay up later or get up earlier to get it all done.

What was the first thing you did when you found out your book was being published?

Cried. Tears of joy, but I cried.

What was the publishing process like? How long did it take?

Months, of course. For me, there’s generally been one major edit from the editor’s initial notes and discussion, and then one to two more rounds of edits with the editor, with a tighter turnaround. Then, the copyeditor is brought in, and we have those edits and galleys. When I have unusual people names or place names or phrases in other languages, I submit that with the draft that goes to the editor and the copyeditor, so they can help me stay consistent.

For the series I write, keeping the Series Bibles updated is vital, too. As soon as a book is out of final galleys and headed for release, I update the Series Bible. I use tracking sheets for details that may change within drafts, but once it’s finalized, I update the Series Bible. That way, an inconsistency is a plot or character choice, not a mistake.

Are you currently working on anything new?

Always! The radio plays are getting a lot of traction right now, and I have four stage plays to finish this year: one on the painter Canaletto’s sisters; one on the gun violence epidemic; a collection of monologues called WOMEN WITH AN EDGE RESIST that’s a follow-up to one of my most popular plays, WOMEN WITH AN EDGE; and a play about two famous women authors. Plus, I have to keep up with the series I’m writing — The Gwen Finnegan Mysteries, The Coventina Circle Paranormal Romantic Suspense Series, the lighter Nautical Namaste Mysteries, and a few one-offs. Plus client work. So I’m always, always working on something new. This is my passion, but it is also my business, not my hobby. It’s how I keep a roof over my head.

If you weren’t a writer, what would your career be?

Still working on Broadway, as a dresser. Or, if I hadn’t gone down the theatre/writing path at all, probably an archaeologist.

What’s one thing you learned through writing that you wish you knew before you started?

Don’t let others define you. Define yourself. And realize that your life and your career are always a work in process.

What is your favorite book, genre, or author?

I don’t have just one of any of them! My favorite, favorite book, the one I’d need on a desert island, is THE COMPLETE WORKS OF SHAKESPEARE. I never get tired of Shakespeare. I also love POSSESSION, by AS Byatt.  Genre would probably be mystery. I find it often the most satisfying, although, as a writer, I like to mix it with other elements of other genres. Author? I don’t have a single favorite. Again, I always go back to Shakespeare. But it was Louisa May Alcott and Harriet Beecher Stowe who were the big inspirations for me to write. And Mildred Wirt Benson, the original writer of the Nancy Drew books as “Carolyn Keene.” She did another series, under her own name, with a heroine named Penny Parker. Penny is such a brat, but she’s hilarious.

I collect juvenile series mysteries from the early twentieth century: Beverly Gray, Vicki Barr, Judy Bolton, all of those. The racism in them is shocking, but it’s also a good snapshot of what was considered “normal” at the time and why we should know better now (but far too often don’t). You get a heroine like Ruth Fielding, a turn-of-the-twentieth-century heroine, who did all these great, adventurous things solving her mysteries, and then went on to a career writing in Hollywood, in a happy marriage. A lot of these heroines showed girls that there was more than one definition of “good” — and that it wasn’t a terrible thing to be smart, and show it.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Put your butt in the chair every day and do the work. Books don’t write themselves. Plan time off as you want/need it. Don’t let the writing slide. And don’t blow first rights posting material from your drafts online or on social media if you want to sell the polished/finished work. There’s a world of difference between throwing out a rough draft and sharing an excerpt of a piece that’s contracted.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Find your tribe. Find other writers you like to hang out with and talk to. Read each other’s work. Support each other. Every time one succeeds, it helps everybody. Jealousy and envy are a waste of energy. Learn the craft — craft is as important as art. Do the work, build the community, and you’ll start to see results.

About Devon Ellington

Devon Ellington | Author Interview | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.comDevon Ellington publishes under half a dozen names in fiction and non-fiction and is an internationally-produced playwright and radio writer. She has eight novels published, several novellas, dozens of short stories, and hundreds of articles. She worked backstage on Broadway and in film and television production for years and teaches both online and in-person. Her main website, http://www.devonellingtonwork.com, will lead you to the websites for the different series, and her blog on the writing life, Ink in My Coffee, is at https://devonellington.wordpress.com

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Buy Devon’s Books

The Coventina Circle Paranormal Romantic Suspense Series:
Playing the AnglesThe Spirit RepositoryRelics & Requiem

The Gwen Finnegan Paranormal Archaeological Mysteries:
Tracking Medusa | Myth & Interpretation

The Nautical Namaste Not-Quite-Cozy Mysteries (As Ava Dunne):
Savasana at Sea

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Meet I.L. Cruz, Author [Author Interview]

Author Interview: I.L. Cruz | Creative Writing | Self-Published Author | RachelPoli.com

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

Thanks for having me on your blog today! I’m I.L. Cruz, author of the epic fantasy A Smuggler’s Path: Book One of the Enchanted Path series. I’m originally from Brooklyn, but I now live in Maryland. My childhood surrounded by strong women and diverse people has influenced my writing. And my protagonists are usually Latinas because I didn’t see enough of that as a kid or even now.

How long have you been writing for?

Writing is something I’ve always done as a creative outlet and to work things out on paper. It was about 12 years ago I wanted to write an entire novel, but it took another five or six years before I decided that I wanted writing to be my career.

What motivates you to write? How did you begin writing?

The most random things motivate me write. A documentary about trees. A nursery rhyme. A strange noise in the middle of the night. That and so many other things trigger ideas (not all good) and if I can string enough of them together, a story emerges. For example, my current series started because I’d been reading fairy tales and nursery rhymes to my daughter and a combination of horror at the female protagonists (if you can call them that), the uptick of fairy tale retellings, and wanting to know what happened to the nursery rhyme characters after the rhyme led me to write my first novel.

Do you have a writing routine? If so, what’s a typical day like for you?

My routine is more a plan than a day-in, day-out fixture. I plan project by project. When it’s a first draft, I stick to pen and paper (made more high-tech by my Light Scribe smart pen, which lets me upload my notebooks to my computer) and write a chapter at a time. When I finish a chapter, I scribble notes about what should get done in the next chapter. I continue that way until the draft is done and then I take two weeks off before I read it back. I do this during school hours on the weekdays and it’s worked so far…

How did you decide to self-publish instead of going the traditional company?

It wasn’t just my choice. I’d been fiddling with my series for years and agents didn’t seem to know what to do with my book. Some said it was too whimsical for adults. When I tried making it YA, my MC was too close to her mother, which they said wouldn’t work for teens. I didn’t agree with blanket statements like that and my family kept urging me to publish my book, myself.

What was the self-publishing process like? How long did it take?

Indie publishing is such a process! I had to learn things like creating maps, blogging, formatting, hiring an editor, and hundreds of little things I never even thought of but learned along the way. But in reality it took longer to take the leap into indie publishing then getting down to the business of putting it out there.

Are you currently working on anything new?

Now that A Smuggler’s Path is out in the world, I’m working on editing the second book in that series. When I decided to write a series, I wrote the entire thing (all four books) so now I’m in what feels like permanent editing mode. It’s called A Noble’s Path and continues Inez’s story. I’m also putting out a separate novella series called The Cemetery Circle, which comes out Valentine’s Day.

If you weren’t a writer, what would your career be?

I’ve become so immersed in books, I would still want to stay in that world. Ideally, I’d own a travel book store with a special section for “fantasy travel” containing speculative fiction books. Either that or work in a museum…I have an MA in history and since I can’t imagine being a teacher, it’s the next best option.

What’s one thing you learned through writing that you wish you knew before you started?

I wish I had known how long it was going to take! Until you decide you want to be a writer, you have this vague notion of all the work that goes into it. Somehow, I’m imagined sitting with my notebook and pen and finishing novel after novel followed by publication a few weeks later. I assumed only the mythic great American novel took years. Now I have more realistic expectations.

What is your favorite book, genre, or author?

I have one for each. Although my favorite genre (lately) is fantasy, my favorite book is Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder, a novel about the history of philosophy. My favorite authors are all over the map: Marion Zimmer Bradley, Sharon Kay Penman, Edward Rutherford, Diana Gabaldon, and Elizabeth Hunter. There are more, but that could cover a separate interview!

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

There’s too much advice out there and in the beginning, you’ll listen to all of it and even judge yourself by it. The day your able to take it all in and realize some of it isn’t for you, then you’re a writer.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

My superpower is research. I believe numbers and letter have a sex (for example 4 and A are female, but 1 and B are male). Rainy days are underrated, and I still remember lyrics to jingles and cartoons from the 80s.

Oh, and I tend to be random with my thoughts. Thanks again for letting me share!

About I.L. Cruz

IL Cruz, Author | Author Interview | Creative Writing | Self-Published Author | Writers | RachelPoli.comI.L. Cruz decided to make writing her full-time career during the economic downturn in 2008. Since then she’s used her BA in International Relations to sow political intrigue in her fantasy worlds and her MA in history to strive for the perfect prologue. When she’s not engaged in this mad profession she indulges her wanderlust as often as possible, watches too much sci-fi and reads until her eyes cross. She lives in Maryland with her husband, daughter and a sun-seeking supermutt named Dipper.

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A Smuggler's Path by IL Cruz | Author Interview | Self-Published Author | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com The Cemetery Circle by IL Cruz | Author Interview | Self-Published Author | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.comBuy A Smuggler’s Path:

Ebook | Paperback

Meet Aurora Jean Alexander, Author [Author Interview]

It’s my pleasure to welcome AJ Alexander to my blog!

Aurora Jean Alexander | Author | Writer | Creative writing | author interview | blogging | RachelPoli.com

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Aurora Jean Alexander. I grew up in a family involved into politics and was blessed with an excellent education in several countries, holding a Bachelor’s Degree in BA. I was very lucky. I’m living by myself with three cats, working a full time job and I am a new Paranormal Romance/Fantasy author. Currently I work on a series with 13 books. My first book is close to be published.

How long have you been writing for?

I doubt I can tell you one particular time or even time frame when I started writing. I felt that’s what I wanted to do. Since I lack a talent in painting and drawing I had to do something with my creativity and decided that’s the way to do it.

What motivates you to write? How did you begin writing?

I’m not sure there ever was “a start”. I learned to write at the age of four and I remember developing little stories since I’m a Kindergarten kid. In school, when others complained about essays, mine were easily 6 – 10 pages long, I enjoyed it so much.

Do you have a writing routine? If so, what’s a typical day like for you?

I still, after all these years write my first drafts by hand. When I type them into the computer it gives me the chance to go through the story and the plot again and catch flaws and mistakes within the story, even the characters.

Since I’m working a full time job there isn’t a particular daily routine. I write whenever I have the chance to. I usually have several books in different states of “completed”, which means, I either write by hand, type into the computer or edit existing manuscripts before they go to my editor.

Have you thought about self-publishing or traditional publishing? Are you leaning towards one over the other? If so, why?

I’m definitely going with self-publishing. The process of the traditional publishing is extremely long. The submitting, the rejections, the small exclusive circles of the ones deciding whether my work is “good enough” for them is grueling and even cruel and hurtful at times. I’d like to publish my books before my retirement.

Are you currently working on anything new?

I’m working on this particular series, which needs all my time and concentration. I love working on these books. Each character is very demanding and teaches me a lot. Right now I’m working on the seventh and eighth book in the series, which I’m drafting. Book six needs to be typed in. The first book is with my copyright lawyer, my editor is working on book 2 and book three to five are waiting in my editors inbox.

If you weren’t a writer, what would your career be?

I’m as well a musician as also a Martial Arts expert. I figure I would have gone with one of these talents to build a career.

What’s one thing you learned through writing that you wish you knew before you started?

The writing is the “smallest” part, so to speak. Networking, promotion, marketing, connections, these are the parts that sell the books and need a lot of time and even money. The ones telling that self-publishing is for free are definitely wrong.

What is your favorite book, genre, or author?

One of my favorite books is one of the best books ever written: James Clavell’s Shogun. It is absolutely fascinating, bases on extensive research and has not only what a good book needs, but much more.

Other than that I’m a big fan of fantasy and paranormal romance. Not Science Fiction so much because the technical explanations in these books are straining my simple, non-technical brain cells. LOL

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Write your stories down. They will never see the light of the day as long as they only exist in your head. And never give up!

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Networking is one of the main things to do for new writers. Start early enough. Starting with networking a few weeks before your book is published won’t do.

Additionally keep in mind that you don’t only find ‘helpful connections’ when networking. You have the chance to find amazing writers, supportive and encouraging authors and friends! Keep them in your heart and share your success with them. Let them be part of your life and help them as much as they help you!

About AJ

I’m a new paranormal romance author working on a fantasy/paranormal romance series. I have written short stories and poetry in the past and now am intensely working on a 13-book-series of novellas and novels.

My rare free time I’m spending in extreme reading, excessive pool swimming and playing monster-monopoly. My strongest support system are my sister, most of my family, my friends and my three cats.

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Pre-order Soul Taker (The Council of Twelve 1) by A.J. Alexander

Soul Taker by AJ Alexander | Book blog | author interview | Preorder | Blogging | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.comAfter long years in the line of duty as a ‘Soul Taker’, Kate is worn out.
When she gets a new job offer from the ‘Powers Above’, she accepts her new job as a Guardian gratefully without knowing that her teacher is one of the most powerful beings in existence, the Archangel Raphael.
Along with Raphael, she takes on her new task and the connection between them grows.
Raphael helps, protects and supports Kate, but suddenly, she becomes a target for the Demons of Hell.
Raphael realizes that Kate means more to him than he expected, which causes him to fight furiously against danger. If he fails, Kate’s future will contain eternal darkness, evil, and torture.
‘Soul Taker’, 1st book of ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series is available for pre-order right now and will be published December 15, 2018.

Meet Victoria Zigler, Author [Author Interview]

It’s my pleasure to welcome Victoria Zigler to my blog!

Victoria Zigler, Author | Author Interview | RachelPoli.com

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Victoria, but I prefer to be called Tori.  I only published under “Victoria” instead of “Tori” because I promised my Mam I would, and I try to keep my promises.

I was born and raised in the Black Mountains in Wales, in the United Kingdom.  Later, I married my Canadian husband, lived in Canada with him for a few months, returned to Wales with him for a few years, and eventually settled on the English coast.  That’s where I now live, in a flat beside the sea, with my hubby and our furkids, which currently consist of a West Highland White Terrier named Lilie, a pair of chinchillas named Mollie and Maizie, and a degu named Joshua.

I’m completely blind, having lost my sight to Congenital Glaucoma.

To date I’ve published 53 books, and a story in a sci-fi and fantasy anthology.  Among those 53 books are nine poetry collections.  The rest are stories, which are officially aimed at children of various ages, but which have been enjoyed by adults too.

How long have you been writing for?

I’ve been writing since I was a young child; I’ve been writing my own stories and poems since I learned how.  I’m not just saying that because I’m a writer, and it goes with the whole writerly image.  I really have.

I spent a lot of my childhood either reading or writing.  Part of it was having older siblings and babysitters who were doing homework, and wanting to join in, so learning to read and write before I even started school, despite children hardly being out of babyhood before their thrown in to school here in the UK.  Part of it was that reading and writing are things you can do just about anywhere, even in hospital, and I spent a lot of time in hospital growing up, with my mind able to be much more active than my body.

Although, I’ve only been publishing my stories and poems for about six and a half years.  Well, you can double that if you count the stuff I posted on my blog.  I don’t though.

What motivates you to write? How did you begin writing?

I have to write.  There are stories and poems in my head, and I have to write them down, otherwise they won’t leave me alone.  Then I publish them, because I believe art in all its forms should be shared with the world.

As for how I began writing: I started writing poems and stories in school, and enjoyed it so much I wrote my own at home for fun.  I haven’t stopped since, though sometimes there might be a break between writing sessions, or I might make slow progress on a story I’m working on.  I always come back to it though.  Excuse the double negative, but I can’t not write.  Not for long anyhow.

Do you have a writing routine? If so, what’s a typical day like for you?

Routine? Nope.  I don’t know anything about that.  What is this routine you speak of? *wink*

Seriously though, I’m rubbish at sticking to routines.  I keep trying, and manage to get a routine started, but it never seems to stick.  Sometimes I end up writing in the afternoon, sometimes late at night, and other times early in the morning.  It depends how I’m sleeping at the time, how my health is, what else is going on in my life, etc.

In an ideal world, I’d get up nice and early, have a chunk of time to work on writing, eMails, and all those other authorly tasks, before hubby and the dog got up, or other things needed to be dealt with.  Unfortunately, things rarely work out that way, since my sleep schedule keeps changing itself, and the dog won’t always agree to the plan.  It’s a shame, because I always get most done when things do work out that way, which is why that would be my ideal writing routine.

How did you decide to self-publish instead of going the traditional company?

Despite wanting to be a published author since I was a child, I’d been dragging my feet about publishing, because I didn’t want to deal with jumping through hoops to get accepted by traditional publishers, and don’t like the idea of being told what to write and when.  I never like being told what to do, and only do as I’m told if I want to do it anyhow, or if I can see there’s a valid reason for listening.  Plus, my health issues mean I need flexibility in my schedule, and what if I couldn’t meet deadlines because of health issues?

Anyway, when I stumbled across Smashwords, after winning some books via a blog contest that were gifted to me via that site, it seemed like a great idea.  I asked my hubby what he thought, and he said he didn’t see any reason why I shouldn’t do it, so I should do it if I wanted to.  I decided immediately that I did want to.

I had several of my old pieces of writing, so started working on rewrites and edits for those, all the while writing new stuff.  When each book was ready, and had a cover, I published it.  I knew little about publishing at that point, so sort of just figured things out as I went.  Six and a half years later, here we are.

What was the self-publishing process like? How long did it take?

With both my eBooks and paperbacks, the publishing process was simple, and took hardly any time at all.  What takes a lot of time is the actual writing, research, rewriting, editing, formatting, and cover creation.  Once you have a book written, edited, etc, it only takes a few minutes to get it uploaded.  Then you just have to wait for your manuscript to go through the reviews the sites do.

Audio book production is simple and straight forward too.  At least I think so.  But it takes longer.  You’ve got to get things uploaded, which doesn’t take long to do, and then you have to take auditions for a narrator, choose your narrator and hope they accept your offer for production (mostly they will if they auditioned for you in the first place, especially if you give them long deadlines to work with) and send them the manuscript to work from.  After that there’s a lot of waiting for audio samples from the narrator, listening to and either approving or requesting changes on them, etc.  The quality review from the site takes longer for audio books too.

Assuming you have everything you need to get things uploaded, you can publish an eBook within a few minutes (and have it distributed to multiple retailers within a few days) and publish a paperback within a couple of weeks (that includes time to get a physical proof, check it, and then approve the book for sale).  But you’ll be looking at a minimum of a month for audio book production, and that’s assuming you have a short book, and a narrator who works quickly and efficiently; you’ll need longer for a full length novel, and some narrators might take longer even with shorter titles.  Bearing in mind, those times are based on the assumption that there are no delays caused by problems that need to be fixed, which won’t be an issue often, as long as you pay proper attention to the requirements for the publishing platform you’re using.

Are you currently working on anything new?

I’m always working on something new.

I’m writing a middle grade pirate themed adventure story at the moment.  Between health issues, some real life events, and the fact I keep getting distracted by shiny new knowledge during research, it’s a slow process.  But it’s getting there.  This is a new genre for me.  I always write for children, but usually it’s animal stories, fairy tales, or something with a fantasy theme to it.  The only exceptions before now have been my “Toby’s Tales” books, which are about adapting to sight loss, “Vinnie The Vegetarian Zombie” (which sort of speaks for itself in terms of genre and subject matter) and a sci-fi story called “Jeffrey The Orange Alien” (my first, and so far only, science-fiction story).

Also, I start a new poetry collection pretty soon after publishing the last one.  So far I have a couple of dozen poems towards what will be my 10th poetry collection.  How many poems I put in each collection varies, so when I publish it will depend on when I feel like it has enough poems.  Right now, I don’t feel like it does.

If you weren’t a writer, what would your career be?

I can’t imagine not writing.  But, if I absolutely had to do something else, I’d want to work with children or animals.  That, or be a journalist.  But you said no writing, so… *shrugs*

I’d either want to work in a nursery or reception class (pre-school or kindergarten, for those not in the UK) getting to be part of the little kids’ early experiences with reading, writing, and learning about the world.  Or I’d want to do something with animals, like work in a pet store, be a zoo keeper, or be a vet (though I know I’d find that last one hard at times).

Nursery assistant and vet were the careers I wanted when asked to pick something not writing-related while I was still in school.  I’d still pick those as potential career options.  But I could be happy doing a non-writing job if it involved children or animals.  Even if diaper duty or cage cleaning tasks were involved.

What’s one thing you learned through writing that you wish you knew before you started?

I’m not sure how to answer this one.  I’m always learning new things, through my writing, through my reading, or through seeking answers to whatever random question pops in to my head.  Then there are the lessons life teaches.  I’m not sure I could pick just one, and sometimes I’m not sure where the writing lessons end, and the lessons from other aspects of my life begin.

What is your favorite book, genre, or author?

I’m never very good at these favourite things questions.  My favorites with most things vary depending on how I’m feeling, what I read last, etc.  However, “A Little Princess” and “Matilda” have been on my favorites list since childhood, and I’m more likely to be reading fantasy stories or fairy tales than any other genre, despite the fact I read most genres.

I have preferences with the different genres though.  For example: I enjoy the scientific side of science-fiction best, consider cosy mysteries to be the best kinds of mysteries, love a good zombie apocalypse story, and haven’t grown out of being won over by stories about cute little puppies getting in to mischief.  That’s by no means an exhaustive list of what I like to read, but I’m sure you get the idea.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Write a lot, and read a lot.

You have to write if you ever want to become more than just an “aspiring” writer, and the more you do, the better you’ll get at it.  At least, as long as you’re also reading.

I’ve heard a lot of writers say they don’t read, because they don’t have time, want to focus on their own writing, or whatever.  Well, if you want to write, you have to read, especially in the genre you’re writing.  How can you learn to write if you don’t read books to see how others are doing it? No.  Not to copy them, but to learn what works and what doesn’t in your genre of choice, see how the rules of grammar and punctuation work when actually applied to a story, figure out how to make a poem flow well, etc.  You don’t have to read hundreds of books a year.  Although, if you can, that’s awesome.  But you should at least make some time for reading.

Also, please do your research properly, and check your facts.  Readers notice.  This applies when writing disabled characters too; talk to a person with a disability before writing about one, because not all myths surrounding a particular disability are true.  For example: being blind doesn’t give me super amazing hearing, I don’t own a guide dog, and correcting yourself when you go to use phrases usually associated with seeing – such as talking about watching movies – is more likely to annoy me than you using the phrases.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I can’t think of anything.  If you – or one of your readers – have anything else you want to know though, please don’t hesitate to ask.  I’ll do my best to answer, and will only refuse to do so if I have a good reason for not answering that particular question.

About Victoria Zigler

Victoria Zigler is a blind poet and children’s author who was born and raised in the Black Mountains of Wales, UK, and is now living on the South-East coast of England, UK, with her hubby and furkids.  Victoria – or Tori, if you prefer – has been writing since she knew how, and describes herself as a combination of Hermione Granger and Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter books: Hermione’s thirst for knowledge and love of books, combined with Luna’s wandering mind and alternative way of looking at the world.  She has a wide variety of interests, designed to exercise both the creative and logical sides of her brain, and dabbles in them at random depending on what she feels like doing at any given time.

To date, Tori has published nine poetry books and more than 40 children’s books, with more planned for the future.  She makes her books available in multiple eBook formats, as well as in both paperback and audio.  She’s also contributed a story to the sci-fi and fantasy anthology Wyrd Worlds II, which is available in eBook only.

Connect with Tori

Website | Blog | Goodreads | Facebook Author Page | Twitter | Google+ | Smashwords | Amazon

About Where’s Noodles

Where's Noodles by Victoria Zigler | Author Interview | RachelPoli.com

Narrator for audio version: Judith Bareham

Book blurb:

“Noodles is a strange red creature with a squeaker in his tummy, who just happens to be the favourite toy of a West Highland White Terrier named Lilie.  At least, he is now, since the bushytailed squirrel and cuddly triceratops fell apart while she was playing with them – totally not her fault, by the way!

Now noodles is missing.

Lilie’s sure she left Noodles on the living room floor when she went walkies.  But when she comes home and goes to fetch him so they can have a nap together, Noodles isn’t there.

Where’s Noodles? Is he somewhere else, or is he lost forever?”

Buy Where’s Noodles

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Meet Annette Rochelle Aben, Author [Author Interview]

It’s my pleasure to welcome Annette to my blog!

Annette Rochelle Aben, Author | Interview | Blogging | RachelPoli.com

Tell us a little bit about yourself (a quick blurb of the kind of books you like to write)

I was born to be a poet. So, the majority of the books I have self-published are either pure poetry or heavily laced with poetry. As I have found self-help books to be useful in my life, I also enjoy writing books of that nature as well.

How long have you been writing?

I have been writing since I was a small child, being published in a literary magazine at the age of 14 gave me the encouragement to continue writing. Throughout my adult life, I have been lucky enough to hold many positions where writing was an integral part of the job.

What motivates you to write? How do you begin writing?

I set goals for myself on a daily, monthly and yearly basis. Sometimes I am enticed to enter writing challenges and contests, and they are fun. Sometimes the idea of the piece sparks the beginning and other times it is the title of the piece that calls forth the content.

Do you have a writing routine? If so, what’s a typical day like for you?

At this time I do not have an established writing routine. I can turn anything into an excuse to NOT work on my writing. However, even if it is merely a poem I am posting on my blog or sending to someone as a gift, I DO write SOMETHING daily. If I am working on my monthly pieces for the magazine (The Magic Happens) I may work a bit, here and there on the several pieces I submit each month. Yet, there are other days, I bang everything out one right after another. Guess that qualifies me as a pantser.

How did you decide to self-publish instead of going to a traditional company?

Easy, I wanted it to look exactly as I wanted it to look, so when someone told me about self-publishing, I thought that would be the best route to take.

What was the self-publishing process like? How long did it take?

My first book was laid out rather “artsy-fartsy” because I had vision of creating a piece that not only shared my poetry, prose and photography, but in a way that was unique and original. My goodness, when I got the first proof copy, it was a train wreck. There was so much more I had to learn and I must admit I did a lot with gritted teeth. Eventually, I understood what was required of me and what their capabilities were and we met on common ground. That process took me a year. Then, I switched self-publishers and continued to learn from them. The biggest difference between that first time and those that followed, was I went into them with the attitude that I was learning and not like I knew everything.

Are you currently working on anything new?

YES! I am working on a sequel to BooKu: Halloween Haiku, titled Son of BooKu which is scheduled for released in autumn of 2019. Also, I have a book of Tanka poetry due out in February of 2019. I have titled this book Think Tanka: vision in verse. And there are at least 10 other ideas in various stages of development.

If you weren’t a writer, what would your career be?

Wow, I always imagined I would be a stage character actress. Actually, that is where I thought my life was headed for many years. There is nothing like being able to become a character and entertain audiences. It always lifted my spirits and helped me learn that I had worth, after growing up being told I was worthless. It has been many years since I have been in a show and who knows what the future holds. Maybe I’ll write a play in which I can perform!

Rachel, thank you for the invitation to connect with your audience. I appreciate you!

About Annette

Learning to read, opened up  world of acceptance and creativity, Annette found irresistible. Learning to write, made that world come alive inside Annette. Publishing books, allowed Annette to share herself with the world.

To date, Annette has self-published 12 books in the categories of poetry, self-help, spirituality and inspiration. A Haiku Perspective 2018 became a #1 Amazon Kindle Best Seller within 3 days of release. Her television commercial copy writing, garnered her an Emmy nomination and a children’s coloring book she designed, won a national marketing award for her, then, employer, United Artist’s Entertainment.

Currently, Annette is the Copy Editor for the digital magazine, The Magic Happens.

Blog | The Magic Happens | Amazon

A Tanka Picture Book by Annette Rochelle Aben | Poetry | Author Interview | Blogging | RachelPoli.comTanka is a form of traditional Japanese lyric poetry that uses 31 syllables spread over 5 lines to convey it’s message. The word “tanka” translates to “short song.” This book elevates what may be considered average, to a new level of appreciation by connecting imagination and emotion. Those wishing to be inspired, uplifted or who are curious about poetry, will LOVE A Tanka Picture Book.

Books by Annette Rochelle Aben | Author Interview | Blogging | RachelPoli.com

 

Meet Carol J. Perry, Author [Author Interview]

It’s my pleasure to welcome Carol J. Perry to my blog!

Carol J. Perry | Author Interview | Witch City Mystery Series | Paranormal Mystery books | Blogging | Book Blogging | RachelPoli.comHow long have you been writing?

Seems as though I’ve been writing all my life if you count school things. I was editor of my high school magazine and wrote short stories and very bad poetry! My first experience with actually getting paid for writing began when I was nineteen and was hired as an assistant advertising manager for a local fuel company.

What motivates you to write? How did you begin writing?

Two motivations. #1. I enjoy doing it. #2. I like getting paid to do it.

The beginning: I knew in the seventh grade that I wanted to be in the advertising business and planned my future accordingly. I wanted to be either a copy writer or an artist. Turns out I’m a much better writer than I am an artist.

Do you have a writing routine? If so, what’s a typical day for you?

I’m a morning person, so I like to work as soon as I have my first cup of coffee. I try to write 500 words before noon, then stop and do housework, errands, maybe go to lunch, then come back to the computer and do 500 more. 1000 words a day is always my goal.

What was the first thing you did when you found out your book was being published?

I’ve been fortunate to have had more than one book published. The first one was a middle grade book, Sand Castle Summer, published by Willowisp Press way back in 1988. I’m sure the first thing I did was call my husband, Dan and tell him the good news. My first mystery book was Caught Dead Handed published by Kensington in 2014 and that was a super exciting day!

What was the publishing process like? How long did it take?

The actual process from the time I deliver the finished manuscript until the book is released takes about a year. That was true of both the middle grade books and the mystery series. First the editor goes over the manuscript and makes suggestions like clarification of certain points and maybe asks for another scene or sometimes asks that it be shortened. After that the copy editor makes corrections in punctuation, spelling etc. and sometimes even makes suggestions about the story.

Are you currently working on anything new?

Yes. I’m working now on Book#9 in my Witch City Mystery series for Kensington. My contract calls for two books a year.

If you weren’t a writer, what would your career be?

I’ve done several other things besides writing. I’ve been a floral designer, a collectibles show producer, a salesperson in a store, a cartographer, a substitute teacher–even a commercial fisherman!

What’s one thing you learned through writing that you wish you knew before you started?

I wish with all my heart I’d taken a typing class somewhere along the line. I still have to look at the keys!

What is your favorite book, genre, or author?

My favorite book is The Chronicles of Narnia by C. E. Lewis. Favorite writer is Sue Grafton. Favorite genre is and always has been mysteries.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Read lots and lots of current books in your chosen genre. You’ll learn a lot about how to put your book together, how to pace the action, and what editors/agents are looking for. It also helps if you can join a critique group so that you can get some opinions while your work is in progress. I attend a critique group every Saturday morning and the help I receive there is extremely valuable.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Yes. If this was easy everybody would do it. Also, to quote Shay Mitchell, “Visualize. Have Faith. Then work your butt off.”

About Carol J. Perry

Bells, Spells, and Murder by Carol J. Perry | Book Trailer | Paranormal Mystery | Author Interview | Book Blogger | Blogging | RachelPoli.comCarol J. Perry is the author of the Witch City Mystery series, (Kensington.) She was born in that magical witch city—Salem Massachusetts–on Halloween Eve!  Carol’s writing background includes ad copy, non-fiction magazine articles (many on travel, more on antiques and collectibles) and several middle grade books. Her first Witch City mystery, Caught Dead Handed, appeared in 2014, followed by six more—the newest, Bells, Spells and Murders released  September 25, 2018. Carol lives in Florida with husband Dan, one black Lab and one spoiled cat.

Meet Thomas Josef, Author [Interview]

Please help me welcome author Thomas Josef to my blog!

Thomas Josef | Author | Interview | Creative Writing | Blogging | RachelPoli.com

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was born and raised in Wisconsin and I’m a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. I took a little time off between my sophomore and junior year of college to hike the epic 2000+ mile Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine.

In 1989 to 1991, I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tunisia, North Africa as a community service worker helping local farmers manage green houses. We were ordered out of the region by decree of the State Department because of the initial Iraq-Kuwait conflict that escalated to the Gulf War.

With my Peace Corps assignment cut short and the US being at the brink of war, I decided to travel to Mexico and Central America where tensions were much more subdued. I learned Spanish in Mexico and Guatemala. When I returned to the states, I endured my career with the State of Texas and continued to reside in Austin.

After nearly ten years of service to the state, I was looking for a change in my career and one that would offer a good compensation package and travel opportunities. I decided to take a military contractor position with a Fortune 500 engineering and construction company to help serve the Warfighters of Afghanistan. During that time I started to write about daily accounts that became the premise of my book.

How long have you been writing for?

This is my first book and memoir. I started writing newsletters to send home about the unique experiences, interesting people and events, and everyday life as a contractor on a military base in a war zone.

What motivates you to write? How did you begin writing?

Unique, interesting, and out-of-the-ordinary experiences motivates me to write because these are instances that are worth living for and create interesting journeys and perspectives in life.

Do you have a writing routine? If so, what’s a typical day like for you?

I really do not have a writing routine. I write when stories need to be told and I have the time to tell them.

How did you decide to self-publish instead of going the traditional company?

I researched the benefits of self-publishing and the cost difference to an author. There’s also something about the independence, the learning experience, and the creative aspects of self-publishing vs. going through a traditional publishing company.

What was the self-publishing process like? How long did it take?

I thought the self-publishing process would be much easier with better step-by-step instructions and time line, but it wasn’t. I seemed to hit a few roadblocks along the way and ended up hiring a book marketer that had the experience and expertise with self-publishing to do it in a timely manner. It took about a month to obtain the get the self-publishing accounts approved, obtain an ISBN, format and upload the book and e-book, proof, and finally publish. I thought the process would be more instantaneous by downloading my files. That was not the case at all.

Are you currently working on anything new?

No I am not.

If you weren’t a writer, what would your career be?

My dream job would be traveling the world and being a travel journalist or photographer.

What’s one thing you learned through writing that you wish you knew before you started?

One thing that I learned through writing is that present tense has more impact on the reader vs. past tense. I originally wrote my book in past tense because I wrote about things that already happened. I went back, and rewrote and reworked my book in the present to create that greater impact as though the reader was living in the moment with me.

What is your favorite book, genre, or author?

My favorite genre is non-fiction. I like factual, real life stories like a memoir. I love to read the descriptions, details, and feelings written by other authors and how they articulate and interpret them. I can’t say I have a favorite because I have many.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

As a friend and fellow author told me, “Everyone has a story to share; share yours”.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

People live vicariously through others’ lives and adventures. Take them along on your journey.

About Thomas Josef

Thomas Josef | Author Interview | Creative Writing | Blogging | RachelPoli.comThomas Josef is a native of Wisconsin and a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. In his mid-twenties, he hiked the 2000+ mile epic Appalachian Train from Georgia to Maine and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tunisia, North Africa. He studied Spanish in Mexico, Guatemala, and Ecuador. With his passion for travel and adventure, he took a military contractor position with a Fortune 500 engineering and construction company to serve the Warfighters of Afghanistan. This is his story of that time and his first book.

Buy His Book

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Incoming! Secrets of a Contract Warrior in Afghanistan by Thomas Josef | Book Blogger | Author Interview | Creative Writing | Blogging | RachelPoli.com

Have you read this book? Does it seem interesting to you? Let me and Thomas know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Meet Herminia Chow, Writer [Interview]

Herminia Chow, Writer | Author Interview | Creative Writing | Blogging | RachelPoli.com

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Herminia. I’m a reader, writer, and blogger who lives in Canada. I go to university full-time where I’m doing a major in Book and Media Studies with two minors in English as well as Writing and Rhetoric. I don’t have any books published yet, but I’ve written articles for different sites.

How long have you been writing for?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I started my first novel when I was in grade 8. I’m now going into my fourth year of university. I’ve been writing almost every day for about 3 years. Before then I just wrote when I felt like it.

What motivates you to write? How did you begin writing?

I love telling stories. I started writing because I had a lot of time. Nowadays, I have to make time. Even though it’s hard work, I find writing fun and fulfilling.

Do you have a writing routine? If so, what’s a typical day like for you?

I try to write every day. I read in the morning and early afternoon. For some reason, I feel more creative later in the day, so I do most of my writing or blogging in the evening or at night. That being said, when I’m commuting to class, I’ll write first thing in the morning on the bus and subway. I often handwrite my first drafts before transcribing them on the computer.

Have you thought about self-publishing or traditional publishing? Are you leaning towards one over the other? If so, why?

I’ve considered both. As a kid, I always wanted to be published traditionally. I dreamt of seeing my book in libraries and stores. These days, I’m leaning towards self-publishing because I like the idea of having more control over my work. At some point, I’ll try to find a publisher, and if that doesn’t work out, I’ll attempt to do it myself.

Are you currently working on anything new?

I’m currently working on shorter pieces such as poems and short stories. I’m going to submit some of them to contests or journals. I’ll likely publish many to my blog as well. Even though I’m not working on a novel right now, I hope to start a new project soon.

If you weren’t a writer, what would your career be?

When I’m not writing, I’m blogging or reading. So I think I’d work in digital marketing or book publishing. Interestingly enough, I’ve had the opportunity to work for a digital marketing agency for a couple of summers. What’s more, since I blog about books, I get to be in contact with professionals who work in the publishing industry. I’m passionate about both fields, so it’d be awesome to work as a marketing coordinator for a book publisher.

What’s one thing you learned through writing that you wish you knew before you started?

I wish I knew that writing doesn’t get easier, but the more I do it, the better I become.

What is your favorite book, genre, or author?

I love crime, mystery, suspense, and thriller. I can’t pick just one book, but a few authors I admire include David Baldacci, Pierce Brown, Sarah J. Maas, and Jodi Picoult.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

I’d tell aspiring writers to write as much as they can. Apply to contests. Submit your work. Go after opportunities. Create them yourself. No one is going to hand you anything. You have to make things happen on your own.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Thank you for reading. Thanks so much for having me on here, Rachel.

About Herminia Chow

Herminia resides in Canada where she is fond of curling up with good books (and bad ones too), obsessing over her blog (on WordPress), and coming up with new ideas for stories (or thinking about them). She is a creative writer, a brief blogger, and an avid reader of all things.
 

Please be sure to check out Herminia and her work on her own blog! Let her know what you thought of her interview in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

Want more? You can check out other Author Interviews on here. If you’d like to be interviewed yourself, you can check out the Interview Guidelines here.

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Meet Roger Peppercorn, Author [Interview]

Roger Peppercorn | Author Interview | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

Things about myself? Well I’m not sure where to begin. I really don’t like talking about myself  *cough* but if I must pontificate about myself at length I will marshal on. It’s funny because as a writer you are of two minds the narcissist and the demur. I say this laughingly because if you give me a mic and an audience of at least one it’s like flipping a switch.  I like to tell stories and make people laugh. It’s what I am best at. I obviously can’t speak for other writers but I would be willing to bet they too are victims of their own hubris. I was raised as a child during the economic downturn that gripped the Western slope of Colorado.

As a child I often spent a lot of time daydreaming. The stories and events that lived in mind were fantastical in nature. As I grew older I often times would watch others and create elaborate fantasies. I wasn’t really all that popular but I did pretty well of fitting in. I wasn’t the class clown or a real show off but I did a good job of framing heroes and villains in stories.

In my mine tween years I started to craft the ability to tell stories. Particularly during English for book reports. But it wasn’t until I took a writing class at a local community college where I really started to write. I don’t recall how many words or pages you were required to crank out daily but I know it felt like a lot. It’s also where I really started to work out scenes and play around with dialogue.

I’ve said this before but the line between good and bad is not always clearly black hat or white hat. It’s this conflict I’ve always been drawn too. To me stories about crime are far more interesting when the actions and words of the characters slide in and out of good and bad behavior. The procedural stuff is a means to bring the story to conclusion but friction between people is what makes a scene really pop on the page.

When I started this book a long time ago it started with the scene in Pea Green Hall. The main thrust of how it is written today holds true to how I saw it in my mind before I wrote it and how it “wrote” are different.

 How long have you been writing for?

Really long and not very long at all. I’ve had a couple of different ideas for stories and have attempted to write them but for a lot of reasons they just never reached the end. That’s the really long side but the short side is about five years. Like I was just saying this novel started with a scene and from there I started to build a story around it. The difference for me is I always had started a story from the start and had tried to walk it through to the end. One seems like a better way than the other but hey, this one scene is how this book got written and published.

What motivates you to write? How did you begin writing?

Honestly the motivation is to get the words and images out of my head. I lived with the first book for about two years in my head and dreams before I set down to write it. Most of the stuff I produce that I really like comes out of living with it for a while. Turning it over and over. Wash, rinse and repeat. This book came about because I just wanted to get it out of my head and on the page to read.

I really got serious about writing when I started my blog. I know, I know everyone has one and some of them are really not good at all I leave them up for better or worse because it’s a way for me to gauge how I am progressing and maturing in the words and how they fit together.

Do you have a writing routine? If so, what’s a typical day like for you?

Because I’m not wealthy my typical day is just like everyone else’s. Get up and go to work come home, hang with the kids and wife. But when it comes to writing I generally write in evenings after the kids have went to bed. My day job takes me on the road so I spend a lot of time in hotels, airports and behind the wheel. The airports and windshield time is where I do a good portion of scene layouts and dialogue.

On nights or weekends when I write there are a few things that for me are a must. First the room temp has to be around seventy five or eighty. I don’t like cool wind blowing on me when I write so no air-conditioning. I don’t like my arms sticking to the top of a desk so a lot of time I have a blanket or a towel to keep me from sticking to the desk.

Like now I am sitting in a recliner with pillows stacked around me to prop up my arms and my laptop is on top of another one. The only thing missing is some type of drink. Mostly I like coffee when I write but booze works pretty good as well.

What was the first thing you did when you found out your book was being published?

I got an email in late fall of 2016. What I remember most is the grin and the satisfaction of all the hard work and slaving over the words, grammar, spelling and formatting had finally paid off. The compliment I got from Leesa at Wallace Publishing was something I will not ever forget.

But as to your question as to what I did. First I showed my wife the letter and then we both toasted the good news and after that had a really nice evening. The details of which I will leave to your imagination. It was a really good day.

What was the publishing process like? How long did it take?

The editing process takes a while to get through especially as an unpublished writer. Wallace did a great job with the particulars of grammar, spelling and punctuation.

I really did feel for them because when I was in high school grammar and English weren’t high on my list of things to succeed at. My girlfriend at the time used to do most of the English work for me which is exactly what it sounds like.

Overall it took about thirteen months and I think we went through two major edits, one minor and one really superficial final edit. But other than grammar and some rewording of some sentences there was only one paragraph we cut. So what you read today is very close to what went to the publisher.

The thing I liked the most was I was in control and had final say on what went to print. I learned a lot and am still learning a lot about the process of writing and self-promotion.

Are you currently working on anything new?

Why yes I am. Right now I am working on some research and supporting characters for the follow up novel which is titled The Sometimes Long Road Home. It takes place about 18 months after On the Devils Side of Heaven.

Walt is a cop in Fruita and a fulltime single father which he’s never had to be. Not to mention sobriety and just being a responsible adult. For a guy like that it’s a lot to take on suddenly. Ronald is still whereabouts unknown but when he shows up he too is a different character. Jessica is still reeling from her dramatic experience and all in all life in Fruita is a lot different now for everyone. So you get to see how all of this plays out.

Oh and there is a murder or two and some dinosaurs so that makes it interesting.

If you weren’t a writer, what would your career be?

That’s funny.

I wish I was an established writer with the income to go along with it. But I still have one of those “day jobs”. In fact it’s the same job I’ve had for almost twenty years. I work in telecommunications. I travel a good deal which is fodder for the books and occasional blog.

What’s one thing you learned through writing that you wish you knew before you started?

Honestly it’s how much effort marketing and promoting takes. As chic as the title of indie author is you are not the recipient of a larger agency who promote these for you. It takes a long time to build an audience and readership. In the end its worth it because it’s yours for better or worse and no one is a better guardian and promoter than you are.

What is your favorite book, genre, or author?

I have always liked a good adventure and thriller. Books that on its face require you to buy into these worlds where things happen that you know are not believable in reality. Especially in the digital world of today.

James Lee Burke is my all-time favorite author I’ve read just about everything he has written. His world and characters are visceral.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

You have to love the process of storytelling first and foremost. Write the stories you want to read and write for your enjoyment and freedom of movement of the mind and expression. Unless you have the magic ticket to literary freedom and success be prepared for a very long road to getting published. Building an audience and a following takes time, energy and some money on your part. But there are a lot of support on social media that can help. Lastly don’t expect anyone in the “bookstore” business to really help out a lot. You are your own best advocate for your work and your brand

Sometimes stories or scenes just don’t write and when it happens take some time for reflection maybe hit the backspace key a few times and either start again or better yet look for those off beat paths that are adjacent to the one you are working on. But never let it stop the story.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Don’t let anyone tell you not to write. The written word is everlasting and the core of all the arts. Plays, movies and songs don’t exist without words. My fifth grade teacher gave me probably the best advice I still use today. Never use the same word to start a sentence in the same paragraph and take care not to use the word “that” too often.

Other than that no one should tell you how to tell your stories. But when a reader takes the time to give you feedback remove the ego and listen. It will only make you better.

About Roger Peppercorn

Roger Peppercorn has suffered for the better part of his life from wanderlust and this need to see the other side of the horizon has taken him to all parts of the world. The people and backdrop of his travels have served as the inspiration behind his characters and storytelling. As a child, his mother taught him to read and write. His father’s collection of Louis Lamour novels provoked the fantastical images in his mind and the romance of the written word. In the seventh grade, his history teacher brought the characters of a bygone era alive. From that point on, Roger began to hone his skills in storytelling. After high school, Roger took a course in creative writing that was taught by a long haired hippy in a Hawaiian shirt. Roger’s grandmother used to tell tales of traveling across the plains in a covered wagon, the woes of having a son sent off to war, and the larger-than-life man she met at Pea Green Hall who later became her husband. His first two novels “On The Devils Side of Heaven” and “The Sometimes Long Road Home” take place on the western slopes of Colorado, in the sleepy town of Fruita, where he grew up. They center on the strained relationships and sorted histories of three characters – Walt, Ronald and Jessica, and violence that erupts around them. Roger is married and is a father of four beautiful children. He currently calls South Dakota his home.

Connect With Roger Peppercorn

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

 On The Devil's Side of Heaven by Roger Peppercorn | Author Interview | Crime Thriller | RachelPoli.comCheck Out On The Devil’s Side of Heaven

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Meet David Ahern, Author [Interview]

David Ahern, Author | Interview | RachelPoli.com

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m an Irish writer who grew up in a theatrical family. I used to make serious TV and wanted to do some fun stories for a change.  The Madam Tulip books make me smile.  I hope they do the same for readers.

How long have you been writing for?

All my life, in one genre or another.  Mostly TV scripts, but plays too. The good thing about novels though is that you can just go ahead and write; you don’t need a whole crew of people to make them happen.

What motivates you to write? How did you begin writing?

In my twenties, I directed and co-wrote a solo play with and for my mother who is a wonderful actress. Believe me, if your Ma is waiting, you finish the thing. That’s one kind of motivation. In general though, if stuff runs around in your head and you want to stay sane, you’d better do something with it.

Do you have a writing routine? If so, what’s a typical day like for you?

It all depends on what other projects I’m involved with, but I try to write straight after checking the mails. It can’t always work out that way though.

What was the first thing you did when you found out your book was being published?

Started thinking about the next one. I guess if you’re in any creative job you really only care about where you’re going, not where you’ve been.

What was the publishing process like? How long did it take?

I’m lucky in that I have a TV production company with a small publishing arm. I’m sort of the boss and not the boss at the same time. They’re testing the water with Madam Tulip, and so far they’re happy.  I’m a big fan of the freedom and independence the smaller publishers can give their authors. Writers looking for a deal with the big houses can forget that what they need is the right contract for them as a writer, and that’s not easy to get.

Are you currently working on anything new?

Madam Tulip #4

If you weren’t a writer, what would your career be?

I think my fantasy career would be as an archaeologist specialising in somewhere with a mild and pleasant climate, no biting insects, never previously explored and so a dead cert for academic fame (and tenure, of course). 

What’s one thing you learned through writing that you wish you knew before you started?

You don’t get holidays; your book won’t let you.

What is your favorite book, genre, or author?

Patrick O’Brien (a wonderful historical novelist and one of the finest storytellers ever), EF Benson (Mapp and Lucia) and Dorothy Sayers (of course). For comedy, Wodehouse, Thurber and Flann O’Brien (hilarious Irish genius). In the canon, Jane Austin is right up there for me.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Same advice everyone gives; keep writing, quitting never works.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Just a big thank you for having me.

About David Ahern

David Ahern grew up in a theatrical family in Ireland but ran away to Scotland to become a research psychologist and sensible person. He earned his doctorate but soon absconded to work in television. He became a writer, director and producer, creating international documentary series and winning numerous awards, none of which got him free into nightclubs.

Madam Tulip wasn’t David Ahern’s first novel, but writing it was the most fun he’s ever had with a computer. He is now writing the fourth Madam Tulip adventure and enjoys pretending this is actual work.

David Ahern lives in the beautiful West of Ireland with his wife, two cats and a vegetable garden of which he is inordinately proud.

You can learn more about David Ahern and Madam Tulip on his Website. Connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.

About His Latest Book

Bones of Chance by David Ahern | Interview | RachelPoli.comSuspense, mystery, action, a little romance and lots of laughs

A surprise role in a movie takes actress Derry O’Donnell to a romantic castle in the Scottish Highlands. But romance soon turns to fear and suspicion. Someone means to kill, and Derry, moonlighting as celebrity fortune-teller Madam Tulip, is snared in a net of greed, conspiracy and betrayal.

A millionaire banker, a film producer with a mysterious past, a gun-loving wife, a PA with her eyes on Hollywood, a handsome and charming estate manager—each has a secret to share and a request for Madam Tulip.
As Derry and her friend Bruce race to prevent a murder, she learns to her dismay that the one future Tulip can’t predict is her own.

Madame Tulip is the third in a series of thrilling and hilarious Tulip adventures in which Derry O’Donnell, celebrity fortune-teller and reluctant amateur detective, plays the most exciting and perilous roles of her acting life, drinks borage tea, and fails to understand her parents.

Buy the Book

Amazon | Goodreads

Meet Ari Meghlen, Writer

Ari Meghlan, Writer | Author Interview | RachelPoli.com

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

Thanks for having me on your blog!

I’m Ari and I write mostly Traditional Fantasy and Preternatural Urban Fantasy.  Though I have turned my hand to sci-fi and crime.  When I’m not writing I am blogging about writing and supporting other writers.  So yeah…it kinda infected my who life.

How long have you been writing for?

I have been writing since I was 8 years old.  Despite struggling to read through most of my young years, I always held a strong love for writing.  I think I just had too much crazy inside my head and it started to leak so I found putting it down into notebooks helped.

What motivates you to write? How did you begin writing?

I began writing after a teacher created a project where we had to create a monster under the bed and from this little spark of creative writing, my love for writing bloomed and has continued to grow.

I don’t really consider there a motivation to write.  It is more like, I can’t NOT write.  It is my purpose.

Do you have a writing routine? If so, what’s a typical day like for you?

I try and have a writing routine but other things manage to mess it up.  On days when I actually get a nice long stint of writing done, it usually starts early (I work better first thing in the day).  I get a glass of water (which I usually don’t drink), a cup of tea (one of many) then lock myself away in my room.

I play no music when I’m actually writing, as I find it a distraction.  If I am struggling to write, I will read through something else I’ve written to spark the flame.  I then write until someone knocks on the door to tell me how late it’s gotten.

On writer block days, then my routine is to stare blankly at the screen in front while sobbing.  Thankfully I don’t have many of those days any more 😀

Have you thought about self-publishing or traditional publishing? Are you leaning towards one over the other? If so, why?

I am not yet at the stage for publishing but I have already been contemplating the options.  They both have their pros and cons.  I am a bit of a control freak and with self publishing you have a lot more creative control.

Also, with traditional publishing you are expected to do a lot more of the marketing than it was years ago.

I think if you write a good book, polish the crap out of it then pay a professional editor and book cover designer you can do really well in self-publishing while keeping a lot of the creative control.

Not to mention, moving from self published to traditionally published is apparently a lot easier than moving from traditionally published to self published.

Are you currently working on anything new?

My current WIP is a preternatural urban fantasy called Dark Hart featuring exactly what you’d expect from any preternatural – vampires, shifters, gargoyles, goblins, psions… It is currently gone through its first edits and is with my Alpha Reader.

While I’m waiting to get it back from all his red penning, I have been working on a completely new fantasy story.  I had ideas about it last year and decided to flesh it out during the 85K 90 Day Writing Challenge.  It is still in a very tentative phase as the plot is a little fluid right now.

If you weren’t a writer, what would your career be?

Definitely something creative.  I do run my own online shop where I make items, so I am always drawn to creative endeavours.

Failing that I would probably have become a vet or a paleontologist, I’m not sure all I know is I’m really not cut out for more “normal” work.

What’s one thing you learned through writing that you wish you knew before you started?

I wish I had learnt to outline sooner than I did and also to not get caught up editing while writing.  For a long time that is how I wrote.  A constant back and forth of writing then editing what I’d written then editing it again… without actually finishing the work.

I am a lot better now, thankfully.

What is your favorite book, genre, or author?

My favourite author is a tie between James Clemens and Anne Bishop.  These two fantasy writers created the bar for me when I got seriously into writing.  I wanted to get my work to their level.

Their books are the ones I can read over and over.  They create worlds I want to just continually visit.  And I would love to have readers who feel that way about my work.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

First, don’t call yourself aspiring.  If you write, you’re a writer.  Own it.

Second, keep writing.  Ignore all the nay-sayers and people who will try and tear you down.  If you do anything creative in this world people want to crap all over it and that can sometimes include friends and family.  Find people who will support you and lift you up.

Third, work hard.  Writing gets better with practice.  With the surge of self publications, everyone now thinks they can write and publish their work.  The problem is we are seeing so much rough work.

Your manuscript should be edited, re-edited, professionally edited and polished.  The more you write the better you get, you learn and grow and develop your skill.  There is no rush to be published and it is better to take time and do a good job than rush and put out something lacking.

Finally, learn about the business side.  Yes writing is awesome and creative, but there’s a business side too such as networking and marketing.  The more you learn, the more you plan the better situated you will be when you are finally ready to release your novel.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I like octopi.

Too weird?

I’d like to say a big thanks to you Rachel, for inviting me onto your awesome blog for this interview.  😊

And to all the readers, if you were born to be a writer?  Then let nothing stop you.  Writing is one of the hardest, awesome, exhausting, exhilarating things you can do.  So go do it!

ABOUT ARI

When not immersed in her worlds full of screaming trees, living gargoyles, vengeful demons or trapped souls… Ari is pretty much day dreaming about said worlds.

She writes fantasy, lots of it and also blogs about writing to help other writers, because apparently working on over 5 different novel series’ is just not enough “writing.”

Most days she is surrounded by cats and books though she also enjoys watching really bad movies with her boyfriend.  Like REALLY bad movies.

Website & Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Meet Stacey Anne Baterina Salinas, Author [Interview]

This post contains affiliate links, which means should you purchase from these links I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. This helps keep the blog up and running. Thanks so much for your support!

It’s my pleasure to welcome Stacey Anne Baterina Salinas to my blog!

Stacey Anne Baterina Salinas | Author Interview | Creative Writing | Historical Writing | RachelPoli.com

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Stacey Anne Baterina Salinas and am a Ph.D. history student attending the University of California, Davis.  My research centers on Asian American women’s history.  I particularly am interested in intergenerational experiences and their contributions to history and American culture.  As a second generation Asian American woman growing up in the Bay Area during the nineties, I noticed my generation didn’t have Asian American female role models or historical figures visible in mainstream American textbooks and curriculum.  I hope to produce readable historical material that showcases Asian Americans, or minorities for that matter, as active, present, and influential so that younger generations of Asian Americans have a history to fall back on, reference, and find role models in.

How long have you been writing for?

I believe professionally, I have been writing history for five years.  If we count how long I have been writing as a hobby I would probably say since I was six years old.

What is your writing process like?

My writing process really is to first read secondary sources.  For example grabbing history books off the shelves written by both trained historians, Ethnic Studies, American Studies, Women’s Studies, and Asian American Studies scholars.  I tend to write down topics of interest to me from those resources and begin to write summaries or annotated bibliographies on those resources.  Through this process, I have made a grand collection of important scholarly material readily available to me as a reference that can help guide me through defining subject material for my own research.

The other more fun process is simply reading historical fiction, the news, or even English literature and finding stories that might interest me that way.  I jot down notes in a journal or Google Document for safe keeping as to the topics I want to write on from interests I find from these less conventional resources.  When I am ready, I return to those topics, sit down, write, and basically “word vomit” as much as I can because I know that proofreading is an inevitable painstaking process I have to commit to later on.  Therefore getting all my ideas and notes down without worrying about the way it sounds helps ease the anxiety that comes with professional writing.

Do you have a writing routine? If so, what’s a typical day like for you?

As a Ph.D. student, it really is hard to maintain a writing routine.  If we aren’t reading for research, we are writing furious notes for our own seminar papers, or we are working as Teacher’s Assistants or writing papers/articles with deadlines.  I feel as if on a whole, my daily routine is really reading and writing for 8 to 10 hours.  The nature of graduate school really forces you to be on top of reading and writing, not just for your classes but towards the research you hope to produce.  My writing routine therefore is, whenever I can squeeze in writing, I try to write a page or two a day, that way by the end of the week I would have at least 8 pages of a rough draft ready.  Procrastination is a scary habit, and this routine helps me to avoid that.

What motivates you to write?

What motivates me to write include my family and friends who believe in my scholarly aims, my own family’s fascinating and complicated ethnic history, and teaching young students.  As a second generation Asian American woman, I am exposed to two very different cultures and always found those two worlds of identity both fascinating and complicated.   Especially as  a woman of color, I believe marginalized communities have less of a voice, if any, in traditional histories taught in both public and  private school curriculum.  Thus I really strive to write narratives of minorities who have been made to feel less important, or even secondary because traditional histories, news, and even film often lack variety and speak to only the majority perspective.  But really overall, I love reading and how the written word can transport you to other worlds, times, or places.  Stories, if written well and with heart, can make more visible the perspectives of other people from both the past and present. I want to create literature that can serve as a necessary medium that teaches empathy and compassion.

What was the first thing you did when you found out your book was being published?

I was, and still am, so grateful to Pacific Atrocities Education head and editor, Jenny Chan, and those I had collaborated with (Klytie Xu, guerrilla veteran Lourdes Poblete) to make that dream possible.  I think the first thing I did besides tell my immediate family was to write in my journal that I had fulfilled a lifelong dream.  I wanted to document it and write down all my emotions and essentially scrapbook that moment so that when I  was older, I could still feel how happy I was because my writing would still pour those emotions out.  Also, the historian in me finds documentation as evidence of the lived experience and I’m sure a part of that professional training made me want to jot it down.  Of course, after I received the news, I celebrated with a trip to the coffee/boba cafe with my older sister to get myself the chubbiest cup of milk tea I felt I deserved.

Are you currently working on anything new?

As a second-year graduate student, I am working on a paper discussing the roles of Asian American women during the Yellow Power/Asian American Movement (1968-1970s).  I am trying to tease out the barriers that Asian American women faced as women of color during both the Civil Rights Movement and the Women’s Rights Movement.  They weren’t allowed to fully participate in both because gender and racial prejudices, unfortunately, plagued both movements respectively.  I also have in mind writing historical fiction stories that reflect the personal struggles that my family, friends, and peers have faced as women of color with long immigrant family histories.

If you weren’t a writer, what would your career be?

I would be a Humanities teacher (History, Language Composition, English Literature).   I have teaching experience and always feel safe and energetic in the classroom.  As a history graduate student, we are allowed the opportunities to lead classroom discussions with undergraduates as Teacher’s  Assistants and I have found working with youth as a mentor to be very fun, rewarding, and another way to understand history by seeing how younger generations interpret the past.

What is the easiest part of writing for you? What is the hardest part?

The easiest part of writing for me is the outline, formulating and making arguments/narratives, finding primary resources, and creating resource guides like the bibliography or footnotes.  The hardest part is getting the time to sit down, relax, and actually write a full introduction especially if there is a deadline looming over you.  The introductions are still to this day very nerve-wracking.

What’s one thing you learned through writing that you wish you knew before you started?

Honestly that you won’t know how to do it until you go through it.  Always be open to constructive criticism and recognize that writing is a continuous process;  you’re always learning how to improve.

What is your favorite book or genre? Is there a special book that made you realize you wanted to write?

That is really a  tough question.  I would feel terribly ungrateful if I only mentioned one.   If I had to narrow it down it would have to include genres like Children’s Literature, Fiction, History, and Asian American Studies.

  1. Corduroy by Don Freeman.
  2. Asian American Women & Men: Labor, Laws, & Love by Yen Le Espiritu
  3. Quiet Odyssey: A Pioneer Korean Woman in America by Mary Paik Lee
  4. On Gold Mountain by Lisa See
  5. Anne of Green Gables by M. Montgomery

My favorite Authors:

1. Yen Le Espiritu
2. Susan Johnson
3. A. Milne
4. Huping Ling
5. Yoshiko Uchida

Books that really inspired me to write early on was Paul Zindel’s novel, The Pigman, and Scott O’Dell’s  Carlota.  They center on young women, teenagers even, who are struggling with their identity, culture, and what it means to be an adult.  Not only were their dilemmas relatable, Scott O’Dell especially had a knack for transporting his audiences to another time and engaging historical narratives.  I fell in love with literature the moment I understood the personalities of their characters.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Getting that first sentence on paper is the first obstacle and I know how nerve-wracking a blank Word or Google Document can be.  Writing and telling yourself you can write is much easier said than done.  But honestly, my advice is simply to just write, and really I mean to write, write, write.  Always be open to practice.  Write short stories, practice oral histories and writing out interview questions, immerse yourself in the secondary sources on the topic you really connect with or find interesting.  Always ask yourself “Do you love to read?  Do you still love to write?” If the answers are still YES after heaps of constructive criticisms from mentors, peers, and editors, you really can’t lose.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I hope that those who do get a chance to read my work will be inspired to read more history or at least become a history enthusiast; the Humanities always needs more fans.

Stacey Anne Baterina Salinas | Author Interview | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.comAbout Stacey Anne Baterina Salinas

Stacey Anne Baterina Salinas is a history Ph.D. student currently attending the University of California, Davis.  She received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Irvine and received her Master’s degree from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, both in American History.  Her research focus is on Asian American History centering on the roles of Asian American women and their impact on America’s Civil Rights Movement(s) and contributions to the diversity of the American woman’s experience.

When not focusing on dreary graduate coursework, Stacey Anne enjoys binge reading historical fiction, English literature, and manga with the background noise of old Hollywood, or Disney, films playing on the TV as she reads.  A native of the Bay Area, Stacey Anne hopes to one day write a history of the diverse cultures and peoples that contributed to the unique and positive atmosphere of the area.

Connect with Stacey Anne Baterina Salinas

Instagram | LinkedIn

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Meet Sacha Black [Author Interview]

It’s my pleasure to welcome author Sacha Black to my blog!

Meet Sacha Black, An Author Interview | RachelPoli.com

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m predominantly a Young Adult fantasy author but I’ve also got some dystopian, science fiction and contemporary YA in me too. With my other writing hat on, I pen non-fiction writing craft books, the first of which was about creating better villains.

How long have you been writing for?

With a view to publishing, I’d say five years. But I’ve always loved writing. Nine was when Eden East, the character for my first book, Keepers came to me. I wrote on and off at school, but nothing serious until I started blogging almost six years ago.

What motivates you to write? How did you begin writing?

I absolutely love creating new worlds and seeing how characters develop. The process of creation boggles me a bit. Where do the characters come from? How are they so whole and life-like in our consciousness?

Part of me NEEDS to write. I find it a real positive point in my day, I guess it’s therapeutic in some ways, but it’s when I’m at my happiest.

Do you have a writing routine? If so, what’s a typical day like for you?

I write at every spare opportunity I can. Whether it be sentence fragments in corridors between meetings or on the toilet!! Mostly, I write from 7pm to midnight every night after my son has gone to bed.

How did you decide to self-publish instead of going the traditional company?

Good question. I wanted to be traditionally published at first. But then I looked at both processes and realized there was no way on earth I’d a) give up control of everything and b) earn a tuppence for my books.

I had a clear vision for my book cover and I didn’t want to be told what I could and couldn’t have on it. Nor did I want them to change my plot in any way and I also didn’t really fancy having my confidence knocked by years of rejections.

Last, and one of the biggest drivers was the money. I really want to write full time and the traditional route was far too much of a gamble. You only earn between 10% and 15% of a books sale price, and of that 10/15% you have to give your agent 15%. So, for every $3.99 eBook I’d be lucky to take home 30c. Whereas with indie publishing I can earn $2.69 on that same eBook sale. I know that you get bigger visibility with trad, but I had faith that this was the right way forward. And so far, it has been. I’m well on my way to reducing my hours at work in favor of writing time.

What was the self-publishing process like? How long did it take?

EASY and super-fast. I’m not bashing the traditional route I am sure if the opportunity arose and it was the right one I would take a trad contract. But it’s kind of empowering doing it all yourself. The first book was a HUGE learning curve, it was hard trying to understand all the nuances of formatting and cover designers, but once I’d done the first, it was smooth sailing.

Everything is down to you – from finding and approving a cover designer to the formatting and physical uploading and publication to Amazon. But there’s a bunch of software out there that makes it easy for you. It took me 40 minutes to format the eBook and paperback for Keepers – and it was only that long because I couldn’t choose a template of what I wanted it to look like!

As soon as you have your edits back from your editor and you’ve completed them, you can format a book and have it live in the Amazon store in hours. No two-year waiting period like the trad industry – but even short timescales has it’s downsides, like less time to build an audience. But swings and roundabouts!

Are you currently working on anything new?

YES.

I’ve got an entire production schedule set up with dates and my designer and editor booked for next year. I’m currently working on the sequel to Keepers – I’ve got a freebie novella in that series and the third book in the series coming out next year. I’m also writing a non-fiction book on productivity and if I have time a creative writing prompts collection to bust the block. Oh, and if I get all that done then I will draft up the first book in my dystopian YA series!

If you weren’t a writer, what would your career be?

There is no other career. I am going to make it happen. I know that’s a cop out. If you’d asked me a few years ago I’d have given you five different possibilities but now I know there is no other career for me!

What’s one thing you learned through writing that you wish you knew before you started?

To celebrate the small and big successes alike, celebrate as you go and give yourself a slap on the back. I’m terrible for not acknowledging achievements and that doesn’t help my mindset or imposter syndrome.

What is your favorite book, genre, or author?

Too many.

I read about 50/50 YA in any form, and non-fiction. I crave knowledge, so I read a lot of business, marketing and mindset books. Don’t get me wrong, I do read some other stuff too. But those are my predominant genres.

Three books I love this year:

Delirium series by Lauren Oliver

A Darker Shade of Magic series by V.E. Schwab

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Don’t let anyone tell you no.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

If you want writing to be your full-time job, or your business, then treat it like one. Don’t write in your PJs get up, get dressed for work. Your books are more than a string of words in a story, they’re products. You can iterate them in a million different ways. Never underestimate how much you know and how valuable that knowledge is to others.

About Sacha Black

Sacha Black has five obsessions; words, expensive shoes, conspiracy theories, self-improvement, and breaking the rules. She also has the mind of a perpetual sixteen-year-old, only with slightly less drama and slightly more bills.

Sacha writes books about people with magical powers and other books about the art of writing. She lives in Hertfordshire, England, with her wife and genius, giant of a son.

When she’s not writing, she can be found laughing inappropriately loud, blogging, sniffing musty old books, fangirling film and TV soundtracks, or thinking up new ways to break the rules.

Connect with Sacha Black

Email: sachablack@sachablack.co.uk

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About Keepers

Title: Keepers – The Eden East Novels
Where is it published: Amazon
Release Date: 17th Nov
Formats: Paperback and eBook
Purchase from: Universal link to all bookstores is here

 

Book Blurb

Eden’s life is balanced…

…until her soul is bound to her enemy.

When her parents are murdered, the realm of Trutinor is threatened. Then a mysterious human arrives and changes everything.

As Eden’s world spirals out of control, she doesn’t need a charismatic Siren from her past returning to complicate life.

Now, saving Trutinor is the last thing on Eden’s mind.

Three boys.

Two murdered parents.

One deadly choice.

Book Excerpt

    Chapter One

‘Where there is Balance, there is Imbalance.’

First Law – The Book of Balance

* * *

Father always said not to trust a Fallon that can’t keep the Balance. I should have listened.

* * *

My mother and father are fidgeting. Perched, along with everyone else’s parents, on the front row of the lecture hall’s steep tiered seating. Someone must have opened a door because a ripple of air drifts through the auditorium and makes the stage’s velvety green curtains wrinkle. I close my eyes, letting it wash over my skin and take a deep breath. It doesn’t help. The wind is carrying everyone’s anxiety, and my Elemental power can’t help but seek out the anomaly and feed it into my system like a virus.

I snatch a glance at the Earth simulator door. It’s in the middle of the stage, entrance dark, exterior plain and cube-like; a solitary shape; a grim reaper ready to make me fail my exams. Behind me, the last couple of classmates are waiting their turn, chewing their nails and watching the current exam play out on the screen above the stage.

They’re useless, of course. A virtual sim is nothing like being on Earth. But the Council won’t allow anyone in the field until they’ve been Bound and passed their finals. Especially not if they’re me.

“You’re too precious,” Arden, the Council deputy said every time I begged him to let me go on the school field trips. “Your Fallon blood is too royal to risk injury or death before you’re properly qualified. You know that, Eden.”

I do know; I just wish I could change it. Frustrated, I scan the sea of parents in the theatre seats. But their faces are as strained as my classmates. I focus on Father instead. He sits up a little higher, and for a brief moment, we share a knowing look. Then it’s gone. Replaced with a poised expression and a smile befitting any Fallon. He broke the rules and smuggled me through the barrier into Earth to practice. Under normal circumstances, as a Fallon, I’d have an unfair advantage because I’m stronger than most Keepers. But today, Victor is on my team, and he’s more useless than the sims. Worse, his score impacts mine. And that is exactly why Father smuggled me out to practice.

Victor’s lanky figure slides into place next to mine. His white-blond hair is muted with grease that’s turned it a mousy shade of beige. The sloppy top knot is, I imagine, an attempt to hide the oil. I swear I can see the strands twitching and moving like bugs crawling over his scalp. I turn away to stop my nose wrinkling.

Victor might be my Potential, but it’s still a mystery to me why the Council of Trutinor think Victor is the most probable candidate to become my Balancer. How is he supposed to Balance my soul?

“Victor,” I say, struggling to hide the distaste in my voice.

His clawed index finger extends until it pokes me in my ribs.

“You better not mess this up for us, East,” he says.

You can’t practice with magic for long without it leaving a trace. I like to think of it as a magical signature. I’m lucky. My eyes, like Mother’s, are turning violet, like the bright glow of a lightning flash. Victor isn’t so lucky. As a Fallon and a Shifter, with the ability to shift into any animal he wants, he could have had any animal trace. But our traces reflect our truest selves, our magical essence, and his is a wolf. One of his hands is gnarling up and forming a mangled wolf paw. A paw that I’ll have to hold.

I knock his dog nail off my side and glare at him. Fire elements flicker in my belly, daring me to retaliate. But my parents are watching so I stay composed, stand a little straighter and under my breath say, “We both know I’ll carry your whimpering ass across the finish line, Dark. So why don’t you play nice and I’ll let you thank me after. Hmm?”

He bares his canines, and for a second, I think I hear a growl emanate from his chest. Before I can call him out, Professor Kemble signals the auditorium’s silence. Two students exit the sim door, they’re pale, eyes darting over the crowd as they weave their way stage right and down into the waiting room.

“Fallon Victor Dark? Fallon Eden East?” Kemble says and gestures for us to approach the Balance simulators.

Victor’s face pinches like he’s sniffing something sour. It takes all my willpower not to slap the expression off his face. Even though he’s never said it, I know he can’t stand the thought of being Bound to me any more than I can to him.

The stage stairs creak underfoot as we climb. I flash a final glance at the front row. Mother’s violet eyes are bright as she nods and urges me on. I look at Father and smile to myself. Physically, I am like him with the same stocky stature and dark, curly bird’s nest on top of my head. But behind Mother’s sparkling eyes I see the grit and determination that’s burning in my gut too. Her palms cross in her lap, an attempt to hide her tension. But even from the stage, I can sense the electricity sparking like hot static between her palms.

Victor doesn’t bother to look at his parents and it’s that ego that’ll catch us out in the sim if I’m not focused.

Professor Kemble moves center stage, his floor-length green Keeper robes a stark reminder of what’s at stake. If we mess up, we won’t secure a place at Stratera Academy, and we won’t keep the Balance or get a place on the Council.

Kemble opens the sim door. I take a deep breath. Then Victor and I step into the darkness.

 

Meet J.D. Oldenburg, Author

It’s my pleasure to welcome author J.D. Oldenburg to my blog.

Author J.D. Oldenburg

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’ve always loved good stories about the human condition spiced up with magic, fantasy as the shell of a deeper story about being alive, and that’s what I aim to write and read.

How long have you been writing for?

I’ve been telling stories for as long as I can remember, and writing them since I was about 9.

What is your writing process like?

Most of it is cooking up an idea, imagining, telling it to friends and finding out new things about it each time I tell it. When I finally feel ready to write one, I get it out as fast as possible. If I abandon it for more than a day before a draft is ready, I have to read the whole thing again to keep going and some excitement gets lost with each break.I’ve learned to keep the first draft to myself, and come back to it a month or so later, detached

I’ve learned to keep the first draft to myself, and come back to it a month or so later, detached from it, so I can chop it up without feeling guilty.

My first drafts are usually rough as hell and make me wonder why I thought I was any good at this. Something happens after, though, like I’m being rewarded for sticking to it.Do you have a writing routine? If so, what’s a typical day like for you?

Do you have a writing routine? If so, what’s a typical day like for you?

When I’m pushing for that first draft I try to get up really early, work out and go to a library or café. I find home distracting. I have to, and love to, dive into into the world I’m creating, play all of the characters in my head,
the faster I get that draft out the better.

What motivates you to write?

The power that main stream stories have to move masses and make them think of something they wouldn’t necessarily if it wasn’t hidden in entertainment really excites me. A good book can entertain me and inspire me to be a better person.

I also just simply love telling stories. It’s a good way to spend time.

What was the first thing you did when you found out your book was being published?

Well, I published it myself. After a few encouraging rejection letters I decided a publisher was not some magical entity I needed to be picked by, they were simply businesses, and if I could learn how they did it, I could do it myself.

I also had a friend who was published by a big time publisher, and his experience with the process and how things panned out really turned me off to that system. Publishers care about authors who can sell books, new authors are mostly on their own. I embraced that and created my own team.

I love them, wouldn’t be here without them.

Are you currently working on anything new?

Yes, I’m working on a coming of age horror that explores growing up sexually confused in a world where werewolves (and any other creature of the kind) are real. It may be called The Feeder, or Narcissist, I’m still not sure. It’s inspired by a short film I directed coming out of a film program in Los Angeles a few years back. [YouTube]

If you weren’t a writer, what would your career be?

I’m about to launch products on amazon. I have a line of greeting cards I’m really excited about because I give royalties to the artists who paint them for me. I’d like to continue to become some kind of patron of the arts. Selling products and paying royalties is a fun a way to do it.

I believe in passive income. When not writing, I like to create the most income with the least work and have time to enjoy the world and my family.

What is the easiest part of writing for you? What is the hardest part?

The easiest part is dialogue, I guess I have a gift for that. I’m really observant of people and how they talk.The hardest part would be waiting for a good idea to come through. It takes months of freewriting

The hardest part would be waiting for a good idea to come through. It takes months of freewriting thoughts and turning dreams into short stories, so I guess sleeping a lot and taking notes, until something that really excites me comes through.What’s one thing you learned through writing that you wish you knew before you started?

What’s one thing you learned through writing that you wish you knew before you started?

The process is the gift, not the result. The result is just a reminder. That means you have to have fun doing it. It’s really not that serious, you are just writing stories, so have fun, and the final product will remind you that you did.

What is your favorite book or genre? Is there a special book that made you realize you wanted to write?

It’s a bit odd I guess, but my all time favorite book is non fiction. A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. The understanding of self I’ve gained through reading and re-reading this book over and over has made me a writer of better characters and relationships. Jim Henson, J.K Rowling and Neil Gaiman have done a lot for my writing as well.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Write every day and have a job. A job will take the pressure off your stories.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Thank you for taking the time to read about my work. I hope you enjoy reading and listening to Horatio and the Fear of Dying as much as I enjoyed creating it. Remember the book comes out for pre-sale through Kickstarter on October 3rd.

About J.D. Oldenburg

J.D. Oldenburg is a Venezuelan author who lives in Los Angeles. He works in film as a camera operator and loves to write in the fantasy and magic realism genres. His stories are most often thoughtful and aim to leave the reader with a hopeful and inspired view of life. J.D. believes work is play and thrives to take nothing too seriously. He loves to travel and spend time with his family.

Connect with J.D. Oldenburg

Website | Booksite | Facebook | Book Facebook | Twitter | Book Twitter | Instagram | Bookstagram

Horatio and the Fear of Dying by J.D. Oldenburg

Meet Emily Stroia, Author

It’s my pleasure to welcome Emily Stroia to my blog today!

Emily Stroia Author Pic

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am an intuitive and spiritual teacher.

I write and teach people on how to connect to your intuition and find healing after loss and trauma.

How long have you been writing for?

All my life.

I started with short-stories as a child. English was always a favorite class of mine in school.

What is your writing process like?

It starts usually with an inspirational idea that nags me until I put it into words. I use post-it notes to build the skeleton of the book. The post-it notes are like reminders of ideas for chapter names, concepts, themes and information.

I may go into meditation for answers or guidance when I am feeling stuck at a particular part in a book. If I am avoiding the book I will take a break and read another author for inspiration, listen to a podcast or practice yoga to gain insight.

It is so important to move the energy the writing process. There are moments of sitting and reflecting on what I am crafting and other times when I am 1000% in the flow and have created a message that feels aligned with the theme of the book.

Another tool that has helped me is recording voice notes of book downloads for what will come next in a chapter or section.

Do you have a writing routine? If so, what’s a typical day like for you?

My writing practice has become more consistent over the years.

I explore through journaling and free-writing to loosen my attachment to how I “think” the book should look.

I ask myself in a day what I can commit to with writing and some days it is only 15 minutes. Other days it can be an one-two hours.

I brainstorm in the morning and in the evening when I am in the trenches of the book.

What motivates you to write?

Realizing that my message is relatable and one that many people can connect to. I write to inspire others to never give up on the journey of life and find their own healing journey. It is most humbling to receive an email from someone about how my book has touched them or changed their life, or awakened them to finding their truth, courage and special gifts.

What was the first thing you did when you found out your book was being published?

Self-publishing my own books is a great feat! It takes so much courage to not only write a book but to be brave enough to share it with the world. It is truly being the master of my own fate.

Are you currently working on anything new?

I am working on a second book as sibling to Into the Light. This book will explore healing and growth in relationships, trust, and living a transformed life.

If you weren’t a writer, what would your career be?

I am a woman of many talents and also coach people on finding their intuitive gifts, connecting to their inner voice and sharing their stories with the world.

What is the easiest part of writing for you? What is the hardest part?

The easiest part of writing is the inspired ideas that come to me. The hardest part is trusting that this is a book people will want and can relate to. The actual writing process without judging it.

What’s one thing you learned through writing that you wish you knew before you started?

Structure and routine are important to hone the writing craft. I think before it was more spontaneous for me to write.

What is your favorite book or genre? Is there a special book that made you realize you wanted to write?

Sabrina Ward Harrison is a collage artist and writer who changed my life with her books when I was in high school.

She spoke to my heart about the struggle of life and being brave in the unknown. My favorite book right now is Milk & Honey but Rupi Kaur.

Genres of books are poetry, self-help and spirituality.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

To explore writing with being attached to the outcome. Write because it is a part of you that brings you the gift you need.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Writing for me is a constant state of exploration and self-discovery. I write because I am endlessly curious about what my next work will be like, feel like and how I will be different. I get to be the witness to my own growth and transformation in the writing process.

About Emily Stroia

Emily is an intuitive, writer, spiritual leader, teacher, and artist. Her life is a breathing expression of intuition, passion, spirituality, and creativity. Most days you can find her coaching clients, writing, practicing yoga and playing with her dog in Los Angeles. Her life’s work is to inspire everyone to find the gifts in their story and share them with the world.

Connect with Emily Stroia

Facebook | Instagram

Buy Emily’s Book

Amazon

Into The Light by Emily StroiaInto the Light is a memoir-inspired poetry collection in seven parts. The book shares the author’s life from a transformative perspective of experiencing trauma & darkness to finding hope, miracles and light.

In the final part, there are notes to the reader and finding one’s inner peace after adversity and healing through brokenness. This book explores trauma, abuse, sexual abuse, mental illness, loss, healing, spirituality, meditation, inspiration, and empowerment. This book is for anyone who has ever experienced loss, grief, brokenness, depression, abuse, trauma and heartbreak.