The Write Stuff – Monday, March 27 – Interview With Pam McCutcheon

I have seldom had the opportunity to interview an author possessing dual personas, but Pam McCutcheon is one such and writes under the pseudonym, Parker Blue.











Parker Blue writes the YA Urban Fantasy Demon Underground Series, along with paranormal romance novellas. As Pam McCutcheon, she also writes fantasy short stories, romantic comedy, paranormal romance, and books for writers. She lives in Colorado Springs with her rescue dogs where she spends her spare time feeding her addiction for reading, beading, and watching television.

I asked her to describe the most recent release from her series, and she described it as follows:

What’s a vampire slayer to do when San Antonio’s vampire leader goes missing and rogue vampires are suddenly on the rise? Find him and bring him back—no matter what the cost—before the vacuum of power pits vampire against vampire in a deadly showdown for supremacy… with her boyfriend Austin’s immortal life at stake.
When she discovers that her ex, Shade, may have been “accidentally” responsible, Val Shapiro’s problems take on a whole new dimension and her loyalty to everyone in her life will be tested.

Please tell us how your series began.

The series, starting with Bite Me, came about when Buffy sadly ended. I loved the show and the characters, and wanted to write my own vampire slayer, without copying genius Joss. How could I make her different? By making her part succubus lust demon, of course—one who really fights against her demon nature by channeling her desires into slaying vampires.

And I had to give her a companion to talk to, so my terrier-poodle mix, Mo, inspired the creation of Fang—the snarky telepathic hellhound who turned out to be everyone’s favorite character. Mo passed away last year, but I love that she still lives on in Fang.

What was the biggest challenge you faced writing these books and how did you overcome it?

I didn’t realize the Demon Underground would be so popular, and wrote one book at a time without a plan for the entire series or making a series bible. Makes it difficult to figure out where to go next sometimes. I overcome it by brainstorming with my critique group, who have been there since the beginning with Val and Fang.

Would you care to expand a bit on the series’ extent?

The Demon Underground Series is six books in all so far: Bite Me, Try Me, Fang Me, Make Me, Dare Me, and Catch Me (I’m running out of  “me” titles!)… I also have a free prequel short story called Forget You, and a couple of paranormal novellas outside the Demon Underground universe: “Wolf Rising” in the Magick Rising anthology, and Time Raiders: The Healer’s Passion. Under my real name, Pam McCutcheon, I write fantasy short stories, romantic comedy, paranormal romance, and books for writers (check out for more info).

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I hate writing first draft, and I’m a night person, so I write first draft in the morning when my left brain isn’t quite engaged yet—it gives my right brain full rein. I usually write until I finish a scene, then quit for the day. Once I have a draft, I can edit at any time of day. I usually take a chapter at a time to my critique group.

Tell us about your path to publication.

I’ve always loved reading, and wanted to try my hand at writing, so I read a ton of craft books, went to writing conferences, and took classes. My favorite genres are fantasy, science fiction, and romance. So when futuristic romance first became popular, I knew that’s what I had to write. My first novel took a couple of years to write while I was learning, but it sold to the third publisher I sent it to: Golden Prophecies by Pam McCutcheon. That subgenre trend didn’t last long, though, so I switched to romantic comedy and other paranormal romance, then eventually to the YA urban fantasies.

Do you create an outline before you write? 

Yep. Actually, I have my own method, which I detail in my book, Writing the Fiction Synopsis (insert shameless plug here). The book not only discusses what at a synopsis consists of, but the process of getting there describes my outlining process.

Why do you write?

I’ve never quite believed in that overused writer maxim: Because I have to.

Okay, I do have to be creative in some way (I’ve done a myriad of hobbies over the years, the latest of which is beading). But I write for fun, because I enjoy creating a new world, helping characters find their own happily-ever-after, and making my critique group laugh.

It’s nice to encounter one who avoids the clichéd. Do you have another job outside of writing?

I used to work for the government as an industrial engineer, but now I work from home providing ebook services for other authors, including editing, scanning, formatting, and uploading.

Do you have any pet projects?

My dogs are my pet projects (insert groan here). Seriously, I currently have two dogs I rescued through National Mill Dog Rescue, and I enjoy watching how far they’ve come in trusting people after all they’ve been through. They make me smile every day.

Being a pet owner *slash* animal lover, I have to relate how that touches my heart. Your comment makes me especially glad I invited you. Before I provide our visitors with an excerpt from your series’ most recent installment, entitled Catch Me, I’d like to conclude with my traditional Lightning Round, because of the insights it often provides. So, Pam, in as few words as possible, please answer the following:

My best friend would tell you I’m… Anal. I prefer to think I’m organized, with meticulous attention to detail.

The one thing I cannot do without is: My dogs.

The one thing I would change about my life: I’d win the lottery so I could travel more.

My biggest peeve is: Puppy mills!

And rightly so! Those of you who would like to learn more about my guest, Pam McCutcheon/Parker Blue, can do so by following the links I provide right after this excerpt from Catch Me:

Though the moonless night was already black as ink, I retreated farther into the deep shadows of a live oak outside my townhouse. My mouth went dry, my heart pounded, and my stomach churned as if a dozen vampires were cavorting about inside me. Yes, it was my most frightening outing yet—a date with Austin.

Beside me, Fang, my trusty hellhound, snorted. You’ve taken on dozens of vampires, mage demons, and blood demons . . . and you’re afraid of a date with the guy who wants to be your boyfriend?

I’m not afraid of him, I sent Fang telepathically.

Then what are you afraid of?

Oh, maybe looking like a child to the vampire who was way over a hundred years old and sexy as hell. What did he see in me, an average-looking eighteen-year-old with virtually no experience in this kind of thing? I’d never really “dated” before, though I had two short-lived relationships—one with Dan Sullivan, a full human, and the other with Shade, the broody shadow demon. Neither had prepared me for a date with a sexy vamp.

After the fabulous Valentine’s Day flash mob he’d arranged for me with “zombies” dancing to Michael Jackson’s Thriller a couple of weeks ago, I’d promised to go out on a real date with him, and this was the first time we’d both been able to arrange it.

Unfortunately, Fang could read all my doubts and insecurities and would call me on every single one of them. I cringed, waiting for it.

You’re not half bad-looking, Fang said.

Gee, thanks.

Don’t be an idiot. What could he possibly see in you? Well, maybe it’s the fact that you’re an awesome slayer, or maybe because you’ve saved his butt and countless other vamp and demon butts in San Antonio many times in the past few months—not to mention that of unsuspecting humans. Or maybe, just maybe, he’s hot for your inner succubus who makes his butt feel so gooooood.

“That’s a lot of butts,” I murmured. But I had to admit my inner succubus—I called her Lola—liked Austin, too. A lot.

You do get that Lola isn’t a separate entity? You are the succubus—that one-eighth demon part of you isn’t something or someone you can separate from your human self, no matter how much you might want to.

“How can I forget when you keep reminding me?” I muttered. Besides, I’d only wanted to get rid of Lola before I’d been kicked out of my home. Everyone else in my family—my mom, stepfather, and half-sister—was fully human, so I’d felt like a freak. But now that I’d discovered the Demon Underground, I didn’t feel so much freakish as I did . . . inexperienced.

Well, Fang drawled. There’s one way to get that experience, you know.

Yeah, I know. I’m doing it, aren’t I?

If you stop hiding—from yourself and him.

Austin drove up then, in one of the black luxury cars the San Antonio vein of vampires kept in their motor pool. He stepped out of the car, wearing jeans that snugged in all the right places, a black leather jacket, snakeskin boots, and his ever-present cowboy hat. My heart beat faster. What a hottie—and so out of my league it was ridiculous.

Fang nudged me with his nose. Don’t be ridiculous. You’re Val Shapiro, the Slayer, the Demon Underground’s Paladin enforcer. He’s out of your league.

Yeah, right. As if I could hide from Austin’s keen vampire vision anyway. His gaze found me in the depths of the shadows, and a slow, sexy smile widened his mouth. “Hello, darlin’.”

Would any girl not melt into a puddle right then and there? True to form, Lola surged front and center, her interest sharpening. As for me, I swallowed, trying to get some moisture in my mouth. “Hi,” I managed. Oh yeah, I am witty beyond belief.

He leaned against the car, waiting for me to come to him. “Shall we go?”

I took a deep breath and sauntered toward him, or tried to. Instead, I tripped over a root of the massive tree. Graceful, I was not.

I felt my face flame hot and wished I could rush back inside without looking like a fool.

Too late, Fang jeered.

Sooooo helpful.

As promised, here are Pam’s/Parker’s social Links:

Her book buy links are as follows:






The Write Stuff – Monday, April 25 – Interview With Charles David Carpenter & D. W. Jones

For the first time since I launched my interview series, I’m featuring two authors at once. Charles David Carpenter and D. W. Jones have co-authored a YA fantasy series. Rather than my introducing them, it’s simpler if I allow each one to fill you in on his own background.

CHARLES_WEB_115Charles D. Carpenter: Welcome to my mind’s eye view of the world. Besides being a writer, I am an actor and martial artist who was born and reared in sunny Southern California. Yes, I am the rare native who was actually born here. See, we do exist.

As a martial artist, I have learned how to fight people. As an Angeleno, I have learned how to fight traffic. Traffic is tougher, by far. I attended California State University Northridge, but my father instilled in me my love for writing. My family has always said, “Before he could talk, he could write.” Thank you, family.

My love and passion is writing novels. To be very specific, fantasy novels. Although, D.W. and I have written various works together in differing genres, fantasy is the genre that moves my heart.


206D.W. Jones: Spending my formative years in Washington, D.C., I know about cold. I was accepted into the prestigious Duke Ellington School of the Arts in high school and several years after graduating from Northwood High, I made my way to Los Angeles, where I have lived for the past ??? years. So now, I know about sunny and warm. Um, sunny and warm is better.

Stories of daring adventures in faraway places with action and romance helped me to avoid the pitfalls of the streets, inspiring me to dream bigger and reach farther. Those stories still inspire me today.

In 2005, I joined creative forces with Charles David Carpenter and began collaborating on various writing projects, including the very successful original comedy series for the Internet called CAN WE DO THAT?

Like night and day, we are two uniquely different authors who came together to form what we feel is a dynamic writing team. After several screenplays, TV pilots and commercial copy we embarked on writing our first novel series.

hd-bk-sos-copy-880x1024They have completed the third book in the series entitled Storm of Shadows, and they describe it this way:

Humanity teeters on the edge of chaos as war looms imminent and natural disasters strike the world of Tarune. The Necromancers, knowing their time is running out, intensify their plot as they close in on the Pride. As Velladriana struggles to control her growing powers, the blossoming emotions between she and Corwyn threaten to tear them apart. Only time will tell if hope will survive.

Tell us about your most recent release.

CDC: Before I do that, I want to take a moment to thank you for your EXTRAORDINARY patience, as well as for honoring us with this invitation to your interview series. We are huge fans of your work and are humbled by this consideration. So, thank you! Now, on with the show. Storm of Shadows is the third novel in series. It is difficult to give too much comprehensive detail about this novel without compromising the surprises waiting for you in the first two books. That having been said, I am really proud of this installment. I guess I’d say I have pride in this Pride. Anyone? Hello…is this thing on?

DWJ: Unfortunately for us, it is. Anyway, the action is fast paced as the world of Tarune heads to the brink of a war between both human and supernatural forces.

CDC: That, though, is just the backdrop. It is the interpersonal relationships and how they are developing that we truly love about this book. For us, characters and their motivations hold the true heft and power of any story.

DWJ: These characters are real. Their lives and needs are real. As such, the world they inhabit is real. A lot of surprises await the characters we hope you have come to love… and hate.

What was the inspiration behind your series?

CDC: For me, the original inspiration behind these books was to create a world in which people could immerse themselves and feel safe. You see; I was bullied as a kid. I didn’t have many friends in this world, so I sought them in other worlds. Most specifically, I found them in the pages of the novels that allowed me to escape my tormentors. Now, not to worry, I got through it and have a rich and bountiful circle of friends today, but those books did help me through some dark times. So, my inspiration was to create a world that would allow any child going through what I did to find a magical place of solace.

DWJ: Also, we have a lot of voices constantly talking, singing, chanting and squabbling inside our respective minds. Writing lets others hear those voices, too.

What other novels have you written?

CDC: We have written the first two installments of the series: Quest for Elderstone and Tides of War.













Have there been any awards, productions, videos or anything else of interest associated with your work?

CDC: Actually, Quest for Elderstone is currently required reading for Diversity and Social Justice in Counseling class and Internship in Clinical Mental Health Counseling for the Department of Counseling at Johns Hopkins University. I think that is pretty darn cool.

DWJ: As a matter of fact, we will be the keynote speakers there for a symposium on bullying at the end of the month.

That is seriously cool! How did that happen?

CDC: Quest for Elderstone was discovered by a doctor named Marsha Boveja Riggio and she reached out to D.W.. Her complete title is Dr. Marsha Boveja Riggio, LPC -S (DC & MD), NCC, President, Maryland Association of Marriage & Family Counselors Executive Director, Maryland Counseling Association, Board Member, William V.S. Tubman University Foundation.

When D.W. told Dr. Riggio about the books we had written, she had the idea of using the books for her classes, as she is constantly looking for new client cases for her students to analyze and conceptualize as part of their clinical development.

She read the books herself and loved them. She said she was not really a fantasy fan, but our books touched her on a number of levels, and now she is very interested in exploring the genre.

Quest for Elderstone seems to be a successful integration. The characters give the students strong archetypes with well developed life histories for reference. Dr. Riggio may be adding the other two books as required reading, as well.

As I said, this is seriously cool, as well as an unexpected reader base. What else are you working on?

CDC: Along with the fourth and final novel in series, we are writing several short stories based on the characters we have introduced in the series. Corwyn, Reese, Dolthaia, most of the Companions of the Pride, in point of fact, will have eventual origin stories about them.

DWJ: Also, we will give origin stories on the different character classes and groups unique to our world, like the Oslyn and Weavers, to name a couple.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

CDC: When we are involved in the heavy lifting of the writing, meaning we have set the basic, loose outline and chatted at length about the world’s development, writing is best accomplished by setting aside hours in the morning. D.W. and I have schedules that are a bit more flexible than most. Personally, if I can keep my mornings clear, attacking the novel after a super early workout gives me a feeling of true accomplishment.

DWJ: The most important thing, though, is to put your proverbial butt in the seat and write something everyday.

Do you create an outline before you write?

CDC: We loosely outline. Since there are two of us, we need to be on the same page. We know the basic direction of where we want to take storylines and plot twists. That having been said, we really do allow the characters and the stories to speak to us as we go. It lets the life of the world grow on its own.

DWJ: Sounds artsy-fartsy, I know, but it really does gives us some interesting twists and turns in the creative process.

Why do you write?

CDC: Same reason I breathe.

DWJ: Wow, that is the shortest answer he has ever given. It is the truth, though.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

CDC: Writing is a collaborative art form. People talk about the lonely life of the writer. Well, it may be true that it is a solitary endeavor but, at some point, you need other people.

DWJ: Developmental editors, copyeditors, beta readers; you need help. We have learned to listen to others and openly accept and utilize their input and critiques.

Is there anything you want to make sure potential readers know?

CDC: Yes, this is a story about real people. Some of their powers and abilities may be unique and unusual, some may not even be completely human, but their motives and desires are the same ones that drive us all. We didn’t set out to reinvent the wheel. We just wanted to paint it our own color. From teens to adults, I truly feel this series has something for everyone.

DWJ: Also, check out our site, We have great gear, from shirts to beanies to hats, which we think you will really like. We want your experience in the world our Necromancers inhabit to be immersive and interactive. The books are just the beginning…

Do you have another job outside of writing?

CDC: Acting.

DWJ: Entrepreneur.

How do you pick yourself up in the face of adversity?

CDC: It’s not how, but how often. We will all fall at some point, most likely at many points. We all make mistakes. The biggest mistake would be to stop getting back up. DWJ: We are here for each other in that way. Everybody needs a hand.

Who has been your greatest inspiration?

CDC: My wife, daughter and son.

DWJ: My son.

Before I provide our visitors an excerpt from Storm of Shadows, as well as book buy and social links, I’d like to thank you both for taking time out of your busy schedules to participate in The Write Stuff. It’s been an honor to have you aboard. I’m sure our visitors are curious by now, so here is a taste of Storm of Shadows:

Zara was somber as she looked out across the rolling landscape of the Locksdale Foothills. Here, so close to the border between Canodria and Medioc, the two great armies assembled for war. This beautiful countryside would bear the full brunt of the destructive might of both kingdoms. Neither would be foolish enough to willingly wage battle on the scorched earth of the Kerathic Plains. No, it would be this rustic setting, as well as the Flat Lands to the south that the war would ravage. The peoples of these lands would suffer, and many innocents would die. It was a morbid proposition.

The sweeping beauty of the land always made her reflective. The many canyons, gullies and undulating hillocks of the terrain often made her contemplate settling there when her time as a Herrod was done. The Flat Lands had their own subtle charms: windswept bluffs that opened onto vast savannahs leading to the shore. But something about the Foothills of Locksdale always held her heart.

That thought so burdened her soul at this moment.

She focused attention from the landscape and back to the situation at hand. The sounds of battle preparations filled her ears. Had she her way, only the sounds of music, reverie and song would ever reach her ears. As a Weaver, that was her passion. There were songs here, of course, but they were different. As the battalions marched past, the horns would blast, and the soldiers would sing. Theirs, though, were not songs of beauty. Theirs were rousing, bawdy songs of glory in battle and of crushing their enemies.

From her position on the wide hilltop, to her left, she watched the gleaming armor of thousands of men marching down into the large, open flat below. Banners streamed in the wind, and sunlight glinted off armor forged by the finest smiths in the southern kingdom. To her right, cavalry marching six abreast moved into their positions. The soldiers set up camp. They dug latrine trenches and erected tents in neat, tight columns. They had set the horse lines and put feed stations into position. They fortified the positions of the ballistae, which hundreds of heavy beasts of burden pulled.

The songs of war, she thought sadly as a particularly boisterous contingent of archers marched past. “What a sad refrain they do make,” she whispered aloud.

“Mistress Herrod,” a small voice behind her called. “My Lady?”

Zara saw Danth, a young boy, approaching her. He could be no more than seven winters, or perhaps eight. His eyes were brown and sparkled with the cheerfulness of youth. His smile was wide, with a large gap where his two upper front teeth used to be. He wore a doublet of brown leather much too large for him with the Cougar of Canodria emblazoned in red on the chest and a motley colored jester’s cap that slumped over his thick eyebrows.

“Yes, Danth.”

“King Forlmorlaine wishes to see you now,” he said with a smile.

He always seemed to smile. He was obviously well pleased at having so important a task as to call the Herrod of the South to have audience with the king.

“Lead the way,” she said with a grin, her smoky voice sweet and comforting.

The boy ran back toward the large tent erected as the king’s residence while on the march. Supported by three 20-foot tent poles, the huge burgundy canvas structure looked regal indeed in the final light of day. The golden rays of early sunset had broken through the clouds, sending rich yellow beams across the fields. The royal tent was bathed in it. The banners of Canodria blew majestically in the breeze from each tent pole, and several other banner stands had been set about the field.

Smaller tents of multiple colors surrounded the main royal lodging, the mobile residences of the nobles and generals that comprised the upper echelon of the army’s ranks. Cast in the dramatic rays of the sun, the scene had quite a noble and heroic feel. It evoked images of the tales of battles of long ago. For those Weavers who excelled at composing battle hymns, it would strike a most inspiring vision. For Zara, whose tastes leaned toward love and nature, the scene rang far more of melancholy than majesty. Where others would see future glory, she only saw inevitable death.

Those of you who are interested in keeping up with these authors can find them here:




Twitter:          @charlesdavidcar

Twitter:          @writerdwjones

You may purchase their books at:

The Write Stuff – Monday, February 15 – Interview With Jason Fry

PORTjasonfry_084 4%22x6%22If you are a Star Wars fan, you already know that the release of Star Wars – The Force Awakens makes 2016 a milestone year. Die-hards, however, know full well that Star Wars has never gone away except, perhaps, on the silver screen. This week’s guest, Jason Fry, is one reason why. He has written more than 30 books and short stories set in the Star Wars galaxy, as well as The Jupiter Pirates, a young-adult space fantasy series. He also co-writes Faith and Fear in Flushing, which is a blog about the New York Mets. He spent more than 12 years at the online arm of The Wall Street Journal, serving as a columnist, editor, and blogs guru, among other things. Besides fiction, he writes about sports, music, genealogy, travel, history and anything else that interests him.

While The Write Stuff normally focuses on a single work by an author—occasionally two—because Jason’s work is so varied, we’ve chosen to discuss three: Rey’s Survival Guide, The Force Awakens: Incredible Cross-Sections, and The Jupiter Pirates: Hunt for the Hydra.

Please tell us something about each of these.

I had two books come out on the same day, which was kind of fun—Rey’s Survival Guide and The Force Awakens: Incredible Cross-Sections were both “day and date” books tied to the theatrical release of the new Star Wars movie.

tfa-csFor Incredible Cross-Sections I supplied the words to accompany Kemp Remillard’s gorgeous cutaway illustrations of vehicles from the movie. That seems like a fairly straightforward assignment, but the real work to be done was figuring out what the focus of that material should be. I decided it should be context for those vehicles’ roles in the Star Wars galaxy. What were they built to do, and how were they modified from that purpose? How had their designs evolved? Or, in the case of a specific craft like the Millennium Falcon, how had various owners changed them?

I found that approach more interesting than a hard-science engineering deep dive. For one thing, Kemp’s illustrations and the labels had already checked that box pretty effectively. But beyond that, Star Wars is fundamentally fantasy, not hard sci-fi, and while that kind of detail is satisfying to a certain subset of Star Wars fans, I think ultimately it’s not the best fit for the saga.

rsgRey’s Survival Guide is a manual for surviving on Jakku, written in Rey’s voice. I enjoyed that project because it was a unique way to try and tell a story. We didn’t want a diary or memoir – though Rey does recount some of the events of The Force Awakens. But at the same time, we wanted the reader to get a sense of Rey as a person and of how her odd upbringing had shaped her. So the challenge was to tell a story “between the lines,” if you will.


What was the biggest challenge you faced writing them and how did you overcome it?

I’ll go back to Rey’s Survival Guide, since I think I’ve summed up Incredible Cross-Sections pretty well. A lot of the challenges with that book stemmed from the unavoidable fact that I had to write it before seeing the movie.

You get a sense of a character from the script, the description, images and what the character does as the plot unfolds, of course. Those things were helpful. But that’s not the entirety of a character—not by a long shot. Rey’s a wonderful character—my favorite Star Wars character since Han Solo—but so much of what we’ve responded to about her comes from Daisy Ridley’s remarkable performance. And I couldn’t draw on that to write the book.

Now couple that with the fact that Rey has, essentially, no backstory. We don’t know who her parents were or where she came from. She doesn’t know who they were or where she came from. She’s not just a blank slate but an erased one—a cipher to us and to herself.

That was difficult, but it was a challenge I warmed to precisely because it was so difficult. So I looked for ways to give the reader a sense of who Rey was by how she reacted to things, by how she discussed people and places and objects in her life, and by figuring out what she wouldn’t talk about.

Fortunately, I had some help. The folks at Lucasfilm who had seen the movie were able to help steer the book in the right direction, and I’m grateful to them. But I still had my fingers crossed when I finally got to sit down in the theater—and two hours later I breathed a sigh of relief that the Rey I’d written fit the Rey I’d seen on-screen.

That would certainly have been a nail-biter. What other novels have you written?

For openers, there’s Servants of the Empire, a four-book series of young-adult novels tied to the Star Wars: Rebels TV series. That series follows Zare Leonis, who’s a minor character on the show. Zare and his sister Dhara are both loyal supporters of the Empire, but Dhara vanishes from the Imperial Academy on Lothal. The Empire says she deserted, but Zare doesn’t believe that – and he learns the Empire kidnapped her. But why? He decides to enter the Academy himself to find out what happened to Dhara and save her if he can.

I don’t just write Star Wars—I’m also the author of the Jupiter Pirates young-adult space-fantasy series from HarperCollins. Jupiter Pirates is set in the 29th century, when Earth’s colonies in the outer solar system have broken away and are in a state of cold war with the mother planet. The series follows the adventures of the Hashoones, a family of pirates turned privateers who are based on Jupiter’s moon Callisto.

The Hashoones operate their pirate ship as a family – the mother is the captain, the father is the first mate, and the three children are midshipmen. They have to cooperate, working together as a crew under dangerous conditions, but they’re also competitors—the captaincy of the family ship is passed down from one generation to the next, but only one sibling can be captain.

The first book in the Jupiter Pirates series, Hunt for the Hydra, came out in December 2013. The second one, Curse of the Iris, is out in hardcover and comes out in paperback in May. The third book, The Rise of Earth, will be out in June. And there will be two more to come!

What else are you working on?

Unfortunately, I can’t talk about the Star Wars books I’m working on now because they haven’t been announced by Lucasfilm or their publishers. But I’m pretty excited about them and hope readers will be too.

I’m also working on a Jupiter Pirates short story that I’ll put up for free on as soon as it’s ready. And I keep playing with ideas for some big, ambitious novels I’d love to get to. I’m busy, which can be exhausting but is a lot better than the alternative when you’re a professional writer.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

Depends on how many balls I have in the air at one time, how close I am to deadline, etc. Some days are a relatively measured march forward, while others are defined only by when I’ll have to collapse into bed and sleep for a few hours. (It’s best not to have too many days like those.)

I usually wake up by answering email, scanning the news and seeing what’s new on my frequented sites. I like to start writing by mid-morning and write until my kid gets home and finishes his homework and/or my wife comes home. How much I get done during that time depends wildly on what the project is and how well-defined it is in my head. I once wrote a 30,000-word novella in four days. I’m proud to say I did it; I also hope I never have to do it again.

Hah! I’ve produced a lot, but that tops everything. Do you create an outline before you write?

Yes. And I am a HUGE convert to outlining and/or writing a treatment first – planning instead of plunging.

Writers should find a process that works for them instead of following someone else’s blueprint. But having worked both ways, I’ll definitely evangelize for planning. My treatments are really detailed – sometimes too detailed – but there are huge benefits to that.

Most importantly, outlines/treatments will let you see plot holes, false starts, sagging character arcs, overly complicated narratives and the like before you plunge into writing the book itself. If you go down a wrong path, it’s a lot less painful to discover that on page 4 of a story treatment than on page 140 of a manuscript.

The other benefit is that because I write really detailed treatments and road-test them with editors and trusted readers, I can usually write the actual book very quickly. That four-day sprint I mentioned above could not have happened without all the work that had happened first.

Last bit of preaching: I think some writers dislike and/or fear treatments because they feel they’re straitjackets. But they’re not—they’re blueprints for the house, not the house itself. I’ve never had a book come out exactly like its treatment, and that’s good. You always change your mind about some things, see different possibilities, etc. The difference, to me, is that a treatment makes those zig-zags easier to navigate and results in a better book. You’re making improvements on the fly instead of improvising fixes.

Why do you write?

When I was a kid I told everybody I was going to be the starting shortstop for the New York Mets. When I turned out to have no athletic ability whatsoever, writing was my reluctant Plan B.

Ha ha. (Though that’s true.) I’ve always loved thinking up stories and sharing them with other people. Writing lets you dream onto the page, and sometimes what you come up with resonates with people who picked up your book. Which is really pretty miraculous, if you think about it.

Sometimes I wish I was a financial wizard, a genius programmer or something more lucrative and stable than being a writer. But I’m not wired for any of those things—I’m wired for dreaming up stories and sharing them as best I can.

And you know what? I know financial wizards and genius programmers, and they say: “It’s so cool that you get to write Star Wars.” And they’re right. I’m insanely lucky and I try not to forget that.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

I’ve gotten much better at streamlining and strengthening plots and at being true to the characters in my stories. Some of that has come from working with superb, generous storytellers and editors at Lucasfilm, Disney, HarperCollins and other places. But it’s also come from simply putting in the work. I’m a better writer now than I was two years ago, let alone twenty, in part because I’m older and I’ve lived more, but also because I’ve written hundreds and hundreds of thousands of words in that time.

What is the single most powerful challenge when it comes to writing a novel?

Putting your butt in your seat and doing it. It is so much easier to not write than it is to write. There are errands to run, papers to organize, household stuff to clean, plans to make, mental rabbit holes to disappear down—all of which suddenly become urgent when it’s just you and a blank page. And we haven’t even mentioned the Internet, that marvelous and terrible curiosity/procrastination machine.

One thing that helps me is I spent years as a working journalist, with deadlines as clear and present dangers. If you’ve got a story due at 5, the paper isn’t going to hold the presses because the muse hasn’t flitted down to alight on your shoulder and whisper into your ear. You do the best you can with what you have and get the work done—and then you do the same thing again the next day. That was excellent training for when I was finally ready to write fiction.

Yes, you need inspiration to create good work. But the inspiration emerges from doing the work. We all want an idea to arrive fully formed and then bring it to happy fruition, but that rarely if ever happens. You have to fight for it. All that writing advice about summoning the muse is well-intentioned, but I suspect it does writers more harm than good. Waiting for the muse is a recipe for talking about writing instead of writing. If you’re going to succeed as a writer, you have to be your own muse.

Would you care to share something about your home life?

I’m out of shape despite the fact that my desk is 20 feet from a treadmill. This is a problem that I need to address, not so I look better in my clothes (though that would be nice) but so I produce better work.

Writing is mental exercise, yes, but that exercise takes a physical toll. I find when I’m in good physical shape that I am able to put in a longer writing day, I’m more disciplined during that day, and my writing and storytelling are both sharper. And yet this is a lesson I’m constantly having to relearn, because exercise is the first thing I jettison when I get overburdened, stressed, etc.

I don’t mean you have to run five miles a day or have a six-pack or a certain BMI—that’s not it at all. But I think the writing life is more physical than we imagine and writers would do well to remember it. Starting with me!

That’s an interesting perspective and it has me eyeing my elliptical. What motivates or inspires you?

The world is just an amazing place. It can be horrifying and depressing and infuriating, yes, but it can also be astonishing and inspiring and heartbreakingly beautiful. In all those cases, it’s because the world is full of stories.

Here’s an exercise I like to do as part of school visits: I take a copy of that day’s newspaper (an actual physical copy), tear it into single pages and pass those out to the kids. Then I tell them to find something on whatever page they have—even if it’s the classifieds—and use it as a jumping-off point for a story. Give what they read a twist, or let one thought lead to another, and come up with something. Inevitably, they dream up great things—surprising and wonderful stories.

You can do that just walking down the street. Keep your eyes and ears open and be curious and ask yourself questions and you’ll come home with more story ideas than you can ever be able to write.

How do you pick yourself up in the face of adversity?

You just keep going, I suppose.

When I get low, I remember that everything ever written has had its rabid detractors, that every writer has written things that didn’t work, and that we’re all fallible and make mistakes—some of them ones we’ll brood about forever. It can feel like you’re the only one that’s happened to, but it happens to all of us.

There are people who think To Kill a Mockingbird is a terrible book. There are Coen Brothers movies that don’t work. And everyone has some ill-advised remark or teenage humiliation or missed opportunity that haunts them when it’s 4 a.m. and they can’t sleep. You feel alone in these things but you’re not.

Just keep going. Learn from your mistakes as best you can. Accept that you’ll make more mistakes, vow to correct them, and forgive yourself for them. Know that luck plays a role in things and you can’t control that. And then get on with it. It’s all you can do.

Do you have any pet projects?

I make custom baseball cards. Not for stars, but for the marginal players who never got a card, or who played briefly for one team but only got a card with some other team. I make them to look as much as possible like the actual cards of a given year, down to the photos and the design and the stats on the back and the little accentuate-the-positive facts about the players.

When I make one of those that’s authentic enough, I get a little moment where I can be taken by surprise and think it’s “real”—that someone really made, say, a Benny Ayala card in 1976, and I just never got one buying packs at the drugstore or trading cards during recess.

That makes me really happy, in ways I struggle to articulate. I suppose it makes me feel like in a ridiculously small way I’ve made the universe a more ordered and complete place—more like it should be. I find that soothing. And even though sometimes I’m aghast at the time I didn’t spend writing, I think it’s good that to work different creative muscles.

Thank you so much, Jason, for taking the time to drop by. Before I share an excerpt from Hunt for Hydra, I’d like to try a Lightning Round. In as few words as possible, please answer the following:

 My best friend would tell you I’m a … stubborn, infuriating SOB. But one who’s got your back.

The one thing I cannot do without is: Baseball

The one thing I would change about my life: I’d have my hair back or the higher metabolism of my youth. I’ll take either, thanks.

My biggest peeve is: Winter. The northeastern U.S. is a 400-year-old scam. We should all move to California.

The person/thing I’m most satisfied with is: I’m not wired to ever feel truly comfortable or happy and I’m learning to accept that. Sounds like a weird thing to be satisfied with, but I’ve wasted so much time trying to change it, and I have better things to do.

Excerpt from The Jupiter Pirates: Hunt for the Hydra:

jp1The firing ahead of them had stopped. Tycho looked at his schematic and realized this was where Carlo’s group had gotten lost. He turned on his lamp and saw they were in a narrow room with two ladder wells instead of the maze of passageways shown on the schematic. Pistols and a knife were spinning slowly through the air.

Tycho signaled to the retainers, and they kicked with their hands and feet until they reached the wall, where they locked on to the metal, the magnets in their gloves clicking faintly. They shut off the lamps and began to work their way around the perimeter of the room in the darkness, lifting their hands and feet one at a time and clanking along the wall.

“I think I know what modifications they made,” Yana said over Tycho’s headset. “In about five meters you should reach a short passageway leading to the quarterdeck.”

“Tycho, Ironhawk’s boarding party has entered the Hydra,” Diocletia said in his ear.

The members of the boarding party reached the spot Yana had told them to aim for, but instead of the emptiness of a passageway, their fingers found the outline of a sealed door. Tycho and four retainers—Higgs, Tully, Croke, and Laney—turned on their lamps and took up positions on either side of the door, with the last retainer, Chin, clinging to the ceiling like a spider. They shut off the lights, and Tycho thumbed the door control. Nothing happened.

“Break it down, Mr. Croke,” he said.

“Tycho!” Yana said urgently. “Dad says another gang of Hydras got behind them—they’re headed your way!”

Tycho spun, lifting his gloves off the walls too quickly. His upper body began to float, and he hurriedly felt for the wall again. He pulled out his earpiece and could hear yelling. The voices were getting closer.

“Enemy coming at us!” Tycho yelled. “Look to your rear! Tully, shut off that cursed light!”

A laser bolt struck high on the wall near Chin, dazzling Tycho’s eyes. He heard the thump of the Hydras kicking off the walls of the passageway to hurl themselves through the air in zero gravity, screaming as they came. Another laser blast gouged the decking below Tycho’s feet.

Just like the simulator, Tycho reminded himself, trying to force himself to breathe. But of course it wasn’t anything like the simulator. Wounds here were real, and those who died stayed dead.

“There’s too many—they’ll gun us down!” Higgs screamed, firing his carbine at the oncoming pirates. His eyes were huge and wild. In the sudden light from the shots, Tycho saw Chin windmilling his arms, trying to reestablish contact with the wall. Tully was fumbling for his blaster.

“Higgs! Chin! Tully!” Tycho yelled. “Stand your ground! STAND YOUR GROUND! You are Comets, men, and you will defend crew and country!”

Tycho drew his pistol, reaching behind him to press the magnets in the glove on his free hand against the wall. Short, controlled bursts, he thought.

Then the pirates were among them, screaming and firing. Flashes of laser fire lit up the darkness, giving Tycho crazy, jumbled glimpses of Comets and pirates firing, yelling, tumbling away from the walls. Carbines cracked and thudded, and a spear of laser light zipped by Tycho’s ear, close enough to scorch his skin and fill his nostrils with the smell of burning hair. Someone smashed into him, sending him spinning in the zero gravity, and he fumbled for the wall, his pistol jerking in his hand as he fired again and again, screaming at the top of his lungs.

Then Croke was gripping his shoulder, mouth close to his ear.

“Easy, Master Hashoone,” he said soothingly. “It’s done.”

Croke had turned his headlamp on. Five of Mox’s pirates were still and silent, floating through the air. So was Chin, hand still clutched to his throat, eyes empty. Higgs was hugging his arm to his side, teeth bared in a grimace.

“Tyke!” Yana was yelling in his ear. “What’s happening?”

“We lost Chin, but we’re all right,” Tycho said, gasping for breath.

“Acknowledged,” Diocletia said. “You need to keep moving.”

Tycho shut his eyes for a moment, trying to force his hands to stop shaking.

“Aye-aye,” he said. “Proceeding to the quarterdeck. Mr. Croke, I need this door open.”

For those of you who would like to learn more about Jason Fry or purchase his books, you may do so though the following links:

 Jason Fry’s Dorkery (his term, not mine):

Twitter: @jasoncfry

Jupiter Pirates official site:

Faith and Fear in Flushing:


Book Buy Links: 



Hunt for the Hydra:

The Write Stuff – Monday, February 1 – Interview With Michaelbrent Collings

MbSeriousMediumEveryone dreams of becoming a best-selling Indie author, but very few make it, let alone to the very top of the heap. That is why I am particularly pleased to have been introduced to this week’s truly gifted and definitely prodigious writer, Michaelbrent Collings, who—for the moment—has stepped away from his usual works of horror to write a YA epic fantasy, The Sword Chronicles.

Michaelbrent Collings is an international bestseller and one of the top indie horror writers in the U.S. He writes horror, sci-fi, fantasy, thrillers, and YA and middle-grade books. He is also a produced screenwriter who has written movies for Hollyweird, though in his dark and painful moments he admits he has never “done lunch” or engaged the services of a waxer. Larry Correia, New York Times bestselling author of Monster Hunter International and Son of the Black Sword, has this to say about Mr. Collings latest work, “Epic fantasy meets superheroes, with lots of action and great characters. The Sword Chronicles is dark yet hopeful, and very entertaining. Collings is a great storyteller.”

Michaelbrent describes his book this way:

She is a Dog – one of the many children and teens across the empire of Ansborn who have been sentenced to fight in the arenas. There they fight in battle after battle until they die for the sport of the people of Ansborn – an empire built atop the peaks of five mountains.

But one day she picks up a knife… and everything changes.

She discovers she is a Greater Gift – one of a handful of magic users with powers so great they have only two choices: to join the Empire as one of its premier assassins, or die as a threat to the Empire itself.

She is no longer a Dog. Now, she is Sword. And she will soon realize that in this Empire, not all is what it seems. Good and evil collide, and she can never be sure whom to trust – not even herself.

She holds life in her hands for some. Brings death by her blade to others.

She is a killer.
She is a savior.

That is one compelling lead-in. Will you tell us something more?

It’s an epic fantasy about a young woman who is raised to be a Dog – one of many teens and children all over the Empire of Ansborn who fight in an arena, over and over with no hope of release. One day she discovers she has a magic power granted to one in a million people in the Empire, and she has to choose between a life as an assassin for the Empire, or a life as a revolutionary fighting to overthrow it. It’s a tough choice, because the people she loves and admires the most are her fellow assassins, but she grows to understand the Empire might not be the good thing she has been taught it is. It’s a lot of fun, because I don’t just like to write books where the bad guys have redemptive qualities, I like to write books where you really aren’t sure who the bad guys are for most of the read.

Who or what was the inspiration behind it?

My need to eat. This is my job, so before I write anything there’s a pretty strict vetting process to figure out if there’s an audience for it, and if the audience will react strongly to this particular idea. In this case, both were a yes, so boom.

What was the biggest challenge you faced writing this book and how did you overcome it?

I had a narrow window to write it. It clocks in at something like 140,000 words, and I finished it in three weeks. I usually write very fast, but this was pushing it a bit. And how did I overcome it? I slept very little and was very cranky every day.

What other novels have you written?

That’s a short question with a long answer. I’ve written close to 40 novels in the last five years. Some of the popular ones are The Haunted (paranormal horror), The Loon (monstery goodness), The Colony Saga (a zombie apocalypse that moves so fast and hard it would give Michael Bay a heart attack), RUN (sci-fi thriller), and – of course – The Sword Chronicles: Child of the Empire

Tell us about your path to publication.

Ha! I wrote a book called RUN and shopped it to literally every publishing house and agency in the U.S. And if you had rolled me into their offices covered in gold dust, they wouldn’t have touched me. A few months after the last rejection, I put the book up on Kindle (“Hey! It can’t hurt anyone, right?”). A few months after that, it was the top-selling horror and sci-fi title on Amazon, and one of the top hundred products in the Kindle store. Not just books, but products. Out of all the blogs, crosswords, etc. etc. blah blah blah, RUN was in the top hundred. This did me the huge disservice of convincing me I knew what I was doing, so I wrote fifteen more books and had nothing like the same success. It took about twenty books before I started making serious money (i.e., enough to live on).

Happily (hence the “Ha!” at the beginning of this), I’ve fielded offers by numerous traditional publishing houses since then… and had to turn them down because I’m making more money on my own than they can offer me.

Good for you! Have there been any awards, productions, videos or anything else of interest associated with your work?

I’m actually a screenwriter as well as a novelist. Several of my scripts have been produced (and, through the magic of Hollywood, amazing scripts were turned into meh movies), and I’ve been reviewed and/or featured by everything from mom-and-pop blogs to The San Francisco Book Review to NPR. To my knowledge, only three or four (out of many dozens) pro reviewers have given my books the thumbs down, which is nice.

Do you have another job outside of writing?

Nope. Well, I’m a husband and a father, but if I call either of those a “job,” my lovely wife wails on me with dirty diapers until I recant.

Would you care to share something about your home life?

I am deeply in love. I have a wife I adore, and who has inexplicably stayed with me for over a decade of marriage. I have kids who inspire me – both to do better and to be better – and who constantly make me laugh. I am a blessed guy, and will be such whether I’m a world-famous writer or a guy who digs latrines with his mouth.

What motivates or inspires you?

I could say it’s my family, and that would be true. I could say it was the enjoyment I feel when creating, and that would be true.

Both are nice. How do you pick yourself up in the face of adversity?

I could say it’s my family, and that would be true. I could say it was the enjoyment I feel when creating, and that would be true.

But let’s be honest here: some days it’s all about the Diet Coke.

What has been your greatest success in life?

Continuing to live. Which (for once!) isn’t a silly answer. I have major depressive disorder with psychotic breaks and suicidal tendencies. Some days it’s not about word count, it’s about the number of breaths I manage to take. And in my coherent moments, I understand that breathing in every time I breathe out is quite enough of an achievement – and one to be proud of.

Before I share some of your writing with our visitors, I’d like to conclude with a Lightning Round. In as few words as possible, please answer the following:

My best friend would tell you I’m a … … love machine.

The one thing I cannot do without is: … my ability to shoot lasers out of my left eye.

The one thing I would change about my life: … the fact that I can only shoot Gummi Bears out of my right eye.

My biggest peeve is: … people who ask what my biggest peeve is (HOW DARE YOU!)

Thank you, Michaelbrent, for taking the time to share something about yourself and your writing. For those who would like to learn more about this author or purchase his books, I have provided links for you to do so right after the excerpt below:

Here, for your enjoyment, is an excerpt from The Sword Chronicles:

SwordChronicles433x653 The girl woke from the Dream of the Man and the Woman, and she woke as she always did: boot and water.

Many people curled in as the boot kicked them, tried to avoid the water.

These were the ones who would die fast.

The girl had learned quickly. Had learned that if you curled in around the boot it didn’t hurt any less, but it meant you weren’t face up to receive the water. A bucketful to the face, and if you kept your mouth open you could drink. She guessed that that water was fully a tenth part of what she would get each day. And it was clean. Water they were given in the trough was often foul, muddied with clouds of dirt and perhaps worse.

But the water that woke them… it tasted good.

We won’t waste bad water on torture. No, never that.

That it was a torture there could be no doubt. Because all was torture for those in the kennels. All was death for the Dogs.

Trainer walked among them, being handed bucket after bucket by Assistant, dropping a bucket on each of the twenty or so Dogs that slept in this kennel.

“Get up, Dogs!” he shouted. “Another beautiful day to die!”

I won’t die today, thought the girl. But she gave no voice to the thoughts.

There was no point. Speaking never brought anything but pain.

A good Dog was silent unless spoken to. And even then, silence was often best.

The girl stood. Stretched. Never could tell when a fight was coming, so it was best to be loose.

“Get up!” Trainer shouted. He was a beefy man, thick in the middle, with broad scars that crisscrossed his chest and back. The girl wondered – not for the first time – if Trainer had once been a Dog. And told herself – not for the first time – to get that thought out of her head. It was implicit hope. It was the idea that she might one day leave this place.

But there was only one way to leave this place. And she refused to leave that way.

I’ll stay forever – I’ll die – if it comes to that.

“I said, get up!” Trainer’s voice, never far from a roar, now rose to a shriek.

A moan came from a small pile of skin and bone, seemingly bound together only by the loose rags that passed for clothing in the kennel. Trainer prodded the pile with his foot. Another moan. But no motion.

Trainer gestured. Assistant – as wiry and thin as Trainer was thick and muscular – held out a sword.

The girl looked away. She knew what was next. Had seen it before. Had no wish to see it again.

There was the particular noise of sword cleaving flesh. A gurgle.

The pile of rags and skin and bone had refused to get up. And a Dog who resisted training, who refused orders, would earn no coin and was good for nothing.

Trainer tossed water on the next Dog. Some of it washed the blood on the floor toward the drain set in the middle of the kennel. That drain was where they pushed their nightsoils, the rare bits of food that were too rotten to eat.

And it had drunk its fill of blood. As it had done before, and as it would do again.

“Rise and shine,” shouted Trainer as the last Dog – the last still-living

Dog – struggled to his feet. “It’s another love-er-ly day!”

He laughed.

The blood had washed away.

The day was begun.

As promised, here are Michaelbent’s social links:


Writing Advice Blog:

Facebook Fanpage:

Twitter feed:

Book online sales links:










The Write Stuff – Monday, October 12 – Interview With Nancy Kress

I was introduced to Nancy Kress by my previous guest, Mike Resnick, this past August at the WorldCon book launch party that WordFire Press was throwing for his newest release. The guestroom where the party occurred was growing increasingly crowded as Mike led me through the throng of partygoers toward an attractive brunette seated on a couch against one of the walls. When he told her about my interview series, she smiled and immediately gave her email address to this stranger standing before her, assuring me she would be delighted to participate. I could see I was interrupting her conversation with the woman seated next to her, so I thanked her as best I could and made myself scarce. To this day, I wish I had had a better opportunity to get to know her. This then, is your chance and mine to acquaint ourselves with one of the all-time masters of sci-fi and fantasy.

Nancy KressNancy Kress is the author of thirty-three books, including twenty-six novels, four collections of short stories, and three books on writing. Her work has won six Nebulas, two Hugos, a Sturgeon, and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for the novel Probability Space. She often writes about genetic engineering and is perhaps best known for the Sleepless trilogy, beginning with Beggars In Spain, a complex look at the intersection of genetic engineering and national economics. Most recent works are the Nebula-winning Yesterday’s Kin (Tachyon, 2014) and Best Of Nancy Kress (Subterranean, September, 2015). Her work has been translated into more than two dozen languages, including Spanish, French, German, Croatian, Danish, Hebrew, and Klingon.

In addition to writing, Kress often teaches at various venues around the country and abroad; in 2008 she was the Picador visiting lecturer at the University of Leipzig. Currently, every summer she teaches Taos Toolbox, a two-week intensive writing workshop, with Walter Jon Williams.

She describes her most recent release, Best Of Nancy Kress, this way:

This collection holds twenty-one stories, written over nearly forty years and representing the best of Nancy Kress’s fiction. Three of these stories have won the Nebula, the Hugo, or both, and another four were nominees. They include time travel (“And Wild For To Hold”), hard SF (“Shiva in Shadow,” “Margin of Error”), alien planets (“Flowers of Aulit Prison,” “My Mother, Dancing”), trenchant satire (“People Like Us”), near-future extrapolation of current technology (“Someone to Watch Over Me”), explorations of social movements (“Beggars in Spain”), and unclassifiable (“Grant Us This Day”). The gorgeous cover, representing Anne Boleyn in “And Wild For To Hold,” is by Tom Canty.

The stories were chosen by Kress herself, who says: “The stories in this book try to do different things. Some, such as ‘People Like Us,’ are predominately idea stories. Some, like ‘Laws of Survival,’ are mostly interested in what a character would do in an impossible situation. Some, like ‘Unto the Daughters,’ were written because I enjoyed writing the voice. At least one, ‘Casey’s Empire,’ is a comment on writing science fiction: why, how, and at what cost one may become an SF writer. I picked the stories that are my personal favorites.”

The Best Of Nancy Kress received a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly, which called it a “sparkling and thoughtful collection…Kress has a gift for focusing on the familiar and the personal, even in the most alien settings.”

Nancy, thank you so much for agreeing to honor us with your presence. You’ve been writing for nearly forty years and have almost one book still in print for each of them. In addition to your many Hugo and Nebula award-winning science fiction novels and novellas, you’ve written numerous short story collections so I am compelled to ask, how do you keep your writing fresh?

Writing evolves. My first three novels were fantasy, the first heavily influenced by Peter Beagle (a fact mentioned by every single reviewer of the book). Then I moved on to more traditional fantasy, before deciding I’d like to write a science fiction book. I did some thrillers, some space opera, and, increasingly, hard SF based on emerging science. The disadvantage of this is that, unlike some other genre writers, I have not built a “brand” with a coterie of faithful followers sure that they will like the next book because they liked the last one. The advantage is that it does keep writing fresh to always be trying something new. And, of course, with hard SF, there is always new science to draw on.

I enjoy Beagle’s writing, as well. Many writers specialize in either non-fiction or fiction. Some choose to write almost exclusively novels or short stories. I, for one, feel I need novel-length works to develop my themes, yet you seem to thrive in virtually every writing environment there is, including non-fiction. While many of your books are for adults, your 2013 novel Flash Point targets a YA audience, something that requires an entirely different mindset. I don’t mean to sound disparaging—far from it—you’ve earned my greatest respect. Nonetheless, I have to ask how is this possible?

I think some writers are natural novelists; some are more effective at shorter lengths. I’ve experimented with all of them, and my conclusions are two: First, my favorite length for science fiction is the novella. It is long enough to develop an alternate world but short enough that only one plot line is needed, which lets the writer drive that one on through for maximum punch. Second, I think I am a better writer at short lengths than at novel lengths. All my awards except one are for short fiction. As for Young Adult books—Flash Point was also an experiment, but not one I will repeat. I didn’t really understand fourteen-year-olds when I was one, and the teenage culture now is not something I think I can successfully appeal to.

Many of your works delve into areas that require great technical expertise, for example genetic engineering and artificial intelligence. Yet, as far as I can tell, before your writing exploded, you transitioned from being an educator to working in advertising. What do you read to develop the knowledge base required for your books?

I wish I had a scientific education! Had I known when I was young that I would turn into an SF writer, I would have chosen differently. Instead, I hold a Masters in English. To write about genetic engineering, I research on-line, attend lectures, and pester actual scientists with questions. My best friend is a doctor; she goes over my work to check that I have not said anything egregiously moronic.

A career such as yours has many turning points, some striven for, others that blind-side the recipient for better or for worse. Would you care to provide two or three of the more pivotal moments?

The first turning point for me came with the writing of the novella “Beggars in Spain,” which won both the Hugo and the Nebula and which would never have been written without a jolt from writer Bruce Sterling. At a critique workshop we both attended, he pointed out that my story was weak because the society I’d created had no believable economic underpinnings. He said this colorfully and at length. After licking my wounds for a few weeks, I thought, “Damn it, he’s right!” In the next thing I wrote, “Beggars in Spain,” I seriously tried to address economic issues: Who controls the resources? What finances are behind what ventures? Why? With what success? My story about people not needing to sleep, which I’d actually been trying to compose for years, finally came alive.

Another big turning point for me was deciding to make my two biothrillers, Oaths And Miracles and Stinger, as realistic as possible. That meant a lot of scientific research. My reward was having both scientists and FBI agents tell me, “I believed every word you wrote.” Very satisfying.

Would you be good enough to describe your path to publication?

I began with three short-story sales to SF magazines. That convinced an agent to look at my first novel, without making any promises of representation. But she liked the book, and so she took me on.

What are you working on now?

I’m writing an SF series based on my novella “Yesterday’s Kin,” which won the 2014 Nebula. Aliens come to Earth—but they are not as alien as we think, and they bring both great tech and bad news. When I finished the novella, I felt that the immediate story was done but not the greater implications. A three-book series will come out from Tor over the next few years.

Best-NKressOn September 30 of this year, Subterranean Press is releasing The Best Of Nancy Kress, a collection of twenty-one stories written over thirty-five years. I’m really pleased about this.

If there is such a thing, describe a typical day.

I am a morning writer. I wake up early (very early, and it’s getting worse as I get older), drink coffee while puttering around for an hour or so, and then write. If fiction doesn’t get written by noon, it doesn’t get written. In the afternoon, after a walk with my husband and the dog, I do research, email, edit student manuscripts if I am teaching just then, social media—all the non-writing things that go with being a full-time writer. Evenings that we are home, I read. Of course, all this changes with the of actual life. But that’s the basic template.

I’m no stranger to rising early to write. I understand the morning routine very well. Would you care to share something about your home life?

I live in Seattle with my husband, writer Jack Skillingstead, and Cosette, the world’s most spoiled toy poodle. I’ve been here in Seattle for six years now, having moved from upstate New York to marry Jack, and I love the city. It’s beautiful, temperate in climate (unlike Buffalo, where I grew up), and culturally rich. Also, there is a large SF community here.

What inspires you, not necessarily as pertains to your writing?

Narrative and science both inspire me. I get the narrative from books, movies, and some TV. I love movies and go often. The science I must seek out. In addition, I play a fair amount of chess, but I can’t say that inspires me because, alas, I’m not very good at it. When I was younger, I didn’t think you could really enjoy something you were bad at. Turns out I was wrong.

Which authors do you enjoy—sci-fi and otherwise—and why?

My favorite author is Jane Austen: not an intuitive choice for an SF writer. But her satire on how humans behave is just as fresh, funny, and true today as it was during the Regency. Out of genre, favorites include Somerset Maugham, Anne Tyler, Philippa Gregory, Karen Joy Fowler. In SF and fantasy, a diverse group: Ursula LeGuin, Bruce Sterling, Connie Willis, George Martin’s Game Of Thrones, Daryl Gregory, Fred Pohl. Some new, some old.

I always conclude my interviews with what I call a Lightning Round, since the responses often yield unexpected insights. In as few words as possible, please complete the following:

My best friend would tell you I’m… Over-organized, always wanting to know “what is the plan?”

The person I’m most proud of is… My two children.

The one thing I cannot do without is… Coffee.

The one thing I would do over is… You don’t really expect me to answer that in public in any significant way, do you?

Hah! No. I guess I don’t. The thing that always makes me laugh, right down to my gut, is… My husband. He has a wonderful dry sense of humor. My two children.

Nancy, thanks once again for joining us, most especially for your thoughtful replies. (I also need to find a copy of one of your works in Klingon. What an item that would be!)

Those dropping in for a peek can learn more about this wonderful author via these links:


Twitter:          @nancykress


You may purchase her books here on Amazon:     

Or through her Amazon author page:

The Write Stuff – Monday, August 17 – Interview With T. M. Franklin

Today’s guest and I share a brief history dating back to early 2014. I met T.M. Franklin at Page 2 Books in Burien, Washington in February of that year at my very first book signing. Leland Artra of the Fantasy Sci-fi Fantasy News Network (#FSFNNet) had organized the event and several genre authors turned out. I liked her from the start. She is as open and engaging as the books she writes and I hope you grow to share my opinion.

TMFranklinT.M. Franklin writes stories of adventure, romance, and a little magic. A former TV news producer, she decided making stuff up was more fun than reporting the facts. Her first published novel, MORE, was born during National Novel Writing month, a challenge to write a novel in thirty days. MORE was well-received, being selected as a finalist in the 2013 Kindle Book Review Best Indie Book Awards, as well as winning the Suspense/Thriller division of the Blogger Book Fair Reader’s Choice Awards. She’s since written three additional novels and several best-selling short stories… and there’s always more on the way.

She describes MORE, the first volume of her eponymous series, as follows:

Ava Michaels used to think she was special. As a child, she fantasized about having magical powers… making things happen. But Ava grew up and eventually accepted the fact that her childish dreams were just that, and maybe a normal life wasn’t so bad after all.

Now a young college student, Ava meets Caleb Foster, a brilliant and mysterious man who’s supposed to help her pass Physics, but in reality has another mission in mind. What he shows Ava challenges her view of the world, shaking it to its very core. Because Caleb isn’t quite what he seems. In fact, he’s not entirely human, and he’s not the only one.

Together, the duo faces a threat from an ancient race bound to protect humans, but only after protecting their own secrets—secrets they fear Ava may expose. Fighting to survive, Ava soon learns she’s not actually normal… she’s not even just special.

She’s a little bit more.

Trilogy-transparentEven though we’ve led our readers into this visit with a summary of MORE, one that characterizes the series, I’d like you to tell us about your most recent release.

My most recent full-length release is TWELVE, the third book in the MORE Trilogy. It’s an adventure about a girl who discovers she’s more than a little bit specialand there’s a group of people who see her as a pretty big threat. In TWELVE, we finally get the answers about who exactly she is, and where she fits into this strange, new world she’s discovered.

What was the biggest challenge you faced writing this book and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge was tying up all of the plot points and keeping track of the HUGE cast of characters in TWELVE. We have good guys and bad guys, Race and Guardians and TWELVE and humans… and they all have an important part to play. It was important to me that the story satisfy readers who’d enjoyed the first two stories. I really didn’t want to disappoint them.

As far as overcoming it, it was just sitting down and getting the words out—telling the story I set out to tell, and plenty of discussion with my editors who’ve worked on the trilogy along the way. We all had the same goal in mind, so that really helped.

What other novels have you written?

In addition to the three books in the MORE Trilogy, and a few short stories, I’ve written a light, YA romance called How to Get Ainsley Bishop to Fall in Love with You. It’s about a quirky boy who makes lists for everything he does. He’s not part of the in crowd, and he’s okay with that because he believes he has a lot to offer. So he sets out to win the heart of Ainsley Bishop, and of course he makes a list to do it.

Have there been any awards, productions, videos or anything else of interest associated with your work?

MORE was a finalist in the Kindle Book Reviews Best Indie Book Awards and won the Blogger Book Fair Reader’s Choice Awards in the Suspense/Thriller category.

What else are you working on?

I’m currently working on several projects. The next one will be a serial branching out from my short story, Window—which told the story of a girl who got visions of the past, present, and possible future through the picture window in her house. I’ve had several readers ask for more of this story, and I’m working on it.

Are there any occupational hazards to being a novelist?

Caffeine addiction.

Hah! You can say that again. How many people have you done away with over the course of your career?

Fictional people? I think maybe half a dozen? Real people—none yet.

I hope you’re not working on it. That said, have you ever dispatched someone in a book and then regretted it?

Nope, although I have been known to agonize over it in some cases.

What is the single most powerful challenge when it comes to writing a novel?

Balancing the story you want to tell with the story that readers want.

Would you care to share something about your home life?

I’m happily married and have two grown boys—the youngest of which is starting college in the fall, so I’ll soon be an empty-nester. Well, except for my crazy dog, that is.

What motivates or inspires you?

Everything! Music, nature, books, movies, talking with people—inspiration is all around us!

What has been your greatest success in life?

My kids.

What do you consider your biggest failure?

I don’t really consider failures as failures. They’ve all led to where I am today and I’m pretty happy now, so I wouldn’t change a thing.

What a nice outlook on life! Since MORE sets the stage for your trilogy and draws the reader in, I’d like to share an excerpt. However, before I do, I’d like to finish this interview with a Lightning Round. Please answer the following in as few words as possible:

My best friend would tell you I’m: a …goofball.

The one thing I cannot do without is: family.

The one thing I would change about my life: work more efficiently.

My biggest peeve is: arrogance.

The thing I’m most satisfied with is: my life. I’m happy!

How wonderful you can say that!

 I’m reading MORE as you read and I’m eager to share it with my visitors. Ms. Franklin’s works are deceiving easy reads—something young readers will appreciate and adult readers will enjoy—and she knows how to intersperse action with moments of quietude, all the while insinuating tension to keep the pages turning.

 Chapter 4

A man—a huge man—stood before her, mouth twisted in rage. He towered over her, at least six and a half feet tall, his shoulders wide, and arms banded with muscle. Shaved close to his head, his dark hair shadowed his skull, and his intimidating appearance was only enhanced by the jagged scar running down the right side of his face, from forehead to chin. He didn’t wear a coat, only a tight, black shirt and fatigues, black boots on his feet, and a wide leather belt with a mean-looking gun holstered at his hip.

It couldn’t be. But it was.

It was him. The man from her nightmares.

Ava scrambled back, but he reached out in a flash, gripping her upper arms and lifting her up so her toes barely brushed the ground. One hand slid to her throat, and he held her easily, pulling her closer to his frightening face.

“Please,” she begged, the word catching as she fought to breathe.

The man’s glare tightened, and Ava stared in morbid fascination at his mismatched eyes—blue and green—odd and vividly terrifying. She struggled, reaching for her pepper spray, only to have it slip from her fingers as she kicked out at the man.

He responded by laughing humorlessly, flipping her around and banding one arm around her torso. His grip was like iron, and she could barely breathe.

“Please,” she said again, dizziness closing in. “I can’t,” she gasped.

A press of metal to her temple transformed her fearful trembles into horrified shudders. She had no doubt. She was going to die. Her eyelids fluttered shut in defeat as he cocked the gun, the loud click echoing off the trees.

Then, a flash of black, a gust of wind, and suddenly she could breathe again. The man’s grip loosened, but he didn’t release her.

“Damn you,” he growled. “Stay out of this!”

Ava pushed him, her efforts in vain, as he hitched her up in response, tucking her under his arm like a bag of groceries. She kicked her legs, flailing desperately as the man spun about, pointing his gun into the darkness.

“Show yourself, you coward!”

The same flash of black, another blast of wind, and Ava fell to the ground, her head cracking on the concrete. She curled onto her side, moaning, lifting a hand to the back of her head, and squinting in shock at the blood that came away, streaking across her trembling palm.

Low grunts and the crack of bone on flesh floated on the air toward her, muzzy with her disorientation. She tried to focus, but could only make out two dark figures exchanging blows. Ava tried to sit up, but collapsed back onto the icy ground, overcome by a shock of dizziness and nausea.

Suddenly, the two dark beings seemed to meld into one, and in the next moment, she felt herself floating. She blinked; a face took form above her briefly, the features cast in shadow.

“Do I… do I know you?” she mumbled, fighting for consciousness.

“I’ve got you,” a low voice replied, and Ava nodded as a cool palm stroked her forehead, and the darkness consumed her.

If you would like to follow T. M. Franklin, or purchase her books, these links will help you:


 Amazon U.S. –

Amazon UK –

Amazon Canada –

Amazon Australia –

Barnes & Noble –

iTunes –

Kobo –


The Write Stuff – Monday, August 3 – Interview With AR Silverberry

Before I was published, I felt as if I were the only author in the world. These days, I belong to a seemingly endless circle of authors of demonstrable talent such that each time I turn around, I find that yet another of my acquaintances has won several awards and writes with great originality. Having said this, it is my great pleasure to introduce you to A. R. Silverberry. If you have not yet sampled his work, you should.

Author Photo 2 198x300When I asked Mr. Silverberry to give us his writing biography, not one to go on about himself, he gave this succinct reply:

A. R. Silverberry writes fiction for adults and children. His novel, Wyndano’s Cloak, won multiple awards, including the Benjamin Franklin Award gold medal for Juvenile/Young Adult Fiction. He lives in California, where the majestic coastline, trees, and mountains inspire his writing. The Stream is his second novel.

I find his premise for The Stream vastly intriguing:

What if your world was six miles wide and endlessly long?

After a devastating storm kills his parents, five-year-old Wend awakens to the strange world of the Stream. He discovers he can only travel downstream, and dangers lurk at every turn: deadly rapids, ruthless pirates, a mysterious pavilion that lures him into intoxicating fantasies, and rumor of a giant waterfall at the edge of the world. Defenseless, alone, with only courage and his will to survive, Wend begins his quest to become a man. Will tragic loss trap him in a shadow world, or will he enter the Stream, with all its passion and peril?

Part coming-of-age tale, part adventure, part spiritual journey, The Stream is a fable about life, impermanence, and the gifts found in each moment.

Will you tell us how this unusual book came into being?

Funny how it came about. I was working on the sequel of my first book, Wyndano’s Cloak, when I was gripped by the idea for another story. I had been having a conversation where I used the metaphor of a stream. I kept thinking about that metaphor. In a few hours, the character of a small boy, alone, defenseless, trying to understand the ways of the world, sprang into my mind. I saw images of him confronting the challenges we all face in life: love, loss, pain, losing your way. The next morning, I put aside that sequel and started writing. It pretty much tumbled out of me and didn’t let go until it was done.

What was the biggest challenge you faced writing this book and how did you overcome it?

I knew almost nothing about boats and sailing. My knowledge of surviving in nature was just as scant. Here’s a short list of some of the things I needed to learn and integrate into the novel: the flora and fauna of the riparian wilderness, the technology available to the primitive people occupying the Stream—knife making, basketry, boat building—and the mainstays of their diet and how it was prepared. In other words, I had a huge learning curve.

Have you written any other novels?

Wyndano’s Cloak (2010) and its prequel, unpublished and living in one of my dresser drawers.

Have there been any awards, productions, videos or anything else of interest associated with your work?

Yes! Both books have gotten awards. Wyndano’s Cloak was a Benjamin Franklin Award Gold Medal winner. To date, The Stream has snagged four honors: Shelf Unbound Notable Book in the category of Literary Fiction, Eric Hoffer Award Finalist in General Fiction, Finalist for the da Vinci Eye (for the book cover), and Finalist for Foreword Reviews Indie Fab Book of the Year Award.

What else are you working on?

I’m working on a dystopian sci-fi trilogy. I don’t like to say too much about unpublished projects. You never know how they’ll turn out, or if they’ll turn out! Case in point: the prequel mentioned above. I think about it from time to time, wondering if I can resolve cure the ills that plague it!

I certainly understand. Sometimes you can talk all of the energy out of a project. Are there any occupational hazards to being a novelist?

If you’re personality is not suited to it, the long, solitary hours might be an issue. Fortunately for me, I can get engrossed in my writing for much of the day, and wonder where the time went.

Tell us about your path to publication.

That prequel was written purely on intuition. Translation: I didn’t know beans about writing. I submitted it to agents. All five rejected it, but one was kind enough to critique the positives and negatives about the book. Her feedback was quite helpful, and spurred me to learn about the craft by reading books and taking courses. When Wyndano’s Cloak was completed, my editor (I kid you not, a Finalist for a Pulitzer!) encouraged me to submit it to agents. In fact, after I told him I wanted to self-publish it, he wrote to an agent, without my knowledge, and told her about it. Talk about a vote of confidence! It was wonderful that he was so passionate about the story, but I wanted total artistic control of publication, and went that route.

What is the single most powerful challenge when it comes to writing a novel?

Making it all hang together. The early drafts of Wyndano’s Cloak had too many themes. I spent six months pondering which one to focus on, and drove everyone around me crazy as I agonized over it. Thematically, The Stream was easy, though. I knew what I wanted to say, and that guided the process.

Having the courage to cut and pair down to the most essential things is another challenge. Case in point is the excerpt at the end of this interview. I love the way the scene turned out, but I decided not to include it in the book for pacing reasons, and because I found other ways of conveying what I needed. Think of it as bonus material for people who want more about the Stream.

Is there anything you want to make sure potential readers know?

If you like adventure, suspense, and fantasy, along with unforgettable characters, you’ll enjoy my books.

Describe a typical day.

Roll out of bed between 6 and 7 AM. Pet and feed “freelance household beast” (credit goes to the poet, Pablo Neruda). Write until 9. Take a long walk. Jot down story ideas on notebook. Head to work. Listen to audio book (currently One False Move, by Harlan Coben). See clients afternoon into the evening. Listen to audio book on the way home. Read at night. Sleep. Dream.

I’m eager to share a sample from The Stream with our visitors, but before I do, let’s try a Lightning Round. In as few words as possible, please answer the following:

 My best friend would tell you I’m a …

Caring individual.

The one thing I cannot do without is:

My piano.

My biggest peeve is…


Thank you, A. R., for taking the time to share with us. Here is the sample I promised:

Stream Small Cover 2If Wend had stopped to think about it, he would have realized that his family, searching for fruit, nuts, and roots, never ventured far from either shore, that travelers never sailed upstream to tell tales of what lay ahead. Except for tacking and voyages of a few miles, his family never ventured upstream either. When he’d asked his father why, he was told, “It’s a law.” Wend must have looked blank because his father told him to jump as high as he could. Wend jumped, and after his feet landed on the ground his father said, “Now jump as high as the top of the mast.” Wend had laughed and declared that no one could do that.

“Why not?” his father asked.

“We come down first,” Wend replied.

“It’s a law,” said his father. “And it’s a law that we go that way.”

His father pointed downstream.

If Wend had thought of these things, he would have understood that everyone was tethered to the stream and could only go in one direction. People stopped from time to time, working at abandoned foundries to smelt metal for anchors, chains, and knives, cutting trees to build or repair boats, living in villages, taking over deserted houses like creatures that move into another animal’s shell. They never stayed long, always returning to their boats, always going with the current, always traveling downstream.

For those of you who would like to stay in touch with A. R. Silverberry, here are a few links:




Twitter                     @arsilverberry

The Write Stuff – Monday, June 22 – Interview With Ksenia Anske

Ksenia Anske is, without doubt, one of the most delightful authors I’ve had the pleasure to meet. Not the least bit shy—she’s been known to do handstands at book signings—her inviting smile and eyes gleaming with mischievous humor and canny intelligence are guaranteed to win you over in a heartbeat. Oh! And have I told you about her sparkling personality and marvelous way of looking at life? Then, there are her unique writing style and story concepts. No wonder she sells so many books.

Ksenia Anske 2015Ksenia was born in Moscow, Russia, and came to US in 1998 not knowing English, having studied architecture and not dreaming that one day she’d be writing. She lives in Seattle with her boyfriend and their combined three kids in a house that they like to call The Loony Bin.

Her newest release is titled The Badlings. It’s a paranormal urban fantasy adventure for young people and is slated for release by the end of this month. When I asked her to give us its premise, this is what she replied:

“Of all of the naughty, mischievous, disrespectful, and downright horrible things that children can be, a badling is perhaps one of the worst. Badlings abandon books without finishing them, leaving their characters sad and lonely—not to mention angry. Meet Bells, Peacock, Rusty, and Grand, four ragtag friends convicted of this monstrous crime. As punishment, they get sucked into a book of unfinished stories, whose patchwork pages they must traverse…and read to the end this time.”

The Badlings is a book that grew out of my nostalgia for the books I read when I was a child and memories of biking with boys in the parks of Moscow. I was the daredevil girl who liked to climb roofs and trees and throw tomatoes from the balcony and do other mischievous things that boys loved and therefore accepted me into their tribe. I started rereading them all in English and thought, “Wouldn’t it be a great idea to write a book about kids hopping from book to book?” Voila. I decided to write it.

What was the biggest challenge you faced writing this book and how did you overcome it?

I have not done research and just plunged in, covering thirty different books that I loved as a child, and it’s only on the second draft that my editor asked me, “Did you think about copyright?” And I was like, “Oh shit.” I forgot to check them, and had to cut out twenty books from the thirty due to copyright issues. In the process I tried to make the book a comedy, therefore avoiding the copyright thing, but then it didn’t work, so I almost gave up, then came full circle to the original idea, diving deeper into the ten books left, like Dracula and Don Quixote and The Snow Queen and others. In the end it turned out fantastic. I’m very proud of it.

What other novels have you written?

My first trilogy is Siren Suicides, about a teen who commits suicide but instead of dying turns into a siren and then gets hunted by a siren hunter, her father. Rosehead is about a rose garden that eats people, and a girl and her talking pet whippet investigate it to stop the murders. Irkadura is about an abused teen escaping her home in Moscow and seeing people as beasts as the way of surviving her nightmares, all set against the disbandment of Soviet Union. TUBE is an upcoming novel for which I have completed the 1st draft: it’s about a train killing Bolshoi ballerinas that are riding it as part of their US tour. This book was born out of me winning the Amtrak Residency and writing on the train.

Have there been any awards, productions, videos or anything else of interest associated with your work?

I guess winning the Amtrak Residency was the biggest thing so far that happens, and also being on stage with Amanda Palmer. There is a video of that on YouTube. That’s about it so far, but more fabulous things will be coming, of course.

What else are you working on?

Just novels! I have about 12 of them outlined, and about 6 other non-fiction books planned, so just focusing on cranking them out one by one.

Are there any occupational hazards to being a novelist?

Yes. Flat ass (from sitting all day long). Tired eyes that tend to go cross (from all this writing and reading). A tendency to forget to get out of the house (after all, why do it when you can visit a gazillion universes in your head). A tendency to forget to wash your clothes (why dress when you can write in your pajamas). A tendency to shun everyone away while writing (stop distracting me!) and to nag everyone when done writing (I finished my book! Read it! Read it!!!) A glazed look 24/7 that some people might interpret as a stupor while it’s actually work.

Tell us about your path to publication.

It was a long and arduous one. No, I’m kidding. I started writing because I was suicidal and my therapist told me to journal. So I did. I also started blogging about it, and when my first trilogy was completed, a few agents were interested in representing me but all turned away upon learning that the topic of my books was suicide. It was a hard sell, they said. By then I have had people who have read the drafts of the trilogy and wanted it in the book shape. So I decided to take a plunge and self-publish. I did and don’t regret this decision for a second.

If you were going to commit the perfect murder, how would you go about it?

Whack someone on the head with the tome of Oxford Encyclopedia. Or War and Peace. Or I would bury them in books. Alive. That sounds like a tortuous way to go. As to it being perfect, I don’t know how perfect that is, so maybe I should make them suffer through paper cuts so they bleed to death? Yeah, that sounds about right.

How many people have you done away with over the course of your career?

Anyone who gets in my way is being thoroughly shredded to mincemeat by a chainsaw. Or sometimes I use pitchforks, to impale those who dare to block me. Stabbing with a fork is also good, makes them juicier when I broil them.

Ever dispatched someone in a book and then regretted it?

Nope. Killing off characters is the biggest fun you can have while writing (but you also cry buckets over every death).

What is the single most powerful challenge when it comes to writing a novel?

Trusting your gut. The endless doubts just drive you insane. Is this the right story? Is it interesting enough? Smart enough? New enough? Unique enough? Bla-bla-bla. It’s recognizing that those thoughts are just that, thoughts, and not actual truths, and keeping writing despite them that is the hardest thing I face every day.

Do you have another job outside of writing?

Nope. I have been writing for 3 years full time now, and that’s all I did. I did do ghostwriting between drafts for one client, but it was also writing, and I was getting paid for it, which blew off my socks because when I started writing I didn’t think anyone would ever pay me for it. I started writing for therapy.

Describe a typical day.

My chatty brain wakes me up around 7ish am. I get up. I put on socks and go to the kitchen to get coffee. I come back to the bedroom where my writing corner is, sit down and start writing. While I write, I might have a significant thought and share it on Twitter or on Ello without checking the status of others or replying so as not to get distracted (I do it later). I might take a picture of my coffee cut of my hair and post in on Instagram. I write until it’s about 3pm or until I produce at least 2000 words. Then I tell everyone online I wrote 2000 words, and answer all the tweets and comments and emails and whatnot, which takes about 1-2 hours (hey, I’m proud of this, social media used to take me 6 hours a day), then I read at least 100 pages (although I’m currently reading Lovecraft and I can’t process more than 50 pages a day) which takes about 2 hours or more. I can also be interrupted by having dinner with kids (yes, sometimes they get to see me) and kiss my boyfriend when he comes home from work. When all of that is done, I might write a blog post or chat online for a bit again, then I exercise (I have a stationary bike) and if I’m really busy, I combine that with meditating (I bike with my eyes closed for 20-30 minutes). If I do have the time, I meditate after I bike. Then I take a vodka bath, and then we turn off the lights and climb on the roof naked and make love and fall asleep under the stars (though when it’s raining in Seattle, it gets pretty wet). The next day everything starts over again.

What motivates or inspires you?

There are so many untold stories in my head, they not so much inspire me as they drive me forward to get them out. Does it make sense? Also, art, all kinds of art. Any time I read a fantastic book or see a beautiful painting or a gorgeous photograph or an exquisite dress or a anything that someone made with love to express their emotions, all of this inspires me. Also, the orgy of mountains and trees and rivers and flowers and clouds. Nature is magnificent.

What has been your greatest success in life?

Getting hit by a truck on my way home from work while I was on a bicycle. I woke up in the hospital and have decided to quit my career for good and start writing before I end up in a box.

Ksenia, you have made my work today so easy! I usually have to try to be glib in order to make my guest shine a bit more. In your case, I’m puttin’ on my shades.

Before I share some of The Badlings with my visitors, let’s try a Lightning Round. Answer the following questions, if you will, in as few words as possible:

My best friend would tell you I’m a… terrible recluse.

The one thing I cannot do without is: Writing. Also, reading. Also, coffee. Also, socks.

The one thing I would change about my life: Start writing earlier.

My biggest peeve is: Work done sloppily. I’m a perfectionist and drive others to perfection as well (which annoys them to no end). When I see something done half-ass, I can’t stand it. I abhor it.

I couldn’t agree more. The person/thing I’m most satisfied with is: My children. They have turned out better than I ever hoped for. I love you, Anna and Peter. You are my everything. XOXO

For your reading pleasure, here is a sample from The Badlings:

The Badlings Final FrontChapter 1. The Duck Pond


What if you found a book stuck in dirt? Would you take a peek inside, or would you chuck it at innocent ducks that happened to waddle nearby? Poor ducks. You wouldn’t hurt them, would you? Because who throws books instead of reading them?

Meet Belladonna Monterey, or Bells, as she’d like you to call her—she has decided that Belladonna was too pompous a name for a scientist. See her dark flashing eyes? Her ponytail all askew? Don’t try talking to her, lest you want to be throttled.

On this sunny September morning Bells was mad. Mad at her mother, the famous opera singer Catarina Monterey, for calling her a “poor scientist.” The argument started at Bells refusing to go to her Saturday choir practice and escalated further into a shouting match when Bells declared that under no circumstances would she ever become a singer.

“So you want to be a poor scientist?” said Catarina, hands on her hips. It was her usual intimidating pose mimicked by Bells’ little sister Maria from behind her mother’s back.

“What does it matter if I’m poor?” asked Bells, stung to the core.

Maria stuck out her tongue.

Bells ignored it, refusing to descend to the level of an eight-year-old.

“Oh, it matters a great deal,” replied Catarina. “How do you propose to make a living? You have seven years left until you’re on your own, Belladonna, and every year is precious.”

“I told you I don’t like that name. Call me Bells.”

Her mother’s lips pressed together. “As I was saying, Belladonna, every year is precious. I’ve picked out an excellent stage name for you, and I expect you to thank me.” Her demeanor softened. “You are destined to become a star, with my talent running in your blood. If you stop practicing now, you might never develop your voice.”

“I don’t want to develop a voice,” blurted Bells.

“You’re a girl!” cried Catarina. “What future do you think you have in science?”

“Why does it matter that I’m a girl? I certainly have no inclination toward prancing around in stupid period dresses and hollering my lungs out like you do.” As soon as she said it, she regretted it.

Her mother looked hurt. “Is that what you think I do? Holler my lungs out?”

“I hate dresses,” said Bells stubbornly. “I hate singing. I hate it that I’m a girl. I want to do science. Stop sticking your tongue out!” That last bit was directed toward Maria.

“Mom, Belladonna is being mean,” she whined.

“Shut up,” said Bells.

“You shut up.”

“Don’t torture your sister,” snapped Catarina. “Look at her. She’s younger than you, but she has the presence of mind to follow my advice.”

Maria flashed a triumphant smile and twirled, showing off her gaudy pink dress, the type their mother liked to buy for both of them. Bells made a gagging noise. She hated pink or anything decidedly girly. She made sure to never wear dresses, and if she absolutely had to, she smeared them with mud so thoroughly, her mother pronounced them as ruined.


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The Write Stuff – Monday, September 22 – Interview With Patricia Reding

I am using the last several weeks of the year to feature a select group of authors in what promises to be a truly exciting series. Several have earned one or more Readers Favorite book awards this year. Two will be of very special interest. I begin this series with Patricia Reding.

DSC07942_3Patricia Reding leads a double life. By day, she practices law. By night, she reads, reviews a wide variety of works, and writes fantasy. She lives on an island on the Mississippi with her husband and daughters (her son having already flown the nest), Coconut (a Westie) and Flynn Rider (an English Cream Golden Retriever), from whence she seeks to create a world in which she can be in two places at once. She took up Oathtaker as a challenge and discovered along the way, the joy of storytelling. Currently, Patricia is working on Select, the first sequel to Oathtaker.

Oathtaker’s description is as follows:

An Oath Sworn. A Struggle Engaged. A Sacrifice Required.

When Mara, a trained Oathtaker, is drawn by the scent of the Select to battle underworld beasts summoned by the powers of evil to destroy the guardians of life, she swears a life oath for the protection of her charge.

Armed with a unique weapon and her attendant magic, and with the assistance of her Oathtaker cohorts, two ancients and a spymaster, Mara seeks safety for her charge from one who would end Oosa’s rightful line of rule and from assassins who endeavor to bring ruin to the land.

As Mara puzzles to decipher ancient prophecy concerning her charge, as she is haunted with memories of her own past failings, she discovers the price her oath will exact.

To renounce her word would be treasonous; to fail, ruinous; to persevere, tortuous. Abiding by an oath requires sacrifice.

Patricia, I’ve had a chance to glimpse Oathtaker’s opening pages and found it hard to step back out into the “real” world. It’s a captivating read. Further, your readers rave about what a wonderful story it is, but I’m wondering if there is a story behind the story.

I will age myself here and probably open a wider window into my soul than I might intend, but the inspiration for Oathtaker was my longing to return to the world as I saw it as a child. Perhaps it is just that my parents sheltered me more than I thought, but I recall a world in which people said what they meant and meant what they said. People entered into agreements with a handshake. Children knew that if a parent said “no,” it didn’t mean “no” only until the child overcame the parent with begging. People in relationships worked hard to walk through the difficult times together. Their behavior, their choices, came with consequences. I longed for that world because today it seems so easy to go back on your word. This is true across the board—of parents, teachers, politicians, and more. I think that our young people in particular, suffer as a result. They crave continuity and truth and something they can count on to be and to remain true. In many ways I think society has failed our youth in this regard, and I wanted to help to make up for that failure.

With all that in mind, I sought to create a world in which one’s word mattered, and in particular, to examine what someone might do if she found something that, or someone who, pulled her from her path—if she found her love—a moment after swearing a life-oath that forbid her from attaching herself to him. Thus, Mara came to be. Her situation is made more difficult by the fact that in Oathtaker, the man she comes to love, Dixon, is released from his vow only moments before Mara swears her oath. From that premise, Oathtaker was born.

Why have you chosen your particular genre?

There are two main reasons I write fantasy. The first is that I think it is the hardest. You see, I read a fantasy series some years ago that I found utterly genius. I sought to know how the author accomplished what he did. After reading it, I then went through a period when, notwithstanding the many, many wonderful works out there, I struggled to find stories that engaged, entertained, uplifted and challenged me. I had to see for myself what the process included. I had to know more. Thus, I started this writing venture as a challenge to myself—and writing fantasy was the greatest challenge I could conceive of. It requires the creation of a new world and a magic system. Such features must make sense to the story and must be internally consistent. Those are not easy tasks. Along the way, I discovered the joy of storytelling. I also discovered that writing a story that is new and different is very difficult. Perhaps of most importance, I developed a strong understanding of and for other authors. I am much more forgiving of mistakes than I once was.

The second reason I chose fantasy was because I wanted to explore a concept that I felt might seem “preachy” if I approached and discussed it through a story set in our modern world. Specifically, I wanted to present a story in which the main character was faced with choosing between honoring her word and following the path her heart begged her to pursue.

Your Readers Favorite award sets you apart from the herd, but in your words, why is your writing different from other authors in this genre?

Actually, this question makes me laugh. You see, I’ve discovered that there are many who would consider themselves “fantasy aficionados.” These are people who, it seems to me, have preconceived notions of what a fantasy story should do, how it should be told, that all the names should be unpronounceable and include apostrophes, and so forth. For example, some think a fantasy author can only teach about his world and how it works by having the main protagonist begin the venture in some kind of training. In this way, the reader learns along with the character. Some think that the world has to include so many “made up” things (that bear some loose resemblance to things in our world) that the reader has to learn an entirely new vocabulary in order to follow the story or constantly refer to the back-of-the-book glossary. Sometimes I read about how a fantasy work is “set” into some time period in our world (such as medieval, for example). But it makes no sense to me to say that because some features of a fantasy world are “medieval,” that as a result some other features or things can or cannot exist or happen. For me, that is the whole idea behind a fantasy world—it is made up. It can be anything. Thus, I am willing to give the writer the freedom to include or not to include anything in that author’s world that he or she chooses. This includes language used, gadgets in existence, and so forth.

Of course, people can have whatever thoughts they like about the fantasy genre, but I think having preconceived ideas about how a fantasy should be told, is a bit short-sighted. If all authors followed that train of thought, new ways would never come about. For example, where did steampunk come from, but that someone decided to do something different? What about gaslamp fantasy? I found a great list of fantasy subgenres to which I refer from time to time. The titles are intriguing. Consider, for example, the following: hard, gritty, dark, urban, dying earth, new weird, and so on. See: A reader with preconceived notions might be disappointed when they encounter these works. By contrast, I appreciate a writer doing what has not been done before. I’ve read of wizards and elves and fairies. I want something new.

With those ideas in mind, I decided I would create the world I wanted—regardless of what someone else thought it ought be. My world does not fit any particular era in our own world history. The names do not begin with “de” or include apostrophes—and they are pronounceable. In most cases, I chose names because of the meanings behind them or, where I wanted to avoid drawing any connection to a meaning, I made them up. Several readers have told me that they’ve never been able to get into fantasy before—but that they enjoyed my work. Perhaps this is because, as one reviewer of my work suggested, I wrote Oathtaker “from the outside looking in” (see I believe he was on to something . . .

Why should someone buy your book?

Oathtaker is a story that is challenging and uplifting. It offers heroes, secrets, magic, and an adventure. It is appropriate for readers 13 and older.

Tell us about the awards you’ve won.

To date, I’ve only entered one contest and that was the Readers’ Favorite 2014 International Book Award Contest. The winners were announced September 1, 2014. I was delighted to be awarded with an Honorable Mention Award in the Young Adult Fantasy category. This is quite something for a “first work.” I note that while my story may not be a standard “young adult” tale, in that it includes significant characters of a wide range of ages (and does not include “insta-love” or a love-triangle), it certainly poses a challenge to young readers and it speaks to issues important to them. Best of all—young readers have enjoyed it.

The Readers’ Favorite contest also includes a connection with WindDancer Films (at, the production company behind such movies as “What Women Want” and such television series as “Home Improvement.” Of the thousands of entrants in the contest, Oathtaker was chosen as one of ten works about which WindDancer Films would like to learn more.

What is your day job?

Goodness, where does one begin? In addition to being a wife and mother of three (two of whom are still “at home”) I also practice law. My main practice area is Intellectual Property. Intellectual Property includes assets of value that cannot be touched—trademarks, patents, copyrights, trade secrets, and so forth. In particular, I handle trademark matters, including registrations and infringement, domain name infringement, and so forth. (Have you ever received a cease and desist letter from me?)

I think the practice of law makes for good training for writing fantasy—a genre that requires that the author keep numerous balls in the air at the same time. My experience with questioning people, collecting facts, looking for alternative ways to resolve matters, negotiating, drafting, and counseling, serves me well when it comes to writing.

Alright then, would you tell us about your dream job?

More than anything, I would like to teach. I would enjoy mashing some first year law students’ brains, as was done with my own, but even more, I think I would like to teach political science at the undergraduate level.

My undergraduate degree was in Political Science, with a minor in Philosophy. I concentrated on studies relating to what was then the Soviet Union, including history and philosophy courses pertaining to the USSR. Today, I am a 24-7 political news junkie. (The funniest stories my children tell me are of their bringing their teachers, unaware of details about which my children are well-versed, up to speed.) There are so many issues, aside from simple civics details, that would be great fun to explore with young minds. Some themes I know I would concentrate on would be how to be good consumers of information, how to “read between the lines,” how to identify when someone is not answering the question asked, how to spot an ideological bent, and so on.

If I spoke to your closest friend about you, what would she or he would tell me?

She would probably tell you that I have a knack for asking questions—questions that will unearth issues not previously considered and/or that will move you from problem to conclusion. She might also tell you that I truly do believe that “chocolate” is one of the four basic food groups, that I salt things way too much (because “salt” is another of the four basic food groups), and that I am bilingual—sarcasm is my second language.

Do you have a favorite quote?

There are so many. In particular, I love Abraham Lincoln and Mark Twain quotes. But with a philosophy background, I find myself thinking of this, from John Stuart Mills: “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.” In many ways, these words seem to sum up life and the state of the world at any given time.

What are your favorite authors?

I adore Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. I think it is the most beautiful thing ever written. It is more than a story—it is poetry. I am also a big Charles Dickens fan. It took me some time to catch his rhythm, but I now find him positively hilarious. Once, I sat and read aloud to my then middle-grade daughters, the opening chapters of Great Expectations. Honestly, we laughed until tears ran. I love his descriptions of everything from people, to dead and scattered bugs on the floor. As to more contemporary works and/or those in my own genre, I am a big fan of Terry Goodkind’s Sword of the Truth series.

It’s time for the Lightning Round. Brief answers please!

The one thing I cannot do without is:

music. I especially enjoy movie soundtracks, Celtic works, and Broadway shows (in particular, Wicked, The Pirate Queen, Phantom and Aida). My family and I have also performed for almost 20 years now, in a Christmas musical, Two From Galilee, so I love participating as well as listening.

In one or two words, what is your defining trait?

Committed. Serious.

Hard copy or ebook?

Preferably hard copy. I love the feel of the book in my hands.

Vice? Virtue?

Vice: Louis Vuitton handbags. If I ever go broke, I will have to auction mine off. Virtue: Can I think about this for a while?

Hah! Favorite book:

Les Miserables

Favorite movie:

Oh . . . this is so hard. I love the Lord of the Rings movies, but probably not for the same reasons as many others. Truthfully, I find the story a bit difficult to follow. My favorite parts are the background music and the lighting—which in some scenes is true genius.

Do you have a parting thought you would like to leave us with?

Don’t limit yourself—and don’t allow anyone else to do so either.

So true.

I asked Patricia to provide an excerpt from Oathtaker. This is the gem she provided:

PastedGraphic-4Upon touching the woman, Dixon’s eyes turned quickly from the soft glance he had given her to a kind of madness. He jumped up and glared. “What have you done?” he hissed.

“What have I done?” Mara crouched down, pulled away the blanket that covered Rowena, then carefully took into her arms first Reigna, then Eden. She stood up, holding herself as tall as she could. She glared. “What have I done? Oh, nothing! Oh, well that is, except—ahhh . . . well . . . let me think here—.”

She hesitated, playacting. “Oh, yes, I remember now. I took down a full pack of grut, helped Rowena birth these beautiful children, accepted them as my charge, saw to it that she released her power with her dying breath, comforted her in her last moments—. Shall I go on?” She took a deep breath. “What have I done? Who are you to accuse me of anything? I have done my duty!”

“I am her Oathtaker. That’s who I am!”

“Were,” Mara snapped. “You were her Oathtaker. She’s dead. Or did I forget to mention that? So I might ask—what have you done? Where were you when she so clearly needed you? The truth is, if I hadn’t arrived when I did, I expect we would have lost them all!” Her eyes remained fixed on him.

After some seconds, he looked away. “Dead.”

She could not tell if he was stating the fact or asking if it was true. Considering the shock he must be feeling, she decided that arguing with him would not be in anyone’s best interests. She recalled that above all, she must get the girls to safety quickly.

“I’m sorry. I did all I could. Rowena had lost too much blood before I arrived. She . . . she was a fighter, I know.”

He did not take his eyes from his former charge. He dropped to his knees at her side. Taking her hand into his own, he lifted it to his cheek and closed his eyes. His breathing slowed. His jaw set. Mara sensed he fought back tears. Slowly, he leaned forward to stroke the woman’s cheek, then her hair. Finally, he bowed his head and audibly exhaled.

Mara watched his easy touch, saw his shoulders sag and his eyes pressed closed. She knew that look.

“You loved her.” She had not intended to speak the words out loud, but there they were—hanging in the air.

“Well,” he said, clearing his throat, obviously restraining himself, “of course I cared deeply for her. She was my charge. She’s been my charge for . . . for some time now. I’ve forgotten what life is without her.”

“No, that’s not all. You . . . you loved her. I can see it in your eyes, in your touch, in—”

“She was my charge!” He held Mara’s gaze, as though daring her to challenge him further.

She said nothing. Perhaps he was trying to convince himself, but she wondered.

“You do understand the significance of the oath you just swore?” he asked, scornfully.

Of course she did. An Oathtaker’s vow came with commitments. Mara hadn’t given it much thought earlier, but when she swore her oath, she had sealed the deal. Her word bound her to the twins for so long as they lived. She could no longer follow another path.

In the moment she took her vow, Ehyeh bestowed gifts upon her, attendant magic and continued youth. She would not physically age until the death of her charge. Only then could she begin her life anew, follow other dreams. The same had been true for Dixon while his charge had lived. But what did his denial mean? What was he trying to imply? That because he’d sworn to accept Rowena as his charge, he had not still been vulnerable to his own feelings, longings, desires? Had he been one who had fallen into the state of pain that came with loving someone while subject to his oath?

“Of course I do,” she confirmed.


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The Write Stuff – Monday, September 8 – Interview With Leisl Kaberry

This week’s guest is award-winning fantasy writer, Leisl Kaberry. I first met Leisl online. She’s a member of Facebook’s Fantasy Sci-fi Network, a group of amazing writers and readers you might wish to consider taking part in. I’ve found this multi-talented Aussie-turned-Canadian a real delight as I’ve gotten to know her. In turn, I thought you would also enjoy meeting her. Leisl writes fantasy adventures. Here’s what she has to say about herself:

Leisl 086‘I was never going to be a writer… seriously.’ Somehow despite Leisl’s lifelong love for making up and telling stories, she had no desire to become an author. However, after a creative urge spurred her on to write an idea for a scene, the world of Titania was born and she hasn’t looked back since. Born and raised in Australia she has lived in a variety places, including the Australian outback and Montreal, Canada. She currently resides in Kitimat, Northern British Columbia with her husband and four children; she is studying a degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice, is an amateur theatre actor and enjoys snowboarding during the winter.

Will you tell us about your award, Leisl?

Recently I won the RomCon Readers Crown 2014 for Fantasy. I was just thrilled to become a finalist, so to actually win… I was over the moon. Our local library in Kitimat has hung all the framed artwork from the book on the wall there. 11 pieces in total… I consider that a great honour, for me and my artist.

With the degree of competitiveness in today’s writing community, I can assure our visitors this is no small achievement. Since just getting published is also a major achievement, will you please share your experience?

I took the really long road on the first. When I started writing Journey of Destiny, I knew I needed to see it through and have it published, but writing for me (over ten years ago) was nothing more than a hobby and I would sit down to write whenever I had a creative urge. Fast forward to when we moved to Montreal Canada and I was stuck indoors while it was freezing cold outside, I barely knew anyone and I was struggling to learn the language. I found myself sitting down to write on a regular basis, when I could get some quiet time away from the kids. Within a year I was finished writing, I bought myself the book Self-Publishing for Dummies (no, really) and I set to work editing for the next three years. I did multiple edits myself between having others edit for me and in that time I rewrote and wrote a whole lot more. I found an artist through a mutual friend and we talked about her doing the cover for me and that turned into a whole lot of other artwork inside the book also… this dragged things on while I learnt how to format and prepare my book for publishing. Just over 11 years from conception to fruition. A worthwhile journey though… I learnt a stack in that time about writing, developed as a person, had some amazing experiences and lived in some very different places… all of which was fodder for my imagination.

That path suggests real discipline. I’m wondering if you ever get stuck. Do you ever experience writer’s block?

I don’t know that I’ve ever really had writers block, for me when I find I can’t write it’s usually just a function of being uninspired which leads to can’t be bothered and the manuscript not being worked on. I tend to find a good brainstorming session will get me past any issues though.

When I’m stuck on a problem the best thing I can do is leave the computer and give it some serious thought. Lying on the couch, sitting in the hot tub or going for a walk by myself can help me relax and just let my mind play with imagination. All answers seem to come after a serious brainstorm and usually with added excitement and clarity. All I want to do then is sit down and write feeling freshly inspired.

What life experiences have enriched your writing?

I guess the biggest inspiration through life experiences has been travel and living in different locations. Traveling to different parts of the world has opened me up to new and exciting scenery that I was able to experience in ways that you can’t through a picture alone. The smells, the people and even the ambient temperature all add to the experience and give inspiration to my world. In the book I’m working on at the moment, a good part of the story takes place in a country that was inspired by a trip to Iceland. Iceland’s terrain is so different and unusual that it is frequently used for filming sci-fi and fantasy movies including Batman Begins, Oblivion, Prometheus and my favourite, Stardust. I loved it and the very experience being there gave me so much feed for my imagination.

Having lived in very different locations has also given me a wealth of inspiration for growing and enriching my world. Living at the top of Australia in the tropics certainly inspired the first book.

What are you working on now?

Right now I’m a hard a work editing the second book of the Titanian Chronicles. It’s fully written and it will soon be passed on to others for further editing. My aim is to get it out by Christmas. While the first book sets our heroes out on a journey of discovery beyond the elvin borders where they have spent the entirety of their lives, the second book sees them five years on, at a time where the armies of the Warlord Moorlan are gathering and the mysterious Dark One is in search of furthering his power. I have seen this book in my mind since the beginning of my own journey writing the first book, there is a lot of exciting plot development in this one and it was so inspiring to write.

What is your typical day like?

A typical day for me starts at 6am with exercise… it’s the greatest thing to wake me up and get me going for the day. Then after I shower, the next hour is all about getting my kids ready for school and off to the bus stop. When I get back with the dog I finally sit down to breakfast and I work through my emails and social media. After that there’s housework and I study. In the early afternoon I sit down to work on my book and most days I can get few hours in before all the kids come bursting in the door from school. Once they are home its pens down for me and it becomes all about them. I help with homework and taxi the kids around to after school activities. I sometimes get a bit more writing done after the kids go to bed but then I also hang out and relax with my husband and maybe get some reading in. Then we go to bed around midnight and get up again at six the next day to start it all again. It doesn’t sound exciting but any day I get to work on my book is a good day for me and I find that exciting.

How do you overcome adversity?

I tend to be a pretty optimistic person anyway and try to see things in a positive light but it doesn’t always work straight away. I tend to find a good sleep does wonders… things always look better in the morning. ‘The sun will come out tomorrow…’ and all that, it really works!

Do you have a favorite quote?

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” ~ Dr Seuss. I love this quote… the Dr knew too well. See!? This totally reflects my positive point of view.

It does! And I like your take charge attitude. So then I have to ask, if you could change your circumstances and live anywhere in the world, where would you choose to live?

Hawaii… haha, and I say that without ever having been there. I’m a beach girl, I just live for it. The roar of the waves, the salty smell in the air, the refreshing water and soft white sands is alluring to me. I would be happy just living in a shack on the beach and Hawaii has a wonderful and rich culture too that I imagine would also inspire me.

Now comes the Lightning Round. In a few words, answer the following:

The one thing I cannot do without is…

My family… I tend to think of my laptop as family too… it carries my characters and the story they tell.

In one or two words, what is your defining trait?

Happy go lucky – Oops three words.

Hard copy or ebook?

Although I think ebooks are great and so, so convenient, I still love hard copies of books and where I love a book or series, I will have to have it on my shelf.

Vice? Virtue?

Virtue for me and vice for my characters

Favorite book:

Daniella (played by Drew Barrymore) in Everafter is asked to pick a book, any book and she says “I could no sooner choose a favourite star in the heavens.” I feel this way.

Favorite movie:


Do you have a parting thought you would like to leave us with?

Not really, but I would like to say thanks Raymond for the interview, I appreciate you taking the time.

Thank you for joining us.

I asked Leisl to provide a synopsis and an excerpt fromTitanian Chronicles – Journey of Destiny. She provided the following:

Journey of Destiny - Leisl KaberrySynopsis

Afeclin walked nervously to the entry of the cottage. He held his breath as he passed over the threshold.

A little cradle was the only piece of furniture left in the building.
Afeclin touched the cradle delicately with one finger.
All of a sudden he fell backward onto the floor as an image of the fire burst into his mind…
He had seen a horrified face that screamed amongst red hot flames.

Found beyond the Elvin borders, Afeclin, a human child, is taken in and raised by an Elvin King. Now grown and longing to learn about the mystic arts, he embarks on a journey back into a land now unfamiliar. Accompanied by his elvin friend, Wolflang, they leave their homes to seek out their destiny. Unbeknown to Afeclin and Wolflang however, the warlord, Moorlan and his confederate, a dark mage, are preparing to bring war to the peaceful Land of Marrapassa, putting their lives and those they care about, in danger.


The ground had been a lot colder and harder to sleep on than it had first appeared. Wolflang had found himself sleeping on rock and although the rock was covered in fresh fallen leaves and moss it provided little comfort for the elf.

Adding to the problem, the day’s events had kept playing over and over again in his mind.

In the early hours of the morning, exhaustion overcame him and Wolflang, tired and achy, fell into a deep sleep.

It was during this sleep, while his body was relaxed and free from the tension built up in him from the previous day, he saw a familiar being.

A human man, wearing a leather cloak, stood before him and beckoned for Wolflang to follow. His face was shadowed by the cloak’s hood apart from his jaw and cheekbones covered in thick, greying stubble. Deep wrinkles around his mouth and down his neck showed that the man was aged and his weathered hands were old but strong.

‘You’re the hooded man I saw at the celebrations the other night.’

The man nodded and once again beckoned for Wolflang to come with him.

Wolflang, while curious, felt at ease with the old man despite his mysterious nature. He began to walk towards the hooded figure, stepping with lightness on the ground.

The older man led Wolflang to the edge of a cliff. There he beckoned the elf with an open hand to cast his eyes over.

Wolflang came and stood beside the hooded man, looking down into a deep valley beset by mountains.

He beheld a frightening scene before his eyes. For there in the valley a mighty battle raged. Heavy men clad in black armour, not unlike the pig-faced trolls they had seen the day before, surrounded a small multi-raced army.

Wolflang could hear the clang of swords clashing and shouts of anger and fear as men fought for their lives, giving everything they had. Blood flooded the terrain as one by one, the smaller army’s men fell to the ground dead.

The men in black, having been victorious, waved their swords in the air and cheered in celebration of their slaughter. It was a sickening sight.

‘What is this?’ Wolflang asked shaking his head.

The hooded man spoke at last, ‘It is a vision of an event that is to come.’

Wolflang felt sick to his stomach. He stared at the strange man with an incredulous frown. ‘Why do you show me this?’

‘In this moment of time lies a part of your destiny,’ the hooded man said as he faded away before Wolflang’s eyes.

‘What do you mean? I am to die down there?’ Wolflang shouted at the already faded figure.

Wolflang’s mind raced as he tried hard to comprehend what he had just witnessed. He buried his head in his hands in sorrow and slumped down to the ground.

If you’d like to buy Leisl’s book, or learn more about her, please click on the following links:

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