Chatting with the Pros: Interview with science fiction and fantasy author Kevin J. Anderson

chatting with the pros

My guest today on “Chatting with the Pros” is an award winning and best selling author who has written countless novels and over 56 national and international best sellers. A majority of his works fall into the science fiction or fantasy genres, but he writes across many genres. In a recent introduction for “The Big Idea: Kevin J. Anderson“, an article about the latest release in his short fiction collection, Selected Stories, John Scalzi calls him, “one of the most prolific authors working today”, and one look at his immense book list on Amazon would leave no doubt that this is an accurate assessment. (You can find my review of selected stories here). He’s written a lot of books, 56 of which have hit the national and international best seller lists, and he’s been writing for many years, and I’m sure we will find his knowledge and experiences enlightening. Please help me welcome Kevin J. Anderson.

KJA

Kaye: You have written at least 56 national or international best sellers. What makes a good story in your mind?

Kevin: People want to read a good story with an exciting/interesting plot, a well-developed setting, and engaging characters. Make it a story you WANT to read, with clear prose and action. I don’t like muddled, glacial-paced stories where the prose is just too precious.

Kaye: Why science fiction and fantasy? Why not western or romance or mystery? What’s the attraction?

Kevin: Well, I’ve also written plenty of mysteries, and some of my work has been set in the old west, and most good stories have a strong romance component (though I don’t write category Romance or Westerns). I like to tell an interesting story, and I move around a lot among genres, even though I am primarily known for science fiction or fantasy.  I grew up in a very mundane small town in rural Wisconsin, and I was captivated by SF/F from an early age, because it showed my imagination what was possible. I wanted to go to exotic places, whether they were filled with aliens or dragons. Science fiction took me to a much wider universe.  (And as a skinny, nerdy kid with glasses and a bad haircut, “romance” wasn’t much of a possibility, so I stuck with spaceships and swords.)

Kaye: You wrote several Star Wars and X-Files novels. Is it difficult to immerse yourself in someone else’s settings and characters enough to pick up a thread and run with it in the same tone and writing style? How do you go about getting yourself into that mindset?

Kevin: It’s no more difficult than trying to immerse yourself in the old west or ancient Japan for a historical. A writer’s job is to absorb the story, characters, voice, and setting. I was already a big fan of Star Wars, Star Trek, X-Files, and Dune, and I enjoyed going to work in those universes. In each instance, I would completely surround myself with the property — whether that meant watching the Star Wars films over and over again, or the episodes of the X-Files, or repeatedly rereading DUNE and its sequels. You pick up the manner of speaking, the “look and feel” of the world, and you make it into your own story.

Kaye: You’ve done several collaborations, including books of the Dune series, with Brian Herbert and the Clockwork books which you collaborated with Neil Peart, drummer for the band Rush. What is the biggest challenge when collaborating on a book?

Kevin: You both need to have the same vision for the book—which means a LOT of talking and brainstorming ahead of time—and you both need the same work ethic (so each partner puts in the same amount of time and effort…a tortoise and hare collaboration will just cause a lot of friction), and you need to be flexible. There’s never only ONE way to write a sentence or describe a scene. I would never want to collaborate with a diva!

Kaye: Do you belong to any writing organizations? If so, which ones? Do you feel your membership in these writing organizations have been helpful in your writing successes? How so?

Kevin: I belong to the Horror Writers Association (and edited three anthologies for them, the BLOOD LITE series), IAMTW (International Association of Media Tie-In Writers), and SFWA, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, although some of their recent decisions have made me so upset that I would not renew my membership if I wasn’t already a lifetime member.  The problem with such organizations is that you can become to engrossed in the politics and bickering that you forget your real purpose, which is to WRITE.

KJA Series

Kaye: You’ve written several series, including Saga of the Seven SunsDan Shamble P.I. and the Clockwork books? Are any of your books stand alone? Why do you lean toward series?

Kevin: I’ve written many standalone books. The one I just finished last week, a vampire/serial-killer thriller STAKE, that’s not part of a series. But I like to tell big stories, and once you’ve done all the effort of world building and character building an entire universe, you want to spend some time. To me, a trilogy is perfect — a beginning, middle, and end, with enough room to tell the story and describe the world in all its glory. Pragmatically speaking, it’s a much better decision commercially to build a series, because readers will want more and more, and each new book will help sell copies of previous volumes.  Can you imagine if A.C. Doyle had stopped after writing only one Sherlock Holmes story?

KJA Stand Alones

Kaye: Science fiction authors create whole worlds from their imaginations, often with new languages created in their own minds, and you have created many. How do you go about creating a new language?

Kevin: Hmm, creating languages?  I’m not really a linguist and I don’t know that I’ve developed full languages (though I do use weird words).  I just make up the words by making what seem to be the appropriate sounds, linguistic flavors, scary sounds for monsters or villains, softer or ethereal sounds for pleasant things.  I can’t really explain it more rigorously than that.

Kaye: Your work has won many prestigious awards. Which award are you most proud of? Why?

Kevin: Awards are awards, and it’s nice to have them, but I really prefer READERS. That’s what makes your writing worthwhile. It’s not terribly prestigious, but the award I value most is one I received very early in my career, when I received a trophy with an engraved brass plate and everything, naming me “The Writer with No Future” because I could produce more rejection slips than any other writer at an entire conference. To me, that didn’t mean I was a failure as a writer or that my work was awful—it proved that I was more persistent, that I kept trying, kept getting better, and never gave up.  I still have that trophy.

Kaye: In addition to being an author, you and your wife, Rebecca Moesta, are publishers at Wordfire Press, but originally you were traditionally published. Why the switch to being your own publisher after being traditionally published for so many years?

Kevin: Survival. No choice. The publishing industry has undergone a tremendous upheaval equivalent to the Industrial Revolution, and I could either be a mammal and evolve or stay a dinosaur and go extinct. I am still traditionally published (four books released in 2018, in fact, and a new 3-book contract from Tor Books for an epic fantasy series), but I also have a lot of backlist titles that were out of print and my fans wanted to read them. So I started releasing them myself with all the innovations of new technology.  It’s just another alternative.

Kaye: What does Wordfire press offer as a publisher for other authors?

Kevin: We are nimble and flexible, and we can produce books and get them to market far quicker than a traditional publisher can manage. But when you work with an indie publisher, or if you do it yourself, then you have to do all the work, all aspects of it.  It’s another income stream and another way to get your book in front of your audience.

Kaye: Is Wordfire taking submissions? What type of fiction is Wordfire looking for?

Kevin: Not really, I’m afraid. When we are open, we’re looking for established writers who don’t need their hands held, writers who already have their own platforms, fanbases, and marketing efforts because we have to rely on them to do the work that a whole department at a traditional publisher would do.

Kaye: You recently signed on as an adjunct professor at Western State Colorado University and you are a finalist candidate for the director of their Certificate in Publishing program. What prompted you to venture into the world of academia?

Kevin: Actually, I’m now a full professor and I run their Masters program in Publishing. I will start the first group of MA students this coming summer. There’s a LOT of paperwork and bureaucracy in academia!  I have taught writing and publishing quite often at countless writers’ conferences and conventions, most notably our own Superstars Writing Seminars, which is just hitting its tenth year.  Becoming a professor and teaching at a beautiful university in the Colorado mountains is great, offers a little more stability than freelance writing, and (the bane of all freelancers) it gives me health insurance and benefits I wouldn’t otherwise get.

Kaye: Any writing pet peeves?

Kevin: I don’t like artsy-fartsy stuff, dense prose and opaque plots.  Tell me a great story with a cool setting and interesting characters!

Kaye: Creating characters, developing plot, world building – what is the most challenging part of writing for you?

Kevin: Those are all fun, but if I had to choose I would say I have most difficulty with building rich, fleshed-out characters. Plotting and worldbuilding—that’s what I excel in.

Thanks to Kevin for sharing with us today. He’s given us food for thought with some really great answers. You can find more about Wordfire Press here: https://wordfirepress.com/.  Kevin and his wife, Rebecca Moesta, head up the Superstars Writing Seminars each year in February, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, for those interested in learning the business of writing. If you’d like to become a member of the Superstars Tribe, or would just like more information about Superstars, visit the folowing link: superstarswriting.com. Visit the links below to learn more about Kevin J. Anderson and his works.

Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/Kevin-J-Anderson/e/B000AQ0072/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1545798018&sr=1-1-fkmr1

Wordfire Press: http://www.wordfire.com/

Blog: http://kjablog.com/

Join us next month on “Chatting with the Pros”, when I’ll be chatting with romance author Maya Rodale. You can catch the monthly segment “Chatting with the Pros” on the third Monday of every month in 2019, or you can be sure not to any of the great content on Writing to be Read by signing up by email or following on WordPress.


February: Taking a look at nonfiction

Nonfiction

Our monthly theme for February on Writing to be Read was, you guessed it – nonfiction. So, what tipped you off? Was it the great interview I did with nature author Susan J. Tweit? Or maybe the nonfiction revues of  How to become a Published Author and Letters of May? Or perhaps it was the “Chatting with the Pros” interview of nonfiction author Mark Shaw? Whatever it was that gave it away, I’m here to tell you that these few posts on nonfiction don’t even scratch the surface of what the genre of nonfiction encompasses.

There are many subgenres of nonfiction, just as there are many subgenres under each of the genres of fiction. When someone asks what type of book your fiction novel is, we are quick to catetgorize it as a paranormal mystery, a historical romance, or a science fiction thriller. For some reason, we don’t seem to think about nonfiction the same way we do fiction and when someone asks what type of book your memoir is, or your travel diary, or your self-help book, we tend to lump it in with all the rest in nonfiction. Why this is, I don’t know, but I find that it is the case, time and time again.

The fact is, not all nonfiction books are alike and there are many categories or subgenres that fall within the nonfiction realm. Mark Shaw writes biographies and creative nonfiction tales that are very different from the memoirs, illustrated travel books and nature guides of Susan J. Tweit. Other types of nonfiction that are hard to define are books like Mark Todd and Kym O’Connell Todd’s Wild West Ghosts, which chronicles their ghost hunting experiences and offers advice on how you can be a ghost hunter too. Or Hollywood Game Plan by Carole Kirshner, which is a how-to guide for anyone wanting to break into the screenwriting world. These books are all nonfiction, but they are all very different types of books.

According to wikipedia the genres of nonfiction are biographies, autobiographies, memoirs, commentaries, creative nonfiction, critiques, essays, owners manuals, journalism, personal narratives, reference books, self-help books, speeches, and text books. I would add to that spiritual texts, encyclopedias, documentaries, how-to books, cookbooks, diaries and anthologies such as the one found in Letters of May, which is a collection of writings and artwork illustrating the world of those afflicted with mental illness. I’m sure there are others, but as you can see the list is quite extensive.

Nonfiction books may or may not be aimed to entertain, but the primary purpose, no matter the type of nonfiction book, is to inform. This may account for the fact that my reviews of nonfiction books receive more views in general, than most of my fiction reviews. A fact that I found to be surprising when I uncovered it while looking over the data for this blog. My theory is that readers turn more quickly to books they may find useful than they do to those with entertainment as their sole purpose.

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My reasons for interest in nonfiction and all it’s many forms stems from preparation for my journey to write my own memoir, telling the story of my son’s death and my life without him, His Name Was Michael. My bi-monthly blog series which will chronicle that writing process, “The Making of a Memoir“, came out with the first segment in February, too. It was a good month for it to come out, as it also fits in with the nonfiction theme. I hope you’ll join us again next month, when the theme will be science fiction and fantasy.

Be sure to join me next month when we will explore science fiction and fantasy, with guest author Kevin J. Anderson on “Chatting with the Pros” on March 18th, as well as a review of his Selected Stories: Science Fiction Volume 2, and Jordan Elizabeth’s Rogue Crystal.

Update: In Friday’s post I talked about the changes coming for Writing to be Read.  One more change that I just recieved confirmation of, and I’m pleased to announce: Art Rosch will also be posting one movie review a month, on the forth Friday of the month, in “Art’s Visual Media Review”.

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Chatting with the Pros: Interview with nonfiction author Mark Shaw

chatting with the pros
In February, Writing to be Read is taking at look at nonfiction authors and their works. I’m pleased to say that my guest on Chatting with the Pros this month is nonfiction author Mark Shaw. Mark has been a traditionally published author for many years, following a successful career in journalism. He’s written biographies on sports greats, priests, accused criminals in high profile cases, as well as books about golf and pilots, and writing instruction. Today, he champions those for whom justice has not been served, his most recent book being Denial of Justice, which outlines the events surrounding the  and deaths of J.F.K., Lee Harvey Oswald, Jack Ruby and Dorothy Kilgallen, which is a sequel to The Reporter Who Knew Too Much, which is Kilgallen’s story, and both books have been optioned for visual media and a script is currently being developed. Let’s welcome him and see what he has to say.
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Kaye: Could you share a brief history of your author’s journey for those who are not familiar with you or your work? How did you get to where you are today? 
Mark: It’s difficult for me to even believe that Denial of Justice was my 27th book. I never had any experience with writing, no classes, no workshops, etc. when I first wrote a book about Mike Tyson’s rape trial in 1992. What I fell in love with was the research, the writing process, and the chance to make people stop and think about important historical issues. That’s what keeps me going, looking for subjects now that deal with justice and injustice.
Kaye: In your books, you use your investigative reporting skills to dig deep and reveal little or unknown facts until you can tell the whole tale. Many of your books have brought some surprising details to the public eye. How do you choose the subjects for your books? 
Mark: I like to say the book ideas come to me. Most of the time, I get an idea for a book at 3 a.m. and quickly write down a thought about it on some note cards I keep by my bed. All of my book titles have come that way as well. Writers need to keep their eyes open, many book ideas float right in front of us if we pay attention.
Kaye: After the story of Dorothy Kilgallen, The Reporter Who Knew Too Much, had a great reception and is now being prepared to be told through visual media. Was any of this a surprise to you, or did you think this story might be a best seller as you were writing it? 
Mark: I had no idea Dorothy’s name was still magic, that a book about her would touch so many reader’s emotions and become a bestseller. I’ve heard from people around the world about the book, still do today, two-plus years after the book was published. It’s been amazing experience for sure.
Kaye: You recently released Denial of Justice, which digs even deeper into Dorothy’s story. How did you know there was more to be found regarding her story?
Mark: Those readers I mention sent me tips about new information about Dorothy’s life and times and her death and a file I kept just kept getting thicker until I realized there was a second book for those who read the first one and did not. Now I feel as if I have told the complete story about her although some new information still comes my way.

 

 

Kaye: As mentioned above, the Dorothy Kilgallen story in The Reporter Who Knew Too Much is going to be portrayed on the screen. Are there plans to include Denial of Justice to be portrayed visually or perhaps be included in the screen version already planned? 
Mark: Both books were optioned for the big or little screen.
Kaye: How is that going so far?
Mark: There is no filming yet of The Reporter Who Knew Too Much. It is still in the development phase with a script being completed. I am quite excited about Dorothy’s story being on the big or small screen since if that happens, more and more people will know about this remarkable woman. I like to say a book is like a written megaphone to the world but a film or TV series reaches even more people.
Kaye: In addition to several books which revolve around J.F.K. and his circles, you’ve also written about sports icons such as Larry Bird, Jack Nicklaus, Pete Dye and Don Larson. You’ve told the tales of suffering and discrimination during the holocaust, and you’ve written the biography of a priest, books on golfing and a how-to book on writing. What motivates you to write the stories that you write?
how to become a published authorMark: Again, the chance to make people stop and think, although some books have been more for entertainment purposes. Regardless, my books have a controversial slant to them, and that is important, something aspiring authors should seek to achieve. In my book about the publishing process that I use when aspiring authors hire me as a consultant, How to Become a Published Author: Idea to Publication, this is the type of practical advice I provide based on all of my
experience.
Kaye: Have you ever written a book of fiction? 
courage in the face of evil cover final nov 10 2017Mark: Yes, Courage in the Face of Evil is based on a true story, a Holocaust diary that is both disturbing and inspirational in nature, but I had to add certain elements that cause it to enter the world of fiction. I have also created a crime series called Vicker Punch: Lawyer on the Brink that is fiction, but based on my years as a criminal defense lawyer handling murder cases, and a book that is a sequel to a famous work of fiction.
Kaye: How do you see writing nonfiction differing from fiction in the publishing arena?
Mark: Fiction is much more fun, let the imagination loose without worrying about footnotes, etc. Just let it go and let the characters tell whatever the story is they want to tell. This said, for a first time author, getting fiction published these days is much more difficult that non-fiction since with fiction the star of the book is the author while with non-fiction the star of the book is the story.
Kaye: What is the biggest challenge in writing nonfiction for you?
Mark: How to tell the story once I have done all of my research.
road to a miracleKaye: Tell me a little about Road to a Miracle? The book is listed on Amazon for $57.73. I have to wonder what type of book rates a price like that? 
Mark: That’s nuts, and there are other editions of the book at a much less cost. The book is my road through the amazing life I have been blessed to live to the point of finding a daughter and two grandchildren I never knew existed a few years ago. Truly a miracle.
Kaye: I believe your stories are successful because they all hit emotional chords in your readers. How do you portray the emotional elements of your story so that they will touch your readers?
Mark: I tell writers I work with to be certain, whether fiction or non-fiction, to show the reader what’s happening, not tell them. That’s how the emotion comes through, how the reader connects with the story. Remember, a book is like a conversation with the reader but the author is not there so the emotion must be shown not told.
Kaye: In How to Become a Published Author, you talk about the importance of titles and subtitles. How do you come up with titles and subtitles for your books? How important are subtitles?

Mark: The book ideas come to me and the titles in the middle of the night when whatever spirit it is that is guiding my life, whispers in my ear. I quickly write down the idea on note cards I keep by my bed.

Many good books and movies have never seen the light of day due to bad titles. They need to be catchy, like TRWKTM, Denial of Justice, Miscarriage of Justice, The Poison Patriarch, etc. Don’t have too much experience with books based on true stories or fiction but Courage in the Face of Evil is striking as is Victor Punch: Lawyer on the Brink.
 
Re subtitles, not as important as titles but add to the description of the book. Again, I’m quite proud of the subtitles for my books. They certainly add to the allure of the story.
Kaye: Many of your books are collaborations. Is it difficult to write a book with someone else? Why collaborate? What are the pros and cons? 
Mark: No, during the early part of my getting some footing as a writer, I had collaborations, but no more. This said, working with someone famous to tell their story is a good way to show writing skill and the ability to tell a good story. That’s key to establishing a reputation, as is writing biographies if a writer wants to enter the world of non-fiction.
Kaye: You were a criminal defense attorney and legal analyst for the news media covering the Mike Tyson, O.J. Simpson and Kobe Bryant cases, and you have a book about Tyson, Falsely Accused. Are there books about O.J. and Koby in the future? If not, what separates Tyson out from the others? 

 

 

Mark: Injustice is the key word for the Tyson book since he did not get a fair trial. That thread has been woven through almost every book I’ve written in the last ten years or so, Miscarriage of Justice, Beneath the Mask of Holiness, Melvin Belli: King of the Courtroom, The Poison Patriarch, TRWKTM and now Denial of Justice, which relates actually to four people, JFK, Oswald, Jack Ruby and Dorothy Kilgallen. All were denied justice.
Kaye: What’s in the future for Mark Shaw?
Mark: Only the good Lord knows but I am truly the most blessed man on the face of the earth and for sure, I want to help as many writers as possible become published, to realize their publishing dreams.
I want to thank Mark for sharing with us today. He’s given us some insight into the world of a nonfiction author. You can learn more about Mark or his books at the links below.

Website: https://www.markshawbooks.com/

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Mark-William-Shaw/e/B000APQ7ZM/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_3?qid=1547774000&sr=1-3

 

 

You can catch the monthly segment “Chatting with the Pros” on the third Monday of every month in 2019, or you can be sure not to any of the great content on Writing to be Read by signing up by email or following on WordPress.


The Making of a Memoir: Stage 1: Prewriting Tasks

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His Name Was Michael

I’m starting this bi-monthly blog series, The Making of a Memoir, which will chronicle my journey as I write my memoir of my teenage son’s suicide and my life without him, breaking down the memoir process into stages. I am sharing thios process for several reasons. One, Michael’s story deserves to be told. It needs to be told. Two, telling my own story may act as a catharthis and help me to resolve my own unresolved issues surrounding Mike’s death. Three, commiting to bi-monthly accountability to you, my readers and fellow authors, forces me to create and meet deadlines, assuring that I make adequate progress on the book. It is too easy to make excuses and avoid the emotionally difficult tasks if I’m accountable only to myself. And four, I believe there are those of you out there who are interested in the methodology behind creating memoir.

Before I can begin writing the my memoir telling the story of my son’s death and the story of my own journey to find closure and my need to be sure that he will always be remembered, I must know what it is that I want to say, and have some idea of how I want to present it. After Michael’s death, I went through his writings and artwork, I went through every picture of him over and over and over. I listened to his music. And I cried and cried, and I thought I would never stop. It never has. At least not completely, but I did gain control over it by putting all his things away, to be dealt with at a later time. I knew I needed to tell his story then, but I wasn’t ready. Not then.

I actually made several false starts at writing his story at different times, I wrote poetry, some of it semi-epic, but the emotional wounds were still fresh. I was angry and overcome by grief, and I wanted by son back. I wasn’t able to portray what I was feeling with the depth of emotions I was experiencing. I had to set it all aside and heal some before I could undertake this immense task.

In addition, I wasn’t a skilled enough writer to undertake it at that point. I’ve since earned my M.F.A. in Creative Writing, published three books, and have short fiction and poetry featured in several publications and anthologies. Does that make me an expert now? No. But it has taken me down that path, and certainly I know more about writing books and my writing skills are much improved. I believe that I’m ready now to undertake the writing of my son’s story and my own.

There is no doubt in my mind that this book will be the most difficult book I could ever attempt to write. It is difficult because there is so much emotional investment in this book for me. I’ve collected and saved a mass of materials which may or may not end up in this memoir, but it first must be sorted and compiled. This is a difficult task because of the emotions attached to every piece of material I’ve collected and with the memories associated with each one. Michael has been gone from my life for a decade, but the compilation of these materials still must be taken slowly, a little at a time.

On the other hand, emotional investment in the author lends authenticity to the story and that, according to some, leads to best seller material that people want to read. If you go by that thinking, the more difficult the book is to write, the better it will be. You can let me know if I’m right after you’ve read it.

I thought I had the title. His Name Was Michael: How I lost my son to teen suicide. The title, “His Name Was Michael”, is perfect, for it reflects the feelings I had as time passed and others went on with their lives. Sometimes, I felt that everyone had forgotten about him except my husband and I. A title that would make people remember is a must, and I think it does that. But the subtitle, “How I lost my son to teen suicide”, although clearly and concisely telling the reader what the story is about, it doesn’t roll off my tongue smoothly when I say it aloud. I came up with the idea of  replacing it with “No Happy Endings”, and although it states a truth about this story, the potential reader picking it up off the shelf or spotting it online, might pass it over because it sounds depressing and doesn’t really tell them what the book is about. At this point, I have to wonder if a subtitle is even necessary. Comments on Facebook reflect the idea that the title is strongest without any subtitle. So, I am rethinking the title and I’m open to suggestions or thoughts in the comments.

There is still much to do in addition to compiling material and deciding on a title, before I can begin the actual writing of the story, pre-writing tasks, if you will. There are still more materials to gather and research to be done. I know you may be wondering what there is to research. Don’t I know my own story? After all I lived it. But the fact is there is research to be done on every book. On this one, I need to know things like statistics on teen suicide, and I need resources for warning signs of suicide and other information on the subject. I may not use everything I dig up, but I will have it available if I decide that it has a place in this book. I believe it does but I haven’t worked out how I want to present it. There is so much that I want to say, but not all of it belongs. Finding my voice for this book will mean finding my true voice.

There are several people I need to interview, people who I haven’t seen since Michael died, people who have something valuable to contribute to his story. I must learn to control the emotional whirpool that surfaces when I anticipate these contacts, the memories connected, cause turmoil within me. But, I know his story must be told, and to tell it in the manner it deserves, and so, I must contain my emotions and silence the memories in order to what must be done. The very act of doing this very difficult task for the sake of his story will become a part of my own, for it is my story, as well.

There must be at least a vague outline, which is now begining to take shape in my head. I believe I know how I want to begin the story and the structure I need to use. The next step will be to get it down in print, so I have a clear direction in which I want the story to go which I can refer back to to ensure that I stay on track. Outlines are a valuable tool  in giving any story direction and making sure it doesn’t veer off into left field and lose the storyline and the way I’ve chosen to structure this particular story demands that guidance.

I’m starting this blog series, The Making of a Memoir, which will break down the memoir process into stages, for two reasons. One, Michael’s story deserves to be told. It needs to be told. Two, telling my own story may act as a catharthis and help me to resolve my own unresolved issues surrounding Mike’s death. And three, commiting to bi-monthly accountability to you, my readers and fellow authors, forces me to create and meet deadlines, assuring that I make adequate progress on the book. It is too easy to make excuses and avoid the emotionally difficult tasks if I’m accountable only to myself.

Since I hope to get this memoir published traditionally, I will also need a book proposal, a query letter and somewhere around the first three to five chapters for that. We’ll cover that in the April segment The Making of a Memoir: Stage 2: Selling the story. I do hope you will join me on my journey.

 

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Short Fiction Contest! Paranormal Stories Sought

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I love a good ghost story or paranormal tale, and that’s just what I’m looking for for the first Wordcrafter short fiction contest. If you write paranormal short fiction, submit your best story for a chance for it to be included in a paranormal anthology. Flash fiction is accepted as long as it is a complete story, with beginning, middle and end. In addition to publication, the winner will recieve a $25 Amazon gift card.

Guidelines:

  • Submit paranormal, speculative fiction, or horror. I want to read your story!
  • Stories should be less than 10,000 words and have a paranormal element. They don’t have to be scary, but it helps.
  • Submit stories in a word doc, double spaced with legible 12 pt font, in standard manuscript format.
  • Submit stories to kayebooth@yahoo.com with Submission: [Your Title] in the subject line. You will recieve instructions to submit your $5 entry fee with confirmation of reciept.
  • If you recieve an invitation for the anthology, you will also be asked to submit a short author bio and photo.
  • No simultaneous submissions. You should recieve a reply within 45 – 60 days.
  • Multiple submissions are accepted with appropriate entry fee for each individual story.

I’m excited about this contest and the resulting anthology, and I hope you are, too. I can’t wait to read your stories. I’m hoping to release the anthology around Halloween through WordCrafter Press, so get your submissions in by April 30th. I’m searching for a title for this anthology, so if you have a paranormal title that’s killer, leave a comment below and give me your suggestions.

 

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Double the mystery, double the suspense with “Double Blind”

Double Blind

Double Blind, by Dan Alatorre is a riveting suspense thriller that will keep the pages turning. I didn’t want to put it down. I was forced to stop in the middle of a climactic scene because I couldn’t hold my eyes open any longer and my brain was muddling the words. But, I was back at it first thing the next morning because I had to find out what happened. And you will, too.

There’s a brutal serial killer on the loose, but when he strikes two members of the same family on the same night, it sends police looking for connections that don’t seem to be there, and the killer seems to always be one step ahead, and brings in Johnny Tyree, a P.I. and friend of the family right into the thick of things. When the two detectives working the case, Carly Sanderson and Sergio Martin, become the targets, it sends police reeling in yet another direction.

Dan Alatorre does a marvelous job of weaving the subplots together without revealing the surprise twist at the end in this well-crafted crime novel. I give Double Blind five quills.

five-quills3

Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.


“Ask the Authors” (Round 2): Meet the Authors


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I’m excited to tell you that Ask the Authors is coming back to Writing to be Read starting next Monday. And wait until you see the great line-up of authors we have for our Round 2 panel. We’ve got an interesting mash up of talent just waiting to be shared and I’m going to delve in with the important questions, which could help other authors along the way.

Round 2 of Ask the Authors will include twelve segments, includining this introductory post and the final round of quetions, one every Monday. Topics include:

  • The Writing Process: You’ve Got a Story Idea, Now What?
  • Plot/Storyline: Where Do We Go From Here?
  • Setting the Tone with Point of View, Tense, Narrative Distance and Voice
  • Creating and Developing Character: Writing a Character Readers Will Relate To
  • World Building: Making it Real with Effective Dialog and Sensory Details
  • Action Scenes: Keeping the Story Moving
  • Editing & Revision: The Finishing Touches
  • The business segments will include: A Discussion on Publishing Platforms
  • How and Why You Should Build an Author Platform
  • Marketing and Promotion.

Fourteen great authors who all write different genres and for different audiences, both traditional published and self-published, all with expertise to offer to you, my readers and fellow authors. They will each weigh in on the weekly topics with writing tips and  advice on the business of writing. So, without further ado, let’s meet the authors.

Margareth StewartWe have Margareth Stewart, who emerges from academia to write her first novel, Open: Pierre’s journey after war. One unusual thing I know about Margareth is that her book is not on the Big A, Amazon, and I can’t wait until the publishing segment to discuss that decission and see how the publishing platform she’s using is working out for her. Margareth was on the first AtA panel, and I’m thrilled to have her back for another round.

Bio: Margareth Stewart is the pen name for Mônica Mastrantonio, debut author of Open/ Pierre’s Journey After War published by web-e-books.com. She has also compiled and published three international Anthologies featuring global authors: Whitmanthology, Womenthology, The Pain that Unites us All.

She holds a PhD in Social Psychology, and she has been teaching and tutoring students over 22 years. This zen-mother of 3, loves life and her tattoos. She spends her time between Sao Paolo, Miami and writing residencies.

When asked about her favorite form of exercise: “Jogging – that´s kind of an obligation for me. As writers, we tend to sit for long hours, so every single day, I do try to keep that up and go out for a short run of 4 to 5 kilometers. If I have more time, I go round a park nearby and that makes 6 kilometers. I do recommend it – it keeps our mind sharp and our ideas bright.

Links: You can learn more about Margareth and her book on her Facebook page.


deannakDeAnna Knippling is another return panel member, who I’m thrilled to welcome back. I made DeAnna’s acquaintance through the Pike’s Peak Writers and have been learning from her ever since. Besides writing her own wonderful stories, she freelances full time and makes it all work. You can read my interview with her here. Her books which I’ve reviewed include: How Smoke Got Out of the ChimneysClockwork Alice; and Something Borrowed, Something Blue.  I also interviewed her for my 2017 Book Marketing series, and did an author profile on her, in addition to her being a panel member in Round 1 of AtA. She is a fantastic resource.

Bio: DeAnna Knippling writes across many different genres, both under her own name and under several pen names as a ghostwriter, and has written over thirty novels and a hundred short stories.  Under her own name, she is the author of The Clockwork Alice and A Murder of Crows:  Seventeen Tales of Monsters & the Macabre. She lives in Colorado.

Links: You can learn more about Deanna and her books by visiting the following sites:

Goodreads
www.WonderlandPress.com
www.facebook.com/deanna.knippling


colorheadshot - CopyI’m happy to be working with Cynthia Vespia, a.k.a. Original Cyn, once more in AtA: Round 2. Cyn has turned her many talents including design, video, and promotional skills into a lucrative promotional service, as well as writing dark fantasy, suspense and paranormal thrillers. I reviewed the books from her Demon Hunter Saga, all the way back in 2010, completing the series a couple of years later with the review of Hero’s Call. I reviewed Resurection, when it was only Life, Death, and Back, now the subtitle. My first interview with Cynthia was back in 2012. She participated in my 2017 Book Marketing series, as well as being a panel member in Round 1.

Bio: Cynthia Vespia an award nominated speculative fiction author, cover designer and promotional content developer. She also teaches internet advertising classes and marshal arts workshops. Her speculative fiction encompasses fantasy, the paranormal, and magic realism.

Links: You can learn more about Cynthia and her books at her website: www.cynthiavespia.com/ 


Art 2001Another AtA panel member in Round 1, who I’m pleased to say, will be returning for Round 2, is Art Rosch. Art also does a monthly segment, The Many Faces of Poetry, here on Writing to be Read, the fourth Wednesday of every month. I’ve known Art for many years, I’ve reviewed all three of his published works: his science fiction novel, The Gods of the Gift; his autobiographically based fiction, Confessions of an Honest Man; and his memoir, The Road Has Eyes: An RV, a Relationship, and a Wild Ride. Art always gives lengthy, well thought out responses. In fact, during the first round of AtA, Art gave me one lengthy reponse which, I felt, warranted a post all its own, and I gave it to him here. In addition to being a writer, Art is a photographer and a musician with an ear for jazz music.

Bio: The greatest thing that ever happened to Arthur Rosch was his awful childhood. He had no choice but to get angry, rebel and follow his path to becoming an artist. His first duty as an artist was to cultivate obsessions. He proceeded to do this with gusto and learned that there is no substitute for a good obsession, compulsion or addiction to gain insight into human nature.

Of course it was a girl who inspired Arthur to write poetry. It wasn’t until he was twenty six that he realized he could write novels. Prior to that he had been a jazz musician. He changed direction after winning Playboy Magazine‘s Best Short Story Award.  Arthur has appeared in Across the Margin, Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug Magazine and several online venues. His novel, Confessions of an Honest Man won Honorable Mention from Writer’s Digest.

Writing is the refuge of his life after forty. It took him that long to wear out the obsessions. They had really gotten out of hand. Not that he regrets a single one. Part of a writer’s apprenticeship, he believes, is to spend at least twenty years being mentally deranged. It took twelve years of intense therapy to pull himself back into the functioning world.

One of Arthur’s passionate interests is astronomy.  He got some lovely recognition as a photographer by doing creative work at night with cameras. He loves science fiction, literary fiction, Rumi’s poetry, travel, history, dogs and cats and his wife, who is half Apache. She can be very eerie when she goes dipping into the shaman’s world. She invokes the spirit helpers called “The Grandmothers”. Those ladies have helped Arthur and his spouse out of a lot of jams.

Stories of weird miracles are told in the travel memoir THE ROAD HAS EYES, AN RV, A RELATIONSHIP AND A WILD RIDE. This book is available at Smashwords dot com. Arthur’s younger and musical life is described in CONFESSIONS OF AN HONEST MAN, which has appeared in both paperback and e-book form. Everything else he either know or doesn’t know is in the sci fi epic THE GODS OF THE GIFT. Then there’s the new trilogy, THE SHADOW STORM.

Links: You can learn more about Art Rosch and his books at www.artrosch.com



Jordan Also returning is young adult fantasy author, Jordan Elizabeth. Jordan has been featured on Writing to be Read several times. Always willing to jump in and help out, I’ve interviewed her and she participated in both my 2016 Publishing series and my 2017 Book Marketing series. Currently, you can find her on the third Wednesday of each month with her segment, Writing for a YA Audience. I have reviewed most of Jordan’s books, including: Kissed by Literature, Rotham Race, Kistishi Island, Wicked Treasure, The Path to Old Talbot, Runners & Riders, The Goat Children, Victorian, Treasure Darkly, Cogling, and Escape to Witchwood Hollow, in addition to several anthologies in which her stories were featured.

Bio: Jordan Elizabeth is a young adult fantasy author of more than fourteen books. She writes down her nightmares in order to live her dreams.

Links: Learn more about Jordan and her books at the folowing links:

Website: JordanElizabethBooks.com

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Jordan-Elizabeth/e/B00P0KBRD4/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1537224298&sr=1-1



Tom's Back Cover PictureTom Johnson is one author who will be new to the Ask the Author panel. He has published multiple novels, which I think are reminescent of Edgar Rice Burroughs or the pulp fiction novels of times past. I reviewed of his book, Pangaea: Eden’s Planet or you can find my interview with him here.

Bio: Tom Johnson’s dad was a cowboy and cook, giving his family an itinerant lifestyle. Tom changed schools often, as his dad’s jobs were relocated. His dad wanted him to follow in his footsteps, but a cowboy’s life didn’t appeal to him. Instead, during his high school years, Tom dreamed about becoming an entomologist. He loved biology and math, but was weak in other subjects. He read every book he could find on insects, reptiles, and arachnids, as well as paleontology.

Years later, he and his wife, Ginger, started the publishing imprint of FADING SHADOWS, and published a hobby magazine for 22 years, and several genre titles for nine years. He was a voracious reader from an early age, and has never stopped reading for pleasure, though his interest in genres have often switched from SF to western, to hardboiled detectives, the classics, and back to science fiction again over the years. In his own writing readers will often find something about his love of zoology, whether insects, reptiles, or saber-tooth cats. Now retired, they devote their time to keeping Tom’s books in print, as well as helping promote other writers.

With over 80 books in print which he has contributed to, Tom has slowed down now. He is still writing children stories, while promoting his books still on the market. Plus, he still has hopes of one day seeing his short novel, The Man In The Black Fedora, made into a film.

Links: You can learn more about Tom and his books at the following links:

Tom’s Blog http://pulplair.blogspot.com

Tom’s Face Book Page https://www.facebook.com/tomginger.johnson

Tom’s Books http://jur1.brinkster.net/index.html

Tom’s Amazon Page http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B008MM81CM

ALTUS PRESS http://www.altuspress.com


RA WinterAnother new panel member will be RA Winter, whom I only recently met. She is a multi-genre author who writes fantasy, science fiction, contemporay and paranormal romance. Most of her work contains Native American elements which reflect herheritage. You can find last week’s interview with her here or check out my review of her Vampire Werewolf Freaky Friday novelette, Twisted. I believe she will be a welcomed addition to the AtA Round 2 panel.

Bio: RA Winter loves to create magical worlds with strong female leads who grow into their love. Humor is a big part of her life and she brings a touch of it into all her stories. She promises a smile, a look beyond reality, and interesting characters in all her novels.

RA grew up in a small town in Indiana, surrounded by lakes, creeks, and woods were she stomped around as a child. She’s traveled the world and has called Germany, Turkey, Egypt, Jodan, and various US states home at one time or another.

Links: If you like to stay updated on discounts, new releases, and exciting finds, please subscribe to her mailing list: http://eepurl.com/dbCIE5

You can learn more about RA and her books at the following links:

Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/By-RA-Winter/e/B00PMF26SC

Spirit Keys site: http://rsch881.wixsite.com/rawinter

Website: https://rawinterwriter.wordpress.com/

Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9869268.R_A_Winter


Todds - CopyI’m extremely pleased to welcome author duo, Mark Todd and Kym O’Connel Todd. Mark was one of my graduate program instructors. He and his wife Kym write books and talk as a team. (Seriously, they finish each other’s sentences both on the page and in their speech.) They have been published traditionally and also self-published, so they should have great stuff to add, particularly in the publishing segment. I interviewed them for my 2017 Book Marketing series, and I’ve reviewed many of their books, including: Wild West Ghosts; Strange Attractors; and, (as the Southern Colorado Literature Examiner), their Silverville Saga: Little Greed Men, All Plucked Up, and The Magicke Outhouse.

Bio: Mark Todd and Kym O’Connell Todd are writers and novelists who have collaborated on four books: the paranormal-comedy Silverville Saga trilogy as well as the nonfiction book Wild West Ghosts, the latter an exploration of frontier haunted hotels in Colorado. Their research for their books has included their experiences as U.F.O. investigators and ghost hunters, including a guest spot on Ghost Adventures in 2017.

Links: You can learn more about Mark & Kym and their books at the following links:

Website: WriteintheThick.com
Blog: WriteintheThick.blogspot.com
FB page: facebook.com/WriteintheThick
Twitter page: twitter.com/WriteintheThick
Google+ page: plus.google.com/+KymnMarkTodd
YouTube page: youtube.com/c/KymnMarkTodd



Amy CecilAmy Cecil is another new face to Ask the Authors. She writes both historical and contemporary romance. I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing her twice: one was a regular author interview, and she also participated in my 2017 Book Marketing Series; and I also reviewed Ice on Fire, the second book in her Knights of Silence Mseries.

Bio: Amy Cecil writes contemporary and historical romance. Amy has published seven books which include three Historical Romances that are Pride and Prejudice variations, A Royal Disposition, Relentless Considerations and On Stranger Prides. She also has an MC series, Knights of Silence MC, which includes, ICE, ICE on FIRE and Celtic Dragon. Her latest release, Ripper is her first attempt at a new genre, Erotic Thriller/Romance. She has several works in progress, including additions to the Knights series, a new mafia romance series and hopefully more on Ripper.

Amy has held memberships in the Romance Writers of America (RWA) and the Published Authors Network (PAN). She was a winner in the 2015-2017 NanNoWriMo writing contests and a nominee in Metamorph Publishing’s Indie Book 2016 contest in historical romance, and her books have won multiple awards.

She lives in North Carolina with her husband, Kevin, and their three dogs, Hobbes, Koda, Karma and Katie. When she isn’t writing, she is spending time with her husband, friends and her dogs.

Links: Learn more about Amy and her books at the following links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authoramycecil

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/authoramycecil

Twitter: https://twitter.com/acecil65

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/amycecil

Website: http://acecil65.wix.com/amycecil


L RaymanI want to welcome paranormal romance author, Lilly Rayman to the Ask the Authors panel, as well. I had the pleasure of interviewing Lilly earlier this year. I don’t know her well, but I’m sure she will have a lot to share.

Bio: First and foremost, Lilly describes herself as a wife and mother. She was born in England where she had a dream at the age of fourteen. That dream was to chase cattle on horseback across the Australian Outback.

In 2008, Lilly had the opportunity to follow that dream and found herself travelling to Australia on an Outback working holiday, and she’s chased cattle, on horseback, across the Outback. Lilly met her soul mate, while on her working holiday, married him, and now they have two beautiful daughters, and she is still in love with life in Australia.

Lilly loves to read, much to her husband’s dismay sometimes when she has her head metaphorically buried in the pages of a book (after all, how can that be literal since the dawn of e-books?)! She love’s fantasy; she used to take herself away from her nasty world of bullies and appear in some beautiful land of dragons and magic! Pern was her all-time favourite hide out world, and Lilly is often heard saying “God bless Anne and Todd MacCaffery”.

Whenever Lilly immersed herself in her fantasy worlds, she would re-write the plots in her head, starring herself as some great, sword drawn character who wouldn’t give two hoots what the local bully thought! That eventuated in Lilly’s first foray into writing down her stories at the age of fourteen.

More recently Lilly was inspired to start writing again, and picked up on the whole craze of werewolf and vampire. She has had the most enjoyment writing AN UNEXPECTED BONDING, the first book of An Unexpected Trilogy.

Links: You can learn more about Lilly and her books at the following links:

Website: http://lillyrayman0007.wixsite.com/lillyrayman

Goodreads Author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9866872.Lilly_Rayman

Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/Lilly-Rayman/e/B00X5CR5QC

Facebook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/LillyRayman0007/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/lillyrayman0007


AlatorreDan Alatorre is a well-versed independent international best selling author with a sense of humor. Dan was the first author I actually interviewed and it was a fun one. He has written many books, including one called 25 eBook Marketing Tips You Wish You Knew, so I’m looking forward to picking his brain in the marketing and promotion segment. I’m pleased to welcome him to the AtA: Round 2 panel.

Bio: International bestselling author Dan Alatorre has published more than 22 titles in over a dozen languages.

You’ll find action-adventure in the sci-fi thriller The Navigators, a gripping paranormal roller coaster ride in An Angel On Her Shoulder, heartwarming and humorous anecdotes about parenting in the popular Savvy Stories series, an atypical romance story in Poggibonsi, and terrific comedy in Night Of The Colonoscopy: A Horror Story (Sort Of). Dan’s knack for surprising audiences and making you laugh or cry – or hang onto the edge of your seat – has been enjoyed by audiences around the world. And you are guaranteed to get a page turner every time.

“That’s my style,” Dan says. “Grab you on page one and then send you on a roller coaster ride, regardless of the story or genre.”

His unique writing style can make you chuckle or shed tears—sometimes on the same page (or steam up the room if it’s one of his romances). Regardless of genre, his novels always contain unexpected twists and turns, and his endearing nonfiction stories will stay in your heart forever.

He has also written illustrated children’s book and cookbooks, as well as stories for young readers. 25 eBook Marketing Tips You Wish You Knew, co-authored by Dan, has been a valuable tool for upcoming writers of any age (it’s free, but only available to subscribers of his newsletter) and his dedication to helping authors of any skill level is evident in his wildly popular blog “Dan Alatorre – AUTHOR”.

Dan’s success is widespread and varied. In addition to being a bestselling author, he has achieved President’s Circle with two different Fortune 500 companies. Dan also mentors grade school children in his Young Authors Club and adults in his Private Critique Group, helping struggling authors find their voice and get published.

Dan resides in the Tampa, Florida area with his wife and daughter.

Links: Learn more about Dan and his books on his blog:  www.DanAlatorre.com



Ashley FontainneI made the acquaintance of multi-genre author Ashley Fontainne after I reviewed her book, Zero Balance. She is talented and vivacious, with a killer smile, and I just had to interview her. She’s an independent author who writes in several genres, including: thriller, science fiction, mystery, suspense, post-apocalyptic, romantic suspense and coming of age. I was thrilled when she accepted my invitation to be on the AtA Round 2 panel.

Bio: Ashley writes in multiple genres ranging from mystery/thrillers to suspenseful paranormal to dark comedy. The recipient of numerous awards for her gritty, no-holds barred style of writing, her stories will captivate and pull you inside the lives of her characters and intricate plot lines.

Links: You can learn more about Ashley and her books at the following links:

Website: http://www.ashleyfontainne.com/

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/ashley.fontainne/

Blog: http://ramblingsofamadsouthernwoman.blogspot.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/AshleyFontainne
Movie site of Ruined Wingshttps://ruinedwings.com/


MarkAtSFTS (1)Our final addition to the AtA Round 2 panel is a traditionally published author of non-fiction with a background in journalism, Mark Shaw. His investigative research has resulted in controversial books, one of which, The Reporter Who Knew Too Much is now being produced through visual media. I began reviewing Marks books as the Southern Colorado Literature Examiner and have reviewed a couple here on Writing to be Read: The Reporter Who Knew Too Much, and Courage in the Face of Evil. I also had the privalege of interviewing him this past year and he participated in my 2016 series on Publishing. His work raises historical questions and touches the heart, and I am thrilled to welcome him to the AtA panel.

Bio: The bestselling author of The Reporter Who Knew Too Much: The Mysterious Death of What’s My Line TV Star and Media Icon Dorothy Kilgallen, and the follow-up book, Denial of Justice: Dorothy Kilgallen, Abuse of Power and the Most Compelling JFK Assassination Investigation in History, to be released November 20, 2018, Mark Shaw is an investigative reporter who has written more than 20 books including The Poison Patriarch, Miscarriage of Justice, Beneath the Mask of Holiness, Courage in the Face of Evil, and Down for the Count. A former legal analyst for USA Today, CNN and ESPN, Shaw, a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, has written for Huffington Post, the New York Daily News, USA Today and the Aspen Daily News. He lives with his wife in the San Francisco area.

Links: More about Mark and his books at:

www.markshawbooks.com

www.thereporterwhoknewtoomuch.com

www.thedorothykilgallenstory.org

I hope all of you will join us for Round 2 of Ask the Authors. Pop in on Mondays to find out what tips and advice our panel has to offer. I’m very excited about this round and hope that everyone else is, too. It should be a really good series and I can’t wait to see what our panel members have to say. Be sure and drop in next Monday, when our topic will be The Writing Process. See you there!


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