Mercedes Fox ~ Author

My Writing Blog

Tag: Fantasy Books (Page 1 of 6)

Meet Author Michael Melilli

Hello! Welcome to Interview FoxSeat with guest author Michael Melilli

Michael attended Chapman University in Orange, California, where he earned a BFA in Film/TV Writing and Directing. He went on to work for various film and television production companies―including the Jim Henson Company―before landing at PlainJoe Studios in Corona, California. He serves as the Spatial Storytelling Studio Director and helps to tell stories within physical spaces from restaurants to dynamic office spaces to themed children’s facilities and even high profile immersive attractions.

In addition to having circumnavigated the globe and having an almost unhealthy obsession with Batman, Michael is an avid gamer and consumer of story in any form. He currently lives in Corona, California, with his wife Jaimee.

Book Sample:  3point8

Genre:  Dark Fantasy

When Judd Mara learned he was going to be a father, he never could have imagined that he’d lose his entire family before even reaching his daughter’s due date.

Alone and left to face the reality of a life without his family, Judd struggles to deal with the mundane requirements of everyday life while his grief threatens to overwhelm him. It’s in this dark moment that he’s offered a shred of hope; his daughter may still be alive but taken by a supernatural force.

Has he uncovered an ancient evil? Or is he just slowly losing his mind from the loss of his wife and daughter?

As Judd’s investigation leads him down a twisted path, he’ll be forced to decide how far is he willing to go to learn the truth about his daughter and how much of his humanity he’s willing to leave behind.

Inspired by the author’s real-life loss of his newborn daughter, 3point8 is a fictional story which reveals a horrifying truth; that grief can be as destructive as any supernatural being.

Why do you write? I just need to see ideas or character in my mind come to life, to release them. The most satisfying moment of the process for me is when I can sit back, read through a chapter, and I’ve completely forgotten that these were words I put to paper. I crave that experience and love knowing that there will, hopefully, be people out there who are similarly moved or excited by what I’ve written.

When did you decide to become a writer? After college, when I realized writing gave me the most control over the stories I wanted to tell. I’ve always been a storyteller and had a passion for it, but the restrictions that come in other forms of media make it difficult to realize the vision of what I see in my head.

How long does it usually take you to complete a book? It can vary greatly depending on the book.  3point8 took about six and a half months to get to a first draft. I’ve have other novels that have taken a couple years to complete, mainly because I’ve worked on them in chunks with breaks in between.

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something? I was writing a short story for a creative writing class and realized it was just too big to be a short. Once I started, I fell in love with the characters so much that I knew I had to finish it to see where they ended up.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you? I tend to start with plot for most of my ideas; typically just a rough idea of the situation that I want to drop characters into. From there, I’ll get a loose idea of where I want to story to go, a rough ending, begin developing characters and fill in the gaps.

I look at it like building a maze. The outer walls go up first with the entrance and ending in place. A few of the interior walls go up next, a few leading from the entrance and a few leading to the exit. Then it’s all about building characters that will interact with the maze well and releasing them, filling in the rest of the maze and they go, responding to the decisions they make, and adjusting as needed. By the end, the maze may look completely different than what I start with.

Do you design your own book covers or have someone else? If you use someone else would you tell us who/website? Bryce Reyes was kind enough to lend me his immense talent and create the book cover for 3point8. You can see some of his other design on his website: http://www.brycereyes.com/

Any advice for aspiring authors? Read…a lot and often. It’s an absolute necessity.

What is the hardest thing about writing? The discipline of sitting down and actually grinding out the words into the keyboard. Dreaming, imagining and planning is fun, but it’s work to pull all those letters together into coherent chapters. Ironically, this is always the most rewarding part of the process.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? For me it was letting myself really delve into the pain of losing my daughter and being honest about some of the thought I’d had afterwards. It wasn’t an enjoyable place to go and it’s a bit terrifying to be so open about something that painful. I didn’t imagine that monsters were running around stealing babies like my protagonist suspected, but everything else he thinks and wonders about were very much thoughts I had myself.

Do you have any “how to write” type books/instructional you’d like to recommend? Stephen King On Writing – A Memoir of the Craft is essential reading for anyone who wants to write or get serious about any creative pursuit. I reread it every few years.

What is one great lesson you have learned as a writer? Write for yourself…don’t worry about what audiences or friends or family will think. The story needs to be one you love and have a passion to tell.

There ya have it folks! Many thanks Michael! For more about Michael, his work, and getting yourself a copy, follow the links below:

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Amazon / Instagram

Meet Author Alex Avrio

Hello! Welcome to Interview FoxSeat with guest author Alex Avrio

Alex Avrio is an author of fantasy short stories, novellas, and novels. The first two novels in the swashbuckling Merchant Blades mercenary fantasy adventure series are now available to buy. Her previous dark fantasy novella, the Dreaming Demon, is also for sale on Amazon.

The third novel in the Merchant Blades series, The Hidden Dragon, is due for release in late 2017.

Alex was born in Nottingham, UK, to Greek parents. She has lived both in Greece and England where she returned to study for an MBA at the University of Kent. She also has a PhD in e-business strategy management from the University of Kent. Alex has been writing stories from an early age and, after concluding her PhD, she decided it was the time to try to become a professional writer. Alexandra currently lives with her husband and their two cats in Newcastle upon Tyne, a place so far up north that if you go any further you’re south again. She would love to share with you her love of fantasy and adventures. She also has a book, bingo and dessert habit to fuel, so please help by buying her books!

Book sample:  The Alchemist’s Box – Fantasy Adventure

Five years ago she would have run him though with her saber. Now she must trust Kapitan Maximillian Jaeger, enemy in the recent bitter war, with her life. The mercenaries’ simple job: to retrieve the mysterious Alchemist’s Box from the neighboring Duchy of Pella.

But in Pella, a curse of a thousand years has resurfaced.

Where are all the court dignitaries? What does the Alchemist’s box contain that is worth killing, or dying, for?

Can Regina and Jaeger put the war behind them and work together to save everyone in the Duchy before it’s too late?

If you use a Pen Name why did you choose it? Alex Avrio is a pen name. I use it because most people can’t pronounce my Greek legal name. After going through a few ideas, I chose Alex Avrio because it’s short, memorable, and easy to pronounce. Avrio is the Greek word for tomorrow, so I like to think that it implies that I have a writing future.

Why do you write? Writing is like breathing to me. I can’t not write in the same way that I couldn’t not breathe. I have so many stories I would like to share with my readers. I just can’t type fast enough.

When did you decide to become a writer? I guess I always wanted to be a writer. I have recently plucked up the courage to start writing full time. I finished my PhD and thought that what I really wanted was to be a writer; it was now or never really, so here I am.

How long does it usually take you to complete a book? It depends on the book. Some are easier to write that others. Books are live entities, each one with its own distinct personality. Sometimes they are similar: a series of books is like a family, each sibling similar but different, or they can be wildly different from each other. I’d say on average it takes about six months to finish a first draft. Then it goes through rewrites, beta readers, editing, and then to a professional editor before it’s ready to be unleashed into the wild.

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured? I write during the day. I wake up, take my (very large) cup of coffee and sit down to write. I normally stop for lunch (and ‘cuddle the cats’ breaks) and finish around six in the evening.

Do you listen to music or watch TV/movie while you write? I have lots of playlists that help me get into the writing groove and various mood lists. My Enigma playlist is among my most valued writing tools.

What have you written? I am the proud author of the Merchant Blades series. This fantasy adventure series includes The Alchemist’s Box, Lose a Princes Lose your Head, and I’m currently writing the third book in the series, The Hidden Dragon.

I have also written a dark fantasy novella, The Dreaming Demon, and various other short stories. I have another novel about three quarters finished, with the working title Miss Silk and the Tomb of Menkare. This is an ambitious project and will be a real epic, with three parallel storylines from three different time periods spanning around 15000 years, which will all hopefully seamlessly intertwine to create something special. This one’s going to take a little longer to write and polish, and so it’s taken a bit of a back seat to the Merchant Blades series at the moment.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you? Each book is a different entity, so it needs a different approach. Having said that, I have found that the ‘writing from the seat of my pants’ approach works best for me. I have an idea of the key points in the plot, so at the start I know roughly where I want it to be at different parts of the book, and that’s about it. I start writing and then I often get surprised by what my characters get up to. More than once I’ve started writing a scene and when the characters start talking they’ve said completely different things to what I originally had in mind, taking the novel in a different direction. I find that this flexibility keeps my writing fresh, and I have to finish writing the novel to find out how it ends! It’s like reading a book, only I have to write it to see what happens next.

Any advice for aspiring authors? Read a lot, write a lot, and don’t give up.

What is the current book you are promoting? I’m currently promoting The Alchemist’s Box, as it’s the entry to my Merchant Blades series. It’s a fast-paced quest-type fantasy adventure, with a strong female lead character, Captain Regina Fitzwaters, and a gritty leading man, Kapitan Maximillian Jaeger. They fought on opposite sides in a bitter war that finished several years earlier, and now they are both members of the Merchant Blades mercenary guild. They get thrown together on a quest to retrieve the Alchemist’s Box, and must try to work together, which doesn’t prove easy. They think they are over the war, but they still harbor deep-seated grudges that makes it a challenge to work together. They must battle through, trying to avoid getting killed by foes both human and magical, while trying not to kill each other!

You mentioned you’re writing a new story. How about a teaser? I’m currently writing book three of the Merchant Blades series, working title The Hidden Dragon. Regina has to take Max back to her home in Merrovigia to meet her somewhat dysfunctional family. As usual, Max’s Eressian charm does nothing to smooth over the difficult relations between the two Empires. You’ll meet a lot of the characters from the first two books again, as they get sucked into both political intrigues and tackling more magical monsters!

Who is your favorite character in your book and why? That’s like asking me who my favorite child is. I like all of them. At the moment I especially enjoy writing about Regina Fitzwaters and Maximillian Jaeger. Regina is a clever and independent woman trying to wade through all the sexism and favoritism in her world. Max has good lines and is hard done by but still tries to do what he thinks is the right thing.

Do you have any fur babies to brag about? We have currently two cats, Sooty and Ray. They’re litter brothers but they’re quite different. Sooty is super cuddly and sits on my shoulders when I write (it’s more comfortable than it sounds) while Ray is more reserved. They’re both writing cats in training. We had a silver tabby, Mickey who sadly passed away last year. He was an excellent writing cat and helped me write my first book.

What do you think of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing? You shouldn’t have asked that! I have a lot to say on the subject, as its related to the topic of my PhD. Deep breath. Here goes.

I think traditional publishing is considered by many to be the ‘proper’ way of doing it and traditionally published authors are considered ‘real’ authors. While traditional publishing will be with us for a long time, and the delight of the smell of a freshly printed book isn’t going anywhere, times are already changing. Thank goodness for that! In my opinion traditional publishing has far too many gatekeepers. Agents, people who wade through the slush piles, more people who read what has been selected by the first round of readers. Then there are trends and fashions that the publishers consider, what they think people will buy. Even then, if your book miraculously makes it through all the hoops, it has a small window of opportunity to make it. Bookstores have limited space on their shelves; if the book isn’t selling over a period of about six weeks they send it back to make space for one that might do better.

We have all heard the stories of how now famous writers amassed piles of rejection letters. Makes you wonder that seeing as writers such as J.K. Rowling, Stephen King and James Patterson received dozens of rejections, what chance do the rest of us have?

Now, with the thriving self-publishing market, an author stands a good chance of bringing their work to the public without having to jump blindfolded and backwards through fiery hoops.

Personally, I think that’s wonderful, for readers and authors alike. Traditionally published books often take years to reach the bookstore shelf from authors’ keyboard. Most ‘traditional authors’ release maybe one book per year, and it can be a pain waiting for the next book from your favourite author to come out. No more. Self-publishing can help to fill this gap. What’s your poison? What do you love to read? You can find whatever genre and subgenre you enjoy reading, a plethora of authors, and they tend to publish far more often, some even five or six books a year!

For authors it’s great news as well. They write the story the want to tell and can immediately put it out there for the readers to find. No jumping through hoops any more, no receiving hundreds of rejections. What’s more, the financial terms are better and the author gets to keep most of what they make.

Self-published authors need to be careful to ensure the quality of their work, making sure that they put out the best version of their work that they can. One of the problems with self-published books these days is the editing. Poorly edited books risk giving self-publishing a bad name. Sometimes, in their enthusiasm to get a book out, authors put out work that could do with a few more rounds of editing. Books full of typos and grammar mistakes. I understand that not everyone can afford professional editing (which I highly recommend, by the way – it’s an expense that pays for itself). If paying a professional editor isn’t an option, authors need to find trusted family members or friends prepared to take the time to beta-read thoroughly, to spot typos and grammar mistakes, and provide brutally honest feedback – these types of friends aren’t always easy to find, but are essential, as after a while when you read your own manuscript typos become invisible. A fresh pair of eyes does wonders.

What do your readers mean to you? The readers are the life and soul of books! I like to think of my readers as very special friends.

How can readers discover more about you and you work? You can sign up to my newsletter at www.alexavrio.com. All people who sign up to my newsletter will shortly receive a free Merchant Blades short story, set between books 1 and 2 of the series. My website also hosts my blog where you can find out my latest news between newsletters, and you can also read for free some of my flash fiction stories there.

Many thanks Alex for chatting with us! For more about Alex, her work, and to get yourself a copy, follow the links below:

Website / Blog / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Amazon / CreateSpace / BookTrailer / YouTube

Meet Author Kathryn Sommerlot

Hello! Welcome to Interview FoxSeat with guest author Kathryn Sommerlot

Kathryn grew up in the American midwest, among the cornfields and gravel roads. She originally attended university and graduated with an art degree to pursue a career in graphic design, but changed her mind at the age of 25. She went to graduate school to become a TESOL educator, and now teaches high school English in Japan, where she lives with her husband.

Book sample: “The Life Siphon”, fantasy (adult)

The kingdom of Runon has created the impossible: a magical energy source that siphons life from the nearby lands and feeds it back into Runon itself. On the edge of the forest lives a quiet ranger named Tatsu, who is watching the drain grow closer to his home country of Chayd.

Arrested for crimes against the crown, Tatsu is taken to the capital’s prison, where the queen offers him a deal. If he travels into Runon and steals the magical source that powers the drain, she will return his freedom. Caught in the unimaginable aftermath, Tatsu knows that the only hope is to stop the siphon before it swallows the world.

More and more, he finds himself at the mercy of the destruction the siphon leaves behind – and everything he has ever known will fall apart in the revelation of its horrifying truth.

When did you decide to become a writer? I’ve been writing stories since before I can remember, so I doubt it was ever a conscious decision. It just doesn’t feel quite right if I’m not writing something. But I never wanted to base my life off something I enjoyed, or risk losing the passion, so I never pursued writing as a full-time career.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively? I wrote fanfiction for years – I’ll admit it! Writing fanfiction was the biggest thing that improved my writing. Not only was I writing almost constantly, words upon words upon words, but I had an entire online community of friends and like-minded people who would offer advice, constructive criticism, and encouragement. It hugely impacted my evolution as an author, and it’s probably the most beneficial part of my creative past.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you? I never used to use outlines because I wanted a more natural evolution, but I use them pretty extensively now, and it’s been incredibly helpful. I still end up adding scenes as I write that feel organic, and then add them into the outline after the fact, but at least I’ve got the majority of the necessary scenes plotted out before I start.

Do you design your own book covers or have someone else? If you use someone else would you tell us who/website? I used the incredibly talented Jenny at Seedlings Design Studio for my latest book, and will be using her again for the follow-up. She was amazing to work with, and I highly recommend her! (http://www.seedlingsonline.com/index2.php#!/HOME)

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he do that is so special? Part of what I wanted to do with my latest protagonist came from my frustration that fantasy – at least the low fantasy I’ve been reading lately – doesn’t have a lot of diversity in main characters. I think everyone should be able to read about a hero or heroine that is similar to them, but most of the time, these characters and relationships play a minor role rather than taking center stage. I wanted to offer something new to that, so my male protagonist is bisexual. I don’t think LGBTQ+ works all need to fall into a single labeled genre. Instead, I want genre fiction that just happens to have LGBTQ+ protagonists. From this idea, the rest of the story grew naturally, so he’s the focal point for a lot of the work.

What is the hardest thing about writing? Editing! I hate it – it’s my least favorite part of the entire process. I’m very much a “write it and move on” person, so having to spend months laboring over word choice feels like such a chore to me.

Which writers inspire you? I used to get a lot of books on Amazon that were recommended by the site or came up as a promotional deal, and I never really looked at the author or who they published with. As a result, I read a lot of self-published works that I never even knew were self-published. Authors like Intisar Khanani have really inspired me to self-publish and stop feeling so guilty about doing it my own way. Also Susan Ee and A.R. Ivanovich are inspirations, as well as some traditionally published authors like Rae Carson.

What is the current book you are promoting? “The Life Siphon” is my most recent work, which is the first in a duology, so in addition to promoting that, I’m working on the second book in the storyline.

Do you have any formal education in creative writing? If not are you planning to go to school? I minored in English in undergraduate, which included a creative writing course, and I was rejected from the University of Iowa’s graduate writing program, so I suppose that’s something!

Who is your favorite fictional character and why? Lorelai Gilmore. Not a book character, I know, but Gilmore Girls was a huge part of the making of my adult self, and I quote it endlessly. Lorelai is definitely a life-spiration for me, even now.

Who inspires your writing? My husband, definitely. And my beta readers are huge inspirations – they encourage me so much to write more! Having people read it chapter by chapter as I write it really helps the evolution of the story from a reader’s perspective, and they always offer such wonderful insight.

Would you say there is a stigma to being self-published? I think there definitely is, and I perpetuate part of that myself. When people ask me about my work, and are impressed that I’m published, I always follow it up by saying, “Oh, but it’s just self-published, so don’t get too excited.” Then I wonder why I do that. Writing a book and putting so much work into it must be a big thing on its own, but somehow, I feel like I have to justify that it’s not the same as an agent picking it up and deciding it’s worth backing. I probably need to adjust the way I react to people to help diminish the stigma!

There ya have it folks! For more about Kathryn, her work, and to get you own copy, follow the links below:

Website / Goodreads / Amazon

Meet Author EJ Divitt

Hola! Welcome to Interview FoxSeat with guest author EJ Divitt

EJ lives with her husband in a little house she plans to live in forever. EJ prefers reading to sleeping, walking to running, tea over coffee and fall over winter. She met her husband in a karate class where he went on to vastly outpace her three stripe brown belt. EJ is between dogs right now and has a tendency to kill houseplants.

Book sample:  Ghost Of A Chance, paranormal fantasy

Two weeks, four days and about fourteen hours after we bury my father, I find myself dreaming of him. It’s as real as if his spirit is standing in front of me. I’m in a room about ten feet by thirty feet. One entire wall is mirrors. There are mats on the floor and the wall opposite the mirrors has a variety of weapons on it. I don’t have time to look them over as my father is standing beside me telling me to punch faster. He is wearing his police uniform and while I feel it should be out of place in this room, some how it is exactly how I expect him to look. He stands about 5’8” with short black hair; his Chinese heritage slightly more pronounced than mine. I glance down and realize I’m crouched with my legs spread about twice shoulder width apart.
“Keep your back straight,” my father tells me as I punch forward with my left hand. “Again,” he says as I punch with my right. There is a rhythm to it that feels old as though this is something I have done a thousand times before. I see myself reflected in the mirror and shift to use myself as a target while I punch. I’m wearing loose, white pants and a black, short-sleeved t-shirt. My long black hair is gathered back in a ponytail and it swishes as I turn with the punches; occasionally my hair slaps the side of my face or neck. I lose myself in the rhythm of the punches as he walks around me to check my form.
I smile as I punch faster now. I feel the burn of my muscles starting to work. My father says something in Chinese and though I don’t consciously know the words, I immediately drop and begin to do push-ups. My father drops down next to me and begins to do them as well. Minutes pass without a word being spoken as we push up from the floor and drop down again. I find myself completely lost in the rhythm of it and for the first time in over two weeks, my heart doesn’t ache at the thought of my father. Almost as soon as I realize this, the scene changes. We are still in the room but now we are standing facing the wall of weapons. Father reaches out and takes down two long wooden sticks—more like staffs—and something inside me knows one is called a bo. He throws one towards me and I catch it out of the air without conscious thought.
We begin to warm up by twirling the bos around us; over our heads. Father begins moving his as if striking to the right and then the left, back and forth, and I follow him into the moves. Soon we add overhead strikes and stabs downward. I find myself clacking the bo against his in what is obviously a predetermined workout set. Strike low; strike high. We begin to move around the room, striking each other’s bos. I misstep and his bo catches my knuckle. It stings and I stop to shake my hand out. I look down at my hand and see a red welt already forming across the knuckle.
“Are you going to tell me to pay more attention?” I ask looking up at his face with a smile. My smile falters as I see his face flickering in and out. I stop, letting my weapon arm fall to my side.
“You died,” I say.
“I know,” he replies, “I’m sorry, Jenny. It was not my choice.”
He drops the hand holding his weapon, too, and moves as though to step towards me but he stops, hand out stretched, as though he has hit a wall. He lets his hand fall and simply looks at me.
“I thought I had more time. I allowed your mother to stop your training because I thought I had years yet.”
“You were only 45. You should have had years yet. We should have had decades more together,” I say, tears starting to fall. “You will never walk me down the aisle or hold your grandchild. You won’t get to see Tommy learn to ride a bike or go to his prom. Your son barely knows you. He is only two and a half. He will forget you. You will be nothing but photos on the computer. It’s not fair.”
“No,” he says, “it is not fair. But life is not fair, my little Tiger. That is why the world has always needed people such as us. To help make it more fair; to keep the balance.”
I shake my head at him. “People like us? You’re the policeman. I’m fresh out of high school and working at a used book store. People need cheap reading material? I know,” I say, holding up my hand, “once I finish college and get my psychiatry degree maybe I can learn to do something good but now I’m nothing.”
It is his turn to shake his head now and the effect of it as his face flickers in and out is almost nauseating. “No one is nothing. Everyone has a place and a purpose. Some choose their purpose and others have it thrust upon them but no one is useless. Everyone is someone. The world has use for us all.”
I walk over to the wall and put the bo back up on its rack. Tears thicken my voice as I say, “I don’t understand this. Where are we?”
“We are in our dojo,” he replies. “This is where we used to train when you were little. Do you remember?”
“Obviously I do. Otherwise I wouldn’t be having this dream.”
“This is not a dream, my little Tiger, and if it were, it would not be your dream. It would be mine,” my father says.
I laugh a little at the thought, and hearing a buzzing noise, turn my head towards it. When I start to look back, I see a black shadow out of the corner of my eye. It reaches for my father. I whip my head back towards him yelling, “No.” My father turns towards it and raises his bo as if to block it. I dart towards the weapons on the wall but before I can reach them, my father and the shadow disappear. I find myself bolting upright in bed, my alarm clock blaring.
I throw back the covers and slide my legs over the side of the bed. I slap the display on my phone to silence it and take deep breaths to calm down. Rubbing my hand over my face, I hop down to the floor. “It was just a dream,” I tell myself as I walk towards the bedroom door and the bathroom beyond it. I keep telling myself that as I shower and wash my hair.
“But it felt so real,” I murmur to myself as I dry off. “No surprise really. I’m sure my psychiatry books would say I’m trying to create more memories of my father right now or that it is my subconscious denial of his death.” I talk to my reflection as I comb out my long black hair. But as I watch myself in the mirror, I notice the red mark on my knuckle right where the stick in my dream hit it. I must have banged it on my nightstand in my sleep and incorporated it into my dream but I continue to stare at the mark long after I should have gotten moving.

If you use a Pen Name why did you choose it?  I’ve always wanted to write and I grew up thinking a pen name was just what you did; plus my actual last name is ridiculously long.

Why do you write?  I write my nonfiction to be helpful; to answer questions and give advice. I write my fiction because I have all these ideas in my head and it’s challenging and fun and frustrating and wonderful to get them all down.

When did you decide to become a writer?  I’ve wanted to write since I discovered books.

How long does it usually take you to complete a book?  That depends entirely on what I’m writing. I did the rough draft of I’m Engaged! Now What? after working continuously for about eight hours straight one day after having spent a lot of time helping a friend plan her wedding. The rough draft for book three of my trilogy, Ghost Of A Memory, took me months.

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?  The first novel I ever wrote was a result of trying National Novel Writing Month aka NaNoWriMo. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a challenge to write a novel of at least 50,000 words in 30 days. You can find them at www.nanowrimo.org

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?  I have a full time job and a husband so I tend to grab time to write where I can. This often means going to a bookstore or a coffee shop on Sunday and writing.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?  I think the more you write the better you get at all of it. My first novel will probably never get past the desk drawer it’s currently sitting in. I’ve become better at story structure and better at creating characters with every book.

Do you listen to music or watch TV/movie while you write?  I sometimes listen to music. I never watch TV because I feel having a story unfold around me interferes with my ability to plot out my own story.

What have you written?  I have multiple nonfiction titles out including Daily Writing Prompts To Help You Get Started and I’m Engaged! Now What? I also have my paranormal fantasy trilogy, The Ghost Protector Trilogy which starts with Ghost Of A Chance.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you?  I usually started with an idea for a character and then brainstorm the major events that will take place. Within that, I tend to just write and see what happens. I guess you could say I start with a basic outline but don’t get into the details until I’m into the writing.

Do you design your own book covers or have someone else? If you use someone else would you tell us who/website?  At this point, I do my own covers. I’m still trying to get recognized so I save money where I can.

Any advice for aspiring authors?  I think the best advice I can give is to write and read as much as you can. The more you write the better you will get and reading well written stories helps you see what works and what doesn’t.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does she do that is so special?  Jenny (Ghost Of A Chance) is a typical eighteen year old girl. She’s looking forward to college and thinking about her future when suddenly she loses her father and has this whole destiny thrust at her that she knows nothing about. While in Jenny’s case it’s the King of Ghosts, I think we’ve all been at a place in our life where all of our careful plans fall apart. Jenny’s special because she picks herself up and does the best she can with the things she can’t control.

Where do your ideas come from?  Ideas are easy. Ideas are everywhere. It’s turning an idea into a full on story that’s hard. I would suggest playing a game of “what if?” if you are looking for ideas. What if this tree could talk? What if they went left instead of right and saw something they shouldn’t have? etc

What is the hardest thing about writing?  It can get really frustrating sometimes when you are in the middle of a story and you know what is coming in three or four steps but you have to fill in those first couple.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?  My latest was the finale of my paranormal fantasy trilogy, The Ghost Protector Trilogy, so I had to make sure I stayed true to the characters while still letting them develop and grow. I also had to make sure I didn’t leave any threads hanging unresolved.

What is your favorite movie or TV show?  I love the Princess Bride, The Mummy (Brendan Fraser edition) and The Count of Monte Cristo (Jim Caviezel edition). For TV, I never miss Supernatural or The Big Bang Theory. Grace and Frankie, Luke Cage and Daredevil on Netflix.

What is the current book you are promoting?  Ghost Of A Chance, book one of the Ghost Protector Trilogy. You can get the ebook for only 99 cents at Amazon right now.

Who is your favorite character in your book and why?  Gary Loloma in book two, Ghost Of A Smile. Gary is just a good guy who made a bad decision for the right reason. I’m also partial to Jenny’s little brother, Tommy.

Who is your least favorite character and why?  Jenny’s mother, Catherine Browning-Chang. She’s a selfish woman who puts her own pain ahead of her daughter’s.

If your book were made into a movie, whom would you cast?  I was picturing Ming-Na Wen when I wrote my Jenny Chang character. Ming-Na is not the same age as Jenny but I modeled her after Ming-Na.

If there was one thing you could do to change the world, what would it be?  I would like to see everyone have access to whatever kinds of books speak to them. Books are the best source of education, information and entertainment there is.

What is one great lesson you have learned as a writer?  The characters can have a mind of their own and when they want to do something different than what you planned, it’s best to let them.

Do have a favorite car or truck model? The 1969 Chevy Impala SS is the perfect car. I love the sleekness of it.

Do you ever feel self-conscious when writing love/sex scenes?  I do. I worry about the lines. For some people even a little bit of sex is too much and for others you can get downright steamy. It’s impossible to please both crowds but really easy to offend someone in the process.

What are some of your favorite books and why?  I’m a big fan of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher; the series just keeps getting better (except Ghost Story). I consider Nalini Singh to be a must read. Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series; also a must read. They all have such strong characters and they all let their characters grow and evolve beyond what they were on page one.

What do you think of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing?  I think self-publishing is opening up a lot of opportunities for people that would otherwise never have a chance to publish. Unfortunately I think some people have used it as an opportunity to put forth work that they haven’t put any effort into in the hopes of making a quick buck.

Would you say there is a stigma to being self-published?  Yes there is still a stigma to it. Hopefully that will change as more people come to treat it as a profession.

What book are you currently reading or just finished?  I’m reading Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs right now. I’m a big fan of her Mercy Thompson series. I’m also listening to SuperBetter by Jane McGonigal on audiobook.

What do your readers mean to you?  My readers are friends I haven’t met yet. I hope to connect with them and in the process to give them useful advice or entertain them for awhile.

Is there a book you love you’d like to recommend to others?  There are so many wonderful books out there that this is a particularly hard question. Any of the authors I’ve mentioned, absolutely. I would also add JD Robb if you like murder mysteries. Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels Trilogy if you like fantasy. Freakonomics if you like looking at the ordinary through different eyes.

There ya have it folks! For more about EJ, her work, and to get your copy, follow the links below:

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Pinterest / Amazon / CreateSpace / SmashWords

Meet Author Paul Francois

Hola! Welcome to Interview FoxSeat featuring author Paul Francois

By day, Paul Francois is a mild-mannered IT professional. He has been in the technology field for over 20 years. One day, in 2011, he started pondering story ideas until they leapt out of his brain and onto paper…onto the computer to be precise.

Join him as he discovers which genre suits his writing style best. Fantasy, Sci Fi, Thriller, or perhaps…all of the afore mentioned. The road is dreary and his journey long, sit back and enjoy a tale as we travel it together.

Book sample:  Shadowbane: Age of Aelfborn

(Epic Fantasy)

During a time of strife, Megildur must traverse Aerynth to rescue his sister and fulfill a destiny ordained by the All-Father. Finding Shadowbane, the mighty but cursed sword, will be challenging enough for this young Aelfborn. In a world torn apart by treachery and conflict, it is every being, or creature, for themselves.

This novel combines qualities from Lord of the Rings© and Greek mythology, with a few twists on some new races. This is the first novel to reveal the lore behind the epic player versus player game, Shadowbane.

Aerynth exists within a shroud of betrayal and deceit for over 100 years. In this realm of chaos, Megildur finds help from an unlikely pair…a sneaky Shade and a nomadic Nephilim. Can this unique trio bring peace and order to Aerynth, or fall prey to the Terror of Terrors?

Why do you write? Because I must! Honestly, I was horrible with in high school English classes. I wanted to write creatively, but the teachers wanted uniformity, conformity, and structure. I felt as if they were drowning me with rules and restrictions.

When did you decide to become a writer? To quiet the voices in my head! 🙂 Ok, seriously…I always felt I had better ideas for stories and movies than most. It was sometime in 2011 that I kept getting ideas waking me in my sleep and disrupting my day-to-day activities. Finally, I had to write. It was the only action that helped calm the voices.

How long does it usually take you to complete a book? A long time. Between my day job, personal life, family responsibilities, and medical issues it takes me at least 2 years…at my current speed at least. 🙂

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something? As mentioned above, I needed to quiet the voices and ideas. Writing was the only way.

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured? LOL, when I finish all my other responsibilities.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively? When I first started, I thought the only way to write was the proper way we were taught in school. Then my wife helped nurture my creativity and showed me a world where writers could create new worlds, new words, and wild characters. She showed me a world without limits!

Do you listen to music or watch TV/movie while you write? Music sometimes, but it needs to fit the mood and genre of my writing at the time.

What have you written? The Gatherer and Shadowbane: Age of Aelfborn so far.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you? When I first started, I just kept it in my head. When too many stories and ideas filled my noggin, I had to write them down on a simple text file. I recently started using storyboard style software to plot out characters, storylines, and wordly environments.

Do you design your own book covers or have someone else? If you use someone else would you tell us who/website? My first one, The Gatherer, I did on my own. For Shadowbane: Age of Aelfborn my friend, and Art Professor and the college I work for, digitally painted the awesome dragon and cover art for the novel. His name if Jeffrey Kimbler http://jeffreykimbler.com/

Is there any marketing technique you used that had an immediate impact on your sales figures? Giving away my book for free on instaFreebie promos I found though Facebook groups in my genre helped build my email subscribers to over 1500. As for book sales, I think I have sold about 25…when I reduce it to .99 cents. L

Any advice for aspiring authors? Decide if you want to keep control as a self-published author or follow the traditional published path and go for it. Both sides have their pros and cons but you should not let that discourage you. However, I would not quit your day job…at least not until someone wants to offer you a big payout contract.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he do that is so special? Megildur is a boy forced to become a man and fulfill a destiny laid out before him. The marking of the All-Father helps Megildur obtain assistance along the way, but his courage and drive are the attributes that pull him though the painstaking quests before him.

Where do your ideas come from? I do not know. Some are from intriguing lore I have discovered before, as in the Shadowbane, and others come to while I am showering or asleep.         

What is the hardest thing about writing? First, finding the time to and second, finding the right place. Once I can sit alone and focus, I can write for hours.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? The re-writes. It was only my second book and I still had a lot to learn.

Which writers inspire you? Tolkien and R.A. Salvatore. As a kid I could not put down Lloyd Alexander’s The Chronicles of Prydain series.

Do you have any fur babies to brag about? I have a cat named Maximus. He is almost 2 years old and I rescued him from kitty prison (SPCA) last Christmas.

What is one great lesson you have learned as a writer? You can never learn enough and you can never stop. Writing has to be your passion or you will never survive. Oh, and I learned to never quit your day job. You do not get rich writing. 🙂

Do you ever feel self-conscious when writing love/sex scenes? Not really self-conscious but writing romance into Fantasy is just not my thing. Romance has its place, and many really desire it, but it does not flow through my writing craft.

Would you say there is a stigma to being self-published? We are excluded from most book awards and those traditionally published tend to turn a nose to use. It does not bother me. I never attempted to obtain an agent nor have I pursued a tradition publishing house. I prefer to write what I want, when I want. No leashes on this author.

What do your readers mean to you? They mean the world to me, as they do any author. However, I have a great respect for them. Personally, I can’t sit down and reader a novel in a day, as many of them can. I am a hypocrite as an author, I prefer to write than read. 🙂

How can readers discover more about you and you work? My website, which is going to be revamped soon, is the best way to reach me through social media and newsletters.

Many thanks Paul! For more about Paul, his work, and getting your own copy, follow the links below:

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Amazon / Instagram

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