Author Interview – Leslie Swartz

In today’s author interview we speak with Urban Fantasy author Leslie Swartz.


Hi Leslie tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

Hi, Matthew! I’m Leslie Swartz, urban fantasy and horror author. I started writing stories when I was four but what inspired me to do it for a living was the movie Legend. I was five or six and it was on HBO all the time. I watched it A LOT. It was the most beautiful and magical thing I’d ever seen and it was then that I decided my goal in life would be to write something that Ridley Scott would want to direct. It’s still the dream.

What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

The drama, the high stakes, the badassery. I love that there are no rules. If I want to write a vampire queen falling in love with a depressive angel who tends to punch Lucifer in the face, no one tells me I can’t. If my Messenger of God is a pan woman that sets demons on fire with her mind because she’s having a bad day, no one tells me that’s not physically possible. There are no limits, nothing to stifle creativity. As a writer, fantasy is freedom. As a reader, fantasy is just a good time.

Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

I released the final book in The Seventh Day Series in December. The series is seven books that represent twenty years of research and four years of writing, revising, and editing. The biggest challenge came when I was writing Seraphim (book one) and my computer exploded. It completely shorted out WITH my flash-drive in it, corrupting it, too. I lost a third of the book and had to start over completely. It worked out because I didn’t remember a lot of it so I made a ton of changes that made the series more interesting but at the time, I was devastated.

What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I like to write funny HBIC’s that are sick of everyone’s s**t, probably because that’s how I see myself. “Gabriel” is basically me with superpowers and no inhibitions. I didn’t set out to make her that way but after writing her first couple of scenes, it became clear that that’s what I’d done.

For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

Edit, edit again, then edit some more. Vet your editor with other writers to make sure they’re on the up and up. My first editor was a conman, fake name and all. He butchered my manuscript and hundreds of people bought the book looking like trash. It still haunts me.

What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

I make playlists for all of my books during the outlining stage so that when I feel stuck, I can listen to songs that remind me of specific scenes or characters to get back in the right head-space.

Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

Hardcore plotter. I’m a type A, OCD, leave-nothing-to-chance kind of person. I write out all my ideas, then put them in order, then make a chapter-by-chapter, scene-by-scene outline. I’ll print it out then scribble in the margins any new ideas I have as I’m writing.

What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres? 

I’m currently working on a based-on-true-events horror novel. When that’s done, I’ll write two more horror stand-alones, adapt them for the screen and, hopefully, sell the screenplays, giving me credibility so when I pitch The Seventh Day as a show, industry-types take me more seriously.

With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

It’s very dark in here, *points to head* and that’s how I write. I think I just like the drama, life and death, big emotions. I don’t need a happy ending, necessarily, as long as the ending wraps things up. I hate open endings almost as much as I hate love triangles.

What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars? 

Star Wars, for sure. I haven’t read/watched Harry Potter (I know, I know. I’ll get to it, eventually.) and LOTR, while awesome, didn’t give me anyone to care about. Frodo’s great but…meh. The best character was Sam and he didn’t get enough screen time, IMO.

Follow Leslie via –

https://www.facebook.com/LeslieSwartz333

https://www.instagram.com/saffie138/?hl=en

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/89742.Leslie_Swartz


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Author Interview: Paul Mouchet

Today we interview fantasy author Paul Mouchet who’s new book was released yesterday!


  • Hi Paul Mouchet tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

I have always enjoyed writing, but I didn’t really start writing in earnest until about five years ago.  I started writing stories for a PC-based Gamebook I was developing, which I loved, but because a game-based story needs to be succinct, I couldn’t really explore the narrative the way I wanted.  So, last year, I paused the game development to concentrate entirely on novel writing.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

From both a reading and writing perspective, I like the idea of limitless possibilities that the genre can offer.  That being said, the story still needs to be grounded in reality and have logical consistency to it.

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

My current project is the Priest of Titan series, a nonology: a trilogy of trilogies.  Eyes of Titan, Book 4 in the series, was released on March 29.  Daemon of Titan, Book 5 in the series, is in the works and will be released on May 10.  I’m currently releasing the books on a 6-week cycle, which is working well for me.

I think my biggest challenge in writing the series is that I want to write spin-off novels about the major characters who come and go from the story, telling what they’ve been doing while Kit (the main character) is going about the business of self-discovery and saving the world.  I’ve nearly finished writing one of those spin-offs and it may be released in concert with Book 5 in the series.

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I’m not sure if I have a preferred character type, but after some soul searching, I think I like to write characters who are outwardly strong, but inwardly frightened or at least unsure of themselves – which is totally me.  I think it goes much deeper than that though, with how Kit deals with things that go against what she’s been taught, wanting to learn the truth for herself and not necessarily take everything at face value.

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

If you want to have fun writing, write for you – and nobody else.  If you want to be good at it, take the time to learn the trade and read voraciously.  Examine the books you like and those you don’t.  Try to use what you learn from other authors’ styles to make your own stories the best they can be (for your pleasure.)

If you want to write to make money, you need to learn so much more than just being a good writer that can tell great stories.  You need to write to market and you need to be able to market yourself and your books like a pro.  Writing for profit is a business and you need to treat it that way.

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

I don’t have any tricks, but I make a point of writing or editing every day, without exception.  On the days when my mind is too preoccupied with the world around me, I might not write much, but I write something – even if it’s just notes about thoughts I’ve got, ideas of where the stories may go, etc.

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

I started off as a pantser.  I knew exactly where I wanted my story to start and how it was going to end, but everything in the middle took on a life of its own.  I find that, especially when writing dialogue, things start to get pretty fluid as I try to act and react in character.  Sometimes, that means the characters end up pushing the story in unexpected directions.

When I started Book 5, I knew I needed to map out the rest of the story because there were so many different wheels spinning, I had to make sure they all went in the right direction.  So, each book has a planned start, middle and end – but how they’re going to flow is still totally by the seat of my pants.  I love writing this way.  Each day is a surprise.

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

I’m undecided.  I really enjoy a lot of different genres, except for pure romance type novels.  I really enjoy police procedurals, but I don’t know enough about the subject matter to write them.  I will likely continue in the fantasy genre for quite a while, but I think I’d like to work in a few mystery/suspense and/or dark-fantasy/horror stories into my world, so long as I can keep them YA appropriate.

  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

I think the world’s affairs shapes us in unexpected ways and it shows up unintentionally in my writing.  I like stories where good triumphs over evil.  I love the idea of happily ever afters.  I like love stories where people find each other and find happiness together.  But, the realist in me says that the world can be a really crappy place.  So, unless you’re a world-class-hero type, I like the idea of stories where the heroes make good things happen in their own small piece of the world, where they live and the people with whom they interact

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

Dang, that’s a particularly tough question for me because I really like all these stories (but to be fair, I’ve never read a Star Wars novel.)  I think that it’s tough to say which is best because they all have very different settings.  But, if I have to pick one, I’ll say Lord of the Rings, because it has likely triggered my love of the epic fantasy genre.  I had to read the books several times before I was able to keep all the people straight in my head, but then again, I think I was 10 or 11 the first time I read them.

Follow Paul –

Website: https://mouchetsoftware.ca

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/VeilOfEntropy

Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/944377969011690

Discord: http://discord.veilofentropy.com


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Author Interview: S.E Anderson

In today’s author interview I chat with fantasy author S.E Anderson about her writing journey and her future projects. Join us around the campfire.


  • Hi, tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

I’ve been telling stories since I was a kid. I think it runs in the family: my dad could invent a whole novel with subplots on the spot and would distract my sister and I while hiking with these incredibly complex tales. I was telling stories before I could even read, making my parents do all the writing for me. My brain just thinks in stories.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

The worldbuilding. I love trying to imagine the big “what if?” questions that arise when people are subjected to different norms and challenges than what we face every day. It’s fun to push the limits of reality and see what can be!

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

I recently had the fortune of being involved creating an anthology of YA stories. While we were open to many genres, many of them were fantasy, including my own contribution (though it’s more Urban Fantasy). We did this to keep the pandemic from getting to us, and it worked! It kept all of us focused and goal oriented. The book truly is a labour of love and I’m so thrilled to be putting it out into the world. It came out February 15th.

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I like characters who don’t have life figured out – because let’s face it, who does? Characters who are sure of themselves only to have their foundation shaken, or ones who haven’t yet realized the potential that’s within them. Big change leads to big growth, and I love following them on their journey. As to how much of myself I put in them. It depends on the character. But I feel like each one represents a facet of me, whether I’d like to admit that or not. Who are you, my therapist?

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

To just keep writing. I’m sure they hear this all the time, but it’s so true. An object in motion stays in motion. And how do you learn to write well if you don’t write at all? Take the plunge, and just keep swimming.

Wow, my metaphors are mixed. You see? This is what happens if you step away from writing for too long.

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

Word count goals, mostly. I don’t have any magic life hacks here. Just nose to the grindstone some days, even if it might feel tedious.

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

My first drafts are always a pantsed up mess. But as soon as I put the last period in my draft, I’m off to the drafting board to make the plot actually make sense!

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

I have a new duology I’ve been cooking up for the fast four years, but I’d also like to try more contemporary YA with fantasy elements. I have a lot of stuff I want to explore. The only hard part if knowing I’ll never write everything I want to write!

  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

I switch it up. I like more exploratory stories, to get me out of my apartment. A lot of wide arching fantasy and scifi, plus a bit of nonfiction here and there. 

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

Star Wars OG trilogy for pure watchability, LoTR for a long binge read.

Author Page: ‪https://www.facebook.com/seandersonauthor/

Website: ‪seandersonauthor.com

Twitter: ‪https://twitter.com/sea_author

Book: ‪http://bit.ly/KSTAR


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Author Interview: Nils Odlund

This weeks author interview is with fantasy author Nils Odlund whose new book will be released at the end of this month!


Hi Nils tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

To begin with, I’m originally Swedish, but since 2007 live in Cork, Ireland, and I write in English.

About ten years ago, I stumbled onto writing, as a hobby, almost by accident. At the time, I was applying for game design jobs, but had no actual experience making games, and I wanted to change that. Only, I had no idea how to get started making a computer game, so instead I decided to create a setting for a Pen & Paper RPG.

This turned out to be a lot more fun than I’d expected, and I put countless hours into it, coming up with all kinds of more or less relevant little details. At one point, a friend of mine suggested that maybe I could write a short story about someone living in the world I’d created, as an example of what life there could be like.

That’s how it started. One short story became another, and another, and another…

There’s a bunch of them, and then there’s an unfinished novel. Somewhere along the way, the world-building faded away, and I spent all my time writing stories. Eventually, I decided it was time to get serious, to stop messing about with exciting ideas and promising beginnings, and to actually finish something.

What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

The escapism. The fantastic worlds that can’t be real, but that we can still travel to in our imagination. Why limit yourself to the real world?

Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

My latest project is the Lost Dogs series, which I’ve been working on for the last three years. The tenth book in the series is almost ready to publish, and it should be available before the end of March.

The series tells the story of two people. One is a middle-aged man (Roy) who gets the chance to make amends for a mistake that’s plagued him for half his life. The other is a young woman (Alene) trying to come to terms with who she is, and to find her place in the world.

It’s fantasy, but much of the challenge has been in coming to terms with how the fantastic aspects are just the backdrop against which the story takes place. It’s not a typical fantasy story with magic to discover and monsters to defeat. Rather, Lost Dogs is much more about internal conflict and personal struggles.

This wasn’t something I planned for, and I didn’t consider it when I started writing. It made it difficult for me to find people who wanted to read the story I’m telling. As soon as I mention that one of the main characters is a werewolf and a superstar wrestler, people get the impression that the story will have a lot of brutal, furry action (and possibly a fair bit of kinky sex), and that’s not at all what the story is about.

It eventually went to the point where the tag line I used for the series was “A Story of Werewolves, for people who don’t like Werewolf Stories,” but I’m moving away even from that now.

What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I have this idea that I want to write about everyday characters in fantastic worlds. Characters that just live ordinary lives there, and who don’t become heroes or go away on fantastic adventures to save the world. I believe there’s room for stories like that within the fantasy genre, and I don’t see much of it written.

When you contrast the fantastic with the mundane, you can make it seem even more amazing, than if you just throw tons of awesome things onto the reader.

Then again, once you start writing about a person, even an ordinary everyday Joe, you’ll get to know them, and you’ll realise that they aren’t so ordinary after all.

For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

One of the hardest and most difficult lessons I had to learn was that no one is going to care about my story just because I write it. I need to make the reader care, and I need to make the reader want to keep reading.

It’s not enough that find the story fascinating.

It’s not enough that I love my characters.

It’s not enough that I know the ending is amazing and will blow your socks off.

If I don’t give the reader a reason to care, they’ll toss the book and go read something else.

What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

For a long time, I wrote my books with a three-month deadline, because that’s how far in advance you could set up a pre-order on Amazon (this has changed now). It made sure I had a deadline and pushed me to get the story done.

I also make sure not to strive for perfection. Good enough doesn’t mean something is bad, it really does mean good enough. Also, it’s achievable.

With my first book, the novella Emma’s Story, I tried to polish it to a shine, fix every little detail and address every ounce of feedback. It took me a few months to write the first draft, and another two years of tweaks and adjustments before it was done. Even then, the final version wasn’t all that different from the first draft.

The trick, as such, is to learn when something is good enough. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

I’m a plotter. Much of the reason I was able to keep up a three month per book release schedule was that I’d already outlined the books in advance – the entire series. I aimed for an outline that’s detailed enough that actually writing the first draft is akin to filling in the colours in a paint by numbers colouring book.

With my next project, I’m stepping back a little from this, because even with such a detailed outline, I wasn’t able to stick to it. Partly, because the story still took my by surprise from time to time, and partly because I changed as a writer. I’ve learned and improved a lot since I started writing the Lost Dogs series, and I eventually got to a point where I realised that the outline I had for the series just wasn’t good enough for me anymore. I’m going to keep the bare bones, but the details all need to be redone.

What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

My next book, Nothing Left to Lose, is the tenth in the Lost Dogs series, and it will be the last book of that series. However, it is not the end of the story.

Like I mentioned above, I’ve come a long way since I started the series, and I feel like the last few books are significantly better than the earlier ones. I’m going to be revising the first books in the series to clean up language and content issues, and that will bridge some of the quality gap, but it won’t fix everything.

It feels like it’d be a waste of time and effort to add books to the end of a long series, when most readers won’t get past the second book. Instead, what I’ll do is I’ll start a new series, with a new name, that begins where Lost Dogs ends. That way, the people who have read Lost Dogs will get the continuation of the story, and new readers will be able to hop into a new story without having to go through a huge number of books, where the first ones aren’t representative of the latter ones.

With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

Lately, I’ve taken a liking to noblebright. Positive cheerful stories, with less doom and gloom. Maybe it’s just me getting older, but I feel like it’s not just this last year. The world’s become increasingly dark and hostile for a long time, and more and more often, I feel like I need to get away from that.

What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

Star Wars. It’s basically space fantasy with lasers.

Follow Nils via:

FB: https://www.facebook.com/svrtnsse

Twitter: https://twitter.com/svrtnsse

IG: https://www.instagram.com/nilsdlnd/

Website: https://nilsodlund.com/


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Author Interview – Merri Halma

Joining me around the campfire today is American fantasy author Merri Halma the creator of the Indigo Travelers series. We settle down for a chat about the world of fantasy writing and what inspires her.


  • Hi Merri__ tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

I am originally from the Yakima Valley in Washington State. I’m now residing in the Treasure Valley, Idaho. I was inspired to write as a way of being heard. I grew up with a severe speech impediment and often I felt like others weren’t interested in what I said. But if I wrote down my ideas or stories, I found an audience. Sometimes younger kids in my neighborhood would gather around me and I would read them my stories or tell them a story I hadn’t written down yet.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

I like the freedom to let my imagination go and the challenge to make the impossible real. I like having animals that can think, talk and guide humans so they have a real relationship, which grows. They challenge each other to be better. Also having plants and rocks that can move on their own, think, talk and have feelings.

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

My latest project is Ian Temple and the Search for the Wisdom Trees, An Indigo Traveler Series Companion Novel. I have been working on this off and on since 2014.

 Ian Temple hears the calls of the trees and tries to follow them. He knows they are in danger and the Temple of the Wisdom Trees, in another world, has vanished. But he doesn’t know how he will get to that world. A strange cat appears in his room and points out the shadow that is lurking in the corner. The cat calls Ian an Indigo teen and says Albagoth, the Creators of All Worlds, are looking for the original Wood Sprite. Ian doesn’t think that is him, but Ian does heal plants that are ailing or hurt.

  Shadows see Ian as a threat. His parents are hiding who they are and who Ian really is. They are afraid if Ian were to find a way to their world, they will not see him again.

 Ian doesn’t have a release date.

  There is newly released anthology that I have three stories in, Table by the Window by the Caldwell Writers Group, which I belong. The Caldwell Writers Group has both seasoned authors and those new to writing striving for more exposure. One of their authors has had stories published several times in various Chicken Soup for the Soul books as well as other anthologies. 

 The titles of my stories are: My Life, an essay; The Mysterious Chest, a horror; Thirteen Again, an essay I wrote when my son was 13 and I was reliving my life at that age.

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I like characters who usually feel alone, isolated in a way, and feel like they do not belong in the world because they see themselves so different than others. There is usually a part of me in each of my characters, except the antagonist. Majority of my characters are on a deep spiritual quest to unite part of themselves that they have lost. One of my characters was born on another world, but had to her genes altered to appear human and pass as human. As she nears her 15th birthday, a gene turns on that will eventually bring her home to go through an initiation into her birth culture.

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

I work for myself, so I set or don’t set deadlines for myself. I tend to blow past my deadlines. I keep a good idea of what I want to do, but seldom set a specific date to finished.

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

I am a pantser, but I do some planning and plotting, but do use the main ideas of my pervious drafts in my re-writes, while keeping in mind what I want to change.

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

I plan to do another rewrite of the latest draft of Ian Temple and the Wisdom Trees and I have two more stories to write for the Caldwell Writers Group’s next anthology. The theme is Idaho. I will probably attempt some literary fiction with one of the stories.

  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

I prefer fantasy with deep characters. Though, I am reading a non-fiction book on Trees Magic by Iva Kentaz. This is research for my fantasy series since Banyan trees play an important role in each of the books.

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

I would have to say Harry Potter wins in the magic, fantasy and awe hero journey story. The awe of Harry learning to fly on a broom and fight with his wand was outstanding. Lord Rings scores higher points for Tolkien spending years developing an Elf language and using it throughout all of his books, inspiring so many children and adults. Star Wars is okay, but he really failed in the last two sequels of his original story.

 Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit are classics. I love them for setting the bar high for those of us who desired to write epic adventures.

https://www.instagram.com/merrihalma/

https://www.facebook.com/authormerrihalma

https://www.bookbub.com/profile/merri-halma


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Author Interview – Kevin Buckner

In this week’s author interview I chat with fantasy author Kevin Buckner.

  • Hi Kevin Buckner tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

My name is Kevin Buckner. I studied Medical Laboratory Science at the University of Utah and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in 2011. I am a certified Medical Laboratory Scientist, currently working as a Technical Consultant for a clinical laboratory near my home in the Salt Lake valley in Utah. I have a wife and two children. I enjoy playing games of all kinds with my family, especially the Zombicide series. I am known for liking zombies and super-spicy food. I enjoy playing my guitars and listening to heavy metal music, in most of all the many sub-genres. One thing you would not expect by looking at me is that I am also very good at knitting.

It is difficult to say exactly what inspired me to write. I have always enjoyed playing role-playing games and for many years was the perpetual Game Master because the players all thought I was the best at it, particularly because they liked the world I built and the way I described things. They all agreed I was a good story-teller. I enjoyed writing stories in grade school and gained appreciation for classic literature when I was in high school, where I took Honors and AP English classes and a Creative Writing class. Writing is something I’ve always wanted to do, really. The support I received from friends and family is what pushed me to actually do it.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

I love the creativity I encounter in fantasy. It’s great that the only limits are the author’s imagination. It’s also so great to be able to escape into a world of magic and mystical creatures.

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

My latest project is the second book in The Cudomerie. It has a working title of The Descent of Rogen. The biggest challenge I’ve faced with it is maintaining continuity with the first book. I have spent a lot of time re-reading the first one to make sure I don’t create plot holes or contradict anything that happened in The Advent of Zon.

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I like to write anti-heroes a lot. People who are basically good at heart and try to do the right thing, but have a darker side and sometimes give into that darkness and do some morally questionable things with the attitude that the ends justify the means. I also enjoy making characters with depth, rather than giving them a single defining trait.

How much of myself I put into a character really depends on the character. I find it impossible not to put at least a little bit of me in everyone I write, but there are some characters that I don’t like very much. I don’t put much of myself in them. I put a lot more into the characters I like a lot, but it’s a complicated thing to say exactly how much. I’s probably say that my most favorite characters are as much as 30% me.

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

You can’t do it all by yourself. While you maintain creative control over your work, you need input from other people if you are going to write something that multiple people are going to want to read. Get a group of beta readers who will give you honest feedback and make sure you have a thick enough skin to receive that feedback. Remember that constructive criticism is intended to help you, not tear you down and that it is much better to receive that criticism before you’re published and can easily change your manuscript than to receive it after your work is already out there for the world to see.

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

I have designated Tuesday evening as my writing time. I have informed my wife and children about this so they know not to disturb me on Tuesday evenings. They also know that if they see me wandering around and/or not writing, they need to call me out on wasting my designated writing time. Having designated time helps writing progress. My family holding me accountable is a huge help, as well.

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

Both. I know from the outset where the book will begin and end and key details that will happen along the way. What happens between the major points is anyone’s guess until it happens.

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

I mentioned at the beginning that I have two works in progress. The second WIP is my NaNoWriMo project from 2013. I wrote the entire first draft in November 2013, but haven’t revisited it since then. It’s a near-future, dystopian sci-fi story, which I’d like to have ready for release by the end of 2021. Of course, I’m also planning on finishing my current series. After that, I have plans for a more humorous fantasy series than the one I am currently working on.

  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

I do like the darker approach to things, but good has to win over evil eventually, even if it seems evil has the upper hand through most of the story.

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

What’s better, Ice Cream, Cheesecake, or Pie? They’re all good and picking a single best depends on a number of factors. If you were to ask which of the three is the most well-written, then I’d say Lord of the Rings, hands down. Which is the most entertaining? It would be Harry Potter or Star Wars. Not to say that Lord of the Rings isn’t entertaining, but you cannot deny that it is the slowest of the three, despite being a benchmark in both film and literature. The most visually stunning? That would either be Lord of the Rings or Star Wars. If I had to pick a single favorite, I’d probably go with Lord of the Rings, though.

Follow Kevin on –

https://www.facebook.com/KevinBucknerAuthor

https://www.instagram.com/lordzombitten/


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The power of Bookbub

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post about the writing process so I thought I’d share with you all the results of my recent Bookbub promotion and how it took Heir to the Sundered Crown to bestseller status in the Sword and Sorcery Category in four countries on Amazon.

What is Bookbub?

So what is Bookbub exactly? Well, it’s a promotion site, the promotion site for books. Landing a US featured deal is like winning the lottery and it took me 4 years of persistent trying to get my book chosen for one.

The official description is: BookBub is a book discovery service that was created to help readers find new books and authors. The company features free and discounted ebooks selected by its editorial team, as well as book recommendations, updates from authors, and articles about books.

An author needs to sign up and create an account before listing their books to their Bookbub profile. (Follow me by clicking HERE) Once that’s done you then need to add the links to the various store fronts (if wide) that your book is sold on. If you’re a Kindle Unlimited author then you will only need to add the Amazon link.

Bookbub sends out emails everyday listed books that it chose for a featured deal and depending on what type of deal your book will be put in front of millions of subscribers. I’ve written about other services before such as Fussy Librarian etc, but Bookbub beats all of those by a wide margin in terms of guaranteed return on investment.

What also makes Bookbub standout is there use of expert editorial teams to choose what books would make the best fit for that days promotion. By using data they assess what type of books are in demand and which ones have the best chance at success.

BookBub notifies its subscribers about free and deeply discounted ebook recommendations selected by its expert editorial team, from bestsellers to hidden gems.

How to get chosen

Now this is a much sought after secret and Bookbub knows this. They have several guides on their site about what gives your book the best chance of being picked but with so many authors clamouring to get a deal the chance you’ll get picked is low. As I said, it took me 4 years of trying to get one!

Heir to the Sundered Crown was first released way back in 2014 but finally achieved over 60 reviews only recently. (If you’ve read it please review it!!!) Reviews help massively in the selection process as does making your book page on the relevant book stores look professional.

During the application process I also mentioned that the book was part of a planned promotion, something that I also think helped it be chosen. My promotion was for the book to be on sale for 0.99p/c.

Cost and Results

For the promotion I got it cost me just shy of £450 or $700, very pricey and a cost that I have to admit made my palms sweat a bit, but as they say you have to spend money to make money. The promotion went out on February 19th and at the time of writing this I have covered my costs and made a nice bit of profit.

Sales wise here are the totals so far –

Amazon (All nations) – 1,258

Wide (Apple, Nook, Kobo, Google) – 406

Total – 1664

Not a bad number and sales are continuing with every passing hour. On the initial promo date the book shot to the top of several genre lists and bagged a best seller badge on Amazon in multiple countries. What was of even greater interest is that my other books began to shift units as well, even the full priced ones. Audiobooks too began to sell with the number of them being sold doubling!

Get Heir to the Sundered Crown on Audio

It won’t be for another month or two until I get the sales data for those but it’s looking good. Another benefit I’m hoping for is that sale through for the Sundered Crown Saga will continue and that readers enjoy Heir enough to buy the rest of the series and maybe try some of my other books.

I won’t know the full impact of the Bookbub deal for another week at least as some of the stores data recording is a little slow, but overall I am very happy with the results of the deal.

Have you had a Bookbub featured deal? What was your experience of it? Let me know in the comments below.

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Author Interview – Darian Smith

Today I’m joined by another New Zealander! Darian Smith is the author of the Agents of Kalanon series.


  • Hi Darian, tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

I’m a fantasy author from New Zealand and writing has been part of my life for as long as I can remember.  I used to enjoy writing stories for school and then as a teenager I embarked on my first novel attempt.  Before writing, there was reading and I suspect one grew into the other.  Our local library, when I was a child, had a limit of six books to be checked out at any one time.  Every week we would go and I would check out the maximum six books and read them all.  Sports wasn’t high on my agenda but reading was a game I could win!

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

The great thing about fantasy is that it can be anything.  There’s the escapism of it, of course – and who wouldn’t want magic powers?  But there are often also themes and meaning layered in just as much as the most literary of works yet delivered in a fun way.  I like that.  And I want magic powers!

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

My most recent project was the third book in the Agents of Kalanon series, Battle’s Legacy.  The series is essentially murder mysteries in a fantasy world – kind of like CSI but with swords and magic.  It was good to revisit the characters and see the story continue.  It took me a little longer than expected – life can throw some curveballs sometimes – but I’m glad to say it was released on December 1st.  I’m working on the planning phase of the next book in the series and another stand alone novel as well.

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I think there’s a piece of myself in all my characters.  I probably enjoy the smart-mouthed ones most.  There’s a lot of fun to be had in the interaction between flawed characters who like to needle each other.

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

To practice your craft and learn what you can from others.  There’s no reason to have to take time figuring out everything yourself.  Writer organisations and craft books can be an excellent way to improve your skill quickly.

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

Sadly, I’m not sure there are many tricks for meeting deadlines beyond what’s known as BICHOK – Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard.  That said, I have found it helpful to have an ipad with me at all times so I can write at least a little any time and anywhere.  All those little pieces of writing add up over time.

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

Definitely a plotter.  It doesn’t come naturally to me but it definitely helps reduce the need for drastic rewriting later on.

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

I have plans for more of the Agents of Kalanon books but also for a stand alone YA book and an urban fantasy series.  There are more ideas floating about in my head and in my notebooks but those are the ones on the schedule next.

  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

I’m a hopeful sort of guy so I prefer stories where the good guys win.  Which isn’t to say they all make it to the end in one piece, but there’s enough darkness in the world already.  It doesn’t always happen in the real world so I like my fiction to give that satisfying ending where good wins out in the end. 

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

It depends what I’m in the mood for.  Weirdly, for a New Zealander who loves fantasy, Lord of the Rings isn’t the top of my list.  I like it and respect it but it’s a harder read for a modern audience than the other two.  I read for enjoyment so tend towards lighter reads.

Website: www.darian-smith.com

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

Twitter: @DarianWordSmith

Instagram: @DarianWordSmith


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Author Interview – Sean Valiente

Joining me around the campfire today is new fantasy author Sean Valiente. I’ve been writing fantasy since 2014 and know how daunting launching yourself into the genre can be. We learn more about Sean and what makes him take.


  • Hi Sean tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

Hello! I’m Sean and I am a fantasy author. It feels good to say that. I’ve recently self-published my first book, The Lighting Knight. I’ve always had stories in my head that I thought might be fun to put to paper, and after explaining the ideas to my friends for the millionth time, my best friend finally forced me to sit down and start typing. A few years later I have a real book and it’s amazing!

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

I like the escapism and the allegory of it all. I think there’s something fantastical about being in a different world but still relating it to our world. Plus you get to break some of the rules of physics and readers are like, “cool”, and that makes things much more interesting!

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

My latest book, The Lightning Knight, was the first in my planned series. It was a tough cookie to bake, but after a lot of late nights and driving myself crazy, it finally came out! It’s available wherever you get your books online. The biggest challenge with this book was not redrafting it for the fourth time! Every time I went to tinker with it, things would change, which seemed like a never ending cycle of will this book ever see the light of day.

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I like a diverse set of characters, not just in ethnicity or type but personality. However, my first book is from the perspective of one character, so the other characters are really a reflection of how he sees them. They have a lot more depth and intricacies beneath the surface, but to Oliver, they just are who they are. I’d say the main character has a lot of shades of myself, but ultimately he’s his own person.

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

Write! It’s the hardest part, especially for “wannabe writers” which is what I was for about 10 years. It’s so hard to finally start, but once you do, it’s like the Ents have broken the damn and flooded Isengard.

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

I’m a big fan of google docs and google sheets. I’m a finance and accounting professional so everything in my life is a spreadsheet haha. But really, you find something that your comfortable with, whether it’s Scrivner, Gdocs, Word, a pen and a napkin, and you go with it. Just remember to save your files (or napkins) to a cloud drive (one reason I love gdocs). Dropbox, box, gdocs, OneDrive, whatever. External USB or harddrives are cool, but even they have failure rates (or you can physically lose them.) Autosave and save often. The netherworld of lost manuscripts is littered with amazing stories that are gone forever!

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

I’m a bit of both. I have points I want to get to, but I don’t know how to get there. That’s when I let the characters drive the plot, and it’s pretty great as a writer, because I get to watch it for the first time!

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

I have two things going on: one is continuing my series with book two (I’ve already written five chapters). The second is I have an idea for a middle-grade fantasy book series that I might start in a few months.

  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

I’ve always been a heroes triumph kind of guy, but I love a good bittersweet ending as well. I’m not a grimdark kind of person or writer, but I do like to have some darker emotional strings from time to time.

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

They’re actually all very different and important for their respective reasons. Star Wars showed what sci-fi and fantasy could be on screen, and developed an amazing multi-media empire of content. Lord of the Rings is basically the Godfather of fantasy and showed that books could be turned into movies and other content if handled with care (we won’t talk about the beloved animated movies). And Harry Potter brought a love of reading to many people who fell away, and opened up fantasy to the masses on a popular scale. I love Star Wars with all my heart, Lord of the Rings is my fantasy bible, and Harry Potter is my treat-yo-self dessert. They’re all great.

Follow Sean on –

https://www.instagram.com/theknightsofnine/

https://www.facebook.com/seanpvaliente

Currently the kindle edition of Sean’s book is $.99 and will be that way probably through feb or march.


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Author Interview – Patricia Simpson

It’s that time of the week again! This time joining me around the campfire on this cold dark night is fantasy author and karaoke addict Patricia Simpson.

1.     Hi Patricia. Tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

I’m a writer from the Bay Area who has been writing since I learned to read at age 4. I’ve always wanted to be a writer and begged my parents for a typewriter for Christmas. I am married to a Scotsman and have done a lot of international traveling with him in the past twenty years. I enjoy exploring haunted and historical sites wherever I go. I’m an incurable karaoke addict.

2.     What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

I find the process of creating unique worlds and populating them with creatures of my own design to be endlessly fascinating.  

3.     Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

I started brewing a dark fantasy series, The Londo Chronicles, in 2011, when everyone was talking about the Mayan Calendar and the end of the world. I began by writing a novella to explore the concept of a few human beings who survive a nuclear disaster with the assistance of unlikely allies (vampires). I fell in love with my fictitious Victorian London setting and haven’t yet emerged. I am contemplating adding a fourth book to the series because the characters won’t leave me alone! 

THE LONDO CHRONICLES

Marriage Machine (Novella) – Aug 2011

Apothecary – Jan 2020

Phoenix – Feb 2020

Prodigy – Mar 2020

Chimera – WIP Mar 2022

4.     What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I like to write about unassuming protagonists who, when faced with adversity, find strength and courage they never knew they possessed. My characters face dangers that I hope I could overcome if I were in a similar position. So, yes, I guess my heroines are modeled after my own quiet, introspective nature. (But don’t cross me…)

5.     For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

That you gotta love writing in your bones to be able to stick with this business. It’s tough but it’s the most rewarding job a person could have. To create something out of thin air and connect with other humans through your characters is nothing short of miraculous.

6.     What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

I use “styles” in Word and then use View/Sidebar/Navigation to show my chapter titles on the side of my WIP. I add brief text to the title to cue me into what I should be writing about in that particular chapter. Using titles this way is a great reference tool when editing and makes it easy to jump around in my WIP. If a timeline is important, I will add the day to the title, so I know I’m not getting Wednesday ahead of Tuesday. Once the book is edited, I take off the notes in the title. I also use a screenwriting paradigm to plot my books so the pacing is right for the genre I’m targeting. Once I have the backbone of my book showing in the navigation pane, I start fleshing out the story.

7.     Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

I’m a plotster. I come up with a barebones plot (that I add to my Word titles). Then I write from there. If I plot too much, I lose the excitement of writing the thing. If I know too much, my characters aren’t as surprised as they should be. I would rather stab my eyes with a fork than develop a chapter by chapter outline.

8.     What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

I’m dipping into screenwriting. I find the immediate gratification of writing an entire concept in a mere 120 double-spaced pages, well…gratifying!

9.     With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

Good always triumphs over evil in my books. But I have especially enjoyed writing the villain in The Londo Chronicles. Neal Moray was an absolute hoot to portray. Every time he came onstage, he wrote the scenes himself. However, because of the dark times we are living in right now, I have switched gears. My screenplay is a dramedy. Something entirely new for me. Jokes. Feel-good. Sidekicks. I just can’t do dark right now. 

10.  What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

Hmm. Someday I hope to see The Londo Chronicles included in that question.

Award winning author of gothic, dark fantasy and paranormal suspense
Books: https://patriciasimpson.com/books/

Phoenix: https://patriciasimpson.com/books/phoenix
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PatriciaSimpsonAuthor/
BookSniffer: bksnfr.me/Patricia_Simpson
Books2Read: https://books2read.com/u/bQdZGZ


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