Author Interview – Nikki Nelson-Hicks

Writing by the flickering flames of the campfire I see all sorts of shapes and tales cast by the light. Adventures and heroes, villains and horror. A twig snaps in the woods nearby and I look up to see my latest guest. Author Nikki Nelson-Hicks.


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

Hi! I’m Nikki Nelson-Hicks and I think my interest in writing started because I am a reader. My childhood was chaotic and I found solace in stories. That is still where I find peace and the place I flee to when I need some guidance and a cosmic head rub.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

The world building. Creating entire civilizations, races, religions, universes, all from the static medium of ink on paper. Think about that. It’s magic.

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

This past year I’ve been putting together all the stories from the Jake Istenhegyi: The Accidental Detective series into an Omnibus. My first intention was to put them all into one volume but, yikes….it turns out the first one was 300 pages long. I had to split it into two volumes.

The first volume is already out on Amazon in paperback and Kindle. The second one, will be out hopefully in November.

The biggest obstacles I faced while writing…well, I should say re-writing, reformatting and re-editing, these stories was coming the grips that, although they were originally published by another small press company and did pretty well….they weren’t very good. Oh my. Especially that first story. Yikes. What a mess. I’ve grown as a writer and I was able to go back, make corrections, add some meat to a very decrepit skeleton and make the series not only flow better but more enjoyable for the reader.

Oh, and 2020. That pretty much got in everyone’s way.

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

I love to write heroes that take on the bad guys and fix wrong and make everything right. It’s the Fury in me. I put a lot of my hopes and dreams into my characters. I wish I were as strong as they are.

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

I have a poster on my wall above my desk that reads:  QUIT YOUR COMPLAINING. IT’S NOT THE WORLD’S FAULT THAT YOU WANTED TO BE A WRITER. IT’S NOT THE WORLD’S JOB TO ENJOY THE STORIES YOU WRITE AND IT’S CERTAINLY NOT THE WORLD’S OBLIGATION TO PAY FOR YOUR DREAMS. NOBODY WANTS TO HEAR IT. STEAL A PEN IF YOU HAVE TO BUT STOP WHINING AND GET BACK TO WORK.

Oh, and get a chair with good lumbar support.

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

When I have a deadline, everything else in my life gets put on hold. The house turns into a pigsty. Meals are whatever you can put together in a pantry. Showers are on a need-to basis. My family learns to deal with life all on their own. Momma’s got work to do.

If I’m not a deadline, I force myself to work at least two hours a day on a story. Hey, I have a day job, a family, 5 cats and 2 dogs to take care of. Two hours is a lot to carve out of my day.

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

I’m a hybrid. I loosely plot. I need to know the Beginning and The End. The middle bit can be a bit more muddy but I can make my through it as long as I know The End.

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

I write in all sorts of genres; I don’t like to get pinned down inside one box. (Although I’ve never tried Romance. I’m not sure I have the stomach for it.)

When I finally put the Jake series to bed, I have two stories I want to work on.

 One is called “Crown of Feathers”. It is based on the Appalachian legend that a crown of feathers can be found underneath the pillow of a dying person. If you find it, it means they are going to heaven There are actual examples of them in an Appalachian Folklore Museum in East Tennessee. In my story, set in the turn of the 19th century, a boy steals the Crown of Feathers from beneath his dying mother’s pillow so that Death won’t be able to take her away. Shenanigans ensue.

The other is a modern day thriller called “Hand Me Down”. Short and sweet, it is about a woman whose dark deeds from her past bleed into her present and threaten to destroy everything. There’s lots of murder in it. It’s gonna be fun.

  • 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 want my heroes to win. I want the bad guys to get what they deserve. It is bourgeois but I don’t care. If I wanted stark, dystopic reality, I’d watch a freaking history channel. Fiction helps me see a world the way it SHOULD BE and, maybe, it can teach us how to create a better one. If something can be imagined, it can be created.

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

Did you know that an interview question posited by the FBI is: Would you rather be a serial killer or a terrorist?  It’s a way to tell if a person is an individualist (serial killer) or team player (terrorist).

I feel the same way if a person asks if I like Star Wars or Star Trek? It’s a way to tell if a person is a team player/bureaucrat (Star Trek) or if a person is more of a rebellious streak (Star Wars).

Confession time: I have never read Lord of the Rings.  I have what I call a Tolkien Block. When I was a teenager, a group of girls started up a coven and wouldn’t allow me to join their group because I “wasn’t their type” because I didn’t read Tolkien. Ever since then, I can’t stomach it.  I didn’t even like the movies. I got bored. I mean….don’t even get me started on those damn eagles. WHY DIDN’T THEY JUST USE THE EAGLES??!?!

So, we’re down to Harry Potter or Star Wars.

Huh.

Harry Potter is fun but if you really stop and start to think about the idea of a Wizarding World that, for some stupid reason, lives in a Dickensian dystopia and doesn’t use their obviously laws of physics bending powers to aid the world at large, it starts to fall apart. Seriously. Quills over a ballpoint pen? Owl mail over Email?

Star Wars has a very warm, fuzzy spot in my heart because I was there at the beginning, sitting in the theater, 1977, when that Imperial Cruiser pulled out overhead.  My heart still races when I think of the opening overture.

Yeah. I gotta go with Star Wars (despite the terrible prequels and then even sadder sequels). At least we have The Mandalorian. #itistheway

My blog is:  https://nikkinelsonhicks.blog/

My Amazon author page: amazon.com/author/nikkinelsonhicks


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Author Interview – John B. Rosenman

The flames crackle and the light flickers as the campfire finds new vitality from the fresh kindling I’ve thrown onto the fire. The night is cold but that doesn’t stop another author making their way to warmth of the flames. Tonight I am joined by prolific sci-fi and fantasy author John B. Rosenman.


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

 Hi. I’m John B. Rosenman, and I’m a retired English professor who writes speculative fiction – science fiction, fantasy, horror, paranormal (and one young adult). I’ve published a couple dozen books as well as two hundred and fifty stories in places such as Weird Tales, Whitley Strieber’s Aliens, Fangoria, Galaxy, Endless Apocalypse, The Age of Wonders, and the Hot Blood erotic horror series. My novels include action-adventure scifi novels such as Beyond Those Distant Stars, Speaker of the Shakk, A Senseless Act of BeautyAlien Dreams, and the Inspector of the Cross series (Crossroad Press). I’ve also published a four-book box set, The Amazing Worlds of John B. Rosenman  (MuseItUp Publishing). Recently I completed a science-fiction novel Dreamfarer which is the first in a new series.

I love ideas and story concepts. In fact, I always have.  When I was a small child I would say to my father, “Tell me a story.” His stories by my bed at night planted the seed. I like to create alien worlds, fascinating characters, and prose and something poetry that is as good as I can make it. I also like to revise, though sometimes it’s a struggle.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

Fantasy makes the invisible visible. There are other worlds, other realms, other universes with beings as wild and as beautiful as I can make them. So-called objective reality is not the only reality. I recall a line from a movie that said you can live in the Imagination. That’s the most beautiful nation of all.  My favorite title for a science fiction / fantasy magazine was If. If you can imagine it, in some way it must be true and exist somewhere.

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

Crash is due out in mid to late November. It’s the sixth novel in my Inspector of the Cross scifi / adventure series and reflects a new approach to the adventures of my hero because the alien enemy, the Cen are no longer involved. Also, Turtan loses his memory and no longer knows who he is. Oh, he faces all sorts of challenges, and I had to reimagine the whole series. Plus, I faced other challenges because circumstances required me to pack up the whole series and move it to a new publisher, Crossroad Press.

At the same time, I resurrected a novel I wrote nearly forty years ago. Dreamfarer is about a world where machines give people dreams that are so much more beautiful, exciting, and fulfilling than real life.  At the age of thirty-two, you can have yourself “interfaced” and dream the rest of your life away. What could go wrong? What’s wrong with that? Dreamfarer will be published by Crossroad Press, but I don’t have a date yet. I’m also at work on a sequel, Go East, Young Man. Like Dreamfarer it focuses on the adventures of Sam Adams, a man who had the misfortune to wake up forever from his wonderful dreams and who is determined to destroy the dream industry because of its terrible impact on humanity.

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

I’m addicted to noble, tormented heroes who battle evil and sinister forces. Sometimes they’re Christ-like in nature as in my Inspector of the Cross series, and occasionally they have godlike powers of healing as with Dax Rigby in Dax Rigby, War Correspondent. I put a great deal of myself in them, particularly my desire to be like them. In my mainstream, coming-of-age novel, Johnny Roth embodies two traits I yearn to have. They are to be a great boxer AND a great artist.

Sometimes I try to see things from girls’ or women’s POV. Sky in Skyburst is a fifteen-year-old girl dying of cancer. What must it be like to be a young girl faced with such a problem? Ah, but as with others of my heroes, she has great, even transcendent abilities. Stella in Beyond Those Distant Stars is turned into a cyborg after she has a radioactive accident. Like Sky she’s tormented and apparently doomed, yet she manages to find love and fight against an alien enemy that seems invincible.

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

Above all, never give up or let yourself be defeated by rejection and negative thoughts. If you’re a writer, you will be strong and forge on.

Beyond that — Read, read, read; write, write, write; revise, revise, revise. If possible, join a good writers’ group where expert criticism and critiques are supplied on a regular basis. Analyze everything. If a work of creative fiction astonishes you, try to identify some of the elements that make it work. Read critical articles discussing them and take a course or two in creative writing.

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

If I have a deadline, I will make it because I want to be published. I guess you could say my desire is my writing trick. If there’s a deadline for submitting a short story, and I have a good idea or like the subject, well, then, I will get my story or stories in on time. The same goes for a situation in which a publisher indicates that a certain date is the deadline for getting my novel in. In this case, NOT BEING PUBLISHED is my writing trick.

Also, if a story or novel is going well, if my inspiration is hot and flowing, I tend to harness my inspiration and keep scribbling. This is especially true with a novel, which requires dedication and the long haul. Skip it for a few days or weeks, and I may never go back.

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

       I’m a pantser. Often it’s like I’m wandering in a fog and only gradually does the road ahead become visible to me. I may have an idea of the eventful conclusion but no clear, overall plan of how I’m going to get there. I used to walk through a local Barnes & Noble that I found particularly conducive to inspiration and sometimes the slightest thing there would suddenly spark a story. For example, I saw a book titled The Calm Technique and instantly a story leaped almost full-blown into my head. The Death Technique is about a man who has the       gruesome ability to make his body rot and resemble a corpse. I sold it to a pro anthology.

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

      I plan to finish Go East, Young Man, the sequel to Dreamfarer and see it published.  I’ve       been thinking of shifting my focus after that and concentrating on short stories. They take less time and sometimes can be written quickly. There are various publishers I’ve published with before and various anthologies and magazines that have published my fiction. It would be nice to submit short fiction to them. I also love “theme” magazines, newsletters, and anthologies. Recently I published revised, previously published stories in Flame Tree Press’s Endless Apocalypse and Dying Planet collections.  In addition, I hope to generate some new stories. Will I try Romance? I doubt it. Nor do I see myself getting into elves and faeries. But you never know. It’s better to be fresh and try new things. 

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 used to like horror and dark fiction more than I do now. Heck, I was Chairman of the Horror Writers Association. As I’ve gotten older, though, I’ve come to prefer tales where the sun occasionally shines and good tends to triumph over evil. My science fiction / speculative fiction novels feature heroes who ultimately conquer or prevail over villains.  But I do love my villains, whose darkness sometimes threatens to overshadow the goodness of my heroes because it’s more compelling and interesting. I do continue to like subtle, atmospheric dark fantasy or horror, where darkness is suggested and hinted at rather than shown. Please, no extreme, gory horror, though I used to write some.

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

Star Wars, I think, primarily because I sometimes write space opera novels with swashbuckling heroes and larger-than-life bad guys. I read the first two Harry Potter novels. They were okay, but I never went back.  I read the first 560 pages of Lord of the Rings and then stopped reading. Please, somebody, tell me why and where I’m wrong!

Visit his website at http://www.johnrosenman.com

Blog: http://johnrosenman.blogspot.com/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/Writerman1

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/JohnBRosenman?ref=hl   

Facebook Home Page: http://www.facebook.com/john.rosenman

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/John-B.-Rosenman/e/B001KMN69E

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/938855.John_B_Rosenman

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/john-b-rosenman-50287218

E-mail: jroseman@cox.net

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Author Interview – Caleb Kelly

Welcome to the campfire! Today we have Indie Urban fantasy author Caleb Kelly. Let’s get started before the marshmallows get too crispy!

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

I’ve always wanted time write. It was my escape. Even in middle school I carried around a 3-ringed binder with a constant story I was writing on. I loved venturing into foreign lands and living a life free from the rules of physics we are bound by. Writing became an outlet to explore my imagination.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

I write fantasy so I can break free from the fetters of reality. The real world is boring. Fantasy allows us to dig into the recesses of our mind and bring anything to life.

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

My latest project has been my impending release of my Arthurian fantasy novel, Camelot’s Reckoning. It was tricky looking into all the nuances of “history” and bending it to the way I needed.

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

I try to separate myself as much as I can from my characters. I’ve always said that adding too much of yourself will result in writing the same character across the board. Your characters aren’t you. They have different aspirations and different desires. I try to make them flawed. They are human and humans make mistakes. It’s those repercussions that add the extra flare to a story and drive it forward.

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

Edit. Edit. Edit. And learn to love it. The first draft will never be gold. It will ways have room for improvement. However, one must also learn when it is time to cut the cord on a manuscript. Every author believes their story can continue to be edited years after publication. Perfection will never exist, but we can certainly strive to get as close as possible.

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

I do most of my writing in my breaks at work. I do some at home too, mostly when I’m changing stories. The change of setting allows me to change my mindset.

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

I used to be a pantser. I used to say my fingers did the writing and my brain was just along for the ride. I don’t say that anymore. I have to have an outline. Typically, chapter by chapter. Although I’m not as detailed like others are, I need a skeleton to begin adding muscle too. Without it I will float in a void.

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

For now, I am sticking to urban fantasy. There aren’t alot of male urban fantasy writers, but I enjoy breaking the laws of our world with the ones I make up. I have an epic fantasy in the works, but I need more time to devote to the complexity of the storyline. I want a few other series out before I jump to that train.

  • 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 love a good hero story. The hero’s journey is an undying classic. However, villains have to be understood. A good villian should relate to the reader. One should be able to see their point of view, though their way of obtaining it may be skewed. Having elements of both styles allows for room to entice the reader on the different layers of life.

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

LoTR. Without question. I like that Star Wars has an extensive universe with limitless possibilities, but Lord of the Rings has always appealed to the side of me that loves the Middle Ages. Swords and Sorcery is my bread and butter. If I can meld those with the modern world, I have accomplished what I set out to do.

Thanks Caleb!

Camelot’s Reckoning is now available for Pre-order here

Follow Caleb on Facebook and Twitter

Visit his website at – https://calebnkelly.com/

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Author Interview – Andy Freeman-Hall

The response to my call for fellow indie authors to sit by the camp fire and tell us more about themselves and their work has been fantastic! This time with the bag of marshmallows is new indie author Andy Freeman-Hall. Enjoy!

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

My name is Andy Freeman-Hall, I’m 29, and an ecologist in my day job. I have what I affectionately refer to as turbo-dyslexia, and after many terrifying experiences of having to read aloud at school, I became genuinely afraid of books, getting my fantasy fix from films, TV, and games instead. Then when I was finishing my master’s degree, I decided to give audiobooks a try to help pass the time with all the fieldwork I was doing. And just like that, I was hooked. After my masters, I spent a year struggling to get a job and I decided to try and write instead of sitting around doing nothing all day but wait for rejected job applications. The next thing I knew I was writing for 8-10 hours every day. That dropped down to 2-4 hours a day once I started my PhD, but since then I’ve never stopped. That was 6 years ago.  

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

The ability to create entirely new, living, breathing worlds. New concepts, new systems, new ways that peoples, groups, and nations interact. Fantasy (or at least the fantasy that I love most) allows the writer to create a world with unique properties, geography, and history within which amazing stories can immerge organically. That’s what I love to see.  

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

It’s my first novel, The Sage’s Lot (Blood and Balance #1). I tried to get it published years ago when I first finished it, but it was in no way a sellable product. My skill level just wasn’t there after only 2 years of writing.

Since then I have re-written the entire novel from scratch twice because my ability had improved enough that each time it just needed a clean slate. Those were hard decisions to make but the best decisions I have ever made. When I couldn’t get the final version picked up by an agent or publisher, I gave up and started writing an entirely new series to try again at getting a book published through traditional means, but after speaking with a lot of authors and readers, I realised that self-publishing my original novel was the right way to go.

A lot of epic fantasy readers won’t even pick up a book like mine until 2 or 3 in the series are released (I’m planning eight). Now the beta-readers are all done, as are the proof-readers. I’m currently finalising the cover art and working on the maps. The Sage’s Lot will finally be released by Christmas, even if it kills me.

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

My favourite characters to write are the ones with my own sense of humour. I feel like each of the main characters in my book reflects some aspect of my own personality (or some warped version of that aspect), but my two favourites are the ones that consistently make me laugh. I may be the one writing down the dialogue, but the characters are the ones coming up with what to say.

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

Perseverance. I forget who said it (maybe Steven Pressfield), but the only difference between a successful author and someone who just does it as a hobby is perseverance. I want to write fantasy professionally, but the only way I’m going to build my skills enough to do that is to just keep going. I didn’t stop after the 1st rejection, I didn’t stop after the 40th, and I won’t stop after the 400th. In the immortal words of Brandon Sanderson, ‘The most important step a man can take. It’s not the first one, is it? It’s the next one. Always the next step’.

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

Brutality in editing. My first draft meandered down so many rabbit holes that the story often got twisted up in itself. I’m a pantser, so I just write down everything that comes to mind with no predetermined endpoint. After, I have to go back and ask myself in what way each scene progresses the story. If it doesn’t, then I either tweak it so it does or (more commonly) cut it out, slice off the best bits, and splice them into another scene. If you have the problem of writing way too much like I do, you have to be brutal. No prisoners.

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

Pantser, 100%. When I briefly started writing a book in an entirely new series, I added in a little planning, but in reality, I’ve found that no plan survives first contact with the keyboard.

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

I’ll get the first 3 or 4 books in Blood and Balance rattled off and see how it’s going. I’ve got ideas for 4 other series (all fantasy) and a fairly coherent structure for one of them, but Blood and Balance is my baby. It’s the culmination of a lifetime of complex daydreams distilled into some semblance of an entertaining narrative. I need to see if it can swim on its own before testing the waters with anything else.

  • 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?

Anything with characters that make the sorts of hard choices that a real person would in their situation. Most of us wouldn’t sacrifice ourselves for some forlorn cause, and I need to see characters that act that way as it grounds a book in realism, no matter how fantastical the setting. People are people. It also makes our courageous heroes who are willing to sacrifice everything all the more heroic. 

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

Star Wars, but again, I was terrified of books until my early twenties. The Star Wars films were my go to films as a kid and will always hold that special place reserved for a first love.

Thanks Andy!

You can follow Andy on Facebook and Twitter

Follow me on FacebookTwitter and Instagram, oh and please subscribe to my mailing list for the latest news and book deals. If you’d like to do a guest post or author interview contact me via matthewolney9@gmail.com

Author Interview – Deston J. Munden

The nights are drawing in quicker and quicker but that just makes the campfire a more cozy place to be. Settle in dear reader and join me and we chat with fantasy and science fiction author Deston J. Munden.

Deston’s fantasy novel: Tavern

1.      Hi, Deston tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

Hiya. My name is Deston J. Munden, science fiction and fantasy author from North Carolina. I am a game art design major, who enjoys video games and Dungeons and Dragons. What inspires me to write is the passion to tell stories, exploring the creativity of my mind, and trying to help other people like me to burst through the industry. It’s a pleasure to meet you.

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

It is the limitless possibilities. Fantasy is a powerful tool to explore things that you can’t really do anywhere else. For me also, I’m a sucker for fantasy races, magic, and swords. I’m a very simple man to please when it comes to things like this. I feel like a lot of genres can hit these notes for me, but it’s still the fantasy genre as a whole that keeps bringing me back.

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

My latest fantasy project is named Duke’s Brand. It’s a story about a knight that is on a redemption quest to better himself. The most difficult portion of this character, however, was that I made him with being autistic in mind. I wanted good representation with the character and how he acts to be both accurate and liberating for people that this character is meant to display. I’ve been marketing Ser Torlyek as Neville Longbottom meets Thor from the MCU and Steven Universe. I think that’s a good selling point for anyone interested.

It should be released in December or January! It depends on my editors.

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

I enjoy writing the burly big guys with hearts of gold. For some reason, that tends to be the characters that I play in video game as well as my go to Dungeons and Dragon archetype. I do tend to put a little bit of myself into them though. It’s something that I don’t see much in myself, so I want to pretend to be tougher and stronger than I actually am (partly because of bullying and not being able to protect myself in the past).  Something about just being strong and living out that fantasy of protecting the people that I care about is present in a lot of my books.

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

Finish that first draft. I don’t care how you do it, finish that first draft. I feel like a lot of new writers get trapped in this constant loop of writing and rewriting the first few chapters. I’ve done it myself. But that’s not how you learn how to write books. You learn how to write books by writing them, making mistakes, and learning from them. It wasn’t until I wrote a really bad trilogy before I began to learn more about how to write. If you don’t learn anything else, you learn how to write consistently and effectively after finishing your first draft of anything. So do it. Get it done. Stop pre-writing, world building, and talking about it and get the draft done.

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

Writing consistently and having a planned writing schedule really has help me keep my stories on track. Before, I would either write sparingly or write out of schedule. It wasn’t until this became my full-time job where I started treating it like that. The trick is to write a little bit every day. It doesn’t even have to be a lot. There are days where I can barely manage 200 words, but I try to get other things done in the meantime. Other than that, I try to keep good notes on what I am writing and what’s going on with them for the best possible story I can manage.

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

Pantser, definitely. I tend to make a lot of it up as I go. It doesn’t mean that I go in without a plan in mind. I usually have a beginning, middle, and end planned somewhat or at the very least loosely. But, I like the idea of telling myself the story first and then working my way in and filling in the blanks in the second draft. It’s an adventure to say the very least.

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

Right now, I’m sticking with my fantasy and science fiction genres. I do want to dip into some other styles of fantasy and sci-fi as I get more experienced. Right now, though, I have my hands full with the two series that I’m working with at the moment.

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?

I’ve always been the type that enjoy when heroes’ triumphs over the evil. I feel like fantasy has been dipping deeper and deeper into grim dark. Though I do enjoy reading these stories, they aren’t something that I would want to write in my current headspace. I just wanna see a guy or girl or non-binary pal fight some evil and takes some names while dealing with their own personal issues.

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

Lord of the Rings, hands down!

You can follow Deston –

Website : www.djmunden.com

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Deston-J-Munden/e/B07Q2D6948/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SrBuffaloKnight

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authordjmunden/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/D.J.Munden/



Book Links: 

Tavernhttps://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07PWTR89Q

Dusk Mountain Blues: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B085LQJH3K

Author Interview – A.F Stewart

The sun rises over the campsite on this cool October day and from the trees emerges our latest campfire visitor, fantasy author Anita Stewart. We get the fire going and delve into what makes this author tick.

  • Hi A. F. Stewart, tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?  I’m a geek, a writer of fantasy and horror, and also a bit of an artist; I like to paint and play around on Photoshop. My hobbies include reading, watching movies (I love action movies and sci-fi films), and studying history. As for writing inspirations, reading would be number one. I’ve always loved books and loved telling stories. That’s never gone away.
  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?  I love the “what if” at its core and the fantastic nature of the worlds and characters. The idea there’s something magical beyond the everyday routine has a captivating allure.
  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?  My latest project is The Camelot Immortals series. There are five books planned with a prequel collection of two short stories. The prequel, Eternal Myths, is published, and book one, Past Legends, is currently on pre-order with a release date for October 28th. The series is based on Arthurian legend, set in modern-day England, and follows the adventures of Nimue and other women of Camelot as they work save the world from impending magical doom.
    The premise of the novels is magic can make you immortal, so most of the Arthurian characters are living among us, but they’re still dealing with their emotional baggage and past sins. And woven in among this modern fantasy are more traditional fantasy elements as the characters encounter gods, elves, other wizards and creatures. Plus there’s swearing and drinking, and wizard vs. witch action battles.
    The greatest challenges in putting this series together were keeping the timeline and interwoven elements straight, and researching modern Britain. I needed to get the details right, and I know a lot more about historic Britain than its current culture.
  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them? Honestly, I enjoy writing the villains best, and even my heroes tend to be a little ambiguous in their morals. And I certainly hope there’s not much of me in those characters; they’re quite awful at times. Villains are more fun to write though, as they’re not as constrained or conflicted to the right thing. Need to destroy a village for a plot point? The villain will do it happily.
  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned? Recently, it’s scene outlining. I’ve had a much easier time writing a book by creating the outlines scene by scene as opposed to chapters, as it allows me to see how the plot points flow into each other. I can change things up, move scenes around, add scenes in, and take things out that aren’t working. And I can quick check the outline to see what a character did earlier to write in consequences later. Scene outlining has helped my plots. 
  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?  I try to plan out enough time to work on things; I really don’t like being late with anything. Writing sprints are another excellent motivator. But If I’m stuck, I take a break or maybe go for a drive in the car. That generally helps clear my head. But the weirdest thing that helps my thought process is washing dishes. I’ve worked through several plot issues over soapy china and glass.
  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?  For books, I’m a plotter. I base many of my stories on or in history with mythological elements, and interweave arcs through a series or a plot. It’s easier for me to write if I outline timelines, characters, and scenes, and keep all the elements straight. However, for short stories, I usually pants those plots. I start with a beginning and an ending and fill in a few thousand words for the middle part.
  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?  I have to finish writing/editing the Camelot Immortals series by early next year, and then I want to get back to my Obsidian Blade series. That series is set in 15th century Venice and follows the assignments of an immortal assassin and troubleshooter who works for the city’s government.
  • 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?  All my books take a darker approach, even before the current state of things. I mix in a little horror with my fantasy (or write straight up horror stories) and not everything ends happily. As a reader, though, I like both styles.
  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?  I’m a long time Star Wars fan, so if you’re talking about the original trilogy, then that’s my pick, no question. It does lose major points for the prequels/sequels, though. So maybe it’s a tie with Lord of the Rings if they’re included. Poor Harry Potter doesn’t even make the top three cut for me.

Thanks Anita! You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and visit her website

Her new book Past Legends is due for release October 28th. Get it here

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Fantasy map making – The most detailed map of Delfinnia

One of the most fun parts of creating fantasy stories is the worldbuilding. Maps in particular are always a lot of fun and allow the imagination to run free and are a huge assistance to an author. I use maps to know the locations of places, the distances characters will have to traverse and the terrain that will be used for battle and action scenes.

The map below was made with Wonderdraft and is the most detailed map of Delfinnia, the main landmass in the Sundered Crown Saga.

Now, the map below is something special as it finally puts into one image my plans for my fantasy series. If you look closely you may notice that there quite a few lands that have yet to be mentioned and one that is the setting for the Empowered Ones series. Yep, all my stories are set on the same magical planet of Esperia, or the Esperverse as I’ve come to call it.

The world map. Not to scale as the oceans are far larger than depicted here. (I ran out of space!)

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An Interview with Damien Larkin – Author of Big Red

Big Red

 

Q1. Tell us about your upcoming new book Big Red, what’s it about and who will enjoy it?

In a sentence, it’s about an Irish soldier in the British Army on Mars!

Big Red is a military sci-fi told from the perspective of Mars Occupation Force soldier Darren Loughlin. After waking in a highly traumatised state following a year-long tour of duty on Mars, it becomes a race against time for the authorities to piece together what happened to his shattered battalion and what caused the sudden loss of communication with all of Earth’s off-world colonies.

With time running out, Darren is forced to recall his year in the Nazi-founded New Berlin colony and his part in the vicious, genocidal war against hostile alien natives. But as his memories return, he begins to suspect he is at the centre of a plot spanning over forty years.

Big Red is an ideal read for fans of Robert A. Heinlein, Joe Haldeman and David Drake.

 

Q2. How long did the book take you to write?

It took three and a half months to write the first draft and a further six weeks of editing, proofreading and re-writes. I’ve since done at least six rounds of edits over the last few months to get it just right. It’s amazing that even with all that effort, you can still miss things from previous rounds, so I’m trying to be as thorough as possible.

 

Q3. How much research did you do for the book?

Loads! I wanted the Mars Occupation Force to be a British-led organisation, so I delved into everything I could find about the British Army’s organisational structure and operational methods. I also researched everything I could find about Mars and current colonisation plans, to get a better idea of what would work and what wouldn’t. I looked into a lot of conspiracy theories too. Over the last few years, there’s been several claims from ex-service personnel about secret off-world colonies, which really helped me with developing the back story and the universe of Big Red.

 

Q4. What inspired you to write Big Red?

A really vivid dream! I’ve always had an overactive imagination and because of that, I tend to have vivid dreams (or nightmares…) The first two chapters are based loosely on that dream. After waking up, I remember trying to work out why these soldiers were so traumatised and that became the seed that grew into Big Red.

 

Q5. What genre do you prefer to write in, Sci-fi or fantasy?

As long as there’s a military element, I enjoy both. My first project was a Military Fantasy called “Children of the Dying” and allowed me to explore sword and shield style battles, as opposed to the modern warfare shown in Big Red.

 

Q6. Where can people buy Big Red?

Big Red will be available on Amazon and all good bookshops from 14th May. You can also check out the link on my website which links to several different online stores:

https://www.damienlarkinbooks.com/preorder-big-red

 

Q7. How can people follow you online?

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/damo_dangerman

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

Website: https://www.damienlarkinbooks.com/

Thanks Damien!

Author Bio

Damien Larkin is a part-time Planning Analyst and a full-time stay-at-home father of two young children. He enjoys turning terrifying nightmares into novels and currently resides in Dublin, Ireland

Tips for Indy Authors 3: Writer’s Block

There are no two words more dreaded and feared by all authors than ‘Writer’s Block’. What is it and how do you get through it? Well, let me try and help you.

I’ve been writing books for over ten years now and I have been struck by Writer’s Block more times than I can count. Pretty much every writer out there will succumb to it at one point or another and to those who claim to have never experienced it- well, good for you I guess (I don’t believe you at all by the way.)

Writing is a strange thing. One day your fingers are whizzing over the keyboard and the words just pour out of your brain and onto the page. Then inexplicably and without warning, you freeze. The words stop coming like a once raging river now baked dry in a drought. How you handle these first moments of horror is crucial to salvaging your workflow.

I’m experiencing a bit of writer’s block myself at the moment and from experience, I know what has to be done to break that wall and press on. It’s just getting the right thought process in place to enact it. There are a few tactics you can try but the most important thing to not do is begin to wallow in despair. Putting pressure on yourself is guaranteed to make the situation worse and prevent the words from coming.

Do something else

Now, this technique might sound counterproductive but bear with me. If you’re like me you no doubt have many other ideas and works in progress on the go or in the planning stages. The key to breaking Writers Block is to trick your brain into unfreezing and releasing all those juicy words once more.

If you’re writing fantasy try your hand at another genre or enter some writing challenges. I personally switch between projects as I find that I’ll often have writer’s block on a certain project but am fine with another. Alternate between your works to keep your mind fresh and your interest high.

Force it

This technique had worked for me a few times. I write a lot in my day job so I have to literally force myself to write in order to get paid! Think of Writers Block as a barrier, apply enough pressure onto it and the dam will eventually break. This strategy can fall under the finding the time to write a problem that many writers have as well. Get your ass in that seat and don’t leave until you’ve put down a certain amount of words. They don’t have to be great, just get them on the page.

Take a break and come back fresh

Alternatively, you can simply walk away from the problem project for a few days or weeks. Don’t do any writing, go outside, go on holiday or simply do anything else. Your brain will recharge its words count and when you get that itch to write again, you’ll know that the Writers Block is over.

I’ve learnt that many writers put themselves under a lot of pressure when it comes to Writers Block. I do it myself and so I’ll be following my own advice. Don’t let fans get you down about deadlines or whatever. A book will be finished when its good and ready, you can’t rush these things.

 

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Tips for Indy Authors part 2: Finding the time

Unless you’ve got all the time in the world to dedicate to your writing you may feel pressured and distressed that you just can’t find the time to get those words down.

You work all day, might have to look after the kids etc, writing is sometimes the last thing you want to do with your precious free time. Sometimes you just want to relax and do nothing which is fair enough. However, I’ve come up with some ways to ensure that you can get at least a few words down per day.

In my day job, for example, I work as a content creator which often sees me writing creative pieces and newsy type articles throughout much of the day. Sometimes I wish that the words I was putting down for work were going into my books and other days I simply wish I could be as creative for my own stuff as I am in my daily job. Sometimes the last thing I want to do after a 9-hour day is getting home and whipping out the computer and write.

Writing a novel is a time-consuming business. A 50,000-word novel is at least 50 hours’ worth of work just to hammer out the first draft not to mention all the planning and thinking that it entails. With rewrites, design and marketing efforts included, an Indy author could spend 100’s if not 1000’s of hours on their projects.

It’s a battle of will

I know I need to get those words down if I’m ever going to finish the blasted book, so it becomes a battle of will with yourself. All I can say is that it doesn’t help to work yourself up about it. Taking a break is no bad thing when it comes to writing. Putting pressure on yourself and forcing those words out has often in my experience directly caused the dreaded writer’s block.

Writing should be a fun experience, by turning it into a chore or job can take that fun out of the experience which in turn will make you even more frustrated if you can’t find some time to do it. You need to ask yourself why you’re writing in the first place. Is it just a hobby? Do you want this to be your career? You need to ask this fundamental question before deciding on how much of your precious time you should devote to it.

Try what’s best for you

Early bird?

Some people get up and go the gym stupidly early in the mornings if you’re a writer and an early bird than why not do something similar? Get some words in before the kids’ wakeup or before you must go to work.

Make the most of lunch hours

Doctors will probably frown at this suggestion but what about writing throughout your break times at work? It’s no different than colleagues who choose to watch some TV during the lunch hour. I would suggest, however, that you get out for some fresh air and eat something too. Don’t squander that precious hour. With smartphones, you can easily download a writing app and get some words down.

Can you write on the commute?

Do you have a long commute in the mornings or evenings? When I used to work in Bristol, I’d have to take an hour-long bus journey in the mornings and evenings to get to and from work. During those often-dull times stuck in traffic, I’d whip out my Kindle and use a word processing app to write. It was doing this that allowed me to write much of The First Fear.

Have an end goal in sight

This is something I myself need to work on more and that is setting yourself a strict deadline and sticking to it. One of the pros of being an Indy author is that there is no time limit put on you by a publisher – but it can also be a negative. It’s also easy to say, ‘I’ll do it tomorrow or next week’. There’s no rush or pressure on when you get that book finished except the pressure you put on yourself.

Don’t be selfish

I know this is one is easier than it sounds. Most of us have other commitments and people we love in our lives. Do not neglect them and try to make a compromise. You don’t have to spend every moment with each other but ensure that your writing time is understood by a partner or family members and be sure to limit that time. Locking yourself away for days on end may work for some folks but just think about the other people in your life.

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