Indie Spotlight Around The Corner

Blink and you will miss it. But take a look at Loretta Milan’s promotion of her blog Literary Light box

I look forward to you hearing more in just a couple of weeks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Indie Spotlight In May

World of Pangea

My novel made the finalists of the Literary Lightbox Indie Spotlight and I will be featured in May.

You can read the announcement on Loretta’s blog.

This is great news. They will write a feature about me and the creation of the novel. It will be promoted to their many followers and subscribers. Only 6 people out of everyone submitted made it this far.

I would also like to congratulate the other successful authors who will have a spotlight in the spring/summer.

Kathryn Joyce

M.M. Anderson

Steven F. Freeman

Joseph Denham

Brad Mathews

I look forward to reading their spotlights and seeing what works they have created.

In the mean time if you want to check out Loretta’s work via social media please follow her on one of these three options.

Twitter 

Facebook 

Google+ 

Artist Interview – Levi Gibbs

Levi and friend

Today I want to interview an artist who particularly excels with music. He’s a young man called Levi Gibbs who’s at the very beginning of his career. What I love about what he does, is it’s not about himself. His focus is on how his art can help others, provoke people to think and help them connect to their own creativity and story. First, here’s a short video of him performing with some others at a small Cathedral in Norway.

With that said, Levi, please introduce yourself to my blogging audience. 

Levi: Hello, Michaels blogging audience. My name is Levi Gibbs, a nineteen year old songwriter-singer (that way around), born in Manchester, England. Currently I’m feeling very self-conscious of my grammar and how proper I should be typing. Hobby-wise I’m not doing half as much as I wish, but I think about everything. I enjoy words. Even though they are empty. I find that music can make them full, sometimes.

Michael: I have to disagree that words are empty, but that’s a personal distinction. I do love the idea of music impacting them in a big way.

Can you explain how you became involved in music and why you love it so much?

Levi: I love it so much for what it means depending on which angle you’re listening from. You will get something different from me and the other way around. In those 3 minutes (Of a song) who knows what could happen? Music is kind of like the Power Rangers. You have lyrics, melody, the voice, the personality behind the voice, all the instruments, and they come together to fight for you. I started out in music by listening to S-Club 7 (watch the music video for “S-Club Party”, a modern classic.) and then I went deeper and deeper as I grew older, finding bands that I could really relate to. After not so long I found myself wanting to write songs. I’m not sure why. I suppose it’s because It’s what I’m meant to do. I started writing and writing and never really stopped. The more I wrote, the closer I felt to myself. Understanding. And through it I have met and worked with so many inspiring people. I love music because it’s always moving forward, together. Thank God for music.

Michael: I love that thought of finding yourself the more that you do it. I know many writers feel the same.

Can you share some of your lyrics? What is your favourite tune or song that you’ve created and why?

Levi:

“I’m a treasure chest looking callous,
passing by desire gallops.”

“I blanket and I can’t stand it,
to comfort casualties responsibly.”

“I’ve been concerning the purest far and wide,
I still haven’t found what’s mine, yet.”

“What do we value,
the people or there shoes?”

“Please me and be ok,
If you ask me I’ll always say,
I’m alright just a little tired.”

“Harmonize to the sound,
of the culture surrounds,
say something profound,
and drown with obsoletes.”

I don’t really have a favorite. It’s like picking my favorite child. I dislike them all. But seriously, It’s hard. It has to be the last one I wrote. Getting closer to what I want to say and how I want to say it. Always trying to evolve. And then, when all the Power Rangers come together, the satisfaction is real.

Since I know you personally, I know that you’re a very creative person. Some people struggle with creativity, seeing it as something elusive. Where do you get your creativity from? How do you become creative?

Levi: Without sounding weird, I fall in love with people. Not all the time, but every so often, people come along who touch me in who they are. And I write to them, for them, I’m telling them something. Lyrics come from fragments of conversations, experiences, observations and thoughts that cross my mind. They’re my inspiration. I believe you can’t become creative, because we were born so. That time when you tied the blanket around your neck and became a super hero, or had the ocean of lego’s scattered on the floor, or when your 5th grade math teacher was a witch, those moments were pure creativity. I hate the word creativity, because I’ve heard it said more than done, but it’s a thing that is done. You don’t become, you do.

Michael: I really really like that thought about creativity. It’s not something said but done. I think it ties in really well with what authors always tell new writers. Just write. Every day write something, even a little. You don’t talk about it, you do it.

Do you have any other creative outlets apart from music?

Levi: I wouldn’t say music is my main outlet, it’s definitely the most visible one. I have a lot of ideas scribbled in my notebook (and my head). I try whatever I can get my hands one, if i don’t know how to do it yet the better. Video projects, short writings, writing songs for people, creating one-off events, interviewing, acting. I love collaboration, also. I believe it’s the most important part of art, for me at least. My proudest moments have been shared. There’s something indescribable about it, so I won’t try. Words are empty.

Michael: I’m kind of laughing, because there you go with words are empty again, and here you are on an authors blog. I love the irony.

Now, in January you have an interesting artistic venture coming up, can you explain for our bloggers what that is and how they can get involved with it?

Levi: In January I’ll be leading a team of christian artist to the NYC area to go into schools, coffee shops, gig venues, streets, churches, wherever we can. Sharing Jesus and building a community who want to share Him. Simple. Our team isn’t full yet, so if you or someone you know has a strong passion for Jesus, evangelism and art this is for you/them. Go to paismovement.com and we can set up an interview. It’s my honor to be able to do this.

Michael: What I really love about this, is that you’re obviously someone who is passionate about music and faith and you put those together to connect with people and build community. Here’s a creative video Levi and Pais put together to invite you to join him.

Now, I always ask my writers for a writing tip to share with new writers, but since you’re a musician and creative in other ways can you share either a creative tip or an artistic tip for new artists?

Levi: One of my secrets when I struggle with writing a new melody is to listen to some music I’m into at that moment and block out the singing. Just take in the music and create my own song to it, without replicating of course. It’s helped me to get out of a rut even if I don’t play the song again, it’s just fun. I usually write Indie-rock-punk tunes, but If i sing over a Aretha Franklin songs something unexpected comes out. It’s scary.

Michael: I’m trying not to visualize that one too much.

Okay, thank you for taking the time out to answer these questions Levi, I greatly appreciate it. I’m thinking of launching a Vblog on youtube and if I do I’ll invite you back for a video chat so it’s not just these empty words.

For those wishing to connect with Levi you can find him on instagram @Itslevigibbsinit

Thanks for reading.

Author Interview – Ciara Ballintyne

This weeks interview is with author Ciara Ballintyne. I’m excited about this because I’ve been trying to interview Ciara for a while. So, welcome to the blog!

Would you mind telling us something about yourself to introduce yourself to my readers?

Ciara: I’m a lawyer who writes epic fantasy. A lot of people think that’s an odd combination, but it’s actually not. I would really like the Iron Throne for my desk chair – imagine arriving to meet your lawyer, and she’s sitting in that?  Sadly, all I actually have is dragon book-ends holding my lawbooks.

Michael: My sister’s a lawyer and I can totally see her writing epic fantasy as well. She’d love those book-ends.

What is your latest novel? Can you summarize it without giving away any plot twists?

ebookcover 2820x4500 with star

Ciara: Stalking the Demon is my latest release, a short fantasy novel. Our hero, Alloran, is a disgraced wizard who thought that banishing the demon was a good idea – only in hindsight that might not be true…. Now he has to fix what he broke, while the woman he loves falls closer to the threshold of death in the grip of a mysterious illness, and the most powerful wizard in the land believes that he is working for the enemy rather than against him. To save the world, and everyone he loves, Alloran risks everything that he is.

Michael: That sounds dark, gritty and intriguing. And the cover, as my readers can see, is gorgeous. Great job with that.

What made you decide to write?

Ciara: I was eleven. I was writing a short story, fanfiction really, and thought ‘Hey, I can do this.’ So I did. Later I realised that pinning one’s hopes on a lucrative writing contract is on par with expecting to win the lottery, so I studied law. Now I write because I don’t know how to stop.

Michael: I think that should be my new promotion tag line. “I write because I don’t know how to stop.”

Ciara, If you look at the writing and publishing process, what was most difficult part for you? 

Ciara: Marketing is the most difficult. I am seriously time-strapped. I have the time to do the marketing, but I don’t have the time for the try, fail, rinse, repeat approach to marketing which is how most of us find out what works these days.

Michael: Yes, I can definitely relate to that. I always say I have to look at writing as more than a hobby, it’s a job, but with a 7 month old, a marriage and full time job already, it’s tough.

Now, what about the most exciting?

Ciara: The most exciting part is the first draft. Even though all first drafts are rubbish, and the really excellent writing doesn’t happen until later, the first draft is where the magic happens. Writing a first draft is kind of like riding an out-of-control train – you race along at breakneck speed, not caring how many walls you knock down or people get squished, so long as you get to the end. Then you look back and realise you have to clean up that mess…. And that’s why revisions are not fun or exciting although I do find them very satisfying.

Michael: Yes, I’ve heard some people like the revisions, and some hate them. As you say though, almost everyone finds a certain amount of satisfaction from completing them.

If you think about all the characters you’ve ever created, do you have a favourite and why?

Ciara: Once I would have immediately said yes. Now I have to think about this… Alloran, from Stalking the Demon, is complicated, and I like him for that – someone described him as a thinking man’s wizard. But for all that, he’s not my favourite. I am very fond of Kain and Astarl from my as yet unpublished Deathhawk Trilogy – they are such broken people desperately trying to find a way to mend themselves even as the world crumbles around them. They are such stewpots of conflict, I guess I love them as a writer. I probably wouldn’t want to have dinner with them. Ellaeva, from my current WIP, In the Company of the Dead, is probably the most like me, and so that makes me like her a lot. I could have a good dinner debate with her, and walk away content – and alive!

Michael: A great answer. I love that there are so many aspects to consider.

What’s one of the favourite novels you’ve read? What made it such a good read?

Ciara: The Wheel of Time has been a favourite since 1992. Robert Jordan’s story is just on such a grand scale that I quail to think of matching it. Part of my love for it is sentimentality, as reading it was a 20 year journey I shared with Dad, but I do simply love the characters and their story. It is the definitive epic fantasy, and every time I read it I find another clue in the early books that I missed the previous times I read them. I was sad when I finished the fourteenth and last book this year, knowing there will be no more. More recently, I adore Patrick Rohfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles for the prose. Just listening to the opening prologue (I have the audiobook), where he talks about the sound of three silences, gives me chills. It was the patient cut-flower sound of a man who is waiting to die. God, don’t you just wish you’d written that? I know I do!

Michael: It’s definitely up there with close to perfect sentences. I haven’t read those chronicles yet, so I may have to add that to the list. The list is getting quite long.

Now, most importantly to me for this interview, where can people find your novel?

Ciara: It’s on Amazon, in ebook and paperback, B&N, Kobo, and iBooks. Links to all the outlets can be found on my website http://ciaraballintyne.com/books/stalking-the-demon/

And how can people contact you if they want to? Are you on social media?

Website – http://ciaraballintyne.com

Twitter – @CiaraBallintyne

Facebook – http://facebook.com/CiaraBallintyne

My final question is always the same. I ask authors for their writing tips, so that if we have any aspiring authors reading they can learn and improve their own craft. What tip would you like to share?

Ciara: Oh wow, just one? I am known on Twitter for tweeting a series of #writetips – I have hundreds! But if I had to choose just one I would say ‘Goal Motivation Conflict’. This is the foundation of a good story. What does our protagonist and antagonist want? Why do they want it? And what’s stopping them getting it? In fact, they should probably have multiple GMCs, and most secondary characters will have a GMC as well. The main character of every sub-plot absolutely needs one. These are the building blocks of believable stories and characters.  

Michael: I just want to say here, Ciara’s tips are great. She inspired me to write my own series of blogs on them and I’ve learned alot from reading the tweets she sends out. So if you’re on twitter, go follow @CiaraBallintyne you won’t be sorry that you did.

Ciara, thanks for taking the time to answer these questions, maybe when this new series is released we can have you do another appearance. To my readers, remember to check out her social media.

Author Interview: June Kramin

It’s a Friday blog. That means another interview. Today I invite author June Kramin to the hot seat.

June, thank you for your time, why don’t you start by telling us a little about yourself and your writing.

Thanks for having me! Ann T Bugg is a pen name I’ve created from a nickname. With the name June, it went straight to June-Bug at a young age. As my friends had kids, I became Auntie Bug. It just seemed fitting to use a variation of that. I write women’s fiction under my real name and I didn’t want any confusion between the genres.

My series is a middle grade (ages 8-12) fantasy titled Before Happily Ever After. Currently there are 8 books. They are familiar fairy tales & folklore retold with twists from my two main characters, Valerie and Samantha. Here’s the blurb for Book #1: Through the Mirror and Into Snow:

When best friends Valerie and Samantha discover a magic mirror in Val’s 100-year-old barn in southern Minnesota, they eagerly go through it. Immediately they run into the young Snow White, who has just escaped the huntsman. The girls vow to help her find her father, knowing the dangers that await. On their journey, the fun-loving double-trouble duo quickly discovers they are caught up in the middle of their favorite fairy tales.

Having the knowledge of the stories as their only weapon, Val and Sam help two other princesses, make a surprising friend and discover they have a fairy godmother of their very own.

~*~*~*~

It’s currently free at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, & Smashwords. (Let me know if you want links)

book 1 front kindle

Well, what is your favourite thing about this novel?

June: Most definitely my two main characters. Valerie and Samantha are very close to the real girls – my daughter and her best friend. (I didn’t even change names to protect the guilty 😉 ) It wasn’t much of a stretch to come up with their antics. The girls are as opposite as they come – they were a great inspiration. I was grateful to have written these stories and have the memories they trigger as I re-read and edit them. My daughter is also my cover artist. That made these even more special to me. She did book #1 when she was just 14. No one believed someone that age created that cover. Things got even better from there.

Michael: That’s pretty inspirational. And great job by your daughter. Something that special is very unique.

What inspired you to write in the fantasy genre when there are so many others to choose from?

June: My daughter and I are very big into everything fairy tale and fairy tales re-told. I still surround myself with princess things. (My watch, keychains, blanket…and I pretty much decorate with toys) Book #1 took shape because of us actually finding a mirror in our old barn. The story that unfolded when I sat down just happened without me plotting it out. It’s a sweet start to their tales and a lot of fans favorite. Personally I love #2 & on when they really start digging in and have to solve riddles and such to complete an appointed task. It is how I see these girls. Valerie would be all too eager to hop on the back of a Griffon, and I’d put money on Samantha taking on a troll if one ever crossed her path. LOL

Michael: I don’t know Samantha, but I am now imaging this girl standing toe to toe with a troll. Thank you.

June, on a slightly different note, what’s one thing about writing that you’ve learned about by writing these novels?

June: It’s really hard to say any “one” thing. It seems like it is a never-ending learning process. I’ve dealt with three different publishers and have picked up many tips and rules along the way. For this series, I love the fantasy aspect. You can take your ideas and pretty much make your world anyway you want it. You want your gryphon to talk, go ahead. You want to meet George Washington and have an Egyptian mummy come to life in the same day? Bam! I’ve always said I use the “pantsing” method of writing (which is essentially no method at all. LOL) I don’t outline, I just let the characters bully me. It’s a whole new ballgame with the fantasy genre.

Michael: I have a friend of mine who does the same. I tend to start that way but quickly begin plotting out details after the first few chapters. I have nothing but respect for those of you who like to do it so raw.

Have you discovered anything about yourself by writing?

The best thing for me was discovering that I was finally the writer my teachers all through school told me that I would become. I always felt that I danced to the beat of my own drum. When I met other writers, it was like a lightbulb went off. “Oh! It’s a writer thing! We’re weird!”

Michael: Great stuff! I love true stories like that.

As you look at other novels and authors out there, which would you say most closely resemble yours?

June: I honestly haven’t read any books that are like my series. Other than three NYT authors, all I read are my friends’ books. The few fellow MG books I’ve read don’t tap into the Grimm/Disney stories.  If you are a fan of Once Upon a Time or have seen the old Tenth Kingdom mini-series, they are like that. Fairy tales & folklore re-told with their own twists. The friendship that Valerie & Samantha and their fun attitudes that they bring to the stories keep these pretty unique in that aspect. I always tease friends when I spend time with their kids. “Two weeks at summer camp or an hour with Auntie Bug, same thing.” If I have something new and irritating to share, they’ll learn it. 😉 I’m sure there are parents out there that want to smack me for their kids walking around quoting Val & Sam: “Loser, loser, double loser….”and other things like that in the books. LOL

Michael: Honestly, that sounds hilarious and irritating at the same time. I think you’re right though, most fantasy these days do not touch traditional fairy tale unless it’s the movies and television.

I have one last question for you. I always ask for a writing tip from the authors I interview. What one tip about writing or publishing can you provide my readers?

June: I always tease with “Don’t do it!” 😉 Writing is the fun part – everything that comes after “The End” is the tough part. Getting published was the toughest thing I’ve ever done (and I had a baby in a car in a snowstorm if you want a comparison) You really need to do your homework in finding the best home for your work. Don’t give in too easily or “settle”. You put your heart & soul into it for maybe years – don’t be in a hurry to release it into the world. Be stubborn – don’t give up. If it’s your dream, go for it. But you need to do it with thick skin. Not everyone will like your work & you need to know this from the beginning. Do it because you love it – that has to be enough. I know that’s more than one but even more importantly, hire an editor and have a lot of sets of eyeballs on it. You will not see it all – I don’t care how many As you got in school. I’ve been asked the same questions many times. I’ve created a “tips” page on my women’s fiction website so I could refer them there first. I’m always happy to share anything I’ve learned along the way. I love fan e-mail.

Michael: Tougher than giving birth in a car in a snowstorm. That’s quite a statement June. I love it! I’m providing several links for those who want to contact June or learn from her own writing. Please do check out her tips page. This interview focussed on fantasy because that’s what I write and that’s what this blog is about, but for those interested in women’s fiction I’ve also provided a link to June’s work.

Now June, thank you very much for your time and maybe we can have you back again in the future.

Links

June’s link: http://www.junekramin.com/tips

Before Happily Ever After website: http://www.beforehappilyeverafter.com/

Women’s Fiction website:http://www.junekramin

Facebook fan page for MG: https://www.facebook.com/AnnTBugg

Facebook fan page for women’s fiction: https://www.facebook.com/JuneKramin

Author Interview: Autumn Birt

Today I continue the Friday interviews that I started several months ago. I’d like to welcome a friend of mine Autumn Birt. Autumn helped me out as I began using twitter to connect with people about my book. I will always be thankful for that. She is a fantasy author and I’m sure that what you are about to read will be very interesting.

Now Autumn, what interests you about writing fantasy?

Autumn: I would say it is the same reasons why I first fell in love with reading fantasy. And there are so many! I love to travel, especially to new places, and you can’t get much more unfamiliar as a new world where magic and mythical beasts lurk. And then there are all the other tropes typical of the genre – discovery of hidden abilities, overcoming great obstacles, vanquishing foes (even if you were born a nobody on the farthest farm from anywhere), and meeting awesome friends along the way.

That is what drew me to reading the genre, especially epic fantasy, but I guess what I really love about writing it is pushing beyond those typical scenarios to something new. In my epic fantasy trilogy, I avoided castles, swords, and even dragons – though I love all three. Instead, there is a lot of sailing and the setting is more mediterranean. The magic of the books is elemental based… but there are five abilities, not four. And that is the crux of the conflict in the books!

I also loved writing and pushing the ability to control each element into new territories. I have a science degree and that definitely shows up in the possibilities of elemental abilities. Such as controlling air means controlling gases. If you can thicken or thin clusters of air molecules as well as direct wind… well there is quite a lot you could do from lifting objects (or not allowing things to be lifted) to altering sound, which has to carry through air. You could take away someone’s breath. Figuring out the possibilities was half the fun of writing the battle scenes – which is usually where the most innovative uses occur!

Michael: I love how your real life understanding and experience has helped shape the fantastical elements of your stories. That is brilliant.

If you can please tell my readers, what is the name of your latest book and why did you call it that?

Autumn: My most recent series is titled Friends of my Enemy. It comes from the very old adage (first translated from Sanskrit!) “Friends of my enemy are also my enemy.” And that pretty much describes the books. They are dark fantasy/ near future dystopian and delve into the complications of love, friendships, and family mixed with personal goals. Plus there is a very powerful ‘real’ enemy. The story line is dark and complex, and was amazingly fun to write – as well as the most challenging thing I’ve written so far. More about that below!

The first of the four books is being released May 1st. It is called Stories from the War and contains 11 short stories that build the foundation for the three books that will come out this summer and fall. It is the only one of the four that stands alone, but the books are so much richer if you read them! You can find Stories for the War here.

Michael: So in case you haven’t figured it out – IT IS OUT TODAY! Go buy it. You won’t be disappointed.

So, this isn’t your first novel, you have several others. What are they?

Autumn: The first series I released was the epic fantasy trilogy the Rise of the Fifth Order. Those three books are Born of Water, Rule of Fire, and Spirit of Life.

Series-Banner-new

And if that isn’t enough, I’ve been releasing the individual short stories to Stories from the War for free (though I won’t be releasing all of them this way). May 1st also marks the release of the fifth short story, War in the Streets. First Meeting, Orders, Stirrings, and Beginning of the Guard are already out.

The easiest way to learn about both series is on their webpages at: the Rise of the Fifth Order and Stories from the War.

Michael: Great links, I particularly love the maps from The Rise of The Fifth Order. Good stuff.

Now, can you tell us a little about this new novel. 

Autumn: My newest series, Friends of my Enemy, really captivates me. I hope readers will feel the same! It is strongly character driven, so much so that many parts of the book wrote themselves. I simply needed to follow where the four main characters led.

And that is part of why it became challenging. These characters are fully formed and independent. One of them made a decision I never saw coming (even though it made complete sense) at the end of book 2. Up until that point, this was going to be a trilogy. I remember sitting there thinking, “am I really going to write that book? Am I going to go there?”

What I mean is that I knew where this decision would take the character and novel, and to write it would be a challenge – one that would have made me hesitate to write the series. But there I was, at the beginning of what was going to be the final book, but now would be 3 of 4, and wasn’t going to back out. I trusted the characters enough to keep going, and I love how it turned out. I love how much I developed as a writer and storyteller to make it happen. And that is why I love this series.

Michael: I’ve said this before, and I think it’s in one of my own interviews over at www.theworldofpangea.com but one of the things some readers don’t understand is that often characters write their own story, we just go along for the ride. For my readers, I’ve included the blurb of this book below.

First Meeting

A military dark fantasy with a touch of romance (because it is no fun when everyone dies and no one falls in love!) set in the near future. Our near future.

Europe stands better prepared to maintain a civilized society in the face of global catastrophes, pandemics, terrorism, and a changing climate. The USA answered its troubles by establishing a military government. Set in Europe, this is a story about a small handful of people whose lives interconnect. People who become influential as the world falls into a war in an era tumbling toward chaos. Each seeks to save Europe, but not all influence is good even when intentions are for the best, and not all decisions can be made in time.

Also available is the collection of short stories:

FofmeE-Stories-from-the-War-250

Autumn, who is your favourite character and why?

Ack! That is such a difficult question. I always joke that my favorite character is the one whose POV I’m currently writing in. I need to be so much in their head to write a scene well that I have to put aside my likes and dislikes, and accept who they are and what they are doing. But when it is all said and done…

In my epic fantasy series, I’m drawn to Darag, one of the heroes, and Sinika, the ‘villian.’ Sinika partially because he was so clever he was out-thinking me as I was writing. I never knew what he would do – or worse, why he was doing what he was doing –  and really, really worried that he would win. I’ll explain why Darag in the next question.

For the dark fantasy series… oh gosh. My immediate reaction would be Derrick Eldridge or Captain Jared Vries, though I do love Arinna Prescot too. They each have great attributes and really aspire to rise to be the best they can for all the right reasons – despite everything. Jared has a wicked smart mouth. Arinna is a bit of a maverick. And Derrick is so gosh darn competent, but doesn’t think that is anything special. If I could be reincarnated as any of them, I’d be thrilled!

Do you see any aspects of yourself in any of the characters?

Autumn: So this brings me back to Darag. The Rise of the Fifth Order was my first series and written a bit more personally – before I’d really gotten my feet wet as a writer. So a few of those characters hold more of me or friends than my newest work. Ria contains a few of my fears, at least the ones I held when 16. Niri utilized a bit of my inventiveness. She is perceptive and always finding a way through, even when she leaps without looking. And Darag is someone I’d very much like to be. He grows so much in confidence as well as abilities, and I feel a kinship with him that I can’t explain. Maybe his path for magic is like my path for writing? I’m not sure, but I know he stuck in my mind quite a bit after I finished writing the series, especially considering the horrible place I left him in… which led to my newest WIP!

Michael: For those who don’t know – WIP is shorthand we writers use for work in progress.

What is your newest work in progress and what makes it different?

Autumn: I’ve already spoken about how the Rise of the Fifth Order is unique for epic fantasy and Friends of my Enemy is just completely unlike anything I’ve written or thought I could write. So why is Games of Fire different? Especially considering it is set in the same world as the Rise of the Fifth Order, and begins six months after that trilogy ends.

So this is different to the book that’s out today? I just want to clarify that for my readers.

Yes, when I finished writing the Rise of the Fifth Order, I thought I was done with the world and series. Which was really painful considering it was my first series, and took over three years to write. I loved those characters. And I left them in a positive, but tough, situation.

They kept bothering me, popping into my head while I was at work or driving. But I wasn’t going to write another book without a good reason. I don’t like rehashes written just because the author couldn’t let go… or wanted to sell more books. So I sat down with the characters and gently explained that unless they came up with a great novel, they needed to go away (have you ever noticed most writers sound completely insane?!?). Well, they gave me a great reason. The Rise of the Fifth Order introduced the world, and the world building I did to write it created a history, but I had completely missed a huge problem brewing. HUGE. I think my subconscious wanted to keep writing from the beginning, because there are little clues throughout the series that lead up to… well a new trilogy.

So it is different because, like the Rise of the Fifth Order trilogy, this isn’t a book that includes any elves, orcs, dwarves, or castles. You don’t need a spellbook to cast magic. Abilities are based on the elements but have crazy rules and there are five abilities. There are occasional dragons, one important sword, and a lot of water to cross, plus a desert, some mountains, and lots of different cultures. And it is a whole new storyline not based on the first books, though many characters reappear. It will stand alone though… and be quite dramatic!

Great! I always ask this question as I end an interview. Can you share some advice to any first time novelist?

Autumn: Absolutely! Hire an editor, use a professional looking cover (and if you don’t know what that is, browse through the top 100 books in your genre and you’ll see very quickly), don’t get discouraged, and write well and write a lot. I didn’t do ANY of those things when I first published Born of Water, so I’m speaking from solid experience.

Amazon makes it so easy to upload a book. At least Smashwords gives you a style guide! I designed my own cover and did a horrible job (I might change it yet again one of these days). I have an English degree and figured I had the editing thing down (big nope). And then it took me a year to write Rule of Fire. Of course, during that time I had Born of Water edited, made a much better cover, and realized that this was a series and I’d better darn well 1. name it and 2. figure out the plot. Despite all of those shortcomings, people actually liked both books – and they wanted the third. Which took another year.

That is why I say write a lot. My biggest advice to a novelist is if you plan on doing this as something more than a hobby (because some people are really happy to have a book out and that is it), you should write an entire series and release it in a year in quick succession. And of course, don’t wait until you release it to blog/tweet/facebook about it (like I did as well). Start talking about it before you write page 1. Take any reader who stumbles onto your writing with you on the journey. THAT is extremely powerful. And it is fantastic to have people rooting for you.

As a reader, I hate waiting forever between books. So as an author, hearing about readers who wanted to know when the next book was out really made me squirm. A year between books in a series is okay, but not great. Six months is better.

So even though I have a whole series under my belt, with Friends of my Enemy I’m finally taking my own advice. Professional covers, great editing, and the whole series in one year. It is fully written. I’m working on final edits for book 2. I’ve been releasing the individual short stories 2 weeks apart. Book 1 is live on May 1st and after that the individual books will be 2 months apart. Don’t believe me, check the series page: www.nomapnomad.com/ww/friends-of-my-enemy/!

Yes, it is a crazy schedule, but I have a good friend releasing 15 books this year. I’m only planning 5 (Spark of Defiance, the first book to Games of Fire will be out before Christmas too!). This is what it takes to keep fans and readers engaged. So if you want to be an author, you have to treat it as a business. If I’m still sane in the fall, I’ll let you know how it is going!

Michael: That is crazy, and I am guilty of releasing just one book and releasing the second a year later. So, perhaps my fans should learn from there Autumn.

If someone wants to contact you how can they do it?

Autumn: I love hearing from people! The easiest way is the contact form on my website www.AutumnWriting.com. But you can find me on twitter too @weifarer, on Facebook or on Google+. I’m even on Pinterest where I love sharing book quotes using my husband’s photos! Say hi!

Michael: Autumn, thank you for sharing, we will have to have you back soon. For those who want to know a little more about Autumn but aren’t quite ready to go visit her site, here is a brief bio.

Autumn Birt Bio PicI’m a writer!
Oh you probably wanted to know more than that.  🙂 And there is more, but writing is my passion. Despite the headaches of learning to edit, market, design covers, create websites, plot stalls, limited time… despite any drawback you can list, I love writing. That really is the first thing you should know about me.
Besides that, I live in Maine in a small, off-grid cottage I built with my husband (our two Cairn terriers supervised). I love to travel though. I would list that as the second passion in my life. And I prefer slow travel: hiking, sailing, kayaking, and motorcycling. Especially the motorcycling! I have an F650 BMW that is my favorite thing next to a writing device (preferably a portable writing device). If I could have my way, I’d spend months touring far off countries on a motorbike split with long bouts writing in small cabins next to lakes or cabanas on a beach. Internet connection would be a must.
Until that day, I have a day job that is actually pretty cool. I’ve worked for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service since 2002. It is a great job that not only lets me help the environment and protect local agriculture, but also provides a paycheck big enough to support my writing habit (at least until it grows up and supports itself)!
You can find my travel writing featured on the adventure travel website No Map Nomads where I am the co-editor and writer. I’m also a member of Guild of Dreams, which features my blog posts as well as those of eleven other fantasy writers.
I have plans for many further adventures both real and fictional. So stay tuned and stay in touch. I love to hear from people!

Author Interview: Katie Hopmann

Today I continue the series of interviews with other authors. I am welcoming Katie Hopmann to the blog, who has recently released an amazing children’s book called “The Kings Invitation.”

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Katie, tell us a little about yourself. What are some of your hobbies and interests?

Katie: I graduated from Ouachita Baptist University last spring with a major in Studio Art and minors in Writing and Christian Studies. While I lived in Arkansas as a student, I enjoyed long walks and hikes- especially when the trees changed colors in the fall. Now, I live in Cypress, TX. I work as a free-lance illustrator and part time nanny. I spend a lot of time with kids. I teach homeschool art lessons, and serve kids at my church on Wednesdays and Sundays.

Michael: Maybe I will have you back sometime to talk more specifically about illustrating. I find that subject fascinating, but for now, let’s move on.>

Out of all the books you can create, why create a children’s book?

Katie: There’s a difference between a children’s book and a picture book. I write children’s books because I am constantly thinking about how kids think and how they could learn. I love considering what might make them laugh, and want to do the best job I can at connecting with the next generation. However, my first love is the picture book, which depends on visual storytelling to give meaning to the text. Children ages 3-93 can discover meaning within pictures. Unlike text that often tells you how to feel or think, pictures convey something that people have to discover for themselves.

Michael: I never knew the difference between a children’s book and a picture book. I love the idea of the picture communicating more than just the words you read!

What are some of your own favorite books from when you were a child?

Katie: The Giving Tree, Green Eggs and Ham, the Frog and Toad series

Michael: Green eggs and ham, a personal favorite!

Are there other children’s books that The Kings Invitation is similar to?

Katie: Maybe I need to read more, but I struggle to relate this book with another children’s book I’ve read.

Michael: Having read it, I do agree. I’ve not found one that I can relate it to, which makes it incredibly unique and I must say, spectacular. I highly recommend this to anyone with kids.

Now, where did you come up with the name The Kings Invitation?

Katie:The Original name was “The Boy Who Loved the King.” My editor suggested “A Royal Invitation,” and then we finally settled on “The King’s Invitation.”

This is just one example of how many influences went in to the formation of this book. My original draft, there were no invitations in the story. Now it’s in the title!

Michael: I love that. I think as authors and writers, we’re aware of the help others give us along the way. Publishing really is a team effort.

I have to say, the art in The Kings Invitation is gorgeous. Did you do the art yourself, and what inspired you?

Katie: Thank you, yes. I worked through many different styles before going with what you find in the book. I love black line drawings (like Shel Silverstein’s work) but also enjoy working with the texture of watercolor. The final product is a mixture of ink and watercolor I did by hand and digital drawing and rendering I did with a drawing tablet.

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Michael: As I said earlier, this is all fascinating to me, I’ve really not looked into illustrating much but there’s so much to learn about it and you ate truly great at it.

On that note, are there other artists or illustrators that have inspired you? If so, how?

Katie:There’s so many! Illustrators that have particularly inspired me are Shel Silverstein (for his ability to communicate so much within squiggles of black ink), and Peggy Rathmann (for her ingenious visual storytelling)

Michael: If you’re not familiar with their work, I encourage you to go and check them out.

What’s one word of advice you can give to writers who wish to be published in children’s literature?

Katie: I’m still learning how to do this well, but I would encourage writers to write…and write…and write some more, focusing on making their craft the best it can. Worrying about how your work will be published will suck the joy right out of creating something truly fresh.

Michael: Good advice Katie, thank you.

Is there anything particular you had to overcome to accomplish this?

Katie: Early on I had to decide that words like edit, revise, re-draw, or change were not going to be negative words. I had to learn when and how to stick with my original ideas and when it was important to take advice and direction from critiques. That’s hard because after thinking about a story for almost 2 years it becomes like a baby.

Michael: I certainly agree. I received some very blunt critiques from my original work as well, but those critiques helped me write a lot more precisely.

As we close, what are some ways that people can contact you on?

Katie: My website is the best place to learn more about my work: http://www.heartworkbykatie.com

That can connect you to everything else.

Michael: Katie, it’s been a pleasure interviewing you for this blog. Thanks so much for sharing your hard work and insights. Once again, if you have children, or if you simply want to read a very enjoyable book with great illustrations, check this out. I highly recommend it!

And in case you want a direct link to buying it, you can do so with this link: http://www.heartworkbykatie.com/the-kings-invitation.html