Sunday, April 28, 2013

Writer Lost

Last Seen Sitting at the Computer Typing Latest Masterpiece
Answers to the name Michele
Likes reading, writing, and Raviolis.
If found beware of dry sense of humor.

I am sure this is not new to any of you seasoned or even new writers and authors, but I am getting lost in the mess of things. I was going along and writing, and getting some great ideas on paper. Then, my other books sales are slowing to a halt, and I get distracted.

Here is what you might or might no know about what I have been up to:
  • Supposed to be writing my next big novel.
  • Connecting with other writers for blog guesting/hosting.
  • Reading books about writing.
  • Serving the Internet for writers.
  • When finding writers connecting to writers they know.
  • Filling up my Favorites with Author/Writer/ Agents Blogs.
  • Created a new folder in favorites titled Writer's Blogs.
  • Reorganized my favorites bars and put things in folders.
  • Thought about forums I should join.
  • Re-read my business plan for being a writer.
  • Found out I accomplished a lot on my plan- including Guest Blogging.
  • Created a spreadsheet to keep track of all my guesting and hosting of authors/writers.
  • Avoided the library of ebooks I could download on my Kindle.
  • Worked on adding some Widgets to my blog.
  • Found out I did not accomplish finishing this book by May (unless I do in the next 3 days).
  • I found out I am someones favorite on Smashwords!
  • I made $11.72 on Smashwords.
  • I have not written anything in 2 weeks.
  • Found out I can link to others blogs to my blogs by pushing a button on their blog; I am so using this.
So, on top of my day job, and family life, I have been a WRITER LOST.
I have found some cool writers to connect with and definitely felt validated and less alone. So that is one positive. I, also, looked into a lot of authors who are making anywhere between $2,500 - $10,000 a month on Indie Ebooks. I am not sure if it is encouraging or discouraging that they made that much.

Some (not all) of their books are not that top notch, but I guess it is all about giving the public what they want. Someone is interested in their books for them to make all that money.

I think I am looking for some sort of recipe, step-by-step, or magic beans to be successful as a writer. I feel like I am building a bridge on one side of land hoping there is land on the other side to connect it. Am I writing, and never going to make the money or achieve the success I desire. I guess, if there is not land on the other side, I can use it to launch hang-gliders.

Anybody else lose this focus, and get a little lost?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Guest Post by Pakistani Author Xunaira Javed

Xunaira Javed is from Islamabad, Pakistan and is author of The Cursed City and is co-author of Mia's Confession (available HERE on Amazon). She has written short stories on Helium and when younger wrote for US Magazine.  She is currently attending SZABIST (Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology, Islamabad) working on her Bachelors in Mobile and Ubiquitous Computing.
TradeMark Remark: If Xunaira was on a camping trip, what would her role be?
Something to do with Computers.
Written by Xunaira Javed
On Becoming a Writer
As a writer, we all need is some sort of inspiration and motivation to step into the world and make our way through it. Think, Dream and Write. These three words that motivated me since I was a kid, going through my grade school, here in the capital of Pakistan, called Islamabad. I, like many other children, dreamed big dreams. I wanted to write someday. I wanted to be a writer.

My mother, she is a very gifted writer, therefore I believed myself to be the recipient of the same gene. Anyhow, I passed through grade school, then high school and finally stepped into the university, studying a completely different major than what I wanted. I pursued computer science, majoring in mobile and ubiquitous computing. Don't get scared, it's isn't difficult as it sounds to be. It is actually quite interesting when you are making applications and learning languages.

On Writing & Publishing
My English professor  just gave me a hint as to I should try my hand at writing a novel but still, I felt shy. I did not believe that I was capable of such a thing but gradually I looked beyond the shyness and uncertainty and decided to give my hand at writing. Amazon Kindle is quite popular with the new generation around here, many of Pakistani authors are published through this platform. So I thought, “Why shouldn't I give self-publishing a try?”

I was going through pictures of British Columbia, Canada which my sister had recently sent me. The wilderness and the snow-covered mountains, the frozen lakes and the gorgeous landscape set my mind to work. Immediately, I started writing and there you go, The Cursed City, is available on Amazon stores worldwide. I have joined many author platforms which are international as there are a limited number of writers clubs here, which are not accessible to everyone. It is quite difficult to get a spotlight on your literary work. 

My short stories, which I started off with Helium, were definitely liked by many as I could see by the stats and even the blogs were received well. The Cursed City hasn't been that popular with the audience but I'm sure, with more time I would be able to bring you more refined stories that are heart felt and entertaining. I am sure, all of you out there, would check it out and help me make my way through the e-publishing.

Sneak-Peak at New Book
This excerpt is from my upcoming novel The Cryptic Murderer. This is an adult genre, a crime thriller with the main heroine, Aida, suffering from the after effects of a murdered family. She is the witness to her mother's death and the elopement of her sister which results in her falling into a depressions so bad that she leaves everything and practically starts living near the graves of her mother and sister.

Then, as the story opens she moves to Singapore where she meets someone, who is an undercover FBI agent and tells her about her life being in danger. Not trusting him, she ignores him and moves on but she gets kidnapped.

Haashir has 24/7 surveillance on her so that she is kept safe. He is tall, dark and handsome and as Aida spends time with him, she realizes that there is more to them than friendship. Events occur which bring them into the line of fire where their acquaintance, friendship and eventually love is challenged.

     Blood rushed in his ears as he held the sight in front of him. She was a pretty damsel, sleeping like a baby, and he was going to kill her. Her flawless skin looked like pure white satin against the cool linen sheets of her frilly bed. Her rosy lips were pale from sleep and her long russet eyelashes rested on her cheeks like pale butterflies. She was at peace. Gulping down the sudden surge of bile in his throat, he removed a sharp-tipped butcher’s knife from inside his jacket. His eyes on her, he stepped closer to her bed, ready to get the job done. Sighing, she turned on her side, her hazel-green eyes looking directly into his chocolate brown ones. He stood rooted to the floor, his emotions were in a turmoil as he felt something for this girl, maybe it was pity or remorse, he wasn't sure. He was a serial killer, who studied his subjects thoroughly before going for the kill, and this instant he had ignored these facts because his prey was just a teenage girl. Closing his eyes against the pain in his chest, he placed one hand on her mouth to muffle her scream and went straight for her throat. The spurt of blood on his hands appeased his raging emotions and he lost his mind to everything, except the blood gushing out of her vein.
      Crouched next to a tomb, he saw the funeral procession inch by. He could see the crying faces of the family members and the sad, forlorn looks ones of close friends. Every one of them mourned her. He was mesmerized with the teenage girl he had just murdered but that hadn’t broken his iron resolve to kill her. His next target was the older sister. How would they feel, when the second one will be in another coffin like this?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Interview with Jordan Smith: "What is Your Story About?"

Jordan Smith uses the the technique of a logline to help writers convey their story in one sentence. Writers market their stories/books better when they have this sentence ready for all inquirers in any venue.

Jordan Smith is a storyteller who is author of Finding the Core of Your Story and A Purple and Gold Afghan and other stories. He also works in film, and is the producer/director of the Month of the Novel web series.

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Jordan Smith on writing, the logline technique, and his books.
TradeMark Remark: While camping what would Jordan Smith's role be?
      Packing the car. Why? Because he is good and getting a lot of stuff packed into a small area.
(As he does using the logline technique)

On your blog you mention being involved in the film realm. What is your role in film?
I’m an independent filmmaker. My passion is telling great stories in a visual medium, which usually shakes out to directing and producing my own projects. I’ve also consulted on several other filmmakers’ projects by reading scripts, giving advice, and helping with promotional efforts.

Is this your full-time job? If not, what is?
I wish! The problem with independent filmmaking is that it’s difficult to make it pay in the short run. I hope it will be my full-time job someday, but for now, I split my time between writing my books and doing customer service for a small homeschool publisher.

Who do you come in contact with in the film realm? (Directors, writer, actors, etc)
All of the above. I may not know the big names out there, but I’ve met people who work in Hollywood, and I’d think I’m involved with a lot of budding talent that may be successful in the future. I’ve been privileged to work with some people who are very, very good at what they do.

You mentioned that you have studied story theory in great depth.
Can you say more about that?
Sure. I’ve invested a lot of time in reading books about story theory, writing my own stories to see how the theory shakes out, and discussing that theory with other like-minded people. One of the most intensive things I do is time movies, which is a process where you make notes on what happens in the film down to the second. It’s tedious work, but it’s incredibly eye-opening and rewarding. You learn a lot about story structure.

Who do you think would benefit from your book Finding the Core of Your Story?
Anyone with a story to tell. I specifically state in the opening chapter that the methods in the book work for anything. Novels, movies, comic books, operas… I even once discovered that I unknowingly helped somebody use the book’s concepts on a poem. No matter what your story medium is, you need to tell people what your story is about, and you need to do it before they lose interest. You’ll need to catch their interest on Amazon, on your blog, at book signings, in Facebook ads, and anywhere else you can think of. Finding the Core of Your Story is geared toward helping any storyteller craft a single sentence that makes it simple to do all of those things with confidence.

Can you briefly describe your emphasis on using the "logline" as a tool?
Loglines are little known outside of filmmaking circles, but simply put, it’s a single-sentence story pitch. I learned about them from a filmmakers’ forum, but I quickly realized that the idea applies to more than just movies.

It’s incredibly valuable to get a story into just one sentence, and not just for the sake of marketing. When you look at your story in a logline, you see the core with none of the cruft. It helps you keep track of what’s important.

Your book Finding the Core of Your Story has received very positive reviews on Amazon. What feedback have you received from friends, family, and fans regarding it?
It’s been hugely positive. My friends and family have turned into logline advocates and are always asking me to take a look at their loglines when they think of new story ideas. I even had one author friend enlist my help to finesse her logline before a podcast interview. She had it pretty much figured out after reading my book, but it was fun to be asked to help make sure it was good.

What/who inspired you to write the story A Purple and Gold Afghan?
A Purple and Gold Afghan and other stories is a collection of very personal stories that come from the essence of my own experiences with falling in love. The stories are told from the point of view of a young man as he bumbles his way through figuring out how to handle all the new feelings and situations. While they aren’t based on any real events or people, I did draw heavily on how I felt during experiences of my own.
You are on the phone with a novice writer/storyteller who has aspirations to be a successful author. Your cellphone battery is going to die any second. What dire information would you try to feed to him/her?
One of my biggest pieces of advice for storytellers is to make sure the story feels right. Storytelling is the realm of emotion, so you really need to nail that. Technical know-how in writing is important, but you’re not going to grab anyone unless it resonates with them.

What do you think YOUR best asset is as a writer or storyteller?
As I alluded to in the last question, I am always working to make sure the story feels right. I find that my best asset is usually that. I can’t write something if I don’t know what the emotion is, and I think it shows through in my stories.

What are you currently working on?
All sorts of things! I always have a lot of irons in the fire. Right now, I’m most actively working on a book about my experiences in marketing my self-published books, and I’m also editing the second season of Month of the Novel, which is a web series based on National Novel Writing Month that I’m producing and directing.

You can follow Jordan Smith's blog here.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Interview with Harry Bingham: Author of the Fiona Griffiths Books

Harry Bingham of Oxfordshire, England is author of various books on writing & publishing. Harry is currently writing a crime series starring a rather intriguing female detective.

I had the luck to talk him down from between two walls long enough to interview him.
TradeMark Remark: What camping job with Harry Bingham be given?
 Tarp Hanger & Coconut Picker (Why? Just look at the picture above.)
You were a banker before an author, what changed?
A couple of things. For one thing, I never really loved banking and knew I’d always quit at some point. Then, when I was in my late twenties, my wife became really ill.We tried hiring care assistants to look after her when I was at work, but that wasn’t at all satisfactory. So I gave up work to look after her, and started my first novel. That book became The Money Makers, and I’ve never really looked back.

Can you talk a little bit about your experience getting published?
I didn’t find it all that hard to get published, which is a little different from most people. On my side, I had three things, I think. The first was a totally perfectionist attitude to my manuscript. I never once thought that ‘good enough’ was the target. I always aimed at stunning, and worked through infinite drafts to get the book in shape. I think my background as a banker helped. Hard work and infinite redrafting was a big part of my training at the bank.

Secondly, I had a good concept: a strong elevator pitch, if you like. That concept was enough to carry the book over any immaturity in my actual writing. I was lucky really. I’ve probably never written a book since that had such a strong central idea.

And then third, the market then wasn’t as hard as it is now. I sent my book to a dozen literary agents all told. Two of them offered representation (plus one other, but I was never sure he’d actually read the book.) And that was that, really. We sent the book out to publishers and were quickly involved in a multi-publisher auction. The stuff of dreams! Those things don’t happen as much these days. It’s much tougher for new writers and it isn’t about to get easier either.
What kind of readers should pick up your newest book Talking to the Dead?
It’s a hard book to explain, in a way! Theoretically, it’s a police procedural, except that the central character, Fiona Griffiths, doesn’t spend much of her time bothering with procedure. And, although there is a murder story and an investigation, the reader quite quickly realises that Fiona Griffiths is herself something of a mystery, so the book ends up being a character study of a very strange but intense and gifted young woman. There’s nothing paranormal in the book, but it’s still edge-of-reality stuff. (You can read some more about Fiona Griffiths here, but I need to forewarn you that she likes to keep a secret, so she’s not the world’s best interviewee.)

On your blog you write about the main character of the book telling you what to write. Can you explain that more?
I’ve written Talking to the Dead entirely in the first person – and the person in question is young, female and odd. And she has a very strong voice. I suppose that her voice isn’t a million miles different from mine, but it’s certainly more her than me. And yes, she kind of takes over. My task as a writer is to find her voice, then just let the story unfold. With Talking to the Dead, I found that I dreamed about the book every night. So much so, that I mostly developed the plot while asleep: just went to bed having finished a particular section, then dreamed what happened in the next chunk, woke up and wrote it down. I’ve never written a book that way before, but it sure reduces the workload!

You have books published on writing and getting published. You also run the Writer's Workshop which runs a variety of creative writing courses and offers manuscript assessments to newbie writers. Can you talk some about that venture?
Yes, a few years back, I thought it would be a nice idea to do a little editorial work in my spare time. The idea was to help advise new writers on their manuscripts and hopefully lead them towards publication. There was obviously something in that concept, because we now have about eighty editors working for us on a freelance basis. With our manuscript assessments we aim to give honest, expert and constructive editorial advice, and since all our editors are themselves professional authors or commissioning editors, our quality standards are no different than they would be in any major publishing house. (You can see some of our editorial reports here.) We also run creative writing courses, which have turned out to be amazingly inspiring, as well as practically useful. Although we host the courses online, it’s remarkable how some groups really bond. These things keep me in touch with the reason I came to be a writer in the first place. In the end, it was always about passion. The money was always secondary. It still is. 

If you had a 25 floor elevator ride with a newbie writer, what advice you bestow upon him or her? (no cheating and pulling the alarm/stop button)
Be perfectionist. Write what you love. Write what the market wants. Find that sweet point where the two things intersect. And read lots of contemporary, debut fiction. That’s what editors are buying NOW. (I should say that I live in an eighteenth century house just outside the old market town of Chipping Norton, near Oxford. We don’t have too many 25-story buildings around here, so I’m hoping I’ve timed that elevator ride about right.)

What is a secret you covet about the writing business?
talkingtothedead_USfinal_sm.gifI’ve kicked around the writing game long enough now, that there aren’t many secret corners for me any more. I think the greatest mystery to a new author is the whole business of securing a literary agent, and in truth the real challenge there is simply to write a book that’s good enough. Getting an agent is hard just because writing a great book is hard. And as I say, the publishing industry is getting ever tougher on debut authors. I was lucky to start when I did.

How much do you pay attention to Amazon reader reviews, other reviews, and fan feedback?
Not all that much, which perhaps sounds arrogant. But there are a few things going on here.

For one thing, bear in mind that writers are normally about two books ahead of retail – so my first Fiona Griffiths novel is coming out in paperback now, and I’m just about to hand the manuscript of the third FG novel to my publisher. So comments online are a kind of historic document for me. What really matters to me now is what my editor thinks of the book I’m about to deliver.

For another thing, a lot of negative Amazon reviews are essentially saying, “This isn’t the kind of book I like.” Which is fair enough. We all like different things and I don’t aim to please everybody, or ever expect to. I’d prefer to please a few readers a lot, than a lot of readers a bit.

Then too, the act of creation demands a certain amount of self-belief. In order to write a single page, I have to have a belief that that page is worth writing. Perhaps what it comes down to, though, is this. I write for myself. If I like what I’ve written, then that’s enough. If some other people like it too, I’m winning.

Consistently, reviewers of your work have stated that you are a talented and powerful writer. What are the ingredients that got you to that point?
Gee, having just said that I don’t pay too much attention to reviews, it does look nice on the page, a compliment like that! But I’m quite experienced, which helps. And through all the stuff we do at the Writers Workshop – the writing courses and the manuscript assessments and so on – I’ve become much more self-aware as a writer. Why some things work. Why other things don’t. I think all that has filtered into my writing. I’m certainly way better now than I was when I started. I enjoy it more as well.

What occupies your time nowadays? Are you writing something? If so, what?
As mentioned, I’m putting the final touches to the third Fiona Griffiths book. But that’s a slightly evasive answer … because it’s now April and in August, my wife and I are expecting twins, our first children. That’s going to be a wonderful life-change. An amazing and much-wanted one. But what’s going to occupy my time for the next two years? Changing diapers.

What would you like to say to your readers and fans?
I hope you enjoy the books! I’ve been a writer for more than ten years, but I’ve never enjoyed writing as much as I have done with these Fiona Griffiths novels. I genuinely hope that some of that pleasure comes through in the actual text. I think it does!

Check-out Harry Bingham's books on Amazon! Fiona promises to be a character you will not forget.

Ding, Dong! Someone is at the Door

This week there will be another guest on Writer + Wilderness Girl Under it All blog.

My guest blog has gone International.

Harry Bingham is a forty-something, British author living in Oxfordshire, England. He is author of books on publishing and writing. He is currently writing a crime series with a female Welsh detective named Fiona Griffiths. He is also founder of The Writers' Workshop. He is the son of Thomas Bingham, Baron Bingham of Cornhill.

 Talking to the Dead, How To Write, Getting Published

Tune in to an informative and entertaining blog about Harry Bingham this week.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Jumping from Mountain to Mountain: Switching My Focus Again?

On December 1, 1994 I switched by undergraduate major from Journalism to Sociology. The last few days I have spent time interviewing authors for my blog, and writing articles for their blogs. I have to say I am missing writing and journalism a little bit.

If I was told that I could consistently wrangle in as much money as I am making now at my job with benefits, I would consider leaving my job for writing. All I want to do is write, and learn and a write some more. There are so many authors, bloggers, and seminars from which to learn.

I would love to read all day, too.
Author Michele M. Reynolds jumping zip-lining from Mountain to Mountain.

So many thoughts . . . so little time to write.

I guess I will go to bed now, so that I can work tomorrow.

TradeMark Remark: Guest's job while camping.

I have started hosting guest bloggers, guest blogging, and doing interviews on my blog. The first interview with Catherine M. Wilson debuted today!

I decided to have a Trade Mark for these interviews. I wanted it to be something that had to do with my interests and related to the writers, authors and bloggers I was interviewing. This is what I decided.

 TradeMark Remark: Guest's job while camping.

For every interview I do my plan is to decide what the interviewee's job/role would be while camping.
Jobs I will be handing out not limited to the following:
·        Cook.
·        Fire Girl/Gal.
·        Shelter Tarp & Tent. (Hanging the tarp is my least favorite job.)
·        Kid wrangler.
·        Activity Planner.
·        Storyteller.
·        Safety.
·        Night Watch.
·        Clean-up.
·        Entertainer.
·        Van load/unloader.
·        Navigator.

I am excited about HOSTING all these writers, authors, storytellers, bloggers etc, and adding this TradeMark Remark is just the hammock between the trees of it all.

I hope that you subscribe to my blog and let me know whom you would like me to interview, give me ideas on questions, and/or just leave some feedback.

Interview with Author Catherine M. Wilson: On Writing

"Any book is half what the author wrote and half what the reader brings to it."
- Catherine M. Wilson, Author

Catherine M Wilson is the author of the trilogy When Women Were Warriors. She has spent most of her working life as an engineer of one sort or another (broadcast engineer, software engineer) and people who know that side of her are surprised when they learn about the writing side. Catherine says, “I like science and engineering because I like to know how things work, and I like the arts because I like to know how people work.”  Catherine has now retired from her other pursuits and is trying to catch up on her reading. She lives in a mountain cabin in Central California.

Wilson's trilogy is about a hero Tamras who arrives at a warrior house to begin an apprenticeship as a warrior. This trilogy has the reader enter a world where women are in charge, strong, courageous, smart, and loving.

TradeMark Remark: Guest's job while camping.  After reading her books, interviewing her, and getting to know Catherine M. Wilson better, I decided that Catherine would be in charge of Rituals and Traditions while camping. Her second duty would be 1st in charge if a battle erupted.
Here is the result of my wonderful opportunity to interview Catherine M. Wilson.

Is it true that you have been training a clan of women warriors to take over California, and that your books are the foreshadowing to this?
Shhhh. It's a secret. Don't tell anybody.

What was the transformation from broadcast and software engineer to author like? How did your friends and family react?
I became a writer late in life. I was 52 when I started writing and I finished the trilogy ten years later. Six months after starting the book, I was laid off from my software engineering job, so I thought I'd take a year off to finish it. Ten years later, it was done.

My friends thought I was loony to spend so much time writing a book, but they knew I was loony anyway, so they weren't surprised.

Unfortunately my mother died a few years before I started writing. I wish she could have read the book. She would have loved it. I owe my writing career to my mother, who loved books and thought the vocation of "writer" was the most important one in the world. I would put the vocation of "mother" first, "writer" second.

What is your advice to Indie Authors? On writing? Marketing?
Take it seriously. Read books on self-publishing, and I don't mean a little pamphlet that tells you a quick and dirty way to upload an ebook to Amazon. Learn about the industry. Most of all, write a good book. Take writing classes and get critiques from people who will tell you the truth. 

Do you still write? If so, what does your typical day look like?
I'm not writing at the moment, but when I am working on something it goes like this:
Up at noon or so, the reason will become clear later.

Read email, eat breakfast, start reading through the last 5 or 6 chapters. The sixth chapter back may need some light editing, and as I proceed I get into more involved editing, until I get to the end and can start writing new material.
I usually don't write more than 500 words of new material before I run out of things to say, so I take a break, have dinner, watch TV, and at 11 PM or Midnight, I go back and read the new material, and then sometimes I can just keep going.
There's something about working at night. Even though I live out in the country, there are a lot of distractions, but between Midnight and 6 AM no one calls on the phone or knocks on the door or fires up a chain saw under your window. In those hours there is a kind of what I call a "psychic silence" that lets the little whispers come through. There have been nights when I looked up and thought, My, the moon is bright tonight, and then realized it was dawn. Hence the up-at-noon thing.
Do you have goals of a certain number of words a week or do you write when inspiration strikes?
I have tried to set goals, but word count doesn't work for me. If I'm writing just to get words down, I'm writing crap. I try for butt-time-in-chair. The more hours your butt is in the chair, the more work you'll get done, even if it's just fiddling.

You wrote on your website that you began to write your trilogy after visiting the Newgrange (a megalithic passage tomb in Ireland built over five thousand years ago).
Can you talk more about that?  
I've always had an interest in archaeology, so whenever I get a chance to see something ancient like Stonehenge or Newgrange, I'm there! I have been to Stonehenge twice, but Newgrange was an amazing experience. I was there in 1968, before they did the restoration work. It was a blustery March day and the caretaker was so happy to see people that he almost didn't let us leave. We got to spend quite awhile inside (out of the rain), while nowadays you have to go with a group to get in at all. I've always loved the picture taken of me in front of Newgrange, because the bemused expression on my face tells the story. That was a mysterious portal indeed, and at the time I was too young to get the full force of the experience, but it left a strong impression on me as I became more aware of the many years that humans have been creating things on this planet.

If you could spend time with a character from your books whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?
I'd like to hang out with Gnith and just talk. For one thing, she reminds me of my grandmother, who would be 138 years old if she were alive today. She did make it to 96. Every time Gnith opens her mouth, my grandmother's voice comes out of it. Kind of eerie and comforting at the same time. And I bet Gnith would have a lot of good advice, if I could interpret it correctly.

On your blog you wrote about the Lord of the Rings trilogy. You were comparing it to other books that try to emulate it, but do not have the same soul. You wrote:
"If a book takes you somewhere and you return to your everyday world moved, enlightened, renewed, with new ideas, new perspectives, and a new appreciation of life, you've found a great book, and it has nothing to do with ogres and trolls."

Your book had this effect on me. Do you get similar feedback from readers?
Yes. And I'm thrilled when I hear that from people, because when I was 21 and read Lord of the Rings for the first time, I wanted to live in Middle Earth. That book informed many of my generation about what being a true warrior is all about.

I very consciously wrote When Women Were Warriors for the young women of the 21st century. I believe this is our century--a century in which women will achieve true equality and be respected for our many talents. It's time for a century of peacemakers. One of my fans said that Tamras is a peace warrior. Very true!

You have been part of the Civil Rights, Women's Movement, and Gay rights. What kind of feedback have you received regarding the lesbian characters/world of your trilogy?
One thing I do enjoy, in a perverse kind of way, is reading my one-star reviews from people who can't handle the "lesbian stuff." I think in a few years, those people may feel somewhat embarrassed by their cluelessness.

What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
I don't find criticism tough. Anything anybody says is just one person's opinion. If a critic makes a good case for or against something, I'll consider it, but it's my story, and I don't let the opinions of others overrule my own. My editor (Donna Trifilo) will tell you that she was at first frustrated when she remarked on something and then watched me completely ignore her observation, but after awhile she realized that her comments had made it into the book after all. The writer is weaving whole cloth, and a patch shows up instantly, so any input has to be transformed first by the writer's imagination or subconscious or whatever you want to call it before it becomes integral to the story.
What has been the best compliment?
I really can't think of just one. Quite a few folks tell me they're reading the books for the 5th, 6th, 7th, or 8th time. That's always great to hear.
Janis Ian gave the book a 5-star review on Amazon, and since I admire Janis's work, it meant a lot when she admired mine.

What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?
I've had several emails from women soldiers in combat zones who told me that the books encouraged and comforted them. Hard to beat that!

What book that you have read has most influenced your life?
Aside from Lord of the Rings, I would have to say that Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain was an early influence. It was one of my mother's favorite books. She read it in college and it profoundly changed the way she thought about war. She was a true peace warrior. The irony is that she did get involved in WWII by joining the Army, because some things are worth fighting for.

I read Testament of Youth in my 20s, and it's a profound portrayal of what the First World War was like for women, many of whom served as nurses and most of whom lost fathers, brothers, sons, or husbands.

Who is your favorite author?
J. R. R. Tolkien. Jane Austen is a close second.

What would you like to share with writers, your readers, and fans?
I really appreciate it when people write to tell me how my books affected them. People say the most amazing things. I've always believed that any book is half what the author wrote and half what the reader brings to it. When I hear that something I've written gave someone an insight, or helped them understand another person or even themselves, that makes my day!

Million dollar question: Are you working on another book?
I haven't written any other books, but I do have an idea for a new one. Given that it took ten years to write the trilogy, it probably won't appear anytime soon, but I am looking forward to seeing what shapes up.

Check out Catherine M. Wilson's blog and books at the following links:

When Women Were Warriors Facebook group:
Links to Book I (free) on Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords:

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Guest Blogging: Got to say it . . .

I am so far loving the connecting with writers and the ideas of guest blogging. I had to be reminded to get ready for work this morning as I was glued to my computers with emails flying in from guest blogging sites. I ended up going into work 30 minutes late with my VP strolling through my team's aread looking for me. Luckily for me, he is a very nice guy, and everyone knows I put more than my share of time, sweat, and tears at work.

It is very exciting to be using my journalism skills when interviewing authors. I am finally finding a foothold into connecting and socializing with authors out there. I have looked on several sites and never found anyone I would want to chat with or if I did, it was someone who didn't even give me the time of day. Hopefully, this momentum and motivation will last.

Excerpt from When Women Were Warriors Book I: The Warriors Path by Catherine M. Wilson

Here is a taste of Catherine M. Wilson's writing prior to the interview post. Coming soon!

All the women of my family had gone to war. My mother’s sisters, older than she, fought in the service of the Lady Abicel in the last war against the northern tribes. Their mother served the Lady’s mother in wars told of in grandmothers’ tales. As far back as our line was remembered, our family and hers stood side by side.

My mother too had served the Lady. Too young to bear arms in the last war, from within the palisade where she trained to take her place among the warriors, she heard the clash of arms and the screams of the dying outside the walls. She witnessed her three sisters carried lifeless from the battlefield, leaving her, the youngest, to be her mother’s heir. By the time she became a warrior, the tribes had made an uneasy peace, a peace that so far remained unbroken.
Now my turn had come. In early springtime, when I was just sixteen, my mother took me to the house where she had won her shield so many years before. The Lady Abicel, long dead, had left her house and lands, along with her authority, to her only daughter, Merin. More than ties of custom, the closest ties of friendship bound my mother and the Lady Merin. Together they trained in the use of arms. Together they were made warriors. They remained shield friends, though my mother took a husband and returned to her mother’s house. As my mother had been bound to the service of the Lady Abicel, so would I be bound to the Lady Merin’s service.
On the day I left home, before I set foot across the threshold, my mother made me a present of new shoes. She put on her oldest pair, her journey shoes that had been from home and back again so many times they knew the way. I had meant to be mindful of my first step out the door, but when I turned to leave my little sister with some words of wise advice, I tripped over the stone doorstop and stumbled out into the bright day.
“Dazzle the eye of trouble,” said my mother, to turn bad luck aside.
From the place where our footpath joined the road we took a last look back. My mother waved and blew a farewell kiss to my sister standing in the doorway. I waved too, though my thoughts were flying far ahead of me down the road to Merin’s house.
The first day of our journey took us through country I knew well. My feet had worn smooth every footpath through the pastures where we grazed our sheep. By midmorning of the second day we had left the world I knew behind. We walked through gentler hills than ours, through meadows bright with new grass where red cattle grazed. We never went hungry or lacked a place to spend the night. As we had cared for travelers who came to our door, so our neighbors cared for us. Every evening we sat by the hearth fire of a stranger. Even after so many years, their faces sometimes come to me in dreams.
On the fifth day, at midmorning, we crested the last hill, and the valley that is the heart of Merin’s land lay before us. The river that watered it appeared so tranquil from a distance that I suspected my mother of exaggeration when she warned me of its treachery, of whirlpools and swift currents that would sweep the feet out from under the unwary. Flowing from north to south, it meandered past fields still winter-brown but shimmering with the green promise of a new year. While the part of me that was still a child already missed my home, the person I would become drew me into this new place.
I had heard so many stories of my mother’s life here that I felt as if I too were returning to this land, though I beheld it for the first time. For a long while we stood silent, gazing down upon it from the hillside. I wondered what my mother must be feeling. Some of the happiest years of her life had been spent here, and some of her dearest friendships had been made here, but she had also lost so much here that it must have been hard for her to see this place again.
My mother took my hand and drew me down beside her in the grass. A thousand times I’d heard the story, but I listened with new ears as she retold it.

In ancient days, when only women were warriors, lived a queen whose lands were rich and whose people were content, and all under her protection lived in peace. One dark day, the queen’s daughter, a young woman skilled in the hunt, rode out with her companions. All day they rode, past the time they should have turned for home, but they found no game, and the queen’s daughter would not turn back. At last they saw a red deer at the edge of a wood, and they loosed their hounds to run it down. The queen’s daughter, her hunting spear in hand, rode after it as it vanished among the trees.
The wood belonged to a tribe with whom the queen had once been at war, although many years had passed since there had been strife between them. On that dark day, the son of the queen whose forest it was also hunted there. He saw the red deer bound from between the trees and sent his spear after it. The deer leaped aside, and the spear struck the woman who pursued it.
Late that night her companions brought her body home, tied across her horse’s back where they should have tied the body of the deer. For nine days the queen gave herself to grief. Then she prepared to ride against her neighbors, to take the blood that her daughter’s blood demanded.
On the morning of the tenth day, the queen armed herself and called together the warriors of her household. As they made ready to set out, a young woman rode alone into their midst. At first they thought she was one of their clan, come to ride with her queen, but no one knew her, and she bore no arms. She dismounted and approached the queen. She knelt, as one of the queen’s own warriors would do. When she arose, she lifted her cloak from around her shoulders, and by her clothing all could see that she was of the tribe that had taken the life of the queen’s daughter. Her golden necklace marked her as the daughter of the queen against whom they prepared to ride.
As swords were drawn all around her, the girl stood still, never taking her eyes from the queen. “I have come to replace the one you lost,” she said. “My mother sends me with this message: If your child’s blood demands it, take the blood of this child of mine, but if you need a queen’s daughter to succeed you, take my daughter for your own.”
The queen drew her sword and set its point against the girl’s breastbone and in her eyes saw her fear and her courage. Seldom it happens that wisdom will conquer anger or that grief will yield to compassion, but that day the queen’s heart was satisfied. To spare another mother the grief she knew herself, the queen put away her sword and took the daughter of her enemy to be her own, and both tribes lived in safety and in peace forever after.
So it is the custom that a free woman leave her mother’s house to bind herself and those of her blood to a neighboring clan, either by the sword or by the cradle.

Milk Truck Ending: How NOT to End a Book

I was writing a post and referred to "Milk Truck Ending" and then realized that people probably do not know what that means. Then I wondered if it was just a phrase known to me and my high school creative writing class. I typed it into Bing and this is what I got. That is not what I was looking for, although amusing. "What would happen if you rear-ended a milk truck?" I did not watch it, but you can. 

So Milk Truck Ending was introduced to me by my high school creative writing teacher in the year. . . . .  we will say the 90's for the sake of not disclosing how ancient I am. Mr. Miller had a very unique way to teach this class, and I wish I had taken his class every day of every year of high school. Okay, sorry that was a tangent.

 Milk Truck Ending is when the story is going along and your main character walks across the street, and "Bam!" a milk truck hits him. End of Story. Mr. Miller was trying to teach us what were Milk Trucks in our writing, and what was a way to avoid them. Milk Trucks came in the form of  "Then I woke up. It was all a dream." That worked in OZ and then again in Vanilla Sky, but we are not in Oz anymore and you are NOT Tom Cruise. Unless  you are Tom Cruise, and if so, can I interview for my blog, or can you write a guest blog?
  • Main character pulling off a mask and is someone else all along.
  • Character gets amnesia all of a sudden.
  • Character arrives at the end of the book and fixes or changes everything.
  • Sudden Act of Nature that ruins everything.
  • Stranger saves the day.
  • "You have been listening to a cat tell this story the whole time. How do you like meow?"
  • A miracle.
  • An evil tiwn emerges.
  • Character Sudden Change of Hearth without Warning or Justification.
  • "Then, I died."
  • Something that comes out of nowhere and changes everything.

*And I am sure there are other forms of Milk Truck Endings.

I wrote this wonderful short story during this creative writing class. I was not stuck on the ending. I had it planned from the beginning how I was going to end it. The main character was visiting a college campus and people kept mistaking her for someone else. At the end she hits her head, and all her memories flood back to her. She remembers she was in the Witness Protection Program, and she actually was the person everyone was mistaking her to be. I was so excited about this and handed it in to Mr. Miller.

I received the paper back and Mr. Miller wrote, MILK TRUCK ENDING. I was crushed and he was right. I had fun writing it, and felt witty, but it was not fair to the reader. There are times that surprises and something coming out of left field is okay, but usually the reader has to see it coming a little bit.

For instance, if the character usually is a clumsy bike rider, and always has near misses with vehicles, and THEN a MILK TRUCK hits him/her, that might be okay.

From my basic looks on the internet, I don't think MILK TRUCK ENDING is a coined phrase, but I love the phrase. I try to avoid it, and so should you. Come on, hit by a Milk Truck that is udderly ridiculous. (I couldn't resist. I had to milk it for what it was worth. Don't cry over the spilt milk.) Okay, I am done.

Dessert First? Choosing what Guest to Host First

Are you someone who eats dessert first? Do you leave it until last? I have the odd habit of eating all the broken chips and fries first, leaving the big ones until last. This became a fight when my ex used to eat my last few fries. That was one of the biggest reasons we broke up. (Okay I exaggerate. There were other issues.)

My point is that I debate whether to start my blog tour with an author I know, read, and love her stuff, or to save until later. I decided to give in to instant gratification!

Author Catherine M. Wilson, therefore, will be featured on this blog within the next week.
Product DetailsCatherine M Wilson has spent most of her working life as an engineer of one sort or another (broadcast engineer, software engineer) and people who know that side of her are surprised when they learn about the writing side. Catherine says, “I like science and engineering because I like to know how things work, and I like the arts because I like to know how people work.” Catherine has now retired from her other pursuits and is trying to catch up on her reading. She lives in a mountain cabin in Central California.

What makes Catherine M. Wilson so special to me? I love her When Women Were Warriors trilogy. Her first book was FREE. It was one of the first 3 books I downloaded for my Kindle. Somehow, 3/4 of the way through the book I thought, "How the heck is this thing going to end?" I had the fear it would be a rushed or a MILK TRUCK ENDING. (I think I posted about this, but if not.. I will look for a post titled MILK TRUCK ENDING.) There was not enough room to end it in the amount of pages left. That is when I found out it was a trilogy!

 I went form savoring every bite to devouring her books. Her second and third books were the first books I actually bought. (Most of my books were free or borrowed from the library.)

Upon reading the trilogy book a year ago I wrote reviews online and even emailed Wilson complimenting her on her writing, and asking (okay it was begging) her to write more. Then I read JA Konraths book Newbies Guide to Publishing. That gave me the push and courage to reach out to authors I admire to do an interview on my blog.
Catherine said yes! I threw questions at her and she shot back several wonderful answers. So kids, we are having dessert from California first on the blog tour!

In the meantime, check out her books! Wilson on Amazon That way you you'll feel more clued in during the interview.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Party on the Blog

Yes, I am opening my blog to visitors. And I don't mean you Mr. or Mrs. stranger-in-the-night, who comes and goes without leaving a trace. I am opening my blog to guest bloggers. Hopefully, throughtout the next few weeks and consistently after that, I will have several authors, bloggers, teachers, etc blogging on this very blog.
I know it is too exciting. I need to dust disinfect the About page, dust the book page, and just Windex the heck out of the home page. Look at this screen disgusting! Were the kids eathing cotton candy near it?
I can't write much longer I need to go swab the blog. (That did not sound very PG.)

I will give you more information on our guests soon, and how I got connected with them. It involves an elevator getting stuck, a bowl of blueberries, and a drawer full of junk.
Oh, I will also be traveling to other blogs too. Don't worry I will link and floss.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Writer's Library on Books on Writing

I wonder how many books the average writer has on writing, publishing, marketing books, etc? I keep accumulating them. I easily have 25 books. When I went to used bookstores and new bookstores I gravitated toward these books. I now have a good handful of writing and marketing books on my Kindle. I would guess about 10 of them by now. What was I trying to accomplish with all these books? What does anyone hope to accomplish?
  • To be a become a better writer. It usually hampers my ability to write. When I a reading I am not writing. Okay, I do actually find some helpful hints in the books.
  • To find out other writers tactics. What is he/she doing that I am not doing? Why is he/she a better writer than me? The truth might be that he/she is not a better writer.
  • To find the magic recipe. Somewhere buried in one of these books there HAS to be the secret to wordly success.
  • Validation and sense of belonging. I don't know if many people do this, but they might. Reading a book about someone doing the same thing as you, or struggling with the same things as you, can be validating. You are not deserted  on the ocean floating along on your plot.
  • To avoid writing. I know this cannot be the case, but some writers might read to avoid writing.
Here are some helpful books that come to mind.

Writing Down the Bones
                              by Natalie Goldberg
This book was filled with short chapters and writing exercises to do. Natalie introduced me a long time ago to writing and keeping the hand going, not censoring while I was writing. She also has other books on writing that I have read Wild Minds and Thunder & Lightning. She has written 10 books. Check Natalie out.

Product DetailsNewbies Guide to Publishing
                                               by JA Konrath
This is my most recent read. Konrath transforms his blog posts into a book. I came out of reading it with pages of notes on writing, publishing, and marketing. He writes in a witty and funny style that makes a not so juicy subject appetizing.  It was published in 2010, and some of the information is a bit updated due to the changing world of book publishing. I think Konrath even changes his position on things due to data. You can get it for your ereader.

Product Details Too Lazy to Work too Nervous to steal
                                                by John Clausen
The one thing I remember about this book is that it was very informative at the time on how to be a successful freelance writer. I also remember he was a big fan of taking naps during the day. He even had a couch put into his office to support it. Due to the book of the internet, most of this book is obsolete. He, however, has a lot of ideas and concepts that still apply and an energy about him and you can get the book for $.01 on Amazon. 

Product DetailsThe Write-Brain Workbook
                                               by Bonnie Neubauer
366 Exercises to Liberate  your writing. This book intends to exercise your writing muscles. Each page is unique with colored pages and unique exercises. Love this book! I just checked on Amazon. You can get a used book for $.36. Just make sure you get one that does not have any writing in it. It is one of those books you write in.

 I have read many more, but as I went to my book library, I realized that I leant them out. What books do you have and recommend?