Posts tagged ‘guest writer spotlight’

November 25, 2015

Author Beth Warstadt’s tells about Megan’s Christmas Knight

Beth Warstadt is the author of Megan’s Christmas Knight, which was released about a week ago. I’ve been meaning to blog about this for a while now, and I’m glad to finally get the chance to spotlight such a fun and inspiring person.

Readers can find out more about Beth Warstadt and her writing journey here on her web site. You can also find her books on Beth Warstadt’s Amazon page.

Beth was also kind enough to answer some questions for me to share. For your enjoyment, here it is!

Tell us about your new book, including where readers can find it for sale.

Megan’s Christmas Knight is a romantic Christmas fantasy. Megan is a woman running away from her life because of something terrible she has done. She is rescued by a mysterious stranger, Nick, who sends her on a quest that helps her learn about love and forgiveness. At the same time that he is helping her he begins to question some of his own rules about his life, especially the ones that keep him alone. It’s available through in both e-book and print formats.

Would you like to share a passage from your new book?

Megan has been saved by a mysterious stranger who would not let her see his face and then vanished through back of a man-made cave called a fogou. When she goes back to where she met him she sees him again.

She went back to the windswept cliffs, back to where she now knew the ancient fogou lay silently concealed in the peaceful countryside, back to where her adventure began. There was no storm today, no need for rescue. There were only her tortuous memories and the cliffs that offered their different kind of escape.

When horse and rider surprised her this time, they came without a whisper. She jumped at the warm hand on her shoulder and spun around to find him standing there, head still concealed under the black hood, leading the now serene white horse by reins he scarcely held. Her soul thrilled, but she couldn’t tell if it was excitement or terror that set her heart pounding. When he reached up slowly to push back the hood, her breath caught as she waited, wondering what was hidden underneath.

He was not a decaying, skeletal Ghost of Christmas Future. His face was young and handsome, and his blue eyes were at once merry and sad, as though he was glad to see her but knew the burdens of her heart. She could not tell his age, because he seemed to have the enthusiasm and wonder of youth and the wisdom and serenity of old age.

What kinds of works do you write, and how long have you been writing?

Like many writers, I began making up my own stories when I was a child It was when I turned 40, however, that I figured that I was probably about halfway through my life, and if I was going to write, I had better get started. I write romantic fantasy mostly, with touches of paranormal and history thrown in for good measure.

What is the most rewarding thing about writing?

I love feeling like I am in some small way contributing to the literature of our time. Who knows? Maybe someday something I write will be included in an anthology of American literature of the 21st century!

What is the most challenging experience you’ve ever had writing?

I guess you would call it writer’s block. I have a book that I have been working on for two years, and I still can’t get a hold of it. I write two or three pages, sometimes more, and wind up discarding it.

What would you recommend to new writer?

I’m going to steal the advice I have heard from so many others, so many times. Just do it. If you want to write, then sit down at the computer or with a blank pad of paper and put words on the page. You can never finish if you don’t start.

How would you describe your personal creative process?

I enjoy doing lots of research, even though it isn’t always necessary for what I am writing. I have found that the world is truly an amazing place, and that almost anything I can make up, there is something even more incredible happening in reality. That is the great thing about fantasy. There is no need to stop writing because your story has become too hard to believe. Reality can be even harder to believe.

When is the best time for you to write?

Saturday mornings after my husband has gone to work is my prime writing time. I enjoy having coffee in a cup without a lid, and I sit at the computer for hours completely immersed in whatever story I am working on. My sons are grown and in college, so my house is a very quiet place on the weekends.

What kinds of things inspire you in your writing?

I am inspired by the amazing things I see in the world all around me. It is incredible to see what people can do, whether on a big scale like art and architecture, or on a smaller scale like cross-stitch or knitting. I also get the writing bug when I read something so beautifully written that it moves me deeply, either viscerally or spiritually.

Do you have any other books or other writing you’d like to talk about?

I’ve written another book called Soul Lost that I self-published for Amazon Kindle. It is a romantic time-travel fantasy about King Alfred of England and the mysterious woman who was his wife. I’m also on my seventh edit of a book about a great, ancient civilization that is discovered buried here in Forsyth County, Georgia. Its tentative title is People of the Green Hills.

I find that I write mostly about women who discover that there is so much more to them than they think, whether because she finds out she was supposed to be a princess, or because she is able to complete a difficult quest, or because she is the one person who believes in a cause and can make sure it happens. I write fantasy because that is what I love, but there is a truth that transcends the fantastic elements. People are so much more than they think they are. Put us in extraordinary circumstances, and we will find out how exactly extraordinary we are.

November 9, 2015

Composer J. Ryan Moat’s inspiring music

J. Ryan Moat, composer and all around extraordinary person

J. Ryan Moat, composer and all around extraordinary person

     I’ve known Ryan Moat for decades. I’ve always thought he was an inspiring person, but my respect for him skyrocketed recently, when I learned his talents include composing.
     The music Ryan Moat writes is breath-taking (see here, and here). His music is available on, too. I’m seriously thinking of book trailers now because of this man’s music.
     He agreed to be interviewed on my blog. I’m happy to be able to share some of what he does here, especially for my writer friends who love working with great music in the background.

The interview:

     What is it you find most inspiring about writing music?
     I find it inspiring that through writing music, it can take you to other places, to other worlds, or can reach into the listener’s soul, striking a chord within, so to speak. With music, it can help you relax, focus, bring back memories, and take you on a journey. I write it for this purpose for others to enjoy, since music is a sort of universal language. It speaks to others no matter what language they speak.
     What kinds of music do you most like writing?
     I really enjoy writing in the style of film score, television, and movie trailer (cinematic) music. It wasn’t always this way, but soundtracks are actually my favorite types of music to listen to, and it kind of led to film scoring. When I started composing, I was still a student at Utah Valley University, but had gotten a great student deal on some producer software. The software was mainly for techno and dance, which I enjoyed, but it ultimately led me into my so called genre of film scoring. Although most of my music could be considered the film score genre, I do really like composing Celtic, and other world music. 
     What kinds of experiences give you ideas for your music and fuel your muse?
There are a few different types of of experiences that give me ideas for music. The first is traveling. I love other cultures, and I love traveling the world. Not only are each individual cultures different from each other, but they also have their own individual styles of dance, or traditional music. I like a lot of the traditional music around the world, and traveling has helped me experience this as well. My first music album, La Belle Vie, which means “A Beautiful Life” in French, was based off of my experiences traveling through Europe, specifically some while exploring amazing buildings such as a Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. Many of the choirs and ambient sounds I heard within those cathedrals or great halls in palaces influenced me to write an album on that Europe trip.
     A second experience is going to the movie theaters themselves. I love sitting in a theater, IMAX, Dolby Atmos, or any great sounding theaters and being immersed in the music. What would a movie be without music? It adds such an amazing affect. Sometimes sitting in the theater, a soundtrack can just give you chills. I hear the music from the popular composers and think, “That’s EXACTLY what I want to do”! Often I go home after a movie inspired to write a little bit better, to compose epic music just the same. Often I think, “I can write music just like that”, or, “I want to learn to write music like that”.
     Another experience that gives me ideas for my music is the way I feel. We all have those days that don’t go quite right, and we also have those days where we feel on top of the world. I find that it’s so easy to write music when you put your whole soul into it.
     How long have you been writing music?
     I started dabbling a little with techno music back in 2004 to 2005, and started again in around 2009. I was acting in between 2006 and 2009, so I set the music aside, especially since techno wasn’t what I really wanted to compose. It wasn’t until the acting and entertainment industry got hit really hard in 2009 that I started to get back into music. In 2010 I had started saving enough money to slowly move to Hollywood quality sound libraries, and had moved to industry standard composing software. Since 2010 I have been composing many tracks yearly.
     What were some of your first music experiences? How do they play into your successes now?
     I never had much music experience growing up. But there were three things I loved, the first was our family record player. I’d listen to that for hours, and I’m pretty sure I’m the one who wore the record player out. The next was my sister’s 40-key piano with music presets for bossa nova, polka, and other styles that come built in. My parents also had a guitar, and I’d strum it and make up lyrics. Whenever I would go to either of my grandparent’s homes, I’d sit down and play their upright pianos. I didn’t know how to read music, I’d just create my own songs on the piano, or learn the keys to common songs.
     As I grew older, every chance I got to play on a keyboard or piano, I’d just play. At my first year of college I decided I’d go learn how to read and play music on my own, and went to a building every night after classes to learn a song. A couple years later, I took a semester piano class from Utah Valley University, as well as took a group voice class. From there, it just sort of led me into music composing, and I compose mostly everything using a piano which goes directly into my computer, a digital audio workstation (DAW), similar to what famous movie composers such as Hans Zimmer have.
     How do you find time for writing music?
     Often there are times that I go weeks without sitting down at the piano. However, playing the piano and/or composing music is really a stress relief. It often lets me take what’s going on in my life and translate it into music form. When I really just need to do something that makes me happy, I’ll sit down and play, and it always seems to do the trick. Often I’ll have ideas pop in my head, and I’ll quickly write a little bit and save it, so that when I get more time on the weekend, I can return and just go with the flow.
     Do I understand correctly that you’re also into acting and modeling? What can you tell me about this?
     I was really into acting, and only did one or two modeling gigs. In the modeling industry in Utah, the requirement is normally 6’0″ for men, and I am not that tall. I did get the opportunity to walk on the runway in a tuxedo, which was quite fun. That was the only modeling gig I did, until this year when a friend asked me to come model for Porsche Design, a subsidiary of Porsche AG the German automobile manufacturer.
     Backing up to 2004, I wanted to try something different, and had heard that Utah had many talent agencies. Little did I know, Utah was in the top states for acting in the entertainment industry. In 2006 I decided to sign with an extra acting and modeling agency in Salt Lake. Right off the bat, they had me calling a production company which was over The Warner Brother’s Everwood TV show starring Chris Pratt (Jurassic World, Galaxy of the Guardians) and John Beasley (CSI, CSI: Miami, Sum of All Fears), and I was off acting in my first episode on Everwood. It was perfect timing, because it was the last season of Everwood. I had no idea who I was acting with either, and had scenes walking by Chris Pratt and John Beasley having a conversation in their characters for the TV show.
     I went on to be a featured extra in a couple movies, and even got a couple lead roles, including a lead role as an elf from a book series by Anna Del C. Dye entitled, “The Elf and The Princess”. I loved my time acting, and I acted from 2006 to 2009.
     I switched to a new agent in 2009, and got professional training, but then the industry had a rough patch in late 2009 and my agent had to close his doors. I was left without an agent, and with my day job keeping me busy, I switched back to composing because I could compose any time I wanted. With acting I needed to be able to drop whatever I was doing when a call came in. While I was acting, Cosmopolitan magazine contacted my agent after they scouted me out on the agency website, and asked me to apply for the Cosmopolitan Bachelor of the Year contest. I thought that was pretty cool.
     What kinds of writing do you like best? Do you ever gain inspiration from books?
I love a lot of fantasy writing. In the range of Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit (J.R.R Tolkien), elvish stories, and books such as The Eye of the World (Robert Jordan), Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind), Mistborn (Brandon Sanderson). When I find time to read, I enjoy most fantasy novels.
     I do gain inspiration from books, especially when they paint a vivid picture. Even a picture helps gain inspiration for writing music.
     I do like a good thriller or mystery as well. They make great ideas for writing music too!
     I know we’ve talked a little about the possibility of doing book trailers. Is this something you’d be interested in doing for other authors? If so, what could you offer them, and what would you charge?
     Yeah, I’d definitely be interested in doing book trailers. I have the tools to write nearly any genre style, and I’d work with the author to get a general feel for what they wanted, and then work together on creating a sound they thought would work.
     As for charging, I’m more concerned about creating something they would want, and something that they are happy with, and to work out with them what they feel is fair. Even if that means there is no budget, I would still enjoy writing it for them, because I am more interested in getting experience than I am money.
     What kinds of things do you hope for or plan for in the future regarding your music?
     I really just want to create music that people will enjoy. One day, I’d love to walk into a theater and hear my music playing on a film, or on a trailer. But if not, I still get the satisfaction of writing my own music while streaming and sharing it to the world.
November 4, 2015

Kevin L. Nielsen, author of Sands and Resurgent Shadows

I had the privilege of meeting author Kevin L. Nielsen about six weeks ago. By then I had already heard of his first book, Sands, which was released in July. (As of today, Sands has 83 reviews on Goodreads and is #4 in the Amazon paid store in the myths and legends category for teens and young adults.)

My first impression: Kevin L. Nielsen is the kind of person you want to meet no matter what the situation is. It’s easy to celebrate successes with people who are as kind and fun as he is.

I’m delighted to be able to feature him in a question-and-answer format. It’s the first big post I’ve published in a long while, which makes it all the more fun.

Here it is:

Please describe the fun successes you’ve had with your first novel, Sands.

I’ve had a lot of fun with my first novel, Sands.  It is a fun novel with lots of twists.  I’ve been able to be on panels at Salt Lake Comic Con, had my own solo signing at the King’s English Bookshop, and even been on TV.  It has been pretty amazing.

When did you first start writing Sands, and how long did it take you to finish?

I started writing Sands in February 2014. It took me about 95 days to finish the first draft.  From there I did a couple more drafts over the next few months before ending up meeting Helena Steinecker from Future House Publishing at the LTUE convention in February 2015.

I understand you have another book coming out soon. What is it, and what would you like to share about it?

I’m very excited about this book.  It’s called Resurgent Shadows and it is essentially the story of how the fantasy world and the modern world came together in cataclysmic events that rendered electricity useless.  Dragons fill the skies and creatures some call goblins and trolls travel in massive hordes.  The race of man is on the brink of extinction.

It comes out on the 12th, so stay tuned for additional information – for the most up to date news, sign up for my newsletter at– you’ll get updates on all my book releases.

Who is your publisher, and what makes them great to work with?

Future House Publishing is my publisher.  They are great to work with because they have a great team that truly treats you like family.  They are a small, local pressed based here in Utah, but they’ve got a great presence and the potential to become one of the stronger presses here in Utah.  They also do great covers.

What do you do to find time to write?

Mostly, I just stay up really late and get little sleep.  I find time to write during the small moments each day, early in the mornings or even during my lunch breaks at work.  You just have to learn to monopolize on the small moments you have each day.  It also helps to have a super supportive wife who will watch the kids when I need extra writing time.

What is your favorite writing experience so far?

Outside of just publishing my first novel in general, my favorite writing experience so far is tied between meeting Jason Lyle Black, a musician I have admired for years, who wrote several songs based off my novel and being able to be a panelist at Salt Lake Comic Con.  Those were both great and amazing experiences.

When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

I realized I wanted to be an author when my reading ability surpassed the library’s capacity to supply books.  This happened when I was in the 6thgrade at Patterson Elementary in Gilbert, Arizona.  I’ve been writing ever since.

What plans do you have for the future?

I have a lot of plans for the future.  The sequel to Sands, called Storms, will be out in December or January.  The Sands series will have five total books and Resurgent Shadows is book one of the Successive Harmony Series.  That will be four books (for now).  I’ve also got several other novels I’m working on at any given time.  For a complete breakdown of my current projects visit my current projects page on my website at the following link:

I hope to be able to review some of Kevin L. Nielsen‘s work here in the future, and also to follow up with some of the great things he’s doing. He is one author to watch.

Kevin Nielsen, author of Sands and Resurgent Shadows

Kevin L. Nielsen, author of Sands and the soon-to-be-released Resurgent Shadows


October 1, 2015

Willow Scot’s review of A Tale of Three Planets, by MichaelBrent Collings

I have the privilege of posting a review from author Willow Scot for another author, Michael R. Collings. This kind of thing is always fun.

And here is what Willow Scot has to say about Michael Colling’s book, Space Operae!: A Tale of Three Planets:

Space Operae! A tale of three planets, a new novel by Dr. Michael R. Collings, is a perfect symphony blending sci-fi with a dash of mystery. Now, I say mystery because each of these three tales is skillfully woven without the use of “Earth” references. It leads the reader through a “mystery” as to whom or what the characters are.While this is not a genre I generally enjoy, this work of art was was a pleasure to read. From the opening page, I was drawn into the complex nature of world building and the character’s plight. Without giving any *spoilers*, the first tale had me finding resonance even though “it” was learning to define whom “it” is. This book is definitely worth a read.

The author’s prose is brilliantly crafted. I find his writing style to be similar to well-known authors, such as Orson Scott Card or J.R. Token.

Don’t miss out on this delightful adventure.

While helping post this review, I noticed this book is free for Kindle. It jumped to the top of my reading list, and I downloaded it. What a perfect way to start out the month of October!

Actually, I’m seeing lots of great looking books on by Michael R. Collings. Guess it’s time to plan another reading party. 🙂

Thanks to Willow Scot for bringing this to my attention.


April 14, 2014

An interview with author Krista Wayment


I met author Krista Wayment just about a year ago, but until recently I never had a chance to read any of her work. I finally read her first book, Trusted, this past weekend and loved it. (Who doesn’t love dragons? And adventure?) She hopes to release the second book next fall.

When Krista threw a virtual launch party, I knew I wanted to interview her for this blog. It’s been a while since I’ve done any guest author interviews or book reviews. I forgot how enjoyable this can be.

Here are the fun things I learned about this great new author:

When did you first learn that you loved dragons?

I can’t remember clearly. I think from a very young age I loved dragons. I remember watching this movie about a man who was transported to a fantasy world and changed into a dragon. He used science to defeat an evil wizard. Perhaps that planted the seed in me. I’ve always loved stories about princess, and knights, and magic. I watch The Last Unicorn movie probably a hundred times as a kid. The Never Ending Story as well.
What inspires you to write?
I get inspiration from pretty much everywhere. But the main thing that drives me to write is that telling stories is part of who I am. I feel incomplete and empty when I am not writing. Reading is probably the biggest source of inspiration for me. I read great stories and then must go out and craft my own.
How do you balance family and friends with writing? Other hobbies? Other jobs? etc.
I’m not sure yet. I’m still working on that. The biggest thing is that I have to make writing a priority. I also work part time and am a stay at home mom. With all my responsibilities I often have to sacrifice one or another in order that the others get done. I just try and make sure that my writing does not get sacrificed too often.
I also try to find ways that I can multitask. If I’m up late with a toddler that is having trouble sleeping I open my laptop and start writing. It’s not always my best work and often needs a lot of revision–but getting something on the page is the place to start.
Best coping mechanism for writer’s block?
Reading. Since reading opens up my imagination and inspires me it is really good at banishing writers block. Reworking my outline helps too. Usually when I am stuck it is because I’m not sure where I am going. So I make a more detailed outline or rework the one I have.
Taking showers, doing the dishes and going for a walk or drive helps too. Doing something that allows my subconscious mind wander and work through the issues I’m facing is a really good thing. Often the inspiration will strike while I am doing something ordinary and then I am off writing again.
Are you a planner? Or a discovery writer? Or a little bit of both? How does writing work for you?
As far as plot goes–I’m a planner. I do a chapter by chapter outline before I write a single word. This helps me keep focused on where I am going. Also, if I know what is coming next I can be thinking and planning the scene while attending to my other responsibilities.
I do discover little details about my characters and my world along the way. But on the whole I plan things out.
If you were a flower…what would you be, and why?
I actually took a quiz once and it told me I am a Snapdragon. I thought it was a very appropriate choice 🙂
Do you listen to music as you write? If so, what kind?
I don’t. Music distracts me. I usually have silence or disorganized noise, like people talking or a toddler playing. 
However, sometimes when I free write I do listen to music, it’s always instrumental and often movie soundtracks. John Williams is one of my favorite composers.
What do you see for yourself when you look ten years down the road
I hope to have ten more books written and published 🙂 I know I’ll still be writing and still be enjoying my family. Beyond that I have learned that you can plan and hope all you want–but life has a way of throwing you curve balls so you have to learn to roll with it.
Who do you write for?
I write for myself because it is part of who I am. It is my release, my creative outlet. I hope too, that one day my books will inspire someone to love reading or writing.
I hated reading as a child. My mother, bless her heart, stuck with it and taught me how. It wasn’t until I picked up The Boxcar Children that I fell in love with reading. I have devoured books ever since. There are several books and authors that have inspired me and I hope one day to inspire others.
What has been the most rewarding part of writing so far? Why?
Finishing. Finishing a book, not just a draft but being really done. Self publishing was a lot of work, and will continue to be work. But being able to say that I wrote a book and that it is out there feels very rewarding to me.
August 8, 2013

An Interview with author Charles Yallowitz

Charles Yallowitz is the author of Beginning of a Hero.

Charles Yallowitz is the author of  Beginning of a Hero and Prodigy of Rainbow Tower.

I love learning about how other writers do things about as much as I love reading their works. Charles Yallowitz, author of Prodigy of Rainbow Tower and Beginning of a Hero, is particularly inspiring, partly because he genuinely cares about the other authors he networks with, and he makes everything fun. He recently allowed me to interview him regarding his writing–and here it is!

Which was harder for you to write and edit–Beginning of a Hero, or Prodigy of Rainbow Tower? What made the difference?

Both books had their difficulties.  With Beginning of a Hero, I had to start from scratch and there were only my notes to fall back on.  There was a sense of freedom with this, but also a sense that I could end up going too far.  So, I had to be very cautious.  With Prodigy of Rainbow Tower, I had a foundation for the world and characters.  The utter freedom was gone and I had stability in the world, but I had to worry a lot more about continuity.  I found myself going back to check facts because I doubted myself.

In terms of editing, I have to give the win to Prodigy of Rainbow Tower.  I could change things while working on it or I would have to go in to alter something that came from the editing of Beginning of a Hero.  So, the first book could be laid done to rest while the second book was always a factor when editing anything in the series.

What would you like newcomers to the series to know about Prodigy of Rainbow Tower?

I’d like them to know that this book is going to have a lot more action and testing of the characters.  The first book was very light-hearted and the characters were still getting to know each other.  Now, I really put them through the wringer, including the newest character, Nyx the caster.  Caster is the Windemere term for people that use magic.

Another item that I want newcomers to know about is that the magic of Windemere is going to take a central role.  In Beginning of a Hero, there more mostly warriors and it was a very sword-oriented story.  The inclusion of Nyx and her magical rival, Trinity, allowed me delve more into the workings of magic and write some big caster duels.  Those only get bigger and better as the story progresses.

 Of all of the characters in this world you’ve created, which is your favorite and why? Or, if you can’t choose one, how about your top three?

It’s hard to pick even a top three.  Fizzle the Drite (tiny dragon) definitely has the biggest fan following since the first book.  I’ve come to enjoy writing his scenes more since people directed my attention to him.  So, he’s taken on a bigger role in the overall series, which I gently flushing out as time goes on.

I’ve come to really enjoy writing The Lich because he’s such an evil character, but he has this habit of sabotaging himself.  He shows such promise to be a big villain that I start to feel sorry for his stumbling.  You almost want him to succeed every now and then because he tries so hard to win.

Finally, I love writing scenes with Nyx.  She’s a very dynamic character and one of the best I ever created.  She’s very powerful with her magic and her temper means she’s very likely to react with a spell.  Yet, she has many moments of vulnerability and an almost maternal reaction to some of the other heroes.  Neither mentality is strained or out of character for her.  For example, I’m working on a later book where Nyx has to fix a mistake from Prodigy of Rainbow Tower.  She’s scared and timid instead of her defiant self, but the opposite persona comes off as natural for her.

How important is networking with other authors? Does it make a difference in morale and support alone, or does this actually transfer to sales and publicity?

Networking with other authors is a must across the board.  You can get feedback, support, morale, and so many other things.  I use my blog to describe what I’m doing and let other authors know what worked and what didn’t while I was publishing.  This has led me to get into many conversations with other authors about self-publishing.  So, it helps get a good dialogue going to learn about pricing and marketing.

It’s invaluable for publicity too.  There is a lot of ‘you mention my book and I mention yours’ on WordPress.  For Prodigy of Rainbow Tower, I did a blog blitz the night before it debuted.  Over 10 bloggers made posts about my book and promoted it right before it went live.  At the same time, I did was involved in two blog blitzs for two other authors.  So, you see a lot of community and support from authors.  Self-publishing is really a team sport because one self-published author making it justifies the actions of the others.  That successful author can show the way and be a real motivator for those still aspiring.

What is the best, best, best thing about being a writer?

Hearing somebody tell me which character they loved or which scene moved them.  Even getting an e-mail about a scene that angered someone makes me smile.  A few scenes in Prodigy of Rainbow Tower resulted in me getting an e-mail or two from a beta reader.  The e-mails were mostly ‘Wow!  I can’t believe you did that!’  Getting that kind of reaction from a reader is why I love to tell stories.

What food do you think you ate the most of during this time?

I drank a ton of seltzer while writing.  As far as food, I tried to vary it, but I think it was mostly pineapple or M&M’s.  Not together.  Though I’m now tempted to try that and see what happens.

How many hours of sleep did you average per night during this time?

I typically average 4-5 hours sleep in general because I have trouble sleeping.  It would be deep sleep, but I always wake up around 6 AM.  There are occasional days where my body is just out of commission and I’m in a coma for 8 hours.  Those typically happen on the weekend against my will.

What is THE BEST thing that happened to you during this time?

So many things.  I’ve met so many great friends during this journey, which is at the top of the list.  As for specific events, I would say being in the 20’s of the Top 100 Epic Fantasy eBooks on Amazon is up there.  Tied with having a brief Facebook conversation with R.A. Salvatore.  It was really me asking him a question about writing and he answered.  So, I answered back and then got another response.  It ended with me writing a thank you and beaming for the rest of the day.

Prodigy of Rainbow Tower, by Charles Yallowitz

Prodigy of Rainbow Tower, by Charles Yallowitz

April 22, 2013

Gabe Berman’s advice: Write so people will read your work

by Gabe Berman

by Gabe Berman

I promised a review of Gabe Berman’s new book, The Complete Bullshit-Free and Totally Tested Writing guide: How to Make Publishers, Agents, Editors and Readers Fall In Love With Your work. Here it is, just in time for another fun writing-filled workweek!

For me, the most valuable piece of information was to remember the reader, to help the reader to find ways to care about your characters and the story you’re trying to tell. He wrote:

Life is short. If you’re expecting us to trade our precious time for an opportunity to read your words, it better be an even swap. But if you really care what people think, and you should if you want to be published, you’ll want us to feel like we made out like bandits in the deal. You’ll want to make us feel that we couldn’t imagine spending our time in any other way.

And later:


One of the first points Berman made was writers should get used to the idea that people don’t give a four-lettered word about them.

That motif is repeated several times throughout the book–and while it seemed abrasive for a moment, the more I thought about it, the more I understood what he meant. This is what I got out of that particular idea:

  • Don’t depend on anyone to love your work. You might love it, and you might want to share it, but people are busy. Most of them will always be too busy to read your work, even if they love you.
  • Also, they may not be able to believe that someone they know is such a genuinely fantastic writer destined for fame and glory. It just might not fit with their world view.
  • Even when people you care about do take the time to give your work a cursory read, don’t take their praise (or their criticism) too seriously. They’re just as wrapped up in their own work and worries as you are in yours, and your work will not be as important to them as it is to you.
  • Once you understand that, you become free from the self-consciousness that holds you back. At that point, you’re able to start writing what other people can’t help reading. Either that, or you become more comfortable writing for yourself alone. Either way, you’ll be writing more authentically, and you’ll probably be much happier with where you’re writing is headed.

Of course, my understanding is all wrapped up in my own frame of reference (partially proving Berman’s point here). It reminded me of a time when I had a sit-down talk with an agent.

“Never show your manuscript to your mother or your husband,” she said. “Never show it to anyone in your family.”

I’ve broken that rule every time…and I suspect I’ll keep breaking that rule…but I think I get the idea.

Thanks to Berman for saying (writing) it so clearly.

In chapter four, Berman addresses the idea of writing authentically:

Write from the place in your gut where love dwells.

The idea here is that when you right authentically, readers will pick up on this and connect with you, with your characters and story and they won’t be able to put it down.

There are lots of other great tips in this book–how long paragraphs should be, what kinds of styles sound preachy or pretentious, etc. If you’re a writer, it’s definitely a book worth reading.

As of this posting, it’s listed on Amazon (Kindle version) for $0.99.

Folks who are in love with life (or who want to be) should check out Berman’s other book, Live Like a Fruit Flywhich was endorsed by Deepak Chopra.

He’s already working on a sequel, Revenge of the Fruit Fly.  Can’t wait to read it. The name itself just pulls me right in.

Thanks again, Gabe Berman! (Check out his blog here.)

April 18, 2013

An update on Author Darrell Pitt

Darrell Pitt, author of Diary of a Teenage Superhero

Darrell Pitt, author of Diary of a Teenage Superhero

A little more than a month ago, I interviewed Darrell Pitt, author of Diary of a Teenage Superhero and The Steampunk Detective Series. One of the things we discussed briefly was that he was signing an eight-book contract with a publisher that he couldn’t name at the time.

The details are finally available. Earlier this week, a press release was sent from the University he attends. I’ve included most of the text here:

RMIT University student and self-published speculative fiction author Darrell Pitt
has signed an unprecedented eight-book deal with Text Publishing.

The third-year Bachelor of Arts (Creative Writing) student and Brunswick West
resident has written two series and a stand-alone novel.

Text Publishing will re-edit his self-published e-books and release them in
bookshops from 2014, as well as releasing new books from the two series.

The three-book Steampunk Detective series tells the story of Jack Mason, a young
orphan who is apprenticed to Ignatius Doyle, the world’s most famous consulting

The second series of four books, Diary of a Teenage Superhero, is about a
teenager who discovers he has superpowers.

Mr Pitt’s eighth book, A Toaster on Mars, is a science fiction humour work in the
vein of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett.

He attributes his success to his love of comic books and his mentor and RMIT
teacher Toni Jordan, an award-winning novelist and lecturer in the creative writing
program in the School of Media and Communication.

Mr Pitt said he only became serious about his writing after starting as a mature age
student at RMIT in 2012, when he also started to make use of self-publishing
technology to put out his work as digital e-books.

“I’ve long been a fan of speculative fiction and comic books – I suppose I’m a geek
at heart!” he said.

“I had the good fortune to have Toni Jordan as a teacher in the first semester and
she offered to look at one of my unpublished manuscripts. It was her suggestion
that I submit the manuscript to Text Publishing.

“This whole experience has been amazing. I can’t emphasise how important it is to
have a mentor. Not only is Toni Jordan a wonderful writer, but she’s a fantastic
writing teacher – I think that’s a rare package.”

Ms Jordan said: “One of the best things about our course is the way our students
can connect with publishing professionals, other writers, and most importantly,

“Darrell is wonderfully talented and dedicated and I can’t wait to see his books in
print. There’s never been a more exciting time to be an emerging writer.”

This is something worth celebrating! 🙂

April 18, 2013

An interview with author Gabe Berman

I always want to be better, and I deeply want to enjoy the process of getting better. I suspect this is a big deal for the majority of the other writers and bloggers and life-livers that I know. For that reason alone, Gabe Berman‘s Live Like a Fruit Fly: The Secret You Already Know completely appeals to me.

So does his second book, The Complete Bullshit-Free and Totally Tested Writing Guide: How to Make Publishers, Agents, Editors and Readers Love Your Work.

I’ll be reviewing that one next week, and I’m pretty excited about it.

Meanwhile, Gabe Berman agreed to an interview (with a very fast turn-around, I might add). And here it is:

What led you to write Live Like a Fruit Fly? (Readers, an exciting note here: this book was reviewed by Deepak Chopra)

For years I’d walk the aisles of the bookstore, looking for the perfect book to inspire me to live an extraordinary life. I knew it was possible and life being as short as it is, I didn’t want to wait. I was sick of all the preachy, otherworldly books, so I wrote the book I could never find.

Same question for The Complete Bullshit-Free and Totally Tested Writing Guide: How To Make Publishers, Agents, Editors & Readers Fall In Love With Your Work.

And the same answer. I wrote the book I wish was given to me long ago.  My book whispers in your ear, “Keep going. It’s going to be ok.” It will keep you from writing crap and remind you, because you deep down already know, how to make readers fall in love with your work.

Why did you self-publish at first? And why the second time around?

After writing for the Miami Herald for eight years, I thought everyone would be interested in my radically different self-help book. I was ridiculously wrong and rejected by everyone. Twice.

But since I decided my ordinary days were over, I knew the extraordinary move would be to keep moving forward. To kick doors open that appeared to be sealed shut.

I self-published and proved the gatekeepers in the publishing industry didn’t know everything because people fell in love with Live Like A Fruit Fly.

Through a string of miraculous events, HCI, the original publisher of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, found me and offered me a contract.

I decided to once again turn to self-publishing for my new book The Complete Bullshit-Free and Totally Tested Writing Guide: How To Make Publishers, Agents, Editors & Readers Fall In Love With Your Work. This writing guide is unlike any other ever written and I wanted to have complete control of it. For example, the kindle edition is just $1.99.  It’s certainly worth the $9.99 a traditional publisher would charge but I wanted to make it accessible for everyone right away.

How did you get picked up by HCI, and what was your initial reaction?

It’s your typical story: guy meets girl in a bookstore. Girl’s friend is the acquisitions editor at a publishing company. The rest is history (I’m oversimplifying it but you get the gist).

How did I react? I was more relieved than anything else. Destiny finally fulfilled.

How in the world did you get to have your book reviewed by Deepak Chopra?

It’s your typical story: famous person finds my self-published book on Amazon. Famous person is friends with Deepak Chopra. I force myself to find the guts to ask famous person to ask Deepak to read my book. Deepak digs it and says, “In Live Like a Fruit Fly, Gabe Berman shares his recipe for living a more joyful, worthwhile, and abundant life in every way. A witty, entertaining, and insightful read.”

Did you ever have a chance to meet him or talk with him about your book?

Not as of yet. All in due time.

What are you doing when you’re not writing?

Procrastinating at Starbucks.

What writing project are you working on now?

The sequel to Live Like A Fruit Fly and a couple of top secret projects (I’d tell you but then I’d have to…)

What marketing strategies work best for you?

I seem to sell more books when I stop worrying about marketing so much. The Universe is a sly one.

What is the best part of being a writer?

It allows me to add a little goodness to the world.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

My dad always said: stupid rules are made to be broken.

And the best advice you’ve ever given someone?

Follow your gut, not the tornado of thoughts in your head.

And–just for fun–your favorite kind of ice cream.

Are you kidding me? Chocolate of course.

by Gabe Berman

by Gabe Berman

Thanks, Gabe Berman, for a chance to get to know you and to learn about your books! I’m looking forward to reading them soon. 🙂

April 12, 2013

An interview with LDS author Roseanne Wilkins

Author Roseanne Wilkins

Author Roseanne Wilkins

During the past few months, as I’ve been getting to know my fellow writers in the Tooele Writer’s group, I’ve been very impressed with author Roseanne Wilkins. She recently led a workshop to teach fellow writers how to format books for CreateSpace and e-book options. As near as I can tell, she has self-published about four books and seems to be doing very well.

One thing I find remarkable about Roseanne is her ability to find and write to a particular target audience, which has contributed to her success (read more about it below). Roseanne writes clean romance fiction for women belonging to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, referred to in her interview as LDS.

You can learn more about Roseanne at her blog, here. Meanwhile, here are her answers to my interview questions:

When did you first write and publish your first book?

I started my first book when I was 14. I had pneumonia and spent the time in bed writing a shape-shifting black panther story. I had nearly 50 pages done before I put the project aside. I started Tangled Hearts in 1983. In 2008, I read the entire Twilight Series twice in one week. I finished Noonday Sun, a 110,000-word novel, before Twilight: The Movie came out in theaters. After I finished writing that book, I picked up Tangled Hearts (released as an ebook in 2010) and finished that, then went back to Hidden in the Heart (Released in 2011), which I had started in 1991. Change of Heart is a new book, one I started in 2011. I had it finished and published by 2012.

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

My mother read to me from the time I was very young. I loved how her voice would change as the characters did, and I wanted to be able to write something that would touch someone the way I had been touched. In fourth grade, I had a wonderful teacher who had a stack of story starters for writing practice. That sparked my writing ability, and I’ve considered myself a writer since then.

With your busy family life, how do you find time to write?

I require silence when I write, so I prefer to write when my children are in bed. I have 8 that are still at home. Silence only happens when they’re all asleep.

What made you choose self-publishing over seeking a traditional publisher?

When I first decided to publish Tangled Hearts, self-publishing was just beginning to take off. Vanity publishing, where the author pays to have the product produced, had been around for a long time, but it was expensive, and I knew we couldn’t afford that option. So I first sought to have my book published traditionally. Tangled Hearts was accepted by Granite Publishing. When I asked the editor what changes needed made, she assured me that the book was fine the way it was except for the final chapter, the afterword. I shortened the afterword and added a couple of pages between it and the end of the last chapter. Since Cedar Fort, Covenant, and Deseret Book had already seen and rejected the manuscript, I opted to self-publish. I also had a good friend who sent me information on PubIt, which handles Nook ebooks. The best part about it was the price: free. I just had to figure out how to format it. Had my first experience been with Kindle, I might have given up. I found it much easier to create an ebook for Nook than it was for Kindle. After releasing my ebooks, I learned about CreateSpace, which produces books one at a time. The price to have a paperback book available to purchase? Free. Within a couple of months, Tangled Hearts was selling briskly, I’d released it as a paperback, and I didn’t even consider a different option for my other three books (The Fruitful Tree is a children’s picture book).

How do you go about marketing your books, and what makes the biggest difference for you?

Marketing my LDS books has been relatively easy. I had no idea how search engines work, but my desire to keep my books in the LDS market where they were supposed to be led me to add “an LDS novel” to the title of my books. That enabled Amazon to know exactly who my target audience is. I’ve sold several thousand ebook copies of my best selling book. The other thing I’ve done a lot of is book giveaways, both on Goodreads and through blogs. I’ve also paid to have my books promoted on “Clean Romance Reviews.” As an LDS author, I think it’s essential to get your name on LDS Publisher. Also, I have an author page on facebook, Amazon, jacketflap, and Utah Writers. If you’re going to be an author, you need to find and seek places where your name should be, then get your name out there. I also find spending a few minutes on Goodreads and Shelfari leaving reviews for books you’ve already read is a great way to get you name recognition on Google.

What advice would you give a new writer?

Write. Then be willing to let others read what you’ve written. If you don’t feel comfortable handing your book over to 10-20 people before you send it off to a publisher or an editor, you’re not ready to have a published book. Let go and let your readers read. Under no circumstances stick a book out that hasn’t been read by multiple people or by a professional editor. There are too many things you simply can’t see in your own writing. Pay attention to their comments. If there are spots they don’t understand, you need to re-word the sentence. Sometimes just one or two words makes all the difference. So write. Let people read. Clarify and fix. And the final step: do it. Either send your manuscript off to publishers or publish it yourself.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Keep writing.

If there’s anything else you’d like to share, share it here!

If I can pick up my writing after a 25-year break, anyone can. I didn’t know a thing about ebooks when I started. I didn’t even know how to navigate around MS Word. If I can do this, so can you. What’s stopping you?

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