Tag Archives: LIndsay Schopfer

#amtalking: Interview with @LindsaySchopfer, Into the North #BeastHunter

One of my good friends, Lindsay Schopfer, whose work I have featured on this blog before, has a new book launching on this coming Saturday (April 15th, 2017). Into the North is the second Keltin Moore adventure, and is a fitting sequel to the first book in the series, The Beast Hunter.

I will be participating in the official online launch party on Facebook. Four other wonderful authors will also be participating, helping to boost the signal:

Into the North Online Launch Party

Log on and engage with some fantastic fantasy and steampunk authors as we celebrate the release of Lindsay Schopfer’s latest novel, “Into the North.” Our lineup of authors is as follows:

4:00 to 4:30 pm PDT – Pembroke Sinclair (7:00 EDT) (US)

4:30 to 5:00 pm PDT – Terry Persun (7:30 EDT) (US)

5:00 to 5:30 pm PDT – Katherine Perkins (8:00 EDT) (US)

5:30 to 6:00 pm PDT – Connie J. Jasperson (8:30 EDT) (US)

6:00 to 6:30 pm PDT – Nicole J. Persun (9:00 EDT) (US)

6:30 to 7:00 pm PDT – Lindsay Schopfer (9:30 EDT) (US)

All the participating authors will share tidbits about their work, and some will have games. Several are offering prizes to participating visitors. I will be talking about the genesis of the Tower of Bones series and giving away Kindle downloads of Tower of Bones to two lucky winners.

I will post the lineup and times again on Friday, along with my review of Into the North!

I had a few questions for Lindsay about his newest book:

CJJ: When did Keltin Moore first become a character you were compelled to write?

LS: I’ve told the story before in other interviews about playing a video game and getting the initial idea for the character of Keltin Moore, but it took a while for me to really get interested in writing more about the professional monster hunter. What’s now the prologue of The Beast Hunter was originally just a standalone flash fiction story. It was almost a year later before I  wrote what is now chapter one, originally the first episode of an online serial. It was while I was working on that serial that I really came to love the character of Keltin Moore along with his unique world and adventures. By the time I’d written the first three episodes, I was hooked.

CJJ: How much of you and your personal values is in Keltin? Where do you and he differ?

LS: There’s definitely a lot of me in Keltin. He has a strong sense of responsibility for those that he cares about, and he tries to take the moral high ground regardless of how much harder it will make things for him. We also both struggle with social situations, and sometimes have a tendency to bottle things up to our detriment. I guess the biggest difference between us is that I recognize my need for people and do my best to draw them to me. Keltin is still learning about the limitations that come from trying to do things alone.

CJJ: Once a new work is in progress, what are the main hurdles you have to overcome in laying down the first draft?

LS: The biggest issue I run into is the temptation to start over. I do the same thing with video games. I could be half-way through a game and realize “Oh shoot! I’m not going to be able to do that side-quest now!” And I’ll start the game over to have a ‘perfect’ run. With stories, it’s very tempting to go back and get it right from start to finish. I’ll confess that I did start over with Into the North four times (once when I was more than a hundred pages in) before I finally made it to the end of the first draft.

CJJ: Into the North, Keltin’s second adventure, has many of the fans’ favorite characters returning. What was your favorite plot twist for your returning side-characters?”

LS: Hmm… that’s a tough one. I think I’d have to say the resolution of a few subplots at the very end of the book. I won’t give any spoilers, but there were definitely some moments when I couldn’t stop smiling as I wrote about how Keltin’s friends and close associates really feel about him.

CJJ: What are you working on now?

LS: I’ve got several projects in the works, but the one that I’m the most excited for right now is a new collection of short stories. This will include a Keltin Moore short story, as well as stories that have previously appeared in anthologies printed by Writerpunk Press and Clockwork Dragon. I know that I’ve got fans that have been wanting to read them, so I’m excited that they’ll finally be able to get all of them in one place.

CJJ: What books can you recommend for new writers who are just beginning to learn the craft?

LS: Bird by Bird is a classic by Anne Lamott. Most of the other books that I’ve read on the craft are pretty obscure or out of print, so it’s hard to recommend them.

CJJ: Where can writers find your classes and seminars?

LS: I’m actually planning on making some changes in the way I offer my classes and workshops, but people that are interested can sign up for my newsletter to keep updated on that along with other news about my books and appearances.

CJJ: Finally, where will you be making live appearances this spring and summer?

LS: I’ve got a book tour this month for the release of Into the North that will include stops in Washington, Utah, and Wyoming. You can find all of the dates and locations below:

Dates and Locations for my Book Tour

I’m also planning on teaching at the PNWA summer conference this year, and will also be making an appearance at the Brass Screw Confederacy in Port Townsend.


If you would like to know more about author Lindsay Schopfer and his work, he can be found online at these places::

Lindsay Schopfer’s Author Central page at Amazon

Lindsay’s Website

Lindsay Schopfer on Facebook

Lindsay’s Blog

Follow Lindsay on Twitter: @LindsaySchopfer

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#amwriting: Interview with Lindsay Schopfer, author of The Beast Hunter

Today is the kick-off post for a series of four interviews, featuring writers who are not only working in the craft, they are teaching it. As part of my lead up to NaNoWRiMo, the next four posts will feature a different guest instructor who has kindly agreed to talk about the craft of writing.

The Beast Hunter, Lindsay SchopferI’m welcoming Northwest author, Lindsay Schopfer to the blog today.  As a long-time fan of his books, and especially The Beast Hunter,  I was curious about how he approaches his work.

CJJ: Are you an outliner or do you write as you think it?

LS: I like to think of myself as an organic writer, as I let the story grow naturally as I write. That’s the way that my mentor, Steve Charak, taught me. His mantra was “just get it down” and it’s served me well. Of course, it often means that I end up having to do extra revisions to make everything tie together in the end, but to be honest I actually prefer editing to first-draft writing, so it really works out for me.

CJJ: How many drafts did The Beast Hunter go through before you had it ready to publish?

LS: The Beast Hunter was something of a special case since it began life as an online serial. Each episode went through three or four drafts before being posted, and then the entire piece had to be reworked at least three times before I was satisfied with the novelization.

CJJ: A critical aspect of every story is the story arc. How has your experience in writing for the stage and developing screenplays shaped your approach to writing fiction for readers as opposed to viewers?

LS: You can get away with a lot of things in a script that you can’t do in a novel or short story. For example, all the setting description in a script is purely functional, it isn’t meant for the audience and will never be seen by anyone but the actors and crew. Also, interior description is almost totally missing in a script, unless you’re writing something with a lot of monologues and soliloquies. Because of this, I’ve noticed that I tend to write stories that focus more heavily on action and dialogue rather than elaborate set pieces or internal struggles.

CJJ: You have designed several role-play games. When you visualize an event and set it in a scene, do you see it through the character’s eyes, or through yours as GM/narrator?

LS: I’m still pretty new to the creative side of gaming. My primary experience in designing role-playing games has been developing a set of rules for a game that takes place in the world of The Beast Hunter. Currently, these games are hosted by myself and are exclusively for active members of my street team. When it comes to the storyline, I usually don’t have any specific scenes in mind for each gaming session. I’ll come up with a few instigating events, and then let the players chose where to take the story from there. It’s a lot of fun to share in the creative process in such a spontaneous way, and everyone seems to have a great time. Interestingly, I’ve noticed that some players will actually put themselves into more difficult situations rather than do the simpler thing, and I sometimes wonder if it’s their inner storyteller that wants to introduce conflict to the story, rather than simply “winning the game”.

CJJ: You are a musician. Does poetry come into your work? How does music shape your writing?

LS: You’re making me sound like quite the Renaissance Man! To tell the truth, I don’t think my music affects my writing very much. I recently started playing lead guitar in a band, but we’re just playing for ourselves right now. While I’ve dabbled with lyrics in the past, I prefer letting my guitar do most of the talking. I will say that I have some selective tastes when it comes to the music that I listen to when I write, but I haven’t seen much crossover between my musical and creative writing endeavors.

CJJ: You have a series of classes coming up in the South Puget Sound area.  Can you tell us a little about them?

LS: I’ve been wanting to do more with indie bookstores in my hometown for a while now. Through a happy coincidence I happened to connect with the owner of Browsers Books in downtown Olympia, and we’re currently looking into doing some kind of regular writing class in the store’s upper room. On September 15 we’ll be hosting a free workshop called “Making the Most of Your Writing Time to gauge local interest. My hope is to eventually have a regular class featuring a combination of my most popular workshops, peer critiques, and free-writing time.

CJJ: How can people connect with you as a writing coach and also with your online writing course?

LS: While I’d love to do an in-person writing class, I realize that most people who are interested won’t be able to come to it. As a result, I’m developing an online variant that works via Google Hangouts and Google Docs. I’m still working out the details on this, so if you have any ideas of what you’d like to see in an online writing course, feel free to let me know.

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Lindsay, thank you so much for your candid answers. I hope My local area authors will seek out your classes, as I have found you to be an instructor with a sense of humor.

Lindsay SchopferLindsay Schopfer can be found:

Lindsay Schopfer’s Author Central page at Amazon

Lindsay’s Website

Lindsay Schopfer on Facebook

Lindsay’s Blog

Follow Lindsay on Twitter: @LindsaySchopfer


Next up we will have an interview with Northwest poet and author, Terry Persun, who has agreed to talk poetry and prose!

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The Writers’ Toolbox: Seminars, workshops, and conferences

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via buzzfeed

One basic tool every author needs in his/her toolbox is the Writers’ Seminar. These are workshops offered by people who have mastered certain aspects of the craft, and are your way to gain more knowledge of the craft.

They are classes, focusing on every aspect of writing, from the story arc to character development. You can also get classes in how to court agents and editors, if the traditional route is your choice, or conversely, advice on negotiating the rough seas of indie publishing. In this craft, there is never an end to the learning process.

But what if you are housebound and can’t get to a conference? Three excellent resources for an intensive online 3 part seminar are Scott Driscoll’s courses through The Writer’s Workshop ($500.00 each, plus textbook, see the website for more information. Length- and quality-wise these classes are the equivalent of a college course–where else will you get this kind of education for the cost of an average 4 day seminar?)

What about actually finding and physically attending seminars and events? That is where you will meet authors, both famous and infamous, known and not yet known.  You will meet people in the industry who will enlighten you and also help you up the ladder to success.

I love writers’ seminars, and attend every one I can afford to get to–and cost is an issue. But there are many budget-friendly seminars out there, many offered by your local library system.

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via buzzfeed

For me, it’s about being in a community of authors who are all seeking the same thing–a little more knowledge about the craft. Everyone who attends a writers’ conference, seminar or workshop is serious about the craft, and just in conversation with other attendees you can find great inspiration to help fuel your own creative muse.

How does one find these things? Google (or Bing) is your friend here:

A short list of Seminars, Workshops, and Conferences in Western Washington—check websites for the next seminars offered:

  • Hugo House ($60.00 to join-cost per event may vary)
  • PNWA Writers Conference ($65.00 to join PNWA + cost of 4-day conference–can be pricey. With early registration 2015 conference was $425.00 + the cost of room. Continental breakfasts and two dinners were included, and being vegan I brought my own food. Altogether I spent nearly $1000.00, but was able to do so in 2 chunks.)
  • Southwest Washington Writers Conference ($60.00 early registration, 1 day conference) VERY GOOD INVESTMENT!
  • Port Townsend Writers Conference (10 day conference, Tuition ranges from $150.00 for one or two classes to $900 for the full 10-days, includes room with meals==$90.00 per day–a steal!)
  • Northwest Institute of Literary Arts (costs of individual events vary, average seminar under $200.00) (Terry Persun is giving a seminar most indies could benefit from on taming the beast that is Amazon there August 22, 2015 from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm–get to it if you can!)
  • Clarion West Writers Workshop (Specializing in speculative fiction,  offering everything from seminars to a highly respected 6-week workshop for $3,800.00.  Costs vary, average one-day event $130.00)
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via buzzfeed

But what if you have little or no $$ to spare for food much less a conferences? For the love of Tolstoy, check out your local library! They are an unbelievably great, free or exceedingly low-cost resource.

For example, the Tumwater, Washington branch of the Timberland Regional Library system has several upcoming seminars offered by author and writing coach Lindsay Schopfer, at no cost to the attendee– the library has hired him as a bonus for the aspiring authors among their patrons. These seminars are not fluff–Lindsay gives good, solid, technical classes for serious authors, so if you are in this area check out the schedule and try to attend.

via buzzfeed

via buzzfeed

Check out your local library, and see what is available for the starving author!

Now that you know what is available in my area, check your own area and see what you can find. You will be amazed at the wide variety of good one-day conferences, multi-day events, and continuing education courses that are available. While most have some cost attached to them, the author who is determined to improve within the craft and who has little or no money can find something that will fit his budget just by doing a little research at the local library.

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Epiphany, and the Writers’ Conference

PNWA 2015 My Books in the Bookstore

Epiphany.

A sudden revelation.

A moment in time where suddenly you understand the why of a certain thing. For a writer this can mean the plot suddenly unthickens and we know what we need to do!

This often happens when I am in traffic and completely unable to put said revelation into practice, but hey, we go with what we have, right?

I had several such moments of glory while in Seattle at the PNWA 2015 Writers Conference this last week. Fortunately I was able to immediately put my chicken-scratched notes into a more readable form via the little Android tablet, and these flashes of knowledge will soon be causing some positive changes in my current works-in-progress.

Over the next few months a lot of what the speakers and teachers had to say will filter through my mind and into this blog, but first I need meditate on it until I know what their insights mean to me on a practical level.

Better You Go Home Scott DriscollI attended two seminars offered by Scott Driscoll, who cuts right to the chase and explains his ideas clearly. One was on understanding your characters’ values and how the evolution of those core values fundamentally drives the story, and the other was on the inciting incident. Those two seminars dovetailed beautifully, and I had my first “I know what I need to do” moment after leaving the one on identifying and understanding the values (or ethics) your characters hold dear. If you ever get a chance to go to a seminar offered by him, I would recommend you do it.

Another speaker whose seminar really motivated me was offered by Bill Carty, on the intersection of ‘poetry and the everyday’ as a means for generating our own poems. (Yes, I have a dark side–I write poetry when no one is watching.)

I listened to my good friend, Janet Oakleyspeaking on a panel about bringing the past to life, when writing historical fiction. That too had an “ah hah!” moment.

Bharti Kirchner gave a seminar on the five essential elements of a short story, and she is an intriguing speaker. As you know, I am a strong proponent of writing short stories as exercise, to develop your writing chops, and I came away from that class knowing how to organize my thoughts so that a short story will remain short, and not accidentally turn into a novella or an epic trilogy.

Doublesight--Terry PersunI wanted to attend the seminar on using language with intention that was offered by Terry Persun and his daughter, Nicole Persun, but I had a conflict and had to choose which class served a more immediate need, so I was unable to attend it. But all is not lost–I will be purchasing the download of that seminar. I had several wonderful conversations with Terry and he will be writing a guest post for this blog, perhaps on that subject.

Instead of that, I attended a class offered by Lindsay Schopfer on identifying the sub-genres of science fiction and fantasy so that when a book is published you can best identify your intended target audience. This is absolutely critical because when you go to publish, your publishing platform will always ask you what your “BISAC code” is. BISAC is an acronym for Book Industry Subject and Category subject headings, which are a mainstay in the industry and required for participation in many databases.

The Beast Hunter, Lindsay SchopferKnowing if you are writing Epic Fantasy or High Fantasy is critical when it comes to marketing your book to the proper audience, as die-hard readers of each sub-genre have strong feelings about what constitutes their favorite genre. Thus, there are certain tropes readers of those genres will expect, so proper labeling is critical if want your target audience to read your book.

Being able to immerse myself in learning the craft is absolutely wonderful, and I look forward to this conference every year. This year William Kenower  offered the final seminar of the event. Bill is an intriguing, energetic speaker who gets his listeners involved in what he teaching. His seminar on reconnecting with your confidence was quite appropriate for me, as I sometimes  listen to my inner critic and forget the joy I have in writing.

my sisters grave robert dugoniOther people spoke, Andre Dubus III and Robert Dugoni-two men with vastly different experiences and different styles of writing, and yet both had something to say that moved me in one way or another.  J.A. Jance, Nancy Kress , Elizabeth Boyle and Kevin O’Brien were on a panel that was fun to listen to.

If you are serious about writing, I highly recommend that you seek out and attend writing conferences. A great deal of good information can be found on the internet, but there is something about the networking and actually talking shop with the other authors that fires creativity and keeps the creativity flowing through the veins.

I suggest that you actively google writers’ conferences in your area, and see if you can find one that is affordable and offers sessions by respected authors in a wide variety of genres, and who are welcoming to authors who intend to go indie as well as those who hope to be traditionally published. It will be money well-spent.

An intriguing thing happened at this conference during the book signing event. A highly respected agent (who shall remain unnamed) stopped by my table and looked over my books. He picked up Tower of Bones, and leafed through it, checking out the cover and the graphics, and also the maps. Pausing, he asked if I was indie published, and I explained I was, through a publishing group, Myrddin Publishing. He then paid me the highest compliment ever–my books were “highly professional.”

That interaction proves how important it is to put your best work out there. When you do that, you can be proud to play on that not-so-level playing field.

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Filed under Books, Humor, Literature, Publishing, writer, writing

Gearing up for #PNWA2015

House of Sand and Fog Andre Dubus III

I love conventions. Especially writer’s conventions, where the craft of writing is the central theme, so that is why I look forward to the PNWA convention every year. Two weeks from now, that is where I will be, along with fellow Myrddin Publishing Group editor and bff, Irene Roth Luvaul.

It is horribly expensive, but for me, it is so worth it.

This year, Andre Dubus III will be the keynote speaker. While I frequently read literary fiction, I have to say I didn’t really enjoy his book, House of Sand and Fog, although it was excellently crafted. I found it exceedingly depressing, as I did most books touted by Oprah’s Book Club, which I generally don’t find to be much of a recommendation any more. Oprah is a wonderful lady, but her tastes in literature are far different than mine.

Let’s face it–I’m an escape-reader. I read to get away from the misery of the world, so while the story is thought-provoking, and worthy of every honor it has received, I didn’t enjoy it. I prefer happy endings.

But that doesn’t really matter–I want to hear what he has to say. I don’t care for George R.R. Martin‘s work either. But I love to hear George speak, and so I am looking forward to hearing what Andre Dubus III has to say.

SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL AUTHORSMy hubby took a vacation-day yesterday, giving himself a 4 day weekend to help me take my books 75 miles north to Bellevue. 3 hours each direction, inching along I-5 and I-405 in 90 degree heat–what fun!

This was so they can  be included in the PNWA July 16-19 convention’s Friday Autograph Party event. I’m pretty excited about that. My good friend, Lindsay Schopfer will also be signing books, as will 58 other authors.

I’ll be showcasing the World of Neveyah series, and Huw the Bard, so 4 books for the signing event. But all my books will be there.

Every attendee will receive an Ebook copy of Tales from the Dreamtime courtesy of Smashwords. I so wish I could give them each a copy of the audio book–Craig Allen’s narration is simply amazing.

I really enjoy the PNWA conference. A lot of people who are going the traditional route use it to pitch to agents and editors, but that doesn’t interest me. I am happy as an indie and have no plans to court a large publisher.

What I am interested in are the seminars on the craft of writing. Every year I come away from this event feeling completely inspired, and ready to write.

Friday morning Irene and I will attend the annual meeting. I do have some concerns which I have made a list of, and wish I lived closer to Seattle to be more of a volunteer. Living 75 miles away limits what I can do to help out, but I could do some virtual assisting, if there is an option for that.

Also, I will be attending seminars given by Scott Driscoll, Robert Dugoni, and Lindsay Schopfer.

creamy_wild_rice_and_mushroom_soup_recipe

creamy wild rice and mushroom soup w/coconut milk

All in all, I think it will be a fun event, and am planning my food ahead for it, as the vegan can never count on the kindness of strangers when it comes to food. The wise vegan author travels well-prepared to stay in a room with no microwave, in a hotel that is less than understanding about what constitutes a vegan meal.

I can honestly say I am NOT looking forward to the dinners, but will be well-able to provide for myself, and who needs food anyway–were gonna be talking books!

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Heading to Renton at AFK Elixers and Eatery #Booksigning

Destination StaycationOh, my gosh–I am getting so excited! The next event, Destination Staycation is happening in just 3 days, on Saturday the 27th of June.  Eight local, independent authors will be coming together for one event. We will be selling and signing books all afternoon and evening at AFK Elixirs & Eatery  in Renton, Washington, and I can hardly wait!

HTB Stamp copyWe will be offering reading-passports and stamping them with our book-related stamps.

Along with myself, AJ Downey, Sechin Tower, Lee French, Lindsay Schopfer, Stephen Matlock, David Moore, and Jeffrey Cook are the featured authors this time around.

And wow–what a fabulous venue–a gamer’s paradise!  AFK simply means Away From Keyboard. It’s commonly used in chatrooms and online games and it basically means that you won’t be available (Not at the keyboard = Not in front of your computer). But at AFK Elixers & Eatery you may be away from your computer, but you’re never far from gaming.

My friends and fellow gamers & book addicts in the western Washington/Seattle area are more than welcome to come on up (or down) and join us Saturday, between 2 and 9 pm.

Here are some samples of books being offered by the intrepid indie authors who will be joining me:

Girls Can't Be Knights KINDLEGirls Can’t be Knights, by Lee French

Portland has a ghost problem.

Sixteen-year-old Claire wants her father back. His death left her only memories and an empty locket. After six difficult years in foster care, her vocabulary no longer includes “hope” and “trust”.

Everything changes when Justin rides his magical horse into her path and takes her under his wing. Like the rest of the elite men who serve as Spirit Knights, he hunts restless ghosts that devour the living.

When an evil spirit threatens Claire’s life, she’ll need Justin’s help to survive. And how could she bear the Knights’ mark on her soul? Everybody knows Girls Can’t Be Knights.

Lost Under Two moons, Lindsay SchopferLost Under Two Moons, Lindsay Schopfer

Alone. Stranded. Richard finds himself on Other World, a place of fantasy and horror. With no companion but a makeshift journal, Richard must quickly learn the unfamiliar dangers around him as he struggles daily to survive. From the approach of winter to eerily intelligent packs of nightmarish creatures, each entry details another trial of life or death. But when Richard finds the remnants of an ancient civilization, he begins to wonder if he is truly alone, and whether or not the lost people of Other World still hold the secrets that could return him home to Earth.

Dawn of Steam First Light Jeffrey CookDawn of Steam, Jeffrey Cook

In 1815, in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars, two of England’s wealthiest lords place a high-stakes wager on whether a popular set of books, which claim that the author has traveled to many unknown corners of the globe, are truth or, more likely, wild fiction. First Light is an epistolary novel, told primarily through the eyes of former aide-de-camp Gregory Conan Watts, describing the journeys of the airship Dame Fortuna and its crew through journals and letters to his beloved fiancee.
The first recruit is, necessarily, the airship’s owner: war hero, famed genius, and literal knight in steam-powered armor Sir James Coltrane. Persuading him to lend his talents and refitted airship to the venture requires bringing along his sister, his cousin, and the crew that flew with him during the Napoleonic Wars. Only with their aid can they track down a Scottish rifleman, a pair of shady carnies, and a guide with a strong personal investment in the stories.
When they set out, the wild places of the world, including the far American West, the Australian interior, darkest Africa, and other destinations are thought to be hostile enough. No one expects the trip to involve a legendary storm – or the Year Without a Summer of 1815-1816. The voyage is further complicated by the human element. Some parties are not at all happy with the post-war political map. Most problematic of all, the crew hired by the other side of the wager seem willing to win by any means necessary.

mad science institute Sechin TowerMad Science Institute, Sechin Tower

Sophia “Soap” Lazarcheck is a girl genius with a knack for making robots—and for making robots explode. After her talents earn her admission into a secretive university institute, she is swiftly drawn into a conspiracy more than a century in the making. Meanwhile and without her knowledge, her cousin Dean wages a two-fisted war of vengeance against a villainous genius and his unwashed minions. Separately, the cousins must pit themselves against murderous thugs, experimental weaponry, lizard monsters, and a nefarious doomsday device. When their paths finally meet up, they will need to risk everything to prevent a mysterious technology from bringing civilization to a sudden and very messy end.

AJ Downey Shattered and ScarredShattered & Scarred: The Sacred Hearts MC, AJ Downey

She’s Shattered…

Ashton Granger is a perfect wife to her husband. She has to be, if she’s not, he will find a way to correct any perceived imperfections. Such is life, and so it has been for a very long time, eroding Ashton’s sense of self, cracking her sense of worth until she lays in a million pieces on the side of a stretch of lonely highway.

He’s Scarred…
Ethan “Trigger man” Howard is the Sergeant of Arms for The Sacred Hearts Motorcycle club. After several tours as a Marine Corps sniper overseas, he’s seen and done enough damage for a man three times his age. He’s out. Done. So over it, and home to nurse his wounds, physical, emotional and psychological with the help of his MC brothers. Now he simply deals with the scars that life handed him.

Was it more than just luck for he and Ashton both that he was the only other soul traveling that isolated stretch of highway that night?

**Mature Audiences Only (18+)**

 

Stars in the Texas Sky Stephen J. MatlockStars in the Texas Sky, Stephen J. Matlock

STARS IN THE TEXAS SKY is a story about 13-year-old Henry Valentine. He’s the school’s star pitcher, intoxicated by first love of a young girl, and all seems right with his world of 1952 racially separated East Texas. Then he is confronted by an unlikely antagonist, a colored boy who challenges him in his town, bests him in a pitching duel, and fights him in the vacant lot outside of town. A wary distance becomes an unexpected friendship when they discover a common love for Texas beauty. He is devastated when a corrupt congressman sacrifices Henry’s friend to win re-election, and receives no sympathy or help from his disapproving family, church, and town. His finds support in the feisty, independent-minded widow with a taste for liquor in her lemonade who helps him fight against the powerful using only the tools of an innocent and powerless boy. In the end he learns the value of standing for what he believes in face of opposition, and discovers that there is nothing more powerful than a boy – or a man – who knows who he is.

This book is a 2012 Amazon Breakout Novel Award (ABNA) quarter-finalist.

 

David Moore Light at end of trailThe Light at the End of the Trail, David G. Moore

This is a memoir of Moore’s early life–a life filled with equal parts light and darkness. Battling the neighborhood bullies, embracing the world of nature, surviving his mother’s depression, he finally descended into his own world of sadness. But the sadness was nothing compared to what awaited him at college. With the help of drugs and alcohol, a mysterious illness overtook him that baffled both him and the best of doctors. Meanwhile, the Moore family exploded. His parents separated, one sister joined a religious cult, the other buried herself in therapy, and his mother finally moved to the West Coast to escape it all. There were moments of bright light. At times, his illness vanished and during those reprieves he tried to live life to the fullest. But the quest for a life full of passion and joy pushed his mysterious psyche to the edge–then over the edge. It was time to enter the gates of hell.

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And these are just the tip of the iceberg–the number of books my fellow authors and I will be offering is somewhat mind-boggling to me!

Check out the Destination Staycation Facebook Page!

I hope to see you at AFK E&E in Renton Wa on Saturday June 27th!

 

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Book signing events, the art of Paul Cornoyer, and inspiration

From left to right, Sechin Tower, Lindsay Schopfer and Connie J. Jasperson at Forever Knight Games 5-16-2015

From left to right, Sechin Tower, Lindsay Schopfer and Connie J. Jasperson at Forever Knight Games 5-16-2015

The signing at Forever Knight Games in Olympia went well. I met several wonderful authors I hadn’t had a chance to meet in person: Sechin Tower, Jolene Loraine, Rachel E. Robinson (Maquel A. Jacob), and Erik Kort. We were joined my my good friends, authors Lee French, Lindsay Schopfer, and Jeffrey Cook. These wonderful people write great books, and I was privileged to be counted among them!

We had a great time, and it was a good first event at that venue. I want to thank all my friends for coming out and meeting my favorite local authors. Tower of Bones was my big seller–which makes me happy.

paul cornoyer rainy day in madison square

Rainy Day in Madison Square, Paul Cornoyer

But then, after the big party was over (and it was a party–believe me) I had to drag myself back to reality. As I said the other day, sometimes my head isn’t in the right place for reading. At the event this last weekend, a friend asked me how that inability to read without the editor in my head making noise affects my ability to write. I had to answer that it does affect it to a certain extent.

The reason being in an editing frame of mind affects my writing is that while I am creative, it is like my creativity has to go through a maze to get to the ends of my fingers and into written form.

It’s a sloooooow process.

Paul Cornoyer Winter twilight along Central Park

Winter Twilight Along Central Park, Paul Cornoyer

I do a lot of things to jumpstart that creativity. I  clean things I don’t really care about under normal circumstances.  Something about a really orderly environment gets my mind relaxed enough to work properly.

Sometimes I write flash-fiction, 100 to 1000 word short stories.

I find great art that really makes my mind click–Wikimedia Commons is awesome for that.  Today I came across a download of a picture that, two years ago, sparked a 250 word flash-fiction. That  image, which I will get to later, was painted around the year 1910 by an American artist, Paul Cornoyer.

Paul Cornoyer -Gloucester

Glouster, Paul Cornoyer

His work is quite intriguing, and much of is done in an impressionistic style.

According to the Fount of all Knowledge, Wikipedia, Impressionism is a 19th-century art movement. Impressionist painting characteristics include relatively small, thin, yet visible brush strokes, open composition, emphasis on accurate depiction of light in its changing qualities (often accentuating the effects of the passage of time), ordinary subject matter, inclusion of movement as a crucial element of human perception and experience, and unusual visual angles.

The thing about the impressionists that so inspires my writing is that they don’t give you all the details–they give you what they saw including the mood of the piece.

Paul_Cornoyer_-_The_Plaza_After_Rain

The Plaza After Rain, Paul Cornoyer

In so many ways, good literature is like good art–all the important things are there, everything the eye needs to have a perfect vision of the mood, the setting, and characters–everything is there within the piece, but with economy. When you limit yourself to expressing the complete idea of the story in less than 300 words, you discover just how well (or how badly you can write.)

This last picture is the piece that inspired one of my better, short pieces of Flash Fiction, which will be featured later this month on Edgewise Words Inn. I will post links to that here when it goes up

It is called The Plaza After Rain. I love it because, even though it depicts New York City in a different time, it shows the way rain is in the springtime. The sky is dark, but the trees are just beginning to leaf out. The streets are wet with rain, but a hint of blue is showing through the dark sky. When you see this painting, you feel like sunshine could happen any minute.

That is what we try to convey in flash fiction, and that is why it’s so important to practice writing in short, complete bursts. You never know when one will become a longer tale, so you will have a backlog of  fodder to fuel your creativity when you need a good story idea. Being able to create an entire story in 3 paragraphs is an art. Sometimes I can do well at that, and sometimes not so much.

 

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What’s in YOUR belfry?

APPROACHING HELLI’ve got a jammed-up calendar right now. I’m preparing my presentation on writing natural dialogue for Northwest Bookfest, which will be held in Kirkland Washington at Northwest University on Nov. 1 & 2, 2014. I’m really looking forward to that, but they’ve given me a slot between 10:30 a.m and 12:00  on Sunday morning-so that’s a lot of talking about talking. I can do it– heck, you know me. If I talk myself hoarse, I’ll let everyone out a few minutes early for lunch because that’s the kind of girl I am.

But in the meantime, I am still finalizing my seminar and the worksheets to go with it, and I have to also publicize it via twitter, press releases, and blogposts. After all–I really do want people to attend this sock-hop!

NaNoWriMo-General-FlyerNot only that, but I’m trying to get a book-signing/talk about the self-publishing industry for myself and Lindsay Schopfer at a local bookstore (whose website has no working contact links and who rarely answers their phone and never answers their voice-mail.) The nice-but-vague young man whom I have spoken to so far seems to have rather a low opinion of indies, but I am going to conquer that bookstore yet!

I am also building my calendar for my nano group in preparation for NaNoWriMo, which also begins on November 1st. While I do this, I have to  get the Christmas promotions finalized for my published books. I fit all of this in the copious amounts of free time I have between editing for clients, and making required revisions of my own current work, and finishing my next novel.

Being an indie author means it’s all on me. I have to generate any buzz about my books that will be generated, and I have to do it in such a way that my friends don’t all unfriend me, and my husband still looks forward to coming home. Maybe I do have bats in my belfry, but at least I’m having fun.

330px-Title_page_William_Shakespeare's_First_Folio_1623I console myself with the thought that Shakespeare had the same trouble. I do have my Twitter campaign planned–the genuine not-too-annoying-please-buy-my-books-I’ll-do-anything campaign. I have a Goodreads Ad campaign currently ongoing. I will stand naked on a street corner until I sell a book.  I will get a Google Ad campaign going.

I have several ads to put in the local paper regarding NaNoWriMo, and also I have a press release for Christmas O’ClockMyrddin Publishing’s charity anthology. We want to push that book and hopefully double our sales this year as the royalties from all sales go to benefit Water is Life. This charity is very dear to my heart, as millions of people go without safe drinking water, and they seek to change that.

I am my own publicist, secretary, chauffeur, housekeeper, and chef–so I guess you know, nothing much is getting done around the house.

Watch out for that low flying grandma–this broom ain’t stopping anytime soon.

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On Motivation

Periodically I get so far off track that I have to completely scrap the mess I am working on.  It’s as if I began writing one book, but somewhere along the line it becomes another.

300px-WoT08_ThePathOfDaggersOne of the worst, most divergent messes I have created as a writer occurred early on in my current work-in-progress. I was  apparently channeling Robert Jordan. (The Path of Daggers) (Sorry, Wheel of Time fans–I had to say it. I loved the series overall, but he lost us there. It’s okay to admit it.)

I became so completely sidetracked by the stories of my random squirrels…er…side characters…that I completely lost track of the character whose story I had begun writing. I wrote well over 200,000 words that did not advance that story.

I got so lost that I had to rein it in somehow. I’m not Robert Jordan, so there’s no way folks are going to stick with me while I meander through 15 books in the trilogy.

I shelved that MS, re-titled it  Junk for my next book,  and started all over again, this time with an outline. But all is not lost–I have 3 books worth of material for later, and it was a good exercise in how NOT to write a novel.

What originally got me going off in so many directions  was the search for one particular character’s motivation. WHY does he behave the way he does?   I wasn’t sure how to go about it, and I began by writing a backstory that I knew would never make it into the book. It was intended to show me who this person is, and what motivates him, but it got out of hand rather quickly.

In a workshop I attended at a recent convention,indie author  Lindsay Schopfer boiled character motivation down to one  simple thing: Need. Every action by a character must be motivated by some need.

Well, it sounds simple, enough, but it really can be complicated. After Lindsay’s talk, it occurred to me that I had gone about it the hard way. The simplest way would be to graph it out, and the internet is rife with all sorts of inspirational thingys of this nature, but I’m a rebel. I gotta do it my own way.

SO–I was a bookkeeper for years–I fired up Excel, and made me a handy-dandy Motivational Chart, where I identified the characters, what their action was, and what motivated that action.

What does a character need? Well, what do real people need?  The basics are  food, shelter, and garments. Once they have those items, they may need transportation, they may need entertainment. They need companionship. They need spirituality, or love, or sex. Once we identify what a character needs, we need to know how far they are willing to go to acquire it.

The lengths they will go to achieve their goal is the real story

This is one section of the long chart:

motvation table

Now, you don’t have to be able to use MS Excel to make your own motivational chart. Get your ruler out, and block off sections on a standard sheet of paper. If you don’t have a ruler, use the straight side of something long, like a foil-box or a plastic-wrap box.  The point is, you want to tame the chaos on one horizontal tier of a grid:

character –>his actions –> and why he did it (his motivations.)

motivation table - blank

In the process of doing that you may find yourself ironing out some plot wrinkles, as I did. I am a linear thinker–so I need to have my characters as clear to me as if they were my dearest friends. For me, that means I will make a chart from now on, rather than wasting time writing words to nowhere.

After I did this, I wrote 25,000 words that launched the real story. Charting my character’s motivations works well for me.  I will be story-boarding my work in this fashion in the future.

 

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Setting inspiration ablaze

225px-Author_james_rollins_2008Last Thursday I was privileged to hear James Rollins speak at the opening of the 2014 Pacific Northwest Writers association conference in Seattle, Washington. He’s quite hilarious, and down to earth. He is still actively working a s veterinarian, which is a profession that would keep anyone humble, I  think.

It was a wonderful speech, and I was completely entertained, laughing so hard I had tears at one point. Jim kicked it off, but over those four days of immersion in the craft, 4 presenters in particular impressed me and rekindled my drive to write good novels.  Over the next weeks I will be blogging on the elements of the craft that each of these four speakers were able to convey.

scott-driscoll1The first to pique my interest and steal my literary heart was Scott Driscoll,  whose  novel, Better You Go Home , has been receiving high praise. I am in the middle of reading it now, and it is compelling work. I’ll be blogging at length about all the books I purchased at this convention.

Anyway, Scott gave 2 talks and I attended both of them  The first was on the arc of the scene, developing a rhythm for each scene that grips the readers attention, takes him through all the emotional points you want him to experience, and then sets the platform for the next scene.   The second was on literary fiction, which is my secret addiction.

In some ways I already understood the arc of the scene, but he was able to really get it across in an entertaining and concise way, and emailed me a wonderful handout to tape next to my computer. In his literary fiction seminar Scott Driscoll also discussed  a fourth point of view I had heard of in college, but forgotten about,and gave it a name I’d never heard of: the Flâneur (idler, lounger, loiterer,) which we will be discussing next week. Charles  Baudelaire characterized the flâneur as a “gentleman stroller of city streets,” he saw the flâneur as having a key role in understanding, participating in and portraying the city. Thus, a flâneur plays a double role by existing  as a present, but ignored, member of society who remains a detached observer of all that occurs within the story.

jason blackThe second speaker to really grab my interest was Jason Black. A well-known structural editor, Jason also writes middle-grade novels.  His discussion on steering your story where you want it to go was really pertinent to a problem I’ve been wrestling with in one of my current works in progress. I will be writing on his suggestions and putting them to work  for me.

One of the things that Jason jarred loose in my head is how I need to proceed with deploying information about a certain evil character while not revealing too much at the outset. He reminded me of the the concept of asymmetric information–A situation in which one party in a transaction has more or superior information compared to another. This often happens in business and stock transactions where the seller knows more than the buyer, although the reverse can happen as well. Potentially, this could be a harmful situation because one party can take advantage of the other party’s lack of knowledge.

In novels, not everyone in the scene knows everything, and those plot points are driven by the those characters who do have the critical knowledge. Applying this to my current plothole will be key to resolving it.

Lindsay Schopfer book signing PNWA 2014Then I was assisted by fantasy author, Lindsay Schopfer, in identifying character motivation. Sometimes it’s hard to understand why characters do the things they do–and Lindsay boiled how to identify it down to simple manageable chunks. Now I think my problems with the one evil character I am trying to flesh out will be resolved, because he now has clear motivations for his actions. I will be writing like a banshee for a week, anyway!

Lindsay’s characters leap off the page, and that is what we all want for our own work.   I really enjoyed The Beast Hunter and Lost Under Two Moons, and have reviewed both of them on Best in Fantasy.

Terry PersunAnother seminar I went to that really pushed my current work into focus was given by Terry Persun,  the award winning science fiction and fantasy author.  He was discussing point of view, the ubiquitous POV we sometimes struggle with, should we be omniscient, 3rd person, or first person? And what do they mean? Of course, I have a grip on that, but it was his side comments and sense of humor that jump-started my my brain. He managed to help me bring into focus the way to end the final bit of misery that is my current work in progress.

He made the point that the only POV a reader can really trust is the ‘omniscient’ as it is not told from any one character’s point of view and is therefore unlikely to be a lie. However, that said, he’s  written novels in every POV, because it’s more interesting for him as an author. I bought 4 of his books–just sayin’.  Can’t wait to get into Doublesight. I can smell a book blog review!

And while I was there, I finally met Janet Oakley in person. She is a long-time friend, an author I have known for several years, and whom I met through the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards Contest–but we only have known each other through the on-line community. She is an awesome person and her books, Timber Rose and Tree Soldier  have been winning awards right and left!

Janet and I met up with local author Don Harkcom, who writes thrillers, and who is now being courted by several agents. Don actually lives not far from me, and we spent a lot of time discussing everything from gaming to politics. All in all, it was a great conference and I am already looking forward to next year!

Me, Don Harkom, J.L. Oakley -Janet - PNWA 2014

Me, Don Harkcom, & J.L. Oakley at PNWA 2014

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