Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Author Interview - Abby R. Laughlin

Abby R. Laughlin is a science fiction author and an ERA at a vet clinic. The Cosmic Principle, the first in The Nexus Series, is her debut novel. Future projects include books two and three of the same series, as well as a prequel and two companion novels set in the same universe.

Abby is currently living her life in Wisconsin with her cat, lizard, and fiancé.

Genre: Science fiction adventure with a touch of romance

Q&A:

Q1: What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?

The name of my most recently published (and debut) novel is The Cosmic Principle.

I’m glad you asked about inspiration! What initially inspired my story was—I was in my advanced english/creative writing class in college, and we were tasked with coming up with “one sentence pitches,” and I came up with, “A woman finds out she’s royalty after the former king dies under mysterious circumstances” (which I still use to this day!) and the story continued to build from that starting point.

I also wanted to mention how I initially came up with the actual name too! It’s pretty interesting (at least in my opinion, lol). Essentially, I came across this term called “the cosmological principle” which is a real space term that basically states—that no matter where we look in the universe, we’ll see the same distribution of objects. So basically, the universe looks the same no matter where we are in it. Which, no spoilers, but if you read my story, you can kinda see the play on that—within that universe. BUT, as the title pertains to the story itself, it’s more about the main character, Caldera, and her morals and principles throughout the story. She basically wants to help people and she doesn’t believe that that principle should be contained to a specific sector or even to a planet. She believes that the desire to help people should be galactic or universal—you know… Cosmic.

Q2: What do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused?

Coffee… Lots of coffee… lots.

Q3: If you could spend a day with another popular author, whom would you choose and why?

For a traditionally published author—no question about it, Neil Gaiman. I love his style and stories. Plus he seems like a genuinely nice person.

For indie authors—I’d love to meet up with some of my insta friends! Looking at you SJ Pratt (@sjpratt_writer), MJ Carstarphen (@mjcarstarphen), & JA Ascienzo (@themidnight_novelist). Also, where are my Wisconsin/Illinois authors at?! (Let’s meet up! I’d love to meet my fellow indies!)

Q4: What, to you, are the most important elements of good writing?

Well rounded characters and interesting worldbuilding that makes the story feel real and exciting. For me, personally, I can overlook a somewhat (key word there, lol) meandering plot if I actually care about the characters and world that they reside in.

Q5: What are common traps for new authors?

I feel like that the number one trap that new authors can fall into is info-dumping everything about the world they created. Information about the world and characters should be interwoven throughout the story as it comes up/becomes important.

Q6: What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given about writing?

“The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” —Terry Pratchett.

Which I take to mean—don't be scared to start writing. No matter how bad you think that first draft is, it doesn’t matter (and guess what it is bad—all first drafts are!). You have to start somewhere and that’s the first step to making something fantastic! You got this!

Q7: How do you come up with character names for your stories?

I try to think about my genre and think of names that work within that genre. For example, since I write sci-fi set in a galaxy that’s not Earth’s, I probably wouldn’t name the main characters Emma or Jim. But if I was writing a contemporary story set on modern day Earth, maybe I would. It all depends on what you’re writing.

Q8: At what time of the day do you do most of your writing?

I’m for sure an early afternoon to evening writer! I work at a veterinary office, so I basically work on my book whenever I can/after I get home.

Q9: What are you working on now?

Book 2 of The Nexus Series. I can’t release the name but the acronym is TCD… Any guesses?

Q10: What are you currently reading?

Moon Beetles by B. Joyce (@bjoyce_author)… Still… I’m a very slow reader, lol.

Find out more about Abby R. Laughlin by checking out the social media links below:

Facebook

Instagram

Goodreads

AmazonAuthor Page

Website

The Cosmic Principle is available in ebook and paperback. Here's a brief excerpt:

Caldera’s thoughts whirled. The people in the palace most likely either resented her, hated her, or didn’t trust her. I need someone on my side. She glanced at her watch again. Thirty seconds.


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Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Author Interview - Andre Jones

Andre Jones was born in Wollongong on the New South Wales South Coast. He has a Dutch heritage and apparently – lost in time – there’s a vague link to Dutch Royalty on his father’s side. And while ‘Jones’ isn’t a Dutch name by any stretch of the imagination, it isn’t a pen name either. He is sure his parents did their best, and while he does have fond memories of his childhood, there are others he would rather not dwell on. In hindsight, it was mostly unpleasant and no doubt got him into reading to escape. So he can be thankful for that.

Andre Jones has worn many hats, as they say, from Police Officer to Council Labourer, to serving in the Royal Australian Navy for almost 20 years and being involved in ‘operational areas’ (war-zones). When he left he did some gardening and handyman work because he likes working with my hands. He finally retired – though he sometimes feels like he is doing more now than before. 

Andre Jones has been married for 36 years to a lovely Scottish lass, has one daughter, and currently one old British Short Hair cat - Alex, and one over the top Jack Russel Terrier - Gordon. 

Genre: Initially epic fantasy, I also love sci-fi and urban fantasy, which is reflected in my books so far. As if I haven’t enough on my plate, lately I’ve been considering steampunk/thrillers ... and crime ... and getting into some mild horror. (I know there is cosy romance and cosy mystery ... can there be a cosy horror?)

Q&A:

Q1: What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?

The book about to be released is SPHINX, book three of my urban fantasy/tomb raider-esque series ‘Death Wave Chronicles’.

The series started when I fell down the rabbit hole on Youtube, looking at fringe/weird/ pseudo-science with a splash of conspiracy theory and Gaia myth. What struck me about all this was people follow these subjects – some with vehemence.

Is any of it true? Who knows – the court is still out, hence why it isn’t ‘main-stream’ or peer-reviewed science – but, it definitely stirs the (my) imagination.

Q2: What’s your favourite and least favourite part of publishing?

Book covers are fun, working with the designer to come up with ideas that hopefully work and get those readers to click the link.

Definitely marketing is the least favourite. These days with the internet, anyone with a computer can ‘get published’, marketing is far too finicky and superficial. I firmly believe that a great book/author can fall by the wayside and a mediocre book/author will be highly successful simply because of the ability to sell oneself.

(or maybe I’m not trying hard enough ...)

Another least favourite part is the expense to get it done professionally. Yes, I know it can – and has been – done cheaply ... and quite successfully in some cases, but for me, a professional editor and designer is and will always be my preference.

And newsletters, another least favourite. I suck at it. Any ‘newsletter’ is generally used to do the obligatory BookFunnel promo.

Q3: What authors, or books have influenced you?

Taking into account I am 61 this year, some of the names may not register with your readers, but I’ll give it a go. Enid Blyton, Anne McCaffery, Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, Phillip K Dick, Poul Anderson, Katherine Kerr, Isaac Asimov, JRR Tolkien, Stephen Donaldson ... to name a few!

I can’t say any one in particular as has influenced me as they all had a part in forming my imaginings during my youth.

About 10 years ago I started going to Book/Writer conventions and got to know several Australian authors; Glenda Noramly (Larke), Russell Kirkpatrick, Fiona McIntosh, and Karen Miller. Having met them in the flesh, even chatting to them on a one-to-one basis, I guess it inspired me to give my writing more seriousness.

I should make a special mention of a trilogy ‘The Fionavar Tapestry’ by Guy Gavriel Kay. I don’t know how the man does it, but I get very misty-eyed in book 2 – Every. Damn. Time. Definitely not to be read on public transport. I aspire to invoke as much emotion into my readers.

Q4: What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book?

Haphazard at best. As mentioned, I’m a retired Australian Navy veteran, and have plenty of time in my hands ... I guess every day is like a weekend, and I can easily put things off for ‘tomorrow’. And I do. I will write for hours-on-end some days, then plod along on others ... mind you, I do have a young Jack Russell Terrier that takes up much of my time too!

However, this isn’t for everyone. I’m lucky in that, being an independent author, I have no rigid timeline ... other than appeasing my avid readers.

Q5: What advice would you give to a writer working on their first book?

No doubt it will be a different experience for everyone, but the advice will always be the same: ‘Don’t give up’.

Your first, maybe second or even third book will probably be crap – definitely the first drafts will be. I doubt anyone has written anything great the first time; just keep going. There is no greater teacher than experience, and you can’t edit what you haven’t written.

Join a reading or critique group. Sure, you have to read their stuff too, but over time any genuine and practical advice can only make you a better writer.

Q6: What do the words “writer’s block” mean to you?

Not much. I don’t believe in it. Sure, there are times when I feel the muses have left the building and no longer communicating, but in those instances I feel it’s because I’ve missed something in my writing leading me to an area I was expecting (my characters tend to do that!) ... I tend to go back and re-read/edit to see where I ‘left the path’. Soon enough I’m back on it.

However, if that doesn’t work, I tend to write something else, even if it’s notes for my ‘next’ WIP (I have many!) Sometimes too much concentration on a specific thing is counterproductive; those times it’s best to move away completely. It’ll come to you. Just keep writing.

Q7: What part of the book was the most fun to write?

I should say all of it, but the action scenes felt easier to write. I enjoy world building and taking the reader deeper into my worlds, but this can sometimes be a data-dump, so while I write it out initially, the editing tends to turn it into nibbles as opposed to mouthfuls of info  and then spread it around a bit more.

I dare say as my writing ability expands, I might find other aspects are enjoyable; confidence grows with experience.

Q8: How would you describe your book’s ideal reader?

Obviously they would be the astute adventurous type who don’t mind a bit of cross-genre, don’t take things too seriously (I mean, I’m not writing literary fiction), but I don’t mind having a crack at things I find amusing or ridiculous in our society, or even having a laugh at some tropes we use.

For better or worse, I do find I’m writing more books with a female protagonist/hero, see how that flies.

Q9: What are you working on now?

I’m working on several books at the moment: GNOSTIC book four of my urban fantasy Death Wave Chronicles. The series is a mash of pseudo-science, weird-science, fringe-science with a splash of mythology and legends.

I’m also co-authoring a military sci-fi with Pete Aldin; and working on my running ‘memoirs’ (where over 215 days (on separate occasions) I ran 10,000+kms solo around and across Australia for various charities).

Q10: What are you currently reading?

I’m not reading as much as I should ... however, in my To Be Read pile is:

Scrapper (Peter J Aldin), The Stars Remain (Peter J Aldin), and Awaken (GR Thomas).

Excerpt from RELIC - book 1 of the Death Wave Chronicles.

The Message

“I bring a message on behalf of Earth. You may call it Mother Nature, and you may call it Gaia — which is not entirely correct but will suffice for now due to your lack of comprehension of the natural forces which surround us all.

“The world has succumbed to a plague.

Mankind’s ingenuity, believed to separate it from ‘animals’, enabled it to inhabit every niche of land, thereby spreading infection across the globe.

“Mankind has also developed a lust for wealth and power to the extent that the pollution and desecration are now global, threatening the very fabric of the world.

Just as a microbe cannot fathom the complex world in which it lives, Mankind is also incapable of fathoming the complexity of the world. Every living thing on the earth has a role and is connected — or was.

Mankind alone has lost its connections, believing itself separate from everything else.

“A messenger will arrive — Mankind’s one chance to survive.

Those who have lost their connection, who cannot bring themselves to attune, to live in harmony with the earth and the forces around them, will perish.

“Resonating with all that is, she is Nature incarnate. It would be foolish to thwart her, for Gaia’s wrath is never subtle, always fatal. Treat her well.

Mankind’s continued existence relies on its ability to learn respect for the world.

Adapt or die.” 

Vitor Magalh√£es Xaschoal

Wai-wai shaman – 2046

To find out more about Andre Jones, check out the social media links below:

Facebook

Instagram

Goodreads

AmazonAuthor Page

Website

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Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Author Interview - Craig Randall

Craig Randall is a teacher of Literature and Writing and has loved words and stories for as long as he can remember. He is also an empath and has struggled with anxiety and depression most of his life. Writing allowed him to turn a huge corner and has led to so much healing. 

Genre: Horror and suspense, but I also write a lot of hopeful poetry.

Q&A:

Q1: What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?

There are two: My debut novel, The Doom That Came to Astoria, which was inspired by semi-autobiographical events (not the creature at the end) in which I had to learn to not allow others so much power in my own life. Like myself, the MC, Charlie, hopes to build a new life free from pain and past trauma…things don’t quite go his way…at first.

The second book, To Chase the Sun, is a collection of poetry that charts my own healing as I sought to rebuild my mind after an anxiety med-wash. Things went very dark for a long time. Both books were written alongside one another and feel like two sides of the same coin. 

Q2: What do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused?

I NEED quiet. Other than that, I could be in an empty room, on the floor, anywhere, and be fine. I supposed I need my laptop, and it’s nice to be surrounded by books and comforts, but when I start, everything goes by the wayside anyway and I feel transported. I write all over the place, as long as it’s potentially quiet.

Q3: If you could spend a day with another popular author, whom would you choose and why?

I would give anything to hang out with Neil Gaiman for a whole day. I would pick his brain about his process, the evolution of his craft, how he deals with certain pitfalls and setbacks. And I would ask him so many questions about his stories, characters, and their connections to the real world!

Q4: What, to you, are the most important elements of good writing?

Good writing, to me, is the heart bleeding on the page. I think good writing must be honest and truthful in its reflection of people and the world. Maybe sincere is the best word for it. When I read something that appears to be the author reaching for something as it really is? That’s powerful. Then we get to join them on their quest for answers. Someone told me a long time ago that great literature answers questions. I see it differently. I think great literature/writing asks great questions and creates a pathway for the audience to find their own answers.

Q5: What are common traps for new authors? 

I think the biggest trap is in expecting perfection or excellence too soon. Too many people give up because it’s not like what they read or wanted it to be. They don’t realize that it might be better than the first draft of their favorite book(s). People don’t realize how often a book has been edited/revised prior to publication and therefore create unrealistic expectations for themselves. Another trap is the belief that writing is a singular effort. It can be, I suppose, but we need people around us, to encourage, to read our work, to give feedback and notes. We write as a tribe and we each need our own tribe to continue forward.

Q6: What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given about writing?

The most important advice I’ve ever been given is in terms of finding a story to write about. That I shouldn’t write about what I feel I confidently know but to write about something I’m unsure of and want to know or understand better. That way, my character’s journey is a reflection of me and takes me on that same journey of understanding. The revelations and growth that happens in the characters become more authentic. Powerful stuff. Then, even if no one ever touches my book, reads or reviews it, likes or hates it, I’ve still grown, and writing was purposeful anyway. No matter what there is victory. That’s been important.

Q7: How do you come up with character names for your stories?

Names carry meaning and tone and feel. I think of what or who that character needs to be and will often go through a massive list of names until I find a match. I focus more on syllable and phonemic sounds, too, than anything else. If its harsh, soft, weak, flimsy, like the character needs to be. Then I look at meaning. Often those things intersect and it becomes perfect. My MC in my trilogy is a combination of two characters from H.P. Lovecraft’s mythology. Each name carries certain traits that my character had or needed to have, so that felt perfect. I chose Charlie, the inspirational character’s name Charles, to update it but it also captures more of the innocence I wanted. In less meaningful cases, I google most popular names (first and last) in the region/setting (if it’s the real world) and pick one that fits.

Q8: At what time of the day do you do most of your writing?

I write in the evenings and at breaks throughout my day. Pending how busy I am, I’ll try to get in an hour or two every Saturday and/or Sunday.

Q9: What are you working on now?

I’m currently writing Part 3 in my trilogy. Doom is the first. Its sequel, The Dreams in the Pearl House comes out in the fall, and I’m hoping Part 3 will drop the following winter. It’s been so fun!

Q10: What are you currently reading?

I’m blasting my way through Stephen King books. Never read him before, and I see and hear so much about his work. I’m loving it, most of it. Currently, I’m 600 pages into The Stand. Only 800 pages left…I’ll get there!

To find out more about Craig Randall, check out the social media links below:

Instagram
Goodreads
Amazon Author Page
TikTok

The Doom That Came To Astoria is now available in paperback and ebook! Check out the blurb below:

DOOM IS COMING…but Charlie West is too busy striving toward a more hopeful future to notice. Eager to move on from a past scarred by pain, he accepts a teaching position at a school just outside Astoria, Oregon. He’d dreamt of this his whole life. Letting go. Leaving. Building his own life free of the shadows and darkness that plagued his formative youth.

Anxieties reel as Charlie works to settle, build friendships, and find his place in a new community. Allowing himself to dream at last, he is unaware that each step he takes leads him further into an intricate web set to ensnare him.

Never could he have imagined what awaited him, nor the extent of his own connection to the coming horrors.

As mental upheaval threatens to overpower him, Charlie is desperate to find out whether a person can ever really move on from their own past, their own pain. Follow Charlie as he grapples with who truly holds the reins of his life and future.

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Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Author Interview - Havelah McLat

Havelah McLat lives on a small farm in rural Ohio with her family. As a kid, she spent hours drawing and then crafting short stories to go along with her illustrations. As she got older, her passion grew to write stories about the world, faith, and topics that matter the most to her. Havelah has written several short fictions that have been featured in different anthologies. When she’s not writing, she reads books, draws, which she shares on my website, helps with activity events in her local church and community, and spend time with her family. During her free time she watches YouTube videos on different writers and authors on their writing journey and self-publishing industry.

Genre:  contemporary clean romance fiction, fantasy, inspirational stories and sometimes historical fiction.

Q&A:

Q1: What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?

A Forever Summer, and I got the inspiration out of a Victoria magazine from a friend. There was an image of two kids holding a boat and surrounded by water. And a bunch of old letters. That’s where the story begins.

Q2: What is a significant way your book has changed since the first draft? 

Haha, the draft has changed quite a bit. The story was originally set in the 80s but then things didn’t work out and I decided to rewrite from scratch to make it contemporary fiction.

Q3: What authors, or books have influenced you?

Richard Evans, Beverly Lewis and several other authors. Even though both authors write fiction, they each write different types of genres. Richard would write sentimental stories and Beverly would write Christian fiction, but in a way, both have influenced me and how I write stories with valuable morals and faith.

Q4: What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book?

Hmm, I usually like to write in the morning and sometimes in the evening. All depends on my mood and when the inspiration hits me.

Q5: What advice would you give to a writer working on their first book?

Write at your own pace. Trust your storyteller (or main characters) and let them tell you the story.

Q6: What is the best writing advice you have ever heard?

Write a description only if it is important to the plot.

Q7: How do you celebrate when you finish your book? 

Eat ice cream or sometimes buy something to reward myself for accomplishing the draft.

Q8: What do you think is the best way to improve writing skills?

Read books, watch Youtube videos about writing, and learn and grow in your skills.

Q9: What are you working on now?

Right now I am working on a contemporary, clean, winter romance set in the same world as A ForeverSummer, but they aren't a part of a series. They are all stand alone.

Q10: What are you currently reading?

I would read a book that interested me. But I can say I have a long list of books on my TBR I would like to read before the year ends.

To find out more about Havelah McLat, check out the social media links below. Keep scrolling for an excerpt from A Forever Summer.

Social media links:
Instagram
Goodreads
Amazon Author Page
Newsletter
Website

Havelah McLat has generously provided us with an excerpt from Chapter One of A Forever Summer.

Katherine grinned wryly. It could be worse—I could have actually gotten hit. She breathed calmly. There is nothing that needs to be fretted over.

The sound of approaching footsteps caught her attention. She shifted her attention from Maude to the person who returned with a bottle of water in his hand. He was dressed professionally in a dark suit and tie. He was older and his face appeared very serious, but when he saw she had arrived, he greeted her with a friendly smile.

“It is nice to see you Ms. Linton.”

“I apologize for being late,” said Katherine.

He laughed, waving his hand. “It’s alright.” Then he gestured for them to take a seat at the desk.

“Mr. Dan—” Katherine paused and looked down at the name on the plate. “William Danforth, I was told we have a matter to discuss.”

“We do.” He sipped a little water and set the bottle aside. “Let me get the file.” He pushed his chair back and swung his arm to a large cabinet. “Your father told me about you both,” he said as he rummaged through his files.

Katherine glanced over at Maude, who was sitting next to her. “He did?”

“He said you are an artist,” said the lawyer turned his head sideways to look at Katherine, “working for a Boston Lifestyle magazine company, and Maude is a freshman in college.”

Katherine chuckled in amazement, wondering how much personal information her father shared with him.

“He told me how proud he is of you two.”

Katherine sadly smiled as she thought of him, especially as she remembered her and Maude watching him drift away into that deep sleep, and breathing his last breath. She wiped tears from her eyes and swallowed the lump in her throat.

“Should we get this settled?” said Mr. Danforth.

Katherine nodded.

The lawyer pulled out the document and slid back to his desk. “You already know your father has drawn a will…”

Katherine turned to Maude, and they exchanged knowing glances. Shortly before he died, he told his daughters they would inherit his home and everything that once belonged to him. After their mother’s death in a car accident years ago, their father’s will was the only reminder of their parents’ plans for the family.

“Is there something else we should know?” Katherine asked him, noticing a grave expression on Mr. Danforth’s face.

“Before your father passed away, he included something else in his will.”

“What do you mean?” Maude asked him.

What could he possibly add? Katherine pondered the same thought. She squinted in confusion, and the lawyer slid the file in front of them. Katherine opened it and drew out the sheet of paper. She studied it closely.

“What did he add?” she asked, pausing from reading.

“I can show you,” he said, holding out his hand. Katherine gave the document to him, and he pointed to one section toward the end of the will.

She and Maude drew their heads closer and squinted at the paragraph. Katherine raised her brows when she read it. “Our father left us a house in Westchester Bay, Massachusetts?”

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