Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

Author Interview: Jenelle Leanne Schmidt

This week I've got Jenelle Schmidt, author of King's Warrior, sitting down for an interview. Let's see what she has to say.


1. Please tell us about yourself.

I grew up in the Western Chicago suburbs. I now reside in North Carolina where I melt in the summer and miss the snow terribly in the winter. I write fantasy and science fiction novels.

Besides writing, I have been an English teacher, a play director, a math teacher, and currently am working super hard as a stay-at-home-mom/author. I also play frisbee and soccer, root for the Cubs (despite the fact that they let me down year after year), love downhill skiing and riding horses and (as Ratty says in “The Wind in the Willows” “messing about in boats.” Unfortunately, I don’t get to do any of these things nearly as often as I would like.

2. What's the name of your newest or latest book and what's it about?

King’s Warrior is a story about a headstrong, adventurous princess who is sent on a quest to find the one man who can help save her kingdom from invasion. Traveling with her are her eccentric maid and a young squire who resents his charge to protect the princess, as he would much rather stay with the knights and face the enemy. When they meet Brant, they discover that their adventure has only just begun. He is a man shrouded in mystery, and they are not sure whether or not they quite trust him, but the hope of their world rests on the steel he wears at his side.

This Spring, I hope to release the prequel to King’s Warrior, a book entitled Second Son, which reveals Brant’s origin story.

3. Is this book part of a series or standalone?

King’s Warrior can stand alone just fine, it is a contained story, with a definite beginning, middle, and a very satisfying end. However, it is also part of a four-book series.

4. How long have you been writing?

Forever.

I have loved books and stories for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories revolve around listening to my dad reading stories out loud (or making up stories) to my siblings and me before bedtime. I started writing stories almost as soon as I learned to write. I recently discovered a short “story” I wrote when I was six or seven about my little brother, so apparently I began writing pretty early. I dabbled in writing poetry and short stories, and even a longer sci-fi novel through high-school, but the thing that really set me on a “career” of writing was my father’s challenge to me in college to write an adventure story (and finish it!) during the summer between my freshman and sophomore year.

5. From where or whom do you draw inspiration?

That is a hard question. Inspiration is a hard thing to nail down. Sometimes it comes in the form of an experience, other times it’s in a certain line of music that hits me just right, other times it’s something I see. Many times, though, inspiration arrives in the form of pictures in my mind, my own imagination, I guess. I often find that my best ideas hit me just as I’ve gotten perfectly comfortable in bed and am about to fall asleep - which is why I keep a notebook and pen on my nightstand.

6. What advice would you give new or aspiring writer?

1. Write. Write often, write about everything you see, keep a notebook nearby and jot down anything that catches your imagination
2. Read. Become an expert in the type of story you like to write. Read outside your genre.
3. Learn how to accept negative criticism without getting defensive. Negative reviews/comments are what can help you polish your skills.

7. Who do you see as your ideal reader?

I’m not sure I understand the question. If you’re asking about target audience, then I guess the answer is: anyone who loves reading adventures. I wrote my books for my father to read out loud to my family each evening after supper. My target audience was myself, my high-school aged brothers, my 11 year old sister, and my parents. The age-range my book was designed to appeal to is pretty broad.

8. Tell us about your writing process. Are you a planner or outliner?

I prefer to dive straight into writing... but I have discovered the wisdom of planning. My first few books I dove into with reckless abandon, and paid dearly for it in editing later on down the road. Now, I spend a lot more time planning out the story: outlining, world-building, character-creating, before I ever start writing. It’s more work at the front end, and I sometimes find it tedious, but it’s better than having to do massive re-writes later on.

9. Are you a "write every day of the week" sort of writer or do you take days off?

I definitely take days off. As a stay-at-home mom of two young daughters, I can’t always find time to write. I do try to write something at least every weekday. I have to pick and choose wisely, though, because I always have a couple of novels waiting for me to write the next page, and others that are finished that need another pass of editing... so nothing gets done as quickly as I’d like!

10. Some people feel indie authored books are of lesser quality than those that go through the traditional publishers. Do you agree with them? If so, how can independent authors raise the bar and remove this stigmatism?

It depends on the book and the author. Unfortunately, with indie books you never know exactly what you’re going to get. You might get a beautiful book with fabulous formatting and zero typos... but the writing style or the story is rubbish. On the flip side, you might get an excellent story, but the book has some major formatting flaws.

I think if you’re going to self-publish, you have to be hyper critical of your own work (or have someone in your life with an excellent eye for detail). Thankfully, I have a very detail-oriented husband who helped me with the formatting of my book. I think he drove my cover artist a little crazy (in a good way), because she would send us a draft of the cover and he would blow it up to 900% and pick on a single pixel that was out of place. But honestly, that’s the sort of nit-picking we need to do for our own work, as indie-authors, because the traditionally published authors have teams of people doing that sort of thing for them.

11. Assuming you have an active blog, point readers to a post of which you're especially proud or think will be of particular interest to them.

Probably my favorite blog post I’ve ever written is this one: http://jenelleschmidt.com/the-importance-of-prologues/ I don’t know that it would be of particular interest to anyone not in (or not knowing someone in) this sort of situation, but it meant a lot to me.

12. Which retailers or others sites can readers find your work at?

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kindle

13. Where can readers find out more about you?

They can come to my website: http://jenelleschmidt.com .


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Jenelle grew up the oldest of four children. Every night before bedtime her father read to her and her siblings, and it was during these times that her love for adventure and fantasy were forged. While she adored the stories of the Lord of the Rings, the Chronicles of Prydain, the Wheel of Time, and the Chronicles of Narnia; it wasn’t long before her imagination led her to the creation of a world and story all her own.

In 2001, Jenelle completed King’s Warrior, originally titled The Dragon’s Eye, as a project for her father who wanted something new and fun to read to the family at night. This first endeavor gave way to the completion of a four book series that is full of the same adventure that Jenelle grew to love in literature as a little girl. Jenelle graduated from Taylor University in Indiana in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in English Education.

Jenelle has written numerous short stories and many poems, as well as some full length work within the realm of science fiction. King’s Warrior is her first published work and she is currently working on bringing the rest of the series to public availability. Jenelle lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with her husband Derek and two little girls Leiana Arwen and Nathalie Eowyn.


Author Interview: Michelle Browne

This week I've got Michelle Browne, author of the highly-rated The Loved, The Lost, The Dreaming. Read on to see what she has to say.


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1. Please tell us about yourself.

I’m told that I’m a sweetie and full of sunshine and warmth. I like writing about dark and horrible things. I also love chocolate and strawberries and steak. I cannot go without reading a book or writing for more than a day at a time. I have a thing for magpies; I relate to them and also adore shiny things.

2. What's the name of your newest or latest book and what's it about?

It is a cross genre horror anthology called 'The Loved, The Lost, The Dreaming'. If you like madness, fairy tales, and regret, you will love this.

It includes a full length novel, 'The Underlighters' , and 11 stand alone short stories. Interested in worlds where a plague of nightmare-inducing Dust forces humanity underground? Where disembodied hands and cannibal fairies stalk the shadows? Where scifi dystopias overlap with The Brothers Grimm? Don't miss this one.

3. Is this book part of a series or standalone?

It contains the first book in a series, ‘The Underlighters’; this is the first book of The Nightmare Cycle. At least one more book and possibly two are planned. It depends on what the characters make me do!

4. How long have you been writing?

Ten years, give or take a year. I got the bug when I was 12 or so and…the rest is history.

5. From where or whom do you draw inspiration?

From everything. Classic literature. Scraps of gutter glass. Random questions my partner asks me. Ideas just sort of happen, and I try to rein them in.

6. What advice would you give new or aspiring writers?

Be prepared to bleed and sweat for your craft. Sacrifice your ego and serve your characters and story first. Show, don’t tell. Kill the beautiful sentences. Be prepared to fail.

Publishing is a wonderful kind of hell. Be ready for suffering you have not yet encountered! Oh, and remember to have fun, or all of this is worthless.

7. Who do you see as your ideal reader?

I don’t have one. That’s why my books are getting some wind under their wings; I write a good book and let people judge for me. I do think people who are extremely hardline conservatives may have difficulty with my content, though; as well, people looking for mere fluff might not like my style. I try to write an entertaining book, though, not just a smarty smarty talky one, so we’ll see.

8. Tell us about your writing process. Are you a planner or outliner?

A planner. Outlines just ruin the idea; I sketch out ideas and make flow charts. I don’t think I know what you mean by ‘outlining’. I only do that in rare cases, though, if it’s what I think it is.

9. Are you a "write every day of the week" sort of writer or do you take days off?

I take days off. Right now, publicity and marketing take a lot of my time.

10. What are your thoughts on writers paying for reviews as John Locke is reported to have done?

HISS BOO HISS BOO.  Do it like the rest of us, you cheaters! Do review trades and write a book so good that people recommend it to others!

11. Do you think retailer rating/review systems are broken? If so, any suggestions on how to fix them?

Hm. Sort of? The only way is to keep listening to friends and take human reviews. Amazon will do what it likes, but GoodReads is relatively reliable, I would say.

12. Some book reviewers won't accept independently authored books for review. What are your thoughts on that? Are they missing out?

HISS BOO HISS BOO! This is genre snobbery at its finest—however, if indie authors would hone their craft more before publishing, we would have more credibility. I have discovered a lot of wonderful indie books and a lot of awful ‘big name’ published books; it’s all about searching and keeping your mind open.

13. Some people feel indie authored books are of lesser quality than those that go through the traditional publishers. Do you agree with them? If so, how can independent authors raise the bar and remove this stigmatism?

Alas, yes, this is often true. Having to organize your own resources has that effect. Careful editing and lots of beta readers will help improve your book. Sweat and blood and patience are the only remedies. Pay money to make your book look good and read easily, and you will see that traditional sources give us more respect.

14. Any pets? If so, tell us what role they play in your writing, if any.

My cat Maxwell Maximillian Maximus—Max—keeps me sane. I also have a beloved partner to make me eat and bathe and sustain real life, thankfully.

15. R.S. Guthrie wrote a hard-hitting post (http://robonwriting.com/2013/02/05/i-...) on reviewers and the veil of anonymity some of them hide behind. Your thoughts on this subject?

It’s hard to preserve objectivity and responsibility; like superheroes and supervillains, people use internet nicknames to harass and save others. Me, I try not to say anything I would not defend—and therefore, need no anonymity. I have seen trolls as well, though, and I think unmasking peoples’ aliases will only result in more fake profiles.

16. Which retailers or others sites can readers find your work at?

I am on Amazon, Smashwords (Kobo and Sony and iStore and etc), Leanpub, and GoodReads. I'm all over the internet, really!

17. Where can readers find out more about you?

www.scifimagpie.blogspot.ca is my home blog, and my facebook fan page www.facebook.com/scifimagpie is also reliable. Twitter is another good place! I am, of course, www.twitter.com/scifimagpie.


imageI'm a published science fiction author with a love for talking about the end of the world, silver jewellery, nightmares, and chocolate. I'm also a "fountain of esoterica" (to quote my 10th grade English teacher) and I'm fluent in Shakespeare, cussing, and activism.

I came from a smallish town in Southern Alberta and now live in Calgary with my partner. When we're not saving the world from hipsters or riding our bear cavalry to work, we can be found on the internet or with our friends. Phuquerie happens frequently and often.


Author Interview: Antonello Fiore

This week I've got Antonello Fiore, author of Killer Rumors, sitting down for an interview. Let's see what he has to say.


1. Please tell us about yourself.

Well first off, I have been married since last May to my beautiful wife, Sandy. She is my everything.

I am currently a Nurse’s Aide, working in a Home Care Agency. I graduated from Concordia University with a Bachelor’s Degree majoring in Theological Studies and a minor in Religion. I also completed the Canadian Certificate Youth Ministry Studies held at the Archdiocese of Montreal.

I am very active with my Church. I have been teaching the Faith First Catechism Program for over ten years, played guitar and sang with the choir, and have played the part as Jesus for their annual Good Friday play.

I am a huge sports fan. My favorite sport to play and watch is soccer. The leagues which I follow include the Italian league (Serie A) and Major League Soccer (MLS). My favorite teams are Juventus and the Montreal Impact, respectively. Other sports that I enjoy watching include wrestling and hockey.

Rock music has always been a major passion of mine. That is why I have been playing the guitar for many years. A combination of my passion for music and my love for Church was the reason why I decided to join the choir. You would always see me attending a concert whenever one of my favorite rock bands would roll into town.

2. What's the name of your newest or latest book and what's it about?

My latest novel is called Killer Rumors. Here is a synopsis of my novel:

Father D’Angelo and Bakeman, two devoted priests were brutally murdered while going on one of their nightly walks. Detective Frank Rinelli is called to the case- not only due to his close friendship with the priests, but with his expertise of tracking psychotic killers. Rinelli suddenly discovers these murders were based on a scandal that occurred several years ago at the same Church where the two murdered priests preached. And it doesn’t stop there. The list of people being murdered in connection with the scandal continues to grow until the killer has his ultimate vengeance- and the truth released.

Join Detective Rinelli on the fearful streets of Philadelphia as he chases a madman who has nothing to lose and everything to gain- destroying the face of the Catholic Church. Rinelli discovers a hidden secret while confronting the killer that is way beyond betrayal and begins to question his faith. Could this betrayal be the killer’s momentum of not only killing Rinelli, but to complete his master plan which will affect the lives of every citizen?

3. Is this book part of a series or standalone?

Killer Rumors is part of the Frank Rinelli series. I currently have ideas for the next two sequels. The second book will be available next year. Recent news will always be updated on my sites.

4. How long have you been writing?

I began writing about four years ago. I have written a number of articles for The Catholic Times, Montreal’s Catholic newspaper. My articles included interviews with priests and recaps of religious events that occurred in the city.

5. From where or whom do you draw inspiration?

My inspiration behind my novel belongs to my favorite author, James Patterson. For over ten years, I have been reading all his novels. What I admire most about James Patterson’s novels is that he always keeps you guessing and on the edge of your seat from the first to the very last page. In addition, his short chapters make his novels a fast and easy read to follow and enjoy. I find that shorter-length chapters are easier to read compared to longer chapters. The reason to this is that you would want to read more and possibly to the end since you are already on the drive of reading.

6. What advice would you give new or aspiring writers?

My advice to new or aspiring writers is that a writer is someone who writes. That being said, I encourage them to write at all times. Writing should be a flowing and dedicated practice. Just like in any other profession, practice makes perfect.

Always carry a pen and paper with you at all times. You might get a great idea for your story during the day and you don’t want to forget about your ideas. In addition, I recommend new writers to write a sub-plot on a small card so that they can see the flow and organization to their story.

7. Who do you see as your ideal reader?

Since my novel, Killer Rumors, is a mystery and thriller novel, I have no doubt that readers of that genre will enjoy my novel. I could easily picture my novel next to great mystery authors such as James Patterson, Michael Connelly, and Dean Koontz.

In addition, I believe readers of Dan Brown will also enjoy my novel. Killer Rumors. My novel has a combination of Christian / Church references along with a heavy dose of thriller and suspense. If you are a fan of mystery and thriller novels, then I have no doubt that you will enjoy Killer Rumors.

8. Tell us about your writing process. Are you a planner or outliner?

I am actually both a planner and outliner. Thanks to the latest technology of the Internet and search engine tools, finding research based on my novel does not take too much time. If there is something that I need to help support my plot, I simply do a Google search and get what I need.

In addition, I am always prepared with all the resources I need before writing a story. For example, since Killer Rumors takes place in Philadelphia, I purchased a city-guide booklet of Philadelphia. In the booklet includes a street map and major attractions of the city. That is exactly what I need so that I can make my story much more realistic.

As previously mentioned, I encouraged new and inspiring writers to write sub-plots on small cards so that their storyline can flow in order and be more organized. As a result, I take my own advice. Writing sub-plots and numbering them so we remember the order of the story truly helps. It is a form of an outline that will be easily placed as a story. Once the important sub-plots are included, we just need to “fill in the blanks.”

9. Are you a "write every day of the week" sort of writer or do you take days off?

I always write everyday. I have so much passion and fun when writing that it is a part of me. Most of my writing would take place at night. That way, the entire day is behind me, leaving me with a clear mind when working on my novel.

I used my laptop when working on my novel. I always carry it with me when on the road. Whenever, I had free time such as my lunch breaks, I would write a number of chapters. My laptop is not the only tool I use when working on my novel. I always have my notebook and pen right beside me. Just like my laptop, my notebook and pen are always with me. Therefore, when I think of an idea for my book, I jot it down immediately so it won’t be forgotten.

10. What are your thoughts on writers paying for reviews as John Locke is reported to have done?

I get disappointed when I hear writers paying for reviews. I view it simply as cheating. The review is not honest. It is no secret that authors would love to get great reviews. But an honest review will always be more beneficial. An honest review will analyze both your positive and negative spots. That way, writers will challenge themselves to do better in the future.

11. Where can readers find your work?

Readers can find my novel, both hardcover and ebook through my distributor, Lulu.

Hardcover

Ebook

12. Where can readers find out more about you?


Antonello Fiore is a current Nurse's Aide, working in a Home Care Agency. He graduated from Concordia University with a Bachelor's Degree majoring in Theological Studies and a minor in Religion. He also completed the Canadian Certificate Youth Ministry Studies held at the Archdiocese of Montreal.

Antonello is very active with his Church. He has been teaching the Faith First Catechism Program for over ten years, played guitar and sang with the Choir, and has played the part as Jesus for their annual Good Friday play.

Lastly, Antonello has been a writer for Montreal's Catholic newspaper, The Catholic Times, writing various articles relating to the city's Catholic faith.

Antonello will begin writing on his second novel, The Right Reason, right after the Christmas holidays.


Author Interview: Angella Graff

It's that time again. Time to sit down for another author interview. This time Angella Graff, author of The Judas Curse, answers a few questions. Let's see what she has to say.


1. Please tell us about yourself.

My name is Angella Graff, I’m 31, a Theology grad from the University of Arizona. I live in Tucson with my husband Joshua and three kids, Christian (12) Isabella (10) and Adia (5). Aside from writing, I also do editing for other authors, and when I’m not doing that, I’m either doing yoga, hiking, or geeking out on the BBC, or playing Mario on our Nintendo system. That’s pretty much all there is to my life, as mundane as it sounds haha.

2. What's the name of your newest or latest book and what's it about?

My latest book is called The Judas Kiss. It’s book two in an urban fantasy series called The Judas Curse. It directly follows the events of The Awakening, where a hard-headed homicide detective, Ben Stanford, has to face the supernatural and come to grips with ancient mythos as a reality.

In this sequel, Mark and Judas are kidnapped by Nike, the angry goddess trying to wield their power, and Ben teams up with some unlikely forces from the Norse pantheon to try and rescue them before she can accomplish her mission.

You get a really decent look at the inner workings of Ben’s mind now that he’s starting to accept a little more of the paranormal side of things, and you get to delve into the history of Mark and Judas, how they came into their immortality and powers two-thousand years ago.

3. Is this book part of a series or standalone?

This is book two of an anticipated twelve book series.

4. How long have you been writing?

Cliché, but I’ve been writing since I could write. I penned my first novel, this 700 page Dragon-y Fantasy epic when I was about sixteen years old. Fortunately for the masses, I never attempted to have that published, but it was then I realized that I could and would be a writer some day.

5. From where or whom do you draw inspiration?

That’s a tough one, because it depends on what I’m working on. For the series, I’m inspired by my theology studies—not just religion or the bible, or even mythos, but the psychology behind it, and the old legends surrounding the more popular stories. I spend a lot of time reading different books about religious history.

Other times I’m inspired by life’s events, in my own life or the lives of others. I feel like everyone has a story that should be, in some capacity, told.

6. What advice would you give new or aspiring writers?

Make sure it’s what you really want to do. You have to be willing to accept the entire thing that goes with the world of being a published author. If you want to write, but you don’t want to hear the bad things about what you’ve done, this job is not for you. I remember when I got my first bad review, and I was broken hearted. I thought, how could someone be so mean and so awful. Do they not realize how hard I worked on this?

I came to realize that part of this world of being a published writer is having your work out there for critique. By anyone. They can be someone who has a Ph.D. in classical literature, or they could be the person who never finished 8th grade, but everyone will have their say if they want to, and you have to learn to take something away from every critique, whether it hurts or not.

If you can’t stand to have people say negative things about your work, this is not the career for you.

7. Who do you see as your ideal reader?

Someone who is able to take entertainment out of different ideas on religion. People who are sensitive about their beliefs are not going to like what I write. You need to be fairly open-minded to enjoy it. I’m not saying that you can’t be a Christian, because I’ve had plenty of Christians who are able to see the book for what it is—fiction—but if you’re overly sensitive about the beliefs, I’d say this book is not for you.

8. Tell us about your writing process. Are you a planner or outliner?

Um, I’m a vague planner. I have a constant flow of ideas going through my mind, and sometimes someone will say something and it’ll spark an entirely new plot-point or scene in my book that I never thought about before. I know my characters intimately, which means I know how they’ll react to any given situation, but I like my writing to flow organically.

9. What are your thoughts on writers paying for reviews as John Locke is reported to have done?

I hadn’t heard about that before and I just looked it up. I guess I’m still fairly uninformed, but I find that a little depressing considering the rest of us self-pub'ed authors who try and stick to the official rules when having our books reviewed. I would never do that myself, but in all honesty, it’s his shame to carry, not mine. I plan to stick it out, and even if I’m never well known, at least I’ll always be able to hold my head high and say that I never bought my own popularity.

10. Some book reviewers won't accept independently authored books for review. What are your thoughts on that? Are they missing out?

I think from time to time, yes, they are. I’m of mixed views on this because while I find it frustrating when my book is refused due to it being self-pub'ed, by the same token I also run a book review blog and understand the frustration that some of these bloggers must feel.

The tough part of self-publishing is, even though amazon tries to adhere to strict rules and even offers readers the option of reporting errors in kindle books, prior to having the errors reported, anyone can have their book published. There is a significant portion of books that are simply terrible. Poor grammar, poor spelling, poor formatting and structure. Undeveloped characters, weak plots, etc. You name it, it’s out there. Asking someone to spend the amount of time it takes to read a book, only to have the book poorly put together can leave a lot of readers jaded against the industry.

However are they missing out? Yes, they can be, very much. I’ve read some real and true literary gems that are not only self-published, but far surpass the quality of some of the most popular traditionally published authors. That’s why, no matter how often I have to turn a book away, I won’t stop accepting indie authors, because more often than not, my time is rewarded.

11. Some people feel indie authored books are of lesser quality than those that go through the traditional publishers. Do you agree with them? If so, how do we collectively raise the bar and remove this stigmatism?

Indie authored books can be of lesser quality because indie authors often don’t have the resources available to them to pay professionals for quality work. Often times indie authors rely on their MS word program and a quick read-through as their editors. I’ve seen authors use MS paint and Photoshop with a copy pasted SIMS character for a book cover. Believe me, I’ve seen the “lesser quality” work out there.

Honestly, if there were editors and book cover artists more willing to offer services that were affordable to indie authors, I think we’d see an influx of better quality writing and covers hitting the indie market.

Not to market myself because that’s not the point of this, but I actually do that. The affordable editing bit, anyway. When I started researching editors for my first book, I was repeatedly quoted prices of hundreds or even thousands of dollars for an editing job. I thought to myself, yes it’s work, but should it really cost so much? Most indie authors couldn’t hope to cover that cost alone in books sales, so to ask someone to come up with that kind of money up front just seems unreasonable.

I’m lucky to live with someone with a heavy creative writing and English background who, despite my horrible nagging attitude during “editing time” is happy to edit for me. I also found an amazing cover artist who does hand-drawn cover art for my books for an amazing price. I thought, the least I could do for the community of indie writers is give back—and so I went back to my old editing for thesis papers state of mind from University and have been able to help quite a few authors out. And that feels really good!

I realize I’ve just been long-winded, but I wanted to make a point that if indie authors had affordable services, I think it would make a huge difference in the quality we see coming into the market.

12. R.S. Guthrie wrote a hard-hitting post (http://robonwriting.com/2013/02/05/i-...) on reviewers and the veil of anonymity some of them hide behind. Your thoughts on this subject?

I hadn’t read this article before this interview and it actually caused me to stop filling out the answers and take some time to process what he said. Truthfully, I think every single author can relate to this. Every single one. Sure there are authors out there who surround themselves with a network of people who will only leave positive reviews, but for those who throw themselves to the reading wolves, we’ve all experienced that. I’ve had reviews insulting me as a person because I didn’t write what the reviewer wanted to read. I’ve had people take swings at me and my family because they didn’t share my same points of view. There have been reviewers who simply wanted to be mean, and Guthrie is right. Those reviewers are simply stupid.

The moment we get an honest review, it cuts. It bleeds. It burns. It’s like having someone point out every single thing you’re insecure about in your own life and writing, and having it on display for the rest of the world to see. It isn’t fun. However, it means the world to me because someone took time out of their lives to tell me where I could improve.

I remember one reviewer in particular took some heavy swings at me, but there was meat to the review. There was honest criticism. I took the comments privately, and I responded with a simple thank you, and a request that, if he would like to, to give the rest of my series a try. The response I got? He said based on my response to him, he was already a fan of mine, even if he didn’t like my writing.

I think writers need to take more time drawing as much from the negative reviews as we can. It’s the only way to grow and improve. Even if the reviewer is trying to be mean, no other reasons but to be deliberately cruel, I try and take something away from it that I can use. And yes, I think it will always hurt like a son-of-a-bitch, but that’s the good kind of pain in my opinion. The kind that I can grow and learn from.

13. Where can readers find your work?

They can find my book purchase links on my Facebook page on the Read My Book App

And of course there’s my Amazon author page which has all of my publish works listed there.

14. Where can readers find out more about you?

All of my info is available at my website .


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Angella Graff was born and raised in the desert city of Tucson, Arizona. She married and became a mother very young, and after getting started with her family, began her University studies where she found her passion for creative writing, history and theology.

She now resides in Tucson with her husband Joshua, three children, Christian, Isabella and Adia, and their three cats, Archive (Ivy), Lasciel and Fix. She prefers to spend her days writing, gardening, and reading non-fiction theology theory books. Angella is also an avid, if not fanatic fan of Doctor Who and BBC Sherlock, which tend to dominate her dry, sarcastic humor, a lot of which is apparent in her writing.


Author Interview: Jayne Lockwood

Time for this week's featured author interview! This round I have Jayne Lockwood, author of The Cloud Seeker.


1. Please tell us about yourself.

Hi, I’m Jayne Lockwood and for my sins, I call myself a writer. I’m also a mother, a homemaker and a previously published author of erotic fiction, under the pseudonym Savannah Smythe. I try not to write “to a genre” but find myself veering towards romance and drama time and again.

On the home front, I run a book group and participate in a writing group, Four Writers in a Pub. We are working on an anthology at the moment, which aims to inspire other people who want to write but just need that extra push to do it. Sometimes it is all about having confidence in yourself. I always knew I wanted to write, and it only took one teacher to tell me I was good at it, for me to want to continue.

Books, films an all kinds of writing challenges interest me most. I hate reality TV, celebrity culture (an oxymoron if ever there was one) and love giving my opinions on books and films. Writing gives me the chance to be totally myself, without the obligations of motherhood and social expectation.

2. What is the name of your newest book and what it is about?

The Cloud Seeker was published on Kindle very recently. It tells the story of Max, a 9/11 survivor, who moves to an English village, to be near the boy he claims is his son. There he meets an alluring, free-spirited woman who senses he is not all as he seems. She is recovering from tragedies of her own, which become clearer as the story unfolds. I loved the challenge of merging together the themes of loss, cloud watching and 9/11 and making it work. At its heart is a good old fashioned romance between two unlikely people.

3. Is this book part of a series or a standalone?

It’s a standalone novel, although there is more insight into the characters on my website. I’m working on a series at the moment.

4. How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since I was in senior school. Dark poems, strange stories, they’ve all gone now. I only began my first novel after my first child was born in 1996. But even then, I was really doing it for my own enjoyment. I really didn’t think I could ever be published.

5. From where or whom do you draw your inspiration?

Everywhere and everyone! Snippets of music, the glimpse of a stranger in a London Street, paintings. It can take the simplest thing to spark an idea. Writers I love include Daphne du Maurier and Quentin Tarantino. That is how diverse my imagination is. A writer’s brain is always working, whether they are aware of it or not.

6. What advice would you give new and aspiring writers?

Be confident in your own voice. I’ve always avoided creative writing courses or too much advice. Having said that, the technicalities, especially proofreading, should be done by someone else. You can never see your own mistakes.

7. Who do you see as your ideal reader?

That’s a difficult one because as I might alienate a whole readership! I didn’t set out to write “a woman’s novel” but I guess anyone over 18 is the obvious answer. I say “over 18” because of the themes and language, which can be quite feisty.

8. Tell us about your writing process. Are you a planner or an outliner?

I’m a bit haphazard. Sometimes I’ll get down the first thing that inspired me in the first place. It might be a conversation between two characters, or a random scene that’s been in my head. I never plan a novel until I’ve written at least five chapters. When I begin to sense that I’m losing my way a bit, I’ll storyboard the plot. I’ll also have a column for each character, and list their attributes, personality traits and likes/dislikes. This keeps me on track. In The Cloud Seeker, I had forgotten halfway through that Luca wears glasses. They were mentioned once then never again. I corrected it, thanks to the storyboard,which helps with continuity. It was a small thing, but things like that annoy me.

9. What are your thoughts on paying for reviews as John Locke is reported to have done?

Is that paying for reviews, or paying for good reviews? If it’s the latter, then no way would I do that, even if I could afford it. I want my work judged honestly, or not at all.

Having said that, if you have the requisite spare cash to pay for someone’s honest opinion, then why not? I don’t, so I don’t have that option.

Some people feel indie authored books are of lesser quality than those that go through the traditional publishers. Do you agree with them? If so, how can independent authors raise the bar and remove this stigmatism?

There is a lot of dross out there, and sites such as KDP do make it easy for anyone to publish almost anything they like. But you go into any large Waterstones and I can guarantee that amongst the thousands on offer, some of them will be amateurish, offensive, boring or just plain bad.

Self-published authors can raise the bar by making sure their work is as good as it can possibly be. That means having it proofread, brutal editing and honest evaluation of whether it is good enough. There is no room for laziness and sloppiness, just because it is easy to get it out there. If it isn’t fit for purpose, it lets every other indie author down.

10. Assuming you have an active blog, point readers to a post of which you're especially proud or think will be of particular interest to them.

The tone of my blog is tongue-in-cheek, but here's an entry I made recently in an attempt to help amateur authors. I hope it helps.!

http://www.jaynelockwood.com/self-pub...

11. R.S. Guthrie wrote a hard-hitting post (http://robonwriting.com/2013/02/05/i-...) on reviewers and the veil of anonymity some of them hide behind. Your thoughts on this subject?

It’s inevitable that when there is a public forum for opinion, some people will attempt to use that for their own agenda. There’s no way of stopping the vindictive from doing that. As an author, you hope not to attract the kind of person who enjoys spitting invective at your expense, but there is nothing you can do about it if it happens. You just have to grow a thick skin and hope that other readers will use their common sense and see through the bile.

I write reviews all the time, but try to make the criticism constructive. The only exception was last year, when I reviewed Fifty Shades of Grey. That book made me so mad! I review on Amazon under a tag name but anyone interested would soon find out who I was. I believe you should stand by your reviews, and take the flack just as you’d expect the author to. Every book divides opinion and in the end, that is what a review should be. It isn’t a statement of fact. Everyone reading them should keep that in mind and form opinions of their own.

12. Which retailer or other sites can our readers find your work on?

The Cloud Seeker is available as an eBook on Amazon.

The books I’ve written as Savannah Smythe are also on Kindle, and also available in paperback on various bookseller sites. I also have a free short story to download on Smashwords, or you can find it on my website. Any reviews are welcome!

13. Where can readers find out more about you?

http://www.jaynelockwood.com/

On Facebook: Jayne Lockwood - Author


Jayne Lockwood

I've been writing for over 20 years. My first successful writing assignment was for the college newspaper of the County College of Morris, in Randolph, New Jersey, where I studied Journalism. My first article made the front page, and after that, it was just a choice of where I wanted my writing to take me.

Life and children soon intervened though, and it was another seven years before Virgin Books published my first novel for their Black Lace Series. Writing as Savannah Smythe, I have published five books in that genre, before collaborating with Abi Titmuss on her 10 Fantasies book in 2005.

Since then, I've been involved in projects closer to home, working closely with other authors to continue to improve and challenge their idea of good writing. I run a village book group and attend another, as well as a writing group (Four Writers In A Pub) which is working on an anthology of prose, poetry and short stories to encourage other people to explore their writing potential.