Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

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 .


image

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: G G Collins

Here we are again. It's interview day! This week I've got G G Collins, author of Reluctant Medium, stepping up to the plate… er, sitting in the interview chair. Let's see what she has to say.


1. Please tell us about yourself.

When I'm not writing, I love to travel. I travel low to the ground, using public transit and staying in neighborhoods off the beaten track, especially when they have great indie hotels and restaurants. Some of my favorite places: Queen Anne in Seattle, Rue Cler in Paris, northwest Portland (the one in Oregon). Every week finds me at the movies. I see the good, the bad and the ugly (gosh, that sounds like a movie title). Usually I proclaim one or two movies truly good every year.

I hate to drive, love margaritas (especially at The Shed in Santa Fe), and despise shopping. Except at Jackalope (also in Santa Fe) where I can wander for hours. Don't forget the say hello to the prairie dogs. The "dogs" graciously played a role in helping my character find her brother.

And someday I hope to have my own apartment and save the world. Now I'll do my death-defying fire-breathing twirler dance.

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

"Reluctant Medium" is a paranormal mystery.

Reporter Rachel Blackstone has a nose for news, but she never expected to be a newsmaker. While summoning her dead father with a Native American ceremony, an evil spirit slips through. Her efforts to return the spirit uncover a scam involving both the quick and the dead. Rachel discovers the wisdom of a Hopi shaman may help her, but she must discover her own power first or die trying.

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

"Reluctant Medium" is the first in the Rachel Blackstone series. It can stand alone.

"Lemurian Medium" is the next installment, scheduled for publication in June 2013.

In "Lemurian Medium" Rachel watches in horror and disbelief as a close friend disappears into a painting at a posh gallery in Santa Fe. Was the mysterious artist involved? Or was it just the run-of-the-mill haunting? Rachel must travel the astral plane to rescue her friend. Why she was lured to this strange land becomes more apparent as she learns about the ancient culture. Can she accomplish the rescue and return from the astral plane before cataclysmic events cut off escape? If not, she will be forever lost in the cosmos.

Returning from "Reluctant Medium" are best friend Chloe, the gang at "High Desert Country" magazine, her psychic cat and her spirit animal, the wolf.  

4. How long have you been writing?

Full time: about 20 years. I began writing press materials at a book publisher. Then I was offered my dream job of reporter. I began as a general reporter where I learned a little something about a lot of things--just enough to be dangerous! Later on, I was named Arts Editor. This was a great job because I could combine my love of the arts with writing. While doing this, I was invited to attend a Duke University dance critic fellowship sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts. When I moved on, I picked up "Reluctant Medium" and completed it.

I've added two blogs to the mix. One is "Reluctant Medium at Large in Santa Fe" which is a companion to the book. We explore the metaphysical, walk around Santa Fe, learn about the city's ghosts and just have fun.

The other is a general reporting blog called "Parallel Universe: Perspectives at Large" that includes interviews, reviews, reporting and commentary. I just couldn't give up the serious side of writing. A sampling: comment on Newtown, movie review, interviews with creative people, water shortage in the US, a new series on staying local while traveling and health related articles.

I can't imagine doing anything else.

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

From odd places. I tend to be an eclectic reader. I ran across the Native American ceremony to return the dead while reading. Couldn't stop asking: What if the wrong spirit returned? My library is filled with metaphysical books and I enjoy watching TV shows such as "Ancient Aliens," "Ancient Discoveries," and anything on the Bermuda Triangle, the Dragon's Triangle, ley lines and power centers. I never miss "Supernatural!" I'm a Jensen Ackles fan. Currently, I'm researching astral projection, Mesoamerican deities and the lost continent of Lemuria. During my reporting days, I participated in a ghost hunt with serious investigators. It's all fodder for stories.

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

Write, write, write. You can't become a writer without putting your butt in the chair and hammering out words. Over and over. Read a variety of books and use them as lessons in style. You will develop your own style as you study what other writers do with their words. Early on, it doesn't hurt to go to writing conferences or belong to a critique group--as long as it's a kind group. But mostly beginning writers go to these to get the fundamentals and move on. You don't want to become stuck with the wannabes.

I highly recommend reporting for a weekly or daily publication as a great way to learn your craft. Deadlines have a way of pushing a writer to learn fast. If you work for a weekly you'll be writing 3 to 5 stories a week, depending on length. You'll learn to manage your time. Schedule your interviews during the first half of the week if you expect to meet that Friday morning deadline. Reporting tweaks your research and interviewing skills which you'll likely need for fiction books--and definitely need for nonfiction.

If you aren't the reporting type, set your own deadlines--then keep them. If you have trouble beginning your book, write scenes you already have outlined on paper or in your mind. Just write. No excuses.

7. Who do you see as your ideal reader?

Probably female, but I have received good reviews from three men (thanks guys!). "Reluctant Medium" readers will enjoy exploring the paranormal. My story does include some mild horror effects--but if you read Stephen King, you've got nothing to fear from my horror elements. It's also funny (one reviewer said "laugh out loud funny") and it has a great friendship at its core between the two lead characters that readers like. Reviewers have also said after reading "Reluctant Medium" they want to visit Santa Fe. I'll try to keep that local color coming. Still others have expressed an interest in the reporting aspects as Rachel does her job, and the spirit animal who becomes an ally.

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

In reporting you don't have time to outline. I keep most of it in my head, but do write the highlights down. But it's nothing detailed. I know some writers create lengthy outlines, character descriptions, background information. To me, by the time I did all that, I could have a finished book. I enjoy the surprises my characters spring on me. But really, there are as many methods to writing a book as there are writers. Do what works for you.

For research, I'll read a couple books on the subject, use a lot of sticky notes to mark what I want to use. I also check out Web sites for additional information. I'll be doing more research for my third book "Atomic Medium" in which Rachel will time travel to the 1940s US during WWII. I want to get the details correct. No cell phones! No computers! Get out the slide rule--what?!

9. 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?

Of course I don't agree. Having worked for a publisher, I have some insight. Even when we expressly asked an author to submit his/her manuscript, it might lie around for months. Then one day, with the editors and publishers in a tizzy, we'd receive word that everything was to be returned with the standard rejection letter. Not fair! But that's what can happen. 

Publishers often have a connection to a group of writers (probably they were in writing groups with them), or their connections can be political or business. Where do you think stories you see on your local TV news or newspaper comes from? People the reporters, editors, camera operators know or know about. You meet a lot of people in the news business and if you keep a good contact list, it's not difficult to come up with an expert or someone who has the disease of the week.

The submissions process is so antiquated many good manuscripts slip through the cracks. There are biases for and against young writers, middle-age writers, "older" writers, women's books, men's books; not another book on unicorns! People run publishing companies and they each have their own ideas of what makes a good book--if they even get around to reading the manuscripts on their desk, the floor, the closets, the hallways....

The best way to increase respect is to write well. Prove them wrong. If we each write to the best of our ability--wherever we happen to be in our creative evolvement--then we have contributed to raising that bar. Have your manuscript edited professionally. It's difficult to catch all of our own errors, as many of you already know. And just to go on record: Not every book a bricks and mortar publisher releases is a well-edited, well-constructed, interesting book worthy of several hours of a person's life. We've all read books and scratched our heads over a deplorable editing job.

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

Yes, my character has a cat. She is inspired by a cat I had until a few years ago. Now she's waiting at the Rainbow Bridge, but I can enjoy her every day as I write about her in "Reluctant Medium." She's psychic of course, but not reluctant about it.

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

Amazon

Blogs:

http://reluctantmediumatlarge.wordpress.com/

http://paralleluniverseatlarge.wordpress.com/

12. Where can readers find out more about you?

G G Collins can be found lurking on Shelfari, Goodreads, Library Thing and Book Blogs. You can see for yourself my, sometimes weird, reading material. I write a book review from time to time and check in with my favorite threads. See you there!


Working as a general reporter is one of the most educational jobs. Where most people specialize in a specific area, it’s the job of a reporter to ask questions, learn quickly and write even faster about many subjects. In one day, you can cover a fundraiser for MS research, meet an entertainer in town for a weekend performance and attend a press conference for a local brewery. The next day, it’s the new heart center at a hospital, getting a first grader’s take on saving a  historical building and welcoming the new sharks at the aquarium.

The result of thousands of interviews, press conferences and performances is that journalists learn a little bit about many things. It was Alexander Pope who wrote, “A little learning is a dangerous thing.” He also authored in the same poem: “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” That could be applied to reporters as well, many of whom rush to breaking news sites that could be the results of a terrorist attack, a landing hurricane or a bank robbery.

So is this woman dangerous? Only to the characters in her book, or is she…?


Author Interview: Tanya J. Peterson

This time around I've got Tanya J. Peterson, author of Leave of Absence, in the interview chair. Let's take a look at what she has to say.


1. Please tell us about yourself.

Hmmm… Where to start? This is perhaps the most difficult question of this interview! I don’t feel overly comfortable talking about myself, and in verbal conversations, while I don’t blatantly ignore people when they ask personal questions (that would be quite rude!) I usually catch myself steering the conversation away from myself. Given that you and your readers are actually interested in knowing something about the authors you’re interviewing, though, I probably shouldn’t avoid this question! (For the record, I am very happy to answer these questions. I’m excited to connect with readers, so thank you so much for doing this, Scott!)

It’s probably obvious by now that I’m a bit of an introvert. I’m an active one, though. I love the outdoors, especially hiking, camping (tent, of course), kayaking, biking (mountain and street), and snowshoeing. I love these for the peaceful feeling they bring. I enjoy them in solitude and with my family – my husband and two kids, age 16 and 11. I also love quiet family evenings at home, playing board games, reading, and watching movies.

Beyond that, I’ve been a high school teacher and a counselor. Most recently, I worked at a school for homeless and runaway adolescents. What a fantastic bunch of students! I was amazed by them every day: the challenges they faced and the steps they had to take to get an education to make a better life for themselves was very inspirational. I’ve also volunteered in various settings as a counselor to help people help themselves.

I have a passion for helping people find emotional well-being and for helping people thrive while struggling with mental illness. Perhaps I feel so strongly about it because I have a somewhat unique (but I seriously doubt that I’m the only person on the planet with this particular combination of experiences) background that I bring to my writing. I’ve experienced mental illness from both sides of the proverbial couch. After sustaining a traumatic brain injury in a car accident in 2004 plus two subsequent concussions, I was in and out of a behavioral health hospital across a period of five years. I dealt with multiple mental health diagnoses. While I’m better today (proof that things, no matter how bad they are at the time, do improve), I do still have lingering effects. No one is “cured” of mental illness, but people can get better.

So therein lies the focus of my writing. One of the most difficult things that I faced was the stigma associated with mental illness. I feel strongly that if people understand what various mental illnesses really are (and they’re all different), then people can empathize. Stereotypes need to be eradicated. Understanding and empathy breed compassion and connection. For me, the best way to do this is through novels. There are many wonderful non-fiction books on mental illness and mental health that do a fabulous job of explaining such things. I want to show the human side (as opposed to the clinical aspect) of mental health issues, though, so I write novels.

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

My newest book is entitled Leave of Absence. It’s about an utterly bereft man, Oliver Graham, who absolutely cannot cope with the traumatic loss of his wife and young son. He is lonely for them, and he blames himself for their deaths. (He kind of has a reason to blame himself, but not entirely so. I wonder if readers will blame him!) After a failed suicide attempt, he ends up at Airhaven Behavioral Health Center where he meets Penelope Baker, a fellow patient wrestling with schizophrenia and the devastating impact it’s had on her life. Penelope is engaged, but she doesn’t think it’s fair to her fiancé William to continue the engagement because certainly she’s no longer loveable. Both Oliver and Penelope struggle to discover a reason to live while William strives to convince her that they can make a life together despite her illness. As Oliver and Penelope try to achieve emotional stability, face others who have been part of their lives, and function in the “real world,” they discover that human connection may be reason enough to go on.

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

This book stands alone. I do intend to write may more novels that address mental health issues, but they’ll all be independent of each other.

4. How long have you been writing?

Officially, I’m just beginning my career as a novelist. Last year, I published a young adult novel (entitled Losing Elizabeth). I actually wrote it years ago, however. I published it because I wanted to bring awareness to the impacts of abusive relationships and because I needed a tool to figure out this wild world of professional writing and publishing. I’ve learned much, including the fact that I absolutely love writing novels and that I want to continue to do so for a long time.

Unofficially, I’ve been writing for most of my life. My parents have a picture of me at age three putting magnetic letters on a metal writing board. I remember writing a story in second grade about animals in nature. I worked on it every spare minute I had. No one ever knew about it, though, because I was too afraid of ridicule to share it with anyone. I tried writing a play for a contest in eighth grade, and my language arts teacher actually selected it for submission. However, I’m not a playwright at all and don’t ever intend to be (kudos to those who can do it!). I doubt it even made it past the first round of whatever contest it was. For a long time, I was content to write papers for school, both creative works and formal research-type papers. In high school, college, and, later, graduate school, I was one of those weird people who loved papers and essay tests. Now, I’d much rather write novels!

5. From where or whom do you draw inspiration?

I draw inspiration from life and my various experiences. Leave of Absence is completely fiction, as is Losing Elizabeth. However, in both my professional and personal life, I’ve seen pain and triumph. I feel connected to people and the experiences they have, and I want to write in a way that (hopefully) causes others to feel that, too.

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

Definitely, write what you’re passionate about. Find what inspires you, and use your spark to ignite a fire. Don’t try to be the “next” anybody. Be the first you. No matter your genre of choice, your enthusiasm for your area will add depth to your stories.

Also, believe in yourself. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but from age seven (or whatever age I was in second grade) through adulthood, I was too afraid of failure to really follow my dreams. Who knows where I’d be today if I’d taken the risk long ago? That said, I have no regrets, for my life experience has brought a richness to my writing that otherwise wouldn’t be there. I’m only in my forties. It’s never too late to begin anything!

7. Who do you see as your ideal reader?

I’m hoping that people struggling with mental illness will find out about my book and read it. I’d like them to feel that they’re not alone. I also hope that caregivers, friends, and family members of those suffering from mental illness will enjoy Leave of Absence. I think they’ll be able to relate to William.

This may be a lofty goal, but I can see this being read and discussed in psychology classes and counselor-education programs. In such classes, my teachers/professors often had us read things other than textbooks to increase our understanding. I wrote Leave of Absence to help eradicate stereotypes and to really show what schizophrenia, complicated mourning, depression, and loss are like – not the clinical definitions, but what they feel like. This could help psychology students understand mental illness on a personal level and allow counseling students to discuss treatment approaches.

Of course, Leave of Absence is general contemporary fiction. I’m hoping that anyone looking for an emotional, character-driven story will give it a try!

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

For me, novel writing is most definitely a process! I need to have a general feel for the story: first and foremost, who is it about and what are his/her struggles? Next, I think, “Okay. So what?” I need to be able to answer that question so my story has a purpose rather than just stumbling on from one scene to the next. Before I begin writing, I need to know, generally, where the story is going to end up. That’s not to say that I have the exact ending and every single scene planned before I begin. No way! Writing is too complex for that. The story evolves continually as I write it, so I don’t know exactly how it will end up, but I do know the general direction in which it is going.

I have a confession: I absolutely love binders. I use them for everything, including writing novels. Those colorful divider tabs are really fun, and I have sections for all sorts of notes and thoughts: the general outline, specific chapter outlines, characterization, research notes, general ideas – things like that. I’m constantly adding to it and referring to it as I write. And throughout the writing process, I’m always assessing where I’ve been and where I want to go. Good novels are “tight,” intentional. There should be a logical connection between events, and every conversation, every detail should have a greater purpose. For me, there’s no way to achieve that other than through planning with lots of room for creative flow and adjustment. (Maybe that’s partially my love of writing papers and essays in school coming out!)

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

I love to write, and ideally while writing a novel write every single day. Sometimes that’s not realistic given all the other demands of life, but I write almost every day. I do my best work in the morning. When I was writing Leave of Absence, I’d get up at least by 5:00 and get a few uninterrupted hours of writing in before the hectic activities of the day began. I get into a flow when I write; it’s good for my well-being, so I try to do it daily.

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

It depends. There are some professional review services that do charge a fee. The fee is for a guaranteed honest review, though, not for a guaranteed glowing review. Money spent on these does not mean that a writer is buying a good review. Sometimes writers end up paying for a review that ends up being horrible.

Paying for a professional service without guaranteed results is okay. However, paying readers to give good reviews is, in my opinion, a really bad thing to do. It’s dishonest, for one thing. When someone reads reviews to decide if he/she wants to purchase a book, it’s unethical if those reviews are skewed. And, equally poor is the fact that I think it discredits the writer. When people read my reviews, I want them to know that all of the reviews are authentic. If someone happens to give Leave of Absence a good review, it’s because they genuinely liked the book, not because I paid them to give praise. Additionally, bad reviews, while I don’t love them of course, are helpful. They provide feedback that I can use to improve my next novels.

Bottom line: I would no more buy a good review than I would have bought an “A” on a paper in school.

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

My daughter has a chinchilla, and my son has a Russian tortoise. I love these little creatures, but they don’t have a role in my writing.

There is a stray cat that hangs out occasionally under our porch. My son named him Johixilan (I don’t know why). He has a cameo appearance in Leave of Absence!

12. 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.

I do have an active blog; however, it is just getting off the ground and only has a few posts. I’d love visitors and comments. It’s on my website: www.tanyajpeterson.com/blog. It’s a mental-health-related blog that incorporates discussions of Leave of Absence as well as other thoughts and musings. It’s a work in progress, and I only hope that it evolves into a place that people enjoy.

13. I made some predictions for the ePublishing industry for 2013 (http://www.scottmarlowe.com/post/ePub...). Do you think any of them will come true?

I think you have good insight into publishing trends. I can see amazon continuing to attempt to crush all competition and to hurt many authors in the process. I also believe that the Big 6 of the traditional publishing industry is scrambling to keep up with the changing times. They are rather reactionary, and I can see them lowering their prices to stay relevant. Interesting that here they’re watching the indie “industry” and following its trends. Regarding the end to the indie boom that you predict, I agree that this will begin to occur for the very reasons you articulate: after trying it, many writers may realize that it’s not for them because ROI (return on investment) is minimal if it even exists at all. While the “boom” may come to an end, though, I don’t think that indie publishing in general is at an end. On the contrary, I think it’s going to increase and that the quality is only going to increase with it. For people who truly want to continue to write professionally, the independent path can be a great way to go. I agonized for quite some time about whether I wanted to pursue the traditional publishing route or the independent route. There are pros and cons to each, but after talking to many different people (traditionally published authors, indie authors, and even agents) and doing a lot of reading about both paths, I purposely chose to go the indie route. I think others have done the same and will continue to do so. So perhaps while the days of anyone throwing any type of book, no matter the quality, will come to an end, the rise of the serious, established indie author is beginning to take place.

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

Thanks for asking! Right now Leave of Absence is available at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com., and powells.com. It’s also available in small bookstores in Oregon. Of course it’s available in electronic form, too, and is available for the Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and iReader. Readers with these devices can buy it the way they buy other books for their e-readers.

15. Where can readers find out more about you?

I have a website and a blog: www.tanyajpeterson.com. I’m on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tanyajpeterson and Twitter at www.twitter.com/tanyajpeterson1 (or @tanyajpeterson1). Technically, I do have a Pinterest account (www.pinterest.com/tanyajpeterson), but shamefully, that one’s pretty empty right now because I’m still figuring out what to do on it. I have little talent when it comes to anything visual, so a site that is entirely visual scares me a bit.

I love it when people visit any of my sites, and I especially love it when people leave comments or questions. I like it when conversations happen, so I’m really hoping that my sites will grow into communities where people visit and talk about things.


TanyaPetersonTanya J. Peterson holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education, Master of Science in counseling, and is a Nationally Certified Counselor.  She has been a teacher and a counselor in various settings, including a traditional high school and an alternative school for homeless and runaway adolescents, and she has volunteered her services in both schools and communities.  She draws on her life experience as well as her education to write stories about the emotional aspect of the human condition.  She has published Losing Elizabeth, a young adult novel about an abusive relationship, Challenge!, a short story about a person who finds the confidence to overcome criticism and achieve a goal, and a book review of Linley and Joseph’s Positive Therapy: A Meta-Theory for Positive Psychological Practice that appeared in Counseling Today, the national publication of the American Counseling Association.

Author Interview: TL Rese

This week I visit with TL Rese, author of Spirit of a Kyrie to be released later this year. Let's see what she has to say.


1. Please tell us about yourself.

I was born in Texas, but soon after, we moved to Iowa then Maryland. My family moved around a lot when I was a kid. We finally settled in Upstate NY when I was seven. Afterwards, I went to college in California, and I did my graduate studies in England, because I absolutely love British literature. UK authors – from J.R.R. Tolkien to C.S. Lewis to J.K. Rowling – have had a tremendous impact on me and my writing. I stayed in England for about seven years and only recently returned to California. So yes, I've been to a lot of places. I love to travel, and I think that's reflected in my writing; my characters are always travelling somewhere, discovering new things, meeting new people, and having their own personal adventures along the way.

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

My most recent novel is Spirit of a Kyrie. It can be classified as epic fantasy or science fantasy. It's set on a grand scale with magnificent landscapes and detailed worldbuilding. However, at the heart of it, it's a pretty simple story. It's just about a young girl's quest to become a kyrie knight. In order to achieve this, she leaves behind everything she's ever known and journeys across her world, meeting new friends and making new discoveries about herself. It has those elements of travel and adventure that I mentioned earlier, but it's also a celebration of courage, perseverance, determination, talent, skill – all those things that one needs in order to fulfill a dream.

Spirit of a Kyrie will be published later this year, so feel free to check my blog or sign up to the mailing list to be notified when it's released.

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

This novel is both. I plan for it to be part of a 7-book series, but each book in the series is a standalone. The books can be read in any order, but your experience of the books will be different depending on the order you read them.

4. How long have you been writing?

Since I could hold a crayon.

5. From where or whom do you draw inspiration?

I've probably been influenced by every writer that I've ever read. I've always been especially drawn to fantasy literature, even as a child – I couldn't get enough – so there's something innate to it, I guess. Later on, the Lord of the Rings films had a powerful effect on me. It was the movies that brought the books to my attention, and to be honest, it was Peter Jackson's interpretation of Middle Earth on the big screen that really inspired me to do my own epic worldbuilding. I definitely get a lot of ideas from movies and television, and I think you can see that in my writing; there's a very cinematic feel to my works.

I'm also inspired by many elements of reality – such as history or real-world landscapes, as well as just normal day-to-day living, something that I might see while walking down the street or running an errand. Anything can be potentially inspiring, so I try to keep my mind open and my eyes peeled.

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

Don't give up. As hard as it is to keep going, if you give up, you will never make it. If you're serious about being a career writer, then you must keep writing. If your work gets rejected or gets bad reviews, then move on and write the next one. Writing is like any other skill: innate talent is useless without practice. Keep writing, keep practicing, and you will get better.

I would also say: do not publish your first novel. I'm sure there are great first novels floating around out there, but it's more likely that your first novel is not your best because it is your first and you haven't had much of a chance to practice your craft yet. As tempting as it is nowadays to push that “self-publish” button and see your first novel launched into cyberspace, once it is in the hands of others, you cannot snatch it back. Do not do it!! Write two or three more novels, plus some short stories or novellas if you like, get feedback (friends and family do not count), develop a skin as thick as armor to protect you from the criticisms and rejections (remember that praise is nice, but criticism is like bitter medicine), consider the points your critics have made and edit accordingly, then edit some more, then edit it again... Once you have done all this, go back to your first novel. Chances are, only then will you see how awful your first novel truly was and be thankful you never published it.

“Making it” as a writer is a lifelong journey and a big commitment. You only have one life: what do you want to do with it? If you're certain your answer is “to be a writer”, then do it. Go all in and don't look back. The journey will not be a bed of roses, but then the greatest adventures never are.

7. Who do you see as your ideal reader?

Someone who's a fan of epic fantasy, who especially enjoys the worldbuilding aspects, and who likes action sequences and strong female protagonists; also, someone who's looking for more than just the typical good vs. evil narrative, who appreciates more complex, ambivalent stories, and who enjoys descriptive passages.

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

I'm an obsessive outliner. I have reams of notes stacked on my bookshelf and sitting on my hard drive. I jot down these notes whenever I get an idea, so they accumulate over time. Before I write the story, I sit down and organize all these notes into an extensive multi-page outline. One of my mottos is “Write the story before writing the story” – i.e. I write the entire story in outline form, and then I write the story in its intended form. Then I edit, edit, edit, edit…

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

I don't think writers should ever pay for reviews. If you pay money for a review, you become a customer, and those who're selling their reviews will not write a poor review, as it's bad for business. The whole review system then becomes damaged and pointless.

There's been so much recent scandal involving the review system that no one trusts good reviews anymore. I understand the temptation to just buy some good reviews or to get a few friends and family members to post up glowing remarks – it's a quick and easy solution. Moreover, it's not just indie authors like John Locke who're rigging the review system; I know traditionally published authors who've herded friends and family onto their Amazon review page, as well. However, when everyone starts tampering with reviews and it becomes a trend, then there will inevitably be blowback like Amazon's recent purge of reviews.

Reviews should come from honest, reliable, unbiased sources. These are harder to get. Professional reviewers are swamped with requests; most may never reply because they don't have the time. I sent out 70 (not an exaggeration) review requests and only two reviewers reviewed my novelette, Ingress. It's like the agent-querying process all over again, sending out request after request with only a few who reply with interest. But writing is a long-term game. Trying to fix the system in your favor may help in the short-term, but in the long run, it'll only damage your credibility and readers won't come back. Don't think no one will find out, because they will! Amazon will wind up purging your reviews, or readers will become suspicious of a bad book with numerous 5-star reviews. Even in the fast-paced new world of push-button publishing, there are still no short cuts to establishing yourself as a writer. Go slow, hone your writing, get honest reviews, build credibility, and over time, you will establish a good reputation and readers will know they can trust you.

10. Where can readers find your work?

My work is available from most major e-retailers, such as Amazon, Apple, Kobo, and Barnes and Noble. I'm giving away my novelette, Ingress, as a free sample; you can find it on your preferred e-reading device, or go to Smashwords and select the format that you want to download.

11. Where can readers find out more about you?

I have a blog that I will update more frequently once my novel revisions are completed. I'm also very active on Twitter.


Image of T.L. Rese

T.L. Rese is the pen name for Theresa Lee. She was born in Houston, TX (1982 - ). When she was seven, her family moved to Upstate NY, where she grew up before moving to California when she was eighteen. Specializing in epic fantasy, she now has a PhD in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway, University of London, and a BA in English from UC Berkeley. Her hobbies include travel, photography, piano, and horseback riding.

 


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