Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

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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Author Interview: Tracy Falbe

Tracy Falbe returns to the blog as this week's featured interviewee. Tracy is the author of the Rys Rising series of fantasy novels. Back in December 2012, I participated in her blog tour for the release of Love Lost, the fourth and final novel in the Rys Rising series, so it's great having her back for another post.

Let's see what Tracy has to say.

1. Please tell us about yourself.

Obviously I’m a novelist. If I couldn’t say that about myself I would despair. I’d like to say I have some other fascinating career like safari guide, but writing is what I’ve always wanted to do. Any job I ever had was just a paycheck. Building my publishing company and writing are what define me professionally and I’m so happy to be doing that.

Aside from that I’m very into the local food movement. I support local growers through direct relationships whenever I can, and I am working toward making my yard as productive as possible. I have 10 young fruit trees planted along with grapes, kiwis, and raspberries. I also grow vegetables and brought in 300 pounds of produce for my family last summer despite the drought and its associated difficulties. I use natural growing techniques and follow permaculture principles.

Other things I enjoy are dogs, cats, boating, swimming, bicycling, and fantasy and sci fi. Although I spend much of my creative energy on fiction, my reading has a big nonfiction focus. I’m also an absolute junkie for documentary films. I learn so much from them.

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

My most recent novel is Love Lost: Rys Rising Book IV. Love Lost brings together all the story lines of the Rys Rising series and chronicles a great war between the magical races of the rys and tabre and the humans of two civilizations that serve them. It’s an epic about lust for power and desperate courage in the defense of the ones you love.

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

Love Lost is the fourth and final book of the Rys Rising series.

4. How long have you been writing?

Not counting my writing as a child and teenager, of which I did a lot, I’ve been writing seriously as an adult since 1997 when I began my first novel Union of Renegades.

5. From where and whom do you draw inspiration?

Everything inspires me. Anything I read or see or experience goes into the toolbox. I’m very observant of people and sensitive to the emotions they project. To try and be specific I am inspired by the natural world, history, social sciences, and mythology. The past few years I’ve been studying Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung. The first big influence on my writing was Frank Herbert. I liked the scope of the galactic empire and the huge multi-character point of view he created for his Dune novels. I read Dune when I was about 12, and I was delighted with all the shifting points of view and how they were woven into a complex society driven by religious politics.

6. What advice would give new or aspiring writers?

I never know how to answer that question because I don’t want to presume to tell someone how to write. There is no correct way aside from the basic technical requirements of spelling and grammar. I can say what works for me is to try and write daily. This will develop your ability to focus and tap into your subconscious. Also when looking over your work and editing, always ask yourself if other people would be able to comprehend what you’re saying. Although you can’t reach everyone and not everyone will be able to understand, your goal remains communication.

7. Who do you see as your ideal reader?

You know I’m always reading about how I need to know my niche and know my reader, but I honestly don’t know if there is a profile for my target audience. Women and men like my novels. People younger than me and people older than me have enjoyed my novels. My readers are in various countries and belong to various ethnicities. I guess my ideal reader is someone who likes my novels and is willing to spend money on them.

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

Well I generally have an idea where I’m going with a novel in my head and then I write towards that goal and see what happens along the way. I’ve never outlined a novel on the macro level, but sometimes I need to make plans on a micro level across one or two chapters if I have a lot of complex action taking place across multiple venues and I have to reveal everything in a sequence that is comprehensible and hopefully exciting. Even when I do plan, I usually end up deviating from my notes a little while actually writing. The thought of planning out a whole novel with an outline and then writing it sounds utterly stifling to me. It’s a novel not a research paper. As characters develop they can make unforeseen demands on the narrative and typically I must accommodate them because it’s their novel.

As for the actual writing I try to write every day unless I’m just too mentally depleted by other things. Even then I might write anyway because I hate the thought of not making progress. After making an initial draft, I go through the novel chapter by chapter and edit and rewrite and edit until I am satisfied. I figured out once that I put about 10 to 16 hours of labor into every chapter through all these stages.

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

I suppose it’s understandable behavior that is going to happen. Most any industry pays to generate positive publicity, including reviews. I have chosen not to pay for reviews. I spend my marketing budget on advertising and encourage my readers to give me star ratings and reviews. If paid reviews are a problem, I don’t really care. There’s about a million more problems in the world far more pressing than paid book reviews.

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

Of course they are missing out. I’ve read some wonderful indie novels and some big name best-sellers that were insulting to the intelligence or at a minimum boring. Of course both approaches can produce brilliance or crap. There are no absolutes, but for a book reviewer to just issue a blanket ban on a certain form of production is like a restaurant critic never accepting a home cooked meal. The truth is most restaurant food is salty mediocre fare meant to sell drinks, and home cooking from a good cook is wonderful and memorable.

11. Where can readers find your work?

Brave Luck Books



Amazon Kindle

Barnes & Noble


Sony Reader Store


12. Where can readers find out more about you?

I invite people to read my blog Her Ladyship’s Quest or browse my Pinterest boards .

Thank you for the great interview.

imageIn 2000, I earned a journalism degree from California State University, Chico with the conscious ambition of becoming a fiction writer. With the rapid demise of the newspaper industry and journalism in general, novelist is not such a daft pursuit after all. It's not like I'm actually going to get a job that values my education. Luckily I'm cursed with the impulse to write in a popular yet competitive genre.


Author Interviews Are Coming

Last week I started getting the word out that I wanted to start conducting author interviews as a regular Wednesday feature. So far the response has been great. I've heard back from people responding via the initial post, from Kindleboards, and from a couple of groups I let know about the deal over on Goodreads. I did this as a slow roll-out because, just in case, I wanted to make sure I didn't get overwhelmed. That plan has worked well as the responses have trickled in at a manageable rate. I am, however, about to expand the scope into some other areas in order to keep interest flowing. At only one interview per week, I've already got enough responses that the next 3 or more months are already booked! This is great and I might consider taking on another day of interviews to help keep them flowing. On the other hand, though, I don't want my blog to turn into interview central, so we'll see.

All that being said, I just wanted to reiterate my desire to interview other authors. Indie or traditional, fiction or non-fiction, any genre. Come one, come all, as they say. Leave a comment below or contact me and we'll get the ball rolling.

And if you're wondering what sort of questions I'm asking, here's a sample:

  1. Who do you see as your ideal reader?
  2. Tell us about your writing process. Are you a planner or outliner?
  3. Are you a "write every day of the week" sort of writer or do you take days off?
  4. Do you think retailer rating/review systems are broken? If so, any suggestions on how to fix them?
  5. R.S. Guthrie wrote a hard-hitting post on reviewers and the veil of anonymity some of them hide behind. Your thoughts on this subject?