Ryan Dalton – The year of Lightening

Today’s post is with Ryan Dalton, Author of The Year of the Lightening. I have book promo, links and interviews waiting for you.  Sit back and enjoy.



Website: http://www.RyanDaltonWrites.com
Twitter: @iRyanDalton
Instagram: @RyanDalton
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ryandaltonwrites
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24660093-the-year-of-lightning
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Year-Lightning-Time-Shift-Trilogy/dp/1631630504/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1448657051&sr=8-1&keywords=the+year+of+lightning
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-year-of-lightning-ryan-dalton/1121750191?ean=9781631630507


“Exciting plot, smart characters, and engaging prose: Dalton’s writing jolts straight to your heart.”
– Ellie Ann, New York Times Bestseller

“With cheeky winks to classic time travel and a mind-bending central mystery, The Year of Lightning moves at a pace that lives up to its title and will keep your pulse pounding to the last page.”
– Karen Akins, author of the LOOP series

Now for our interview!

Christina: What’s your current project? Tell us a little about it.

Ryan: The Time Shift Trilogy will be my project for the next couple of years. So while The Year of Lightning is nearing its debut on January 12, I’m hard at work on the rest of the series. Currently I’m editing the Book Two, The Black Tempest, and outlining Book Three, which is yet to be titled. It’s been so exciting to expand on the world and the ideas introduced in the first book, and I’m so excited for readers to see what happens to the characters.

C: What has been your favorite scene to write so far?

R: My favorite scene in The Year of Lightning happens closer to the end, where two unlikely side characters gain an unexpected victory. I don’t want to say too much because it’s a big story moment, but that was probably my favorite scene to write.  In The Black Tempest, my favorite scene is a conversation between two characters, both of whom are dealing with big changes to their lives. It’s a quiet moment, but I love their interaction.

C: Who or what has inspired your writing?

R: Inspiration can come from a myriad of sources, but music plays a huge part in my process. I make playlists for every book, and the songs help me develop scenes and find their rhythm. They consist of all types of music, whatever is speaking to me at the moment, everything from instrumental soundtracks to rock. Even as I type this, I’m listening to music from Thievery Corporation.

When I do the actual writing, though, I rarely listen to music with lyrics or heavy beats because I find it distracting. So I’ll usually listen to relaxation music or thunderstorm sounds. I’m a huge fan of RainyMood.com.

C: What is your biggest goal with your writing?

R: I want to evoke the same emotions and excitement in readers that my favorite books have evoked in me. When people find great books at a young age, books that make them feel something, it can turn them into book lovers for life.

C: Do you have any pre-writing rituals?

R: I don’t like writing at home, so I’m always looking for new places. When I find a place a like–usually some variety of coffee shop, of course–I pick a spot and put on my noise-canceling headphones. I like the energy of public spaces, but the noise is often distracting, so this way I benefit from the energy while avoiding the distractions.

C: What is the weirdest location you’ve ever written at?

R: Transatlantic flights, a pub in Melbourne at 2 a.m., the balcony of a concert hall, a hidden speakeasy in Phoenix, and the top of a mountain in Costa Rica.

C: How do you handle writer’s block?

R: This is one of my favorite subjects to talk about because many newer writers are given the wrong idea about it. The thing is, writer’s block isn’t real. What people call writer’s block is usually just fear of failure or not being good enough. And the great thing about fear is it only has the power you give it. So writer’s block is defeated by taking action, which is the antidote to fear. That means sitting down to write and not stopping until the words are flowing.

I once heard a writer say, “Writer’s block is for writers who don’t have to pay rent.” It’s so true! Everyone experiences blips and dips in their writing, but the pros don’t let that stop them. They take a break, go for a walk, do something stimulating, then sit back down and get to work. When you take action and start treating writing like a profession, writer’s block fades away.

C: How much research was involved in your latest piece and how did you tackle it?

R: For The Year of Lightning, I researched meteorology, electricity, quantum physics, nuclear power plants, and more. Since the story involves time travel, there’s a healthy dash of science fantasy involved, but I still wanted a solid foundation for the fictional elements. Wherever I could, I took real world science and extrapolated a sci-fi progression of those theories and technologies.

C: Are you a pantser  or a plotter?

R: 75% plotter, 25% pantser. I do lots of heavy outlining because when I sit down to write, I want to know where I’m heading. So I write an early, rough outline with all the concepts and major beats. Then I follow with a physical outline–a timeline made of sticky notes on my office wall. Then I write a detailed outline for blocks of upcoming chapters.

But I don’t always decide everything before I start. Some of it I like to keep loose because I know a good idea will strike in the moment. I still leave room for changes, since inevitably I’ll come up with new or better ways to tell the story as I’m writing. I also do lots of unstructured brainstorming.

C: What has been your biggest learning experience so far in your career?

R: 2015 has been a big year for learning my own limits. No writer can do everything, and the schedules and goals I set for 2015 were overly ambitious, to put it mildly. I loved everything I was doing, but I also burned out pretty hard because I worked on them every waking minute. So I had to remind myself that I was human, and that I need breaks from writing and talking about books even though I love them so much. It’s still a challenge to strike the right balance, but I’m doing much better with it now.

C: Is there anything you wish you were told prior to writing or publishing?

R: The writer community, especially in YA, is so welcoming and helpful. I was welcomed into the tribe immediately, and it’s been such a great experience getting to know my fellow authors. That part has been far more awesome than I had expected.

C: What’s next for you?

(see question 1)

C: What do you like best about writing science fiction?

R: Science fiction is such a broad canvas. To me, it’s essentially a limitless genre. It can be so broad, with big operatic themes, or it can be laser-focused on very personal stories. It’s a wonderful sandbox to play in.

C: Is there another genre you have tried writing?

R: Sure, I’ve dabbled in quite a few genres. I’ve written mystery, comedy, different shades of fantasy, even a bit of contemporary–whatever interested me. As much as I love science fiction, I definitely want to branch out at and stretch myself as a writer.

C: Have you taken any writing classes? If so, share those experiences

R: I took one creative writing course in high school, but that’s it. The rest of my experience has come from reading and writing.

C: Is there any talent or skill you wish you were better at within the writing/publishing process?

R: I’m very much a beginner when it comes to the business side of publication. I’m still learning and developing what my approach will be to getting my work out there. I’m building the platform little by little and trying to absorb as much practical knowledge as I can along the way.

C: Have your parents read your work?

R: A few family members are always the first to read my books. They’re all bookworms, and they know I want constructive feedback, so they make note of what they like and what they feel needs work. It’s always nice to get their perspective and encouraging when they like a scene.

C: What made you decide to publish traditionally?

R: I’m still a fan of the traditional model. It presents hurdles and challenges, but for me anyway, the benefits outweigh the liabilities. I like having partners and people on my side, who are just as invested in my books’ success as I am. It’s great being able to leverage their knowledge and skills, and having a constant champion and advocate for your work is hard to beat.

C: What scares you the most?

R: Most new authors fear that no one will hear about their work. Exposure is a huge thing in publishing–if people don’t know about you, they can’t read your books. That’s why authors and publishers put so much work into publicity. I want as many people as possible to be able to read and enjoy these stories, so I’m always thinking about how to reach more.

C: When did you start to feel like an author?

R: When I got the book deal, I became a lot more comfortable telling people I was a writer. Inside, I knew I was a writer long before then, but the validation felt great and it made for something I could easily point to when people asked what I’d written. Every writer draws their own line with this, and there’s really no wrong answer, but this is what worked for me.

C: Have you ever acted out a scene to see if it worked? Share a funny or embarrassing story about acting it out.

R: I don’t physically act them out, but I know my face changes when I’m writing an emotional or intense scene. So there have been moments in coffee shops where people caught me making very odd expressions considering the setting. I never explained myself, so they were stuck with the mystery of why a strange man was scowling at his computer.

C: Which poets or authors have influenced you in your own writing?

R: I’ve been told that my style is very cinematic, and I think it’s mostly because of my character interactions. I love snappy dialogue, snark and and wit, but I also want characters to have real and emotional moments. Few people do this better than Joss Whedon. I’m such a fan of his work, and I watch so much of it, that there are probably shades of it in my own writing. There are lots of novelists whose work I admire, but Whedon is my gold standard.

Introducing: K. Kazul Wolf

Happy Monday All! I have a brand new person up for you to meet! 🙂 Sit back, relax and help me welcome K. Kazul Wolf.


K. Kazul Wolf (most commonly referred to as Bacon) is a fantasy author who spends a lot of her time playing too many video games, reading too many books, perfecting her leegndrary typo skills, and being a dragon. However, her interests lean more toward rescuing cats and dogs in distress as opposed to princesses and hoards of gold. Her pursuits consist of attempts to conquer the world through her culinary and pastry arts, and bouts of obsessive writing.


Christina : What’s your current project? Tell us a little about it.

K : For once, I don’t dread this question! Here’s a short pitch:
Emma has amnesia, soul-zombies, and dragons to worry about. With no one to trust and a wall of monsters encroaching around her, remembering her past is the key to escape — even if the truth is more dangerous than the lies.

C. What has been your favorite scene to write so far?

K : I love, love, love writing the bits where the melodramatic oven shoots its racks at main characters when it’s irritated. Completely random and not the most important part of the plot, but I can’t help loving it.

C:  Who or what has inspired your writing?

K: This novel was heavily inspired by one of my all-time favorite authors, Diana Wynne Jones. I love her ability to transport you anywhere into worlds that almost seem more real than our own. And not to mention her ability make the magic itself feel real!

C:  What is your biggest goal with your writing?

K: To have my words impact a reader like my favorite author’s words impacted me. I mean, of course I want to get published, of course I want to find an agent. But more than any of that I want to find readers who need my book, give them an escape into a crazy, magical world that is different than their own.

C:  Do you have any pre-writing rituals?

K: I’m one of those people that HAVE to find the right music! Some days I get lucky and know exactly what I want to listen to, but other days it can take hours to find the right album to suck me in. I have to keep a crazy variety of music in my library. It always gets interesting when it’s intense dubstep for a quiet, emotional scene.

C: What is the weirdest location you’ve ever written at?

K: I… may have brought my laptop into the bathroom and on the toilet with me while in the middle of an intense scene and not wanting to stop. Maybe.

C:  How do you handle writer’s block?

K: I’m a firm believer that there are different sorts of writers block. There are the moderate cases where you’re just being really hard on yourself, or thinking to much about it, and you have to give yourself a good kick in the butt and turn off that internet and start writing. But the more severe cases, where you realy ran yourself down, or life-things keep popping up, and you’re exhausted and you can’t write — you have to learn to take a break from those.
I had a case of the latter for six months once. It killed me and I felt awful about it, but sometimes you’ve gotta accept you’re human and you can’t produce words worth reading like a machine. Take the time you need for you. Stay productive in other ways: read, listen to podcasts, work on your website/blog, study other forms of storytelling. But be kind to yourself.

C: How much research was involved in your latest piece and how did you tackle it?

K: None for this one! However, for one of my upcoming novels I’m studying different Hawaiian cultures and I fully plan on taking advantage of hashtags on Twitter and my local library!

C:  Are you a panser or a plotter?

K: Panther, hands down! Well, hands close to down. I use a very basic seven point plot structure to get vague ideas about what I sort of want to happen out, and then I’ll plot a chapter ahead of where I’ve written in a tiny notebook as I’m writing. If I can find a ridiculously complex way to do something, you bet I’ll do it.

C: What has been your biggest learning experience so far in your career?

K: Parting ways with my first agent. It wasn’t a smooth transition, but it taught me how absolutely necessary the writing community is. If I didn’t have my friends, I wouldn’t still be attempting to write.

C:  Is there anything you wish you were told prior to writing or publishing?

K: Haha, I feel like anyone warning me more in-depth about the hardships of publishing would have just made me fight harder for it. I’m a sliiiight bit competitive.
Honestly, though, I would have liked to have known more about my options and paths. I’d like to have known how much of what I went through has been normal, and what was weird and I should’ve run in the other direction.

C: What’s next for you?

K: A break! I’m in that second category of writer’s block I mentioned above at the moment, though I’m hoping it’s not a six month. After that? I’m sure my mind will surprise me.

C:  What do you like best about writing fantasy?

K: The magic! I remember when I was a kid how absorbing certain books were, how sure they made me that magic existed in this world. Now that I’m an adult, it’s hard to find that magic anywhere but in books.

C: Is there another genre you have tried writing?

K: Nearly all of them, save for literary! I’ve been most adventurous in short story format, though. My readers tell me when I write contemporary that they spend the whole story expecting faeries to pop out.

C: Is there any talent or skill you wish you were better at within the writing/publishing process?

K: Writing marketable stories. I tend to be a pro at writing crazy worlds and plots, but it seems I might be too good at it. When I was querying short stories, my most-recieved feedback was along the lines of, “Great! … But it’s too different.”

C: Have your parents read your work?

K: Yes, actually! My is a published romance author, and she always has an interesting perspective. My grandma on her side is an English professor, too, and she’s proofed my work before submission for me. My father, though, not so much.

C: What scares you the most?

K: Never getting anywhere. Writing stories that only I end up reading. Realizing I’m the world’s worst writer. So, generally, insecurity is the fuel of all my fear.

C: When did you start to feel like an author?

K: When I realized I was one. It sounds lame, but everyone who’s written a complete story is an author. It’s not some title you earn through a contract, it’s simple: you write, you are an author.

C: Which poets or authors have influenced you in your own writing?

K: I mentioned Diana Wynne Jones above, but so many authors made me who I am today. It all starting with J. K. Rowling, though. I was a video game addict as a child until I found a copy of HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE laying around the house. From there it was all downhill into the world of reading, my two other greatest influences as a child being Patricia C. Wrede and C. S. Lewis. And as an “adult” one of my favorites is Laini Taylor. I’m just a sucker for anyone who can bring magic to life.

Thank you so much for letting me interview you!  I loved reading all of this and getting to know you writing side a bit more!  I hope you all check out her stuff at the top of the post!

IMG_6034R2 says thank you! 🙂

Introducing: Julie Hutchings

Happy Tuesday all!! I want you all to meet the awesome Julie Hutchings! I have gotten to know her through twitter, bought her books and they are waiting to be read. She is such an exciting person! So sit back and get to know her with me.

Julie Hutchings
Julie Hutchings

About the Author Julie Hutchings:

Julie’s debut novel, Running Home, gives you vampires with a Japanese mythology pants kicking is available through Books of the Dead Press. Julie revels in all things Buffy, has a sick need for exotic reptiles, and drinks more coffee than Juan Valdez and his donkey combined, if that donkey is allowed to drink coffee. Julie’s a black belt with an almost inappropriate love for martial arts and pizza like some turtles we know. Julie lives in Plymouth, MA, constantly awaiting thunderstorms with her wildly supportive husband and two magnificent boys.


RUNNING HOME http://www.amazon.com/Running-Home-ebook/dp/B00EEG42IM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1376060063&sr=8-1&keywords=Running+Home+julie+hutchings

RUNNING AWAY http://www.amazon.com/Running-Away-Julie-Hutchings-ebook/dp/B00NXCDUJK/ref=pd_sim_351_1?ie=UTF8&dpID=51DbZvdaqfL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_AC_UL160_SR107%2C160_&refRID=1K7NDPHRKDJS84Z47NEE

Twitter: @HutchingsJulie

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7104966.Julie_Hutchings

Blog: http://deadlyeverafter.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DeadlyEverAfterBlog


Now to our interview!

Christina: What’s your current project? Tell us a little about it.

Julie: I have two right now. The sequel and the prequel to the YA witch and demon novel I’m querying, THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS, and I could not be having more fun. THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS is about the 16 year old Witch of Stars and her coven that has to overthrow their oppressive mothers, the Elementals, and take control of the world with the help of the demons they’ve been at war with. The Craft meets Romeo and Juliet. I love it. I’m not afraid to say it

C:What has been your favorite scene to write so far?

J: I couldn’t say my favorite, but the most memorable one for me is in RUNNING HOME when Nicholas comes back from taking the first victim when he’s with Eliza. It’s the scene that sparked the entire book, that I could visualize and had a soundtrack (Closer by Kings of Leon), and that had the tone I wanted the whole story to have.  

C: Who or what has inspired your writing?

J: Oh wow. That’s a long list. I’ll limit myself. My 5th grade teacher, Mr. Waterhouse was the first person to tell me I had talent. That changed me. Kristen Strassel, who jumped into writing as a profession with me. Chuck Wendig who taught me that writers are badasses. Maggie Stiefvater who entrances me with her writing style. Simon R. Green who showed me a world of dangerous beauty with the Nightside series. Dracula and Frankenstein. Okay, I’ll stop.

C: What is your biggest goal with your writing?

J: Oh, just to be loved by the masses. No big.

C: Do you have any pre-writing rituals?

J: I collect little inspiration bits forever, and my rituals evolve with every book, but one thing I can never not do is have a brand new 5 subject Mead notebook at the ready. I need to have it. Like I cannot even think unless I have one.

C: What is the weirdest location you’ve ever written at?

J: Oh, I love this question because it’s also the first place I went public with trying to become an author—the upstairs of this pub in downtown Plymouth, the British Beer Company. Kristen Strassel, a childhood friend and my heterosexual life partner that I share the blog with, decided to get together there with our vampire novel ideas and work on them together because we wanted beer and nobody really goes up there. Well, that night the place became suddenly packed with people and these like, St. Pauly Girls that were hosting some booze party for their booze company. One of them came to our little table and asked us what we were doing, and we kinda had to say we were writing books in the middle of their party.

C: How do you handle writer’s block?

J: I don’t allow it. I refuse to allow it. I can honestly say I have never said that I have writer’s block because the only thing you can do is write through it. Sit my ass down and start writing. Start writing something with zero plan, no idea what I’m going to type in that first line. Turns out I wrote two books that way.

C: How much research was involved in your latest piece and how did you tackle it?

J: Oh good lord, I knew that THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS series was going to take a boat load of research. I got my 5 subject notebook, a ton of highlighters and I dove in. It wasn’t long before I had three 5 subject notebooks for this story. Witchcraft, Wiccan principles, demonology, the symbolism of the numbers 5 and 7 in religion, palmistry, Tarot readings, color theory, night blooming flowers, star charts, astrology, elemental magic, blood magic, voodoo…… I never stop researching for this series. But there’s nothing else to do besides just do it.

C: Are you a panser  or a plotter?

J: Panther all the way.

C: What has been your biggest learning experience so far in your career?

J: To write the book you have to write. Without worrying who will read it, if it fits in a genre, if people will like it, if it will be good. Write it. If it’s the book you have to write, if you throw your everything into it because you never looked back, people will have to read it. It will beg them to.

C: Is there anything you wish you were told prior to writing or publishing?

J: I learn something new every day about writing and publishing. Wouldn’t have changed a thing. My mistakes are all steps to get me to next, and no matter how much research you do, there’s always something you have to learn by experience. That the contracts you sign aren’t always good ones, no matter how okay they look. That not all business partners are the right ones for you. But regret nothing and move forward.

C: What’s next for you?

J: Doing everything I can to see THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS series come to print. I have a book I adore, THE HARPY, coming out with REUTS Publications in spring 2016 and I am so in love with that press, I cannot wait to see what comes of it.

C: What do you like best about writing fantasy (horror ) ?

J: I love blending the extraordinary and the ordinary. Taking a small town and sticking a mythological harpy in it. Taking backwoods New England and throwing a bunch of vampires from a Japanese mountaintop in it. Taking a banker with OCD and possessing him with a defiled Egyptian fertility god. This is the stuff I love.

C: Is there another genre you have tried writing?

J: I don’t really try to write any genre, which sounds super pretentious, but it’s really just me being a little ignorant probably. I just write the ideas I have, the characters I make up. Turns out I don’t really know how to make regular people interesting, so I don’t see myself writing anything but fantasy ever, whether it be YA, adult, erotica, etc…..

C: Have you taken any writing classes? If so, share those experiences

J: I was an English major with a minor in creative writing, so pretty much all I ever did was take writing classes. I sucked up as much as I possibly could is all. I took writing of any kind I could—journalism, poetry, short story writing. Thrown in with as many literature classes as I could handle every semester, and I was totally immersed in it. That’s how I do best, is if I’m totally saturated with what I’m trying to do. So I had no idea where I was going with writing, but I just threw myself into learning about what I loved as much as I could. I didn’t write a book until ten years later.

C : Is there any talent or skill you wish you were better at within the writing/publishing process?

J: All of it. But definitely the nuts and bolts the most. I’m just plain thick when it comes to the business end of it. I’m lucky to have great people to help me.

C: Have your parents read your work?

J: My mom hasn’t read all of it, but she’s read RUNNING HOME a few times. My stepfather has read both of my published books, and eagerly awaits anything else he can get. My dad passed away when I was sixteen, but he was a huge reader and the reason I love reading, and I know he’d be proud.

C: What made you decide to self-publish or traditional ?

J: I want my books out. Period. And the path is different for every book, not just every author. I learned that with RUNNING HOME. I started querying agents with it, and got no bites because of the subject matter. When Books of the Dead Press asked me for the book, I was flattered and excited and more than happy to publish with them. It was great to see that there wasn’t just two ways to go—traditional or self pubbing. I love small presses. I start with the dream—the agent, the big press. If that’s not right for the book, I go to small and medium presses on my own next, like I did with THE HARPY. It was represented by an agent, but traditional publishers were terrified of it. It’s risky as hell. So my first stop after that was REUTS, who I really admire and I was thrilled to go to them. My real decision is that my books are coming out, and I won’t stop until they do.

C: What scares you the most?

J: Losing the people I can’t live without.

C: When did you start to feel like an author?

J: Literally last week. When the people in my neighborhood all read RUNNING HOME and talked about me in their book club. To be recognized that way, not just in the publishing world but in the REAL world by your community was wonderful.

C:  Have you ever acted out a scene to see if it worked? Share a funny or embarrassing story about acting it out.

J : Dear Jesus, absolutely not. That’s probably the most uncomfortable thing I can think of. I don’t even like reading my own words out loud.

C: Which poets or authors have influenced you in your own writing?

(same answer as above, really, in the inspirations question)

Thank you so much Julie for taking time to answer my questions! 🙂 Everyone head over and get her books at the links above!! 🙂  Tell Julie I sent you.



Introducing : J. Elizabeth Hill

Happy Monday all!!  I am excited to have J. Elizabeth Hill with me today! 🙂  I just started reading her book “Bound”, and am loving it so far!!  Grab a seat and learn a bit about her with me.

J. Elizabeth Hill
J. Elizabeth Hill

Born in Toronto, Ontario, J Elizabeth Hill exported herself to Vancouver, British Columbia after many years of staring longingly at the map following every snowfall. For as long as she can remember, she’s been making up stories, but it wasn’t until high school that someone suggested writing them down. Since then, she’s been hopelessly in love with story crafting, often forgetting about everything else in the process.

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/16gGjW3
Smashwords: http://bit.ly/Tl0tJi
Kobo: http://bit.ly/W3KIoF

Christina:  What’s your current project? Tell us a little about it.

J. Elizabeth Hill : My current project is tentatively named Where The Ether Flows. It’s about Devan Endorus, a necromancer from a family full of them. He’s always been the outcast of the family, despite being the eldest and heir to the family leadership, because he cares deeply about the dead and wants to help them rather than exploit them. After the death of his girlfriend a few years, he left his family and their city behind, but he gets dragged back into all of their affairs after an attack on him by one of his father’s minions.
C. What has been your favorite scene to write so far?

JEH: Devan met a woman before returning to Henresh, his family’s city-state, and she followed him there. They’re in his old apartment after getting there and he starts getting undressed, forgetting she’s there. When she reminds him, he trips on his own clothes in a huge fit of embarrassment but refuses to show it by hurriedly dressing and she takes the opportunity to enjoy the view of him in just his underwear. Given Devan usually knows what to do or say, I enjoyed him being this flustered.
C:  Who or what has inspired your writing?

JEH: A lot of writers, across multiple media types, have inspired me to write. I love stories, always have, and somewhere along the way, I got the idea that I could do that too. I could tell stories, write them down and share them with people. All the things stories have offered me, comfort, shelter, hope, belonging, solace, I could offer those to others. And it’s like having my own adventure with stories no one ever saw, at least in the first draft.
C:  What is your biggest goal with your writing?

JEH: To tell a story that’s all mine. One others might not think to tell because they’re not me, but that will touch people in an important way, even if it’s small.
C : Do you have any pre-writing rituals?

JEH : Music. Every story ends up with a song or two that touches on a deep aspect of the world or characters. Before I start writing, I’ll throw that song on repeat and listen to it for a bit. It’s like a key to the story, in that it lets me into that story as nothing else does.

C.  What is the weirdest location you’ve ever written at?

JEH: Mostly I write at home, but a few times, I’ve had an idea or a passage come into my head during a meeting at the day job. Thankfully, I always have a notebook then.
C:  How do you handle writer’s block?

JEH: To me, writer’s block means I’ve pushed the story into a direction that didn’t flow right, tried to make it do something that didn’t fit. In that case, I have to back up and find the place where I got off the rails and figure out where the story needs to go.
8. How much research was involved in your latest piece and how did you tackle it?

JEH: I didn’t do a lot of research out of the gate. I looked into historical definitions of necromancy, which helped set some of the framing of the story. Because it’s secondary world Fantasy (made up world) I didn’t have to do a lot of historical research. There have been a few things I needed to figure out as I went, how some stuff works, and I tend to hop online for that, making sure I have a few sources before I rely too much on something.
C : Are you a panser or a plotter?

JEH: I’m a plotter, though the amount of plotting I do varies. Right now, I’m just plotting a few chapters ahead at a time. Most of the time, I have the events of the novel all worked out ahead of time, outlined in short narrative format. I do a lot of notes and thinking about characters, world and magic before I start outlining too.
C: What’s next for you?

JEH: After I finish Where The Ether Flows? I think I’ll write the first book of another series I’ve been building for the last several months. No title so far for the book, but the project (which might span several books) has the working title The Pick-up Artist. It’s about a young woman who can steal pieces of other people’s magic, and what happens when she does so from the wrong person one day.
C: What do you like best about writing fantasy ?

JEH: How open the field of possibilities is. I can have magic, fantastical creatures, places and people who might never exist in our world. I find I have so much freedom to go with my wildest imaginings, so long as it has internal logic, and that allows me to explore things I might not be able to in any other genre. So many of my story ideas start with “what if this thing were real/different/not an actual limit?” and I love that.
C:  Is there another genre you have tried writing?

JEH: I once tried writing sci-fi, which wasn’t for me, and there are story ideas for mysteries and contemporary romance kicking around in my head but I’ll probably never write them. I’m happy with Fantasy and have more ideas there than I could hope to finish anyway.
C:  Have you taken any writing classes? If so, share those experiences

JEH: I’ve never taken a long fiction writing class, but in high school, I took a creative writing course my school offered and I’m really glad I did. Our teacher was a big believer in revision as part of the writing process (which it always should be), so he’d let us revise a piece and resubmit it for grading. You could improve your grade, but you could also make it worse if it was a poor, rushed revision. You were stuck with whatever new grade it got. He allowed us to revise and resubmit as much as we wanted though. It was good to have that idea driven into my head at a very young age, because it helps me keep perspective when it comes to revisions now.
C: Is there any talent or skill you wish you were better at within the writing/publishing process?

JEH: Drawing, which doesn’t sound like it would be part of the writing/publishing process, but I wish I could sketch my characters and other very visual things I need to describe. Sometimes, I’d give anything for a set of reference drawings, especially when working on later books of a series/trilogy/whatever.

C: Have your parents read your work?

JEH: Yes. My stepfather even proofreads them for me. They love my work and often nudge me about what I’m working on, when they can read the next book. It’s really nice and a bit surprising, since neither have ever been fans of Fantasy. My mom even highlighted some passages she especially enjoyed and wanted to show me. Was a bit floored by that.
C: What scares you the most?

JEH: The idea of dying with stories untold. It’s going to happen. I have no shortage of ideas, and a major backlog of them. But I hate this idea that I won’t get to share them all, that I won’t even get to write them all and see what they become.
C: When did you start to feel like an author?

JEH: The first time someone I didn’t know much said they’d read and loved my first book. That was an OMG, mind blown moment. I mean, someone other than close friends read my book! They could have said they hated it and I might still have left the conversation a little dazed and smiley. Maybe.
C:  Have you ever acted out a scene to see if it worked? Share a funny or embarrassing story about acting it out.

JEH: I rarely act them out physically, but I’ve caught myself mumbling dialogue when writing in public. One time the lady sitting next to me at Starbucks actually got up and moved to another table, so I must have been doing it a lot. I don’t think I ever went back to that particular location, just in case I ran into her. This is why I mostly write at home.
C: Which poets or authors have influenced you in your own writing?

JEH: Carol Berg has been a huge influence. The first time I read one of her books, I sat there and thought, these are the kinds of stories I want to tell. I was lucky enough to meet her a couple of times at Norwescon and she’s a delightful woman, very friendly and caring. Also, Anne McCaffrey, because I love how very personal her stories are, how romance is a part of them without being the whole story.

Thank you so much for the interview!! 🙂  I had so much fun getting to know you and can’t wait to finish your book! 🙂


No interview but go vote! 

Hey peeps!! We made it to Friday!!!! 

I don’t have any interviews today. Those will resume Monday! 
For now, enjoy your Friday! 

Also head over to The Venturess. It’s free to read, and today is the last day to vote on this weeks story. The Venturess go here to vote. 

If you already have you can support The Venturess Patreon . 

Pass it on to your friends. I love reading it every other Friday. And if you’re new to there, and vote today. Give a shout out to the author. 
Have a great Friday friends!! 


Introducing : C.L. McCollum

Happy Thursday all!!  Another awesome new person for you to meet! CL McCollum! I am so excited for this interview! I love meeting new people and I hope you all do too!!

C.L. McCollum
C.L. McCollum

L. McCollum spends her time delving into the wonder of the world. She’s always been drawn to the “How” and the “Why” and the “Is this even possible?” While her debut novel is on the road to publication, C. L. has contributed to multiple anthologies, and also co-edits a charity anthology series known as “Clichés for a Cause.”  She was also chosen as a 2015 Pitch Wars Mentee and is incredibly grateful for the amazing community of mentees, mentors, and the marvelous Brenda Drake. Currently, C. L. is keeping it weird in Austin, TX with the love of her life and their various furry roommates.

You can find her at home at www.clmccollum.com, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CLMCCOLLUMAUTHOR, and in the Twitter verse at https://twitter.com/C_L_McCollum. You can find her stories on her Amazon Author page http://www.amazon.com/C.L.-McCollum/e/B00OM24UUS/

Now for our interview! 🙂

Christina: What’s your current project? Tell us a little about it.

CL. Currently I just finished up revisions and am querying my Pitch Wars MS TRACES – it’s a New Adult near-future sci-fi novel with a lot of romance and psychic solider shenanigans. It was a lot of fun to write and I’m excited to send it out into the world!

On the writing front, I’m trying my hand at a YA magical realism set in a small town in Texas similar to where I grew up. It’s a completely new sub-genre for me with a very different, almost literary style compared to the other stories I’ve written in the past. I’m enjoying the hell out of it, but who knows if it’ll turn out well or not LOL.

C.What has been your favorite scene to write so far?

CL: While I love reading action scenes or well done sex scenes, I find I most enjoy writing the quieter character-centric moments. Found families growing closer together through food or hobbies just makes me smile – it’s sort of my treat to myself any time I get to write those scenes. They may or may not stick around for final drafts, but they are where I learn the most about my characters and how I want to write them.

C.What is your biggest goal with your writing?

CL. I would love to eventually make writing my full time career – that’s been my dream for years now, and I am working to make it happen with the best of my ability. If I never quite reach that, though, I’ll still be happy if even one person really truly enjoys what I write. I pen the books that I find myself wanting to read, and getting to share that story with someone else is such a cool feeling!

 C. Do you have any pre-writing rituals?

CL. Other than making sure I have some caffeine (either tea or Dr. Pepper) and music going, I don’t tend to do much in the way of pre-writing rituals. I daydream almost constantly, and that makes it pretty easy for me to slip from daydreaming in my head to daydreaming in a text box no matter where/when I am. 

C. What is the weirdest location you’ve ever written at?

CL. Recently? Probably in the checkout line in the grocery store on my phone because I had a brainstorm hit and wanted to jot it down before I lost it!

 C. How do you handle writer’s block?

CL. I tend to multitask like it’s going out of style, so I rarely get true writer’s block to the point that I can’t write anything. If the novel I’m writing the first draft on starts arguing with me, I may jump to a different part of the book, or if that doesn’t work, I may take a break to write a blog post or brainstorm on a short story or fanfic. As long as my hands are moving and words of some kind are getting down on paper, I still feel like I’m making progress for the day. Usually jumping around to another project will actually kick start my brain on the novel. Stepping away but keeping my brain going definitely seems to help.

 C. How much research was involved in your latest piece and how did you tackle it?

CL. There was quite a bit of military jargon/rank information that I had to research and then alter a bit to suit my purposes. I was somewhat familiar with one or two branches of the current US military due to family and friends, but for my near future military state, I combined several of the rank structures and mostly ran amok because I could LOL.

 C. Are you a pantser or a plotter?

CL. A bit of both? I usually have a vague idea of how a book begins and ends and a few of the major things that will happen in the middle, but I rarely sit down and outline or anything like that. I have written faux query letters before with a concept, but that’s half to get my thoughts down so I can set the idea aside while I continue to work on my current WIP.

I guess I just work better with room in the plan to let my stories evolve organically. The MS that I got in to Pitch Wars with was actually a NaNoWriMo novel originally, and I went into that year with just a mental ensemble cast of characters and the very first line of a story. From there over the course of November, I ended up with this much larger world than I expected and conspiracy theories and really cool psychics and all sorts of things that I just never would have guessed would show up on the page. Admittedly, I had a LOT to revise once I was done with the first draft as it was all over the place. But honestly most of the book remained in a similar shape to how it started out, and I didn’t cut near as much as you might have thought. Pantsing just gives me more freedom, and that seems to work best for the way my brain operates.

Now, I’ve yet to write any sequels to any of my stories, and I have a feeling if I end up getting multibook contracts, I will need to start doing some outlining to make sure to keep continuity straight from book to book. But I definitely will still go the pantser route for brand new books with characters/worlds I’ve never played in before.

 C. What has been your biggest learning experience so far in your career?

CL. Oh this one hurt! I made the mistake of accepting a contract offer from a small press just because it was the first one I got. I even had queries and partials out with agents and rather than giving them time to read/request the full, I just blanket emailed them to say I was pulling my MS and taking the offer. It was SUCH a rookie mistake and it definitely bit me in the butt when the small press basically vanished and stopped answering emails about a question I had about the contract. Eventually I found out that the press went under, so in the long run, not getting the contract signed turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Still sucks that I don’t have a book out this year like I was told would happen, but at least I didn’t sign with a dying press.

So yeah, learn from my mistake guys – be patient and calm and don’t jump into a contract/deal without doing your research and keeping all bridges unburned.

 C. Is there anything you wish you were told prior to writing or publishing?

CL. I got luckily in that I did have some amazing writing teachers and I was warned about a lot of the pitfalls up front. Mostly, the biggie was just DON’T STOP. I took a long break after college, and I wish I’d kept going with my MS through those years. I could be so much farther in my writing and career if I hadn’t let my doubt get to me.

C. What do you like best about writing sci-fi?

CL. I love the “what if” I get to delve into with sci-fi – whether it’s the locations on our planet in the future with new and crazy technology or out into space on strange worlds or caught inside a ship somewhere. And the people/creatures/aliens! There’s just so much to learn and create with sci-fi. I love it!

C. Is there another genre you have tried writing? 

CL. I almost solely write in SFF genre, but I’ve dabbled in a ton of the subgenres from steampunk to near-future sci-fi to paranormal to epic fantasy to fairy tale retellings to magical realism. I just love to play with possibilities, and SFF seems to offer the most scope for that.

C. Have you taken any writing classes? If so, share those experiences.

CL. I have taken quite a few! I double-majored in college in Psychology and English, and most of my electives ended up being creative writing classes. Mostly I really enjoyed trying new things with each class – I’ve taken everything from poetry writing to memoir to script writing to short stories to novels and with each, I learned something new about the way I write and the types of things I like to write. Plus, most of those classes had some peer critiquing involved, and it definitely helped me learn how to share my work and not take it quite as personally if someone had things they felt could be fixed, as well as how to respectfully suggest things that I saw that I feel could be improved. It’s been invaluable for working with the Herding Cats writing group!

C. Have your parents read your work?

CL. My mom was actually the very first beta reader to see my first MS. She was amazing, honestly. It was a little odd to know she was reading a sex scene I’d written, but I managed to get through her critiques without blushing too much LOL.

C. What made you decide to self-publish?

CL. Self-publishing really was the only option for our Clichés for a Cause series of charity anthologies. My editor-partner-in-crime August Clearwing (@augustclearwing) and I wanted to make sure that we could personally keep track of the royalties so there were no complications when we got ready to make donations to the charities in question. Plus, it made it easy for us to have control when it came to formatting and inserting the gorgeous illustrations for the stories too.

I don’t know that I’d be up for the challenge of self-publishing one of my novels just yet. Doing the anthologies was definitely eye-opening regarding the sheer amount of work that publishing route is. It’s something I’m considering for the future though!

C. When did you start to feel like an author?

CL. Weirdly enough, it was getting the first issue of my Writers Digest magazine. I have no idea why, but that somehow made me feel like I had moved to a level of legitimacy – I wanted to be an author badly enough that I bothered to pay for a magazine subscription. Totally odd, I know, but that was definitely the moment where I went “Yeah, I’m doing this!” I don’t even know with my brain sometimes, I swear.

 C. Have you ever acted out a scene to see if it worked? Share a funny or embarrassing story about acting it out.

CL. I don’t physically act out scenes, but oh boy will I ever speak dialogue out loud to myself. Usually it’s in the car, and I catch other drivers staring at me thinking I’m having a seizure or something because inevitably if I start speaking a loud I’ll start talking with my hands (or hand as I do try to keep one on the steering wheel LOL).

C. Which poets or authors have influenced you in your own writing?

CL. Oh goodness, this is the question-from-hell for any writer! LOL I read voraciously so there are many authors/poets I’ve enjoyed and taking in bits and pieces. A few do stand out though – on the poet side, Emily Dickenson’s words never fail to fill my heart with emotion, and I’d love to move a reader like that someday. The Bard himself, William Shakespeare, is another that I will never tire of reading. Puck’s final soliloquy in Midsummer’s Night’s Dream was one of the first bits of literature that I ever memorized and I tend to recite it almost by accident from time to time. On the authorly front, Robin McKinley will forever be one of my favorite writers of fairy tale retellings. Beauty: A Retelling, Rose Daughter, Spindle’s End… the list of gorgeous new glimpses goes on and on from Robin – I hope to someday write the kind of reimagining that she might be a fan of in return! Tamora Pierce is another writer who I absolutely adore – the scope of her world building with interconnected series is fantastic, and I’d love to manage something similar myself some day! Finally, Jaqueline Carey was the first author to write a First Person POV series that just completely swept me away. I mostly write Third Person for now, but I’d love to try my hand at an epic First Person eventually!

What a great interview!! Thanks so MUCH!!!


Introducing: Vanessa Barger

Happy Wednesday everyone! Another great new person for you to meet!!  Sit back and relax, and meet Vanessa Barger!

Vanessa Barger
Vanessa Barger

Vanessa Barger was born in West Virginia, and through several moves ended up spending the majority of her life in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She is a graduate of George Mason University and Old Dominion University, and has degrees in Graphic Design, a minor in Medieval and Renaissance Literature, and a Masters in Technology Education. She has had articles published in Altered Arts Magazine, has had some artwork displayed in galleries in Ohio and online, and currently teaches engineering, practical physics, drafting and other technological things to high school students in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. She is a member of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), the Virginia Writer’s Club, and the Hampton Roads Writers. When not writing or teaching, she’s a bookaholic, movie fanatic, and loves to travel. She is married to a fabulous man, and has one cat, who believes Vanessa lives only to open cat food cans, and can often be found baking when she should be editing.

Website: http://www.vanessabarger.com
Twitter: @VanessaBarger
Instagram: https://instagram.com/vbarger13/
Tumblr: tumblr.com/blog/vanessabarger
FB: http://facebook.com/VanessaBargerFanPage

Interview Time!  Wheeee!!

I just like this one
I just like this one

Christina:  What’s your current project? Tell us a little about it.
Vanessa: The manuscript I just finished for PitchWars is called LEARNING SPACE, and it’s about a boy who keeps getting pulled out of boarding schools, only to discover that this time, his mom is putting him into school in space. Once he gets there, he gets stuck in a group with his arch nemesis, ends up in his first ever detention, and then has to work with his antagonist to help save the school from space pirates.

C. What has been your favorite scene to write so far?
V.Any scene with Asimov, a lovely little worm who eats anything and poops ball bearings. He’s adorable.

C.Who or what has inspired your writing?
V. I think it would be my parents. They read to us as long as I can remember, and have always encouraged my creativity. Without them, and their encouragement, things might have been different.

C. What is your biggest goal with your writing?
Someday, I’d love to be able to write as a career and teach for fun. But beyond that, just being able to be published by a major publisher would be a dream come true!

C. Do you have any pre-writing rituals?
V. Hmmm… I have a tendency to keep notes in my writing journal about the story, and I have started to take those and make a Scrivener file with all the character information, setting information and etc. It took a few tries, but I learned my lesson and now make sure I have the information down before I start writing.

C. What is the weirdest location you’ve ever written at?
V. I wish I could say something more interesting like on the side of a mountain or something, but probably the weirdest has been in a strange hotel room or on vacation in a bus.

C.  How do you handle writer’s block?
V. I force myself to write. For me, writer’s block is usually less about not having the idea, and more about not being motivated to write. If I make myself meet a word count goal everyday, it is always easier to write the next day. I keep a calendar and use stickers (its VE Schwab’s calendar method) to keep track of how many words I’ve written. Its amazing, because if I keep up writing everyday, the amount of stickers always increases. If I take a few days off, it starts all over again and has to gradually build up.

C. How much research was involved in your latest piece and how did you tackle it?
V. Not as much as you’d think. There was some science I had to explain, but I teach Technology Education, so I already had most of the background I needed to get it believable.

C.  Are you a pantser or a plotter?
V. I used to be a pantser. But I’ve had to admit defeat, and now I’m a plotter. Loosely. I don’t do a serious detailed outline, but I do write one with the major events I intend for each chapter. That being said, I always allow myself the permission to wander away from it, which does sometimes result in having to stop midway and rewrite the outline.

C. Is there anything you wish you were told prior to writing or publishing?
V. I think the time, and how long everything takes. You know it, but you don’t know it. Its hard to understand until you’ve talked to people and really seen it, just how long everything takes. Also, just how much depends on timing and dumb luck sometimes.

C.What’s next for you?
V. Right now, I’m searching for an agent and keeping my fingers crossed that LEARNING SPACE is the manuscript that will get me my dream agent. We shall see!
C. Is there any talent or skill you wish you were better at within the writing/publishing process?
V. Patience. And making sure I have the next thing already on the back burner.
C. Have your parents read your work?
V. Mom has. My dad has read some. They are the best – they never stop encouraging me!

C. What scares you the most?
V. Being a failure, by my own standards. Never getting an agent and being able to share my stories.

C, When did you start to feel like an author?
V. The first time I did a school visit. That was awesome!
C. Which poets or authors have influenced you in your own writing?
V. I think every time you read a book it influences your writing somehow. But my favorite authors and people I hope to emulate would be Austen, Shakespeare, Bill Bryson, Lisa Ann Sandell, Susan Cooper, Rick Riordan, and so many others. (okay, those are just favorites. I’ll never be that cool)
Thanks again so Much Vanessa!! 🙂