The Dark Continent by Scott Reardon

An incredible tale of an attempt to create the super soldier meets the Island of Dr. Moreau is an interesting read. The main characters are fully flawed, sympathetic saviors of humankind. Though the author lays out a save the world kind of trope, the story focuses on the US being attacked. I received this graphic, violent drama from NetGalley for an honest review, but NetGalley summaries don’t inform reviewers if the book is part of a series.

David Simms—Author

David Simms lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia after surviving life in NJ and Massachusetts with his family, three furballs, and one ghost. When not writing to earn grocery money, he teaches English, Psychology, and Creative Writing. His current side gigs include working as counselor for teens, guitar teacher, ghost tour guide, book reviewer, and guitarist for a sketchy authors’ band. He sold his first story back in 2003 and has placed short stories in various anthologies, along with scribbling on walls everywhere since. Fear The Reaper and Dark Muse are his first two novels.

Tell me about your writing process: schedule, environment, inspirations, magic spells, etc.

My writing process is an amalgamation of chaos. I fight for the blank spots between the minutes. Waking up at dawn, you’d think I might have a few minutes, but a crazed seven-year-old senses my every move and is there to thwart my muse, often smothering her until he passes out that evening. I teach high school which means I may have a planning period or might have a minute to run to the bathroom. When my classes are testing or writing, I might sneak a few paragraphs or a page. Mostly though, I’m a night owl, no matter how hard I try to heed the advice of my heroes and be creative before the sun rises. My muse goes bonkers once the moon rises for some reason. I prefer to write on the back porch in spring and summer, while in colder weather, I hide in my man-cave/library. I also keep random notebooks everywhere. I constantly text myself with thoughts about characters or plot twists. When does the inspiration hit? When I’m on the move—whether it’s on the treadmill or driving. I don’t recommend taking notes in either situation, but something kickstarts that muse who loves to screw with me. As for spells, I do live on the top of a big hill. Plenty of room for shallow graves.

Walk me through your submission / publishing process from “final” draft to final product, including who does what when, and marketing that you do as the author.

I’ve been extremely fortunate to work with Crossroad Press for two novels. David Wilson, owner and CEO of the publishing company, set me up with two kickass editors who took that “final” draft and forged something so much better out of it. They allow great flexibility for the covers, which can sometimes make or break a book and walked me through whatever I didn’t know—which is plenty.

As for marketing, that’s when it all gets ugly (for authors). Hunting down blurbs is akin to sliding down a cheese grater for anyone with a soul. It’s so tough to ask for, especially when you realize writers are so swamped. Thankfully, I’ve been so lucky to have people such as Heather Graham, Elizabeth Massie, Steve Berry, Brad Meltzer, and others say a few kind words. That alone had me walking on air. I’m not a business guy, but playing in a band where romance writers were the core audience (victims?), I learned a ton from them about how to publicize one’s work, how to utilize social media without being too annoying, and luring jaded readers to one particular book out of thousands of others. In my experience, nobody markets better than romance authors. Finding that niche is key if you want to break out of the horde.

Talk about your support system online and IRL; who are your biggest cheerleaders?

A writers’ support system is more than a lifeline. It’s a therapist, best friend, tackling dummy, and mentor, all rolled up into one—sometimes into one person. Again, I’ve been blessed with having some of my favorite writers give me tips along the way, often steering me clear of potholes I never knew were there. Thank you F. Paul Wilson, Tom Monteleone, Deb Leblanc, David Morrell, and K.J. Howe—you’ve helped that last brain cell off the ledge many times over the years, along with countless others.

I’ve been part of a few writers’ groups with varying success and highly recommend it. Right now, I run a monthly workshop where I’m teaching various topics—yet learn just as much as I teach. The group has become strong allies and friends even though we’re incredibly different. My immediate family has helped, always, yet I’ve been just as bewildered by who doesn’t read my novels as who does. It’s a sobering experience to find a close friend won’t read it, yet a coworker shares it all over the state. Many times, logic does not apply to art.

Finally, my students have been amazing—they let me know their true feelings, which I love and need. If something sucks, they’ll tell me!

How does life influence your writing and vice versa?

Good question! Having a couple of degrees in psychology helps as I often find myself in odd situations. I started off my career as a behaviorist in a school where kids typically were headed to residential placements, juvie, or on the way back…not all, but many. I saw some frightening and very sad things that taught me plenty about the human condition, sometimes about the horrors of the parents who watched them. I made sure to travel plenty around the country, partially to absorb the landscapes of National Parks (learning to write them in descriptions that don’t go on for chapters is a great task!) or to learn the people of each region. Expanding my repertoire of body language, dialect, and customs was invaluable.

Then there was the day I discovered I was living less than a mile from one of the darkest secrets in American history. That became Fear the Reaper. Finally, music worms its way into most of my work, either overtly in Dark Muse, or in themes or minute threads.

What do you love most about your creativity?

I love everything about my creativity. It’s yanking it from my head and getting to the finished product that’s the problem. Once I can get past my own insecurities and anxiety about the novel (thinking about editing, publishing, a dream deal or agent, or if someone will actually enjoy it), it’s a fun thrill ride. There’s a song by The Foo Fighters I often think about after writing a story or song—“Something From Nothing.” It amazes me that artists of any media can see, hear, or sense something that never existed before and with some bit of magic, it becomes a reality. I explored this in Dark Muse (along with where songs come from) as I’ll never get used to that moment when a cool idea erupts, germinates into a story or character, and then when I feel I’m the most terrible writer in the world, I watch my fingers bang out something that I can’t figure where the hell it came from. Then there are those days when I can’t spell for my life or write a sentence that my kid wouldn’t spit on. It’s magic—until it’s work.

Connect with David:

https://davidsimmsmuse.com

https://www.instagram.com/dsimms_muse

https://www.facebook.com/David-Simms-387821161334451

Charles Reis—Writer of the North

Charles’ wonderfully hippie mother gave birth to him in 1979 in the smallest state of Rhode Island. Although he grew up in the town of Coventry, he now resides with his cat Joey in West Warwick, a city whose residents make the guests on The Jerry Springer Show look like the culturally elite. His primary writing interest is horror, but also freely dabbles in fantasy and science fiction.

Joey with fundraiser anthology “rejected”

Tell me about your writing process: schedule, environment, inspirations, magic spells, etc.

My writing process must begin with inspiration. I mean, let’s face it, you can’t separate creative writing and inspiration. It’s a symbiotic relationship. For me, it can come from anywhere. An example is “Alone” found in the anthology Rejected, which is inspired by a nightmare I had as a kid. Once I get that, the magic begins!

The process itself is 65 percent writing and 35 percent research. Depending on the research needed for a story, it might be a lot more. While the stories may contain zombies, ghosts, and dragons, I try to stay accurate when it comes to culture, history, and language. Recently, I’ve had three drabbles (100-word stories) accepted in Forgotten Ones: Drabbles of Myth and Legend. Each dealt with certain cultural mythologies (Icelandic, Persian, and Canaanite). I did my research to make sure it was accurate to the beliefs. Other stories had me researching historic figures and locations, regional slang, etc. It’s time-consuming, but it’s worth it. I’ve learned so much stuff about other people and our world from my research … an added bonus!

My actual writing process is simple. Every morning (the only time at my apartment when it’s quiet), I sit down at my laptop and type away. Whatever words come into my head, I quickly get them down. However, this can only continue if my brain works properly. If it gets stuck and I can’t type, I must step away from my desk. Most of the time when I do, the words return to me as my brain reboots.

During the process, I often change, remove, or add scenes and characters. This requires me to go back over what I’ve done to make sure everything is coherent. That can take up time, but it’s necessary.

Walk me through your submission / publishing process from “final” draft to final product, including who does what when, and marketing that you do as the author.

Before I consider my draft to be final, I’ll read the manuscript out loud. This helps me correct errors and to hear if the dialogue is natural. I’ve noticed over the years that sometimes a sentence will read correctly in your mind, but when it’s verbalized it sounds weird. I don’t just do this once, but dozens of times. I know my story is the “final” draft if I read it aloud a few times and don’t change anything.

Next, I’ll need to find a perfect home for it. Since my stories fall into flash fiction/short works, I look for publishers that are looking for works for their anthologies. Many have a theme, like with More Lore for the Mythos, in which the stories had to be connected to the Cthulhu Mythos (That was a fun one to write for since I’m a huge Lovecraft fan). In the past, I’ve modified existing works to fit the theme, but only if the story will benefit from it. I did this with my first story to be published in print, “Maiden from the Sea.” The plot and characters were the same in the original manuscript as with the final draft, but the date and location were different. When One Night in Salem sent out a call out for submissions, they wanted stories that take place on Halloween in Salem, Massachusetts. I went back to my manuscript, changed the original location from Block Island to Salem, and had the setting on Halloween. Presto! It was accepted!

Once the story is accepted, then it’s the waiting game for its release. That can be anywhere from one to six months. When it’s out, I do my best to market it using my social media, such as Facebook and Instagram. If not provided by the publisher, I’ll create artwork to highlight my contribution. This isn’t because I’m an ego-maniac, but many on my social media accounts are friends, family, and acquaintances. A short description with a buy link accompanies the artwork and I use them to go on a promotion blitz, posting on any appropriate group that I find. I don’t do it daily, only once or twice a week. I don’t want to “overkill” it.

Other promotions are virtual book releases on Facebook. I’ve done this mostly for Dragon Soul Press, and it can be a lot of fun! Generally, I get a half-hour spot for the event to do a post every five minutes. If the event involves an anthology release that has my story in it, I will focus on that. If not, I’ll write about my other works. However, I make sure to interact with others in the event, such as posting a picture for a writing prompt, asking about their favorite authors, etc. Yes, I use these events to promote myself, but I try to make sure others get involved.

Talk about your support system online and IRL; who are your biggest cheerleaders?

Much of my online support comes from fellow authors, including Erin Kathleen, Zoey Xolton, Stefan Lear, Roma Gray, Vonnie Winslow Crist, Kevin Lewis, and Amber Newberry Izzo. There’s so many more that I just can’t list them all. I feel a little guilty about leaving so many out. Anyway, I find the vast majority of writers are supportive of one another. I’ll mention that I’ve met Kevin Lewis and Amber Newberry in person, while I’ve had some fun conversations with Erin and Stefan.

The publishers are also supportive. I give props to FunDead, Eerie River, Dragon Soul, and Black Hare for their help. However, I’ll give a special shout out to David Reavis of Breaking Rules Publishing, who convinced me to start up my own Facebook Author’s Page.

I will say my biggest IRL cheerleaders would be my good friends Andrew in the UK, Alex in Ireland, and Steve in the USA. They encourage me when I get frustrated and lift me up when I feel low… great friends indeed! Stephen and Alex have also used their social media to promote too.

How does life influence your writing and vice versa?

My characters tend to be based on people I know, although loosely. Also, many of my personality traits, from hobbies to personal experiences, end up in my characters. Some examples are Rebecca in “Maiden from the Sea” in One Night in Salem (we share an interest in the paranormal and folklore) and Ernest in “Battle of Plymouth” in Coffins & Dragons (we both lost our fathers). I have so many examples, but that will take all day to list.

Does writing influence my life? A little, but only when it comes to research. Generally, this happened when I’m writing about another region or culture. When I wrote a story that took place in France (“The Glass Mausoleum” in Creep), I had a desire to visit that country. So far, I’ve been twice!

What do you love most about your creativity?

I feel like I’m creating a living world, bringing an entire universe into existence. Whenever I write a character, monster, or planet, I breathe life into them. Creativity allows me to play “god” in some way. Sometimes I believe that when the story is published, the world I created comes alive in some alternate reality. It’s silly, but that’s what creativity does to me.

Connect with Charles:

https://www.facebook.com/CharlesCthulhu

https://www.instagram.com/cthulhudawn1979/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/charles-reis

Sara A. Mosier—Author and Poet

Sara Mosier is a Nebraska author and poet, who received her BA in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her writing focus is fiction and poetry, which she enjoys typing on an old 1950’s typewriter. She has poetry published in several issues of Laurus Magazine, Cocky-Tales anthology, and University of Nebraska Press’s 75th Anniversary edition of “Voices of Nebraska.” Her romantic short stories “Sparkling Human Conundrum” and “Summer Dilemma” can be found in the anthologies Love Dust and Salty Tales on Amazon. She was also recently published for her short drabbles in Oceans by Black Hare Press

Tell me about your writing process: schedule, environment, inspirations, magic spells, etc.

My schedule for writing varies; it all depends on when my muse strikes, but I would have to say that it’s mainly during the evening when my house is quiet. My inspirations comes from other books, poetry, and music. Music is probably my main source of inspiration, because I can hear a chorus and see an entire scene in my head. Troye Sivan has been a great writing tool as of late, given that the majority of what I write is m/m LGBTQ fiction.

Walk me through your submission / publishing process from “final” draft to final product, including who does what when, and marketing that you do as the author.

I usually always have a beta reader look over my work after I’ve combed over it a thousand times. I have three people who are my go-to betas: Jensen Reed, Melissa Snell, and Olivia London. They have helped me with countless short stories that I’ve seen published—that includes over-all plot and grammar. As to my marketing techniques, I promote on Facebook and my Instagram. Just recently I started a tumblr as well.

Talk about your support system online and IRL; who are your biggest cheerleaders? I mentioned all my betas in the previous question—they really are my biggest cheerleaders. Also my sibling Caleb and sister Jenna always read my short fiction. My Dad, although he’s not a fan of queer fiction (lol), has read all my published works, and I really appreciate that more than he knows.

How does life influence your writing and vice versa?

Well, things have been pretty stagnant lately while being in quarantine, but people I meet and talk to influence the shaping of characters. I tend to people-watch at coffee shops, parks, etc.

What do you love most about your creativity?

What I love more than anything is when an idea pops into my head so suddenly and so fully that I get butterflies in my stomach. When a character comes to life right off the page and I feel as though they’re a real person that I created—it’s the best feeling when that happens—also when I dream up locations and I can see them clearly in my mind’s eye.

Connect with :

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

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/Sara_Mosier

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Sara-Mosier

Instagram: Sissy1031

Micah Castle— Weird Fiction and Horror Writer

Micah Castle is a weird fiction and horror writer whose work has appeared in various anthologies, magazines, and websites, and currently has three collections available. When away from the keyboard, he enjoys spending his time with his wife, his animals, and his books. With any other free time he may have, he loves aimlessly wandering in the woods.

Tell me about your writing process: schedule, environment, inspirations, magic spells, etc.

My daily schedule is I wake up at 6:30AM, spend about an hour letting the two dogs out, making (decaf, unfortunately) coffee, eating breakfast, checking social media—essentially getting everything out of the way and out of my system before 7:30AM when I begin writing. From then until 9:00AM, I write or revise whatever I’m working on that day: a story, a writing prompt, a novella, etc. After 9:00AM, there’s no more writing until the following morning. Though I may get an inkling of a potential story throughout the day, which I jot down in the Google Keep app, but I won’t flesh it out until my current work is finished.

Most of my work is heavily inspired by nature: forests, flowers, mountains, stones, etc. Nature is extremely important to me, and I love my time in it and being outside. Unfortunately, I don’t get enough of it, so if possible, I typically will place a story within nature or it’ll incorporate nature in some way.

Walk me through your submission / publishing process from “final” draft to final product, including who does what when, and marketing that you do as the author.

For a short story, I will revise it about three times before I’ll consider it “finished” (though, no story ever is, is it?). The first revision will be about a week after the first draft, the second about two weeks after that, and the third about a month from the second revision. I’ve found distancing myself from my work helps me see it with fresh eyes each time.

For a collection or novel, I’ll revise it also three times, but it’ll go through alpha and/or beta readers, then I’ll revise it about three more times after that, a few weeks to months apart. I’ve been working on a novel for about two years now and I’m finally on the last revision (for now), if that gives you an idea.

I believe the best marketing is word of mouth. Unfortunately, I haven’t had much luck with that. I’ve done Facebook and Amazon ads and those are just beasts that take time and money to tame and master. Facebook, for me, seems to do well if I only want to build my Facebook page audience, instead of directing people to other websites. Amazon ads have done well in the past, but it’s a money sink if you don’t know which keywords are the ones that’ll lead to readers and sales, and the amount you ought to bid for each keyword.

Besides those, I seldomly promote on Twitter and Reddit.

Talk about your support system online and IRL; who are your biggest cheerleaders?

That would be my wife, Nicole. Although she’s not a fan of weird fiction or horror, she has supported me since I started writing, and has no issue with telling anyone who’ll listen that I have stories published or that I write.

How does life influence your writing and vice versa?

Life influences my work sporadically. Obviously spending time in the woods influences my work, but even little things do in ways you wouldn’t think. An argument, grocery shopping, a song lyric—anything at any time can trigger a story idea that may or may not come to fruition.

What do you love most about your creativity?

That I’ve always found it easy to think of story ideas, but that could also be the thing I hate the most of my creativity, because creating a plot for that idea sometimes feels impossible.

Connect with Micah:

https://www.micahcastle.com

https://www.facebook.com/TheMicahCastle

https://twitter.com/micah_castle

https://www.reddit.com/r/MicahCastle/

Freida Kilmari—Fantasy Author and Poet

Freida Kilmari, an author, writer, and editor from south-west England, has been writing and publishing works of fiction and poetry for the last five years, and has found many homes for her pieces over those years, including ‘Advaitum Speaks Literary’, ‘The World Poetry Movement’, ‘Fairy Tales and Folklore Re-Imagined’, and ‘Rejected’. Her debut collection published in February of 2018, Man VS Happiness, and since then she’s been working on worlds of fantasy, magic, poetry, and romance, taking a special interest in LGBTQ+ and mental health representation in literature.

Tell me about your writing process: schedule, environment, inspirations, magic spells, etc.

I’m a messy writer; I have notes written on scraps of paper, edges of napkins, and old shopping lists littered everywhere. It drives my husband mad! But I do have an office where I try to contain most of the madness. There, I’m surrounded by books, inspirational quotes and images, and my project notebook with my ideas jotted down (it’s a Harry Potter notebook, of course). I write whenever and wherever I can; there’s no limit. But I do find myself being more of a nighttime writer, when the house is silent and my imagination can run wild. There’s something about a quiet, happy, peaceful house that I find magically inspiring, like witching hour for writers.

Walk me through your submission / publishing process from “final” draft to final product, including who does what when, and marketing that you do as the author.

I have a rigorous process for my writing. When writing the first draft, the main thing is that I get the words onto the paper and keep a small notebook handy for things that will help when revising, but once I’m finished I put it away. Usually for two-three months. Before I print it off and do a read-through on paper, where I doodle, note-take, and red-pen the entire thing. After applying those edits and going through the digital copy a few more times, I hand it over to my beta readers, who are great at both encouraging and critiquing. They’re always my first fans. I apply their feedback where appropriate and then run it through ProWriting Aid before submitting to my proofreader. It’s a huge process, and the editing usually takes twice as long as the writing.

LISTEN TO A STORY BY FREIDA KILMARI AT ADVAITAM SPEAKS LITERARY

Talk about your support system online and IRL; who are your biggest cheerleaders?

I’m quite a solo writer—I much prefer being my own cheerleader. But I’ve always been quite an internal person who prefers their own company to that of others. However, that means I can often get un-confident and self-conscious of my work, but I always pick myself back up. I do have some amazingly supportive friends, and my husband will sit for hours and listen to my plots, characters, and world ideas, and ask questions, poke holes, and be the most amazing support system. I’m part of a lot of writing circles and critique groups online, too, and I’ve found that support from people who, like me, are writers, is vital to my process. As great as my friends and husband are, sometimes I need the opinions of other writers.

How does life influence your writing and vice versa?

It does and it doesn’t. On the one hand, I’m mostly a fantasy author, so I write things that are supposed to be farfetched and not similar to life, but on the other hand, I’m a big supporter of including LGBTQ+ characters in my stories (whether the main character/s or not), and I guess that’s influenced by the largely heteronormative stance literature seems to take. I also like including mental health representation in my writing, which is what a lot of my poetry is about—that’s been influenced by my own life experiences. I used to feel so alone, and I think if I could have read characters who suffered like I did, it would have helped make me feel more ‘normal’, and less like I was failing as a human being.

Writing is one of the most important aspects of my life; I wouldn’t be here today without it.

What do you love most about your creativity?

I love those moments when you latch onto an idea and let it pull you away into the dead of night, and you can’t stop your fingers from typing out the movie you’re seeing in your head—even if you wanted to. It’s like, for that moment, you’re living an extraordinary life, and you get to watch your characters mess up, cry, laugh, and cause world-ending disasters all on their own. And knowing that it’s coming from my head, my thoughts . . . it’s like watching a personalized movie that’s writing itself as it plays.

Connect with Freida:

https://eannawebb.wixsite.com/freidakilmari

https://www.amazon.com/Freida-Kilmari

https://www.goodreads.com/Freida_Kilmari

https://allpoetry.com/Freida_Kilmari

https://uk.linkedin.com/in/eanna-roberts-aka-freida-kilmari-76157290

https://www.facebook.com/pg/penmanshipediting/

Melissa Sell—Author

Melissa has written many short stories, novels, and poems, but her favorite creations are the ones who call her “Mama.” The mother of four was born and raised in Kentucky, residing in the city of Louisville, and is married to her favorite nerd. When not writing she loves to beta read for fellow authors, bake delicious treats, and watch Doctor Who.

Tell me about your writing process: schedule, environment, inspirations, magic spells, etc., and how you track character development, logistics, and details throughout a series.

My writing schedule is more of moment stealing adventures. Usually when the kids are asleep, or busy with a craft, is when I find my writing moments. My bedroom is my main writing area, and usually on my bed, with either music playing, or I have the TV streaming one of my fave shows for background noise.

Dreams and music give me the most inspiration, and I do keep a journal for all the ideas they inspire. Sometimes it’s just a scene, a specific character, or even one line of dialogue. I keep a separate and detailed notebook for every story. It starts with the full synopsis and then goes into each chapter and what will happen within them. I have a binder with character names, (some are used and some aren’t) and their backgrounds. Anytime I see or hear a name I like, I add it to my collection for further use.

As for magic spells…lol, well, you’d have to get your hands on my Book of Shadows for those. 😉

Walk me through your submission / publishing process from “final” draft to final product, including who does what when, and marketing that you do as the author.

For Stormy Island Publishing—it’s a team effort in a rotating process. (We have taken a break from the company during this time and hope to resume once life has calmed down.) We read submissions when we were able. During free time we read submissions. All submissions were download to a site we have in order to read and vote on them without knowing who wrote them. This goes for our own stories if we chose to submit something. You have to get the majority of votes to pass through to the next round. Decisions were based on plot first, so we read them as a reader not a publisher. Once we narrowed those down, we read them as editors. Something authors overlook more often than not is the editing part. There were submissions we didn’t accept because they contained major editing issues and as much as we may have liked the story, editing it would have taken major work. If the story was strong enough, we would invest the extra editing time. All editing takes a lot of time and slows the process down quite a bit when a story doesn’t read well. There are authors that can make that process difficult, and as an author I understand why that can be, however, good editors won’t change your story or your voice; they will help you build it instead.

One rule we have at Stormy is if you edited a piece for submission you can’t vote on it which keeps it from being biased.

Three of us at SIP are editors, so we all look them over to be sure we catch as much as possible. Sometimes those pesky mistakes still make it through—no one is perfect—and that’s okay; you just go over it again.

I hate editing my own work since, as all authors know, you read what you think you wrote and not what is actually there. A couple decades ago, when I was in my early teens, I met a local romance author. She was the mother of a friend of mine and a delightful lady. She told me to write the story and put it away for at least a month. Forget about it and go back to it only when you can’t remember all its contents. Reading it after that time is like reading it for the first time and if you don’t love it, either scrap it or fix it. Repeat the process until you have something you feel is great.

I still do this. However, I prefer to have my computer read it to me. Reading aloud or by text speech option on your computer is a great tool to use when editing for yourself. You catch a lot during this process. I’m not one of those authors who gets offended by critique, because honestly, in this business you need a thick skin, or you’ll crumble. I’ve worked with the public for decades so not much bothers me, and I know not to take anything personally. It’s important to know you will never please everyone and it’s okay. If you love it then it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. Also, it’s a good reason to be thankful for online publishing places such as Amazon.

I edit for authors and others in my own side business as well. I do love helping people with their work. I have a couple regulars who come to me when they have submissions they want tightened up before they send it off. I love that they also keep me informed when the work is accepted or rejected. You become a part of their world and that’s my favorite part of it all!

Marketing is very time consuming for all areas. My author friends, family members, and followers share my posts as much as they can. I post things in groups on shareable days and on other pages where I’m able. Whenever I see an opportunity to share, I do it. I had more luck doing local advertising, but now, with the virus, things have changed. I have put books in little book-nooks here and there for free reading since exposure is key. Put yourself in every area you are able, even if you think nothing will come of it, do it anyway.

Talk about your support system online and IRL; who are your biggest cheerleaders?

Online I have several author friends who are absolutely amazing! Honestly, if we lived closer to one another we would most likely cause a lot of chaos. Lol. They are wonderful to bounce ideas around with and I love their honesty when it comes to what they do or don’t like about a story.

At home, I have a longtime friend that reads everything I write and so does my mother-in law. I know I can send them stuff and ask their opinion and get an honest answer. They are big cheerleaders for me and advertise my work as often as they are able. I appreciate them more than they know.

How does life influence your writing and vice versa?

I’ve had a semi-interesting life according to my oldest child, and so there are experiences I have incorporated into my work. Sounds odd since most of my stories are fantasy, but it’s true. The Chronicles of Fey started as a dream and is the same dream my main character, Kesta, has in the first chapter. Her name is also from the same dream. Writing is my therapy. I’ve always loved to read, but writing has been a passion since I was in elementary school. No matter what type of day I have had I can write and feel 100% better afterwards. It centers my mind and calms my soul. It relaxes me more than a glass of wine does. It was my escape as a child, just like reading, and always will be.

What do you love most about your creativity?

I love the way you can create something that evokes emotions in someone else. I cried writing a scene in Death’s Door and I know several who read it cried at that same scene—not that I enjoy making people cry (lol), maybe a little, but knowing they felt what I did is rather remarkable. Authors are all a part of their story and reading their work is just like reading their spirit. It was once said we open our hearts and bleed on the pages, and it’s true. I write mainly for myself, since I need to get it out of my head, but I love sharing my world of words with others. If I’ve made some smile, or brightened someone’s day with my work, well, then that’s all its about, isn’t it? 😊

Connect with Melissa:

https://www.melissawillissell.com/

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Friday Flash Fiction: The Beast

She was just a girl.

With a trust fund none knew about.

A girl born into the wrong time.

I should have lived in Victorian America, when melancholy was in high fashion—she’d whisper as I lay spooned around her. More often than not, I found her curled up in bed, staring at the wall. Only I witnessed her bravery in rising after days of feeling like nothing. She remained alive by sheer will.

And my cooking. I loved to cook for her. She ate everything and delighted in it, even when the beast held her tighter than I ever could. Food comforted her, and kept her alive, if not lively.

She rarely left her little home overlooking the river. The little house hung like an afterthought upon the bluff, threatening to come unmoored at any moment and tumble into the river. Incredibly, she worried not at all about the inevitable possibility. Her reason—This house will fall when I’m ready.

I love this house—she said quietly—Did you know it used to be a hermitage before this area was developed? I did, but shook my head, encouraging her to continue with the story about our local river king, whom most called a saint for the miraculous happenings during his time in this home.

Susurrations of gossip followed her through town as she walked, head up, eyes straightforward, never lingering to purchase anything beyond necessities.

Until I followed her home one day and she invited me in as though she were expecting me. From that day on, I made her purchases along with my own, but nothing staved off the beast, her modern day melancholy. The conversation that first day immersed us in an ongoing dialogue of slightly differing philosophies and worldviews, with matching intellectual curiosities. Love blossomed that day.

I saw it happen.

On my way up the switchbacks with an angelfood cake and a handful of wildflowers, the ground trembled. A cracked formed on the edge of the bluff just under the overhanging edge of the house. It shook, and slowly shifted downward.

Until it tumbled and slid down into the river. A hand may have appeared out the window. Perhaps not.

There’s no explanation for my continued climb to what was now the top, where I found the beast dangling. It lives in me. I shall not love in that way again.

Rain: A Collection of Short Stories by Steve Carr

From a dystopian Earth of radical climate unlivable for humans, to a ghost exacting payment in the form of a child, these stories will plunge you deep and whip you back up into the air. Carr writes about the human condition while delving into fantasy, science fiction, and psychological horror, bringing readers to the edge and nearly dropping them. Neighbor fears neighbor in a world gone nuclear, an old man brings life back to the soil through magical wind chimes, and a neglected wife flies away on a hummingbird. Carr’s style is intense, lingering with readers. I highly recommend all of his books.