All posts by laelbr5_wp

Flash Fiction Friday: Reading Books

Today I’m a ghost sister of a girl destined to become a taxidermist. Yesterday I was a fox spirit assisting a Chinese girl left behind by her mother. Previously, I’ve been the autistic son of a robot, the little sister kidnapped in 16th century Huguenot France, a child turned into a devil elf by an evil santa, and a baby born blue in Appalachia, Kentucky, amongst others. Always the sidekick, never the main character. If only I could get out of this Kindle.

Caitlin Cording—Short Story Author and YA Novelist

Caitlin Cording wants to live in a world where love letters are always handwritten, ice cream vans come round in the winter, and watching funny cat videos online every day is a legal requirement.

From the foot-swelling world of retail, to the back-aching world of call centres, Caitlin has worked a variety of jobs. She began her writing carer by posting her work on Wattpad under a pseudonym. Now having had a number of short stories published within anthologies and literary magazines, as well as securing a first place within an international competition, she is working on her debut novel for young adults.

Describe your writing process: schedule, environment, inspirations, etc.

I write the first two drafts of anything in my voice, then I channel the character whose POV it is, and rewrite it using their voice (far more interesting.) My debut novel is written from the POV of a 15-year-old pickpocket/graffiti artist from south London and, boy am I having fun with it!

In terms of environment, I began writing at a time when my commute to work and back took a total of four hours each day. I’d sit in bus stops in December with trembling hands and numb fingers, jabbing out flash fictions on my Smartphone. Nowadays, I prefer to write indoors (usually while sitting on my sofa sipping coffee.)

As far as inspiration goes, I’m afraid my answer is cliché: books, music and art. There’s just something about appreciating another artist’s work that makes my creative juices spit and sizzle!

Tell me your submission and marketing strategies.

At the moment I’m focusing on my debut novel, so I’ve been a tad neglectful on the marketing front lately, but usually I book blog on Instagram and shout about my new publications on my Facebook page. I also have an email list and make a point of mentioning my publications to everyone I meet, and by mention I mean, I snatch their phone from them, bring up the links and force them to read out loud! 🤣

In terms of submissions, I always make a point of reading the magazine/anthology to determine whether my style/stories are a good fit for the publication. I also double-check the guidelines, find out the name of the editor-in-chief to address the submission to, oh, and make sure I personalize every cover letter.

Talk about your support system online and IRL, especially your biggest cheerleaders.

Oh wow, there are so many!

I love my real life writers group, especially our monthly open mic nights! I’m also a big fan of the Fiction Writing, Writers Helping Writers, and Inner Circle Writers Facebook

Groups—they’re the platforms through which I’ve met some of my greatest beta readers.

I’ve been lucky enough to converse with many best-selling authors online too, but I have to say, author of On a Scale of One to Ten,Ceylan Scott gave me a massive boost of confidence when she gave me a fantastic review of my short story, “The Art of Deception.”

A little while ago, Redixon Photography asked to interview me regarding my short story, “No Regrets,” which was a great honor. http://www.roguesportal.com/caitlin-cording-interview-one-of-those-writersofintagram/

But most of all, I’d say my biggest cheerleaders are my readers, particularly the ones who regularly reviewed my earliest work on Wattpad. They are the people who gave me belief in myself to persue this career.

How does life influence your writing and vice versa?

I suffered a lot of abuse as a child/teenager; I was in foster care and have spent time in psychiatric wards. I now volunteer at a homeless shelter and work with young people in foster care. All that stuff has shaped who I am as a writer. I like to get down and dirty, expose taboos, and be bold when talking about the nitty, gritty subjects.

What do you love most about your creativity?

It’s a great excuse to get crazy and writing is cathartic!

Connect with Caitlin:

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Random Acts of Kindness: Inspiring True Stories by Dete Meserve and Rachel Greco

A movie producer / author and a journalist collaborated to find uplifting stories of real life kindnesses, the author inspired by the journalist’s Good Sam story about a stranger buying a van for a single mom. The tales of compassion and giving are divided into thematic chapters: Kindness at Any Age, Finding Purpose Through Kindness, Connecting to Others Through Kindness, Unique Ways of Showing Kindness, and Kindness Movements. The Good Sams come in all ages, from children to seniors, answer requests or volunteer where needs are seen, and give from their hearts with no expectations, building unexpected relationships, businesses, and movements. From a 9-year-old inventor to a 100-year-old seamstress, from an interior designer to a farmer, from a veteran to a veterinarian, from bikers to a college student, individuals give back to their community. It’s a definite must-read book of heartwarming humanity. Those seeking the goodness in people will find it here. I was fortunate to receive this wonderful book of true-life stories of compassion in a giveaway.

Friday Flash Fiction: Eule

Every evening, Eule slipped gently from the hologram of herself at the entrance to the library, through the thick walls that spoke of multitudes of events, to her beloved books. First to the classics for which her heart had burned from their beginnings. Then on to the newest, soaring through the stacks, absorbing the latest tales from modernity. If any human ever, in her centuries of guarding the library entrance, thought to ask of her what was inside, she could have told them exactly, but that would take centuries.

Brian Paone—Author, Editor, & Publishing Company Owner (Scout Media)

Brian Paone was born and raised in the Salem, Massachusetts area. Brian has, thus far, published five novels: Dreams Are Unfinished Thoughts—a memoir about being friends with a drug-addicted rock star; Welcome to Parkview—a macabre cerebral-horror novel; Yours Truly, 2095—a time-travel romance novel (which was suggested for a Hugo Award, though it did not make the finalists); and Moonlight City Drive Part 1 & 2—a supernatural crime-noir detective trilogy (with Part 3 coming in 2021).

Brian currently lives in Monterey, CA with his wife—a US Naval Officer—and their four children. He is a retired police officer and worked in law enforcement for sixteen years from 2002 – 2018.

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

I’ve published 4 novels, and my typical day during the writing of each book was totally different from each other.

When I was writing my first book, Dreams Are Unfinished Thoughts, I was in the middle of moving from MA to GA, changing police departments, and recording an album with my band, Transpose. So, a typical day would be: getting everything done first for the move, switching jobs, the recording studio, and whatever time was left at night: working on the book. We also didn’t have any kids yet.

With my second novel, Welcome to Parkview, my wife had been deployed to Djibouti and I was working full time at the police department in GA, and we had 2 kids now. So, I was alone without my wife, with 2 toddlers, and working full time. My day would be: getting the kids to day-care, go work fighting crime for 8 hours, picking the kids up and doing whatever household chores I had to do (laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping etc.), feeding the kids dinner and putting them to bed around 6:30, then I would work out for an hour, and then I would work on Welcome to Parkview after I showered until whenever I passed out at my laptop.

With my third novel, Yours Truly. 2095, the Navy had sent us to Japan for the next 4 years. I had to take a leave of absence at the police department, and we moved the family there. I did not get a job right away, as my wife wanted me to be the stay at home parent during our time in Japan (I did eventually become a Criminal Justice professor for the college on base, but that’s irrelevant to the book.) We moved in November 2011 and by January 2012 I was itching to write. For the first time, I had the TIME to write, and not having to worry about a new job, moving, or wiping poopy diapers. So, in February 2012, I started my outline, and writing the book was my full-time job for a while. We sent our 2 kids to Japanese Kindergarten (called a Yochien in Japan) and they were gone Monday through Friday from 9:00 to 4:00. I would bring them to the bus stop, wave goodbye, go back up into our apartment, and write until the bus brought them back. It was the first time I could write without distractions, and the first time I was writing not being dead-tired at night after putting in a full day.

Moonlight City Drive (2017, my 4th novel) was the first book where I had a legit writing office. When we moved from Japan to North Carolina, one of the stipulations my wife had on finding a new house was that it would have a writing office for me. One with doors. And a writing desk. And I could decorate it any way I wanted. So that novel was written, for the first time, in a closed-off environment from the distractions of the outside world (and that includes the kids, TV, and normal household noise.) Moonlight City Drive 2 (2019) and my WIP (release schedule Jan 2020) were/are being written here in Monterey, CA where we live now. I have a writing office, but it does not have doors that can keep the outside word, well, outside. So, it’s been slightly more daunting to write while we’ve been here. We are moving to Virginia in April, and it appears I should have a proper writing office again there (a room with doors, halleluiah). So what I have learned is that I can certainly write in a space that is not segregated from the rest of the house, but I am far more productive when I have a written office where there is a piece of glass or a slab of wood separating me from the real world.

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

Every author must find what works for them, so this is less a “how to” answer and more of a “what I do” answer. I start with a super loose outline. My outline may only plot points A, D, G etc because I like to pants points B, C, E, F, H etc. After some semblance of an outline is finished, I write only 2 drafts. First draft is off the cuff, using the outline as a road map. Second draft is my polishing and rewrite any scenes that aren’t working. Then it goes to my editor, Denise Barker. What I receive back is the 3rd and final draft. Then Kari Holloway starts formatting it for publishing, while Amy Hunter and/or Kyle Lechner work on the book cover and any chapter heading illustrations that will be included. After it’s published, I will run some pretty hefty ads on Facebook (targeting very specific audiences) and Amazon.

Talk about your support system online and IRL, especially your biggest cheerleaders.

The Facebook group that I founded in 2016, Fiction Writing, even though is 90k+ members now, we still have a “small community” feel, and I’d like to think we are ALL in each other’s corners. However, my wife is my #1 fan but my biggest critic.

How does life influence your writing and vice versa, including founding and maintaining a publishing company and a Facebook writers group?

I would say music influences my writing more than life. Writing is my escape, and even though I write about very human things, I tend to completely remove myself from real life when I write. My publishing company, Scout Media, has been around since 2013, and we were told by many people that we were going to fail and wouldn’t survive. Funny because almost everyone who said that have closed their doors and no longer exist as presses. I run the company the same way I treat my family: respectful, nurturing, and wanting the best for all parties involved.

What do you love most about your creativity?I love being able to take a few lines of lyric from a favorite song and watch an entire rt or chapter of a novel grow from it.

I love being able to take a few lines of lyric from a favorite song and watch an entire short story or chapter of a novel grow from it.

Author Extra: I know you’re reticent to discuss it, but we’d all like to hear about your DeLorean! You’re the only person I know who owns one, and I followed her progress on the way to her new home. Plus, as a Gen X, I love that movie and MJF.

Ha! Yep, it’s been a lifelong dream of mine, and after about 15 years of serious and hardcore searching, I found one for sale in Michigan, within my price range. The day will live in infamy. It was January 31, 2019. My wife had come home from work and was brushing her teeth, getting ready for bed. I explained I had found a DeLorean for sale in MI, and her reply was that if I had enough money in my book royalty account to pay for it, then make the call in the morning. And I did. So, for all of you out there who have your sights set on a lifelong dream, just know that little ol’ me was able to pay CASH for a 1981 DeLorean with only 17,500 miles on it, 100% from book royalty money from the previous 2 years of sales.

Connect with Brian:

www.BrianPaone.com

www.facebook.com/BrianPaonesNovels

author.to/BrianPaone

The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

Sylvie, Sam, and Jules are summoned, along with their boss Vincent, to a meeting in a remote office still under construction, with no explanation, and no knowledge of who the summoner might be. Following directions, they ride the elevator up, but it stops and the display gives clues to the summoner and instructions in riddle format to escape the elevator. The anonymous summoner has no idea the volatile emotions these four feel for each other. Goldin starts the story off a bit slowly, but builds tension quickly with integrated flashbacks in this scathing take on how corporate Wall Street destroys people. Filling in Dear Reader on their backgrounds invokes sympathy for these unlikable characters, and the end is a gasping surprise. Fans of Liane Moriarty will appreciate this story. I was fortunate to receive a copy from St. Martin’s Press through NetGalley.

Jack Rollins—Author

Jack Rollins was born and raised among the twisting cobbled streets and lanes, ruined forts and rolling moors of rural Northumberland, England in 1980. He is the author of the horror novel The Cabinet of Doctor Blessing, the novella The Séance and a range of short , dark fiction tales. Jack lives in Newcastle, England.

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

I have no hard and fast rules when it comes to writing. I’m not one of those 1,000 words a day writers. I wish I was, but life gets in the way. I have bills to pay and my writing won’t yet cover them, and I have children, who wait for nobody and nothing. I think, in fact, hearing some writers talk about their daily word counts actually puts me off writing in some ways—as though I needed to wait until I was in a position to hit that target before I could consider myself a ‘proper writer.’ The truth is, that perfect set of circumstances may never land for me.

So I write whenever and wherever I can. Lately I have been feeling really inspired and energized, and working in my shop enables me plenty of time between customers, to plan, plot, prepare, and ultimately piece together my current work-in-progress. And yes, it can be annoying if I get on a roll and have to stop because a delivery of new stock has to be checked and merchandised, but I have to get on with it and come back to the story because by the time my working day has finished, you can guarantee I’ll be sprawled across my couch, not in any fit state to write another word.

Walk me through your publishing process from “final” draft to final product, including who does what when, and marketing strategies.

I have a few trusted individuals, who are writers, to whom I send my work. One of these writers has known me almost twenty years as I sit here. He knows my style, knows how I say what I want to say, and he especially can help me get to the core of what I’m looking to bring out for the reader.

Once it looks as though we can’t thrash anything more out of the book, then it’s time to put it together. In the case of physical copies of the book, I have learned a great deal over the years about typesetting and formatting a novel properly to ensure a quality product—well laid out and comfortable on the eyes—is produced. The story could be the best thing ever written, but if the typesetting is awful, then who will take the time to read it?

In terms of marketing, I’ve enjoyed some online book launch parties. I found them effective ways of engaging with some readers, but right now, my aim is to be more prolific. I need more stories out there now. I need to reward the loyalty of the readers who have stayed with me, and if I’m able to do that, then hopefully, new readers will join the fold.

I’m not foolish enough to believe it’s some Field of Dreams’ “Write it and they will come” situation. But right now at this stage of my career, with the lengthy break I’ve had between finished projects, I feel the important thing is to look after the readers I’ve already gained. They are, after all, looking out for me.

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

In real life, I know I have the support of my brothers and parents. They like to know that I’m being creative even if what I write doesn’t always appeal to them.

And I need to be honest here, Lael. I haven’t needed a lot of support with the creativity because up until recently, I’ve been fighting battles that completely took me away from my writing. So when I decided enough was enough, and I needed to get back to my old self now that life is settling down again, the first thing I did was write a blog post, almost a letter of apology to the readers who had enjoyed what I’d written previously. And the response I got from that post, in terms of comments, Facebook messages, text messages and all the rest of it, was really uplifting in one sense, and a kick in the balls in another. Uplifting because it was great to know that people are out there rooting for me, and will still get excited when I produce the next piece of work. A kick in the balls because I knew I had to live up to them. That, as a writer, if I do nothing to entertain these loyal readers, then I don’t deserve to have them in my corner. All of that reinforced the positive changes I had made in my life, and I resolved to make creativity a major part of my life once more. Those readers, some of them are individuals I’ve met, or exchanged messages and emails with over time, and that means something to me. My creative output is what connects me to them and because I want to keep that connection to these people who are important to me, I’d better create something to refresh and strengthen our bond.

Beyond that, there is one particular writer in the horror field, and I don’t know if I should name him here. He’s carved out a reputation and persona as one who just doesn’t give a fiddler’s fuck about anything, a bit of a Monster, a bit of a Sick Bastard. But what I came to know about him is, he really is a very caring person, he just doesn’t make a big show of doing it publicly. In my darkest times, periodically I’d get a message from him like, “You said this on Facebook, but I can tell something’s not right.” And I didn’t know how the hell he could read the situation, given I had only met him twice at that time he first called it. But he got it and it turns out he can spot your dark thoughts from 500 miles away, because he’s had them all. All of them and more. And deeper, and for longer. And so every now and then we drop each other a message or a quick call, and I just hope some of those times I give him even one percent of the courage and support he gives me.

What brought you to horror, and how does life influence your writing and vice versa?

As a teenager, when I discovered that I wanted to write fiction, it wasn’t necessarily horror that I wanted to write. I knocked out childish Tarantino-influenced gangster stories and a couple of futuristic tales that did really have their roots in horror. There were just stories and characters swimming around in my head; one of those stories is in fact being reconstructed in my current work-in -progress, and it wasn’t until I read some James Herbert novels that I realized what I was writing would sit in the horror section at W. H. Smith’s. Now I suppose we would think of that particular story more as urban fantasy, but it opened my mind to the fact that the horror genre was vast and has many alleys and corners with a million different types of story scattered throughout.

The horror that I try to capture for my readers is a deep feeling of unease. I remember my ex-partner’s mother reading Doctor Blessing’s Curse (the first part of The Cabinet of Doctor Blessing) and she said she had to put it down. There was nothing gory in there to offend her—not really, anyway. But what she described to me as being her issue was something else entirely. Doctor Blessing’s reaction to the creature he discovers, his almost paternal protection of it, made the most profound impression on her and left her really quite unnerved. Job done then. That’s a real reaction, triggered by something completely fictional and weird. So I think to take those fantastical elements, and handle them with real emotion, can elicit the best response from a reader. I’m not so much frightened by things in life, but I can find myself with a deep sense of unease about this situation, that person, this area, that mindset, or whatever. And we’re all built with very similar instincts hardwired into our bodies, aren’t we? The old fight-or-flight survival instinct. So if I can pluck the strings that set my nerves off just right, there’s a fair to good chance it could get a reaction from you.

Then on the other hand, there is one fun way that my fiction has influenced my life. I opened a business with one of my brothers a few years ago, selling geek merch and comics and all that. We called the business Carsun’s Bazaar, which is the name of the main character’s geek merch and headshop in my current work-in-progress. Carsun’s Bazaar in real life is almost entirely gone now, but I can see a way to bring some part of it back, yet that’s something for the future.

What do you love most about your creativity?

I have a vivid and active imagination, and that creative nature comes in handy, especially as I have two young sons. When we break out the action figures and play together, we get to play out these blockbuster plots that would put those DC movies to shame. If we’re drawing or painting, I can help set a little idea off that the boys can run away with and make their own. And then, for myself, creativity is I suppose an emotional outlet. Right now, the outlet feels great; I’m processing the vast changes I’ve undergone in my life over the past year or so, and now I get to hopefully take all the emotional experience and redirect it into something satisfying that will hopefully entertain others. Problem is, the pendulum swings both ways and the creative, productive heights never last as long as I would love for them to… and then comes the sickening feeling as I hit the apex and feel all that potential energy shift right before I swing in the opposite direction…

Connect with Jack:

Goodreads

Amazon

Facebook

Facebook Author Page

Website

Amy Impellizzeri—Award-winning Author

Amy Impellizzeri is a reformed corporate litigator, former start-up executive, and award-winning author of fiction and non-fiction. Amy’s novels have won accolades including INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards, National Indie Excellence Awards, and she has made the Finalist list for the STAR Award for Published Women’s Fiction. Amy’s fourth novel, Why We Lie, released March 5, 2019, and has been featured in Publisher’s Weekly and lauded by early reviewers as “timely” and “thought-provoking.”

She is a past President of the Women’s Fiction Writer’s Association, a 2018 Writer-In-Residence at Ms.-JD.org, and a frequently invited speaker at legal conferences and writing workshops across the country.

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

My writing process is, in a word, fluid. I spend as much time thinking about my current work in progress as I do writing. I try to write every day and as deadlines approach, I try to write 5,000-7,500 words per week. But mostly, I try to live with my characters and my scenes so that the words on the page will be organic and cohesive. At least that’s the goal!

My inspirations come from everywhere. I like to imagine the story behind every news article I read and person I meet. I am also a big people watcher! I love to observe interactions around me and imagine what came before and what comes next.

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

My “final” draft is usually the result of several years of drafting, workshopping, and editing by a developmental editor, a few trusted beta readers, and agent input.

After my publisher reads, we go through a few more rounds of edits, including copy edits, and then we start submitting for trade reviews and early blogger / reviewer reads.

The head of my publishing house, Nancy Cleary, of Wyatt-MacKenzie, is extremely hands-on when it comes to early / industry marketing, and has taught me so much about how to get my books into the hands of early and enthusiastic readers. The more buzz you can generate as your pub day approaches, the better!

Talk about your support system online and IRL, especially your biggest cheerleaders and about being a Tall Poppy.

Transitioning from litigator to novelist, the sisterhood of support I’ve received from fellow writers has been invaluable. I assure you there were no Tall Poppy lawyers! Seriously, though, without the Tall Poppy sisterhood, I’d still be traveling in the dark in this industry. So much is shrouded in secrecy and is just simply unknown. The generosity and shared experience among the Tall Poppies is amazing.

How does life influence your writing and vice versa?

For me, there is tremendous synergy between real life and the stories I tell. My books usually explore questions I’m grappling with in real life. The writing helps me answer those questions and usually leads to many more!

What do you love most about your creativity?

Well, like all writers, it’s a multi-layered thing. Not always accessible and beloved! But I love the writing process, and the creation of a full story from only an idea still excites me. I’d write even if no one was reading, but I’m grateful that my stories have found enthusiastic readers so far!

Connect with Amy:

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

www.amyimpellizzeri.com

The Lost Night by Andrea Bartz

After an old friend jumpstarts Lindsay’s imagination, she investigates what really happened the night her best friend Edie died. Her drunken blackouts had prevented her from questioning the official ruling of suicide, though inconsistencies niggled at her. As Edie’s friend, Lindsay had been a fifth wheel to her roommates, but partied hard along with them in their ramshackle rooming house filled with other 20-somethings, some of them musicians whose bands played there, where drugs flowed freely. Personalities clashed, emotions swelled, and friendships ebbed and flowed, until Edie was found dead by a roommate. Ten years later, Lindsay faces her fears to find out the truth. Bartz presents an unreliable narrator and unsympathetic character so well Dear Reader roots for her when she ends up in an impossible situation. Fans of The Wife Between Us, Something in the Water, and Bring Me Back will appreciate this suspense thriller. I was fortunate to receive a digital copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

The Best Wife

I’m the best wife—Sarah told her mother—I take good care of Stanley, like you took good care of me. We learn the best techniques from our parents, darling—her mother responded—I’m glad you were paying attention. Sarah hung up with a smile, reminiscing on all the hospital trips, treatments, and medications throughout her childhood. As a result, she was a healthy adult, healthier than Stanley, who suffered chronic neck, back, and knee pain, not to mention the migraines and heel issues. Before he came home, she went to her closet and pulled down the shoe box that held the Flat Stanley her son had sent out for adventure as a school project. The idea had hit her when it was eventually returned. She pushed it down farther onto the leaf’s thorns. Stanley would need extra attention tonight. Sarah would baby him with a back rub, forehead kisses, and a special dinner brought to him in his chair. She was such a good wife.