Tag Archives: author

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

Jade Cinders—Author, Poet, Founder of Facebook’s Writing Bad

Tell me about your writing process, including schedule, environment, and inspirations material and abstract.

Now that I’m a student, I write mostly during spring and summer breaks. I call these my “on” periods. During my “on” periods, I have a rigid schedule: work, gym, dinner, 1 hour writing, and then 1 hour reading (though, I often read for longer). During my “off” periods, I’ve been trying to introduce a simple 500 words a day to maintain momentum without interfering with my school work.

As for environment, I write in my bedroom on my laptop while sitting on my bed. I know, super classy. I live in a small apartment, so there’s not a lot of options, and this is the most comfortable spot to me.

I find my inspiration from everywhere, but my favorite source of inspiration is real life. I read a lot of news, history, mythology, and true life stories—and when I read these I get ideas for stories. It might just be from a person’s or town’s name, or maybe the local lore of a lake. I find that stuff to be a goldmine of inspiration. For example, I read about an ancient underground city that went seven floors deep that was discovered in the middle east. From that I built a fantasy story of a hidden magical city under San Diego.

Walk me through creating and maintaining Writing Bad.

When I first created Writing Bad, I did so because I was tired of the pretentious belittling I’d see in other writing groups. I would see more developed writers just tearing the newbies apart limb to limb, destroying their self-esteem, and it pissed me off. I wanted to create a group where everybody felt welcome to share their writing, regardless of their skill level. I wanted to ensure we branded the group properly. The colors were black and white, the atmosphere friendly, chill, laid back, edgy cool, with a bite. We weren’t afraid of profanity, and we didn’t censor. We allowed freedom of expression. That was what separated us, and what separates us. The first year I spent every hour checking in on the group. I have had to shift through some admins, though my lead admin Samantha has remained loyal and reliable (couldn’t have done it without her), until we finally reached today’s team. I’m not as involved today as I used to be, or as I’d like to be, but the group has continued to flourish and grow. It’s beautiful to see what it’s become.

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

My biggest support system would be my boyfriend and my lead admin & friend Samantha.

How have life experiences prepared you for writing and how does your art influence your life?

Hmm…I’m just going to say it’s been a journey. A long, crazy journey.

What do you love most about your creativity?

I love that my creativity allows me to see outside the box. I love to read, and I read so many different things. I’m not the type that only reads something that is in line with their beliefs—rather, I enjoy challenging my beliefs. I enjoy challenging the limits. I love reading fiction, nonfiction, politics, science, history, and more. I honestly just love to learn, and the more I learn, the more I love to share what I learn.

Connect with Jade:

Jade Cinders

Facebook

Twitter

So Easy

Ann Garvin—Author, Professor of Health, Mentor

I met Tall Poppy founder Ann Garvin in Bloom. She is approachable, super supportive of other writers, and apparently has amazing stamina. She’s astonishingly friendly and unsurprisingly witty. She’s a Renaissance woman of our times. We’re lucky to have her, really.

Describe your writing process—schedule, environment, techniques / strategies / magic spells, and inspirations material and abstract (what’s in your office? who’s in your head?).

When I’m deep into a book, it’s all I can think about. I get behind on everything. I love to write early in the AM. I get up, get coffee and start to write, and I’m astonished to see how much time passes so quickly. I like quiet, sunshine and my dog at my side. Otherwise I just need a computer and an idea.

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

Oh Lord, it seems like the longest road. And sometimes I don’t know what is happening behind the scenes. Eventually I get the cover idea, which seems like the most fun of the process, as long as I like the art work. Usually I love it. I’ve been lucky. Then it’s a lot of fact checking and proofing and waiting. I spend a fair amount of time figuring out what I’ll do for speaking, promoting, travelling and marketing. I line up readers for early reviews and call bookstores. I dream about what dress I’ll wear to the Oscars after the movie based on my book gets nominated. I write another book. I spend a lot of time hoping and praying.

Tell me about your support system online and IRL, including the steps in founding Tall Poppies and Bloom.

The Tall Poppies are a life saver. They are my tribe, my information base, my support system and my reality check. They really are my number one support system. I have a lot of wonderful non-writer friends, and while they cheer me on, they aren’t part of the publishing world, so don’t know how to help in that regard. I like keeping them a little separate, so that I am reminded that writing isn’t the only thing in my life.

It’s been six years since I started the Tall Poppy Writers and it’s been quite the learning experience. We went from a few writers helping each other to a much more organized system of support across the board. We started with a website, a few authors and a lot of energy, and we are still here today working to lift up women writers wherever we can.

How does your life influence your writing and vice versa?

When my parents died last year I couldn’t do much of anything. My life has been so busy lately and it has slowed my writing down. This year I worked really hard to cut things out and make more room for writing. I’m hoping it worked and I’ll have more books soon.

What do you love most about your creativity?

I love that my impulse is to go kind of zany, but my style is a little more down to earth. I think that is a good place to be. Aim high, but hit a little less out of the park; it lends itself to a more balanced life and story.

Author Extras:

“Listen to Your Mother”

“The Fifth Semester”

Connect with Ann:

Website

Goodreads

Amazon

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

The Fifth Semester

Unreasonable

Jessica Strawser—Writer, Editor, and Speaker

Photo by Corrie Shaffeld

Tell me about your writing process: schedule, environment, strategies / techniques, and inspirations material and abstract.

I’m an organic writer—I think a lot ahead of time about the characters and what my story’s central questions will be, but don’t outline in detail or swear by any particular tools or strategies, beyond reading voraciously, as much as I’m able. I’m very disciplined, with daily and weekly goals, and believe firmly in the power of forward momentum once I get going on a manuscript.

I wrote my first two novels by night, as my babies/toddlers slept, while working a demanding day job as editorial director for Writer’s Digest magazine. Not long after signing the contract for Forget You Know Me, I scaled back my role at the magazine and shifted to writing by day as my primary focus. A writing career involves a fair amount of evenings and weekends for things like book clubs, conferences and festivals, so this is a much more workable focus for my family, which always comes first.

Describe your publishing process, from final draft to final product, including publishing team and timeline. How did your work in the industry prepare you for the writing world as an author?

It’s been a little different for every book, particularly as staffing changes at my publisher have led to a few editorial team transitions, but I’m working at the pace of about a book a year. I refine a draft until I think (hope) it’s close to working as what I envisioned for the story, then get feedback from a few trusted readers and revise yet again before turning it over to my editor. Then comes another round to incorporate the excellent suggestions from her professional eye.

My work in the industry taught me what a team effort publishing is; I have enormous respect for my editors, having been one, and deep gratitude for the efforts of the hardworking support teams—marketing, publicity, design and beyond.

Who are your biggest cheerleaders online and IRL, and how did you get into the Tall Poppies (beyond being an excellent storyteller)?

My family and friends—who’ve seen firsthand my dedication to this craft since long before I ever got published—are my biggest cheerleaders, and their warm support means the world to me.

Also, at the start, were my colleagues at Writer’s Digest—we were all writers with a genuine love for the work we were doing there, and it was humbling to have them so enthusiastically in my corner—as well as a debut author group called 17 Scribes—it was invaluable to be tapped into a network of other authors publishing their first novels in 2017, and many of us remain connected today.

I’d met some of the Tall Poppy Writers through conferences, WD, the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and online, and had admired their collaborative spirit and talented body of work for years; I was elated when they invited me to join.

How does your life influence your writing and vice versa? Please share fun details about being the 2019 Writer-in-Residence for Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

While I don’t write directly from life experiences, of course we all are heavily influenced by the phases of life in which we find ourselves and the beautiful (and not so beautiful) aspects of human nature that turn our heads. I’d find it impossible to separate the two!

It’s a wonderful honor to be serving as the newly minted Writer-in-Residence for the Cincinnati library system this year; it encompasses more than 40 branches, and I’ll doing community engagement with local readers (visiting library branch book clubs and hosting a podcast) as well as aspiring writers (teaching free workshops and holding office hours, for instance).

What do you love most about your creativity?

Through dreaming up a story from pure imagination, somehow, I end up feeling more like me.

Connect with Jessica:

Jessica Strawser

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Amazon

Ruth E. Sharman—Artist, Illustrator, Writer, and Jewelry Designer

Ruth has a dynamic persona online; she’s friendly, smart, and funny, supporting other artists with her wit and wisdom. She also happens to be multi-talented, sharing her writing and artwork on Facebook. Links to connect with her to commission artwork / illustrations are at the end of the interview.

Tell me about your writing process: schedule, environment, inspiration, tools, magic spell, etc.

Sorry, I’m still grinning from ear to ear at the description you’ve given. She sounds pretty amazing, actually. Quite like to meet her.

I started properly writing about two years ago whilst going through a very difficult time in my personal life. I woke up at 4am in the usual panicked state, picked up my phone and began to write a scene which had been hanging around in my head for a while. It started an escape from reality; I discovered that I could immerse myself in the safety of words and the worlds they create. It not only got me through that challenging situation; it secured my way out. The piece I wrote was fan-fiction (Discworld, if you’re wondering), imperfect but a decent story nonetheless. It hooked the interest of a fellow fan who ended up marrying me. Words are important!

After that I tried a sequel, but a story idea I had from twenty years before was rather insistent I get back to it and so, on my daily commute, I would feverishly tap into my phone. It made what was essentially dead time bearable and productive. I would aim for a minimum 200 words a day, but usually made 400+, which wasn’t bad for an hour’s work.

I’m now working from home as an artist, primarily, and this has meant no commute time. I’m still coming to terms with that, and so writing has been a little bit neglected. It’s not that I get writer’s block, but that I get involved in other projects and need to reign myself in every so often! Flash fiction often helps get me back on track and there’s nothing so good as reading to promote the need to write.

I am inspired by anything and everything, but as some wise person once said, write what you know. So, as I’ve had a strong interest in the paranormal since I was very young (I used to think I was a werewolf, but I’m alright nowOOooOOOooo!) and an undying love of comedy, I had to push the two together. My current project is a paranormal comic fantasy mystery novel. Four genres are better than one, right? And so the dark comedy of Pemberton and Shearsmith, combined with all the true crimes and hauntings I’ve read about over the years, have definitely played a part. I also listen to music for inspiration and there are several references to tracks by 80s ska band, ‘The Specials’ and the ‘Fun Boy Three’, although those references are for my enjoyment; the reader may not necessarily spot them.

Describe your art process: similarities / differences to writing process and just how much time, energy, effort, and personal essence goes into each piece.

I describe both writing and painting as ‘flow’ activities in that, when I’m in the process I lose myself and the subconscious takes over for me. I become unaware of my surroundings and totally focused on pinning down what I see either in words or lines. When I write I visualise very strongly and so I see the characters interacting—I see the scene play out in my mind’s eye, hear their voices. It’s like a big game of pretend where I’m in charge of everything, but there is a feeling of really only being a scribe for these imaginary people. When I paint, and it’s predominantly portraiture that I do, I usually have a reference to work from so I’m trying to capture what’s in front of me, but more than that, the spirit of the person I’m replicating. I write about the dead and oddly my subjects are often no longer with us, but whether I’m literally channeling anything I couldn’t say. But again, I think my subconscious picks up on the features or the expression of the subject and seems to know what bits I should downplay or accentuate to put that likeness across. For the time I’m working on it, I pour my whole self into it.

When you let your conscious mind take the backseat it’s a very calming and cathartic experience. It does wonders for mental health and staving off depression and anxiety and you don’t need a prescription from a professional!

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

My husband, Graham, is my biggest cheerleader, although the visual that just inspired will haunt me. He’s not really the build for a leotard and pompoms. If it wasn’t for his encouraging words when I first started writing, I certainly wouldn’t be where I am now. He is in the process of designing, then building, my workshop where I’ll be doing all things creative. At the moment my kitchen table is my studio!

Online I’m predominantly on Facebook as a platform and I love it because, aside from the inevitable bots and trolls, you’re meeting and interacting with real people. Through groups and pages I can explore and share my special interests, as well as test out gags. I’d say half of the jokes in my novel are inspired from my need to outdo others in the witty riposte stakes. All of my commissions have come from Facebook, which again, has been due to my taking part in Inktober and continuing this with a Daily Drawing. Regular content is a must. These aren’t anonymous people—these are actual people and genuine connections which I find infinitely more fulfilling than some of my real life friendships (not you, Louise—my bestie if she’s reading!)

How does your life influence your work (writing / art), and vice versa?

I wrote a story that had two characters fall in love, in the midst of a dramatic backdrop. I was in the midst of a dramatic backdrop in my real life; then a man not unlike the lead stepped in and we fell in love. Thankfully, I didn’t kill either of those characters off because I do think that what we write, whilst inspired by our experiences, can also influence our experiences. I’m weird like that. A specific example is that the climax of my novel is set in a real place, The Secret Nuclear Bunker, which I visited with my husband before we married. It is undoubtedly the most unpleasant place I have ever visited and at some point I’ll need to visit it again for writing purposes. As we were leaving there was a sign on one of the doors that said ‘No Paranormals’ and in my head I heard Geoff (werewolf archivist and anal retentive) say, ‘Well, that’s just prejudiced!’. On the drive home the cogs whirred and by nightfall I had the entire end of the book worked out. Poor Graham then had to listen to this before either of us were going to get any sleep.

As for art, I like painting people because they fascinate me. That sounds as if I am not a person, but faces and expressions and trying to capture that I simply love.

What do you lost most about your creativity?

Love? I am never able to just do nothing. I’ve always got something I’m thinking on, working out, planning to do next. Often before the last project is done…What if this? What if that? The majority of my heroes were creatives and so I’ve spent a lot of time learning about their processes and what drove them to do what they do. Buster Keaton is an unlikely inspiration for my writing, although he was quite a writer himself. I have a character specifically based on him and I’ve really enjoyed the challenge of writing for a character that can’t, the majority of the time, speak. I like those hooks, I wouldn’t call them gimmicks, but I enjoy writing most when I’m restricted. So for instance, having a character literally written into a situation so difficult you wonder how you’ll get them out of it. That’s when we’re at our most creative, when we have limits to work within, so I’ll often self-impose these. It’s a good writing exercise too, like, write a 100 word piece on being a parent without using the words child, kid, responsibility, mother or father; go! Go on, you should try that.

Author Extra: novel-in-progress teaser

Maddie Webb’s life was at a dead end but, for some, being dead is just the beginning. When she inherits the family business she doesn’t bargain on inheriting her late Uncle Stan too. Teaming up with his ghost, a demonic cat, a painfully cool vampire and an anally retentive werewolf, she unwittingly finds a purpose.

WEBB PARANORMAL INVESTIGATIONS: serving the supernatural community. The Devil’s in the details.

Connect with Ruth:

Webb Paranormal Investigations

lovelyruthie@gmail.com

lovelyruthie.etsy.com

lovelyruthieslovelyart

lovelyruthieslovelystuff

Paula D. Ashe—Educator and Writer

 

 

I met Paula through a writerly friend on Facebook. One story of hers and I’m hooked. She graciously agreed to an interview. As a horror fan, I’m delighted to share her work.

 

 

Describe your writing process: schedule, medium, environment, strategies / techniques, and inspirations mental, emotional, and material.

So, I used to be one of those writers who thought she had the luxury of waiting until she was in a certain setting, in a certain mood, with the certainty of uninterrupted hours available, before she could write anything. Then that writer never wrote anything, so now I write whenever I can, provided I’m mentally able to do so. My most recent short story publication was “Exile in Extremis” in the anthology Visions from the Void by Burdizzo Books. I wrote the bulk of the first draft of that story on my phone.

I wish I could tell you I have a schedule, I really do. I will someday.

It’s sweet that you think I have strategies and techniques. I mean, I’m sure I have them, I just am not self-reflective enough as a writer to know what they are.

Inspirations are abundant. I never run out of story ideas, I run out of the energy to tell them. I tend to write about the worst of humanity so, never a paucity of material, you know? Emotionally, I’m inspired by real-life stories that make me hurt. And like any sensitive/damaged person, I experience a pleasurable frisson from exploring that pain. So…a story like “All the Hellish Cruelties of Heaven,” which is about an immortal witch who falls in love with a serial killer (the story is much cooler than I’m making it sound), gave me the chance to play around with figuring out why people—or at least I—have such a fascination with humans who wantonly destroy other humans. It also gave me the opportunity to incrementally articulate the belief system / mythology that has been pocketed in most of my fiction without much fanfare.

Talk me through the publishing process from final draft to final product and selling—who’s involved, what they do, and how much you contribute, especially to marketing.

So the process is basically like this (a flowchart would work exceptionally well here):

– An editor invites me to sub something.

– I review the guidelines, especially the deadline, because I am the slowest writer on planet Earth.

– I scan my ‘stories in progress’ folder, to see if there’s anything I’m working in that fits the anthology’s theme. Rarely do things match up.

– I cogitate.

– I write. I’m sure this is supposed to be more exciting, but it’s just not. But it’s also the most exciting part.

– I inevitably miss the deadline because I’m me.

– I ask for an extension and am usually granted one (read: several).

– I submit the final draft, knowing it’s the final draft only because I’ve prodded that exposed nerve of a tale until it’s a bloodied pulp. All that’s left is the thrill of knowing the story will (likely) go on to intrigue and/or hurt other people. I honestly have no idea why I’m like this and I don’t want to know.

– Rarely, edits are requested. When they are, I generally comply. It’s the only benefit of being the slowest writer on Earth; I tend to do a thorough job of proofreading.

– Publication day! I post about it on social media, predominately Facebook. I’m really terrible at marketing.

– I let the editors ask for reviews because I feel weird asking people to review my work. If they want to read it and review it, they will. This is also why no one knows who I am..????‍♀️

Who’s your support system, online and IRL? Does it shift as you progress from writing to publishing to marketing?

First of all, my wife is amazingly supportive throughout the process. I’m in several FB writing groups that offer support—Colors in Darkness and Ladies of Horror, and individually: Chris Ropes, Brian Barr, Crystal Connor, Suzi Madron, Eden Royce, and Christine Sutton, to name a dear few (I’m forgetting so many people and I’m sorry).

How does your writing influence your life and vice versa? Did this change when you became a mother?

So, I am a maudlin MF (I don’t know if I can curse in this interview…). I have…a multitude of mental illnesses—have had them since adolescence. My worldview is reflective of that. I write terrible stories about terrible people doing terrible things because…that’s how I have (by degrees) experienced the world. Now it’s not all been horrible, but the stuff that lingers…skews towards the dark. So, I love horror. I write horror, I read horror, I watch horror movies, I listen to true horror and true crime podcasts, I listen to dark and violent music (I listen to all sorts of music but there’s a theme here, yeah?).

I am a writer of the ‘nothing is off limits, provided there’s a reason’ variety. I’ve written about childhood sexual abuse, incest, necrophilia (all in one story!), serial killers, hate crimes, infanticide, mutilation, matricide, racism, patricide, ableism, religious cults, genocide, misogyny, xenophobia, etc. However, since my son was born, if I have a story where something…bad…happens to an infant or small child, my brain immediately substitutes him as that infant or small child. So, I have a sequel to “All the Hellish Cruelties of Heaven” in the works titled, “All the Heavenly Mercies of Hell” and something…bad…happens to an infant in that story, and although I’ve had most of the full story in my head for years, I just can’t bring myself to write it.

But I’ll have to.

 

What do you love most about your creativity?

I rarely meet an idea I don’t like. I mean, there are plenty of half-started stories that I’ve abandoned for one reason or another, but there’s always some part of it I can appreciate. For that reason I save everything I write, because it often will work its way into another, more promising tale.

Author Extra: Write a flash fiction piece right now! 50 words, ma’am!

Someday she’ll remember. Now there’s only waiting. For what, she also can’t remember. This dim, cold, aching place has no secrets. Others like her—more patient, smarter—hidden in apartments with devoted lovers. She dosed there in the hall. Alone. Paralyzing pain.

Now she sits. Forgotten and forgetting.

 

Connect with Paula:

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads Author page

Amazon Author page

 

 

A small selection showcasing her talent:

7Magpies anthology

The Witness

Aspects of Emptiness

David Gibbs—Award-Winning Author and Editor

I met David through Storyteller Magazine, for which he was Editor and I was a mere peon volunteer curator, both of us contributors of short stories. David’s tales live in the darkness—we won’t ask where David lives (his website says Cincinnati; seems dubious)…..

but his writing snatches you and drags you, wide-eyed and speechless, into the stories.

He, however, is a super friendly guy, so I wasn’t nervous about asking him for an interview. Links to connect with David come after the interview; check out his uber-user-friendly, gorgeous website, where anthology after anthology showcase David’s talent. The first book of his YA series “Mad Maggie Dupree” comes out June 26!

Tell me about your writing process, including schedule, environment, and inspirations. I love your blog post about the muse being a romantic notion. If you would, explain as well how you transitioned from this magical mythology to your prosaic philosophy of writing.

Well, as with most writers, my process has evolved over time. I used to like plotting and outlining everything before I even began writing my first word. When I’d get stuck plotting or writing, I’d blame my muse, the fickle little minx that she was. I honestly just thought that’s the way the writing process went. I’d have to wait for this mystical thing to whisper the next line or the key point I’d missed in my work.

That all changed a few years ago. I read about “pantsers” or those writers who didn’t plan anything and just wrote from the hip, so to speak. Honestly, I thought it was ridiculous. How could anyone write without planning, without plotting, without doing the leg work first?

Curious, I decided to give it a try and haven’t looked back. My output increased ten-fold and I enjoyed being surprised by the twists and turns the characters gave me. It’s made the process much more fulfilling.

Thought it may sound daunting to writers who are plotters and planners, I fully understand it. The thing is, now that I’m a “pantser” I don’t need a muse. I write. Period. I don’t have to wait for her to whisper to me. I trust myself as a storyteller and know I will come up with what needs to happen next as I’m writing the story. I no longer have writer’s block, because I merely write myself out of it. It helps me average over 2,000 words a day. Last year alone, I had my biggest output as a writer, finishing with 690,000 thousand words. That equated to eight novels and a dozen short stories.

Writers have to find what works for them, but they also need to be willing to try new things. Whether it’s a new spot in the house, writing at a coffee shop, or changing from pen and paper to a laptop or vice versa. Sometimes just making a small change can spark the most wonderful things.

Remember, writing is a superpower. Take a chance. Write some words. Make some magic.

My husband theorizes that people who suffered challenging childhoods prefer reading / writing horror. It happens to be true in my case. Although writing my debut novel was highly cathartic in healing some of that damage, I still love horror, so perhaps his theory is debatable. What draws you to the darkness?

I’m honestly not sure what’s drawn me to it. I’ve written in many different styles and different genres, but there’s always a touch of creepiness to everything I write.

 

While growing up, I enjoyed reading everything and anything I could my hands on. When we went to the library, in school, I always checked out books on UFO’s, Bigfoot, Loch Ness, Area 51, vampires, and werewolves. But when I read The Shining in middle school it was over. Horror hooked me.

Talk up your support system, from beta readers to reviewers, anyone and everyone who is your cheerleader, online and IRL.

My family and friends have been incredibly supportive of my writing. But I have to say one of the most rewarding parts of being a writer and an editor is the community of friends and colleagues I’ve met along the way. I talk daily with my writing group, made up of fellow writers from the ashes of Storyteller Magazine. I also talk with quite a few writers on Twitter as well. It’s always great to share experiences with other writers and editors.

Describe your publishing process from final draft to final product, from perspectives of self-publishing, and all that entails, and traditional publishing, including your publishing team.

I’ve enjoyed both self-publishing and traditional publishing. They have both been fulfilling and challenging at the same time. Both require a lot of work, but in the end the onus is definitely on the author to make them both as successful as possible.

I’ve found a wonderful home with Clean Reads Publishing, formerly Astraea Publishing. The owner, Stephanie Griffith, has been great. She has an impressive group of editors she works with who are thoughtful and thorough working through both Mad Maggie Dupree manuscripts they’ve accepted. This is my first foray into the middle grade arena and it’s been an awesome experience so far. They have their own art department which has done outstanding work bringing Mad Maggie Dupree to life.

What do you love most about your creativity?

That I can use it to escape at moment’s notice. No matter how good or how bad the day, writing is the gravy that makes it all worthwhile.

Author Extra: Write a flash fiction piece right now! 50 words, mister!

He heard the sound again, sharp and flinty, a bone poking his heart. He stared into the darkness, waiting for the knobby knuckled hand to clutch at his clothes, the chill bone deep. Then grandma appeared, withered and stooped, giving him a goodnight kiss, hands icy, breath from a crypt.

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Abby Fabiaschi—Author and Human Rights Advocate

 

I decided that I sincerely want my debut novel published by St. Martin’s Press, since most of my favorite authors are with them. This is how I came to read Abby Fabiaschi’s debut novel I Liked My Life and I loved it (see my review), so reached out to her to let her know. She is so friendly that I asked her for an interview for my little blogblogblog and she agreed!

 

 

Turns out she’s also an activist for survivors of human trafficking, which is amazing and will be addressed at the end of this interview. She is a survivor herself of a dog attack at a young age, which altered her life and perspective, as you can read below in the Author Extra.

 

 

Tell me your artistic / writing process, including schedule, environment, and inspirations.

Motherhood really changed the answer to this question. I use to be able to be much more picky! I put in a minimum of five hours a day—usually 3-4 while the kids are at school and 1-2 after they are asleep (or at least I think they are). I work in a home office at a desk…boring, I know. I’m inspired by whatever it is I’m exploring. I don’t start my stories with an end in mind, so characters’ experiences keep me vested and learning with them.

Walk me through your publishing process, from final draft to final product, including your publishing team.

German translation

Right now I’m with St. Martin’s. When a first draft is complete, I send it to my agent and editor. They pile on constructive feedback and I make a plan for a round of revisions. That step repeats itself until we all say, “Yep. This works!” St. Martin’s decides on a release date at least a year out and designs a cover. From there, the assigned publicity team works on getting Advanced Reader Copies in the right hands while I get back to work on the next project. About six months before the launch, I get to review the final pass, which is when I add in acknowledgements.

 

Talk about your support system, including beta readers and all of your cheerleaders!

Italian translation

I am in awe of amazing people like you, who bring reading and writing communities together. Since my debut came out, I’ve also been grateful to establish friendships with many talented writers, including all the wonderful authors in The Tall Poppies. (If you are a reader on Facebook, follow Bloom with Tall Poppy Writers—great content and giveaways!)

I don’t have a writing group, nor do I leverage a ton of beta readers. Rather, I approach a couple people who I think would offer a valuable lens on the story to be first readers. There is one exception—my sister is always on the list!

 

How does life influence your art and vice versa?

Each story I write sets out to explore a component, a strand, of either something I’ve witnessed or  experienced. I get a moment in my head and my mind runs with it—what if this and what if that?—until a set of characters have lived through a moment worthy of readers’ time.

What do you love most about your creativity?

Slovakian translation

I love how I learn from my characters. With I Liked My Life, I came to believe that even life’s most antagonizing moments offer slivers of beauty once you rise above the fog and the haze of grief. There’s insight and clarity there for the taking. Now, it’s at the expense of whatever you lost and it will never be worth it, so you have to learn to digest the injustice of that. It’s a conclusion I never would have gotten to without diving into the Starling’s story.

 

 

Please share about your advocacy activism—I’m all for telling everyone the good you do in the world!

I’d love to! Twenty percent of all of my after tax proceeds go to an organization I co-founded called Empower Her Network. We collaborate with ready survivors of human trafficking who find themselves in the same vulnerable circumstance that led to their initial exploitation by removing housing barriers, financing education, and uncovering employment opportunities. To learn more or buy a Lulu Frost Empowerment bracelet, go to www.empowerhernetwork.org.

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Author Extra: The Inspiration for Abby Fabiaschi’s I Liked My Life

I was attacked by a Rottweiler when I was nine. The last stitch on either side of the wound was inside each eyelid. The dog, aptly named Gator, missed both my eyes by an amount so small as to be immeasurable. The ER doctor heralded this a miracle and I decided, right then, that no matter what I looked like the next day, I would focus on that piece of good fortune—I could still see.

What I didn’t understand in my then-scarred state was that what I would see was about to change. I became a person worthy of double-takes and gasps. I was forced to acknowledge a truth far younger than most; it doesn’t matter what you look like, at least to some. I got fifty-seven stitches that first night and eight reconstructive surgeries over the twelve years that followed, but his is not a sob story. Yes, bone from my rib is now on my nose, and skin from behind my ears and on my ass is now on my face, but I wouldn’t take back that night if I could.

Because here’s the thing—I don’t know who I would be without that experience. Those scars brought me perspective at a young age. They made me tough. They gave me loads of time to read where I could sop up the crazy mistakes people make without experiencing the consequences. They protected me from vanity and made me a keen observer, ultimately leading me to writing.

A friend recently commented that life has thrown enough complications my way to merit a memoir, but an exceptional memoir requires you to hand over the whole of your truth, along with your version of other peoples’ truth, and I’m too territorial for that. Still, I borrow here and there.

When I was fifteen, I lost one of my closest friends in a tragic car accident. I felt tremendous guilt because I hadn’t invited Elizabeth over that day. So stupid—we liked the same boy, so I excluded her. Introducing guilt and grief to my already raging teenage hormones and fierce desire for independence was a hugely defining moment in my life. I Liked My Life started with a desire to explore mourning at that tender age. I wrote it for me, and then went back to my demanding career in high-tech.

Four years later, at fifty-three years-of-age, my dad died of a heart attack. He was my father, but he was also my boss, mentor, and best friend. I didn’t write for years after his death, not even in a journal. The loss consumed all of me.

Then one day, I happened across I Liked My Life on my computer. The title popped from the screen; it felt enormously important to revisit it. Having then mourned as a teenager and a parent, I was better able to distinguish the nuances of grief experienced by each character. Tapping into those challenging life events is where the nonfiction ended and the storytelling began. I was inspired by a sentiment from Adrienne Rich’s poetry; If we could learn to learn from pain even as it grasps us. Isn’t that a powerful thought?

As I discovered after the dog bite, slivers of beauty exist in life’s most antagonizing moments, if only you know where to look. I set out with three characters—Madeline, Eve, and Brady—as they learn exactly that, each on their own timeline and in their own way. I wrote the book for me, unburdening my loss on unsuspecting characters. That their journey will find its way to living and breathing readers is wild.

Kerry Schafer / Kerry Anne King—Author and Creativity Coach

I follow Lake Union Authors on Facebook, where I met Kerry Schafer, who also publishes under the pen name of Kerry Anne King. She graciously agreed to share her writing life with us. I’ve read and reviewed her upcoming release “Whisper Me This.” It’s fantastic! I highly recommend this novel and this author. Pre-order on Amazon.

Elaborate upon your writing process—schedule, including how you mesh that time with family life, and how you measure progress, and your writing environment—whether you have a home office or work at another location, and what inspirations surround you that keep you writing.

I write at 4-of-dark in the morning most weekdays. Literally. I drag my poor, protesting carcass out of bed at 4 am, make coffee, and trudge up the stairs to my writing loft. This is the best way I’ve figured out to make sure I actually get my writing done, because if I wait until after work, I’m generally too tired and grumpy to be effective at writing. I also often write with a buddy—that way I have a scheduled time to show up and somebody to be accountable to. I also have an office away from home for my creativity coaching business, and I write there too sometimes, on weekends or evenings when I need a space away from the house to think and concentrate.

When I’m drafting, it works for me to set word count goals. That way, even when the writing isn’t going well, or I’m in one of those inevitable phases where it seems like the whole book sucks, I still feel like I’m making progress.

 

Shadow Valley Manor series

 

 

Explain why you use a pseudonym and the benefits of doing so…..also how you keep track of both authorships!

I use a pseudonym because Lake Union, the publisher for my women’s fiction titles, insisted that I have one. I resisted, in all honesty, but they were probably right to ask this of me. My two brands are very different and that can be off-putting to readers. As Kerry Schafer I write fantasy and paranormal thrillers. As Kerry Anne King I write contemporary family dramas (although the book I’m writing now does have a touch of magical realism that makes my fantasy-loving-heart happy). Keeping track is fairly straight forward—Kerry leans to the dark side; Kerry Anne leans toward relationships and emotions.

 

Describe your support system: beta readers, publishing team, Lake Union author collective, and any other cheerleaders.

I have an awesome group of support people, starting at home with my Viking. He is my biggest supporter and my first reader. After I’ve completed a draft and made a few revisions, he reads for continuity—he is forever shaking his head about my timelines, omissions, and the way my characters mishandle guns. I have several close writer friends who then read and critique for me.

The Between series

   

Walk me through the publishing process, from finishing the story to final product, as in who does what and how long it takes.

This process has been different at every publishing house I’ve been with. I love how it all works out at Lake Union. After my book is accepted and a contract is signed, I have a delivery date. On or before that date (I always aim for before—my motto is to under-promise and over-deliver whenever possible), I turn the manuscript in to my awesome editor. She gives it a read, usually within a week or two, and sends it back with some suggestions. Once those changes are implemented, the manuscript goes to my developmental editor. She reads and sends back revision notes. Typically I’ll have about three weeks for revisions. Then she reads again. There can be several rounds of this back and forth process during developmental edits.

Once the book is accepted by the developmental editor, the book goes to the copy editor. Within about a month it comes back to me and I have a couple of weeks to work through the copy editing process. From there it goes to production, and shortly thereafter I’ll get proof pages to review.

Somewhere in there other things happen. At Lake Union I get to review and give an opinion about cover concepts (this was not the case with other publishers). I also get to review and make revisions to back cover copy.

And then the magical elves turn the whole thing into a book and it gets published and people get to read it. Yay!!

The Dream Wars series

What do you love most about your creativity?

There is so much that I love—there really isn’t a “most.” I love ideas and the way they pop into my head randomly while I’m in the shower or mowing the lawn or driving to work. I love creating characters. I love putting words together in ways that sound like music to me. I guess what I love the very most are the unexpected surprises that happen in a book—the times where I think I know what I’m doing and what is going to happen, and then a character asks, “What about this?” and there’s a plot twist I never saw coming.

But there were far too many years of my life where I didn’t value my creativity or give it priority space. It used to come “after”—after work, after kids, after making my husband happy, after doing this, that, and everything in between, which meant that I didn’t do consistent writing. It also meant I was depressed, unfulfilled, and bitchy a lot. Recently, I’ve become a creativity coach on a mission to help other creatives get out of that trap. My business is called Swimming North: Where Creative Wellness Meets the Myers-Briggs. In short speak—”swimming north” is a metaphor for striking out in your own direction and going your own way. (There are penguins involved and you can read about it here) I believe that creativity is part of wellness, just as essential as mind, body, and spirit.

I’m a certified Kaizen-Muse coach, which means my coaching philosophy embraces the non-linear nature of the creative process, while using tools that are personally empowering, are not guilt inducing, and help clients learn to navigate the various things that get in the way of creativity (procrastination, harsh self talk, fear, doubt, and resistance are some of the usual suspects). I’m also a certified Myers-Briggs practitioner, and I find that knowing your Myers-Briggs type is incredibly helpful in understanding your creative process. I’m also an RN and happen to be a licensed mental health counselor, so those tools are always hanging around waiting to be useful.

Kerry Anne King website

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Ammar Habib—Award-Winning Author

Ammar asked for a reader on Twitter to review his novel Memories of My Future. Intrigued, I asked him questions, all of which he readily answered, before I agreed. The story he wrote with Dr. Anil Sinha is fantastic—read my review.

 

 

Ammar exudes friendliness and positivity in his online presence and digital communication, and I always feel cheerier after speaking with him. He has also written a vigilante series called Dark Guardian, and his latest book Ana Rocha: Shadows of Justice was co-authored with a detective.

 

 

 

Describe your writing process, including environment, schedule, strategies, and inspirations.

My writing process is somewhat structured and somewhat fluid. It always begins with a theme. I ask myself, “Why should readers read this? What do I hope they get out of it?” As entertaining as I hope my stories are, I want them to hold some sort of moral lesson or theme for the audience as well. At the same time, I don’t want to slap readers in the face with this theme. Instead, I want to show it in the characters and story arc. So I take a lot of time in figuring out who my character are. As far as pre-writing goes, I probably spend more time fleshing out the characters than I spend on any other aspect of pre-writing. Many times, putting in the effort to create three dimensional characters is the separator between good and great work.

However, with that said, my writing process is very fluid. I like to try and create an outline before I go into the actual writing. But many times I find myself starting the first draft before I’ve even finished my outline. The inspiration comes in bursts so I try to capitalize on those bursts as much as I can. I find that being too stringent on my writing process can actually become a hindrance.

As far as inspiration goes, I honestly draw inspiration from everywhere. I’ve possessed a huge imagination since I was a child, so that is usually my biggest source. I have a hard time switching my imagination off, which can be a problem when somebody is trying to talk to you and you’re imagining a battle scene in your head! The other place I really draw inspiration is from the world around me. I try to stay observant because sometimes the best inspiration passes by right in front of you!

My environment and schedule do change based on circumstances. I don’t have a set place where I do my writing and my schedule varies because I can honestly write any time of the day or night! There are some days where I spend hours writing or revising manuscripts, and there are other days when I may spend only thirty minutes.

I love Memories of My Future—tell how you built on historical events through folklore, and the history behind the book itself, working with Dr. Sinha to create an inspirational story.

Memories of My Future is definitely one of my personal favorites. It takes place in three time periods: 13th century India, 19th century India, and present day New York City. The project began when I got a phone call from Dr. Sinha, whom I somewhat knew beforehand, in September 2014. He had the seeds of an idea that he wanted to write a book about, which was very similar to something that I was wanting to write about, which is why we decided to partner together. The reason Dr. Sinha reached out to me was because he had just read my debut novel, Dark Guardian, and had really loved it.

From there, we grew a story with themes of coexistence and courage. When we were researching the events of the 13th Century, there honestly was not much to be found because the history of the Bihar province has not been as well kept as it should. However, along with some facts and dates that we were able to gather, there was plenty of local folklore and legends about the events that are described in the story, and those legends were the basis for that piece of the novel.

Explain how you work in so many genres, and the challenges and satisfactions of doing so.

Like you mentioned, I do write in multiple genres. Many authors do see this as a challenge. For me, I’ve found that spending a lot of time up front with my planning and taking the time to nail down a theme, tone, and characters on the front end helps me write the story within the parameters of the genre I am aiming for. As a writer, I never want to be limited to a specific genre because I’m one of those people that doesn’t like limitations in general. So the ability and freedom to write in multiple genres is a very liberating feeling!

Describe your research process, including how you find sources and what you choose to use.

For works like Memories Of My Future, where a lot of research is required, I definitely do take my time with it. Research is something that should never be rushed. I always try to use as many scholarly or peer-reviewed sources as I can. This is to ensure the authenticity of the material. Working at a college, I have access to the college’s databases, which have tons of articles over a variety of subjects, so that is a major help. If I am using a source that is not one that would be considered scholarly, I always try to verify its authenticity by cross-referencing it with something that is more academically purposed. I know everyone has their own methods for research, but that is the basis for mine.

What do you love most about your creativity?

For me, creativity is synonymous with freedom! It’s the freedom to create. The freedom to inspire. The freedom to affect lives. I always try to use my creativity positively, with the hopes of inspiring others. I view creativity as an asset and as a responsibility, just as I view any other talent or ability. Therefore, I try to use it in a good way. Thankfully, I can say that there are a few other authors I’ve met throughout my journey as a writer who have said that I have helped them along the way since I was further along the road than they were at the time, and honestly that’s the kind of thing that inspires me to keep moving forward!

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