Today’s Featured Author: Alex Hurst

Today I welcome author Alex Hurst to my blog. She is currently promoting the anthology, Writers’ Anarchy III: Heroes & Villains, which comes out December 1st.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a fantasy and speculative fiction writer based in Kyoto, Japan. I was born in Louisiana, but my family made their way out to the west coast when I was in my teens. I’ve been writing ever since I learned to type, but have only considered it professionally for the last two years. In that time, I’ve taken on a role as an admin in one of Facebook’s largest writer communities, Fiction Writers Group, and also learned a lot more about the production side of books than I ever thought I would need! I keep a blog, where I chronicle my adventures in Japan, interview fantasy and sci-fi illustrators, and post occasional updates about current releases. You can find me at alex-hurst.com.

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?

I’d like to think that very little of my personal experiences are in my works. I like keeping my work separate, as I don’t want my experiential bias to limit the story. That being said, there are several archetypes that I find myself repeatedly drawn to in my work, and I have to actively check and make sure I’m not writing the same character or story over and over again.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

Yes, my next project is a serialized, hero science fiction. While I’m trying to make the science believable, I wouldn’t call it a hard science fiction, as there is a fair amount of comic book flare in the narrative.

The story follows the trials of Alta Williams, a woman expulsed from the elite genetic class of a future Earth, after a chemical fire corrupts her DNA irreparably. In addition to the loss of genetic privilege, Alta also loses 98% of her natural skin, which is replaced with a synthetic version bio-engineered by nanoTech, a company with a monopoly on nano technology. This skin, the first of its kind, allows her to meet an abandoned computer program known as the Digital Nano-Accelerator, or D.N.A.

N.A. enlists Alta to help uncover illegal genetic trials and government cover-ups, while giving her the extraordinary power to alter her skin’s genetic code at will. The series is called “D.N.A.” for this reason. I plan to serialize it in about a dozen novellas, the first of which is being released on December 1st, in Writers’ Anarchy III: Heroes & Villains.

Please tell us about your current release.

Writers’ Anarchy III: Heroes & Villains is the third installment of an anthology project put on by Fiction Writers Group. The group currently is home to 6,000 members, and since last year, has published (or has had a hand in publishing) six full-size anthologies and two drabble collections.

The book itself is themed around the idea of heroes & villains, and what differentiates one from another. Authors were allowed to write in any genre, as long as this subject was the centerpiece of their work. Because of this open-ended submission process, we’ve got a bunch of amazing stories from over seven genres, with characters across the entire spectrum. To name a few, Heroes & Villains has werewolves, tooth fairies, Egyptian gods, an evil pool cleaner, ancient Greek beauties, loyal dogs, and a variety of compelling superheroes and their arch nemeses.

Heroes and Villains has twenty-four riveting stories from authors all around the world, and I am honored to be listed among them. I also did all of the design for the book, and highly recommend the paperback edition—there are a lot of beautiful little touches that couldn’t transfer to the ebook version.

Which of your characters is your favorite? Do you dislike any of them?

Alta is actually one of my favorite characters in recent memory. I really enjoy her ability to act as she needs to, even when she is feeling scared or confused. She’s become a wonderful foil to discuss identity issues: not just what defines a hero, but also what defines a human, a woman, and courage. She has a lot to say, and she’s not afraid to say those things on the page, which defers a great deal from my usually reserved and collected protagonists.

I actually do dislike a few of my characters, though as far as I can remember, none of them are in published works yet. If I did have to choose from those available, I would have to say that Decebal from “The Bell Tower” would have to be one of my more annoying characters. My feelings on him come more from a development standpoint than any real dislike of the actual character, though. In the original version of the story, he was a young tax accountant for a variety of supernatural families, but in the final version, he was a clock maintenance man, and about sixty-seven years old. He has had to be one of my most illusive characters to pin down so far.

If this book is part of a series, what is the next book? Any details you can share?

Writers’ Anarchy is an annual anthology series, where the theme consistently changes. The next volume will release in October 2015, and is all about horror.

As far as Alta William’s future, as I mentioned, I do plan on serializing more of her adventures. Something that I want to really focus in on with her narrative is the price of immense power (not in the cliché ‘corruption of power’ way, but rather, the corruption of her actual human-ness, the more she comes to rely on D.N.A.’s abilities to fight the foes she is up against.) I will be releasing her novella as a solo in January or early February, which will include original artwork and some amazing comic-style covers from artist Dali Kosta.

What was the most difficult thing/scene to write in this story?

The prose! I am prone to writing in an emotive and descriptive way, but the nature of D.N.A.’s story required I keep the text sharp and focused. I felt completely out of my element writing that way, but it was a really good exercise to see all of the different ways you can play with tension, simply by using different techniques to get those moments on the page. Second to that, the dialogue, while hard, was a blast to write. I really tried to use as few dialogue attributes as possible, and that necessitated very clear personalities in the way each character spoke. According to those that have gotten the ‘first look’, I seem to have pulled it off (somehow!)

Did the story turn out the way you planned from the beginning? If not, what change happened that you didn’t expect?

Oh, no. I would say the only bits that remained exactly how I imagined them would be the opening scenes, and one of the more emotionally charged portions in the first half. Otherwise, quite a bit changed. Partly because of a word count limit, and partly because beta readers kindly pointed out some logical flaws in the flow of the story, the narrative changed a great deal from its earlier drafts. I think it’s much stronger than its original incarnation, while maintaining the energy of its source.

One of the specific bits that changed from the original draft that changed, which I can share here, is how Alta goes about rescuing the patients at nanoTech. A reader mentioned that there was no way the mission would risk the objective by dawdling at nanoTech headquarters, in order to get the necessary medicines. Specifically, they said “Why couldn’t it have been made at any other lab in the country, if they have the ‘recipe’?” and I realized that they were right. I ended up having to cut almost 1,000 words of action from the story, but at least it makes more logical sense, which is one of things I definitely wanted. Nothing pulls a reader out of a story faster than losing their suspension of disbelief!

If you could jump in to any book, and live in that world, which would it be?

A tough question, as there’s so many places that would be cool (but also terrifying) to live in. I think I would want to live in Jim C. Hines’s Libriomancer series, but only if I could be a libriomancer. The magic system is just a really cool idea, and I could use it to use the magic from other literary worlds I’ve enjoyed in my lifetime (Zelazny’s trump cards, Aladdin’s magic carpet, or Hermoine’s time turner, how cool!) The other reason I think Libriomancer would be my choice is that I think it would actually be pretty bad to live in a lot of those worlds, considering how many wars go on (and how many side characters die), and besides, in Hines’s world, you also get to keep all the benefits of our modern world.

Book Blurb

WAIII_ebook_cover-199x300We all wear masks.

Fiction Writers Group strikes again with Writers Anarchy III: Heroes & Villains, an action-packed anthology of truly epic proportions. What makes a hero? What makes a villain? Can good and evil really be separated so easily?

Travel from the distant past of epic poems to the high-tech futures of tomorrow as our contributors consider these questions, as well as external influences that mold and shape us into the heroes, or villains, that we become.

Writers Anarchy III: Heroes & Villains isn’t all about the latex, though the collection boasts stories like “The Rise and Fall of Red Brick and Humble Pie”, “The Truth About Tony”, “Hero Hazha”, “Birth of a Villain”, “Let Sirius into Fire Melt”, “The Matchmaker”, and “D.N.A.” for those seeking all things super.

Fall in with kidnappers, werewolves, ancient warriors, Egyptian gods, tooth fairies, and thieves. Animals and humans alike grace the pages of this wildly diverse anthology that blurs the line between right and wrong.

Which mask fits you?

About the Author

Photo on 7-15-14 at 5#3Alex Hurst writes primarily character-driven fantasy, in such sub-genres as urban, Gothic, uncanny, and regional fantasy. Sometimes, she dapples in science fiction, horror, and LGBT literature.

She was raised in the wilds of the south. Lightning storms and hurricanes created the playpens of her youth, and in the summers, she used to spend all of her time dodging horseflies in a golden river, catching fish and snakes with her bare hands, swinging from vines, and falling out of magnolia trees.

In the dawn of her adolescence, her family took her on a journey across the United States, from the white sands of Pensacola, FL, to the razor’s edge of the Hell’s Backbone in Utah. They finally landed in Marin, CA, where lotus eaters tried to make city folk out of them (but miserably failed.) She currently lives in Kyoto, Japan, working as a writer and dream-smith.

She also freelances as an editor for the Writers’ Anarchy anthology series, designs book interiors at Country Mouse Design, and admins on the Fiction Writers community on Facebook, assisting emerging writers.

You can learn more about Alex on her blog.

Writers’ Anarchy III:Heroes & Villains comes out on December 1. You can pre-order it on Amazon.

 

Thanksgiving: A time to say thank you

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Since today is Thanksgiving and I figure many people (at least those in the US) are gathered around the table giving thanks and eating good food, I thought I would take a moment as an author and blogger to give thanks too.

thank-you

 

Thank you…

to those who have read my stories…I hope you enjoyed them as much as I have loved writing them.

Thank you…

to those on Twitter, Tribber, or Facebook who have helped promote either my books or my blog. I appreciate everyone of you!

Thank you…

to those who follow or read my blog. I hope you have found some interesting or helpful information here.

Now get back to your Thanksgiving Day activities….

Today’s Featured Author: Bobbi Romans

I don’t typically host authors on Tuesdays but this book’s story is about Thanksgiving so it seemed appropriate to do a feature before the big day. So please welcome Bobbi Romans, author of An American Holiday, to my blog.

Interview

Please tell us about your current release.

An American Holiday holds the most “true tidbits” of any book written to date.

What inspired you to write this book?

The joy and madness of large (or kooky) families coming together for the holidays.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

Didn’t need to. These were my stomping grounds growing up.

Can you tell us a little about the black moment in your book.

When Kristi realizes these moments are family are a gift and one that won’t always be there. Its fleeting a moment, but for her, a powerful one.

What was the most difficult thing/scene to write in this story?

The evolution of her surprise revelation. I’m not used to writing such a slow progression, but for her (not him) this was sweetly slow.

Did the story turn out the way you planned from the beginning? If not, what change happened that you didn’t expect?

Yes, when 1st sitting down, the end couple was not who I’d planned. It was plotted to have a very different ending.

Any scenes in the book stemming from a real event?

YES. Well sort of. When I was a kid I heard stories of my great grandparents house. Their basement had a concrete block missing in the wall and all the smokers in the family would sneak (Great Grandparents were anti smoking/drinking) their smokes and put the butts in hole. My grandmother (one of the smokers) said Lord help anyone if that wall gets knocked down. LOL Also, the sign hanging in Kristi’s bathroom. “When its brown flush it down, when its yellow let it mellow.” Apparently up on the mountains water conservation is a tad more in depth than most areas. My dearest friends grandparents had a sign that read that, hanging in their bathroom, in Harpers Ferry no less. ALSO, the recipe included… is truly my Great Grandmother Obaughs.

Book Blurb

AnAmericanHolidayAhh, Thanksgiving… complete with ghosts of holidays past. Those being humiliating memories of last year’s revelry gone wild: jail cells, a tattoo and rose left on Kristi James pillow by someone she can’t remember.

Toss in two brothers who, while loving, had needled her with vivid imagery on what might have happened during that fateful rendezvous at the local HoJo’s. Seriously, what’s a girl to do? She’d run like hell from Harpers Ferry back to her apartment and job in Alexandria.

She’s praying this year’s holiday ends a bit more traditional. But between exploding turkey’s, cranberry fights, and the winter storm threatening to lock them all together for God only knew how long, she’s fairly certain her Norman Rockwell hopes have flown the coop.

Adding another layer to this casserole of disaster, the high school boyfriend—who’d cheated on her two days before prom—returns, claiming to have made a horrid mistake all those years prior.

Amid all this, what has her heart flip-flopping is catching her best friend Simon getting cozy with his latest girlfriend.

Thing is, she isn’t sure why its bothering her so badly.

Sometimes it takes coming home again… to discover how lost we’ve really been.

About the Author 

Bobbi Romans born and raised in the suburbs of D.C, now resides in the south with Prince Charming and her overly large, nutty family. Currently, Bobbi is hiding from her loud family in a closet as she taps away the next installment in the Swamp Magic series.

Little known facts: She’s been on the Gordon Elliot show and has owned ferrets, crawdads, rats, flying squirrels and a barnyard of other animals/critters.

You can find out more about her on her website. You can also follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

You can purchase An American Holiday on Amazon.

Keeping the kids busy during school breaks

Today is the first day of our Thanksgiving break. My kids have the whole week off. Every year, I always have to balance keeping them busy and letting them relax. Too much unscheduled time seems to lead to bickering but with school, homework and activities taking up a lot of their time, it sometimes is nice to have nothing planned.

Lexie at the children's museum.

Lexie at the children’s museum.

So for this Thanksgiving break, I am balancing the two. Today we are off to the Children’s museum. We usually go about three times a year with friends but this is the first time in quite awhile that we will go just the three of us. Tomorrow, I plan to take them to the Magik Theatre’s production – Junie B. Jones: Jingle Bells, Batman Smell. Lexie is looking forward to it but Jase not so much. Luckily we are going with friends so he has another boy to share the humiliation of watching a show he considers for first graders. Thursday we will be at my parents’ house.

So that just leaves Wednesday and Friday. I think both days will be our stay-at-home days. There is no place I want to go to on Black Friday. Heck, I try to stay away from all that madness. I love to save money but there isn’t a deal out there that can convince me to get up early and stand in line for it.

After Thanksgiving break, there is only three weeks of school until the winter break. And then there will be more days to fill. I don’t have to worry about Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. We will be at home both those days. My in-laws will come over Christmas Eve, and my parents will be here Christmas Day.

One thing the kids are looking forward to is our Christmas party with their neighborhood friends. My friend Stephanie hosted one when Jase was in kindergarten. She planned to do it again the next year, but it never happened so I took up the challenge and hosted the party last year. It actually was my trial run for Jase’s birthday. I wanted to see if I could handle a group of excited children at my house.

P1030035It was an interesting experience and didn’t put me off having Jase’s birthday party at home last May. And I am willing to do it again though I have learned a lot about what I want to put my efforts into. Last year, I had found some cute things to do on Pinterest and while the parents remarked on them, my efforts were lost on the kids. So this year, I am going to worry less about making everything look good and concentrate on the kids just having fun.

As for other activities during the winter break, I already have a Groupon for Pump It Up. We will attend one of their open sessions to let the kids run and jump their energy out. We will also probably go visit my parents one of the days. And then there is taking them to the Magik Theatre – a children’s theatre showing Junie B. Jones: Jingle Bells, Batman Smells. Lexie is excited about this. Jase isn’t.

But even with these few planned activities, we will have plenty of days left open for them to play with their new toys. And before I know, break will be over, and they will be back to school.

Today’s Featured Author: Nicole R. Dickson

Please welcome author Nicole R. Dickson to Into Another World.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a native of California and a child of the West. I also would say I have wandering feet. From the time I was born, we moved around a lot on the West coast, from city to city, house to house. If I look at it, the longest I’ve lived in any one place in my life is the house I am in here in North Carolina – nine years, which is very long for me. Did you ever read Chocolat? See the movie? That main character is how I feel – a woman in a red cape holding her daughter by the hand and hearing the North wind call her to join its wayward journey. That’s me – the wayfaring stranger.

What or who inspired you to start writing?

I’ve always been a storyteller since I was little. I was always in my head somewhere else, living in a world of my creation, built on the world around me. In college, I had professors suggest I pursue a career in writing, but I just didn’t have it in me at the time to sit down and write. I didn’t have that discipline. Everything changed with the death of my mother. I realized how short our lives are and how precious are the stories of the people that surround us. Somehow, right then, I figured out how to put a story together and had the focus to actually write it down hour after hour.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Like I said, I’m a storyteller. Always have been. Writing takes discipline, which I never had really. I’ve always written, of course, but never finished anything except poetry. Then I took to writing children’s stories. Always something short so I didn’t have to commit – my motto in writing. The stories were always in my head, though. So, with my mother’s death, I started writing down what was in my mind day after day, week after week. I’d tell a good friend of mine over and over again how I wanted to be a writer. It was such a longing and such an impossible dream to be one. Then, one day in one of our conversations, she turned to me and said, “Nicci, you are a writer. What is a writer if not someone who writes, which you do all the time.” That day was an eye opener for sure – a complete shift in how I saw myself. It changed how I spoke to myself. I didn’t want to be a writer. I was a writer. I am a writer.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

Actually, I don’t. Different writers have different ways to forge a story. In college, when the professors would say I should take up a career in writing, I always said no precisely because I hated outlining stories. I didn’t like structure like that because it totally snuffed out the lightness of my imagination. So now, I couldn’t write an outline to any of my stories to save my life. That said, what I always do have is the end. Once I have the end, I can start and I have a meandering path to walk to that end. It’s a journey filled with surprises and miracles and wisdom born elsewhere and funneled through my pen. Honestly, I can say I don’t even feel like it is me writing. It is something else – something far wiser and deeper than I can ever be. And I love being with it – listening to it scratch its story on to paper.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

Here and Again takes place now but also has a storyline back in the Civil War. I’ve been wandering around the Civil War for a very long time, so I had a great deal of the research completed when I started. I guess you could say, I spent eleven years or more researching for this book. I also spent that much time waiting for a story to come that took place in the Civil War. I wanted to write one, but had to wait for it. Finally it came, which was such a fantastic road to walk down. I was also lucky that it came when my wandering feet brought me to North Carolina. I was in the vicinity of all the great battles of the Eastern theater and I walked many of them. I also have realized I’m not done with this time in our history, though. I sense I’ve got a couple others yet to come from that time.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you tell us bit about your next book?

Currently, I am working on a novel that deals with Sherman’s Special Field Orders , No. 15, which, back in the Civil War, was a military order that allotted 40 acres (and a mule but that is questionable) to the newly freed black slaves in Georgia, South Carolina, and several other states. This history has become the tale the Red family of Antres Vast, Georgia tells each generation as to how they came to own the property on which they live and that same 40 acres is now at the center of a major family battle. As with most family stories, the telling changes in time and is rarely reflective of the reality way back when. In fact, sometimes family history is nothing but a myth and the truth is deeper, darker, and more defining of who we are than even we ourselves can possibly imagine.

Book Blurb

Here&AgainCoverDeep in the Shenandoah Valley, the present and the past are as restless as the river mists. And when they collide, the heart is the only compass pointing home.

For nurse Ginger Martin, her late husband’s farm is both a treasured legacy and the harbinger of an uncertain future. Since he was recently killed in Iraq, every day is fraught with grief that won’t abate. Keeping the farm going and nourishing her children’s hopes without him seems as impossible as having dreams for the future—or going back into the past…

By a curious coincidence, a stranger appears in Ginger’s life, always showing up to help in unexpected and much-needed ways. He says he’s a soldier, lost and trying to make his way home, but Ginger understands that Samuel is a kindred spirit, longing to repair a life interrupted. The challenges of their hopes and longings will test who they really are in the most heartbreaking of ways. And only by coming to terms with their losses and the necessity of change will Ginger and Samuel be able to each make a future of their own—and discover at last where their true home lies…

Author Nicole R. Dickson creates an indelible, delicate world filled with heartbreak and hope, seamlessly weaving past and present, and tying together the personal price we pay for legacy, war and duty.

About the Author 

NicoleRDicksonNicole R. Dickson is the author of two novels, the first of which, Casting Off (2009), was a top ten entry in the first Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award in 2008. Additionally, as a business executive, she writes essays on leadership and defining brand. An avid student of history, she can most often be found buried in that section of the library and finds many of the books there follow her home to rest on her bedside table. Here and Again is her second novel.

You can find out more about Nicole on her website. You can also follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

Here and Again is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, IndieBound and Powell’s.

Deciding on back matter for your e-book

Last week, I covered front matter (all the pages BEFORE your story) in your book. Today, I want to talk about back or matter – which as you guessed is all the pages AFTER your story.

If you don’t list anything after your story, you are wasting a prime opportunity to connect with the reader. They just read and loved your story. This is a prime spot to point them to your other books or even ask for a review. (Thank you for reading my book. If you enjoyed it, please take a moment to leave a review at your favorite retailer.)

Here are some things to consider including in your back matter…

About the author

This section is pretty self-explanatory. My only comment is this needs to be a brief (think of the back inside cover of a paperback) bio. This is not the time to list out every one of your accomplishments.  Try to keep it to about 100 words or less.

Here is what is listed in my first book, Summoned:

About the Author

Susan Leigh Noble has always loved dragons and magic so it is no wonder that she became an author of fantasy novels. She began writing Summoned, her first complete novel, many years ago. It was released in digital form in 2011. The sequel, Quietus, continues the tale of Lina and her telepathic cat, Tosh. Quietus will be released in late 2011. The Elemental series will conclude with a third book to be released in 2012.

In addition to writing, Susan Noble spends her days taking care of her two young children and husband in Texas.

She loves to hear from readers: susanleighnoble@gmail.com

Check out her Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Susan-Leigh-Noble/200225396700412

Follow her on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/SusanLeighNoble

List of other books

This is where you list other books that you have written. This can be listed in the front OR the back of the book. I personally like it at the back of the book when publishing an e-book.

Here is what could be listed in my next book.

Discover other titles by Susan Leigh Noble

The Search (short story prequel to The Elemental trilogy)

Summoned: Book 1 of The Elemental

Quietus: Book 2 of The Elemental

Destiny: Book 3 of The Elemental

 Connect with me

This is where you can let your readers know how to reach you. Feel free to list your blog, Facebook, Twitter or even your email account. You can see an example above under About the Author.

Promote your next book

If they loved your book, point them to the next one. At the end of the first two books in my trilogy, I always let the reader know there was another book coming. Here is the teaser from Quietus.

Here ends Book Two of The Elemental.

Book Three continues the tale of Lina and Val

as they try to repair the damage to the Land

and realize their battle with Selda isn’t over yet.

Now at the end of my short story, The Search, I actually included the prologue and first chapter of book one of my trilogy.

The story of Lina and Tosh continues in Summoned: Book One of The Elemental.

Please enjoy the prologue and first chapter of Book One after the “About the Author” section.

Promote someone else’s book

You might team up with another author and promote each other’s work. You could include an “If you like this book, you might like…” or even include a sample chapter from their book. Be sure to include links.

Afterward

This is similar to the foreword (which could be included in the front matter) in that it explores how the book came to be written.

In a non-fiction book, you also could have a bibliography, index or glossary as part of the back matter.

As for fiction, some authors may include an epilogue as part of the back matter, but as I said with a prologue, I consider this to be part of the story and not part of the back matter as this is more like the final chapter of your story used to wrap up loose ends.

There really is no limit to the amount of information you can put after your story has come to an end. It would be a waste not to include at least one or two of these items as your back matter to help you sell more books and build a fan base.