Take the time to proofread everything you write

Three weeks ago, I wrote a post on the need for people to be able to write a professional e-mail. Soon after that, the principal of my kids’ school sent out a long email riddled with grammatical and punctuation errors. Many of the teachers seemed quite embarrassed by it.

When we as authors get ready to submit or publish our book, we usually take great pains to proofread the text, whether we do it ourselves or hire someone else to do it. Even then mistakes slip through the cracks. But beyond your book, do you proofread everything you send? Or are you like the principal and just send something out without a second glance?

proofI have to say that I spend probably way too much time crafting my emails. I almost never jot off a quick message. I read and re-read it to make sure it says what I want it to say clearly. This actually is considered editing. It is the looking for grammatical and typographical errors that are considered proofreading. I typically give my email a once over for punctuation before sending it.

Now I can say for a fact that not all authors do the same. I get email correspondence all the time from authors for my Friday Featured Author spot. And then there are the submissions – especially the author interviews and author bios. Many times I see grammar, punctuation and style errors in these documents.

Now sometimes, I may make the correction such as italicizing the book titles, but often I don’t have the time to correct someone else’s work. I did put in paragraph breaks for the one author, who didn’t seem to think he needed any. This was on an excerpt, and I don’t know how he thought anyone would want to read this long block of text.

Both the emails and the submissions for my blog, in my opinion, should be proofread before submitting. These authors are putting their work out there for others to see. If I was a reader and I saw an interview riddled with mistakes in grammar and punctuation, I might wonder about whether the author’s books are this way too. (Of course, course I guess it could be reflecting poorly on me since it is my blog. I hadn’t think about that until just now.)

So my suggestion for authors is to proofread everything you write – from a quick email, to your interview questions, to your post on your own blog and of course your novel.

Some tips for proofreading:

  • Take a break between writing and proofing
  • Read the text aloud
  • Read it backwards
  • Use a grammar-checker – but don’t rely solely on grammar or spell check.
  • Print out your text and proof it on paper versus the screen.
  • Have someone else read it

As an author, you want to have the best image possible. To ensure that comes across to your associates and potential readers, please make sure you proofread all of your correspondence and anything meant for posting online.

Today’s Featured Author – Jean Ingellis

Please welcome children’s author Jean Ingellis to my blog. Her first children’s book, Waneta Walrus and her blue tu-tu, was released earlier this year.

Interview

What or who inspired you to start writing? 

I’ve always written bits of stories and poems ever since the 7th or 8th grade when a nun took an interest in my writing and asked me to write some poems for her.  Words just pop into my head for some reason. Usually I think they’d make good hoakie country music songs.  Unfortunately for my husband usually late at night.  I jot them down to get them out of my head so I can get back to sleep and especially as I won’t remember a thing about them in the morning.  But the inspiration for this book is my grandson who I wanted to have something special from “Grandma”.

When did you consider yourself a writer?

Once the book was officially up for sale and someone that I didn’t know actually bought my book to read.

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

I think a little of my personality is in my book.  I think simple thoughts, love simple poems and stories and I think that comes out in my writing.

What is the best or worst advice you ever received? (regarding writing or publishing)

The best advice I received was through writer’s blogs such as yours. The most important being expect rejections, don’t let them get to you and never give up.  I knew I couldn’t get a query to a publishing company so I started with agents.  Indirectly, the fact that I actually got e-mails back (which isn’t always the case and showed some effort on their part, even if they were pre-formed letters) was quite encouraging and gave me the boost I needed to go further on even though they were polite rejection letters.

How do you conceive your plot ideas?

In writing children’s stories there isn’t major plot ideas.  However, I do like to have a character who overcomes some sort of obstacle and becomes a hero who also has something fun or interesting happen in the story. Always with a happy ending of course.

What inspired you to write this book?

After wanting to write a story for my grandson being the main inspiration, I think the inspiration for the character came from my love of the ocean and it’s aquatic animals.  Seals are a favorite, kind of like the pet dogs of the ocean. An aunt even gave me a life sized seal statue for my family room that we call “Sam”. But there are already quite a few adorable seal books out there. So I decided on a walrus.  After that I decided I wanted the walrus to be different. So I made the walrus a girl, gave her a tu-tu and going even farther, gave her only one tusk. I had thought that there is a world of children out there that are different themselves, or atleast feel different and could relate to Waneta in their own way.

How did you come up with this title?

I knew I wanted a walrus with a name that started with a “W”.  I looked up names in several name books.  Waneta appealed to me and I had never heard of that name before. After researching the name the interesting thing that I found was that there actually was an American Indian in our country’s history with that name, who incidentally fought with the British against the United States but later in life changed his sympathies somewhat.  The name Waneta translates to “shape shifter” or “charger”.  There were also two naval ships with that name.   I added the sub title of “and her blue tu-tu” to differentiate between that story and other Waneta Walrus stories in the future.  It seemed appropriate since this story tells how she came to want a tu-tu and how she received it in the end.

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

The most difficult scene to draw was the shark in two different pages.  I was worried on the one page of the shark teeth being too scary for some children as sharks do have sharp teeth and that can be scary.  But it was integral to the story as the shark was chasing and trying to eat Waneta.  The other page I had to show how Waneta swirled and danced so effectively that she wore out the shark and was able to get away.  How do you show in a drawing that a shark is exhausted from the chase?  Well, you take liberties and give the shark a pink tongue hanging out.  Everyone knows sharks do not have tongues, especially ones that hang out. But that along with the eyes closed, you just seem to know the shark is exhausted.

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

My next Waneta story won’t be out for probably a year from now.  I have it written already, but it’s the illustrations that take the longest time to do.  It’s the story of how she meets her best friend by saving him. The two will also go on to have other adventures together in other future stories.

Were there any unexpected problems that popped up during the writing or publishing process?  If so how did you fix them? 

Yes. The biggest problem (and most time-consuming to fix) was the fact that I did not understand about DPI (dots per inch).  Something that in digital books isn’t too much of a problem, but in the printing of the books seems to be a major thing.  The program I used to draw the book was in 96 DPI.  The basic requirement for printing is 300 DPI.  I had to basically use a different program and cut and paste the old pages in.  Then  re-trace every picture and re-color them along with removing the words and re-writing them in the new program.  A very time consuming mistake that anyone who is thinking of making a children’s picture book as an indie author and  illustrator should know and understand before starting a digital drawing process.

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

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.   I love gardens and flowers and would have loved to have been part of that project and friendship.

If you could meet two authors, who would you pick and why?

The first would be Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss).  What an interesting way he put controversial subjects of the day (of importance) into amusing stories.  The second would probably surprise you….Stephen King. Anyone who really knows me well knows there are just some scary movies or books I can’t even watch or read.  When I was in high school I had to read his book, Salem’s Lot.  The only way I could read the book was to go to the local beach, in broad daylight, with people around. The most interesting part of the book that I don’t recall being in the movie was the part where he described the baby who the vampires had gotten.  (please forgive this quote as not exact)…”tossed into the corner of the crib like a used doll”.  So many years now as I’m in my mid 50’s  and that part of the book still gets to me even if I can’t remember the exact wording. what I envisioned in my mind through those words is still there.  Until then I had never thought of baby vampires.   Mr. King has an incredible mind.  Scary, yet incredible and so much different than mine.  The fact that he has the discipline to write so many novels and such varied ones, boggles my mind.

Book Blurb

walrusWaneta only has one tusk so she is different….and different can be a good thing.  Why does she want a blue tu-tu?  Follow her adventure to see how she becomes a hero and in the end finally does get her tu-tu after facing obstacles along the way. This story is written in a charming rhyming pattern. With 26 pgs. and a lower word count it makes it readable in one sitting. The story line makes it a fun read. Pictures that aren’t too overwhelming amuse children and allow you to create simple count & color games. How many yellow fish or clouds are there? What colors are in the ball or beach umbrella? Can you find the star fish on pg.18? A simple tongue twister like “long, sharp shark teeth” could make your child giggle. Subtle messages like teasing is wrong and having goals is great, but even if you only reach one you can still be happy are life’s little lessons that should be learned.

About the Author

jean_As a child Jean Ingellis enjoyed simple rhyming so much that she would walk to the library by herself throughout elementary school to read the Mother Goose nursery rhymes book. She was born in Ohio but spent her younger years growing up in the Mid Atlantic region.  In her mid 50’s now Jean has spent most of her adult life in the New England area raising her five children. After her children were grown Jean taught herself how to read music and play the acoustic guitar. Something she had always wanted to do since she couldn’t sing very well and just never seemed to find time to do when raising her children. She is still learning and plays a little better than she can sing. She has always enjoyed reading stories to children over the years. Her grandchild being her favorite to read to. Waneta was written especially for her grandson.

You can buy Waneta Walrus and her blue tu-tu on Amazon.

Today’s Featured Author – AJ Goode

Please welcome author AJ Goode to my blog. The third book in her Beach Haven series, Their Love Rekindled, comes out next Friday.

Interview

What or who inspired you to start writing?

Laura Ingalls Wilder was my biggest inspiration. I remember learning to read with her Little House books, and I knew from the time I was about four years old that I wanted to be a writer like her. Of course, my life story is nowhere near as interesting as hers!

As far as WHAT inspired me, I had sort of pushed writing onto a back burner for a lot  of years because I was just too busy to write. Then I was in a really bad car accident in 2011 and suddenly had a whole lot of free time. While I was recovering, my sister handed me a laptop and said, “Maybe this is the universe’s way of telling you to start writing again.”

What is the best and worst advice you ever received? (regarding writing or publishing)

The best advice I ever got was from Nancy Gideon. We have a mutual friend who introduced me to her, and she was kind enough to answer some of my questions. I was struggling with getting past the halfway point of my book, and she told me to just keep writing, get to the end, get it done, because you can always go back and make it better. But the most important thing is just getting that first draft done. That was so freeing! It changed everything for me.

The worst advice I ever got was from all the well-meaning people who told me not to pursue writing as a career when I was younger because it wasn’t a sure thing. I wasted a lot of years after listening to that advice.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

I do a little of both.  I start with a very loose outline that changes and grows a lot during the process. I want to add, though, that I attended a writing workshop this summer led by Ami Hendrickson, and it really changed the way I structure my books. She taught us about “story beats” and I think it really made a difference in the way my newest book flows. I did a LOT more outlining this time around.

Please tell us about your current release.

Their Love Rekindled is the third book in my Beach Haven series. It’s the story of Cassie and Aaron, two former lovers who both feel that the other betrayed them ten years ago. It’s all about finding a way to accept and forgive things that have happened in the past, while figuring out how to move forward from therre.

What inspired you to write this book?

I started writing this series when I was in a really bad place in life, and this book was inspired by a feeling that it was time to put the past, in the past. It’s all about making peace with old hurts and giving yourself permission to move forward with life.

I also wanted it to have a sense of closure to it because it was originally supposed to be the last book in the series. Now, though, I think I have to go back and tell a few more stories about the folks of Beach Haaven.

Did you base any of your characters on real people?

I never base my main characters on real people, but I do with some of my secondary characters. For example, the restaurant owner is based on one of my co-workers, and the fire chief, Rollie Griswold,  was named after the father of one of my best friends.The real Rollie passed away as I was finishing “His Heart Aflame” and I asked my friend for permission to use his name as a tribute to him.

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

As I mentioned, this was originally supposed to be the last book in my series. But I really want to come back at least two more times to tell the stories of a couple of characters who keep popping up. The villain from the first book, Jacqueline, needs to be challenged to change her ways. And Tara Bartlett’s brother Jayson is eventually going to have to come home from overseas and deal with civilian life.

I’m also writing a trilogy that I’m tentatively calling “Love & Destiny.” It’s set in Beach Haven and features a few of the same characters, but it’s definitely its own self-contained story.  It’s about three girls who visit a fortuneteller and ask the usual question of “who will I  marry?” Each book then follows the story of one of the girls as she grows up and finds out whether her fortune comes true or not.

Book Blurb

Their Love RekindledEveryone in Beach Haven thought Aaron and Cassie were the perfect couple. Right up until the day Cassie eloped with Aaron’s best friend, that is.

Now, ten years later, Cassie has been widowed and Aaron is asked to come home and speak at a memorial in her late husband’s honor. He’s got to find a way past his anger and hurt to forgive his old friend and his former lover, but he doesn’t expect to find that his feelings for Cassie are stronger than ever.

Cassie never expected to see Aaron again, especially since he’s made a life for himself in Texas all these years. She’s got no choice but to keep her distance from him because she knows he’ll never be able to forgive her if he ever finds out the truth she’s been hiding from him. But how can she keep her distance when just seeing him brings back all of the old memories of what they once shared?

About the Author

A.J. Goode discovered romance novels as a teenager, when she learned to sneak away with her mother’s collection of Harlequins and 1970’s bodice-rippers. She quickly fell in love with the happy endings and stories in which love conquers all.

She is also a single mother, a high school lunchlady, and a blogger with a knack for seeking the humorous side of every situation.

A.J. is a lifelong resident of Michigan, and her fictional town of Beach Haven is loosely based on the real town where she spent her childhood summers. The series is her way of combining her love for the beach with her addiction to romance novels.

You can find out more about her and her books on her blog.

You can pre-order Their Love Rekindled on Amazon.

Today’s Featured Author – Essel Pratt

Today I welcome author Essel Pratt to my blog where he discusses his first book, Final Reverie, a fantasy adventure.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I was born and raised in Mishawaka, Indiana (North Central part by the University of Notre Dame). I am married to the woman of my dreams and have 2 daughters and a step-son. We have two huskies, a Chihuahua/rat terrier, and two cats.  I work at a community college during the day and am also working toward my Bachelors in Psychology.  By night, I am acquisitions at J. Ellington Ashton Press and also an editor.

What is the best and worst advice you ever received? (regarding writing or publishing)

The best advice I have received is simply to just write.  It doesn’t matter what I write, if it is good, or if it genius.  Writing, even if the content is bad, will spawn new ideas and coerce more imaginative thought. There are many short stories that I have ditched and tossed aside into a folder on my hard drive, only to go back to them later and include them in another story or to simply see if I can make it better.

The worst advice I’ve received is to write what the readers want to read. I feel that if I only wrote for the readers, and not myself, then the fun would fade away. When the fun fades, I don’t see a reason to write anymore. That doesn’t mean I don’t want the writers to enjoy it, quite the opposite actually.  I feel that if I am enjoying the story while I write, it will translate to the readers.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

When I write short stories, I tend to just go with the flow and write what comes to mind. However, when I write novels, I do outline. I think I outline novels because there is so much going on that it is best to have a clear goal from beginning to end.  It also helps to keep the story straight. My first novel, Final Reverie, started as a short story that would not leave my head.  So, I started outlining and realized what the story was meant to be.

Please tell us about your current release.

My first novel, Final Reverie, is a fantasy adventure about a young adult boy named Franklyn and his brother, a wolf named Chij. The core of the story takes place years after our technological world was destroyed and Mother Nature’s magic remerged onto the planet. An evil being, named Nafets, is threatening to awaken and reclaim his place at the top of the world.  Guided by heroes of the past, Franklyn and Chij are tasked to complete the journey to defeat Nafets. Along the way, they encounter magical beings, both good and evil, as they attempt to add balance to the magical world they live in.

How did you come up with the title?

As a child and young adult, video games became my escape. Whenever life stressed me out, school became difficult, or life just didn’t go as I hoped it would, I would find myself immersing my imagination into video games. All of my frustrations placed me into the character behind the controller. However, I never used that frustration to channel anger.  Instead, I used it to become the character and become something greater than I ever thought I was – a hero.  One of those games, Final Fantasy, took being a hero to a more interactive level.  Watching the character grow, as I hoped to do, and achieve greatness, even after failure, was inspiring.  So, the name Final Reverie is an homage to the early Final Fantasy games.

Did you base any of your characters on real people?

I always told myself that I would not use real people as characters in my books. However, in Final Reverie, I just could not help it. Nearly every character is based on someone I know.  Some only by name.  Others by personality and name.  It is strange, I found that it allowed the characters to come alive on the page and naturally evolve as I wrote.

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

I never intended Final Reverie to be a part of a series. However, as with the short story it is based on, it has not left my head. Weirdly, the past is what haunts me about the story.  So, I decided that I would write the trilogy in reverse.  Final Reverie is the first, and I guess you could say last, book in the series. The second book takes place before the events and explores the heroes that guided Franklyn and Chij on their adventure.  It will be called Abiding Reverie.  The third book will explore the time when technology ended and magic emerged.

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

I have thought of this question many times in the past. There are so many fantastic books out there, but I would have to say the Magician’s Nephew would be the book. To witness the birth of Narnia and experience the majestic world within.

If you could meet two authors, who would you pick and why?

My two all-time favorite authors are C.S. Lewis and Clive Barker. When I was thinking if a pseudonym, I nearly chose Clive Lewis, as a tribute to both, but went with Essel instead (A combination of my first and middle name initials “S” and “L”). Although C.S. Lewis writes fantastic fantasy and Clive Barker writes horror, the combined imagination of both would be simply amazing. Having the opportunity to sit in a room with them would be euphoric.

Book Blurb

Final Rev Cover 6Many years after the downfall of technology, magic has reclaimed its position within Earth’s ecosystem. Over time, the delicate balance of between good and evil has weighed heavily toward the malevolent side, despite attempts at stabilizing the equilibrium. Two heroes, Franklyn – an adolescent boy, and Chij – his wolf brother, travel the land with a sole purpose of helping those that cannot defend themselves from the creatures that lurk and feed upon the weak. Their carefree travels are unexpectedly given a larger purpose when they are tasked to search for, and destroy, the nefarious being known as Nafets – who was imprisoned many years prior but teeters on the edge of reemergence. Throughout their journey, Franklyn and Chij encounter heroes of the past that guide them toward the final battle, as well as Atrin – an aspiring adversary that wishes to overthrow Nafets and claim his seat upon the throne of malevolence. Franklyn and Chij endure an emotional journey filled with blood, tears, and self-discovery as they encounter the unexpected and become entangled in a expedition that will test their abilities and emotions.

About the Author

Esse;Essel Pratt is from Mishawka, Indiana, a North Central town near the Michigan Border. His prolific writings have graced the pages of multiple anthologies, a couple self-published works, as well as his own creations.

As a husband, a father, and a pet owner, Essel’s responsibilities never end. Other than a family man, he works a full time job an hour from his home, he is a writer for the Inquisitr, a full time student on his journey to a degree, Event Calendar Coordinator for the Horror Writers Association, and is also the Chief of Acquisitions and Executive Assistant for J. Ellington Ashton Press. His means of relieving stress and relaxing equate to sitting in front of his dual screens and writing the tales within the recesses of his mind.

Inspired by C.S. Lewis, Clive Barker, Stephen King, Harper Lee, William Golding, and many more, Essel doesn’t restrain his writings to straight horror. His first Novel, Final Reverie is more Fantasy/Adventure, but does include elements of Horror. His first zombie book, The ABC’s of Zombie Friendship, attacks the zombie genre from an alternate perspective. Future books, that are in progress and yet to be imagined, will explore the blurred boundaries of horror within its competing genres, mixing the elements into a literary stew.

You can find out more about Essel on his website or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

You can buy Final Reverie on Amazon.

 

 

 

Today’s Featured Author – Eric Drouant

Today, I welcome author Eric Drouant to my blog to talk about Remote, his suspense thriller series.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I work for a large company in the defense industry. I guess the most notable aspect of that career has been time spent in Iraq and Afghanistan and plenty of travel to places I never imagined seeing.

Where were you born and where do you call home?

I’m a Louisiana boy, born in Baton Rouge and raised in New Orleans. I currently live just north of the Crescent City along with a pack of kids and an even bigger pack of grandchildren.

What is the best and worst advice you ever received? (regarding writing or publishing)

The best advice I’ve ever heard is to just sit down and start writing. Write anything. It might be good or it might be crap, but you can always toss it or revise it. If you don’t do something, you have nothing. I don’t know about any bad advice. I believe you just have to find something that works for you.

What is the best thing about being a writer? The worst?

This is strange but in one of my short stories I found an incredibly original way to kill a character, which is tough to do. I was proud of that. The worst part, for me, is editing and re-writing.

How do you conceive your plot ideas?

Most of my books have begun with only the vaguest idea of what I want to do. As I move further and further into it, I’ll begin to map out a few ideas. These sometimes come to fruition and sometimes fall by the wayside.

Please tell us about your current release.

Right now, I have a three book series titled REMOTE. The first book, ORIGINS, relates the story of their discovery by a government agency and their struggle to escape being imprisoned and used as a weapon in the Cold War. FATAL, the second in the series, becomes a little more personal, but again the characters are faced with tough situations. The ending of this book caught both myself and some readers by surprise. ARTIST is the third in the series and sets the tone for further books by placing Cassie Reynold, the main focus of the first two books, into an entirely new set of circumstances in her life.

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

The biggest surprise to me was the emergence of Cassie Reynold as the focus of the book. The original concept involved her boyfriend, Ronnie Gilmore, as the main character. As I moved through the writing, Cassie became simply overpowering and grabbed the lead without any help on my part.

Is there a specific place in the house (or out of the house) that you like to write?

I write where I can, which is usually at my kitchen table or in a hotel room on the road. If I could pick any place in the world to write, it would be in a small hotel room in Le Havre, France. Large parts of ARTIST were written t here and that location is the place I’ve been most productive. I don’t know what it is but I would go back there in a minute and I know the words would pour out again.

Book Blurb

Origins_Ebook1When CIA operatives discover that teens Cassie Reynold and Ronnie Gilmore possess uncanny psychic abilities, their seemingly normal existence is catapulted into a world of espionage,mayhem, and cold blooded murder.

Set against the backdrop of the Cold War, these two high-value targets are marked as prey for renegade agent Thorne. Capturing them will cement his position within a clandestine world, rife with danger at every turn.

The year is 1973 and the world has changed. The government is on edge, no one more so than rogue CIA operative Thorne. After discovering the pair of New Orleans teenagers and their paranormal abilities, he is determined to capture them and use them to further his own cause, but doing so will not come easily, especially when the pursuit unleashes the deadliest instinct of Cassie Reynold.

About the Author

Eric Drouant lives in Slidell, La just north of New Orleans. Born and raised in the deep south, the author spends a considerable amount of time on the road. His work has taken him to Iraq, Afghanistan, South America, and several European countries. A lifetime of reading led him to newspaper work, web content writing, and finally, a plunge into fiction.

You can buy Origins and the rest of the Remote series on Amazon.

 

Today’s Featured Author – Lisa Bilbrey

Today I welcome author Lisa Bilbrey to my blog. She is currently working on the second book in her Awakenings Series.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Lisa, a mom, wife, writer. I have three kids, 17, 15, and 12. My husband and I have been married for 19 years. We were high school sweethearts. I started writing about ten years ago and found myself falling in love with it. I’ve had to learn a lot, but feel that I’m always getting better.

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

I put a lot of my feelings into my books. I’m an emotional person, and my characters tend to be, as well. Also, a smart ass. I was raised by smartasses, so it’s only natural that I would be one, too.

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

I always have multiple projects going on, but the book I am currently focusing my attention on is the second book in my Awakenings Series. The first is Forbidden Awakenings, where my lovely Elle, Sadie, Callum, and Derek are just starting to explore their unique relationship. In book two, Elle struggles with the aftermath of book one, trying to put her life back together. It’s been a long road for this one and I’ve doubted myself too many times to count, but I’m loving the way my characters are being real and honest.

What is the best and worst advice you ever received? (regarding writing or publishing)

Well, the best advice was pretty simple. If I wanted to be a writer, I had to write. Instead of talking about it, wishing it would happen, I needed to do it! And I force myself to sit down every day and write a few words. Most of the time it’s crap, but sometimes, it’s not too bad. Also, that the first draft is just that: a draft. It’s the second and third drafts where we make it perfect, where we iron out the little details.

What is the best thing about being a writer? The worst?

The best are the readers. If you’re lucky enough to get people to read your book, they can be amazingly supportive. The excitement they feel, the way they embrace writers that they love, is incredible. The worst part is the self-doubt. When sales start slowing, the doubt grows and you start asking yourself if you were really good enough to be published in the first place.

What fuels you as an author to continue to write?

My family. Particularly my daughter. She has an amazing imagination and often pushes me to write. She’s even plotted out a book for us to write together, and she’s always asking me how my writing is going. My boys do too, but it’s different for them. I’m lucky to have a supportive family, who understand how important my writing is to me.

How do you conceive your plot ideas?

Different ways for different books. The Angel’s Heart Series was brought forth by a dream I had of a woman standing on the beach with a storm brewing around her. It wasn’t until she turned toward me that I realized her tears were tied to the storm. The Journey Collection was loosely based on a pro-football player from my hometown and my son, who is a senior football player this year.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

I used to be a pantser, but over the last few books, I’ve realized that I do better with an outline. It’s vague, but it gives me a better idea of where the stories going and helps me stay on track.

What inspired you to write this book?

I can’t say any one person inspired me to write the Awakenings Series. It’s an unconventional series about four people who defy society and live their lives the way they want. With Marriage Equality being such a hot-button topic at the moment, it kind of fits, but it’s more about four people learning who they are and embracing the love of family.

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

I don’t hate any of them, but there are a few that get on my nerves. Sophie from Angel’s Heart is a bit of whiner, but it fits with the storyline. She’s been through hell and back and deserves to be able to whine, though it gets old fast.

Book Blurb

ForbiddenElle Reid and Sadie Williams are best friends, turned lovers. Always considering themselves to be friends with benefits, they opt to let loose and celebrate after landing a high-profile project with the best architecture firm in San Francisco.

Callum Davis and Derek Flores have been best friends since their first year at UCLA. While they’ve admitted their attraction to each other, neither have the courage to act on their feelings, both fearful of losing their friendship. At least, not until they meet Elle and Sadie at Club Venom.

Elle, Sadie, Callum, and Derek embark on a life-changing journey that defies what society tells them is normal. But when you find yourselves in love with multiple partners, how do you choose? And what will happen when their families find out about their unconventional relationship? Is their forbidden awakening worth unraveling the secrets they’ve been keeping?

About the Author

profilepicsmallObsessive, compulsive, slightly crazed, but enough about her personality. First and foremost, Lisa Bilbrey is a mom to three and a wife to one. She loves to write, and spends the majority of everyday writing. It’s who she is, and what she’s meant to be doing. Words are her life, the air she breathes, and the nutrients of her soul. Finding a love in the written word, Lisa Bilbrey started writing as a way to express herself and let her voice be heard. From the first word she wrote, she’d found her heart and soul.

Always willing to learn, she’s spends much of her time trying to improve as a storyteller.

You can find out more about Lisa on her blog.

You can purchase Forbidden Awakening or any of Lisa’s other books on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

 

Today’s Featured Author: J. Edward Ritchie

Today I welcome author J. Edward Ritchie to my blog. His novel, Fall From Grace, was released last month.

Interview

Do you write full-time? If so, what is your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?

I worked the daily grind for many years, balancing writing with various full-time jobs. Eventually, some success in screenwriting (along with the loving support of my wife) allowed me to focus solely on my writing––a gift that I appreciate every day. If you have a significant other helping to support your dreams, try to alleviate the shared burden of chores. Wash those dishes and do the damn laundry!

I begin my typical routine with some coffee and gaming to get the creativity flowing. Depending on where I am in the writing process, I may either start a new chapter or polish one from the previous day. I like to go through each chapter twice before moving on to ensure that all my thoughts made it on the page. I’ll also shift gears and focus on social media or my website to build my author brand. Connecting with the online writing community should be part of every author’s day, whether you’re working on your debut novel or are an established superstar.

Due to the sedentary nature of writing, and my own predisposition for avoiding the outdoors, I’ve become accustomed to walking my dog before lunch. It’s good to step outside of your writing cave, stretch your legs, and get some fresh air. A change of scenery can do wonders, especially if you’re struggling with writer’s block.

When my wife comes home from work, my writing day is done (unless I’m facing deadlines). Family will always be the most important part of my life.

What is the best thing about being a writer? The worst?

My favorite part of being a writer is that I’m self-employed, but freedom also brings its own challenges. You have to set boundaries and goals while staying motivated. No one will hold your hand, especially if you’re self-publishing, but finding success through your own willpower and gumption is that much more rewarding.

The worst part of being a writer is putting so much time and energy into something that could never see the light of day. Thankfully, self-publishing has changed all of that and put the power back in the hands of the writer. If you have the courage and dedication, a rejection letter should never be the end of your creative journey.

What is the best and worst advice you ever received? (regarding writing or publishing)

Hands down the worst advice, or rather criticism, came many years ago from a sitcom TV writer that I really admired. He read an early draft of Fall From Grace and had the stones to say that it wasn’t even a story, that it was more like a video game. Forget the ignorance of that statement concerning stories and video games, what successful person goes out of his way to cut down a young writer? Shameful.

The most influential advice of my career came from my friend and mentor, Drew Yanno. In college, I was on track to be a lawyer until I took Drew’s screenwriting classes. He said to me, “If money wasn’t an option, what would you rather do? Practice law or write movies?” It was just the push I needed to follow my dreams. To this day, Drew continues to inspire and teach me as I’ve transitioned into novels.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

I’m jealous of writers who can sit down at their computer and start typing with only a basic nugget of an idea. For the genres I choose to write, especially fantasy, I have to outline. I figure out the rules of the world, locations, themes, character arcs, and the basic story spine. From there, I write a detailed scene-by-scene outline, complete with spots of dialogue, that essentially acts like a first draft. When I actually begin the manuscript, everything goes much that much smoother.

Please tell us about your current release.

Fall From Grace is a fantasy epic rife with action. Told from the perspectives of angelic brothers Michael and Satanail, the story details the war in Heaven that annihilated a civilization. The first war in Creation. What pushes a people who have only ever known love and peace to wage war on one another? How do they respond to violence, death, and a plethora of other foreign sins?

Despite what may seem to be a religious story, I actually drew from numerous religions and mythologies to craft a tale with a universal message of faith and brotherhood. Not just religious faith, but faith in family, in community, and in oneself. My main challenge and goal with the story was to take these divine characters and connect their hardships to the human condition.

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

Even with my excessive outlining, I’m always aware of potential new directions for the story and characters. Writing a novel is a very fluid process of constant change. Authors should allow themselves to be surprised. Some of the best moments in Fall From Grace came from listening to my intuition as the story evolved. Nothing is ever set in stone.

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

This answer has spoilers! You’ve been warned.

Fall From Grace is the first book in a planned trilogy, and I’ve begun plotting Book 2. After the fall of Satan and his demons, Heaven is in a period of reconstruction. The Seraphim have stepped out of the spotlight as a new society is built from the ground up with new leaders. The Host tries to understand the purpose of their new powers and connection to each other via the halos. What does it mean to be a guardian angel? How much, or how little, should they be interacting with humanity?

Of course, Satan cannot stay chained up forever. He inevitably escapes and reclaims his leadership over Demonkind, constructing a twisted kingdom in Hell outside of the Creator’s control. Michael and Gabriel have to enter Hell to stop Satan from stealing the very souls of humanity that they’ve vowed to protect. The concept of the human soul will be the core focus and theme of Book 2.

Is there a specific place in the house (or out of the house) that you like to write?

I write at my desk, surrounded by things that inspire me. A statue of Michael defeating Satan, a globe, and a Lego X-Men jet sit atop my desk underneath my framed college degree. Maybe it’s clichéd, but I’m proud of my time at Boston College. Bookshelves are within sight, loaded with classic literature, contemporary novels, and tons of comics. My dog’s bed is also nearby since he acts as my daily muse. Funny how the snores of a Golden Retriever can free your mind…

I am very much an introvert and prefer to write in relative solitude. I never understood how some people could write in public. I can’t deal with distractions. No TV or video games within reach. The Internet is bad enough!

What book are you reading right now?

I always try to be reading at least one novel and comic at a time. I just finished Marvel’s Original Sin event and its massive companion hardcover. That was a solid 1300+ pages of superhero murder mystery goodness. I am also working through the six volumes of Clive Barker’s Books of Blood to brush up on my short story skills.

If you could meet two authors, who would you pick and why?

It’s the obvious answer, but I’d love to pick Tolkien’s brain. I don’t even want to talk to him about writing; I just want to hear him ramble on about his life experiences. He was so intelligent and educated, far more than myself, and I imagine it would be similar to spending an evening with Gandalf. Sitting by a fireplace with some brandy, shooting the shit with Tolkien…that’s what I’m talking about.

Coming from screenwriting, I have to say Steven S. DeKnight as well. His work on Buffy and Angel is legendary, and Spartacus is probably the sole piece of entertainment tailored exactly to my tastes. I think we’d hit it off and geek out over pop culture.

Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.

I have to admit, my handwriting is abysmal and my cursive is unintelligible. I am terrified of signing books because my scrawl looks like a child’s doodle. It’s really terrible. I’m part of the newer generations that rarely have to handwrite, so I really let my skills go. Is that a fact…or a secret shame? I’ve said too much!

Book Blurb

FallFromGraceFrontCover(web)Heaven: a paradise of all that is pure in Creation. Led by brothers Michael and Satanail, the Angelic Host is a testament to cosmic harmony and love. When an unprecedented revelation threatens to uproot their peace, a schism splits the Host’s loyalties. Every angel has to make a choice: faith or freedom. Good or evil.

Salvation or damnation.

War consumes Heaven in the first and most destructive loss of life that Creation will ever know. As brother turns on brother, the fate of both Heaven and Earth rests in the hands of the Creator’s chosen son, Michael. How far will he go, what will he sacrifice in the name of their Father, to protect his family?

About the Author

JRitchieNewHeadshotEdward Ritchie is a novelist/screenwriter specializing in world creation and action epics. A fan of all things genre from films to comics to video games, his work explores the intricate, primal balance between good and evil. He is dedicated to writing stories that embody the fantastical and uncompromising entertainment that has inspired his career.

To learn more about J. Edward, visit his website.

Want to check out the first 9 chapters of Fall From Grace? They are free on Wattpad.

You can purchase Fall From Grace from Amazon