Meet Ryan Southwick

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Ryan Southwick decided to dabble at writing late in life, and quickly became obsessed with the craft. His technical skills as a software developer, healthcare experience, and life‑long fascination for science fiction became the ingredients for his book series, The Z-Tech Chronicles.

Ryan also has a story in the recent anthology from Paper Angel Press, Corporate Catharsis. His story is titled “Once Upon a Nightwalker.”

Angels in the Mist (Z-Tech Chronicles Book 1), is 462 pages long and will be available June 16, 2020.

Angels in the Mist (front cover)

“…an epic urban fantasy blended with science fiction that will capture readers’ imaginations!”
-InD’Tale Magazine

In the heart of modern-day San Francisco, Anne Perrin becomes the target of an ancient evil. Her only chance—and perhaps the City’s—rests in the hands of a secretive, high-tech organization known as Z-Tech.

​Anne Perrin is resigned to a life driven by an adolescent trauma: a strict routine, no socializing (outside of the safety of her waitressing job), and no romantic relationships. When her cautious lifestyle lets the perfect partner slip through her fingers, Anne vows she won’t let it happen again and ventures into San Francisco to find happiness.

Her first night out in a decade becomes a nightmare when her date turns on her with sadistic intent. But his nefarious plans for Anne are unexpectedly interrupted by a mysterious savior. Valiant, smart, compassionate … Charlie is exactly the partner Anne has been looking for. And best of all, he likes her too.

Things go well between her and Charlie until an assailant with unexpected strength plunges Anne into a world she didn’t know existed — nor could have imagined — where super-science and an eclectic group of extraordinary individuals may be the solution to Anne’s lifelong loneliness … and humanity’s only hope against an ancient threat.

How did you come to write this book?

Even when I was younger, I was surprised how many stories (books, movies, or otherwise) featuring bigger-than-life characters relied solely on action or the characters’ unique abilities to carry the audience’s interest. Wouldn’t it be great, I thought, to have extraordinary/gifted characters that were interesting even without their abilities, and a plot that would draw the audience forward even if “normal” people were involved? The Marvel Cinematic Universe didn’t exist back then, which has provided some of that much-needed relief, but my first inspiration came from George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. I’m an epic fantasy fan, and I remember being disappointed—disappointed!—when he introduced dragons because the characters were so well written and the plot so intriguing that dragons felt unnecessary, a cheap trick that would water down an already fantastic series.

That was how I wanted to write. I’d had a cast of heroic characters bouncing around in my head for years along with a cheesy vampire plot. But what if… what if I could do what Martin did? Could I make those characters so interesting that you hardly cared they were superhuman? Could vampires be introduced gently enough—plausibly enough—that even non-vampire fans would nod along because it just made sense?

Five years ago, I decided to find out, and Angels in the Mist was born, followed closely by Angels Fall and Wrath of Angels. I’d love to know from anyone who’s read the first book if I succeeded.

What genre is your series?

Urban Fantasy / Science Fiction. It’s a modern-day adventure in San Francisco. Vampires are the only fantasy element, really. The rest is more science fiction.

Do you consider your series character-driven or plot-driven?

Plot-driven, though all of the major characters (and especially the protagonist on her journey to heroism and healing) have significant problems holding them back and evolve through the series.

What makes your series unique?

A few things. The protagonist, Anne, is a 36-year-old waitress with chronic, debilitating PTSD who has a hard-enough time making it through the day as it is. Then someone tries to kill her. Then vampires attack. Then she discovers her new boyfriend is one of the most influential people in the world, has some super-tech secrets, and isn’t even human. Then she’s hit on by a girl she thought hated her and could at any moment accidentally kill her, introducing an LGBTQ quandary. Anne must figure out how to cope with things that would drive a normal person insane and keep her PTSD from going completely out of control. And that’s just the first book. My guess is you won’t find many stories with that combination.

Another is realism. Yes, it’s fantasy, but I’ve tried to lay it out believably, offering plausible explanations wherever possible, and tying it into extraordinary characters who have real problems and are dealing with them as anyone would.

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

Both. I start with scene cards so I have a general idea where I’m going (Scrivener is my writing weapon of choice), but if something cool happens in the story that doesn’t fit with the rest of the cards, I won’t hesitate to throw them away and see where the new direction takes me. Plot is driven by characters, and my characters tend to take on a life of their own. I can try to predict what they’re going to do and plot around it, but when I write the scene, the characters often surprise me and do something I didn’t expect, and I’m loathe to change that just because their behaviors didn’t fit what I’d scribbled on an index card. For me, the adventure of writing isn’t sculpting the words to fit the story but putting interesting characters in strange situation and seeing how they react. In many ways, I’m just as excited to find out what’s going to happen as the reader is.

How do you develop the names for your characters?

Going with the idea of realism, I like to pick ordinary names that resonate with me. Common names are easier to remember. Anne and Charlie are two main characters in the book. William is the bad guy. Why not? For more exotic names, like Zima and Cappa, I reach out to friends or use random name generators on the internet. For the latter, I’ll sift through a hundred or so choices, pull out a dozen that I like, then stare at the list until one floats to the top.

How do you decide on the setting?

For Angels in the Mist, San Francisco was an easy choice. I’ve lived in the Bay Area for… well, for many years. The book has a technology theme, and much of it takes place in a tech factory, which also made Silicon Valley’s heart a natural. Having a vampire outbreak in a densely populated city that’s only nine-by-nine miles also felt like it would be challenging to write. San Francisco also has a rich culture, especially in the LGBTQ community, which worked well with the protagonist’s character arc.

In general, though, I like to pick settings that are interesting to me. A portion of Angels Fall takes place in China. I’ve always been fascinated with that part of the world, so it was an excellent opportunity to do some research and put the characters somewhere picturesque. Some of Wrath of Angels is on an Arleigh-Burke-class missile destroyer, which took weeks of fascinating research to properly portray. Another portion is in an abandoned missile complex, which I’ve always wanted to see, and prompted me to visit an old Nike missile site that was practically in my backyard.

Do you have a writing mentor?

Unfortunately, no. I learn best by studying, doing, failing, and trying again until I get it right. That said, I would love to have started this journey with an experienced author as a guide, but I didn’t know any. I’m starting to meet more, thanks to my editors at Paper Angel Press and Water Dragon Publishing, and am looking forward to learning from them, if they’re willing to share.

What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?

I wake up early just so I can do some writing before work, and I’ll write all weekend if my schedule allows. The only time I won’t write is after about 9 pm, when my brain shuts off. It’s the same rule I apply to programming. A friend of mine once said that late at night was when he wrote all his bugs. I find the same is true with writing, so no matter how much I want to continue, I close Scrivener when my concentration starts to wane and save it for the next day.

My favorite place to write is in my comfy chair in front of my computer desk. It’s in the dining room where everyone else hangs out, which is great. I love writing, but I love my family, too. Plus it’s near the snack cupboard.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Only what an incredible journey writing a series has been. It’s brought me closer to my mother, who’s also my alpha reader, as well as my friends who’ve graciously offered their encouragement and feedback. I’ve lost track of the number of hours I’ve spent at the keyboard, writing and re-writing, and I wouldn’t trade a single minute.

You can find out more about my current and upcoming books on my website, https://www.ryansouthwickauthor.com

Thank you, Nancy, for giving me this opportunity!

You can find Ryan online here:

Website: https://www.ryansouthwickauthor.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/ryansouthwick

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RyanSouthwick

Amazon: https://amazon.com/author/ryansouthwick

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ryansouthwick/

Book Links for The Z-Tech Chronicles

Angels in the Mist: https://www.ryansouthwickauthor.com/angels-in-the-mist

Zima: Origins: https://www.ryansouthwickauthor.com/zima-origins

Angels Fall: https://www.ryansouthwickauthor.com/angels-fall

Graven Angels: https://www.ryansouthwickauthor.com/graven-angels

Wrath of Angels: https://www.ryansouthwickauthor.com/wrath-of-angels

 

Meet Andrea Monticue

Hi everyone,

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Today I’m interviewing Andrea Monticue. Andrea is published by Paper Angel Press, and I was able to meet her during BayCon in May.  It was fun hanging out!

Andrea is an aircraft technician who has crawled around inside of the B2, corporate jets, and puddle jumpers. She figures this makes her an expert on starships.

She and her wife live on the west coast of the North American Continent, enjoying redwoods, scuba, archery, bicycling, skateboarding, coffee, reading, and dogs.

Andrea can be found at Memoirs of an Earthling.

Her book is called Memory and Metaphor.  It’s 372 pages and was published on January 31, 2019.  Great cover!

Memory-and-Metaphor-website

Civilization fell. It rose. At some point, people built starships.

A millennium after the Earth was abandoned to climate change and resource depletion, Sharon Manders wakes up in a body that used to belong to somebody else, and some say she was a terrorist. She has no idea how she could be digging for Pleistocene bones in Africa one day, and crewing on a starship the next. That was just before she met the wolfman, the elf, and the sex robot.

Struggling with distressingly unreliable memories, the expectations of her host body’s family and crewmates, future shock, and accusations of treason, Sharon goes on the lam to come face to face with terrorists, giant bugs, drug cartels, AIs, and lawyers.

All things considered, she’d rather be back in 21st Century California.

I love the blurb and I’m looking forward to reading the book. I’ll be reviewing it in a future blog post.

Here’s my interview with Andrea.

Why did you decide to write this book?

This question relates to the one below, How do you decide on the setting? I wrote this book largely because I already had a lot of the background material. 

What genre is your book?

Science Fiction/Space Opera

Do you consider your book character-driven or plot-driven?

There are parallel story lines in this book. One, following the protagonist, is character driven. The other part is about society’s reaction to the character and the events that brought her into existence, and that is plot driven. 

What makes your book unique?

Well, that’s a loaded question, eh? I don’t believe there’s anything in this book that can’t be found in other books. I mean, spaceships, robots, lycanthropes, and elves can all be found across multiple genres, though there probably aren’t very many that bring that combination together under one cover. I’d like to think that I put them all together in a unique story.  

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

Both. I start out with an overall outline of the story, but often change it up as I write. In the case of Memory and Metaphor, I had some very solid ideas about where the plot was going to go and what bases we were going to touch on the way. Seeing the story fleshed out, though, made me realize that some of those goals weren’t realistic and needed overhauls. 

That being said, the very first thing I wrote in the story were the first two paragraphs of chapter three, and everything else evolved from that.

How do you develop the names for your characters?

I sometimes already have a name ready to go. Other times I use various websites designed for developing character names. I use those primarily for minor characters. Since my the story takes place a thousand years from now, in some cases I have taken contemporary names and asked myself how they might evolve over the centuries.  For instance, I might take Jennifer and change it to Jéehnufair.

The name of the protagonist in Memory and Metaphor had to be one that remained static over the centuries. 

How do you decide on the setting?

A long time ago, maybe ten or fifteen years, I read an article in a magazine. I think it was Sky and Telescope but it might have been a similar publication. The article discussed the possibilities of planets in the Alpha Centauri system, and how stable the orbits might be. I ended up writing several programs to simulate the gravitational environment of the system. None of them could be considered quality programs, and even the smallest errors tended to multiply horrendously when extrapolated over mere centuries, let alone billions of years. I didn’t learn anything definitive other than I would never be a good programmer.  In the process, I did a lot of reading on current theories of planetary system formation (I think all of them have become obsolete in the meantime), and ended up creating what I thought was a perfectly reasonable, though entirely fictional, interplanetary society.

The biggest question, of course, was how did humans end up on a planet that looked so Earth-like orbiting Alpha Centauri A? 

Do you have a writing mentor?

Not officially. I try to learn from other writers whose work I admire, but I don’t ask their permission first. 

What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?

While I try to stick to a schedule, I’m not very successful at it. I generally do my best writing when I’m supposed to be doing something else – like math homework.

My favorite place to write used to be at a hometown place called Chit Chat Café.  I’ve recently moved, though, and I’m looking for a new favorite place. 

Anything else you’d like to add?

I read a long time ago that Ernest Hemingway wrote the last page of Farewell to Arms thirty-nine times. This is apocryphal, as near as I can tell. Still, it keeps me going when I’m in that slogging stage of writing books.

How can readers connect with you?

Through my website at Memoirs of an Earthling and also on my Paper Angel Press author page: Andrea Monticue

Meet J Dark

Hey everyone,

Today I’m catching up with Paper Angel Press author J Dark. J Dark is a latecomer to the writing profession, but enjoying every moment that life will allow. “The best thing to me is writing a story that someone enjoys. If I’ve made something fun and entertaining for people, it’s a win-win.”

J Dark lives with a house full of dreams, three cats, and various friends who occasionally drop by and stay for a while. The author lives in Kansas, where the winds blow all the time, and, if you blink your eyes, the weather changes.

Today, J Dark is promoting the series called The Glass Bottles. The name is a reference to the object that kicked off the series and figures in most of the books.  It will eventually be a 5-book series. Right now 3 of the books are finished and the 4th will be out sometime this winter if things go according to plan.

Book 1, Best Intentions, is approximately 56,000 words  and was published in July, 2016. 

Best-Intentions-website

Book 2, Broken Bridge, is approximately 76,000 words and came out in September, 2017.

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Book 3, Beguiling Voices, is approximately 66,000 words and was released in November, 2018.

Beguiling-Voices-website

Why did you decide to write this series?

This series came about from three things actually.  The first was I’d had fun writing on forums in City of Heroes and got the idea I liked writing.  The second was we were having a really bad year financially, and there seemed to be no way to have any celebrations for the upcoming holidays.  We were borrowing money to make ends meet. The third was National Novel Writing Month. It gave me the idea I could write a story, and give that to my daughter for Christmas.  Once I got started, the story took off on its own and I felt like I was just a listener as the story was told to me.

What genre is your series?

The genre is urban fantasy with post-apocalyptic life thrown in.

Do you consider your books character-driven or plot-driven?

Oh wow.  I’d hope that the books are both!  I know the way I write seems to be plot-driven, but I love to see how the characters evolve in the plot, so I’d like to check off both.

What makes your series unique?

That’s a good question. I think that its uniqueness comes from the setting, which is in Canada, and the idea that magic actually did exist before and was dormant for some reason.  

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

I have tried plotting out a story, and the written plot lasts about two pages at most, and then it veers off someplace unexpected.  The stories seem to have their own direction and agenda. I just listen and record.

How do you develop the names for your characters?

I really don’t plot them out.  I do my best to listen to the character, and what sounds right when I say it out loud.

How do you decide on the setting?

The setting is where I do take time.  The world needs to be written out so I can see what kind of environment and influences the character has.  Once the world’s in place, then I can start figuring where the characters live, and what beings, places, and things they interact with.

Do you have a writing mentor?

I think the closest thing I have to a mentor are the editors at Paper Angel Press.  They’re willing to explain their reasons for the edits, and that is valuable feedback to me. But as for a formal mentor, I just don’t have one.

What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?

I have a small alcove in the house that is both quiet and isolated, and has a window.  I like writing and do so mostly in the early morning from about 4:30 a.m. until I get a call for substituting.  Otherwise, I’ll write just before bed. I think early morning is best, oddly enough because I’m still waking up.  I think that the grogginess makes it easier to hear the story as the character is explaining what’s happened.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I really enjoy the challenge of writing professionally.  It’s a dream come true. I may never sell big, or get a lot of financial compensation (lord knows it’d be awesome if I did some day!), but the real point is I get to write, and share those stories with people.  I have a need to entertain people, I have a need to tell stories. This is the way I can do that. Stories are a way of making sense of some things, speculating about others, letting the imagination run free, and, getting a catharsis when life gets too real on occasion.  it’s a place I can go to and pull myself back together, look at questions in my life objectively, and maybe write a story about it to help myself understand some things in a different way. I suppose it’s a way to keep myself sane in a crazy world.

Where can readers find you?

Lots of places!

Paper Angel Press

Amazon author page

My website, The Pandemonium

Twitter

Announcing The Stork

Hey everyone,

I was so happy to  open my Paper Angel Press newsletter this morning and see the upcoming titles section! The Stork is on the radar!  It’s the second book in the Shelby McDougall series and will be out this fall. I have been editing, proof-reading, editing some more, and proof-reading yet again, to tease out all those lingering typos (yes, there were a few), awkward sentences (more than a few of those!), formatting gotchas (plenty of those), and plot or character problems. Thankfully, in this last category, I found just one minor issue.

I’m very thankful that Paper Angel Press is giving The Stork a new lease on life.  I’ll keep you posted as the launch date approaches.

Until next time,

Nancy

The Stork (website)

It’s been five and a half years, and Shelby McDougall is finally on track. And then a late-night phone call puts Shelby’s perfectly ordered life into a tailspin.

Back in Santa Cruz, California, she’s sharing an apartment with her brother, and is in her second year of criminal justice studies. She’s landed her dream job as intern to local PI Kathleen Bennett. And her stone-cold love life is heating up. Her past is behind her. Almost.

One of the twins she put up for adoption has been kidnapped, snatched from his home in the middle of the night. There are no witnesses. After meeting the family, Shelby knows something is off. The adoptive parents tell her the children don’t sleep. They eat constantly, and their IQs are off the charts, qualifying them for either Ripley’s Believe It or Not or a sideshow act in the circus. Against her better judgment, knowing that every cop in the state of California is doing their best to find this boy, Shelby agrees to help. By the time she realizes she’s up against something powerful, something evil, it’s almost too late.

As Shelby fights for her life and that of the kidnapped boy, she learns the shocking truth about her babies. And she also discovers her own truth, a lesson she has to learn over and over: her best instincts might have unexpected, damaging, consequences.

Meet S.C. Alban

sc_albanWelcome today to S.C. Alban, who writes both adult and YA fiction. S.C. Alban was born and raised in Northern California. She is the eldest of three children and often spent much of her childhood playing make-believe with her two younger sisters.

After graduating from university, where she majored in English literature, S.C. traveled for a year. She ultimately moved back to Northern California where she currently resides.

Her adult contemporary fantasy books, The Strega Series novels, will be published through Foster Embry Publishing (A Life Without Living – May 2019, Barely Living Alive – Fall 2019, and Death Before Dying – Winter 2020).

S.C. is currently working as an assistant editor for the growing boutique publisher, Lakewater Press, out of Queensland, Australia. During her time there, she’s had her hands in various projects from slush pile reader, to assisting acquisitions, to producing book trailers, working with the social media coordinator, to working directly with the editing & development department under the guidance of editorial director (and Angel), Kate Foster.

She currently resides in the gorgeous Sonoma County with her family, three cats, and three (terribly) lazy guard dogs, and considers herself pretty darn lucky to live in such an amazing place.

Her book ,A Life Without Living, The STREGA Series, Book 1, comes out today, May 21, from Foster Embry Publishing. It’s 350 pages long. The cover is gorgeous and the title is very compelling.

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Kate Martins appears to have it all – a good career, a beautiful home, and an amazing husband. What more could a woman ask for? But when Kate’s recurring nightmares begin to cross over into her waking hours, she discovers that her perfect life is not at all what it seems. It isn’t until she meets a mysterious stranger that Kate begins to question who she truly is and where she comes from.

Why did you decide to write this series?

I wrote this book because I’ve always had a fascination with witches and folk magic. I’m also a sucker for a tragic love story. I’m drawn to the dark stuff, the stuff that doesn’t always turn out like you want it to, and I wanted to write a love story that had that tone. Also, I wanted to write a novel with a heroine that was an anti-heroine of sorts, but has growth over the series.

What genre is your series?

There’s been some debate about exactly where this book/series would go among my friends, but I’d say this novel falls strongly in the contemporary fantasy genre. However, my sister is adamant that it’s a paranormal thriller all the way.

Do you consider your books character-driven or plot-driven?

Though there are bits of internal revelation by the characters, the series is a plot-driven roller coaster.

What makes your series unique?

I think what makes my book unique is the fact that my characters are terribly flawed and seem to make their lives more difficult with every choice, and somehow they’ll need to figure out how to make everything work out. That, and the focus on Italian witchcraft. My characters practice Stregheria. Of course, creative interpretation about the tradition is exercised, including borrowing form other traditions, is employed. But I think the way I combine the many traditions from all over the world is what makes the book unique.

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

I am a very loose plotter. I have an ending. And perhaps a few points along the way, but mostly I like to see where things lead.

How do you develop the names for your characters?

It’s silly, but whenever I hear a name I like I write it down in a journal I have set aside for name gathering. Also, I’ll say dialogue out loud using the names and imagine scenes and character interactions to see if the names match the person and go with the other characters.

How do you decide on the setting?

I tend to write about places I’ve been to and have experienced. Which makes a wonderful excuse to vacation. I try to travel as much as possible to get as many setting ideas settled in my brain. Then, I just mix and match to make the setting work for the story and characters.

Do you have a writing mentor?

I don’t have a writing mentor, per se, but I’m super lucky to have so many colleagues who I look up to that have definitely taken on a “mentor”role at one point or another. The writing community is such a supportive place to learn and grow.

What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?

My writing schedule is so chaotic right now. I typically write at night, but after a day of teaching, that doesn’t always happen on a regular basis. Weekends are always good, though. I usually do some writing every weekend. And, my favorite place to write is in the lounge at my local bowling alley. I know it sounds bizarre, but it’s rarely busy and surprisingly quiet. Plus, the bartenders are really nice there and let me hang out in the coveted corner comfy couch for hours without any problems.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I just want to thank Foster Embry Publishing for breathing new life into this book, and series. I’m so excited to finish Kate and Gio’s story and share it with the world.

I also want readers to know that a portion of all sales for this series will be donated to The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). It’s the largest nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting individuals and families affected by eating disorders by providing support, and as a catalyst for prevention, cures, and access to quality care. As someone who’s been affected by an eating disorder, I know the work NEDA does is lifesaving, and I want to make sure I do whatever I can to help support them.

Where can readers find you?

Readers can find me on my website, my Amazon author page, or on Twitter.

 

Meet L. A. Jacob

Hey everyone,

la_jacobs

Today I’m interviewing Paper Angel Press author L. A. Jacob. L. A. Jacob (also writing as Jake Logan) has been writing fiction for over 30 years. She has been involved with Ceremonial Magic, Wicca and Paganism, and now considers herself Unitarian.

She’s published four books in the Grimaulkin series and, as Jake Logan, the first volume in the War Mage series.

 

Today, she’s talking about the Grimaulkin series.  So far, there are four books in the series:

Grimaulkin, Book One, 142 pages, was published in February 2017.

Grimaulkin-website

Grimaulkin Tempted, Book Two, came out in December 2017 and is 202 pages long.

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Grimaulkin Redeemed, Book Three, published in February 2018, is 180 pages long.

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Grimaulkin Tales, published on May 1, 2019, is a collection of short stories and is 202 pages long. 

Grimaulkin-Tales-website

Now, the interview:

Why did you decide to write this series?

I have always been interested in using magic in the real world. I am a practicing magician and believe that magic does really work.

I first created Grimaulkin in an MMO (Massive Multiplayer Online) game. I wanted to play a man because it was known at the time that if I played a female in this game, I was either looking for a relationship or the male players would not take me seriously.

I decided on a gay man because there weren’t enough gay players in the game. By role-playing a character who happened to like men and could be taken seriously as a gamer, I could explore the male dominated world of gaming.

I really liked Grimaulkin’s attitude and found that he was a “love him or hate him” kind of guy. I took him out of the gaming universe and put him in my own, to try and solve some of my own problems and issues.

What genre is your series?

It’s young adult fantasy, not necessarily urban fantasy because it’s not as dark and gritty as urban fantasy. It can also fall under young adult LBGTQ fantasy.

Do you consider your books character-driven or plot-driven?

Mostly character-driven. If I am not pressed for time, I will set the characters up and let them duke it out on their own. However, I often will end up down rabbit holes or I will write myself into a corner.

What makes your series unique?

Other than possibly Dumbledore, there aren’t too many serious gay magicians. Grim has been through a dark past and is a stronger man for it, even if he is somewhat amoral at times.

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

If I’m pressed for time, or have a deadline, I try to loosely plot out my stories. When I want to feel old fashioned, I set up index cards—when I’m new-fangled, I use the index card feature in Scrivener, where I usually write my first drafts.

Regardless, I always at least have an end-point in mind before I write.

How do you develop the names for your characters?

Grimaulkin is a misspelling of Grimalkin, which is the cat that belongs to the three witches in Macbeth. It’s also a word that means “old female gray cat”. I have three books of names, and also use the Beyond the Name websites for first names and surnames.

As an aside, I named my first petite gray cat Grimalkin, but my husband misheard it and thought it was “Grey Mountain.” The name stuck.

How do you decide on the setting?

I write what I know. I grew up in the area that the book takes place in. I even pass by “Scott’s store”. It used to be a place called the Curly Caterpillar, where I bought my first deck of tarot cards at 15. It is now a coffee shop.

Do you have a writing mentor?

No, I never did. I have a degree in English and Communications, with the idea that I was going to be a journalist. I have a minor in Cultural Anthropology, because I decided I wanted to have that under my belt to write science-fiction and develop other fantastic cultures. When I got out of college, I ended up working as an admin at a newspaper until it closed, and found myself in different administrative jobs instead of my chosen field. I had no place, no other writers to involve myself with.

What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?

I try to write nightly, but I am a news junkie who listens to news from the time I get home until 7 pm, and by then, I’m too tired. Most of my writing is done on the weekends now. My favorite place to write is in my cellar, on my iMac using Scrivener. I don’t have any distractions but mail and the internet. I also have Scrivener on my Windows computer located in my official “office”, but I have a game that can distract me on that computer. If I have to get something done, I do it on the Mac.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Writing is a magical experience. When you’re in that zone, that place where your world has fallen away and you’re typing or writing something that seems to be coming from on high, then that is magic. But before you get there, you have to work and write earthy stuff.

Where can readers find you?

A few places. There’s my author page on the Paper Angel Press website.

And my websites:

Grimaulkin’s Grimore

Dark Mystic Quill

 

Meet Steven Radecki

Hey everyone,

Steven headshotEarlier this month, you met Steven Radecki in his role as managing editor of Paper Angel Press. (See Meet Paper Angel Press, Part 1 and Part 2.) Did you also know he was an author? Today, I’m talking to him about his book, Building Baby Brother. I remember when he was writing this story, ten or so years ago. It’s great to see it in book form! I really enjoyed it and think it will appeal to readers of diverse genres: YA, family drama, sci-fi. You can find my review at the end of the interview.

Building Baby Brother was published in August 2016. It’s 120 pages long.

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You can find it here:

Paper Angel Press

And now, the interview.

Why did you decide to write this book?

It actually started as what was intended to be a 2,000-word short story for a family event at the school my son was attending at the time. The event, unfortunately, got cancelled, but my mind couldn’t let go of the story … and it kept growing … and growing … and growing – and eventually became the 29,000-word novella that it is today.

What genre is your book?

Building Baby Brother would definitely be considered science fiction. Had it been told from the point-of-view of the son rather than the father, it could also have been YA (Young Adult). Hmm … excuse me, I need to get back to the keyboard right now.

Do you consider Building Baby Brother character-driven or plot-driven?

Originally, I think the story started out to be plot-driven, but I think it turned out to be far more character-driven.

What makes your book unique?

That’s a good question – and one an author should be able to answer when promoting their book. I’d have to say that it might be unique because it’s approachable science fiction that anyone with children could relate to because it doesn’t get bogged down in the “science” part, but themes are relatable to anyone with children or who has been a parent.

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

This may come as quite a shock to people who know me, but I rarely plot out the entire story before I begin. I tried outlining my stories first, but once the characters develop lives and voices of their own, they rarely want to follow the script I originally laid out for them. (I do occasionally create pseudo-outlines when I’m in the midst of creating a story to make sure that I remember to hit some key points or events along the way to the end. I guess I’m a big believer in “No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.” I do like being surprised when I read a story. I don’t always know how the story will end when I start it (as problematic as that might sound), but I always know how it must end when I get about a third of the way through writing it.

How do you develop the names for your characters?

Most of the time, they name themselves. As I’m writing, there’s usually a name that feels right. If that doesn’t work, I check name lists on the Internet, like lists of baby names or random names in directory listings and then often combine names from two different sources together.

How do you decide on the setting?

Well, for Building Baby Brother, it was set in an imaginary home and an neighborhood that resembled the one where I grew up in Southern California when I was the same age that the boy was in the story.

Do you have a writing mentor?

I don’t know that I have a specific writing mentor, per se. There are authors who I admire and look to for inspiration. Some of the key influences would be Robert A. Heinlein, Spider Robinson, Tom Robbins, and Harlan Ellison.

What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?

If I could hold to an actual writing schedule, then the sequel(s) to Building Baby Brother would be published, as would books in my various space opera series. I don’t know that I have a particularly favorite place to write, as most of my writing tends to get squeezed in wherever I happen to be. I do, however, have a fondness for a local coffee place where they roast their own beans. I would try to get one of the tall bar tables next to the roaster and write away on my netbook to the aroma of roasting coffee. I may need to put that place in a story someday.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I’d like to encourage our writers to submit their stories – particularly to smaller presses who might appreciate them. Feedback – even less than positive – is a gift that can help you grow as a writer. And, please, stop giving your work away for free. Your time, effort, and vision are worth more than that.

Where can readers find you?

Check out my page on the Paper Angel Press website: Steven Radecki 

Also check out my website: A Work in Progress

Nancy’s review of Building Baby Brother:

Building Baby Brother is a fascinating book, with themes on multiple levels, from the impacts of AI to what it means to be a parent. A dad wants to do the best for his son and uses his engineering skills to ‘create’ a baby brother. And, just like a person, baby brother grows in unexpected ways. The story is touching, funny, and wise, and will appeal to sci-fi fans, as well as to fans of family drama and YA.

Meet Laurel Heidtman

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Today, I interview Laurel Heidtman. I met her through an author Facebook group I’m a member of. I’m really looking foward to reading her books. Laurel is originally from southwestern Ohio and is a three-time graduate of Miami University of Ohio. For the past 28 years, she and her husband  have lived on private land inside Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky with an assortment of dogs and cats (3 dogs, 2 cats at the current time).

Over the years, she’s worked in many different professions. Laurel has been a dancer, a police officer, a registered nurse, and a technical writer to name the ones she did the longest. When she retired from the 9-to-5 life, she decided to pursue her lifelong dream of writing fiction. She now writes mysteries and thrillers as Laurel Heidtman. She also write cozy mysteries, contemporary romance and romantic suspense as Lolli Powell.

Here’s a list of Laurel’s books. It’s impressive!

2014

Catch A Falling Star (An Eden Mystery), 247 pages, May 2014 – Laurel Heidtman

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The Boy Next Door, contemporary romance, 226 pages, November 2014 – Lolli Powell 

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2015

The Wrong Kind of Man, romantic suspense, 353 pages, January 2015 –Lolli Powell

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Bad Girls (An Eden Mystery), 344 pages, August 2015 – Laurel Heidtman

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2016

Whiteout, thriller, 284 pages, March 2016 – Laurel Heidtman

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The Body on the Barstool (A Top Shelf Mystery), cozy mystery, 314 pages, November 2016 – Lolli Powell

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2017

Whiskey Kills (A Top Shelf Mystery), cozy mystery, 369 pages, September 2017 – Lolli Powell

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The Gift: A Novella, 99 pages, November 2017 – Lolli Powell

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2018

Convenient Death (An Eden Mystery), 260 pages, January 2018 – Laurel Heidtman

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Murder in Eden, bundle of three Eden mysteries, 757 pages, April 2018 – Laurel Heidtman

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On to the interview!

What genre are your books?

As Laurel Heidtman, I write mysteries (crime novels) and thrillers. As Lolli Powell, I write cozy mysteries and romance.

Do you consider your books character-driven or plot-driven?

I think all of my books are a pretty even mixture of both. I write genre fiction, and the primary purpose of genre fiction is to entertain, so obviously plot is important to that. But unless the reader also believes in and likes/hates/fears the characters, he or she isn’t likely to be entertained. In 2017, Whiskey Kills, the second book in my Top Shelf cozy mystery series won a Bronze in The Wishing Shelf Independent Book Awards contest. The contest is judged by reader groups in London and Stockholm, and the readers provide feedback to the authors. One of the things they give an opinion on is whether they think the book is plot- or character-driven. Out of twenty-three readers, ten thought my book was plot-driven and thirteen thought it was character-driven. Since they all read the same book, I think that confirms I’m correct in thinking mine are a pretty even mixture.

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

I know where the story starts and where it ends, but how I get from one to the other usually emerges as I write. It’s like a road trip—you start at point A and you know you’re going to point B, but there are a lot of roads you can take to get there.

How do you develop the names for your characters?

I name characters the same way I name my dogs and cats—I play around with different names until the dog/cat/character tells me that’s the one. Seriously, some names just don’t seem to fit, and then all of a sudden, one does.

How do you decide on the setting?

That is dictated by the story or the situation or event that triggered the idea for the story. For example, I got the idea for my thriller Whiteout from the experience of being trapped in our home in the woods in the freak March 1993 blizzard that hit Kentucky. We had 22 inches of snow and the high winds piled that into hip-high drifts. We lost power, of course, and had no hope of getting out for days. So I imagined what would happen to two couples with issues stranded like that and then two escaped killers show up on their doorstep.

Do you have a writing mentor?

Not really. But I am thankful for the support and encouragement of the many indie authors I’ve befriended both locally and through the Internet.

What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?

My writing schedule leaves a lot to be desired, especially in the summer! I really want to get more disciplined about that, and it’s my goal for not only the New Year but the rest of this year. I’ve written and self-published eight full-length novels and one novella (plus published a bundle of three of my mysteries) in the last five years. That’s not bad, but if I had treated this more as a full-time job, I could have done a lot more.

I don’t have any favorite or interesting place to write. I just write at my desk, or occasionally I might take my laptop to a comfortable chair.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I’d just like to remind people that all writers, but especially indie authors, depend on reader reviews. Potential readers also depend on reviews to help them find a book that would appeal to them. We writers appreciate any and all reviews. Of course, we appreciate ones that detail what the reader liked and didn’t like about the book (the latter helps us improve), but even a simple one- or two-liner is appreciated.

Where can readers find you?

I have two websites, one for each of my author names. They are: www.laurelheidtman.com and www.lollipowell.com.

My blog link is: www.ridgewriter.com.

Amazon author pages: https://www.amazon.com/Laurel-Heidtman/e/B00KOR458M/ and https://www.amazon.com/Lolli-Powell/e/B00TM9IJFI/

Facebook links:

Laurel Heidtman Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/Laurel-Heidtman-Author-1493519914256076/

Lolli Powell Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/lollipowell/

Twitter link: https://twitter.com/kylaurel1

Google+ link: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+LaurelHeidtman

 

Meet Justin Robinson

612yrNavtyL._US230_Much like film noir, Justin Robinson was born and raised in Los Angeles. He splits his time between editing comic books, writing prose, and wondering what that disgusting smell is. Degrees in Anthropology and History prepared him for unemployment, but an obsession with horror fiction and a laundry list of phobias provided a more attractive option. He is the author of more than 10 novels in a variety of genres including detective, humor, urban fantasy, and horror. Most of them are pretty good.

Justin is the co-host of Tread Perilously a weekly “worst of television” podcast (featured on Fanbase Press).

He and his wife Lauri Veverka started Captain Supermarket Press in 2013 when they published Coldheart, the first book in the League of Magi series. Lauri sometimes designs stuff and likes to read Justin’s books. Sometimes she designs stuff for his books. She also updates this website, sometimes.

Justin and his family reside in Los Angeles with too many cats and extensive book, comic, and DVD collections.

Today, Justin is talking about his latest book, Wolfman Confidential (City of Devils, Book 3). It is 402 pages, and will be published on Halloween.

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The other two books in the series can be found here:

City of Devils (Book 1):

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Fifty Feet of Trouble (Book 2):

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Why did you decide to write this book?

My City of Devils series has a passionate fanbase and I love to explore the world, so writing the book is a foregone conclusion.

What genre is your book?

Like the bulk of my work, it’s best classified as Weird Noir. Essentially, imagine Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but instead of cartoons, it features movie monsters.

Do you consider your book character-driven or plot-driven?

Most of my earlier stuff is strongly plot-driven, but this one is character-driven. Nick Moss, the hero of the two previous installments, has to decide what he is: a detective or a gangster while navigating a world of monsters.

What makes your book unique?

It’s the best parts of classic noir and b-movie monsters, but since the book takes place at the end of 1955 and the beginning of 1956, it also features several historical figures in supporting roles.

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

I outline. Noir plots tend to be too intricate to write by the seat of your pants. You’ll wind up with huge logic gaps and plot holes.

How do you develop the names for your characters?

With my human characters, I use census data from the time to look at common names. “Nick” sounded like a good private eye name, and “Moss” has that kind of nondescript feel I wanted. In the world of City of Devils, after someone gets turned into a monster, they choose a new name. These tend to be classical allusions, or they’re puns, because I like puns. So in this installment, you have a pair of wolfman cops named Lou Garou and Phil Moon, a bride of Frankenstein-style character named Jane Stitch, and a trio of goblin gangsters with the handles Flux, Murk, and Sawbones.

How do you decide on the setting?

I love noir and I love monster movies. It was a natural fit.

Do you have a writing mentor?

Nope!

What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?

I write when my daughter naps. Since she’s only a year old, fortunately she naps a lot. She sleeps right next to me while I write. That’d be my favorite place.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I have a ton of free short stories on my site (www.captainsupermarket.com) set in the world of City of Devils starring a lot of the characters from the books. So if you have a favorite character, from Gelatin Keyes the blob to Sam Haine the pumpkinhead, you can find a story all about them. Alternately, if you don’t know whether you want to start the series, take the world for a test drive. See a Thanksgiving crime gone horribly wrong in “Light or Dark,” or what the crew of a ghost ship does on vacation in “All Wet.”

Where can readers find you?

Website: http://www.captainsupermarket.com/

Twitter:  @JustinSRobinson

Instagram: @weirdnoirmaster

 

Meet Linda Lingle

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Linda began writing at a young age and had some early success with her whimsical short stories. Then life intervened and she took a break from writing to build a career in public service.  When the story line for Dear Heart came to her out of the blue, it sparked her imagination and reignited her enthusiasm for writing.

​Linda lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, Arthur, and her dog, Sam. She is currently writing a screenplay which incorporates the plots from both Dear Heart and Sweet Heart, and working on the second draft of her third book, Interoffice Romance.

Dear Heart was published by Solstice Publishing on May 6th, 2018 and is 168 pages.  The companion book, Sweet Heart, was also published  by Solstice. It came out on August 1st, 2018 and is 123 pages.

About Dear Heart and Sweet Heart:

Can love survive a nearly-forty-year separation? Can passion? And what happens to lovers who are separated for a life time? See how their destiny unfolds as the parted lovers dream about finding their way back to each other’s arms, and an unlikely guide emerges to light the path of their journey.

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Deirdre Reid and Hartley (Lee) Tate feel an immediate attraction when they meet at the office where they will work together and fall in love. There is only one problem: they are married to others and Lee has four daughters to whom he is devoted.

For 15 months Deirdre and Lee carry on a passionate affair. Then Lee’s wife is offered a big promotion across the country. With his heart breaking, Lee leaves Deirdre in San Francisco and moves East with his family so his wife can advance her high-powered career.

Soon, unforeseen circumstances have Deirdre second-guessing her insistence on a clean break. She resists every impulse to fly to Lee’s side, but on the first anniversary of their parting, Deirdre grows increasingly regretful and melancholy. Then she receives a surprising Christmas present which sets in motion a 38-year ritual that, against all odds, keeps alive the love she shared with Lee.

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Heartbroken and resentful, Lee has a difficult time adjusting to his life without Deirdre and struggles to settle in to his new surroundings. Knowing he made the only decision a father could make does little to lessen Lee’s profound sense of loss. Although he tries to be upbeat and optimistic for the sake of his daughters, in the dark and quiet of his lonely nights, Lee relives the fifteen heady months that he spent with Deirdre and gives free rein to the anguish and bitterness he feels because he was forced to leave her.

Then, his youngest daughter enlists Lee to help her find an elusive Christmas gift for her favorite teacher and everything changes.

As if guided by fate, Lee stumbles across a poignant reminder of his time with Deirdre and sets in motion the 38-year ritual that eased his heartbreak and sustained his hope for the future.

In this companion book to Dear Heart, we meet the people who populate Lee’s world, and learn the shocking secret he promised never to reveal.

Why did you decide to write these books?  

I awoke on the morning of my fortieth wedding anniversary thinking about all of the ups and downs my husband and I had survived, and about how love had changed for us as we weathered the bad times and the challenges of day-to-day living. Then — and this is where the magic came in, I began to wonder how life would have been if romantic love had lasted forever. The next thing I knew, I was sitting at my laptop, writing the first chapter of Dear Heart.   

What genre are your books?

I would characterize both Dear Heart and Sweet Heart as contemporary romances.

Do you consider your books character-driven or plot-driven?

Definitely character driven since each book is narrated by a main character; Dear Heart is told by the female character and Sweet Heart is told by the male character.

What makes your books unique?

Primarily, the voice of the characters. But I think that the use of music and specific song titles to drive the plot is something that distinguishes these books from other romances.

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

I knew when I started that the main characters would have a passionate affair, be separated for a long period of time, and would ultimately get back together because, well, when I read a love story, I want there to be a happily ever after.  Beyond that, the plot emerged as I wrote.

How do you develop the names for your characters?

I knew the title would be Dear Heart before I even started writing the book.  When I came upon the name Deirdre when I was looking at baby names on the internet, it hit me that the first four letters of her name was a variation of the first word of the title. Then I found the name Hartley for the male character and I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. The only problem was that I thought Hartley was too formal for the male character. I struggled with that for a little while, until I decided to give him a nickname.

How do you decide on the setting?

I knew I wanted to include music as a key element in the book and I decided to use music recorded by Frank Sinatra very early on. When I started going through his discography and discovered “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” it felt right to set the story there. And when I separated the lovers, I wanted Lee to be on the other side of the country, hence, New Jersey.

Do you have a writing mentor?

No.

What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?

I am very lucky to have my own study which looks out into our yard, so I enjoy working there.  But I don’t have a set writing schedule. I write when the spirit moves me. I don’t force it. I say, why torture yourself? Conventional wisdom is that writing in 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. But for me, writing is 100% about the inspiration, because when you’re inspired, you won’t have to break that much of a sweat. I’m not saying you won’t have to work, but the fact is that a truly inspired story will tell itself, while a story light on inspiration and heavy on perspiration will end up hopelessly contrived.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Yes, I’d just like to tell other aspiring writers to never give up.  More than anything else, believe in your story. Don’t listen to anyone who tries to dissuade you from writing it. And don’t let anyone convince you to self-publish if you believe you can place your book with an actual publisher. It took me almost two years of sending out queries before Solstice Publishing offered me a contract for Dear Heart. And I could not have been luckier that Kathi Sprayberry and Melissa Miller took a chance on me. Together with KateMarie Collins, these women have taught me more about publishing and marketing than I thought I’d ever know, and I owe them a debt of gratitude I can never repay.   

Where can readers find you?

WEBSITE:  www.lindalinglebooks.com

FACEBOOK:  www.facebook.com/LindaLingleBooks

TWITTER: twitter.com/lindalinglebks