Hey all, My apologies for not posting, but work has had me bogged down before we went out of town. This article may fall in line with a topic I listed before, sources for making stories, but I've dealt with this particular method more this week while working on my newest series, The Trident Trilogy. I've gone to several websites(epilogue.net, deviantart.com, google images, elfwood.com, fantasyart.toplisted.net to name a few) loaded with great artwork to download samples for some examples of my characters in all of my books. 

As I was perusing the various pics, I spotted some that captured my interest. Whether it was the character, the background, or the color, I kept thinking, "Hmmm, this could be a story." Despite the fact I already had a decent grasp of my current characters, downloading some pics allowed me to study them a bit closer. During my inspection, characteristics began formulating as I sat in observation. The color of the artwork, the facial expression, the armor/clothing being worn all came into play in feeding more detailed ideas into my mind. 

One thing I learned in high school and college was a unique study format that allowed me to comprehend things very quickly. I would read my notes/text and formulate my own test questions. On an index card, I would number them and write 4-5 questions on one side with the numbered answers on the back. As I wrote the questions, I used as many of my senses in the process: reading, hearing, seeing, writing. Doing so allowed things to sink in quicker. The same principle applies in using a pic with other mediums. For example, have appropriate music in the background, or have a related movie playing nearby. Even "mood" lighting can come into play. Utilizing all these factors, along with your imagination, can enhance your ability in creating that special character for your next success story. 

In relation to the pics, you can also create files specific for a particular novel you are working on, or gather pics under a specific type: villain, knight, cleric, detective, priest, etc. 
Good luck! Take care, Nick G. Giannaras
 
 

Hey all! Join us today to meet Andrea Graham, an Christian author and freelance editor whose books I'm sure you'll enjoy!
- How long have you been writing?  
Since I was eight, almost nine years old. Before the San Francisco Earthquake, I was writing Batman-Superman Fanfiction.

- Where do you get your ideas for your stories?
Everywhere: Sermons at church, out of the blue. Sometimes, I’ll get ideas from TV shows, particularly one where I don’t enjoy the episode and I imagine how it really should be told.

- What are your thoughts on critique groups?
It’s a mixed bag. On one hand, if you get a knowledgeable, supportive critique partner, it can be a blessing. On the other hand, there are bad critique groups, arrogant critiquers, etc. So proceed with caution.

- Have you dealt with writer's block? If so, how did you overcome it?
Yes. I’ve generally tried not to sit there and stare at blank screens. At some point, to quote the great Kenny Rogers, you have to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em. And sometimes, the best thing to do is to do something else, rest your mind, and come back.

- Do you find a part of your personality sneaking into any of your characters?
Here and there, probably the clown and sarcastic tendencies are the ones most likely to appear.

- Were there any scenes you found difficult to write? Made you angry or made you cry?
I’m working on a Short Story that’s trying to become a novelette and the final confrontation scene was very tough. The story deals with child abuse and I kept wanting to handle the whole thing more clinically. What we finally ended up writing after much coaxing from my wife, was something that packs more of a punch, and did make me cry writing it.

- Do you use outlines or let the story develop on its own?
Mostly on its own. I know where I’m starting and I have a general idea where I’m going. I let the story happen as it goes.

- What do you want your readers to take from your book(s)?
Depends on the book. I hope they just take something away from it and whatever God has for them.

- Can you share any upcoming projects with us?
Upcoming. I’ve three big ideas that I have to struggle to get to:

1) The Return of the Dim Knight. This is going to be a challenging book to write. My challenge is going to be to grow my characters personally, emotionally, and spiritually from the last book without going too far. We’re still going to have some comedy, but it will be a slightly different tone.  It’s the Superhero sequel that I hope readers will be waiting for.

2) Case Files of the Selfish Detective: Not really a speculative story, but will feature a character from Tales of the Dim Knight, Neil Worthington. Worthington is a genius detective who tries to model his life off of the combined efforts of Sherlock Holmes, Nero Wolfe, and Hercule Poirot. He lives alone mostly, irritating household staff, and driving them away. Then one day, Worthington is on the sidewalk and a car almost runs him over but a young woman saves him, but is hit herself and gets amnesia. Worthington pays her medical bills and brings her onboard. Her mission is to remember who she is and to get Worthington to use his powers for good.

3) The Graham works: Podcast-Yes, I want to start recording podcast of my works, both published and unpublished, so that people can enjoy them and I can grow my audience. But not something I’ve been able to find time to do yet.

- Tell us a little about yourself. What do you like to do when you are not writing? What is your temperament, etc.?
I love old time radio and radio drama in general. Spend a lot of time listening to that and producing podcasts on old time radio.

- With a full schedule, how do you find time to write?
I’ve invented something called a caffeine IV. Sadly, don’t find enough.

- When creating a character, where do you begin? Do you give them a background even if it may never be mentioned in the storyline?
I really try to get to know the character organically, through telling the story and listening to them. I tried once writing down all the details and I never got through all the details and never wrote the story.

- Can you share one or two nuggets of wisdom to those wanting to travel down the writing road?
In modern writing, there are two types of rules: 1) rules that are absolute and hard and fast and 2) things that are a matter of opinion and style but get stated as rules. A good writer has to be able to tell the difference.

- Where can readers find your books and contact information?
http://www.dimknight.com

- Do you spend time in prayer before you write or begin a project?
Not as much as I should.

- What is your writing routine? Do you need peace and quiet, soft music, or does it matter?
If I get into one of those “inspired modes,” I can have a spell and turn out a few thousand word short story in a day. What Ideally I need is good classical or instrumental music playing in the background with Facebook and email closed. 

Thanks for joining us today!

 
 

Today I have another author in our little "promote our friends idea", and it has gone over well. Here is Kimberli R. Campbell, and if you read on, you'll see why she would be a neat person to meet. Don't forget, check out her books!
- How long have you been writing?
I have been writing for over 10 years. However, I still have a lot to learn.

- When did you feel called to write?
I can't say I remember a specific time when the Lord put the desire in my heart. All I know now is I have a deep need to write the stories he gives me.

- Where do you get your ideas for your stories?
Boy, the ideas come from everywhere. The series I'm writing now came from a dream. I have a romance/suspense story from watching an old blue pickup truck stopped in front of me at a stoplight. It's fun watching people in hopes the images will produce a story.

- What are your thoughts on critique groups?
I think they are extremely important if there is a mixture of experience levels. Unfortunately, as people get busy with life, it's difficult to stay consistent with critiques. You also need to be able to receive constructive criticism. It's painful, but needed.

- Was it hard to develop a writing style?
If I developed a style, it probably came from the type of books I like to read. Down-to-earth and relaxed.

- Who is your favorite author?
I enjoy reading books by Donita K. Paul, Terri Blackstock, and Ted Dekker...just to name a few.

- Have you dealt with writer's block? If so, how did you overcome it?
I don't think I've had to deal with writer's block. However, I have let things keep me from writing. After a full day, instead of writing, I spend my time doing mindless things - surf the web, playing games on the iPad. Although there are times when a person does need to take some downtime, I tend to play longer than I should. When I do notice myself doing this, I force myself to get back to writing.

- Do you find a part of your personality sneaking into any of your characters?
Yes. I think it gives the characters more depth...not that I'm a complex person. :)

- Were there any scenes you found difficult to write? Made you angry or made you cry?
One of the issues the main character and his friends deal with is bullying. Bullying makes me angry. As for crying, in the third book of the series, there is a part where I teared up. I didn't have to breakout the tissues, but it was close.

- Do you use outlines or let the story develop on its own?
I'm an outline kind of gal. I need structure. Hats off to those that let the story develop on its own. If I wrote that way, the story would probably start with the ending.

- What do you want your readers to take from your book(s)?
I would love for the readers to come away with a spirit of victory and that they've been on an awesome adventure. Learning the importance of a relationship with the Lord, family, and friends is also something I'd like them to walk away with. And, let's not forget the desire to read the next book.

- Can you share any upcoming projects with us?
I would love to share. My book, Redemption: Shayia's Adventures - Book Two, will prayerfully be out this year.  I am currently working on book three of the series. I have no title at this time. I am not sure if the Lord has a book four, so I'll have to see what he has next.

- What makes Redemption: Shayia's Adventures - Book Two a must read for young readers?
Aside from the back to back action and suspense, this book touches on issues like bullying, feeling alone, and sharing the Good News. It would be great to see the book used in a classroom setting to help children dealing with any of these issues.

- How do you respond when someone comments that certain elements (magic, vampires, zombies, etc.) in your story does not fit in what they consider to be Christian?
Hm...I do have sorcery in my books, but it's clearly stated that it's wrong. As for what they consider magic, I don't see it as magic. Shayia's sword glows and the Word appears on it. I believe those to be the manifestation of God's awesome power. He used the staff of Moses, caused a donkey to speak, and so much more. I think this is a topic that people will always see differently, which is all right. I must write what I feel the Lord has asked me to write. I do so to bring him glory and to draw his children closer to him.

- Tell us a little about yourself. What do you like to do when you are not writing? What is your temperament, etc.?
I'm a quiet person. However, if you were to see me acting on stage, you would disagree. I would be content sitting quietly in a room (not padded) with a book and/or my iPad. I drive the speed limit and obey the rules of the road to the point that it gets on people's nerves. I HATE emotional mind games. In other words, if you have something to say, please say it...in love. :) Going for walks in nice weather is something I enjoy when not writing. There is more, but that's a good start.

- With a full schedule, how do you find time to write?
I've been blessed to be at home. Although the time may broken up into little sessions, I'm able to get writing done between regular housework and family time. When my little one goes to school full-time, I will be able to get more writing time.

- When creating a character, where do you begin? Do you give them a background even if it may never be mentioned in the storyline?
I think dreaming is a writer's best friend. When I create characters, I like to dream about them, so I can picture how they look and act. I don't normally write a background on the characters. I do note the memories they have in case something comes up later.

- Can you share one or two nuggets of wisdom to those wanting to travel down the writing road?
I encourage writers to get connected with other writers - critique groups, forums, etc. They are a great place to get encouragement and be challenged. Also, continue to write and sharpen your craft. No excuses. :)

- Where can readers find your books and contact information?
The best place is www.theswordoflight.com. The book is also available on Amazon. You can visit my blog at www.hiswriter.blogspot.com. I would love to connect with other writers and readers.

- Do you spend time in prayer before you write or begin a project?
My relationship with the Lord is most important. I don't feel that I can really write to my fullest potential unless the Lord and I communicate. We are a team.

- What is your writing routine? Do you need peace and quiet, soft music, or does it matter?
I don't have a writing routine....anymore. Now I write when I can. Having it nice and quiet would be my first choice, but the only quiet time we have in our house is when everyone is sleeping. I have learned to adjust to the noise.

Thank you for visiting with us today.
Thanks for allowing me to visit with you.
 
 
      Hey all, Today, I figured on posting a bit about my newest project. It's a YA fantasy taking place in my world of Nanthara. For now, it is being called The Trident Trilogy. The first book is entitled "The Sons of the Trident"; Book 2 is "Revenge of the Darkwitch"; Book 3 is named "Vindication". These are WIP's and I am currently on Chapter 29 of the first draft of book 1. 

      The stories take place years before the Great War of the Relics, my first trilogy. A Darkwitch seeking revenge and power sets a trap against the realm she resides in by having three sons. Her plans are, once matured, to bring them into power before raising war and claiming what she desires. Instead, a paladin escapes her keep to report the birth of her offspring, and dies in the process. As her initial plans are thwarted, she escapes and sends her sons to be raised by darkhearted rulers within the realm in secrecy. Only two reach their destination; the third is found along the road by Ganethin's ruling family, his riders having been killed, and is raised as one of their own. Upon reaching the age of 18, things happen to Naltharion. Frightful dreams and haunting visions bombard the prince, causing him to question the strange events. Once the truth of his identity is revealed, a struggle for his soul between the forces of light and dark rages as his kingdom is cast into a bloody war. Will Naltharion remain true to his beliefs, or will he be tainted by evil and become the wicked ruler the Darkwitch was promised.

      The triology follows the prince's plight through this harrowing experience alongside his trustworthy companions: a witty and wise bard, and a beautiful Weaponsmaster, so far. There are other characters involved, but this is still a rough draft. Regardless, it is panning out into a neat story. Like all my fantasy based stories so far, they take place along the timeline in Nanthara with the Great War of the Relics serving as the focal point of reference. I plan on beginning a website on this, but not quite yet. I still have some work to do.
While I wait for my edits of Book 3, Dawn of the Apocalypse and book 1 of a sci-fi series: The Chronicles of Nuclear Fist-Darksoul, I will be working on finishing this trilogy while two other ideas, one already started, sits simmering on the back burner. That's all for now.Remember, feel free to contact me with any questions. (chiro49nct@hotmail.com).

Take care, Nick
 
 
Hey all!  I am going speak a little on writing a series by using my trilogy as an example. Book 1, Secrets Revealed, was a task to write and Book 2, Sacrifice of Heroes, was an even greater task. I wonder what my third install, Dawn of the Apocalypse will entail? Hopefully, not as much work, but my editors haven’t placed their hands on it yet.

When I wrote The Relics of Nanthara, I knew right away it would be a big undertaking. Originally, I figured on it being around five books. Thank God it wasn’t. But I already had much of the story laid out in my head. Getting it to paper was the task. In beginning the story, I had everything worked out up to the end of the second book. Afterwards, only a blank existed.

Most of the time, authors have a plan, and stick to it. Regardless of your writing style, your voice, or how you conjure the writing juices to flow, your successive novels should carry on like the chapters contained within each individual book. That is, you should have a great read and end it with readers biting at the bit to get the next book. One thing I learned is not to leave too many things, if any, unanswered in a novel. To think folks will get the next book and discover answers to their questions is a big mistake. Who is to say the reader who purchased the first novel will buy the second? There are no promises. There must be closure to many key questions and facts as if you are writing only one book.

In reading the previous paragraph, you may be thinking “I can’t do that. I want to keep people guessing. You know, build drama!” You can build plenty of drama with your writing and the characters you create. Bringing them to life by their dialogue and actions will help draw readers in and keep them pasted onto the pages effortlessly.

The Relics of Nanthara grew, believe it or not, out of an old Dungeons & Dragons game I ran years ago. When the game was finished, right around the Book 2 point, I always thought it would make a good book. Then one day…ta-da!

In relation to the game, I never “got” to Book 3. I did freak out in trying to write the third novel, but the characters and the previous books brought out the story. It had a natural flow to it. Your writing and the storyline should carry a natural, smooth flow also. Bogging it down with useless facts is like speeding along until you hit a mud pit—same effect.

I have submitted a fourth novel as part of a sci-fi series where I plan on adding future installments. How? The first story opened a myriad of ideas on where I could go. So, I jot down notes and make plans for later novels.

Currently, I am writing my fifth fantasy novel as part of another Nantharan trilogy. Yeah, I know. I didn’t figure on writing another trilogy. But as I stated before, the storyline guides me in thought, thought and imagination transfers to paper/screen, transferred thoughts equals book. I can already see a fair amount of the second book in my head and have a few ideas for book 3. As I’ve stated before, everything should flow. Sit back, let the story and its characters carry you, and prepare to enjoy the ride.

            Take care,
            Nick  

 
 
Hey all, here is another neat interview with a new author, Cindy Koepp. Read her answers. I think you will enjoy "meeting" her. Have fun!

- How long have you been writing?
Oh, most of 33 years. My mother has an old short story I wrote when I was six or seven. The hobby continued on since then.

- When did you feel called to write?
I don’t know. I don’t know if I was ever “called.” About five years ago, when I was more irritated with teaching than usual, I asked God if he’d object to me being a full-time writer. That hasn’t happened yet, but I’ve made lots of connections with other writers and critique groups and the like. I even have a contract now for one of my books.

- Where do you get your ideas for your stories?
Sometimes they get left in my mental voice mail with no mention of the source on the caller ID. Other times they’re based on some misadventure in my own life with the decimal point moved over several orders of magnitude.

- What are your thoughts on critique groups?
I’ve been in a few. One was ultra-competitive. That was pretty useless. The deal was that you’d upload a chunk of text then review others’ works on the site to earn credits so yours would be reviewed. Writers reviewed each other and ranked the work on a 5-star system. That sounds interesting, but many people ran afoul of glowing feedback to go along with low ratings. Some people were the recipients of a copied-and-pasted review. There was some handy feedback, but it was a lot of work for a little return.

 Another group critiques on a volunteer system. That works okay.

 The third group has been really useful. We take turns critiquing half-novels. I get the most useful feedback from this group. It takes ~8 months to get feedback for a whole novel, but what I get has been immensely helpful.

- Was it hard to develop a writing style?
Yes and no. I write how I hear and see things in my head. The problem has been then mutating that so normal humans can understand what I saw and heard. I tend to use a lot of technical terms for things. Sometimes I get bogged down in trivia or skip over something important because it made sense to me at the time. That’s why my critique partners are very helpful. They point out when my idea has been scattered by the hurricane winds of disjointed thinking.

- Who is your favorite author?
One is definitely Gordon Dickson. I enjoyed the Childe Cycle. Each story stands alone but all of them work together for an ultimate purpose. Bruce Hale’s Chet Gecko series is hilarious. Jude Watson’s Jedi Apprentice series had excellent characterization.

- Have you dealt with writer's block? If so, how did you overcome it?
Yes, I’ve had some stories stall out midway. I have to set the work aside for a while and come back to it weeks, sometimes months later. In the meantime, I work on something else.

- Do you find a part of your personality sneaking into any of your characters?
Definitely. Many of my lead characters are disabled in some way. How they deal with their physical ailments is often related to how I deal with mine. One of my stories has two characters with my weird sense of humor. Another has a lead character who doesn’t want to fit in with society’s “normal” view of girls.

 Very often people I know make it into my stories, too.

- Were there any scenes you found difficult to write? Made you angry or made you cry?
Plenty have been difficult to write. The subject matter hits too close to home like the character who faced discrimination for her inherited disability.

Not too many make me angry. Some scenes make me cry when I write them and then later as I read them again.

- Do you use outlines or let the story develop on its own?
I use not just outlines, but very detailed descriptions of the characters, places, societies, maps, and anything I can come up with that might even be vaguely important to the plot. I often have 20 or more pages of notes before I start writing the actual story.

- What do you want your readers to take from your book(s)?
First of all, I want the stories to be entertaining. I don’t mean gut-busting hilarious, but interesting to read. Since so many of the stories have at least some beginning in my own misadventures, I hope that readers will either identify with someone in the story or maybe understand something a little better.

- Can you share any upcoming projects with us?
I have a book called Remnant in the Stars under contract with Under the Moon. It’s about a navigator searching for his missing child and a pilot dealing with an undiagnosable illness. If all goes according to Hoyle, we’ll finish the editing process by the end of December, and it should see print in the spring of 2012.

I’m also working with a group of writers on an anthology.

- How do you respond when someone comments that certain elements (magic, vampires, zombies, etc.) in your story does not fit in what they consider to be Christian?
About seven or eight years ago, a friend questioned the magic use in one of my books. He gave me a detailed explanation for why that was not Christian. I did some praying and some thinking and decided he was more right than I was. The way I had handled the magic was very occultic. I rewrote the story, keeping the basic plot, and scrapped the magic use. I actually like the rewrite better than the original.

- Tell us a little about yourself. What do you like to do when you are not writing? What is your temperament, etc.?
When I’m not writing or doing prep and paperwork for school, I sew, crochet, do needlework, play computer games, and try to find recipes for things I can actually eat.

I tend to be the quiet, keep-to-myself type, but I can get pretty goofy when I’m with people I know well.

At work, though, I’m more out-spoken. Diplomacy is not a skill I was gifted with.

- With a full schedule, how do you find time to write?
Now that’s a good trick. During the school year, I write on Saturday afternoons and Sundays before or after church. On weeknights, I usually don’t get to write much at all. I’m eyeball deep in paperwork and grading.

During Christmas break, spring break, and the summer, I write a lot more. I sometimes write new material. Other times I work on editing old stuff.

- When creating a character, where do you begin? Do you give them a background even if it may never be mentioned in the storyline?
The characters often have a very detailed background. The key players and other frequent flyers get all kinds of information. Often I have intentions of including it somewhere, but when I get there, that doesn’t make sense, so it just stays in the background information. Lesser folks sometimes don’t have more than name, appearance, and the details needed for story.

- Can you share one or two nuggets of wisdom to those wanting to travel down the writing road?
Find a group of other writers you can share with who’ll be honest with you whether something doesn’t work or something went fabulously. Ego-boosters are nice, but they don’t help you progress. Likewise, brow-beaters don’t ever give you the encouragement you need to keep on plugging away.

Don’t give up. This isn’t an easy gig, but then nothing worthwhile ever is.

Take advice from other, more experienced folks. When the advice contradicts other expert advice, you have some leeway to consider what fits your idiom.

Above all, be careful that you don’t do something that will cause someone else to blaspheme God.

- Do you spend time in prayer before you write or begin a project?
Not for each writing session or project necessarily, but I often talk to God, and the subject of my writing comes up now and again.

- What is your writing routine? Do you need peace and quiet, soft music, or does it matter?
I like to sit on my couch with a notebook and pen in hand and a glass of water nearby. I don’t focus well with noise, so I prefer quiet. Once I have the stuff written, I enter it into the computer using either the keyboard or some voice recognition software. Then I can edit and revise. Sometimes I do that on the screen. Other times, I make the font stupidly small … like 8 or 9 point … and print it out. That depends on whether it’s an early draft or a later one. Earlier drafts will need much more shuffling and fixing, so I print those. Later ones are usually more stable, and I can do those on the computer.

- Where can readers find your books and contact information?
I have a Facebook author page. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cindy-Koepp-Author/136438443108872?v=wall

I also have a webpage at ckoepp.com and two blogs that I update when I have something interesting to say: ckoepp.xanga.com and ckoepp.blogspot.com.


Thanks again Cindy for your time in working with all the authors in posting this neat little interview project, and we look forward to your success on all the books you write.
Take care,
Nick

 
 
- How long have you been writing?
I used to mess around with short fiction at school, but I only started writing seriously about fourteen years ago. 

- When did you feel called to write?
Fourteen years ago J. I asked God for something that I could do for Him and the desire to write hit me within a matter of weeks. 

- Where do you get your ideas for your stories?
I usually start with thinking about an interesting situation or scene. Occasionally, one will stick and I then start thinking about events surrounding the scene. If end up with enough material to work with, it may end up on my list of potential stories. At this point, I write the opening chapter. This is usually enough to tell me whether or not it can work as a novel.

- What are your thoughts on critique groups?
I was invited to one a couple of years back, but I have never actually taken part in one. The problem is a lack of time. I simply don’t have enough sand in my hourglass to do everything I want to do. If they could find a way of adding another eight hours to the standard day, I would be a very happy scribbler.

- Was it hard to develop a writing style?
For me, yes. It took most of the past fourteen years for me to find my voice. My first attempt at a novel was described as “solid but not slick enough”. Since then I have worked diligently to find my own voice. I’m not sure how “slick” my writing is now, but at least it is mine.

- Who is your favorite author?
 Stephen King

- Have you dealt with writer's block? If so, how did you overcome it?
I get a mild version of writer’s block fairly regularly. Sometimes the words just flow. Other times I can spend days in a staring contest with my monitor. I get over these blocks by reading. I find that the act of reading will often be enough to jump-start my own creativity.

- Do you find a part of your personality sneaking into any of your characters?
I once read that you should write what you know. I am pretty certain that, in the act of creating a character, we all draw on our own experiences. So, yes, definitely.

- Were there any scenes you found difficult to write? Made you angry or made you cry?
The hardest scene for me to write was a church scene. I was desperate to avoid being preachy, yet the scene was essential for the story. I think I managed to avoided making it preachy in the end (at least I hope I did). As for making myself cry, I did manage to make myself choke up one time. I was reading a chapter that seemed to make everyone who read it a bit teary. I wanted to see if I could identify exactly what it was that triggered the emotion. While reading it, I choked up. And, yes, I did identify the trigger.

- Do you use outlines or let the story develop on its own?
I like to have a very broad outline. I liken it to remembering an old film I’ve seen years before, in which I can remember the mood of the film, and the general plot, but not the details. That way, I can let the story grow, but without getting lost on the way.

- What do you want your readers to take from your book(s)?
A sense that God is in control and loves us more than we can ever imagine.

- Can you share any upcoming projects with us?
Hmm. Well I have two finished stories with my publisher at the moment. Plus a long humorous poem for kids, written in the style of Dr Seuss. At the moment I’m busy writing a sequel to my debut novel Alpha Redemption. And I have another story waiting to be written, plus an old story that I want to rewrite and another that I am thinking about.

- How do you respond when someone comments that certain elements (magic, vampires, zombies, etc.) in your story does not fit in what they consider to be Christian?
Jesus was a story teller. He used stories to help explain difficult concepts. On ten occasions Jesus started a parable  with the words: “The kingdom of heaven is like. . .”. He could have just “told” them about heaven, but he knew it would be more effective to “show” them through a story. If someone ever suggested that certain elements of my story were un-Christian, I would probably direct them to go and read through their Bible again and underline anything that they would consider to contain “un-Christian” elements if they encountered it in a modern novel. I think most of Revelation would qualify, as would much of the account of Moses’ time in Egypt.

- Tell us a little about yourself. What do you like to do when you are not writing? What is your temperament, etc.?
I love to watch a good film, or listen to some music. When I’m not relaxing I am usually exercising, or watching sport. I used to be a fitness instructor so cannot imagine not being fit. I’m not a fitness fanatic, but I do like to train.

- With a full schedule, how do you find time to write?
I commute six miles to work and back on my bicycle every day, which means I have about an hour-and-a-half with nothing to do other than watch the world roll by. What I started doing a few years ago was to write my novel on the way to work. I would run through plots and narrative and dialogue in my head, and then write them down as soon as I got to a computer. It is quite effective.

- When creating a character, where do you begin? Do you give them a background even if it may never be mentioned in the storyline?
I tend to concentrate on the main characters. I don’t do an outline, but I imagine what they are like, and how they fit into the story. Then I let them grow organically with the story, adjusting and tweaking as I go. Sometimes this means rewriting a part of the novel, but that is just a part of writing so I don’t mind.   

- Can you share one or two nuggets of wisdom to those wanting to travel down the writing road?
Be prepared for rejection, criticism, and a lot of hard work. Forget those fortunate few who beat the odds and became instant bestsellers. Focus instead on becoming a better writer. God may not want you to sell a million copies, but then again He might. Focus on the pleasure of writing. Be prepared to market yourself and your book, even if you cringe at the very idea.

- Where can readers find your books and contact information?

My personal site: www.pabaines.com

My publisher: www.splashdownbooks.com

Amazon: http://amzn.to/pFKFca

- Do you spend time in prayer before you write or begin a project?

Yes, enormous amounts, especially for any work that I consider a part of my ministry. I feel that, as a Christian writer, I should do nothing without God’s blessings. My prayer used to be: please let my book be published. Now it is: please don’t let my book be published, unless you want it to be.   

- What is your writing routine? Do you need peace and quiet, soft music, or does it matter?

I actually do most of my writing during my lunch break at work. My office can get quite noisy, so I usually listen to music through my headphones. I like Rachmaninoff, or a movie soundtrack if I need some inspiration. 

So, folks. There you have it. Now, most of you will know Mr. Baines a little better. Get to know his books a little better to...go buy them!
Take care,
Nick

 
 
What does sowing good seed mean? Well, it means to do good tasks to help others out without expecting them to pay you back. Trust me, it does have its rewards, in writing and in life. Let's be realistic, for a new author starting out writing their first novel, and then thinking of what to do next in entering the publication realm is a massive, daunting task. The overwhelming stress has forced many to quit their "dreams". But for those who persevere, it pays off. Now, our work in being an author should not stop once you are published or continue only to get another book done. We must "Spread the love". Share your knowledge and time with others beginning their writing venture. How? Donating your time with writing groups, contributing to blogs, answering questions authors have, working on a dilemma/writer's block a budding young writer may have, even sharing words of encouragement to those planning to give up. You never know, the one person you help may be the next King, Stein, or Salvatore. Helping others is a task that will come back to bless you. I experienced this personally. A year before my first novel was accepted, I gained the services of a freelance editor. Her parents were both published and educated and she had been writing for about twenty years, but none of her stories were accepted. At one point, I ran out of money to pay for my services. For the last several chapters and a bit more after, she wanted to help me "without pay". I told her that for her kindness, it would be her time to prosper next. Guess what? After she helped me complete my editing, she received a multiple book contract with a well-known publisher, and it has kept growing from there. So, if someone ever needs help, and you can contribute, do so. You never know if your kindness will unlock the block in your writing career and in life. Take care, Nick
 
 
Hey all! I am here today with an interview as part of a nifty little marketing promo for MuseItUp Publishing authors. Today, I have Caprice Hokstad, an established author of fantasy with a handful of books currently under her belt. Read on and find out more about her.

- How long have you been writing?
Fiction? About fifteen years.


- When did you feel called to write?
I don’t feel like I have been “called” to write as some sort of mandate from God. If God tells you to write, of course you should obey, but God hasn’t really told me I have to write. Does a Christian have to be “called” to knit? Or can it just be a hobby? I don’t believe crosses or fish symbols must be woven deep into every design of every scarf in order for knitting to be a legitimate use of a Christian’s time. I enjoy writing and my beliefs will affect everything I write, but I don’t think I am “called” to write.

- Where do you get your ideas for your stories?
I really don’t know. I have a very weird brain and thoughts pop into it without any return address.

- What are your thoughts on critique groups?
I think they are important for beginners. I also think it’s incredibly hard to find one that is helpful. You need people to understand the genre and you need at least one or two people in the group to know more than you do about the craft. I prefer one-on-one critique “partners” over groups.

- Was it hard to develop a writing style?
Huh? I’m not even sure I know how to develop a style. I just write. If I have a style, I didn’t do anything to impose it. It’s just me.

- Have you dealt with writer's block? If so, how did you overcome it?
My biggest block came from limiting myself to working on only “worthy” (i.e. publishable) projects. I am having trouble finding an audience for my published books. So, instead of writing the third book in that trilogy, I spent a lot of “blocked” time looking for a new project that would help me find or build an audience. I came up with a great setting and a good plot for an undersea science fiction, but it’s dead in the water for lack of good characters to pull it off. So then I started writing fanfiction for fun. Once I allowed myself to write for fun and for readers instead of for publishing, I had a lot less trouble with writer’s block. I regularly pump out about 5000 (final draft) words a week now.

- Do you find a part of your personality sneaking into any of your characters?
Yes. More with villains than heroes. But isn’t that what makes it fun? It’s socially acceptable to plot the perfect crime for a character to pull off. Characters can say and do what I can’t.

- Were there any scenes you found difficult to write? Made you angry or made you cry?
I find scenes difficult to perfect, but not really to bang out. I want a precise progression of thoughts and emotions and I’m never happy until the words produce the exact effect I want. I play with word choices and sentence structure a lot. Do I cry? Yes. But that really isn’t saying much since I cry over movies and TV shows and reading blogs and all kinds of other things too.

- Do you use outlines or let the story develop on its own?
I didn’t use an outline for The Duke’s Handmaid at all. I made a very rough one for Nor Iron Bars a Cage, but even when I use outlines, they are very loose and I do a lot of seat-of-pants fill in.

- What do you want your readers to take from your book(s)?
I want them to love the story. I want them to feel elated for the climax, but sad because it’s over. I want to leave them hungry for more. I want them to pass it on to a friend or two or five. I want them to feel strongly enough that they go post a review on Amazon or sit and write me an email just because they feel like they need to talk about it.

- Can you share any upcoming projects with us?
My short story/mini-novella “Fettered Soul”, which is a prequel to my novels appears in the bestselling anthology “Aquasynthesis” from Splashdown Books. My seaQuest fanfiction is presently available for free at http://UnderseaAdventure.net. I am finally writing the third book of my Ascendancy Trilogy, as yet unnamed, but should be released in 2012.

- How do you respond when someone comments that certain elements (magic, vampires, zombies, etc.) in your story does not fit in what they consider to be Christian?
I tell them that any Christian label has been applied by others, not by me. I usually ask that person if they consider Narnia “Christian” and if they say yes, then I point out all the magic, witches, lack of mention of Jesus, bloody battles (or whatever they object to) in that. If they say no, then I say, “Fine, I’m with C.S. Lewis in the mainstream then.”

- Tell us a little about yourself. What do you like to do when you are not writing? What is your temperament, etc.?
I like swimming and I am obsessed with the ocean. I love the beach, but I don’t go there very much because of driving and the crowds. I hate crowds. I love going to Sea World or the Birch Aquarium when they’re in off-season. I really want to learn to scuba dive someday, but it’s too expensive to consider right now. I also would love to live in an undersea colony.

- When creating a character, where do you begin? Do you give them a background even if it may never be mentioned in the storyline?
It depends on how important the character is to the story. Minor characters, no, I don’t bother. However, minor characters have been known to grow into main characters and I’ve had to go back and fill in their history in order to use them more extensively.

- Where can readers find your books and contact information?
WWW.LATOPH.COM

- What is your writing routine? Do you need peace and quiet, soft music, or does it matter?
I prefer peace and quiet, but that isn’t always available to me. I never purposely add noise like music or TV, but I live in a mobile home with four other people and our house is situated in a mobile home park where I’m too close to neighbors, so I can’t always escape other people’s noise. I can usually edit with more noise than I can handle during a first draft. Sometimes, if the distraction level is too great, I just have to change modes and do something else that doesn’t require as much concentration (like read email, do facebook). I have been known to sacrifice sleep in order to get good writing time.

We thank Caprice for joining us. Check out her stuff. I'm sure you will be pleased with her work.

 
 
Howdy everyone! This is my new blog site; a place created to not only feed people with good stuff to chew on, but to try and showcase some great author talent floating around. My very first guest, ever, is the talented Yvonne Anderson. Read her interview, and you'll see what I mean. 


How long have you been writing?
I started writing since I was old enough to hold a crayon. But as far as writing seriously, with hopes of publication? That began in 2002. I was offered my first publishing contract in 2011.


When did you feel called to write?
See above. It was in February. Two of my four kids were grown and on their own, the younger two were in school, and my hours at work had recently been cut to twelve hours a week. And, we’d just gotten a new computer. While cleaning up the kitchen after breakfast, it occurred to me that everything had fallen into place for me; it was time to write that book that had been in the back of my mind for the past couple of decades. I tried to brush away the idea, but eventually I realized it wasn’t just an idea, it was the Holy Spirit nudging me. I prayed about it, and the urge persisted. I’ve prayed about it every day since. I don’t want to waste my time doing this if the Lord wants me to do something else instead, but every day, He gives me the green light to go ahead. And so I plod on.

Where do you get your ideas for your stories?
I have no idea. They spring up like weeds, and I don’t usually know what sort of critter dropped the seeds there.

What are your thoughts on critique groups?
A good critique group is invaluable. Better than a MFA. I can’t sing their praises enough.

Was it hard to develop a writing style?
No.

Who is your favorite author?
I have no favorite author. Nor favorite color, food, movie, book, etc. I don’t think I’m wishy-washy, I just enjoy too many things to narrow it down.

Have you dealt with writer's block? If so, how did you overcome it?
I can’t say as I’ve ever struggled with writer’s block. If I feel stuck on one thing, I drop it and go on to something else. Most of my struggles, especially at first, were trying to find the time to write, not trying to decide what to write.

Do you find a part of your personality sneaking into any of your characters?Yes, I think this is inevitable, though I try to counteract it by making my characters do things I never would.

Were there any scenes you found difficult to write? Made you angry or made you cry?
The scenes I feel most strongly about are the most difficult to write. Yes, scenes have made me cry sometimes, but they’ve never made me angry. Anger results from loss of control, but I have complete control over everything that happens in my story world.

Do you use outlines or let the story develop on its own?
I’m a seat-of-the-pants plotter. However, before I start writing, I know the beginning, the end, and two pivotal events that will take place along the way, as well as the major characters. But other than that, I’m as surprised about what happens as the reader is. It’s fun.

What do you want your readers to take from your book(s)?
I want people to enjoy my books and find things in them to think about after they’re through. Mostly, though, I hope they’ll see God’s truth reflected in my stories.

Can you share any upcoming projects with us?
In January 2011 I signed a three-book contract with Risen Books for a space fantasy series, Gateway to Gannah. The first book, The Story in the Stars, was released in June; Book #2 will probably come out in December, and I expect the third to be released in the middle of 2012. I’m currently revising #3 in preparation for submitting it to the publisher, and I also have a good idea in my mind of what’s going to happen in Book #4. I have no contract for anything beyond the third book, but I expect I’ll keep writing more in the series for the next few years, because I have several story ideas still to work out.

How do you respond when someone comments that certain elements (magic, vampires, zombies, etc.) in your story do not fit in what they consider to be Christian?
If someone told me that, I’d agree with him. I don’t incorporate those elements in my stories.

With a full schedule, how do you find time to write?
I used to squeeze it in whenever I could, and it was very frustrating. Thankfully, I’m now in a position to write full time. It’s not like having a full-time job, because I don’t get a paycheck. But at least my time is my own.

When creating a character, where do you begin? Do you give them a background even if it may never be mentioned in the storyline?
Yes, I give my characters a history, but I tend to work backward. That is, I decide first what I want the character to do, and then I figure out what her background and motivation is, and build her history that way. That’s all done mentally before I start writing. Then once I get started, she’ll sometimes react in ways I hadn’t anticipated, but it’s always consistent with the backstory I gave her early on.

Can you share one or two nuggets of wisdom to those wanting to travel down the writing road?
I have five nuggets to share, but I’m not sure what they’re nuggets of:

1. If you’re a Christ-follower, pray about this. You’re looking at a huge investment of time and energy, not to mention money if you go to conferences and such. So you should be sure you’re doing what the Lord wants you to do. (If you’re not a Christ-follower, I have no advice for you other than that you consider changing that situation.)

2. Be patient; be diligent; be humble; learn as much as you can, make as many contacts as you can, and be aware that you’re just starting out. You have much to learn.

3. Pray about it.

4. Be patient; be diligent; be humble; learn as much as you can, make as many contacts as you can, and know that the Lord is God.

5. Pray about it. Maybe now that you’re getting the hang of it, He wants you to write a different sort of story or to change genres, as He did with me. I never even read science fiction when He put me to work writing it. You never know what He’s going to lead you to do.

Where can readers find your books and contact information?
Readers can connect with me through my blog at www.YsWords.com. The Story in the Stars (and later, subsequent titles in the series) can be purchased in paperback or e-book formats at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Story-Stars-Yvonne-Anderson/dp/1936835045/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1310393293&sr=1-1) or through the publisher’s website (www.RisenFiction.com/store).

Do you spend time in prayer before you write or begin a project?
Yes.

What is your writing routine? Do you need peace and quiet, soft music, or does it matter?
It takes me a little while to get into the story each time I go back to it, and I need to be isolated from distracting things like TV, music, conversation, etc. I don’t need complete silence, though. I do a lot of writing sitting on the front porch with the world going past the house. But those sounds, I can block out.