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.