Interview with John Tucker – Multi-genre Author

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Welcome!

Highly popular multi-genre author John Tucker is our guest on Author CenterStage for a round of questions on his writing experience. John has published titles ranging from action-adventure, erotica, mystery, suspense, young adult, thrillers, and maybe a couple in between. His versatile fiction has entertained readers through many nights! John, thanks for joining us and answering questions!

John: Thanks for having me, Candi.

Candi: I’ve gathered several frequently asked questions from readers to share with you. So, let’s begin with a couple of key ones: How did you arrive one day with pen, ink and paper in your hands as you began your first novel? What tipped the balance scales of your motivation to write the first word, the first page?

John: I’d written several things in high school, mostly short stories, but stopped when a new wife and a couple of kids kept me focused on life rather than literary pursuits. Two wives and 25 years later, I was bored and needed an outlet to entertain me. So, I started on a novel that had skimmed the edges of my mind for all those lost years. After being told I had a good story but awful mechanics, I took a few community college classes and bought a few English textbooks to refresh my brain about proper grammar and the differences between an adverb and a gerund. Now, five years later, I’ve just finished my twelfth book.

Candi: John, there are many authors who will relate to your determined and inspiring writing journey. What was your first novel, and what were the early challenges you faced in writing and publishing it? What were your feelings the day you published it?Romancing the Fox

John: My first novel was Romancing the Fox – a bloated 500,000 word magnum opus that was a literary mess. After I took the aforementioned classes, I put ‘Fox’ aside and started a murder mystery with a charming sociopath who loved destroying matriarchal families with dysfunctional issues. That was Divisive. My first published novel. The day I published it I was so stressed, mostly about the marketing aspects of having a book. Now, I’m just as stressed but with a dozen babies to take care of.

Candi: A dozen published books is a problem envied by many authors, John. LOL. How far back does your history go with books and reading? How old were you when you first noticed your desire to put words on paper to tell a story? What were early influencers, books, people?

John: I’ve read books as far back as I can remember. My mother bought me a series of literary classics that were offered by a grocery store every other week – Robinson Crusoe, Treasure Island, Call of the Wild, and so on. I wrote short stories from the age of twelve and up but really had no early mentors other than the books themselves.divisive (2)

Candi: Currently you have 12 published titles listed on your Amazon Author Page. What are the details that led you to write and publish in multiple categories or genres? Do you have a favorite genre?

John: I’ve always been a chameleon when it comes to life and people. I like all kinds of music, most book genres, and movies ranging from comedies to documentaries. I’m the same way when I write. My first book was a thriller, my second a YA Mystery, the third an adult contemporary romance. Since then I’ve penned three eroticas, three more thrillers, and a series of Celestial Romances featuring Muses, Sirens, and the mortal caught between them. Something for everyone!

Candi: How many of your books are set in your home state of Georgia, USA? Have you experienced any particular backlash from local citizens? (I’m thinking of Thomas Wolfe and his novel, Look Homeward Angel, that was set in his hometown, Asheville, North Carolina.) I’ve read your explosive Splits in The Skin. How does that novel figure with this question?

John: The majority of my books are based in Georgia, mostly in small towns but several take place in Atlanta. I’ve had one alternate between Los Angeles and Manhattan, and another take place in Bel Air, California. It stems from a love I have for my state, the people in it, and the misconception that most of us are tobacco-spitting rednecks. My novels are also graced with characters who have deep accents, especially in The Little Girl You Kiss Goodnight. Splits in the Skin is a mixture of action and romance with a healthy helping of James Dickey’s Deliverance. A hunky bounty hunter, looking for a bail-jumper, comes across a small village who has been inbreeding since the Civil War. While I only skim the consensual incest the village accepts as natural, I took the opportunity to explore the differences between the religious and sexual mores represented by the villain’s relatives and the ‘normal’ people trying to capture him.splits

Candi: John, I admire authors who are proud to craft stories from their geographical roots! I read Splits in The Skin and I’m familiar with Georgia. Your writing is authentic! One of the most popular fiction genres today is the thriller category. I’ve also read the very powerful Divisive, which I believe you have planned as a trilogy. What are the ingredients or elements that turn a plain vanilla thriller into a mystery suspense thriller?

John: As in any novel, you have to have a good plot, a balls-to-the-wall villain, and the gritty hero who tries to make sure good triumphs. Like real life, sometimes the bad guy wins in my novels. Divisive introduced Dennis Rask as a charming sociopath with an amped-up sex drive and a mission to kill particular people. In the second book, The Fifth Game, he has a young woman who survived his wrath in the first book helping him destroy a wealthy family. While the book relates Rask’s evil doings, the sub-plot takes a look at the woman’s compliance and her difficulties in assisting the man she loves. The third novel – The Eighth Family – will be started by the end of the year.

Candi: I never give away an author’s plot; I’ll just say Divisive is boiling hot with conflicting characters and agendas. Excellent! What is a typical writing day like for you? When does it begin and end? And do you use a lot of expensive equipment or materials in writing your novels? Can you write with background noise or do you prefer quiet?cf3861265656b63d9ef93fc3976647a3_we

John: I spend 4-5 hours a day writing, mostly at night. I’m comfortable using Microsoft Word 97/2000 and the internet for any research purposes. I play music while I write or edit, usually seventies classics or easy-listening from today.

Candi: A frequently asked question for authors is: Have you experienced writer’s block, and how do you deal with it or prevent it?

John: I deal with bouts of depression from time to time that curtails a novel or two. I usually start another book if that happens. If I get too down, I’ll take a week off to refresh my mind, usually watching comedies or action-driven movies to take my mind off the bad feelings.

Candi: Your writing journey is remarkable! To what extent do your story characters shape your novels? What do they add? Isn’t it enough to just tell the story sort of like a newspaper article? You know, just lay the facts out? What distinctions do characters bring to a story?

John: I like ‘gray’ characters. No out-and-out heroes or villains. In Divisive, Rask is a charming guy, protects the young daughter of a woman he wants to kill, and romances her almost eighteen-year-old daughter. He also chases off a pedophile intent on molesting the little girl, and does a very bad thing to a cute, cuddly animal. My characters have faults, merits, vices, and plaudits. To me, there’s nothing more boring than a cookie-cutter guy or girl with enough redeeming qualities to make you sick.

Candi: How do you conceptualize or layout the plan or your approach to the plot for a novel you’re about to write? What’s the time sequence like? Is it scribbled on a napkin over a cup of coffee or over a period of days or weeks? And what are the particular challenges of the process of solidifying and nailing down the plot? What are the challenges facing an author when doing research for writing the book?

John: Once I have the plot in mind I’ll map out each chapter of a book in a notebook (usually over a few weeks) and include the plot points I want to happen in each. It changes over the course of writing, but essentially sticks to the path. Then I create the characters – physical description, attitudes, quirks, goals. I never start a novel without a beginning and an end. You gotta know where to start and where it ends up. I cringe just thinking about how writers had to do research before the internet. Haunting libraries for several hours a day must have been tedious. Thanks to computers, research for a novel is a breeze.

Candi: How long does it take you to write and publish a book, from start to finish? It must be easy and simple with all the advanced technology available today. Are there any major ups and downs during that process?

John: Two Days to Passion took 60 days. Vergene’s taken a year. Divisive three months. I never know how long my books will take to finish. Outside difficulties play a part, extra thinking about the plot is a factor, and mechanical issues like a crashed hard drive are just obstacles to avoid and get over.41xhxz52wWL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_

Candi: So you’re saying writing and publishing are not confined to a particular model or framework? So, what advice do you have for a person, let’s say my neighbor down the street, who says she wants to write a book? She’s got this great idea for a bestselling novel. Should she enroll in the nearest college writing class, buy 10 books on writing, or what?

John: College writing class absolutely. Hone your skills, familiarize yourself with the mechanics of literature. Then join a critique group to vet your work. Get Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’. That’s the only how-to book you need. One last thing – grow a thick skin. You’ll need it. Trust me.

Candi: I’m glad you mentioned the thick skin. Rhino skin is definitely the first requirement for a writer. Since the advent of digital capabilities and technology related to publishing and the rapid changes within the publishing arena, what do you see as the top two or three challenges facing writers today, and how are they to overcome them?

John: Discovering which new technology helps you create a novel, market, and enhance it. Also the financial difficulties in keeping up with new literary tools. Your mind and your money.

Candi: Another entertaining novel of yours is Twelve Doors to Ecstasy which is your first entry into the erotica genre. What were the challenges in writing that novel? In general, do men and women have different views or perceptions of erotica, and how so?12 doors

John: Before Twelve Doors, my sex scenes were usually the start of the sweet lovemaking, then cut to or open with the aftermath. Breaking a sexual encounter down into its sensual bits was equally embarrassing and enlightening. Things you don’t think twice about when you’re with a significant other – touching them, their scent, the way they look during the experience – it’s remarkable. Most of my reviews have been from women and they’ve been well-received. Surprisingly the three men who have read and reviewed my book didn’t like it as much. Since women are the majority of erotica readers, I haven’t really taken the time to dissect the male’s opinions.

Candi: It’s been reported that Amazon has over ten million titles (books) listed on their website. What are the challenges for readers in selecting “goodreads” from that many choices? What’s your best advice for readers on how to choose an entertaining/interesting book?

John: I try to include out-of-the-box plot-lines in all my books. Everyone will have a moment that is guaranteed to drop a reader’s jaw. When I advertise on Facebook, I concentrate on these things, insert an excerpt, and try to include a catchy picture with the post. Lastly, don’t publish a book unless you have it edited. If your book has great characters, an awesome plot, and several mistakes in the first five paragraphs, people will drop your book like a hot potato.

Candi: If you could start your writing career over what two or three things would you do differently and why?

John: Save up plenty of money for tools and advertising. Just because you write ‘The End’ on a novel, doesn’t mean you’re finished with it. Read the Chicago Manual of Style once. Take what you like from it, and screw the rest. Don’t change your style to mimic other writers.

Candi: From what I gather, many years ago (think post early printing presses) authors and readers rarely connected or communicated. A reader was lucky to just read the written book. But today the Internet is one huge gathering place where authors and readers communicate freely. How do you feel about those dynamics and how do both authors and readers benefit from that kind of environment? How do you enjoy making and keeping in contact with your readers?

John: The internet has definitely opened up the world to writers, especially with research and promotion. Your book is accessible to people in France, India, Japan, and small towns in Georgia and Alabama. You can chat with readers, get their thoughts, battle trolls, and organize small groups of people who love your work.interracial-couple

Candi: What are the advantages of the Kindle, Nook, and other e-reader devices? Isn’t there something to be said about a real paper and ink book in hand as one sits by the fireside of home and reads?

John: Either one is fine with me. But you can fit a few hundred books on your Kindle and free up several bookshelves for other important things. Some people use both. Others are paper and ink purists. I’m slowly leaning toward the electronic book.

Candi: Another challenge question: According to various surveys the average American reads less than 10 books per year. Which of your books would you recommend they read next, and why that book?

John: My most accessible book is The Little Girl You Kiss Goodnight. A mystery novel with a linear plot, a likable heroine, and a happy ending. That being said, it’s probably my most ‘innocent’ novel. No cursing, alluding to sex, but a feel-good relationship with the book’s main characters. The rest of my books, other than the Bemused and Bedeviled series, are dark and disturbing reads.

Candi: What can readers look forward to from the writing studio of John Tucker in the next 12 months?

John: I’m about to publish an erotic thriller called Vergene. After that an erotic paranormal book titled Violetta’s Voyeur, eTernalMates – an adult-contemporary romance, and the final book in the Rask Trilogy.

Candi: John, thank you for taking time to share your interesting thoughts and giving us an inside look at your fascinating and inspiring writing world.

John: Thanks for having me, Candi. We should have drinks in the future.

Candi: Sounds great; let’s celebrate writing and reading with the South’s iconic drink, sweet iced tea, and we’ll spike at will. LOL!

Here’s how you can experience the entertaining writing of John Tucker, author of multi-genres.

John’s Online Links:

Facebook Author Page —-http://www.facebook.com/hutt1234
Twitter — @Hutt1234John
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Interview with Meb Bryant – Mystery Suspense

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Highly popular mystery and romantic suspense thriller author Meb Bryant is our guest on Author CenterStage for a round of questions on her writing experience. Meb has published titles in mystery suspense and romantic suspense. Her fiction has entertained readers through many nights! Meb, thanks for joining us and answering questions!

Meb Bryant: Thank you, Candi, for the flattering introduction. I’m excited to share my writing experience with you and your readers on AuthorCenterStage. I wish I’d made the decision to become a writer much earlier.

Meb Bryant, Author

Meb Bryant, Author

Candi Silk: You’ve got plenty of company on “starting earlier.” I’ve gathered several frequently asked questions from readers to share with you. So, let’s begin with a couple of key questions: How did you arrive one day with pen, ink and paper in your hands as you began your first novel? What tipped the balance scales of your motivation to write the first word, the first page?

Meb: My dream of dreams from an early age was to become a writer, but I hid the idea in my heart and never shared it with anybody. After a hospital visit that ended with me in the intensive care unit, I decided to start marking items off my bucket list before it was too late. When my health returned, I sat my derriere in the chair and started typing.

Candi: So after that kick-start, what was your first novel, and what were the early challenges you faced in writing and publishing it? What were your feelings the day you published it?

Meb: My first novel, Harbinger of Evil, is set in 1963 New Orleans’ French Quarter. It’s about the murder of a wealthy businessman and the generational secrets that lead up to his death. Throw in hard drinking NYC Detective Richard Mobey, Alaskan oil, CIA operatives, the Mob, the JFK assassination, and add an erotic twist for a spicy literary gumbo.

Trust me, I’ve had several challenges, but the most difficult was learning to use a computer for something other than rudimentary functions. At the time, the learning curve almost broke my spirit, but I was determined.HarbingerOfEvil

The first time I held a printed book with my name on the cover I clutched it to my chest like a long lost friend. I think I cried. Creating a novel is like giving birth…without the anesthesia.

Candi: That’s a wonderful description of the agony and ecstasy of writing. How far back does your history go with books and reading? How old were you when you first noticed your desire to put words on paper to tell a story? What were early influencers, books, people?

Meb: I learned to read at an early age when Santa Claus brought me a record player and records with accompanying books. I would sing along and read the words. Many times during the writing process I wonder if I should’ve been an opera singer. My mother bought record player needles by the dozen.

Right after I learned to read, I decided to begin my writing career by carving MEB into my parents’ new furniture. Being an only child at the time, I was the primary suspect. After being interrogated for hours, I finally confessed to the crime with the stipulation that I not be spanked. They weren’t pleased with my first autograph but they sure bragged about it.

Candi: Ahh, now I understand how your crime scenes are written with the voice of experience. LOL! Currently you have 5 published titles listed on your Amazon Author Page. What are the details that led you to write and publish in the mystery suspense thriller and romantic suspense genres? Do you have a favorite genre?

Meb: I love to read in the mystery/suspense/thriller genre and appreciate a bit of sexual content thrown in for good measure. As a legal secretary, I typed almost a hundred words per minute. When I write fiction, my WPM slows down considerably, but when I write sex scenes, my fingers sail over the keys. Know what I mean, Candi?

Candi: Oh, yes; keys are permanently scorched! How many of your books are set in your home state of Texas, USA? Have you experienced any particular backlash from local citizens? (I’m thinking of Thomas Wolfe and his novel, Look Homeward Angel, that was set in his hometown, Asheville, North Carolina.) I’ve read your explosive Killing People. How does that novel figure with this question?

Meb: With the exception of Harbinger of Evil, all my works are set in Texas, particularly around Houston and The Woodlands. So far, thank goodness, nobody has complained about me bringing mayhem and death to their imaginary neighbors. Several readers have mentioned they identify with the locales I’ve written about and find it surreal when I know which direction the sun sets or what flowers are in bloom. Write what you know.

Candi: And readers are good at catching the smallest of details. One of the most popular fiction genres today is the thriller category. What are the ingredients or elements that turn a plain vanilla thriller into a mystery suspense or romantic suspense thriller?

Meb: I don’t usually write about blood and guts, but I do try to tap into a reader’s fear to produce a visceral reaction. For example, our society is vulnerable through our children, who are helpless and unable to defend themselves. When faced with that threat, the fear is palpable.SPELLING V_2

I’ve noticed that humans have a natural aversion to snakes and I like to tickle that terror. Several of my friends say they will not go into a dark bathroom after reading Harbinger of Evil.

Candi: No wonder Harbinger of Evil is so popular! What is a typical writing day like for you? When does it begin and end? And do you use a lot of expensive equipment or materials in writing your novels? Can you write with background noise or do you prefer quiet?

Meb: I don’t have a typical day of writing. Wish that I did. My husband and I have owned a small corporation for many years, and I work full-time at that job from my home. That said, I’m my own boss which means I can write all day if everything aligns. Though I like to write in my pajamas, our customers prefer that I dress. I can only write when my muse shows up and she’s a cranky old biddy who likes to play tennis.

I write on an HP computer with a large monitor for easier reading. With the exception of a ringing phone, I’m able to block out all noise, including a TV that sits a few feet from my desk.

Candi: Sounds like my kind of writing studio. A frequently asked question for authors is: What has been your experience with writer’s block, and how do you deal with it or prevent it?

Meb: I’ve lived in writer’s block my entire life and try not to panic when the creative juices get dehydrated. I’ve learned to accept my limitations, realizing I can write only when I’m in a creative mood. Of course, I’m more creative when my behind is at my desk and not on a tennis court, but I need the exercise to keep the muse happy. If the muse ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

Candi: To what extent do your story characters shape your novels? What do they add? Isn’t it enough to just tell the story sort of like a newspaper article? You know, just lay the facts out? What distinctions do characters bring to a story?MONSTER SPRAY Amazon html_BC82CFAA_1

Meb: We’re told that stories are either character driven or plot driven. I find my stories are a hybrid since my characters drive the plot, especially the flawed characters. When you ask about the facts, I think of the old TV show Dragnet, “Just the facts, ma’am.” I believe ‘just the facts’ works for true crime, but not so much for genre fiction.

My characters drag their human frailties around like a ball and chain. It’s my job as the writer to set them free to succeed or fail. Bad guys don’t always do bad things and good guys don’t always do the right thing.

Candi: You just described the mosaic of humanity. How do you conceptualize or layout the plan or your approach to the plot for a novel you’re about to write? What’s the time sequence like? Is it scribbled on a napkin over a cup of coffee or over a period of days or weeks? And what are the particular challenges of the process of solidifying and nailing down the plot? What are the challenges facing an author when doing research for writing the book?

Meb: Writers fall into two categories: plotters or pantsers. Plotters plot a story from beginning to end before writing the first word. Pantsers fly by the seat of their pants and create as the muse unfolds. I once plotted an entire novel on a board with color-coded notes and pens. It’s a lovely piece of art, but I can’t find the creativity to finish the piece. I fear my muse took offense to the plotting concept. I’ll finish that piece when my muse goes on vacation.

After completion of a project, I move on to a new idea and imagine the story’s start and ending, like I’m watching a motion picture. Then, I set the muse free to help me connect the dots. I’m unable to remember creative thoughts when I’m away from my desk, and will write on anything so as not to lose an idea. I try to keep a pen and scratch pad in my purse, car, den and bedroom. After the ideas are typed on a Word document, I trash the bits and pieces of paper (and napkins).

When I read a book for entertainment, I also want to learn a few facts. I love to do research and share what I’ve learned with my reader, but find it challenging not to write an info dump. If you find that I have, please forgive me.

Candi: I believe you’ve had experience with writers’ groups. Is that something you would recommend to beginning writers and why?

Meb: Definitely. I’m a member of International Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America and Romance Writers of America. Of the three, I think RWA provides an excellent source of information for the mature writer as well as the new writer. Even though I don’t write romance novels, I try to include a strong romantic element or sexual content in each story.

Candi: Your writing is seasoned just right! How long does it take you to write and publish a book, from start to finish? It must be easy and simple with all the advanced technology available today. Are there any major ups and downs during that process?

Meb: From the time I start writing a book to the day I publish is usually about a year, provided the muse cooperates and life doesn’t get in the way. Novellas and short stories are quicker. With today’s technology, there’s really no reason not to write a story if a writer has the talent.

For me, trying to land a literary agent was an exercise in futility and frustration. With the introduction of e-readers, sales of printed material has dropped drastically. I believe thirty-three percent of book sales are now electronic. Literary agents are feeling the pinch. Once I abandoned the querying process, I set my sites on starting my own publishing company and haven’t looked back, although I find discoverability a major challenge.

Candi: So you’re saying writing and publishing is not 100% easy. So, what advice do you have for a person, let’s say my neighbor down the street, who says she wants to write a book? She’s got this great idea for a bestselling novel. Should she enroll in the nearest college writing class, buy 10 books on writing, or what?

Meb: I don’t think I know the correct answer for anybody who wants to write a book. Just write the story. Research the Internet and read everything you can find on how to write, how to query, how to indie publish.Doubles-Match-022814_kindle

Personally, I feel writing is a God-given talent that needs constant exercise. No matter how long I stay in writing, I plan to continue sharpening my skills through workshops, reading material on writing, and attending conferences with knowledgeable speakers. Keep learning your craft.

Candi: Great advice! Okay, time for a challenge question: You’ve just been notified that you’ll be teaching a university course entitled: Writing Your First Romantic Suspense Thriller. What 3-4 points or pillars would you consider essential to the course?

Meb: Goal, motivation, conflict. The two love interests should have a goal, motivating factors, and conflicts hindering the success of this goal. Placing one or both parties in peril contributes to the novel’s suspense. A multi-layered antagonist intent on doing harm sharpens the suspense. It’s imperative that the story concludes with an HEA (Happily Ever After) ending.

Candi: Let me know where you’re teaching; I’ll register right away! You’ve pulled me in with the HEA. So, what are the biggest challenges facing new writers today? Sources vary, however it’s been reported that Amazon has over ten million titles (books) listed on their website.

Meb: Due to the volume of e-books on the market, I find the biggest challenge for writers, except for big name authors, is discoverability.

Candi: What are the challenges for readers in selecting “good reads” from that many choices? What’s your best advice for readers on how to choose an entertaining/interesting book?

Meb: When I’m looking for a good read, I rely on word of mouth or search the Kindle Store categories. When I find a book that looks interesting, I read a sample before purchasing.

Candi: That sample can be a determining factor. If you could start your writing career over what two or three things would you do differently and why?

Meb: If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have spent a year searching for an agent. I would have started a mailing list earlier.

Candi: That seems to be a frequent discovery and realization. Okay, isn’t it enough for a writer to simply have all the facts for her story and just write it and publish, or to what extent does the writer’s imagination play a part in crafting a page-turning novel?

Meb: A writer’s imagination is the source for the writer’s voice. Unique.

Candi: Some have said writing is not an end result, but a journey that never ends. Do you agree or disagree with that and why?

Meb: For me, writing is my way of leaving a footprint behind after I’m dead. A baring of my soul. When I finished my first novel, I handed the typed pages over to my grown daughter, an English major. She took the pages and promised to carefully read every word. Moments later, we were both surprised when I snatched the pages back. For some reason, I couldn’t bear to part with my work. We did this back and forth a few times until I finally felt comfortable giving my baby away.

Candi: Your writing has your fingerprints and impressions from your heart all over it! From what I gather, many years ago (think post early printing presses) authors and readers rarely connected or communicated. A reader was lucky to just read the written book. But today the Internet is one huge gathering place where authors and readers communicate freely. How do you feel about those dynamics and how do both authors and readers benefit from that kind of environment? How do you enjoy making and keeping in contact with your readers?

Meb: I draw energy from my readers’ enthusiasm. I’m always surprised when they discover something in my characters that I didn’t. I get excited when they love, or hate, the characters I’ve built with a blank page and a keyboard. I love my readers, especially the reader who takes the time and energy to write a review or send me an email.

Candi: What are the advantages of the Kindle, Nook, and other e-reader devices? Isn’t there something to be said about a real paper and ink book in hand as one sits by the fireside of home and reads?

Meb: I’ve been a reader a lot longer than a writer, and reading a paper book is a sensual act for me. I love the feel of the page, the smell of the ink, the sight of the words on the paper. That said, I can’t afford to purchase too many print books. I’m a voracious reader and appreciate the affordability of e-books. Cheaper prices mean I can buy more reading material.

Candi: Meb, you apparently have a varied background and one rich with many experiences, including the business world. How has that contributed to your writing?

Meb: As a child, I had the privilege of being exposed to many adventures while living across the Deep South and Alaska. As an adult, I enjoyed employment as a legal secretary and real estate agent until my husband drug me off the tennis court to start his own company. Dealing with the public is fodder for writing fiction.Killing-People-092713_kindle

Candi: Another challenge question: According to various surveys the average American reads fewer than 10 books per year. Which of your books would you recommend they read next, and why that book?

Meb: If the reader knows where they were when JFK was assassinated, I think they’d enjoy Harbinger of Evil set during the ten days surrounding his death. If the reader enjoys a more contemporary read about vigilantism and snipers, Killing People might be a good choice. I’ve written short stories and novellas for the reader with limited time.

Candi: Both of those themes tap into current day popular tastes in books. Now for the big question: What can readers look forward to from the writing studio of Meb Bryant in the next 12 months?

Meb: The muse and I are pounding away on the sequel to Killing People. The bad guy is scaring my critique group and me. The printed book and e-book should be completed by the fall.

Candi: Since I enjoyed your novel, Killing People, I look forward to reading the sequel! Meb, thank you for taking time to share your thoughts and giving us an inside look at your fascinating writing world.

Meb: Candi, I’m flattered you invited me to AuthorCenterStage, and hope I’ve given a morsel of information to your readers and future writers. Thank you for having me.

Candi: Here’s how you can experience the entertaining writing of Meb Bryant, author of mystery suspense, and romantic suspense thrillers:

Meb’s Online Links:

Website: http://www.mebbryant.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MebBryant
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/meb.bryant
Google+: https://plus.google.com/111887894189711102924/posts?cfem=1

Interview with Elle Klass – Multi-genre Fiction

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Welcome!

Highly popular multi-genre author Elle Klass is our guest on Author CenterStage for a round of questions on her writing experience. Elle has published titles ranging from action-adventure, mystery, suspense, ghosts, women’s fiction and maybe a couple in between. Her fiction has entertained readers through many nights!

Candi Silk: Elle, thanks for joining us and answering questions!
Elle Klass: Thanks for having me Candi. It’s an honor.

Elle Klass - Author

Elle Klass – Author

Candi: I’ve gathered several frequently asked questions from readers to share with you. So, let’s begin with a couple of key questions: How did you arrive one day with pen, ink and paper in your hands as you began your first novel? What tipped the balance scales of your motivation to write the first word, the first page?

Elle: I have been writing for fun since junior high and always planned on writing a novel. The idea of an entire novel is a daunting task. About 10 years ago I went for it and wrote As Snow Falls, followed by Baby Girl. I printed out the entire ASF novel and gave to a few people to read and help me edit – my very first beta readers. Their enthusiasm with the book overwhelmed me, everybody loved it. I made corrections to the document but still didn’t publish it. I had no idea where to begin and indie publishing wasn’t real popular and was far more difficult than today so the book sat until 2 years ago.

I had it professionally edited, my talented daughter drew the image for the cover which I uploaded and suddenly I had a published book. With ASF published I decided to divide Baby Girl into short stories- easily done since Cleo changes identity for each book and published each short separately.

Candi: How old were you when you first noticed your desire to put words on paper? What were early influencers, books, people?

Elle: I began writing poetry at the ripe old age of about 12 and continued with poetry until about 10 years ago. Here is a couple samples of my cheesy and sometimes goofy poetry, circa 1990’s.
Memories
As the ocean flows, so do my thoughts of a more hectic time.
Memories in the back of my mind, the teenage years and struggles with my peers,
Always being right lead to many a fight. I’ve learned and grown, but the battle will always be known. Memories in the back of my mind.
~ Elle Klass

Little Ember
Slowly, slowly little ember,
Burning on the earth,
Dwindle, dwindle little ember,
Till only a flickers worth,
Surely, surely little ember,
You will not die alone,
Go on, go on little ember,
Make yourself be known,
Rise up, rise up little ember,
Scorch the weeds around you,
Slowly, slowly little ember,
Burning on the earth,
Nothing, nothing little ember,
Is left to tell the truth.
~ Elle Klass

I will probably never publish a poetry book but it’s always fun to look back, read, and occasionally share. My earliest influencers were Edgar Ellen Poe and V.C. Andrews. I always had my head buried reading something from one or the other. Sometimes I read poetry to my younger sister and throughout college I read my literature books for classes to my children. Always reading, always writing.

Candi: Thanks for providing your poetry sample! An almost universal recommendation for writers of any genre is the reading and writing of poetry for the mental gymnastics it can provide. Four of your titles comprise the Baby Girl series. What is behind the title Baby Girl? What are the details that led you to write and publish that particular series? Were there any particular experiences or interests that influenced your interest in the young adult/coming of age genre?

Elle: The story for Baby Girl came to me like all the others through my senses. In this case it was a picture I saw on TV, I think. My mind fashioned a distinguished lady walking up the steps to a N.Y. Brownstone, and from there the story and Cleo took on a life of their own. As of yet, readers haven’t seen the picture in my head but that’s coming in the next few months and was the first part of the book written.Baby Girl 4 cover

I had a difficult time staying within the parameters of a young adult book. Cleo’s lifestyle is beyond her age and she does things I hope young adults don’t do. The series begins when she is 12, by book 2 Moonlighting in Paris she is 16, and book 3 City by the Bay she is 18 – my sigh of relief. She isn’t fashioned to be a role model but as seen in all books she is strong, independent, and at times wise beyond her years. She is also stubborn, street smart, and savvy. In many ways she is a role model and a new adult from the time she is 12.

Candi: Having read the Baby Girl series, I have to say that you’ve developed an immensely interesting character in Cleo! So what were the challenges in writing Baby Girl series with an international setting? And do any of those settings reflect your own travels?

Elle: I loved having an international setting for the book. I haven’t travelled to Paris, New York or Aruba – I have spent time in the Caribbean. I did extensive research in each destination including airline flights. I grew up in the San Francisco/ Sacramento area and had the most fun with book 3. If the story continues beyond book 4 Bite the Big Apple…I can’t say, no spoilers.

Candi: One of the most popular fiction genres today is the thriller category. Your most recent book is Eye of The Storm, which is planned as a series. What are the ingredients or elements that turn a plain vanilla thriller into a mystery suspense thriller?

Elle: A twisted mind. It takes a special kind of imagination to create a mystery suspense thriller. My goal was to keep readers guessing until the end. From the reviews I’ve read I accomplished that. My ingredients were to throw suspicion and doubt on every character, have a unique idea that hasn’t been done in the past, and give small tidbits to the reader throughout the course of the book. I left a huge tidbit in the epilogue for the next book in the trilogy, Calm Before the Storm Evan’s Sins. Eye of the Storm is only a taste of this wickedly thrilling series.

Candi: What is a typical writing day like for you? When does it begin and end? And do you use a lot of expensive equipment or materials in writing your novels? Can you write with background noise or do you prefer quiet?

Elle: A typical writing day for me is waking up in the morning, brewing a pot of Starbucks, turning on my laptop, and pulling up whichever manuscript I’m currently working on. I prepare my coffee with spoons of sugar and chocolate, or French vanilla creamer, go back to my computer and plug away. The day goes quick when I’m uninterrupted and I may type from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. before I notice how late the day is getting. Most days I get interrupted. I work all day on and off taking breaks when I want. I forget to eat – no I hate to cook – unlike Baby Girl character Cleo, so I snack. I don’t like noise when I write but can tune the world out. I’m guilty of tuning everything out except the story in my head, on occasion I like rock or pop music when I write.

My equipment was a computer running Windows XP. I loved that operating system I think it’s the best one Microsoft has put out. Why change a good thing? Who knows but they did and I started having problems – no updates. I invested in a new computer with Windows 8.1 touchscreen. Love it almost as much as XP. I’m stubborn about computers and refused to buy Windows 7- I loathe it. My new computer runs Microsoft Word 2013. I’m sure I will continue using this computer until it dies or the operating system is null. I spent NaNoWriMo 2014 typing on my tablet. No, I don’t need anything expensive so long as it works and I can type.

Candi: A frequently asked question for authors is: Have you experienced writer’s block, and how do you deal with it or prevent it?

Elle: If I get to a point the words don’t flow it means one of three things.
1. I’m tired and need to go to bed.
2. Go for a walk or do something else until the words flow again.
3. Erase and go back. The direction the story is heading is all wrong. I’m not listening to my characters.

My biggest problem is shutting off my computer and going to bed. I never want to. I feel guilty and hate leaving them in conspicuous situations.

Candi: To what extent do your story characters shape your novels? What do they add? Isn’t it enough to just tell the story sort of like a newspaper article? You know, just the facts? What distinctions do characters bring to a story?

Elle: I think of my stories more as soap operas – characters develop, leave and come back when least expected. Characters add depth to a story through their humanity. My characters are flawed and face realistic problems. They aren’t perfect and share their struggles through life. At times they make corny decisions and put themselves in conspicuous situations. Characters, lovable or hateable give the reader a connection to the story, a reason to continue reading and buying books. I think that’s why series are so popular. We get connected, our curiosity drives us, we want to know what’s going to happen next. Cleo from Baby Girl is a popular character. The book written and released in short stories has a growing following because people feel for her. They’ve seen her go from a 12 year old abandoned child to a 20 year old who faces her demons searching for family ties and makes familial friendships along the way.51GyEPPU1nL._AA160_

As a writer I love writing various types of individuals and when a reader tells me I hated… or asks will Cleo ever…? Tells me my characters have depth. In volume 2 Ruthless Storm Trilogy Calm Before the Storm readers will be introduced to the most despicable, vile character my mind has devised and I’m having a blast writing the book allowing this character free reign to complete his immoral acts and fight his internal demons.

Candi: How do you conceptualize or layout the plan or your approach of the plot for a novel you’re about to write? What’s the time sequence like? Is it scribbled on a napkin over a cup of coffee or over a period of days or weeks? And what are the particular challenges of the process of solidifying and nailing down the plot? What challenges does an author face when doing research in writing the book?

Elle: My books begin with a simple plot that blossoms over months or even years in my head. I make notes on my tablet as the story develops. When I’m ready I type a rough draft, let it sit and ferment then go back when I’m ready and begin the process of purging, adding and tweaking. The fermenting, tweaking, adding, purging process happens several times before I’m ready to consider publishing. For the past 2 years I have completed NaNoWriMo and used the contest as an opportunity both years to tweak a rough draft. In 2013 I wrote Eye of the Storm Eilida’s Tragedy. When I started the initial rough draft was a few thousand words by the time I finished the manuscript reached over 50,000 words. The plot is mine but I give my characters a lot of room and allow them to develop and take the plot in directions I never planned.ETS Latest

I’d say my biggest challenge with research is not being able to take off on a whim and travel to the various places I’m researching. Instead I google everything and talk with people who have spent time there. In researching Eye of the Storm Sunshine sees a hypnotherapist. I watched Youtube videos of actual hypnotherapy sessions to make her experience life like. Where there is a will there is a way. If I need to know something for a book I don’t stop until I find it.

Candi: There’s no doubt NaNoWriMo continues to be a crucible of creativity for writers! But I hear you saying writing and publishing are not 100% easy. So, what advice do you have for a person, let’s say my neighbor down the street, who says she wants to write a book? She’s got this great idea for a bestseller novel. Should she enroll in the nearest college writing class, buy 10 books on writing, or what?

Elle: Writing and publishing a quality book isn’t simple. Indie authors have to find editors, beta readers, cover designers. Once the book is published we have to figure out how to market and sell it. All this we do on our own. Small press authors face the same challenges. On the flip side there is a ton of support amongst indie and small press authors.

It’s interesting you ask what I would say to advise a neighbor or friend who wants to publish. A friend sent a young teen my way when she learned the teen wanted to publish a poetry book. I talked with her and gave her a few resources to check out – Createspace and Smashwords. I scribbled the websites down for her. She talked with her parents and with their support has begun the publishing process. She keeps me updated. She entered a poem into a contest and received a letter stating she is a finalist! I’m excited for her and can’t wait to purchase her book.

I have met other people who feed me great ideas for stories then ask if I’ll write it. My advice is it’s your story to write not mine start simple write a rough draft, talk and record your ideas, scribble down notes. The story doesn’t have to begin sequentially nor does it need to be perfect. The perfecting process happens later and may take months or years to develop. I’m always happy to assist as a beta reader and give my ideas on a stories strengths and weaknesses.

Candi: Great example of how you inspired a young teen to write and publish! Okay, time for a challenge question: You’ve just been notified that you’ll be teaching a university course entitled: Writing Your First Mystery Suspense Thriller. What 3-4 points or pillars would you consider essential to the course?

Elle: I taught junior high for 12 years this should be easy right? Wrong, I taught science. The idea of teaching a writing course is a challenge. Here goes:
STOB
1. Suspicious characters – no character should be innocent and all characters should cast a shadow of doubt
2. Twists – a good mystery needs a few twists in the plot to keep the readers on the edge of their seat.
3. Observations – drop clues throughout the story to build suspense. Never give away too much at one time.
4. Build- use the element of the known to create suspense

I think Poe and Hitchcock are true masters of the genre and I’d have my students reading through their stories with a fine toothed comb looking for these elements before beginning their writing process.

Candi: LOL! Sounds like a tough writing course! Since the advent of digital capabilities and technology related to publishing and the rapid changes within the publishing arena, what do you see as the top two or three challenges facing writers today, and how are they to overcome them?

Elle: I’d say the biggest challenge of publishing in our digital world is so many people are doing it. Any person can create a story and publish a quality book. There are freelance cover designers, editors, beta readers, and ghost writers available to assist a writer in creating a fantastic story. The challenge is marketing. For a writer to be successful they have to create a solid marketing plan to get their book into the public eye. The author has to find a hook that makes their book stand out from the rest. The good news is the digital world has opened up publishing on an international scale more than ever before. There are potentially billions of readers worldwide for each and every book in the wide varieties of genres available.

Candi: As Snow Falls is categorized as women’s fiction and family relationships. I read that book first. Truly enjoyed it! What were the challenges in writing that novel? What were your feelings the day you published it?new cover 2

Elle: The challenges in writing that book was publishing it. When I first wrote it the indie world was fresh, new, and frowned upon more than today. The publishing resources available were knocking on the door of potentially thousands of literary agents’ doors until finding one to take the book under their wing or a vanity press. Neither option appealed to me so the book sat until 2 years ago when I researched publishing again and saw how drastically the options had changed. I can’t express in words the excitement, fear, and self-doubt I felt when I first published the book. Over time all that eased as reviews started coming in stating how much people enjoyed the story. Every once in a while a reader picks it up and doesn’t enjoy it leaving an unfavorable review. When I first published it, that would have torn me up. A year and a half later I shrug and think it wasn’t for them. I move on and continue writing keeping in mind not everybody will be a fan. That’s an important point new writers need to remember not every reader will like your book and even the most accomplished USA Today and New York Times Bestsellers have negative reviews.

Candi: It’s been reported that Amazon has over ten million titles (books) listed on their website. What are the challenges for readers in selecting “goodreads” from that many choices? What’s your best advice for readers on how to choose an entertaining/interesting book?

Elle: That’s a tough question. Each reader has varied tastes on writing styles and genre choices. Some readers choose purely indie books while others want only traditional published books. My advice is if the book sounds intriguing go for it. Ebook prices make it possible to find new authors without breaking the bank. You won’t enjoy every book but you will broaden your horizons and find new authors. Subscribing to review blogs is a great way to find new books to check out. Social media such as Twitter or Facebook and Google+ groups are a great way to hear about new authors and find new genres. When searching Amazon for a book look for daily deals and Kindle countdowns and don’t limit your reading to Amazon. Places like Smashwords, iBooks, Kobo, Nook, Google Play, Scribd, Flipkart, and others have the same and sometimes a wider variety of books to choose from.

For a lover of reading there are far more options available today than ever before. Readers can even sign up with popular websites to review books. Reviewing is a great way to let the author know how much their book was enjoyed. When finding an enjoyable book share, share, and share. Word of mouth is one of the best ways to get the word out about an author or book.

Candi: Isn’t it enough for a writer to simply have all the facts for his story and just write it and publish, or to what extent does the writer’s imagination play a part in crafting a page-turning novel?

Elle: Imagination has everything to do with it. Stephen King wouldn’t be popular if he wrote dry books that didn’t pique the readers’ interest. His imagination has no limits. I use King because in my opinion he doesn’t write perfect books sometimes they get a bit boring but his wild imagination and suspense building capabilities keeps me on the edge. He may be the most accomplished author in today’s world. His imagination keeps me reading his books along with billions of other readers worldwide. I pale in comparison to him and can only hope to one day have a small percentage of the readers and fans he’s accumulated. What I do have is a vivid imagination that comes out in my books which improve with the publication of each one.

Candi: Some have said writing is not an end result, but a journey that never ends. Do you agree or disagree with that and why?

Elle: Absolutely! Writing is addicting. I can’t stop and look forward daily to spending time with my characters and writing their worlds. Every so often a writer publishes one book, best seller or not, and stops. Do they quit writing? I don’t know. Most authors writing journey starts many years before publishing and many writers never publish. With each story a writer’s skills improve. Practice makes perfect. As a writer I’m always researching and finding resources to improve. It’s a learning process that doesn’t stop with writing alone; reading is a great way for a writer to increase their skills. I read a wide variety of genres, and can’t help but mentally compare and critique their words. This doesn’t stop me from enjoying the story but does help me see strengths and weakness in their styles and critique my own books in a similar way.

Candi: From what I gather, many years ago (think post early printing presses) authors and readers rarely connected or communicated. A reader was lucky to just read the written book. But today the Internet is one huge gathering place where authors and readers communicate freely. How do you feel about those dynamics and how do both authors and readers benefit from that kind of environment? How do you enjoy making and keeping in contact with your readers?

Elle: Social media is a smorgasbord for readers and authors. As an author I enjoy connecting to readers and discussing elements of my books and characters, to congratulating them on their new grand-baby. I enjoy meeting people internationally and finding commonalities in our personalities and lives. I love when readers contact me and ask about my books or tell me how much they enjoyed a particular story or hate or love a specific character.

As a reader I enjoy connecting with authors of my favorite books on a personal level. I find myself more apt to buy books from authors I’ve met and speak with frequently than those I don’t. For example I have never read Fifty Shades of Grey but have purchased 4 Candi Silk titles and read 3 so far. Loved them all. I have never read Hunger Games but have watched all the movies when they came available at Redbox, and enjoyed them. When I meet a new author and like them as a person I buy their book. If I enjoy it I tell the world. My reader is never empty and contains a wide variety of authors and genres.

Candi: Okay, I’d better get busy and write more books. LOL! What are your thoughts on the advantages of the Kindle, Nook, and other e-reader devices? Isn’t there something to be said about a real paper and ink book in hand as one sits by the fireside of home and reads?

Elle: An advantage to e-readers is the ability to take hundreds of books on vacation without packing hundreds of books in a suitcase. When I fly or go for a road trip my tablet and hours of entertainment come with me. My 8 inch tablet fits into my purse and comes with me almost everywhere.

I do enjoy paperback books and have a small collection of my favorites including a few autographed books. Paperbacks are a precious commodity. When I get an autographed one I have a hard time reading it because I don’t want to bend the pages or ruin the cover. I also have a hard time autographing books because I feel as though I’m defacing them. As an author signing is a part of life so I’m getting used to it and rarely cringe anymore.
Both types of books have their purpose but I reserve paperbacks for my favorite authors because of the room they take up. I’m a friend to the library where I can borrow a paperback or hardback and give it back so I don’t run out of shelf space in my own home.

Candi: Elle, you have a varied professional background and one rich with many experiences. How has that contributed to your writing?

Elle: Yes, my experiences in life come across in my writing. Not so much my careers as my experiences with other people and peculiar predicaments I get myself into. I’m famous among my friends for making odd choices such as walking several miles home, getting stopped for walking by the police who kept their chuckling under control until they dropped me at home. That experience gave me the cool and frightening opportunity of riding in the back of a police car. And I can say there’s no way to get out unless a person is Houdini. For the record I didn’t break the law. They pulled me over to give me a ride because they didn’t like the idea of a woman walking alone at night. The silliest part—I was 2 blocks from home. My life is littered with strange occurrences and I find I write stuff that comes true months or years later. Eerie!

Candi: Another challenge question: Your Baby Girl series covers approximately 8 years of your protagonist, Cleo? What were the dynamics as you developed her on paper?41ONZaNXByL._SS300_

Elle: In order to make her realistic I had to consider her age and predicament in life through each book. At ages 12 – 16 during In the Beginning she is alone, scared, and more mature than in later books. But she’s still a child. In later books her situation in life is more comfortable and her inner child breaks out. In Bite the Big Apple, the last book in the series, she is faced with answers to questions that have plagued her for 8 years. She’s overwhelmed, relieved, and forced to reflect on her inner journey.

Candi: What can readers look forward to from the writing studio of Elle Klass in the next 12 months?

Elle: My big surprise and unofficial announcement the four Baby Girl books are currently undergoing editing and will be formatted into a box set available in paperback and ebook formats. I’ve been keeping this under wraps but the date of its launch is drawing near. The boxset will include never read before prologue, epilogue, and scenes. The idea came from Baby Girl readers who love the series and continue to ask, ‘Will Baby Girl ever be available in paperback?’ I value readers’ opinions and ideas. Having said that, Cleo’s journey is only beginning so readers can expect more Baby Girl shorts and possible box sets in the future. I enjoy writing her character and hope throughout the course of Cleo’s journey to answer all its readers’ questions.

Calm Before the Storm Evan’s Sins Vol. 2 Ruthless Storm Trilogy is my next project. My goal is to have it available for preorder by late fall for release in early 2016. I’m not saying much about this yet except Vol. 2 is a prequel, read Vol. 1 Eye of the Storm Eilida’s Tragedy within the next several months in preparation and expect an increase in suspense.

Candi: Elle, thank you for taking time to share your thoughts and giving us an inside look at your fascinating writing world.

Elle: Thank you I enjoyed the opportunity to share and hope your readers will take the chance and check out my books.
Candi: Here’s how you can experience the entertaining writing of Elle Klass, author of multi-genres.

Elle Klass’s Online Links:

Social Media Links:
http://thetroubledoyster.blogspot.com/
http://elleklass.weebly.com/
https://twitter.com/ElleKlass
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7216745.Elle_Klass
https://www.facebook.com/ElleKlass
Sign up for newsletter here- http://elleklass.weebly.com/contact-mailing-list.html
Eye of the Storm Eilida’s Tragedy Youtube review Erik Nelson- https://youtu.be/nEKTKJHMwQI
Book Trailer Baby Girl by Double Decker Books- https://youtu.be/KfcsSdhZjDg
As Snow Falls Trailer- https://youtu.be/wJxAcy3R2dg
Get to know and interact with my characters:
Sunshine’s Pinterest Board- http://www.pinterest.com/elleklass/sunshine/
Eilida’s Pinterest Board-http://www.pinterest.com/elleklass/eilida/
Cleo’s Pinterest Board- https://www.pinterest.com/elleklass/cleos-favorites/
Buy links:
Amazon author page- http://www.amazon.com/Elle-Klass/e/B00F2Y48C0/
Amazon author U.K.- http://www.amazon.co.uk/Elle-Klass/e/B00F2Y48C0/
Barnes and Noble- http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/elle-klass
Kobo- https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/search?query=Elle%20Klass&fcsearchfield=Author&fclanguages=all
Smashwords- https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/Elle30
iBooks- https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/elle-klass/id686139376
Google Play (books discounted here)- https://play.google.com/store/books/author?id=Elle%20Klass&hl=en
Reader’s Favorite review (feel free to post your own)- https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/eye-of-the-storm

Interview with Robyn Roze – Romantic Women’s Fiction

Author-CenterStage2-2Welcome!

Highly popular romantic women’s fiction author Robyn Roze is our guest on Author CenterStage for a round of questions on her writing experience. Robyn’s published novels are: Keeper, Keep Her, Find Her-Free Her, and Chain of Title. And HellKat is on the way! All are full-length, stand-alone romance novels that have kept readers up all night! The Keeper series is a trilogy that runs more than 500 pages.

Candi Silk: Robyn, thanks for joining us and answering lots of questions!

Robyn Roze, Author

Robyn Roze, Author

Robyn Roze: Thank you for having me, Candi. I’m thrilled to be here.

Candi: I’ve gathered some frequently asked questions from readers to share with you. So, let’s begin with one of the key questions: How did you arrive one day with pen, ink and paper in your hands as you began your first novel, Keeper? What tipped the balance scales of your motivation to write the first word, the first page?

Robyn: I suppose you could call it a midlife impetus. I had quite the imagination as a girl and teachers encouraged me to pursue writing as a career. However, practicality ruled the day. After a while, the scenes and dialogue that swirled in my head grew loud enough I decided to quiet them. I sat down at my laptop one day and the Keeper Series was born. I’m so thankful for technology! If I had to rely on pen, ink, and paper, I’d probably still be working on that series!

Candi: I totally agree with the wonders of technology. How old were you when you first noticed your desire to put words on paper to tell a story? What were early influencers, books, events, people?

Robyn: I’d say the writing seed sprouted in grade school and then bloomed in middle school. As a girl, I loved writers like Barbara Taylor Bradford, Sidney Sheldon, and Agatha Christie.

Candi: Three of your titles comprise the Keeper Series, which is listed as new adult romance. How would you describe new adult? What led you to debut your writing into that arena? I was particularly struck by the intensity of conflict you subjected your characters to. Care to elaborate on why you showed them no mercy?

Robyn: I describe new adult as people in their early twenties just getting a taste of the world—sans parents. It’s an exciting time of self-discovery and navigating through a world that loves to label and categorize us.

I started my writing journey with the Keeper Series because those characters were the loudest in my head. Whole scenes played on a loop in my mind at times and I built the story around those pieces, much like putting a puzzle together—without benefit of the finished picture from which to draw.eUVUDL4LGwTo1

There is a lot of conflict in the Keeper Series and no one is spared, but that’s life. The main character, Olivia, has had a tough start in the world and she still has a hard road ahead of her when the reader first meets her. But with her own perseverance and the love of people around her, she makes her way out of the darkness.

Candi: One of the most popular fiction genres today is the romance. What are the ingredients or elements that turn a plain vanilla romance into a romance suspense, with a generous dash of eroticism?

Robyn: I describe my stories as romantic women’s fiction, and I borrow elements from the suspense and thriller genres to spice things up. Romantic suspense typically includes some mysterious event and/or questionable people that cause difficulties between the romantic leads. This usually runs parallel to the romance element and causes the reader concern as to what is coming next for the couple to whom they’ve become attached. There can be a romantic villain, a killer on the loose, a treacherous adventure, or any other number of circumstances that threaten the longevity of the romantic interests central to the story.

Candi: You have demonstrated a fine talent in utilizing those story elements! What is a typical writing day like for you? When does it begin and end? And do you use a lot of expensive equipment or materials in writing your novels? Can you write with background noise or do you prefer quiet?

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Available Spring 2015

Robyn: My writing day all depends on where I’m at in a particular project. For example, I’m currently working on edits and rewrites for my upcoming release HellKat. I’m taking my time with that process. Editor feedback can be tough, knowing how far to take their recommendations and how to reconcile those suggestions with beta readers’ comments can be dizzying. However, I received the best writing advice from another author about this dilemma: “Remember you’re writing for readers, not editors.” That freed me from my inability to move forward.

I am also mentally switching gears to my next project which will be a sequel to my best-selling novel Chain of Title. I’ve begun the difficult process of breaking away from my characters in HellKat by creating a new playlist for the characters in my Chain of Title sequel. I listen to music when I’m writing and when I just want to get my head into a particular scene or mood, like I am now.

Candi: A popular question for authors is: Have you experienced writer’s block, and how do you deal with it or prevent it?

Robyn: Yes, I’ve experienced writer’s block. I do a variety of things to remedy it. Sometimes I simply put the story away for a while, or other times I re-read from the beginning what I’ve already written. This helps me rebuild the momentum to continue forward with the story and pick a fork in the road.

Candi: To what extent do your story characters shape your novels? What do they add? Isn’t it enough to just tell the story sort of like a newspaper article? (Jack and Jill met. Jack and Jill got married.) You know, just the facts? What distinctions do characters bring to a story? And what do you think readers are looking for in characters?

Robyn: A news story provides facts, not emotions. Readers want characters with whom they can identify and they want to be immersed in the feelings of the story. Each character in a story should have his/her own personality, just like in the real world. When a writer does a good job of character development, the reader will come to know and thereby understand the actions/reactions of a given character, even when the reader doesn’t agree with a choice made by a character in the story. Causing a reader to feel compassion for a character who would otherwise be reported as only a monster in the news is not an easy task. And when an author discovers they’ve succeeded on that front it’s incredibly rewarding.

Candi: How do you conceptualize/layout the plan or your approach of the plot for a novel you’re about to write? What’s the time sequence like? Is it finished over a cup of coffee or over a period of days or weeks? And what are the particular challenges of the process of solidifying and nailing down the plot? What challenges does an author face when doing research in writing the book?

Robyn: My process is organic. I have a general idea in my head, but I don’t know where it’s really going to end up until I immerse myself in the story and allow my characters to take the lead. My process is slow, because I a let scenes simmer in my head while I consider the effects of all the possible choices the characters could make. It’s like a chess game to some extent; each move has an effect on the opponent and ultimately how the match ends.

Candi: How long does it take you to write and publish a book, from start to finish? It must be easy and simple with all the advanced technology available today. Are there any major ups and downs during that process?

Robyn: Technology makes writing and revision much easier; however, an author still has to create a compelling story. And technology doesn’t make that part of the process any easier. The big advantage today is the ease with which an author can self-publish. I tend to work slowly. I have a job and a family, and I write whenever I can, but I cannot publish four or five books a year. I’m not sure I could do that even if I could devote all of my time to writing. But once I am ready to publish a book that is the by far the easiest part of the entire process.eUVUDL4LGwTo1

Candi: Your commitment to the writing craft in the midst of real everyday living is inspiring. But I hear you saying writing and publishing are not automatic and 100% easy. So, what advice do you have for a person, let’s say my neighbor down the street, who says she wants to write a book? She’s got this great idea for a bestseller novel. Should she enroll in the nearest college writing class, buy 10 books on writing, or what?

Robyn: Some of my favorite authors never took a writing course and yet they have large, enthusiastic fan bases. Why? Because they have readers who love their storytelling style. Readers don’t know or care if you’ve taken writing courses. They’re looking for an escape and seldom ticking off what you’ve done right or wrong on some writing checklist. Readers know what they like when they read it. It’s really that simple. I would advise your neighbor to write her story, her way.

Candi: Great advice. Okay, time for a challenge question: You’ve just been notified that you’ll be teaching a university course entitled: Writing Your First Romance Suspense. What 3-4 points or pillars would you consider essential to the course?

Robyn:
1. Develop flawed romantic leads your readers will root for.
2. Create conflict that tests the heroine and hero.
3. Show how the conflict ultimately strengthens the h/H relationship.
4. End on a note of resolution or leave the reader ready for more.

Candi: What are the biggest challenges facing new writers today?

Robyn: One of the biggest challenges for a writer is to find her readers. Presumably a writer publishes because she wants others to enjoy her story. Unfortunately, clicking ‘publish’ on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or any other site does not ensure readership. The cliché build it and they will come is great in movies but not practical in reality. The biggest surprise to a new writer might very well be how much time she will need to spend networking and promoting her books and brand. Time most of us would rather spend developing intriguing characters and great stories.

Candi: It’s been reported that Amazon has over ten million titles (books) listed on their website. (They probably inventory Fred Flintstone’s diary carved in stone.) What are the challenges for readers in selecting “goodreads” from that many choices? What’s your best advice for readers on how to choose an entertaining/interesting book?

Robyn: A friend’s recommendation is always a great place to start. Also type in keywords or do a search for similar authors/stories that you already enjoy. You should always take advantage of the free sample most online retailers’ offer so that you can get a flavor for the writing style and pacing of the story.

Candi: Isn’t it enough for a writer to simply have all the facts for her story and just write it and publish, or to what extent does the writer’s imagination play a part in crafting a page-turning novel?

Robyn: Imagination is what makes for a compelling story, and writing style is what determines how the story is told. Otherwise, you have nothing more than a sterile news story stating only facts. In any art form, imagination is at the core, and the beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Candi: From what I gather, many years ago (think post early printing presses) authors and readers rarely connected or communicated. A reader was lucky to just read the written book. But today the Internet is one huge gathering place where authors and readers can communicate freely. How do you feel about those dynamics and how do both authors and readers benefit from that kind of environment? How do you enjoy making and keeping in contact with your readers?

Robyn: I love being able to connect with my readers. I have a street team that’s been built with happy readers who want to spread the word about my books—it doesn’t get any better than that. Their support and encouragement is invaluable. Plus, I selected some of them as beta readers for my upcoming release HellKat. I’ve also had readers connect with me through my website and Facebook to tell me how much they liked a story and to find out what I’m working on next. I also have a growing email list for those who want updates directly to their inboxes about release dates, giveaways, sales and more. I love today’s technology. I think it’s wonderful for both authors and readers.

Candi: What are the advantages of the Kindle, Nook, and other e-reader devices? Isn’t there something to be said about a real paper and ink book in hand as one sits by the fireside of home and reads?

Robyn: I can’t remember the last time I bought a ‘real’ book to read. I love my Kindle. However, I just recently received the proof copy for my Chain of Title paperback. There is something very satisfying about holding it in my hands, thumbing through the pages, and inhaling that book smell.

Candi: And I noticed that Chain of Title is now available in paperback for everyone. You published the Keeper Series in the new adult romance genre. What about Chain of Title? What prompted you to enter into the mature romance genre? How about putting a framework around mature romance? Your protagonist (Heroine), Shayna Chastain was a standout woman in Chain of Title. As I recall from page one, Shayna is shackled with a ton of baggage to deal with. What were the dynamics as you developed her on paper?

Robyn: First and foremost, I write the kind of stories I want to read, and I’d like to read more stories with mature women. I’m fifty and I know a whole lot of life is still ahead of me and a whole lot of life experience is behind me, pushing me forward. I want to read and write about more women like that, like me.Chair of Title 41LJWHjTKKL._UY250_

In Chain of Title, Shayna slowly unraveled her story to me. She didn’t give me everything at once and it became clear she had issues to work through—don’t we all? She’s experienced abandonment and loss early in her life which has colored the choices she made as a young woman. She has to figure out if she can work through the hurts and betrayals from her past and find the courage to forgive those who have wronged her.

Candi: Often when readers thoroughly enjoy a particular novel, they want those favorite characters to continue on in another book, and another. What are the challenges facing an author in further development of a character in additional books?

Robyn: I think the biggest challenge in a series or sequel is making the readers happy. If you’ve written a book that readers have told you they loved and they want more of, as my readers have told me about Chain of Title, the pressure to continue the story in a way that your readers will love just as much, or more than the first story, is huge. The bar has already been set incredibly high. I also feel an immense obligation to reward the people who’ve stuck by me, encouraged me, spread the word about my books, and have promoted me on social media. I do not want to let my readers and fans down.

Candi: What can readers look forward to from the pen of Robyn Roze in the next year?

Robyn: I’m currently refocusing my creativity on Shayna Montgomery and Sean Parker from my novel Chain of Title. I have a poll on my website that many readers have voted in, expressing concern over how Sean will get out of the jam he appears to be in at the end of the story. Stay tuned!

Candi: I know many readers are holding their breath, waiting for the imminent release of HellKat, and now that there’s the promise of a sequel to Chain of Title you’ve got us on the edge of our seats. Robyn, thank you for taking time to share your thoughts with us and giving us an inside look at your fascinating writing world. May writing success continue as your companion!

Robyn: Thank you for your interest and time, Candi. I wish you every writing success. I’ve enjoyed your breakout women and look forward to reading more of your delicious stories.

Candi: Thanks, Robyn. Now, here’s how you can experience the entertaining writing of Robyn Roze, author of romantic women’s fiction, with additional thrills:

Robyn’s Online Links: Quick and easy ways to find Robyn Roze and her books.
http://www.robynroze.com
http://www.facebook.com/robynrozeauthor

Interview with Michael W. Smart – Mystery, Suspense Thrillers

Author-CenterStage2-2Welcome!

Highly popular mystery suspense thriller author Michael W. Smart is my guest on Author CenterStage for a round of questions on his writing experience. Michael’s published novels are: Dead Reckoning, Deadeye, and Deadlight. All are full-length, stand-alone thrillers that have kept readers up all night! Michael, thanks for joining us and answering questions!

Michael: My pleasure Candi. Your erotica novels enticed me into a genre I don’t read much, so being your guest here to talk writing is a real pleasure.

Candi: I’ve gathered some frequently asked questions from readers to share with you. So, let’s begin with a couple of key questions: How did you arrive one day with pen, ink and paper in your hands as you began your first novel, Dead Reckoning? What tipped the balance scales of your motivation to write the first word, the first page?Michael Smart

Michael: Well first of all, I’ve been writing since my early teens, mostly as a hobby, my form of artistic expression I guess. And the first novel I actually completed, at age sixteen, is the science fiction story I’m releasing this summer, after a massive year long rewriting of course. It wasn’t until five years ago, as I contemplated returning to the Caribbean, that Dead Reckoning materialized. I knew returning to live in the Grenadines wouldn’t be the same, some things I wouldn’t be able to still do. Climbing to the top of a mainmast for example, was out of the question. Too much time had passed, my perspective and my body had changed. And so had the island. I wondered what it’d be like living there again in middle age. As I pondered those questions the character Nicholas Gage developed, and also the themes. Gage arrives in the Grenadines with an entirely new perspective than in his past life, and he has to cope with reinventing himself at an older stage in life. I started scribbling notes about him, and by the time I looked up, Dead Reckoning had taken form. I decided later to make it a series.

Candi: It is a terrific series! How old were you when you first noticed your desire to put words on paper to tell a story? What were early influencers, books, people?

Michael: Thirteen I think. My early influences and inspiration were the authors on whom I cut my reading teeth. Pioneers of the mystery and science fiction genres like Dashiel Hammett, Spillane, Ross Macdonald, John D. MacDonald, Leslie Charteris, John Creasey, Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein, Verne, H.G Wells, to name a few. I wanted to write and tell stories the way they did, making my readers disappear into the pages as I did when reading these authors.

Candi: I knew nothing of your writing background while reading your novels, but I recall thinking of MacDonald and Spillane. So you keep good company, Michael. Your three titles comprise the series, The Bequia Mysteries. What is behind the name Bequia? What are the details that led you to write and publish mystery suspense thrillers? Were there any particular experiences or interests that influenced your interest in the suspense thriller genre?

Michael: Bequia is a small island, only nine square miles, in a group of islands comprising the island nation St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the eastern Caribbean. Though the stories in the series move among other islands in the Grenadines, the Caribbean, and even the U.S, the main setting is Bequia. It’s where the main characters live. After college, in my mid-twenties, I retired from the work-a-day world to travel the world. I spent eightbotanical-gardens-sr-vincent-210x210 years sailing around the Caribbean and living in the Grenadines. As I mentioned, Dead Reckoning materialized at a time I was contemplating an early second retirement, and returning to the Grenadines. I set the series in the Grenadines as a means to write about my adventures when I lived and sailed there. As for the mystery-suspense-thriller genre, that’s the genre I cut my reading teeth on, and enjoy reading the most. I guess it’s natural for me to also write in that genre.

Candi: The maps you included in the series were of great help. As I read, I could follow your characters. Since the setting for The Bequia Mysteries is the exotic Bequia Island, and you having lived in that area, has there been any particular reactions or repercussions from local citizens? I’m reminded of Thomas Wolfe who wrote Look Homeward, Angel, and the backlash he experienced from his hometown of Asheville, North Carolina.

Michael: The few who are familiar with the novels have been very receptive and supportive. They want me to get actual physical books into the local bookstores and souvenir shops. But the most gratifying reaction I’ve received was from a UK couple, who while researching where to vacation in the Caribbean, discovered the Bequia Mysteries, and enjoyed them so much they decided to vacation on Bequia. They wrote me the most wonderful email about reading the books during their vacation on Bequia, visiting the locations featured in the novels, and even looked up some friends for me. They had a wonderful time thanks to the Bequia Mysteries.

Candi: One of the most popular fiction genres today is the thriller category. What are the ingredients or elements that turn a plain vanilla thriller into a mystery suspense thriller?

Michael: I’ve actually been wrestling with this whole genre question recently, because I also write science fiction, my other favorite genre. It seems to me the question of genre has become more complicated and convoluted than it needs to be. Perhaps the tendency in our polarizing society to constantly classify, categorize, and pigeonhole things into separate little boxes. I look at mystery and thriller as two distinct genres. The thriller is usually plot driven and fast paced. Mystery, while also well plotted, is mostly character driven. Both, or any genre for that matter, can include suspense, which I view as a literary ingredient similar to drama, rather than a separate genre or subgenre. Personally I enjoy novels with elements of multiple genres.Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00044]

Candi: Readers want to know what an author does with her/his time. What is a typical writing day like for you? When does it begin and end? And do you use a lot of expensive equipment or materials in writing your novels? Can you write with background noise or do you prefer quiet?

Michael: A typical writing day for me begins around one or two in the afternoon, depending on when I awake and get out of bed. I’m usually writing until three or four in the morning. Many times I pull all nighters. If the juices are flowing and my eyelids aren’t drooping I’ll just keep going. If I get into bed with too many scenes, action, dialogue, or story notes running around my brain I can’t sleep anyway. Rather than toss and turn, I simply get up and continue writing. Usually the first thing I do is go through my email, check my social sites, browse any blogs which were shared and the ones I follow, make comments and respond to emails, check the day’s headlines, make notes on what I need to follow up on, including any marketing I need to do for that day, all over a cup or two of coffee. That usually takes about two hours. Then I shower and dress and get ready as though I’m going to the office, which I am. I settle into a favorite nook, reopen my laptop, and I’m there for the next ten to twelve hours with breaks for food or drink or to stretch my legs. Sometimes I’ll write to music, sometimes I want complete quiet. Depends on my mood, or what I’m writing. When I write to music it’s usually a classical piece or movie soundtrack. Debussy’s La Mer, and soundtrack composers like Lisa Gerrard, Hans Zimmer, and Trevor Jones, are on that writing playlist.

Candi: Well stated—writing is not a precise time-clock activity. A popular question for authors is: Have you experienced writer’s block, and how do you deal with it or prevent it?

Michael: I don’t experience what is typically termed writer’s block. I’m never at a complete loss for something to write. And on days when I can’t conjure a new passage or chapter, I’ll work on revising passages or chapters I’ve already written. On occasion I do get stuck at a particular point in a story where I’m not sure where to go next, or how to proceed with the plot. I’ve learned after five novels to take a step back and allow the work to sit for a while, because I now know even if nothing is happening on the page, it’s happening in my head. My characters are constantly speaking and interacting with me. They’re wrangling the problem and trying to figure out what to do next. It also helps when writing a series, because I’m dealing with the same characters, and I’m more familiar with them as the different stories unfold. Usually after this break, I’ll wake up one day to discover the solution fully formed in my head.

Candi: To what extent do your story characters shape your novels? What do they add? Isn’t it enough to just tell the story sort of like a newspaper article? You know, just the facts? What distinctions do characters bring to a story?

Michael: The stories in my novels, whether mystery or science fiction, are all character driven. My characters don’t merely exist in the story, they’re essential to shaping and narrating the story. Neglecting this is a shortcoming I see in too many indie-published, and even some traditionally published novels, where telling the story takes precedence over the craft, and writing creatively doesn’t seem to matter. Personally, I can only get through a novel if the story is well crafted, with compelling characterizations, and writing which engages me on a visceral, emotional level. For me, that’s where the joy of reading comes from. Otherwise I lose interest, no matter how imaginative and intriguing the story may be. I work extremely hard to avoid this in my own writing and storytelling. I want my readers to enjoy reading the words and get so lost in the page, they don’t see me, the author, on the page, or notice being swept along by the story. I’m not there yet. But I’m constantly working at it, every day.Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00044]

Candi: You nailed it; remove characters who can emotionalize the reader, and the book disappears. So how to you fit characters and all the other pieces together? How do you conceptualize or layout the plan of your approach to the plot for a novel you’re about to write? What’s the time sequence like? Is it finished over a cup of coffee or over a period of days or weeks? And what are the particular challenges of the process of solidifying and nailing down the plot? What challenges does an author face when doing research in writing the book?

Michael: I do have a concept of the plot and story before I begin writing. I do outline to a certain extent, but I don’t require a complete or detailed outline to begin writing. It’s more like an abbreviated storyboard, I know what the story is about and where I want to take it. Once the idea is crystallized in my head, I can usually knock out those notes in a couple of hours. Then I work on what I call casting, which is a longer process, usually a day’s work. I already know my characters in a general sense, where they’re from, what they look like, any particular features I want them to have, enough characteristics to begin fleshing them out, what they’ll be doing, and the situations and internal struggles they’ll have to face. I search online for an image closely resembling my character, and I have that image on the screen as I’m writing, allowing me to have a constant visual reference to their physical features. This is also an aid to prevent me from giving the character brown eyes, dark hair, and a scar in one chapter, and blue eyes, blond hair and no scar in another. I also conduct extensive research for my stories. This is the lengthiest process, anywhere from a couple of weeks to a few months, depending on the story. I spent days at a firing range for Dead Reckoning. And I’ll usually need to do more research on a particular detail as I’m writing. Thank goodness for the internet, or I’d be spending a fortune travelling to libraries and universities. I also conduct phone interviews for my research. Before and during the writing, I’m constantly making notes on the current project, but also future projects whenever my research inspires future plot ideas.

Candi: There’s a ton of work embedded in your answer. So how long does it take you to write and publish a book, from start to finish? It must be easy and simple with all the advanced technology available today. Are there any major ups and downs during that process?

Michael: Dead Reckoning took me two years to complete and publish. I spent almost a year researching and studying indie-publishing before making the decision to go that route. And even though I indie-publish, every once in a while I’ll send out a query to a literary agent, but now I’m able to do so at my leisure, and I have the leverage in accepting any offers. Subsequent Bequia Mysteries titles take about four months once I understand the plot, because I’m more familiar with the characters now, what they’ll do and how they’ll respond. And I know what’s going on in their lives and relationships. Although every once in a while one of them will throw me a surprise just to keep me on my toes. My other novels take between six months to a year depending on the amount of research I need to do. And I don’t publish immediately. I want at least six to eight months, perhaps a year, between the release of new titles. That’s sufficient time for the previous release to garner notice, begin to sell, and reinforce the brand. And it allows me time to have future titles completed and in the pipeline.

Candi: So you’re saying writing and publishing is not 100% easy. So, what advice do you have for a person, let’s say my neighbor down the street, who says she wants to write a book? She’s got this great idea for a bestseller novel. Should she enroll in the nearest college writing class, buy 10 books on writing, or what?

Michael: The first thing to understand is writing is hard work. It requires discipline, dedication, and commitment. The reason so many who say they want to write a book never do. The second thing, if you want to write really well, you have to learn and practice the craft. You can have all the elements of a great story, the characters, plot, etc. You can make the time, and pour your soul into writing, but if the craft is missing in the writing, then even the best ingredients, and the time spent, won’t matter. This is a ghostwriter’s bread and butter. Learning how to manipulate words and language is vital to writing, because what’s going on in one’s imagination doesn’t necessarily get translated to the written page. And it doesn’t happen by itself or by accident, no matter how ingenious the story. That doesn’t mean you need to take writing courses or get a degree in creative writing, there are other ways to learn the craft. One of the best ways is reading, especially in the genre you enjoy and want to create in. But do more than simply follow the story. Ask and answer what is it about the writing, the language, that engaged you, captivated you, enthralled you. How did the author’s choice of words, or turn of phrase, or scene setting, or character pathos, produce the emotions and imagery you experienced from reading the words on the page. Why couldn’t you put that book down until you’d read the last page, the last word.Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00044]

Candi: Your novels reflect that you practice what you preach. Okay, time for a challenge question: You’ve just been notified that you’ll be teaching a university course entitled: Writing Your First Mystery Suspense Thriller. What 3-4 points or pillars would you consider essential to the course?

Michael: First, define the genre. Is it a mystery, or a thriller? What are the essential characteristics of each? Is it a thriller encompassing a mystery in the plot? Or a mystery with elements of a thriller? Second, the story or plot. What the heck is happening? What is the ‘Magoffin’ driving the plot and everyone’s actions? What are the stakes? Third, the characters, and this applies to protagonists, antagonists, and secondary characters. Who are they? Where are they from? What is their backgrounds and history? How did they become involved in this situation, this plot? What motivates them? What obstacles, internal and external, must they overcome?

Candi: I see the lines forming for those wanting to take a class taught by you, Michael. Since the advent of digital capabilities and technology related to publishing and the rapid changes within the publishing arena, what do you see as the top two or three challenges facing writers today, and how are they to overcome them? What are the biggest challenges facing new writers today?

Michael: I think the biggest challenge, especially for new writers, is recognizing that writing involves a learned craft. I sincerely believe the changes in publishing, particularly the advent of digital self-publishing, is a beneficial windfall for both authors and readers. But it has spawned readers and writers who are unaware of, or pay little attention to, the craft and quality of writing. I don’t need to go down the quality-in-self-publishing rabbit hole here, or ever, since I believe given time and maturity of the industry, the issue of quality willVincy-Mas-210x210 work itself out in the marketplace. The challenge now, is recognizing that the easy ability to put together a story and upload it is not a substitute for the craft, or a license to neglect creative use of language to mould characters, stage scenes, narrate a compelling story, and evoke emotional responses. In interviews I often say words are merely the raw materials, how we as authors choose them, and string them together, is our art.

Candi: Your answer is worthy of being read each day! It’s been reported that Amazon has over ten million titles (books) listed on their website. What are the challenges for readers in selecting “goodreads” from that many choices? What’s your best advice for readers on how to choose an entertaining/interesting book?

Michael: I think for readers, having that many choices is great, fantastic. Readers will naturally gravitate to the books and authors they’ve enjoyed in the past, and like me, may even discover a new author or genre they haven’t tried before. The real challenge is for authors, how do we differentiate our work and get noticed in such a vast crowd.

Candi: If you could start your writing career over what two or three things would you do differently and why?

Michael: Another interviewer once asked me this question, my answer was, nothing. I wouldn’t do a thing differently. Everything happened in the manner and time it was supposed to for me to get where I am now. I could’ve decided to pursue serious writing and publishing earlier. But I wouldn’t have possessed the level of craft I do now, or had the life experiences which shapes my writing. Changes in the publishing industry and the opportunity to publish outside the traditional route would not have existed. I believe my perspective and my writing is right on target now.

Candi: Isn’t it enough for a writer to simply have all the facts for his story and just write it and publish, or to what extent does the writer’s imagination play a part in crafting a page-turning novel?

Michael: If I were writing a news article or essay, maybe. But fiction by its very nature requires imagination. The page-turning, non-stop-read part comes from how an author wields the language to create characters, scenes, atmosphere, suspense, drama, all the other elements. The craft I keep mentioning.

Candi: Some have said writing is not an end result, but a journey that never ends. Do you agree or disagree with that and why?Rogue-wave-1-210x210

Michael: I personally agree with that. It comes down to what you want to accomplish with your writing, what it means to you in your daily life. For me, it’s the writing itself, wrangling the language, constructing a great sentence or phrase, setting a vibrant scene with words, giving life to a character by the words and manner I use to describe him or her, continually learning and improving my craft, that’s a journey I can’t see ending anytime soon.

Candi: From what I gather, many years ago (think post early printing presses) authors and readers rarely connected or communicated. A reader was lucky to just read the written book. But today the Internet is one huge gathering place where authors and readers communicate freely. How do you feel about those dynamics and how do both authors and readers benefit from that kind of environment? How do you enjoy making and keeping in contact with your readers?

Michael: I think it’s great. Which is not a judgment on how things were in the past, or to say the technology we have today is inherently better. You adapt and exist in the time you’re born and live in. That is the history of humankind. There are advantages and disadvantages to having instant communication and feedback, and being constantly connected. But for the most part I enjoy connecting with and interacting with my audience, whether it’s online digitally or in person.

Candi: What are the advantages of the Kindle, Nook, and other e-reader devices? Isn’t there something to be said about a real paper and ink book in hand as one sits by the fireside of home and reads?

Michael: You know, every so often I see this discussion popping up on social media and blogs, and I just don’t get it. Personally, I don’t see the choice as either, or, some sort of zero sum equation. I enjoy the convenience of a digital reader when I’m at an airport, or waiting in line. But I can never give up the contentment of lying in a hammock reading a printed novel, having real pages to turn and the smell and feel of a real book in my hands. It’s why all my novels are also available in print format. I also don’t get the fixation of having a Kindle, Nook, or whatever, unless it’s the only digital device you own. But most people have a smart phone, or Ipad, or some other device, multiple devices usually. With ebook applications on my phone, laptop, and tablet capable of reading any ebook format, including the Kindle application, why do I need another devise dedicated solely to reading that particular eformat?

Candi: Refreshing answer! You have a varied professional background and one rich with travel experiences. How has that contributed to your writing? What can readers look forward to from the pen of Michael W. Smart in the next year?Bequia Mysteries 1

Michael: My life and adventures in the Caribbean definitely inspired and influenced the Bequia Mysteries. You’ve probably also noticed many of my characters share my passion for sailing and flying. In my novels I’ll continue to use settings I’ve travelled to or places I’ve lived, and I intend to return to some of those locations to reabsorb their atmosphere as I decide where to set future novels. For the remainder of this year, look for my science fiction title Davidia’s Seed, due this summer, and next year the fourth novel in the Bequia Mysteries series. I’m also working on another mystery with a sci-fi twist, which will be in the pipeline for 2016 or 17.

Candi: I’m looking forward to your entry into science fiction! Here’s another challenge question: Which of your three novels reveals most about your lead character, Nicholas Gage? What were the dynamics as you developed him on paper?

Michael: As you know from reading all three novels Candi, I use a unique point of view in each novel, a device I personally haven’t seen before in a series. I don’t want to give too much away, your readers will have to purchase the novels to find out for themselves. LOL. So you already know Dead Reckoning, the first novel in the series, reveals the most, but not everything, about the Gage character. The reader learns more about him in the next two novels, and will learn something totally surprising about him in the fourth novel. I touched on the dynamics of his creation in an earlier question. I’d been contemplating returning to the Grenadines but knew the experience wouldn’t be the same as when I’d lived there. That’s how Gage was conceived, as a person who arrives in the Grenadines and on Bequia with an entirely new perspective than he had in his past life, and has to reinvent himself at an older stage in life. The title Dead Reckoning, is also a metaphor for his journey. But the help he finds to accomplish this journey is pretty awesome, don’t you think?

Candi: You have demonstrated your craft well by surrounding Nicholas Gage with interesting characters and the element of yet-to-be-told mystery. I look forward to the surprising element you have in store regarding Gage. Michael, thank you for taking time to share your thoughts and give us an inside look at your fascinating writing world.

Michael: It’s been my pleasure Candi, and thank you so much for inviting me to share. You asked really fascinating questions, and I had fun thinking about and answering them. I haven’t contemplated interviews on my own blog Sea Quill, http://www.bequiamysteries.com/blog/ but you know I’ve reviewed your hot and steamy “Thrill Driven”, http://www.bequiamysteries.com/blog/reviews/book-review-thrill-driven-by-candi-silk/ and I may decide to include author interviews in the future. Anytime you want to do a guest post or contribute a few choice thoughts on writing, you have an open invitation, and you’re always more than welcome to drop by Candi.

Candi: Your website is inviting and I gladly accept your offer. Tell Nicholas Gage my naughty female characters will be looking for him! LOL!

Candi: Here’s how you can experience the entertaining writing of Michael W. Smart, author of mystery suspense thrillers:

Michael’s Online Links: Connect with Michael!

EMAIL: michaelwsmart@hotmail.com; michaelwsmart@bequiamysteries.com
WEBSITE: http://www.bequiamysteries.com/
BLOG: http://www.bequiamysteries.com/blog/
AMAZON AUTHOR CENTRAL: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00IYXAH8A
AMAZON AUTHOR CENTRAL UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00IYXAH8A
SMASHWORDS: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/michaelwsmart
GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7870921.Michael_W_Smart
GOOGLE+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/113754433649367271314/about
LINKED IN: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/michael-smart/a3/395/282
PINTEREST: http://www.pinterest.com/michaelwsmart/
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Michael-W-Smart/560971790701349
ABOUT ME: http://about.me/michaelwsmart/

 

Interview with Maggie James – Psychological Thrillers

Author-CenterStage2-2Welcome!

Highly popular thriller author Maggie James is our guest on Author CenterStage for a round of questions on her writing experience. Maggie’s published novels are: His Kidnapper’s Shoes, Guilty Innocence, Sister, Psychopath, and The Second Captive. All are full-length, stand-alone psychological thrillers that work extra hard entertaining readers all through the night! Maggie, thanks for joining us and answering questions!

Maggie James: Thanks, Candi! It’s a pleasure to be here.

Candi Silk: I’ve gathered some frequently asked questions from readers to share with you. So, let’s begin with a couple of key questions: How did you arrive with pen, ink and paper in your hands one day as you began your first novel, His Kidnapper’s Shoes? What are the details that led you to write and publish psychological thrillers? Were there any particular experiences or interests that influenced you?

Maggie James: His Kidnapper’s Shoes came about through the frustration I experienced as a result of approaching my fiftieth birthday and having done nothing to achieve my ambition of writing a novel. A travel-holic, I had an epiphany whilst staying in a small town in northern Chile. I was browsing the website of a fellow writer, someone whose work I very much admire, and her prolific outpourings humbled me. I felt His Kidnapper's Shoes 1602333embarrassed and annoyed that so far in my life, all I’d done was procrastinate about becoming a novelist. Oh, I had all the excuses! Not enough time, lack of confidence – you name it. None of them held a drop of water. I resolved to change things, and fast. I travelled to Bolivia, found a hotel in the gorgeous city of Sucre, and wrote every day until I’d finished the first draft of His Kidnapper’s Shoes. The result was a behemoth of 146,000 words, requiring lots of pruning, but I’d produced my firstborn at last. Such an emotional moment, pure magic. I still get tearful when I remember it.

As for pen, paper, and ink, they didn’t come into it. I was travelling with my laptop, so everything happened in cyberland. Once I had the original idea for His Kidnapper’s Shoes, I jotted down a few notes in Microsoft Excel, and typed the novel in Word.

What led me to write in this genre? The workings of the human mind fascinate me. I don’t have a lot of time for conventional psychological theories, as they tend to change every decade, but human behaviour provides fertile material for novelists. Especially when it’s bad behaviour! I can’t say there were any particular experiences that influenced me; my books arise out of my passion for fiction twinned with my interest in psychological issues.

Candi: What a wonderful first-novel experience, and inspiring! How old were you when you first noticed your desire to put words on paper to tell a story? What were early influencers, books, people?

Maggie James: I’ve always had the desire to write, in particular novels. When I was a child, I never doubted that I’d be a novelist one day. Oh, the hubris of youth! Fast forward to my adulthood, and a chronic lack of confidence, along with an absence of self-discipline, ensured I didn’t even try for several decades. Now I kick myself for having wasted so much time. These days, I’m far more confident, and my self-discipline isn’t bad either.

Maggie James, Author

Maggie James, Author

Early influencers? I’m one of those people who can’t remember learning to read, as I could do so long before attending primary school. For that, I have my father to thank, as well as for my love of books. He was always a voracious reader, in particular the classics. As for books, every one I’ve read, whether good or bad, has influenced me in some way. The good ones inspire me to improve my craft with every word I write. The not-so-good ones help me to spot what mistakes to avoid. It’s all a giant learning curve, and I’ll never stop climbing it.

Candi: Well, your top-quality novels reflect your passion and your command of the writing craft. One of the most popular fiction genres today is the thriller category. What are the ingredients or elements that turn a plain vanilla thriller into a psychological thriller?

Maggie James: I think it comes back to human behaviour, and the fascinating way that people conduct themselves. ‘There’s nowt so queer as folk,’ as we say in the UK! A thriller’s plot needs something dark and twisted for it truly to thrill; there has to be a strong element of human weirdness. For example, even though I dealt with the topic in my fourth novel, The Second Captive, the phenomenon of Stockholm syndrome still baffles me. Half of me understands how a victim can empathise with his/her abuser, and the other part of my brain can’t get to grips with it.

Candi: I agree, Maggie. It’s the multi-sided issues or situations in a novel that challenge the characters and entertain readers. So, what is a typical writing day like for you? When does it begin and end? And do you use a lot of expensive equipment or materials in writing your novels?

Maggie James: I’m a night owl by inclination, but sadly that doesn’t work for me when it comes to writing. For some perverse reason, I’m at my most creative in the morning. At present I’m trying a new regime, whereby I get up at 6 AM each day and either start work by 7 AM, or 8 AM if I go to the gym first. I’m finding I get much more done that way although it’s a Herculean effort for me to prise myself from under the duvet at such an ungodly hour. I work until midday, then break for lunch and a walk. I begin again at 2 o’clock and work through until 5 PM. Mornings are spent on writing work, whether that’s plotting, editing, or actual writing, with the afternoons involved in marketing and social media activities. My website contains a fiction blog, which I update every Wednesday. I’ve really taken to blogging, and love crafting my weekly post.

I’m easily distracted by Twitter, Google Plus and the like, so I need to focus when I write. I unplug the phone and don’t switch on my mobile. Tweaking my website can be another huge time sink for me.

I often take the weekends off to recharge my creative batteries. As for materials, I use the marvellous (and inexpensive) software called Scrivener for all stages of the process, whether it’s plotting, editing or writing. Scrivener also formats my final documents seamlessly into Kindle and e-book format for me. I’ve often said that, were Scrivener human and male, I’d marry him in a flash! It’s that great.

What else do I use? Well, I’m dictating the answers to these questions via voice recognition software. I’m an appalling typist, and whatever gives my wrists a rest is good for me. Sadly, I find it impossible to use such software for creative purposes; my brain won’t work that way. If it did, I’d probably dictate my novels rather than type them.

Candi: I’m glad you mentioned your blog; I enjoy each time I visit there. Another popular question is: Have you experienced writer’s block, and how do you deal with it or prevent it?

Maggie James: In the past, I’ve sided with those who believe writer’s block doesn’t exist. After all, you never hear of lawyer’s block, or truck driver’s block. It helps that I plan my novels beforehand, so I always have an outline for what comes next. It’s not restrictive; if I want to write out of order I do. With the outline in place, though, it’s hard to get blocked.

Having said that, I’m now more of a believer in writer’s block, as a form of it afflicted me during my recent trip to Asia. Following computer failure, I had to resort to pen and paper, which doesn’t work for a technophile like me. I was getting some great ideas for the plot of my fifth novel, but couldn’t bring any of them to a satisfactory conclusion. I’m still working on unblocking myself!

Candi: I have every confidence you’ll crash through any blocks or barriers. To what extent do your story characters shape your novels? What do they add? Isn’t it enough to just tell the story sort of like a newspaper article? You know, just the facts? What distinctions do characters bring to a story?

Maggie James: Characters bring a novel to life! As you’ve said, without them, the storyline would just be a recital of facts. Many humans are insatiably nosy and fascinated by others’ behaviour. It’s not enough for a novelist just to list the bare bones of a situation. Facts are the clothes, and characters are the body on which the writer drapes them. Given compelling characters, the reader will engage with them whatever the storyline. Charles Dickens is renowned for his characterisation; what would his novel ‘Nicholas Nickleby’ be without the wonderfully named Wackford Squeers? Or take Hannibal Lecter. He’s a Guilty Innocence 2686223cannibalistic murderer, rendered unforgettable by Thomas Harris making him a connoisseur of culture. A seeming contradiction, yet it works. Pass me some fava beans and Chianti…

I’ve loved creating my characters. Mark Slater in ‘Guilty Innocence’ posed a particular challenge. He’s flawed in so many ways, yet I hope I’ve made the man worthy of empathy. Yes, he was involved in a horrific murder, but the circumstances are extenuating. Besides, he does his best to redeem himself and the situation. (Redemption was a key theme in the novel). In the end, he emerges from his trials a better, stronger person.

Candi: Maggie, I have found your characters well-developed and they were like familiar neighbors as I read from chapter to chapter! I noticed the setting for each of your novels is your hometown area. In what way was that a help or a hindrance? Were there any particular responses or repercussions from local citizens?

Maggie James: Setting my four novels in my home town of Bristol has helped me enormously. Location has not been a huge factor so far; my books could be set in Manchester, Glasgow, or Birmingham. The story would be the same. Thus it made sense for me to base them in Bristol, the city I know so well, as it cut the amount of research required. I’d far rather spend my time delving into the psychological issues that underpin my themes, than checking out locations via Google Earth or whatever. There have been no particular repercussions either way – so far!

I’m a huge travel fan, so it’s likely that future novels may be set in other places, either in the UK or abroad. It’s fair to say, though, that plotline and characterisation will always be more important to me than location when it comes to writing.

Candi: How do you conceptualize or layout the plan of your approach to the plot for a novel you’re about to write? What’s the time sequence like? Is it finished over a cup of coffee or over a period of days or weeks? And what are the particular challenges of the process of solidifying and nailing down the plot?

Maggie James: I always start with an idea I’m keen to examine, summarising it into a sentence. Next, I use Randy Ingersoll’s Snowflake Method to flesh out that sentence into a full-blown outline. It’s a great system for a natural planner like me. You expand your idea, making it ever more complex, similar to a snowflake, until it’s fully formed.

Once my snowflake is complete, I draft a rough sequence of events via a timeline, aimed to fit in thirty or so chapters. That’s flexible, of course, but it gives me a starting point.

As I mentioned before, I do all this in Scrivener, which allows me to chop and change things as I choose. What I love about the software is that I can store my research notes in there, instead of having to reference separate files on my computer. The other benefit is that as I write, I’m able to split my screen so that my notes are at the bottom, always within view. It keeps me on track with what I intend to produce that day.

As for the time sequence, it’s never finished over a cup of coffee! It takes me a week before I arrive at a good working outline with which to start. Then I use Scrivener to check that the storyline flows well and that I’ve tied up all loose ends. However, nothing is set in stone, and I often find that once I start writing, things don’t turn out the way I’d planned. Perhaps I’ve allocated a chapter to something that merits no more than a scene, or vice versa, or else a character takes the story down a different route. That’s fine – I’m never rigid about my outline, and if things have to change then so be it. All part of the fun of being a novelist!

Candi: How long does it take you to write and publish a book, from start to finish? It must be easy and simple with all the advanced technology available today. Are there any major ups and downs during that process?

Maggie James: It takes me at least six months. Of that, a month is spent planning, two writing, and three polishing, editing and formatting. In the middle of the process, after writing the novel, I set it aside for a month, to go ‘cold’ on it. That way, when I edit, I can approach what I’ve written with a fresh eye.

The writing time is intense. That was particularly the case for my second and third novels (Sister, Psychopath and Guilty Innocence), which I wrote for the annual NaNoWriMo competition. What’s that, you say? Well, it’s a madcap event which involves writing at least 50,000 words of a novel during November each year. It’s great fun; I’ve entered twice SP3342107_orignow, and will do so again. Why? Because it concentrates the mind on writing, whilst providing the fun of entering a global contest. The camaraderie and support amongst fellow NaNo-ers is incredible! And if you can manage 50,000 words in one month, it’s not so big a stretch afterwards to zoom towards the finish line.

You’re right; new technology and developments have facilitated publishing enormously. Amazon’s platform is a breeze to use, and has delivered many writers from the grind of query letters and being tied to the pitiful rates paid by the old-style publishing houses. No agents’ cuts, either. E-books have revolutionised an industry that needed a thorough overhaul.

The ups and downs? There aren’t many. Life intrudes at times, but writing is a joy. I’m privileged to be able to indulge myself this way, thanks to my wonderful readers, who have been so supportive.

Candi: So you’re saying writing and publishing is not 100% easy. So, what advice do you have for a person, my neighbor down the street, who says she wants to write a book;? she’s got this great idea for a bestseller book. Should she enroll in the nearest college writing class, buy 10 books on writing, or what?

Maggie James: Both are good ideas; I’m not in any writers’ groups or classes myself, but I know other authors praise them as a means of getting support and feedback. Rather than groups/classes, books are my preferred way of learning, and there are many stellar ones available for wordsmiths. Take Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’, or anything by K M Weiland or Roz Morris, for example. Newbies need to study plotting, characterisation, and arcs, along with punctuation, spelling, etc., if those are weak areas for them.

One of the most important things is to devour fiction like it’s chocolate cake. I believe it’s been shown that most great writers are voracious readers. Provided the books are well written, there’s something about reading that makes you absorb the basics of the craft.

Having said that, I guess it’s common for many people to declare ‘Oh, I’d love to write a book!’ and for it to be a pipe dream. Let’s be clear – writing a novel is a wonderful experience, but it’s a long hard slog. You need to be prepared for a marathon rather than a sprint. Take the annual NaNoWriMo competition – only 15 to 17% of entrants stay the course and complete their 50,000 words.

Candi: Great advice, Maggie! Okay, time for a challenge question: You’ve just been notified that you’ll be teaching a university course entitled: Writing Your First Psychological Thriller. What 3-4 points or pillars would you consider essential to the course?

Maggie James:

1. I’d advise my students to read as much fiction as possible in the psychological thriller category. They need to know what other novelists have written, how they advance their plot, keep the reader’s interest, etc. Reading widely in the genre is essential.
2. I’d teach the basics of the craft – plotting, characterisation, etc.
3. Where to get inspiration. How to identify viable ideas.
4. The mechanics that underpin creating a novel. Identifying when and where the students will write, how much time per day they will spend on the craft, the practicalities of writing (via computer, longhand, dictation, whatever), setting a timescale for completion, and daily word count goals. Good routines and the right mind-set are crucial elements.

Candi: What are the biggest challenges facing new writers today?

Maggie James: One of the biggest problems is visibility. With the advent of e-readers, and the popularity of Amazon’s Kindle programme, the market has flooded by new writers. How do you stand out in such a crowd? There aren’t any shortcuts, and overnight success happens only to a select few. If you want to be successful, you have to stop thinking of novel writing as a hobby and treat it as a business. Act like a professional. That means getting to grips with marketing, as well as social media, budgeting, etc. None of that comes easily to many authors, who simply yearn to get on with their writing. They’re reluctant to worry about search engine optimisation, creating a website, or blogging. That’s understandable, and I can relate to such feelings. It’s not enough to write a book, though, no matter how good. If nobody knows it exists, it’ll sink like the proverbial stone. Marketing is key.

It’s the best time ever to be a novelist, but the profession isn’t an easy route to riches.

Candi: It’s been reported that Amazon has over ten million titles (books) listed on their website. What are the challenges for readers in selecting “goodreads” from that many choices? What’s your best advice for readers on how to choose an interesting book?

Maggie James: Word-of-mouth recommendation always works well. If I know that a friend who has similar interests in reading has enjoyed a particular book, I’m more likely to try it. Online reviews are also important, once you weed out ones left by Internet trolls. They’re usually easy to spot, given their brevity and vitriol. Goodreads is a haven for book lovers; joining one of the thousands of groups on the site can bring a wealth of new material to a ‘to be read’ list. So many books, so little time…

Candi: Let’s take a look back for a moment. If you could start your writing career over, what two or three things would you do differently and why?

Maggie James: Oh, that’s an easy one! I’d be more of a planner right from the start. I shudder now to think of the way I wrote His Kidnapper’s Shoes, with little forethought or organisation involved. If only I’d known back then that sitting at a computer and waiting for one’s muse to visit isn’t a great idea. Not for me, anyway. I guess it’s understandable that a beginner hasn’t a clue where to start, though. I’m still tweaking my technique and the way I streamline my working life. There’s always room for improvement! I wish I’d had Scrivener from the word go, but it wasn’t available (apart from in beta form) when I started writing novels.

I also made the classic rookie mistake by writing a novel without a marketing plan or website in place. If I was starting over, I’d get a blog going, learn the basics of marketing, and explore the various distribution channels first. That way, once I’d finished the book, I’d be able to move seamlessly into promoting it, and expand the blog into a full-blown website for my fiction. Ah, the joys of hindsight…

Candi: I hope all wanna-be-a-writer visitors are listening and taking notes. Maggie, some have said writing is not an end result, but a journey that never ends. Do you agree or disagree with that and why?

Maggie James: I both agree and disagree. For me, for individual books, writing is a journey that does have an end, on the final page. For example, The Second Captive dealt with the theme of Stockholm syndrome. It’s a fascinating topic I badly wanted to examine TSC 23565397via my fiction, but now I have, I can put that issue to bed. On the other hand, writing as part of life’s journey never ends. I learn more with everything I create, but have so much farther to climb up the learning curve!

Candi: From what I gather, many years ago (think post early printing presses) authors and readers rarely connected or communicated. A reader was lucky to just read the written book. But today the internet is one huge gathering place where authors and readers communicate freely. How do you feel about those dynamics and how do both authors and readers benefit from that kind of environment?

Maggie James: I think it’s great! I’m active on social media, particularly Google Plus and Twitter, and I love connecting with my readers. Otherwise, I’d be writing in a vacuum; meaningful communication between my audience and me is essential. I’ve found blogging a joy, and it’s a wonderful way to connect. I take pride in my posts and in making them look good. Unlike many authors, my blog is geared towards readers, not writers, as they’re who I aim to reach.

For readers, it’s made writers much more accessible. Gone are the old days when authors were shielded behind publishing houses and agents, seen only at book signings and other public appearances. I still get an odd reaction sometimes when I tell people I’m a novelist; it’s as if they know such creatures exist, but never expected to meet a live, breathing one!

Candi: What are the advantages of the Kindle, Nook, and other e-reader devices? Isn’t there something to be said about a real paper and ink book in hand as one sits by the fireside of home and reads?

Maggie James: I think there are pros and cons either way. I read physical books, but I also own a Nook. Because I’m an avid traveller, books always accompany me on my journeys, but I prefer to travel light. It makes sense for me to load my Nook with lots of novels before I hoist my rucksack onto my shoulder and head for the airport. That being so, curling up with a Nook isn’t the same as with an actual book. There’s something about printed pages that’s both timeless and wonderful. A well-stocked bookcase brings a room to life in a way that no e-reader ever can.

Candi: What can readers look forward to from the pen of Maggie James in the next year?

Maggie James: Good question – it’s something I’m pondering at the moment! I’m considering a series of psychological thriller short stories, to give myself a break from the long haul of writing a novel. The Second Captive burned me out, especially getting it published before my two-month trip to Thailand and Cambodia. Besides, it’ll be fun to write in a shorter format again; prior to my novels, I cut my teeth on various fanfiction offerings, of lengths between 1,800 and 27,000 words.

Also in the pipeline is my fifth novel, perhaps as part of the annual NaNoWriMo competition in November. NaNo is always such fun!

I’m also considering non-fiction offerings. What I’d love to do is encourage newbie writers by penning a guide to getting started. So many people have told me they yearn to write a novel, but find the idea daunting. I did too, for decades. If I could help anyone overcome that, I’d be delighted.

Candi: Maggie, I believe anything you would write for newbie writers would be useful in every respect. Another challenge question: Which of your psychological thrillers would you recommend to a first-time reader of your genre?

Maggie James: Hmm, difficult one! I think I’d say The Second Captive, because I think out of the four novels I’ve written, it’s most representative of the genre. Also, because it’s my most recent offering, I’m very excited about it, and keen to introduce the novel to new readers.

Candi: For me, The Second Captive was an excellent read, and your unique voice added depth to the theme of Stockholm syndrome. Maggie, thank you for taking time to share your thoughts and give readers an inside look at your fascinating writing world.

Maggie James: You’re welcome! Thank you for hosting me on your blog.

Candi: And now for a challenge assignment for Candi Silk’s Rebel Readers: Go to Maggie James’s Amazon link below and sample the first 10% of her psychological thrillers. That’s how I discovered Maggie’s talent. I was hooked after the first few pages, and I think you will be also!

Candi: Here’s how you can experience the entertaining writing world of Maggie James, author of psychological thrillers:

Maggie James’s Online Links:

Facebook: http://en-gb.facebook.com/pages/Maggie-James-Fiction/191644207648375

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mjamesfiction

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/maggie-james/64/381/727

Google+ : https://plus.google.com/101511690389687930651

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/828751.Maggie_James

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/maggiejamesfict/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Maggie-James/e/B00BS9LVMI
http://www.amazon.com/author/maggiejames

Authorgraph: https://www.authorgraph.com/authors/mjamesfiction