Archive: Meet & Greet Authors (S-Z)

 

Welcome to the Archive Section of

Meet & Greet Authors

All of the writers on THIS page are listed alphabetically by LAST names S through Z

*All the information/websites/links were current AT THE TIME OF INITIAL POSTING. As time passes, please be aware that the links provided might not be active anymore.

 

 

 

 

Stephen Paul Sayers

 

Name: Stephen Paul Sayers

Genre(s) of your work: Horror/Supernatural Thriller

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

The Caretakers series:

A Taker of Morrows 2018 (book one)

A Taker of Souls (tentative release date: Fall, 2018) (book two)

Bio:

Stephen Paul Sayers grew up on the sands of Cape Cod and spent his first thirty-five years in New England before joining the University of Missouri as a research professor. When he’s not in his laboratory, he spends his time writing and devouring his favorite forms of genre fiction—horror, suspense, and thrillers. His short fiction has appeared in Unfading Daydream. A Taker of Morrows is his debut novel and the first in the planned Caretakers series. Throughout his journey, he has accumulated five guitars, four herniated discs, three academic degrees, two dogs, and one wife, son, and daughter. He divides his time between Columbia, Missouri and Cape Cod writing and teaching.

 

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

Ever since I was a kid, I loved horror. My brother and I watched horror movies all the time. I think the 70s and 80s were a golden age of horror movies – and we got really into it. That’s also when I discovered Stephen King, and I read just about everything he wrote. That was my base, and no matter what different literary roads I may travel, I always veer back into the genre. Even the books I read today transport me back to childhood and reignite those shivers again.

 

How has writing changed/altered your life?

I never set out to be a writer. But after a challenge from my daughter I decided to write her a novel. I thought it would just be something I’d give her some holiday or birthday, something she could put on her shelf as a gift from her father. But when I started writing, a switch turned on inside me, something I’d never felt before. So writing has helped me find a passion I never had before. Writing has taught me it’s never too late to branch out and try things, you may find something you never expected. It helped me finally figure out what I want to be when I grow up.

 

Who are your favorite authors and why?

I have so many authors I love reading in so many genres. They say writers should really focus on their own genre to improve their writing, and that’s definitely important, but there’s just too many good books out there to limit yourself. I grew up on a steady diet of Stephen King and Peter Straub. I loved those authors because they put real chills down my spine, and still do. I’m also a big fan of a new generation of horror writers, Joe Hill, Paul Cornell, J. Lincoln Fenn, and Paul Tremblay. I also love writers of suspense and thrillers, especially Jo Nesbo, Dennis LeHane and Randy Wayne White because their plots are so tight and carefully constructed. I’ve recently discovered Melissa Lenhardt’s “Jack McBride” mystery series, which sort of borders on chick lit, and yet I really like it. You never know what will hit you.

 

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

I’m an Indie bookstore kind of guy, and I’m actually trying to set up distribution of my first novel to the ones I used to wander through on Cape Cod when I was a kid. I read recently that New York Indie bookstores are making a comeback, and this is quite encouraging.

That being said, I’m surprised when I hear authors spout venom at the BIGS (we don’t have to mention names). Being angry at the mainstream/corporate bookstore is like blaming Walmart for being successful. This is how we choose to consume our groceries (and literature) in 2018. It’s not their fault. And while I have a real concern that one specific online retailer (he who shall not be named) may completely take over the publishing industry, many of us authors would never been published, read, or allowed to pursue our passion—or make a living at it—without them.

 

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

Horror and thriller fiction should be entertaining, number one. I want readers of my work to feel as if the time spent between the pages was a good investment. If they can escape from their world for a few hours, connect to my characters, and feel like they’ve made some friends they’re going to miss when they turn the final page, then I’ve done my job.

 

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

I’ve read great legal thrillers from former lawyers, war novels from veterans, and sports stories from former athletes, but I don’t bring much to the table in that way. As a researcher at a university, I think my scientific eye helps in crafting a pretty tight story. With research, you are always juggling different variables and studying their influence on a particular outcome. A tight plot is dependent on understanding how one variable, a plot point or clue, affects other parts of the story. So, I think the way my brain is wired for research actually helps in my development of plot in my novels.

 

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?

I’ve written two books in the Caretakers series, A Taker of Morrows (released June 15, 2018) and A Taker of Souls (tentative release date: Fall 2018). In the first book, I knew exactly how it was going to begin and how it was going to end, but I had no idea how I was going to get there. In the second book, I knew the beginning and middle, but I had no idea how it was going to end. So, my motivation so far has been the same as any other reader, wondering what the hell was going to happen in the story!

I also believe that any book or story doesn’t truly exist until its completion, until the characters have gone from some starting point to a definitive ending. I can’t speak for other authors, but the characters I write are so important to me I feel an obligation to let them see the light of day, to let others experience them. It’s such an overwhelming feeling, I don’t think I could ever NOT finish a book once I’ve started.

 

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

Actually, I rarely leave a book unfinished. I know that every writer has something that will intrigue me, challenge me, anger me or scare me somewhere along the way. If they’ve hooked me enough to buy the book, I’m going to commit to them. Books are like pizza…and I don’t think I’ve ever really had a bad slice of pizza.

 

Any pet peeves in writing? In reading others’ work?

I am always amazed at other authors, how they phrase things in ways I never thought, how they evoke emotion by their creative assortment of words, and the amazing stories they tell. I think I learn something about writing from every book I read. But whenever I read something about how someone’s eyes “…looked daggers…” I start to squirm. Ha ha!

 

Where can people find you and your work?

My novel, A Taker of Morrows, is now available for pre-order on Amazon (release date: June 15, 2018): https://www.amazon.com/Taker-Morrows-Caretakers-Book-ebook/dp/B07DFRGW6V/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Check out my website and social media links:

Website: https://www.stephenpaulsayers.com

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

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/SayersAuthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17982176.Stephen_Paul_Sayers

Amazon: https://www.amazon/author/stephenpaulsayers

 

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Bryan G. Shewmaker

Name: Bryan G. Shewmaker

Pseudonym: Secrets don’t stay secrets if you share them.

Genre of work: Science Fiction / Space Opera

Titles / Year of Published Works

The first work published under my own name was published this year, titled “Providence Ends”; the first installment of my “Solar Winds” series.

 

Why do you write in the genre you do?

Before I can really answer that, I really have to define the genres as I treat them.  Space Opera and Science Fiction are all too often equated to being the same thing.  Not uncommonly with the former being used as a derisive term as the latter, though it is less common these days.

I would consider science fiction to be “A story where the reader is shown how man’s capacity to invent and develop technology has resulted in a change of the human condition, as well as the implications of those changes.”

I would consider space opera to be “A story where technology has advanced, but the human condition has not changed and the implications thereof.”

When I have discussed this in the past I have often used the two most well-known examples as proof of concept.  Star Trek is widely considered science fiction, and perhaps the apex of its genre.  In Star Trek we see a society where inventions such as replicators have solved issues of poverty, hunger, and more.  Star Trek then extrapolates that this kind of development allows the human race to explore a new type of existence where our daily motivations are not predicated upon meeting our instinctive needs to hoard resources and power.  Instead the human motivation becomes one of exploration and self-betterment.  While I don’t agree with Star Trek’s premise that such technologies would bring about the change the show often depicts for us, it is an excellent example of the principle of science fiction.

Star Wars by contrast is a space opera, and I’ve known a few of its die-hard fans who become annoyed that Star Trek is considered science fiction while their favored franchise is dismissed as “science fantasy”.  Especially when by some accounts Star Trek is even more unrealistic than ‘Wars.  (Utopian societies and all.)  But it is an accurate description to say that Star Wars is not science fiction.  Star Wars depicts a civilization with technology far more advanced than our own in most respects, but the human race remains unchanged.  There are still rich and poor, strong and weak, privileged and oppressed.  All of the social ills we as real people face, are faced by the characters.  Thus Star Wars is not a work of Science Fiction, but of Space Opera.

Now that I’ve completed my tangent.  Why do I write the genres I do?  For one they are my favorite genres so it is only natural that my interest gravitate to them.  But more than this.  Think of how many times science fiction / space opera have predicted our future.  Rockets that can take us to the moon, ships that can sail under the water rather than over it.  Atomic weapons that can make war such a costly effort that no one who has them dares to fight each other.  Personal computers, cell-phones, railguns, lasers, AI, and more.  If you look for them, you will see all the hallmarks of our modern day’s great technology was foreshadowed by fiction.

The Epic of Gilgamesh, was written in 2,100 BC.  Mankind has been writing fiction for thousands of years.  There are only so many ways to tell a story, only so many plots and twists to be had.  Every story has already been written.  What truly sets one story apart from another is the characters in the story, and the setting of that story.  Space opera allows you to create a new setting, one that is different from our own.  But one where the people are…people.  Space opera creates a setting that real life might one day resemble.  Science fiction allows you one of the few opportunities to create truly new stories, as technology changes our way of life and opens the door to plots that may have never occurred to those who came before.

How has writing changed/altered your life?

Honestly, the biggest thing it has done is ruin a lot of fiction for me.  I’ve studied story-structure, character archetypes, and plot development to the point that unless I completely shut my brain off, I’ll have most any book / movie / game story figured out within a few minutes.  Annoys my friends sometimes, when 5 minutes in I can tell who is going to die, who is going to be the hero, who is going to betray someone else, etc.  (Don’t worry, I’m polite enough that I usually keep it to myself…unless I want to annoy them)  I’ve sometimes been accused of having inside knowledge, or lying about whether or not I’ve seen or read something.  Its very hard now for a story to surprise me in any meaningful way, though I do (usually) appreciate it when the writer pulls it off.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

Its very hard for me to pick, I’ve read a lot of things by a lot of authors.  The only way I can give a reasonably brief answer to this, is to choose some for whom I went out of my way to read more of their work after doing so the first time.

Stephen Coonts – He has a unique gift to explain technical things, in detail, without boring the reader nor significantly digressing from the progression of his plot.  I don’t think I’ve ever encountered an author who can explain a real or fictional technology, how it works, and why it was made quite as well as Mr. Coonts.

Timothy Zahn – To be honest its been a long time since I’ve read one of his books, but I never read one of his books that I didn’t finish.  There are a lot of authors for whom I can’t say that.

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

I’m afraid I can’t really say that I have an opinion.

What do you hope readers will take away from your work?

First I hope it entertained them.  That is after all the purpose of fiction.  We all have problems we deal with in our lives.  Who died recently?  Which creditor isn’t getting paid on time this month?  Who is getting the pink-slip next?  What trouble are the kids going to get into?  The list goes on for miles.  Fiction is one of the few ways we have to leave the burdens of the world behind for awhile.  I take the purpose of fiction and its creation quite seriously.  So naturally my first concern is that my work does its job.

Second, I hope it leads them to wonder “what-if”.  Nothing has done more for humanity than attempts to answer that question.  If what I have written leads someone to ask “Is that possible?”  “Could that be done?”  “Should that be allowed to happen?”  Or any of these questions, that would be a nice bonus.

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

Personally, I don’t like it when people try to conjecture about an author’s views, or state of mind from reading their work.  But it would be effectively impossible for a human being to write a book without their personal experience playing some part in the final product.

As to me, it plays a significant role.  I place characterization above everything else in the creation of my story.  I try to present the characters as real people.  People with real goals, real ambitions, and even their own opinions that other people (such as readers) might not agree with.

I’ve done a lot of things, had a lot of different jobs, and met a lot of different personalities.  I have been a martial artist, a firearms instructor, a professional wrestler (minor leagues), a telemarketer, a tech-support agent, a dishwasher, a sous chef, an IT-Agent, a hunter, and a few other things.  I’ve met people from across all the spectra of religion, politics, creed, social class, and most other means we might wish to distinguish one group of people from another.  When I try to create a character, I consider step-1 to be the separation of the character from the creator.  By thinking back on those many personalities I have encountered, that first step becomes a lot easier.  A character deserves to be their own person, not a mere avatar of the author.  Like a child they may share some traits with their parent, but they remain their own unique being.  Besides, if the author was that interesting, people would be reading a biography rather than a work of fiction.

Of course it does apply in other ways.  My experience as a firearms instructor tells me what kinds of malfunctions a gun is most likely to have, what causes them, and how to fix the problem.  My experience in tech support / IT has taught me that there are a lot of people who think they can lie to an expert about having knowledge in the expert’s field.  My time as a professional wrestler taught me that some things can’t be faked, and sometimes you simply have to endure the pain to make things go-off correctly.  My time as a martial artist taught me that people who say things like; “Size doesn’t matter” have never been in a fight with people significantly bigger / stronger than them.

I try to draw on all of these experiences when I write.

How do you find the motivation to complete a story?

I would rather have a book that no one likes, than to have a story that I never finish.  Too much work goes into making a book to never finish it.

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?


There’s a lot of things that can do it.  For my preferred genres, here are a few.

1) An idiotic plot.  How do I define that?  Simple.  If the story could be resolved by either the protagonist or antagonist taking the single most logical option open to them, its the start of an idiot plot.  If there is no good reason they cannot pursue this most logical option and yet they don’t, its an idiotic plot.

2)  If the author has invented a fictional technology but has clearly not made the effort to think through the implications, I have a hard time staying engaged.

3)  If the author insists on jumping on the sci-fi bandwagon that depicts futuristic society as a social justice utopia, I tune-out.  Such settings are not only more unrealistic than space aliens and FTL-travel, they are in my view, boring.

4)  If the author uses scientific terms but clearly does not understand the terms he/she is using.  I can only let so many of these go before the narrative/author loses too much credibility for me to continue.

5)  If it becomes painfully clear that the story’s inner paradigm of good/evil, right/wrong etc is predicated solely upon the author’s political views.  (Hint, I don’t care.)

6)  One of the biggest, if a character is stated to be an expert in a particular field but the author has made no effort at all to educate themselves on the relevant subject matter.  I’ll use firearms as an example.  If the author’s character is a sniper, but doesn’t know the difference between bore, gauge, and caliber.  Doesn’t follow basic firearms safety, doesn’t know enough to position himself on the hillside rather than directly on top of the hill, doesn’t know how to clear a jam etc.  I don’t need textbook accuracy, but I can’t take the expert character or his story seriously when its painfully obvious that he or she is in fact no expert.

There are more, but I’ll stop…for now.

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?

No, and I think people who try to censor literature should be hanged.  (Yes hanged.  I don’t know if she was right, but my English teacher taught me that pictures are hung, and people are hanged so that’s how I’m saying it.)

As a general rule, stupid people don’t readSmart people are perfectly capable of making their own judgements.

Any pet peeves in writing while reading others work?

This kind of overlaps with the one about what makes me quit reading, but I’ll go over (and expand) on a few.  Let’s see if I can do it without going on any tirades.

1)  When its clear that the author is simply using their fiction as a vehicle for their political views.  I don’t care about your politics.  If you think I should care, I’ll ask this.  What have you done with your life that is so great, so praise-worthy, and so beneficial shaped the lives of others, that I should care what you think?  For 99% of people, and just as many authors, the answer is nothing.  Precious few people who have ever lived can answer this question in the affirmative.  That’s why we build statues of them, name things after them, and tell our children to emulate them.

You’re a writer, your job is to entertain me, not to push your politics on me.  And no, having political views similar to mine does not excuse you.  As far as I’m concerned, if your story can’t exist without your politics, you don’t have a story.  (Sadly I’ve had to apply this to some of my favorite authors.)

2)  I touched on this already, but authors using terms they don’t know.  Mass is not the same thing as weight, energy is not the same thing as power, there is no such thing as “pure energy”.  I don’t expect an author to have a physics degree.  But trying to follow characters who don’t know these things (and clearly should) is like trying to watch a game of football between two teams that don’t know the rules.  It might be funny at first, but humor only lasts so long and only gets you so far.

3)  A lot of things involving firearms, weaponry, and the military.  It would take me an entire book to list them all, but I’ll give one example.  Why is it, in so much sci-fi/space opera, we see armies that have abilities that would make the real military powers of the world green with envy.  Yet these same forces employ the tactics of redcoats about to go muzzle-to-muzzle with militiamen?  I know why, military tactics are a science unto themselves and it would take a writer a lot of time to familiarize themselves with it to the degree that they can be both plausible and dramatic.  I know I should excuse it, but I can’t.  It annoys me every time I see it.

4)  100-pound beauty queens who can beat up grown men twice their size (and often trained fighters at that.)  This one I consider a plague that has infested every facet of fiction.  I see it in books, in movies, on TV, and in video games.  I’ve met and worked with real women who were cops, soldiers, martial artists, and body-builders.  Not one of them was a beauty queen.  (Not limited to physical things either, I’ve met real female scientists, none of them would have passed for a bikini model.)  Yes I know this is fantasy, but suspension of disbelief is relative and it has limits.

And maybe its just me, but when women asked for “strong female characters”; I don’t think supermodel/killing machine/nuclear physicist was what they meant.  I’m pretty sure they meant female characters who had their own goals, beliefs, values, opinions, and ambitions, and dare I say own character arcs.  Rather than simply being extensions of the male protagonist.

But maybe I’m wrong.

5)  “Hero Classic”.  You know him.  He’s kind, he’s chivalrous, he’s charitable, he believes the strong must protect the weak.  He never gives up.  (Not because he’s too prideful mind you, but rather because too many people are depending on him.)  If he isn’t smart he has a good heart, and if he has a flaw its that he takes his virtues too far.  He will always do the “right” thing rather than the convenient or practical thing,

Many a protagonist falls into this mold, but I still hate it when I see it.  He better be surrounded by some compelling side-characters, or I likely won’t be finishing.  I hate this guy as much as I hate the superwoman above.  I find nothing interesting about them.

Where can people find you and your work?

If anyone is interested in speaking with me, they can connect with me via my series’ facebook page.

www.Facebook.com/SolarWindsSeries

I can also be reached via Goodreads
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16844044.Bryan_Shewmaker

I have a website, but it is still under construction at this time.  When completed you will be able to visit…

www.TheEncephalon.com

My work can be found at these links…
https://www.amazon.com/Providence-Ends-Solar-Winds-Book-ebook/dp/B071YJ8S88/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=14xv4931275&sr=8-1&keywords=providence+ends

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/providence-ends-bryan-g-shewmaker/1126427414?ean=9780998960609

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Danielle E. Shipley

 

Name: Danielle E. Shipley

Genre(s) of your work: Mostly YA Fantasy that puts a new spin on old fairytales and folklore.

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

The Wilderhark Tales novellas – “Tales of magic. Tales of adventure. Most of all, tales of true love.”

1 – The Swan Prince (2013)

2 – The Stone Kingdom (2013)

3 – The Seven Spell (2014)

4 – The Song Caster (2014)

5 – The Sun’s Rival (2014)

6 – The Surrogate Sea (2015)

6.5 – The Sky-Child and Other Stories (2015)

7 – The Story’s End (2015)

The Outlaws of Avalon trilogy+ – “Welcome to Avalon, a Renaissance Faire where heroes of legend never die…”

1 – The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale (2016)

1.5 – An Avalon Christmas Carol (2016)

2 – The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale (2017)

2.5 – Truly Great Words Never Die (2017)

3 – The Legend of Allyn-a-Dale (coming October 2017)

Inspired – “For a muse like Lucianíel, one story’s end is another’s beginning…” (2014; currently out-of-print, but relaunching – with a sequel! – in 2018)

Plus a number of short stories in various anthologies, for readers who haven’t tired of all my words yet. ;D

 

Bio:

Danielle E. Shipley is the author of the Wilderhark Tales novellas, the novel Inspired, and several other expressions of wishful thinking. She has spent most of her life in the Chicago area and increasing amounts of time in Germany. She hopes to ultimately retire to a private immortal forest. But first, there are stories to make.

 

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

Well, as my old author bio put it: “Danielle E. Shipley’s first novelettes told the everyday misadventures of wacky kids like herself. …Or so she thought. Unbeknownst to them all, half of her characters were actually closeted elves, dwarves, fairies, or some combination thereof.

When it all came to light, Danielle did the sensible thing: Packed up and moved to Fantasy Land, where daily rent is the low, low price of her heart, soul, blood, sweat, tears, firstborn child, sanity, and words; lots of them.” I haven’t figured out how to restrict my imagination to worlds without magical shenanigans, so I just embraced it. XD

 

How has writing changed/altered your life?

It’s given me my best friends! One of whom is a fellow writer I met during my first National Novel Writing Month, most of the rest of whom are – *cough* – technically imaginary. But seriously, without the BFF outside my head and the character pals inside of it, there are SO many adventures – real and fictional – that I may never have experienced. So for that, as well as their endless encouragement during my authorial highs and lows, I am most grateful.

 

Who are your favorite authors and why?

My latest fave is Maggie Stiefvater. From her “Scorpio Races”, to the Raven Cycle series, to her posts on Tumblr, I just deeply enjoy the way she uses words. I also have to give props to Brandon Sanderson for his mind-blowing world-building, and to the aforementioned BFF, Tirzah Duncan, who’s barely published anything yet, but I get to read her works in progress, so I know what good stuff the world has to look forward to.

 

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

If it’s a place with books in it, I’ll generally approve. I love browsing bookshelves and fantasizing about all the titles I’d buy if my writing career was making me independently wealthy. I can get bummed thinking about how my self-published works will probably never have a place there, but that’s part of the price to be paid for total artistic control. One can’t have it all.

 

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

Entertainment. Maybe a bit of sweet heartache. And if they can see and appreciate my characters as real, free-thinking, incredible people who just happen to live on a different plane of reality, I’ve done my job.

 

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

It varies. Some stories have next-to-nothing to do with me. Then you’ve got “Inspired”, which may be the closest I’ll ever come to writing an autobiography. Most often, it’s somewhere in between. I draw from things I’ve seen, done, and felt, as needed. The rest is straight out of imagination.

 

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?

I remember that if I die before the story’s done, no one else will write it. So honestly, as often as not, books are my motivation to not complete my life too soon.

 

Where can people find you and your work?

Website = http://deshipley.weebly.com/

Blog = http://everonword.wordpress.com/

Twitter = https://twitter.com/DEShipley

Facebook = https://www.facebook.com/Danielle.E.Shipley.Author

Tumblr = http://outlawsofavalon.tumblr.com/

Amazon = https://www.amazon.com/Danielle-E.-Shipley/e/B00HG4A0N0/

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Sylvia Shults

 

Name: Sylvia Shults

Pseudonym: J. K. Rowling. (Nope, just kidding about that one.)

Genre(s) of your work: I started out writing fiction (horror and romance), but now I work in paranormal nonfiction – true ghost stories, which I’ve adored ever since I was a kid.

 

Titles/Year of Published Work(s): (self published counts too!)

My fiction works include: Timeless Embrace (four romance novellas), The Taming of the Werewolf (supernatural romance/Shakespeare mashup), The Dark at the Heart of The Diamond (horror short stories), The Dreamwatcher (horror novel), and Borrowed Flesh (horror novel). These are all available from Crossroad Press.

Nonfiction:

Ghosts of the Illinois River (2010)

Fractured Spirits: Hauntings at the Peoria State Hospital (2013)

Hunting Demons: A True Story of the Dark Side of the Supernatural (2015)

44 Years in Darkness: A Story of Madness, Tragedy, and Shattered Love (2016)

Spirits of Christmas (2017)

Bio:

Sylvia Shults has spent the past twenty years working in a library, slowly smuggling words out in her pockets day by day to build a book of her own. She sits in dark, spooky, haunted places so you don’t have to. She lives a short, ten-minute motorcycle ride away from the haunted asylum that features in so many of her books. She considers it the highest privilege to share the incredible, compassionate history of the Peoria State Hospital.

After battling an intense, lifelong fear of the dark, Sylvia decided to become a ghost hunter. (What WAS she thinking?) As a paranormal investigator, she has made many media appearances, including a tiny part in the Ghost Hunters episode “Prescription for Fear”, about the Peoria State Hospital.

 

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

I am absolutely fascinated by true ghost stories. I grew up in the Chicago suburbs, which meant that I grew up listening to my father tell tales of Resurrection Mary and the ghostly monks of Saint James-the-Sag and the screaming mummy of the Field Museum. I’ve always been entranced with history, too, the idea that people who lived in times gone by were much like we are today. I firmly believe that you can’t really appreciate the ghost stories of a place without knowing the history too, because that’s the reason there are ghost stories to tell in the first place – people lived these stories, which then became fodder for tales.

 

How has writing changed/altered your life?

Through my writing, I’ve gotten to know so many fascinating people, fellow paranormal investigators and fellow writers, some of whom have been heroes that I’ve admired in book form from afar for years. And now I get to brush elbows with them and consider them friends. It’s awesome!

 

Who are your favorite authors and why?

Horror writers are always at the top of the list. I LOVE the work of Jay Bonansinga, who writes the Walking Dead novels. Jay and I have been friends for nearly twenty years, and he has always been so encouraging – I do consider him one of my mentors, as he’s taught me so much. I was so thrilled for him when he was tapped to do the Walking Dead novels. A big break like that couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. I’ve adored Tamara Thorne’s work since I was in college, and I finally plucked up the courage to ask her to be on my podcast. She’s just as nice in life as she is nasty on the page, and that’s saying something.

Hmm, let’s see … Andrea Jones writes literary fantasy (the Hook and Jill saga). I don’t usually read literary stuff – I usually go for the genre books – but her writing is just so lush and powerful that it’s a pure joy to read. Stephen Lancaster writes paranormal nonfiction, and he scared the paste out of me with one of the stories in his book Dark Spirits. He’s got a new book coming out next April, about a haunted doll. You better believe I’m all over that one! Holly Nadler also writes true ghost stories, and her writing is just gorgeous. I’m going to have both Holly and Stephen on Lights Out soon.

Troy Taylor is just amazing at true ghost stories – he puts a LOT of history into his books, which of course I find fascinating. Ursula Bielski is a wealth of knowledge about the paranormal, especially about Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery, up by Chicago. And I really dig S. M. Stirling’s writing (the Change series). He is SO good at battle scenes. Simon Green is good too – I follow his Eddie Drood series and his Ghost Hunters series. I could go on and on …

 

 

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

I believe that anything that gets people reading is a good thing. There’s room on this big beautiful earth for indie bookstores, corporate bookstores, and of course libraries. There’s room for ebooks as well as print books. Anything – anything – that gets people reading is a good thing. (Yes, I know I’ve repeated myself. But it’s important, and it’s something I feel strongly about. Reading is the sharing of information as well as entertainment, and nothing’s more important than that.)

 

 

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

Quite honestly, it depends on the book! A lot of my work centers around the Peoria State Hospital in Bartonville, Illinois, which is regularly listed on the top ten most haunted places in Illinois. Now, when you say “haunted mental asylum”, your mind goes all American Horror Story on you, and you might assume it was a place of pain and fear and abuse. It is my privilege and my joy to tell people this was not the case with the Peoria State Hospital. This was a place of caring and compassion, where the patients were treated like family members. My aim in writing about this place, and about the people who lived there, is to share the idea that mental illness is not something to be feared. The people who suffer from this shouldn’t be feared, but treated with compassion.

Same goes, I guess, for ghosts! I like to say “ghosts are people too”. It sounds flippant, but it couldn’t be more true. What we call ghosts, and search for in dark houses or spooky abandoned places or creepy cemeteries, are simply the spirits of people who have gone on before us. Yes, they’re dead, and death is scary because it’s the great unknown. But most of the ghosts I’ve met are just that – people. People who have the same personality quirks as anybody you’d meet on the street. (It’s just a LOT harder to have a conversation with them, because, you know, you can’t see or hear them most of the time.)

 

 

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

Oh my goodness, a TON! I think a lot of people want to go out on paranormal investigations, but they don’t know how to find a group. The next best thing is to read a book by someone who has done that, and who can recapture that experience for the reader. That’s also why I do my true ghost story podcast, Lights Out. That really takes the listener along on investigations, and I’m so fortunate to be able to share that.

I feel that any time an author can put some of herself into her work, it just makes the book that much more relatable for the reader. We read to connect, and to share our passions.

 

 

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?

Well, deadlines help! My last two books were written under deadline – I wanted 44 Years in Darkness to be released October 10, 2016, as that is Rhoda Derry’s birthday (and October 9, 2016 was the 110th anniversary of her death). And of course I wanted Spirits of Christmas to come out in early November, to take advantage of the shopping season.

Other than that, I find motivation every day that I work at the library. I’m very lucky in that I have library patrons that know that I’m a working writer, and they’re very good about asking me, “So, how’s the new book coming along, and what’s it about?” I’m polite enough that I feel that I have to have an answer for them!

 

 

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

I read voraciously and omnivorously. I’d rather read than do anything else. But life’s too short to read books you’re not interested in. I have zero compunction about abandoning a book if I’m bored with it.

Any pet peeves in writing? In reading others’ work?

There’s a habit some writers have, of not putting quotation marks around their dialogue – either leaving them out entirely, or just putting a dash when a character is talking. That bugs the crap out of me, as I find it difficult to follow the dialogue. Plus I’m hyper-sensitive to POV – if it changes in the middle of a scene, without a scene break, I tend to assume the writer is either lazy or doesn’t know what they’re doing.

And I must confess that I’m completely baffled by the entire concept of “cozy mysteries”.

Where can people find you and your work?

I’m at www.sylviashults.wordpress.com, and I’ve got several Facebook pages too: pages for Ghosts of the Illinois River and for Fractured Spirits. But WordPress is where most of the good stuff is, including links to my true ghost story podcast, Lights Out. (You can find that on YouTube and on iHeart Radio, too. But links are on the WordPress site and at http://www.sylviashults.com.)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

G.E. Smith

 

Name: G. E. Smith

Genre(s) of your work: Dark/Horror Fiction

Bio:

I’ve lived and worked all my life in north central Illinois. I’m married and have a stepdaughter. My first extended writing period was in the 1990s; gospel clown skits and scripts for my hometown junior high D.A.R.E. and PeaceBuilder programs. From there I got into silly, rhymed children’s verse, some novelette-length works, short stories, flash fiction, and micro fiction.

 

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

When I wrote silly, rhymed poetry, the fun challenge was the meter and the nonsense. In horror, the challenge is a fresh approach on how to make the reader interested and uneasy. Plus, it’s (horror) a great way to fictionalize a real-life stress event.

 

How has writing changed/altered your life?

Increased my confidence in saying what I mean and paying attention to how I communicate.

 

Who are your favorite authors and why?

Michael Arnzen: his short work gets right to the action. Jeff Strand: great blending of humor and horror. Christopher Moore: his novel A Dirty Job is fantastic.

 

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

I’ve always been a hard-copy guy, both reading and submitting to a critique group. Been awhile since I’ve been to a bookstore, but stay in business, folks! Amazon is convenient, but I can’t get a caramel mocha and take a seat with a book in hand at Amazon.

 

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

Enjoyment, entertainment. To hold a small place in their mind when I creeped them out would be cool too.

 

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

Other than general venting, nothing in the past or present.

 

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?

Knowing once my head is clear of what I’m working on I can move forward to what’s next.

 

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

Overuse of f***. I get that it’s part of certain characters. However, too much makes a character one dimensional. A story loaded with f-bombs becomes predictable, and predictable is boring. Also too much detail and lengthy flashbacks cutting into the story flow.

 

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?

No. Let writers write. Readers can decide what they do or don’t want to read.

 

Any pet peeves in writing? In reading others’ work?

Too much editing while writing my first draft. As for the work of others: using ‘that’ instead of ‘who’ when referring to a person.

 

Where can people find you and your work?

The Haunted Traveler, Cult of Me, Unfading Daydream, Lonesome October Lit (forthcoming Nov. & Dec. 2017), FunDead Publications, and Trembling With Fear (Horror Tree).

https://www.facebook.com/WritefullyMinded/

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Keith E. Smith

 

Name: Keith E. Smith

Genre(s) of your work: Action/Thriller

 

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

Black Chamber: Paradise Lost – 2016

 

Bio :

Keith E. Smith was born in the capital city of Kentucky, in the southeastern United States. From an early age he was taught how to use firearms, hunt, fish, and work with his hands. He’s been a construction worker, videographer, auto-mechanic, restaurant worker, and a guitarist in a rock band. He’s poured concrete, video-taped a gubernatorial election, laid sewer pipe, built bridges, bussed tables, cut tobacco and even sold insurance.

In the early 2000’s he began writing articles for a newspaper, and later went on to publish two non-fiction books. He is also a ghostwriter for a book writing company based in Texas.

His novel, Black Chamber: Paradise Lost, is an action-packed thriller that takes readers on a chilling journey into a dark world of conspiracy and violence.

 

Why do you write in the genre that you do? 

I have always been interested in action, military, spies and conspiracy type stuff. The first books I ever read, even comic books, were all on those topics. When I decided to write a novel, I naturally wanted to write an action thriller story, but with a twist. Typically, books in this genre usually have a main character who is former, or current, military; they’re almost always highly trained and skilled in all sorts of things. In short, they are usually a bad ass. I love those books, but I wanted my main character to be an every day guy who gets caught up in that world.

 

How has writing changed/altered your life? 

I convinced myself, for years,  that I could never be a writer. I had received no formal training of any kind and felt that I did not have what it takes. Of course, that was garbage and my desire finally overcame my fears and I wrote an article. It ended up being in a newspaper. That experience showed me that being a writer was not only within my reach, but that I was already a writer. I have written four books now, and more are on the way. Writing has completely transformed me and my life.

 

Who are your favorite authors and why?

Louis L’Amour- because he was a phenomenal story teller, and the way he wove facts into his fiction. Brad Thor- He is just a great action writer and his stories are very plausible.

 

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

I love all bookstores. I do love independently owned bookstores the best.

 

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

I hope that my readers learn things that they did not know before reading my book. Like one of my author heroes, Louis L’Amour, I put a lot of facts into my work, and I hope my books are as educational as they are entertaining. I also want to make people think. I want them to read my book and think, “Man, this could actually happen.”

 

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

I have a diverse background that really helps me to see things from different perspectives. That helps me a lot when writing. I also weave some of my own experiences into a story sometimes.

 

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story? 

The entire time I am writing, I keep visualizing that book in my hands. There’s nothing like the feeling of investing hundreds and hundreds of hours into a work, and then it being completed and in your hands. It definitely keeps me going.

 

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

When it is obvious that the author did not research the facts. Fortunately, I have found that to be pretty rare.

 

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?

I do not believe anyone’s work should be censored. Whether it is a book, a song, or art.

 

Any pet peeves in writing? In reading others’ work?

Not really. I think every writer should take the time to write the absolute best they can, and to put out the highest quality work they are capable of at that time.

 

 

Where can people find you and your work? 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Black-Chamber-Paradise-Keith-Smith/dp/1530960878/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1509311651&sr=8-1&keywords=black+chamber+paradise+lost

WebSite: http://www.authorkeithesmith.com

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/KeithESmithAuthor/

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Roy Swanberg

Name: Roy Swanberg

Genre: Five Christian Fiction and one non-fiction

 

Titles:

Because He Cares, 2007

Jason’s Promise, 2012

Jason’s Promise II, 2012

Jason’s Promise III, 2013

Writing in Retirement 2016 (non-fiction)

The Other Two Crosses, 2017

Bio:

Roy Swanberg is a retired public high school teacher. He has written and published many articles in magazines and is the author of five novels and one non-fiction book. Roy lives in Princeton, Illinois with his wife, Jan. They have two grown children and four grandchildren.

 

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

I enjoy the Christian literature and I can share my faith in a way many can relate to.

 

How has writing changed/altered your life?

I started writing when I retired at 60. It fills my time in creative thinking and much enjoyment.

 

Who are your favorite authors and why? 

Jerry Jenkins and Lynn Austin. They write in Christian Fiction also.

 

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

Okay, I guess. It’s hard for a new author to break into the industry. Hence, self-publishing.

 

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

Enjoyment and understanding of personal lives of Christians through books.

 

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

A great deal.

 

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?

Personal time and support from wife, family and readers.

 

What makes you NOT want to finish a book?

Poor editing and unsearched facts in a story. Obscene language.

 

Do you believe writing should be censored?

Everyone will buy what they want to read. If someone censors a story, someone else will pick it up.

 

Do you have any pet peeves in writing? In reading others’ works?

Yes. Why do major publishers avoid self-published books like a disease? They offer help at a conference, yet when I email them or send a sample, or even a book, I never hear from them.

Where can people find you and your work?

Amazon.com., Createspace.com, or my website.

Website: www.swanbergchristinwriter.com.

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Richard Thomas

 

Name: Richard Thomas

Genre(s) of your work: Fantasy, SF, horror, thrillers, transgressive, magical realism, neo-noir, and literary fiction.

 

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

NOVELS: Breaker (2016, Thriller Award nominee), Disintegration (2015), and Transubstantiate (2010).

COLLECTIONS: Tribulations (2016), Staring into the Abyss (2013), and Herniated Roots (2012).

ANTHOLOGIES (as editor): The Lineup: 20 Provocative Women Writers (2015), Exigencies (2015, Shirley Jackson nominee), The New Black (2014), and Burnt Tongues (2014, Bram Stoker nominee). Plus 140 stories across a number of anthologies, magazines, and websites.

 

 

 

BIO:

Richard Thomas is the award-winning author of seven books: three novels—Disintegration and Breaker (Penguin Random House Alibi), as well as Transubstantiate (Otherworld Publications); three short story collections—Staring into the Abyss (Kraken Press), Herniated Roots (Snubnose Press), and Tribulations (Cemetery Dance); and one novella in The Soul Standard (Dzanc Books). With over 140 stories published, his credits include Cemetery Dance (twice), PANK, storySouth, Gargoyle, Weird Fiction Review, Midwestern Gothic, Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories, Qualia Nous, Chiral Mad (numbers 2-4), and Shivers VI (with Stephen King and Peter Straub).

He has won contests at ChiZine and One Buck Horror, has received five Pushcart Prize nominations, and has been long-listed for Best Horror of the Year six times. He was also the editor of four anthologies: The New Black and Exigencies (Dark House Press), The Lineup: 20 Provocative Women Writers (Black Lawrence Press) and Burnt Tongues (Medallion Press) with Chuck Palahniuk. He has been nominated for the Bram Stoker, Shirley Jackson, and Thriller awards.

In his spare time he is a columnist at Lit Reactor and Editor-in-Chief at Gamut Magazine. His agent is Paula Munier at Talcott Notch. For more information visit www.whatdoesnotkillme.com.

 

Why do you write in the genres that you do?

They are the stories that I’m most excited to tell. I tend to lean into the tragic, because I feel that we learn more from our failures than our successes. In every story there is conflict. I started out more crime and neo-noir, but have been focusing more on speculative fiction lately. I’m known as a horror author, but I think that these days a lot of what I’m doing is cross-genre, hybrid fiction, that taps into a number of genres.

 

How has writing changed/altered your life?

It’s what I do now, so it’s changed everything. I spend 25 years in advertising, but the last 10 as an author, editor, teacher, and publisher. It’s the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done, professionally.

 

Who are your favorite authors and why?

Oh man, where to being? Started out with Stephen King as a kid, read all of his work. The beats like Kerouac and Burroughs changed me. One day I saw Fight Club and then read Chuck Palahniuk, which changed everything. That got me to Craig Clevenger, Will Christopher Baer, and Stephen Graham Jones. SGJ is the only one of those three still actively writing. Which got me into my MFA, and that added some great influences as well—Cormac McCarthy, Joyce Carol Oates, Denis Johnson, Haruki Murakami, Mary Gaitskill, John Cheever, Margaret Atwood, Toni Morrison, etc. I read a lot of small press authors these days, so aside from those mentioned, I love all of the Dark House Press and Gamut authors, especially Brian Evenson, Benjamin Percy, Angela Slatter, Damien Angelica Walters, Kristi DeMeester, Usman Malike, and others like Livia Llewellyn. The list is huge.

 

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

Well, they seem to be essential. I love bookstores, new and used, but at the end of the day I know that places like Amazon get me in front of people. A necessary evil. Nothing will ever replace that small, local bookstore, though.

 

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

I want them to feel something. Sometimes it’s a good cry, a sense of loss, other times happiness, or the thrill of surviving. I don’t want them to say, “Meh.”

 

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

A lot. I put a lot of myself into my work—heart, mind, and soul. The best stories work on those three levels—physically, moving through the world, action on the page; emotionally, getting the reader to feel something, that intimacy, that trust; and mentally, that sense of epiphany, that denouement, and understanding.

 

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?

First, you have to have a story to tell, something powerful, that means something to you. It can’t just be entertainment, for me. When it’s working, it flows out of me, a body without organs, trying to just keep up with the visions in my head. On my best days I’ve written, edited, and finished stories that were almost 7,000 words. For novels, I wrote 40,000 words in one week, 12,000 words in one day my best. It was nuts.

 

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

If I’m bored, if I don’t care about the characters, if nothing new and exciting is happening.

 

Do you believe writing should be censored—that some topics should remain taboo?

I won’t glorify some subjects. I was very careful writing about molestation and rape, but I also know I probably won’t write those scenes again. There had to be justice, vengeance, a balance. I can’t see there being a need for child pornography, in fiction, and there is so much misogyny these days, it’s not needed in our stories, for the most part. I will say that I’ve read some powerful books that were pretty dark, that made me feel complicit—American Psycho, The Girl Next Door, The End of Alice. Dark stuff. I know where my line is now, where I won’t go.

 

Any pet peeves in writing? In reading others’ work?

I don’t like stories that open with somebody waking up. Hate stories about writers writing about writing. Don’t like stories that curse in the first line. Fuck is such an empty word. It can be powerful, when used appropriately. I hate writing that doesn’t try hard to do something original—be it voice, setting, characters, plot, etc.

 

 

Where can people find you and your work?

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/richardgthomas3

Twitter: https://twitter.com/wickerkat

Website: http://www.whatdoesnotkillme.com

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Richard-Thomas/e/B0036EYNDC

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/144164.Richard_Thomas

Storyville Column: http://litreactor.com/tags/storyville

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Wayne Turmel

 

Name:  Wayne Turmel

Genre(s) of your work:  Mostly Historical Fiction, some short pieces of indeterminate genre

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

The Count of the Sahara (2015)

Acre’s Bastard (2017)

 

 Bio :

Wayne Turmel is a former stand-up comedian, car salesman, corporate drone and business owner. After 20 years of being pretty well-known in the business communications field, and writing 7 books, he decided to turn to fiction to save what’s left of his sanity.

His two novels, The Count of the Sahara, and Acre’s Bastard, have won numerous online and indie awards.  Originally from Canada, he lives in the suburbs of Chicago with his wife, The Duchess, and Byron, the world’s crankiest cockatiel.

 

 

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

The stories that captured me as a child were always set in someplace far away and long ago from small-town Canada. Treasure Island, The Three Musketeers and the like. I have just always been intrigued by the people who lived in other times. Also, swords are cooler than guns.  

 

How has writing changed/altered your life?

Wow, going deep aren’t we? I think there are small-scale changes…. when I have a creative outlet I’m happier and easier to live with than when I’m just being a corporate drone. Joining my local writers group has given me a social outlet that I desperately needed–they say that writing is lonely, but being a writer is actually a social act.

Also,  because my writing involves people and places that don’t involve mid-fifties white guys in American suburbia, it becomes an exercise in empathy. What were people thinking then? How did things become the way they are?

 

Who are your favorite authors and why?

Wow, I am a bit of a  book slut, not too discriminating across a lot of genres and styles. I tell people I’m the love child of Alexandre Dumas and Hunter S Thompson and let them figure it out. Dumas, Stevenson and Kipling knew how to tell a story and grip the reader.

Modern writers like Jack Whyte and Ken Follett still crank out great historical fiction. Foreign writers like Arturo Perez Reverte and Leonardo Padura give us insight from different cultures. Indie authors like Lavinia Collins and others just inspire me to do good work and quit whining about not having an agent.

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

Will you hate me if I say they are necessary? Bookstores are a business, and well-run, efficient businesses can offer more selection and convenience than an indie book store. It’s more convenient for the buyer.

The problem with them is they tend to have TERRIBLE taste and push what’s easiest… big press books that have gotten lots of press, celebrity bios, all that stuff, and the staff tends to be woefully unaware about books in general. The point is, it has to be easy for people to buy books or they won’t do it. Also, walking the shelves allows you to find surprises. ONline, you have to pick what you think you want, and can’t browse.

And small book stores may be terrific, but by definition they are going to have less selection (and sadly, be more expensive). That doesn’t mean I don’t love them and try to support them best as I can.

As an indie author I’ve had mild success getting into local stores both indie and big-box, but it takes a lot of work and you don’t make much money per book. Hey, if people can’t easily buy books, they’ll stop doing it, and that means they’ll never find you.

 

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

My favorite reviews are when someone says , “I didn’t think I would like a story about _____, or I’d never heard of this person, but I loved it” I want them to come away having enjoyed the ride first and foremost. Then I get a kick when it drives people to Google the subject and learn more. If you’re reading Historical Fiction and think you now understand a time period or person, you’re not doing your job.

Finally, I want them to have fun. My topics are serious, but there’s always humor to be found in even the most horrible circumstances. It’s how humans have survived so long.

 

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

I think all writers draw on their life for characters. There are certain people in my books who are an awful lot like people I know. Also, when you’re plotting your story, you have to ask, how would I act in those circumstances? I’ve never been a 10 year old half-French, Half-Arab boy  in the crusades, but I have been 10.

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story? 

I don’t start until I’m really passionate about a story. It can gestate for a long time before I sit down to write. I’ve been writing to deadlines most of my adult life, so I can make myself do it, and frequently crank out a lot of words at one sitting  (of course, it can be a long time between sessions while I’m noodling the story in my brain).

I waited until i was past 50 to tackle my first novel because I wasn’t sure I could do  it. The trick, as the old cliche goes, is to eat that elephant one bite at a time. I find that by writing in small chunks, say 3-5000 words, it’s not too intimidating, if I do that 15- 20 times I have a whole novel.

 

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

There are only two things that will stop me…. 1) if it’s just badly written. A lot of indie books especially haven’t been edited or proofed properly. When it becomes too much work, I give up. 2) If it is just over-written. I read a lot of sword and sorcery, and if the person is a nonstop parade of multi-syllable names and places with too many consonants, or the response to every question is a long-winded oratory with references to a dozen gods,  it becomes a distraction. Surely there were people in mythical worlds named Bob, right? And sometimes, people just say, “yes.”

 

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?

I don’t think writing should be censored, AND I think we need to play fair with readers. A writer has the right to tackle any subject they want. That doesn’t mean their words will be embraced or appreciated, and people have the right not to publish or pay for that work. I will tell you, the more distasteful or controversial the topic, the more skillfully it has to be written.

I ran into this on Acre’s Bastard. There is a scene in chapter 2 where someone attempts to molest young Lucca. It’s pretty intense (I’m actually proud of it as a writer.) Someone wrote me a nasty note about not warning about “graphic” content, as it apparently triggered her PTSD associated with her own assault as a young girl. That was NEVER my intention, and I’m not sure i need a big warning label on the front of the book, but some people feel that scene rules the book out for them. I feel I did the subject justice, they have the right to hate it.

 

Any pet peeves in writing? In reading others’ work?

I have become obsessed with active verbs vs passive. Was standing, vs stood, for example. I am becoming more and more of a minimalist as I get older… unless it’s someone incredibly skillful like Mark Helprin, who can describe something for three pages and make me love it.

 

Where can people find you and your work?

My website, which also features other historical fiction authors: www.WayneTurmel.com

Twitter @Wturmel

Facebook   https://www.facebook.com/wayne.turmel

My Amazon Author page https://www.amazon.com/Wayne-Turmel/e/B00J5PGNWU/

 

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

PA Vachon

 

Pseudonym: PA Vachon

Genre(s) of your work: Paranormal Romance

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

Bears in Love Series:

Mated to the Grizzly published Nov 2017

When I See Her Smile published Feb 2018

Bearly Mistaken published March 2018

Marcus prequel to the Bears in Love series due to release April 2018

Lake Alice Shifters

A Brother’s Treasure due to be released April 2018

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

I write paranormal romance because it’s what I love to read. It let’s you create your own worlds as well as characters with a little something extra. So far the majority of my characters have been human and shifter (bears so far).

How has writing changed/altered your life?

I don’t read as much as I used to. And my writing has taken over pretty much every free moment of my time. My husband likes to joke that I need to hurry up and make a ton of money…so that I have free time again. I told him I don’t do it for the money. I do it for the love of my readers, my characters and to get my stories out there into the world.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

One of my all time favorites is Moxie North. Her books take me into another world and make me feel all the feels…she is an amazing writer.

I also love P Jameson, her dirt track dogs series really draws me in. Both are always on my re-read pile!

Another fav is KC Lynn she can rip my heart right out and then put it right back in with her amazing tales of love, danger and happily ever after…I have ugly cried A LOT when I’ve read her books…

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

I love bookstores, unfortunately I don’t think they will continue to thrive with the way online books are available now…I used to co-own a small town bookstore with my mom, it was an amazing experience but it was very expensive to keep it up and running.

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

I hope my readers can ‘see’ what I write, have you ever read a book and been able to see it in your head as you’re reading it? That is what I want. I also want to write books that move people.

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

Actually not as much as people might think. Some situations that I have written have happened to me or someone close to me..but usually I just pull shit out of the air.

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?

Some books flow so well that I don’t really need any motivation. Others I turn on my inspiration music and go for it.

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

Bad editing…I just can’t…also, when an author changes the main characters name mid way through the story without an explanation. I kid you not I recently read a book where the main male character had three different names..I just couldn’t do it

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?

I don’t think so. I think most people can decide for themselves what they want to read and if they don’t want to read about a certain subject they can choose not to.

Where can people find you and your work?

I have a website where people can buy signed print copies of my work. and also on amazon.com for eBooks.

My website: www.sexyshifterromance.com

Facebook:

Page https://www.facebook.com/PAVachonauthor/

Profile: https://www.facebook.com/pa.vachonauthor.33

Readers group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2081847745393971/

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/pa-vachon

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PAvachonauthor

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

Amazon author page: amazon.com/author/pavachon

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Mary T. Wagner

 

Name:  Mary T. Wagner

Genre(s) of your work: I’ve written essay collections for grownups, and now I’m working on the third and fourth “chapter books” for young readers based on the fictional adventures of Finnigan the Circus Cat (who was inspired by a real rescue kitten!).

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

Finnigan and the Lost Circus Wagon (2017)

Finnigan the Circus Cat (2016)

When the Shoe Fits: Essays of Love, Life and Second Chances (2014)

Fabulous in Flats: Putting My Best Foot Forward! (2011)

Heck on Heels: Still Balancing on Shoes, Love & Chocolate! (2009)

Heck on Heels, paperback edition with FULL COLOR nature photographs (2016)

Running with Stilettos: Living a Balanced Life in Dangerous Shoes (2008)

 

Bio:

Mary T. Wagner is a former newspaper and magazine journalist who changed careers at forty by going to law school and becoming a criminal prosecutor. However, she never could step away from the written word entirely, and inevitably the joy of writing drew her back to the keyboard.

A Chicago native, this mother of four and grandmother now lives in “coastal Wisconsin,” where she draws much inspiration for writing from frequent trips to the shore of Lake Michigan, watching the waves ebb and flow and make shifting mosaics of sunlight on the sandy lake floor. Wagner’s ongoing legal experience has ranged from handling speeding tickets to arguing and winning several cases before the Wisconsin Supreme Court…sometimes in the same week! She plans to retire from her job as a state prosecutor in late 2018, in order to devote more time to writing, hiking and visiting her adorable grandchildren!

Her first three essay collections—Running with Stilettos, Heck on Heelsand Fabulous in Flats—garnered numerous national and regional awards, including a Gold E-Lit Book Award, an Indie Excellence Award, and “Published Book of the Year” by the Florida Writers Association. Her latest essay collection, “When the Shoe Fits…Essays of Love, Life and Second Chances” rounds up her favorites—and reader favorites—into a “best of” collection available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.  Her newest publishing venture is a series of children’s chapter books for young readers based on “Finnigan the Circus Cat.” The second book in the series was “Finnigan and the Lost Circus Wagon,” and the third, “Finnigan the Lionhearted,” is in the works. She also draws the pictures inside the books, which can take her just as much time as writing the stories.

Wagner’s life experiences includes the defining watershed of motherhood, and stints as a Girl Scout troop leader, truck stop waitress, office temp, judicial clerk, and radio talk show host. She counts both wearing spike heels and learning to use a cordless drill and chainsaw among her “late blooming” discoveries, and would be hard pressed to surrender either her favorite stilettos or her power tools.

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

I’m going to go with the Finnigan books, because they’re the most recent writing adventure! I had been writing essays for a number of years since I first started my signature blog, Running with Stilettos, just before New Year’s Eve in 2006. I had never, ever, ever imagined myself writing something for a very young audience (around age 7 to 10). But two things happened that put me on that course. One was that my younger daughter, Sarah Muehlbauer, had become a contemporary circus aerialist, and so the subject of “circus” and circus history were always part of our conversations. Plus, of course, we were just a few hours’ drive from Baraboo, Wisconsin, and we loved to visit the Circus World Museum.

The other thing was that a few years ago my younger son and his wife adopted a tiny rescue kitten that they named Finnigan, and Finnigan then got to spend several months at my house while they were in Ireland for a semester abroad. He had quite the exuberant personality! So somehow the idea of “circus + kitten” just naturally took hold. Now that I’ve published two of these books, I finally realized just why they are so much fun for me to work on. And that’s because the books’ narrator, a wise-ass circus mouse named Maximillian, is my alter ego. I swear, he’s really me as a ten year old, before I grew up and got domesticated and mature and all those things you’re supposed to be as an adult. When I start to write these Finnigan stories, all have to do is sit down with a keyboard or a notebook, open up a little door in my head, and that mouse steps out and says “OK, here’s where we’re driving today!” It make me feel like a kid again.

 

How has writing changed/altered your life?

Oh good Lord, where to even start! I actually wrote a longer essay about it a few years ago, but the short version is that I’ve had so much fun and amazing experiences since I first started blogging and then putting my essays into books. I’ve made friends around the country, done speaking engagements here and there, traveled several times to coastal Georgia which is my favorite place on Earth, ridden horseback on an Atlantic beach, done “live lit” in front of groups in places that have included bookstores, bars and a tattoo parlor, and now, with the Finnigan books, gained the confidence to actually draw the pictures inside the books. And I’ve had some truly humbling moments when people have reached out to tell me that something that I wrote resonated with them or helped them get through a tough time or a hard decision.

 

Who are your favorite authors and why?

I am drawn like a moth to a flame to suspenseful, well-written fiction. If I had to be shipwrecked on an island with a single book to read over and over, it would be “Rebecca,” by Daphne DuMaurier. And after that it would be William Kent Kruger and his “Cork O’Connor” series of novels set in “up north” Minnesota. He writes so beautifully about the natural world and has really amazing plotting in this series which weaves the experiences of the reservation-dwelling Native Americans and the white town residents into an intricate tapestry.

 

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

I wish more of them would carry my books on their shelves! It can be an uphill climb for indie authors to crack those brick and mortar markets.

 

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

Something that I think runs deep through the Finnigan books, though it’s under layers of slapstick and adventure, is the notion that the family you make can be just as important as the family you come from. The kitten in the book is a foundling, and forms a bond with these two mice at the museum who become his closest friends, despite their natural differences. I also hope that kids and the adults in their lives will share these stories and enjoy reading them together. I always loved reading to my children when they were small, and I’ve tried to write these books in a way that grownups will be drawn in by the wordplay and the humor at an entirely different level than the kids are.

 

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

Well all the essays that I’ve written are stream-of-consciousness truth, so in a word, “everything”! That goes for the power tools, spike heels, tragedy, joy, chocolate, nature, and the guy with the motorcycle and the black leather pants. And as for the Finnigan series, clearly I’ve never been either a cat or a mouse…but Finnigan was inspired by a real rescue kitten, and has the sass and the mannerisms of the real kitty.

 

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?

Finding the motivation to write has never been a problem for me, it’s as necessary as breathing. However, finding the time to sit down and write has always a challenge!

 

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

Bad writing, mostly. I have literally given up on some books before the end of the first chapter because the first few pages are so full of clichés, or they just plod from paragraph to paragraph. Gratuitous violence that’s just there for shock value is another reason. On the other hand, there are times when I start reading something—most recently “Blood on the Tracks” by Barbara Nickless, a suspense novel involving an Iraqi war vet with PTSD working railroad security, her marvelous canine partner, and winter in the Rockies—when the skill of language and imagery is so strong that I know I’m going to stay with it.

 

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo? 

I haven’t given this much thought before, but I don’t think I’d have much of a problem with some of the horrible racist ranting and hate speech that encourages violence and worse these days to be shut down.

 

Any pet peeves in writing? In reading others’ work?

Ha! My “pet” peeves involve my pets! I live with a large and boisterous and affectionate dog, Lucky, who is constantly seeking validation, or just another walk. I also have two cats, who do their best to create distractions. So I often just pack up the laptop and head for my favorite library for some uninterrupted writing time.

 

Where can people find you and your work?

You can find all of my books on Amazon of course, in both paperback and Kindle editions. Or you can ask your local bookstore to order it for you. I won’t make as much, but it’ll be good for the bookstore! As for finding me for speaking engagements and library visits and the like, check out my website and then reach out by email at runwstilettos@yahoo.com  I love to talk about empowerment and how “it’s never too late to make mid-course corrections” for women’s and business groups, and I thoroughly enjoy talking to kids about Finnigan the Circus Cat and doing “draw Finnigan with me” exercises to show that trying new things is great even though you’re guaranteed to make mistakes.

Author website: http://www.marytwagner.com

Running with Stilettos blog: http://runningwithstilettos.blogspot.com/

Growing Bolder “team blogging”: https://marywagner.growingbolder.com/

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

Amazon author page

Twitter: https://twitter.com/runswstilettos

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

 

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Kelly Fumiko Weiss

 

Name: Kelly Fumiko Weiss

Genre(s) of your work: Science Fiction and Serial Fiction

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

The Cube, Science Fiction, 2018

Amache’s America, Serial Fiction, Started 2017, on-going on Channillo.com

Bio:

KELLY FUMIKO WEISS is a member of the Chicago Writers Association. Her novel, The Cube, debuted in April 2018. Her Channillo series, Amache’s America, won the 2017 award for Best New Series. Kelly’s career has centered around IT management in the education/nonprofit sector. She lives in Chicago with her husband and daughter.

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

I like to write science fiction because it is what I like to read and what I like to watch on TV. I love taking the potential of human invention and imagination and world building with it.

As for my current serial fiction, I also like to write about my own personal experiences in a fictionalized way. I’m not a memoirist, but I think my life experience, and the experiences of my family, lend themselves to some great (invented) story lines.

 

How has writing changed/altered your life?

In general, as a skill, writing has been the foundation for the progress of my career. Having quality writing skills has given me a niche and makes me a value add in the world of IT. Personally, writing has been a gateway, toward and away from myself, allowing me to explore new places and feelings without leaving my own day-to-day life, while simultaneously teaching me about myself. On a more social level, it’s given me a community to be a part of and a built-in support network with fellow writers.

 

Who are your favorite authors and why?

This is such a hard question. There are too many to count. I love AJ Jacobs because he really puts himself out there in relatable and funny ways while still teaching us all things. I love the trio of Jay Kristoff-Amie Kaufmann-Meagan Spooner for their world-building and supportive collaborations. I love Rainbow Rowell and Julie Bauxbaum and Nicola Yoon for how their books make me feel. I think what draws me to any author is writing books about good, flawed, relatable people (that are sometimes in fantastical situations), but that overall will choose love over everything at the end of the day.

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

I think anything that brings people to books is good. I love indie bookshops. I love big bookstores. I love buying books in unexpected places. Reading is good, and more people need to do it, so if big bookstores make books more accessible, then that’s cool with me.

 

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

I hope they will see heart in what I write. I hope that they will get a warm-fuzzy feeling. I hope that it will spark conversations about how we relate to each other as human beings.

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

For my science fiction novel, The Cube, the setting of Chicago grounds the whole book for me. I write about streets and neighborhoods that I know and love so that the fantastical parts have roots and a heart.

For Amache’s America, it 100% draws from my family’s experience. My grandmother was in Japanese Internment camps. My mother married a white man. I have struggled with my biracial identity. While the characters in that story are fictionalized and the situations they go through are (mostly) made up, the core of their experiences is one that I know well.

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?

It takes a lot of inner will power for sure. More than anything, I have always wanted to be an author. At the end of the day, it comes down to me. If I don’t write, I won’t be an author. So, write I must.

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

I usually put a book down if there are zero redeeming qualities about any of the characters. If it’s a story about bad people doing bad things with no hint of arc or redemption, I’m not interested. I will also put a book down if it is drowning in its own prose or the plot is too slow. I’m okay with a slow build-up, but if there’s not plot at all, I will usually lose interest. That being said, thankfully, these things rarely happen!

 

Where can people find you and your work?

People can find me on Twitter and Instagram at @kellyfweiss

My website is kellyfumikoweiss.com. My website contains my blog, My Writing Experience

You can buy The Cube on Amazon

And you can find Amache’s America on Channillo.com 

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Robert Weisskopf

 

Name:  Robert Weisskopf  (Bob)

Pseudonym:  none

Genre(s) of your work:  one cookbook for the new cook and scifi (space opera)

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

Dining – Not Just Eating 2016

Hardcore – The Journey Begins 2016

Carbonado – The Shakedown Cruise 2016

Dale Dair – Fight for Family 2016

Chico 7 – TROLLS 2017

Ambush in the Forest – A Chris Williams Short Story 2017

Bio :

Robert Weisskopf, Bob as his friends call him, grew up in Chicago where he still lives. His father was a Chicago Police Lieutenant but his father had first apprenticed as a pastry chef under Bob’s Grandfather. Over the course of thirty years he rose from Police Officer to Lieutenant.

He has three sons, Bobby, Jimmy, and Patrick. To this day his sons are the brightest part of his life. Now with a home filled with sons and dogs Bob perfects his cooking and spends his time writing, cooking and riding his Gold Wing motorcycle. This year he turned 61, so this is just the beginning of his story.

Why do you write in the genre that you do? 

The cookbook was something suggested by friends.  I learned to cook for my sons and wanted to pass what I learned on to other single dads and anyone new to cooking. The Scifi genre I chose after recuperating from a leg injury where I spent most of my time reading ebooks on my kindle.  I thought “I can do that.”

How has writing changed/altered your life? 

It has sharpened my mind and forced me to teach myself several new skills.  It keeps me alert and connected to everyone around me.  It makes me feel younger.

 

Who are your favorite authors and why? 

I have always enjoyed King, W.E.B Griffin, Dale Brown, and Tom Clancy now I am reading a lot of new indie authors who have become my friends.  Larry Casey, Richard Rybicki, and Paul Russell Parker.

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores? 

I always loved visiting them and browsing through the aisle.  Now with a bad back I don’t do that often.  I have also limited most of my purchases now to my Kindle.  I just don’t have the room to store all the books.  I read a lot and without e-books it gets costly.

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work? 

I just hope they enjoy it.  I’m not trying to change their life.  I want them to take the time to relax and sink their teeth into a book.  Afterwards If they were entertained I’m thrilled.  With my cookbook, I hope they become more comfortable in the kitchen.  It isn’t about following recipes but rather getting comfortable in the kitchen.

 

How much does personal experience play in your written work? 

In my cookbook, it is all personal experience.  I have pulled my experiences and recipes that I made for my sons and myself.  With my novels, my characters develop based on people I worked with or lived with.  My lead character treats people and leads the way I learned as a Police officer and supervisor.

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story? 

I’m not sure.  Some of them have come very easy.  My current novel is taking time.  I enjoy the process from the first word of the first chapter up to the hours of marketing needed to sell a copy.  I have always been creative and artistic.  It always stirred my spirit to create something.  I learned a while back to find God in the details and I do.

 

What makes you NOT finish reading a book? 

Now more than anything it is bad editing and proofreading.  My quality has improved from my first to my current work.  Sentence structure is better, plot line has improved, and even though you might find errors they are few and far between.

When I read a book that has the story line drift all over it loses me quickly.  Spell check isn’t enough.  You need someone who can read your work and criticize and correct your mistakes.  If you don’t edit the reader will.  Find an editor that will work with you.  I have and she made a world of difference to my writing.

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo? 

No but perhaps warning labels are needed.  I wouldn’t want a little child reading some of the work I see.  I think the best way is to have the author label it themselves.  If it is political or sexual let the reader know it on the back cover.  Be honest the readers will appreciate it.

I am often asked at book signings if it is appropriate for a teenager.  I try to be honest.  I don’t use much vulgarity but there is some. I stay away from hot topics like gender or politics but if I didn’t I would be happy to warn people.

 

Any pet peeves in writing? In reading others’ work? 

Please use contractions.  It makes your writing read so much smoother.  Learn your computer and social media.

Where can people find you and your work? 

BOBWEISSKOPF.COM and of course on Amazon

https://bobweisskopf.com/

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01DB5A7IU?ref_=pe_1724030_132998070

https://www.facebook.com/RWAuthor/

https://www.facebook.com/Diningnotjusteating/

https://www.facebook.com/FreighterLola/

I have also been a contributor to Law Enforcement Today online new magazine for several years now and my work is archived at https://www.lawenforcementtoday.com/author/robertw332/

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

MK Williams

 Name: MK Williams

Genre(s) of your work: My first novel, Nailbiters, is a sci-fi thriller. My second book is a collection of contemporary short fiction. My forthcoming third book is a contemporary fiction.

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

Nailbiters (2015): https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27279554-nailbiters

The Games You Cannot Win (2016): https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32660979-the-games-you-cannot-win

Bio:

MK Williams is an Indiana-born, Philadelphia-raised, Florida-transplant working and living beneath the sunny, and often rainy, skies of Tampa. Williams’ writing influences include a lifetime of watching suspenseful mysteries and action movies and reading Stephen King, Ian McEwan, Maragret Atwood, and J.K. Rowling.

Why do you write in the genre that you do? 

For each of the works that I have published, I wrote the story that I wanted to read. Nailbiters is a sci-fi thriller and it was fun to write and definitely pushed me as a writer to get out of my comfort zone. The stories in The Games You Cannot Win are all contemporary because that is what I know, living in modern society. I don’t think I will ever hold myself to just one genre or type of story. At least not intentionally.

How has writing changed/altered your life?

I’ve always loved to write. When I decided to stop second-guessing myself and self-publish, I found a new confidence that has helped me in all areas of my life. I have learned so much about the industry, about myself, and I know that I will continue to learn more over time.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

My current number 1 favorite author is Margaret Atwood. I was late to discover her work (only a few years ago) and I am methodically going through her entire body of work. I love her writing style and her characters. All of her stories have a deeper message. I really like that.

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

My aim is to make people think, to second-guess their assumptions. With Nailbiters, I wanted people to stop and think, “How would I act in that situation? What are the limits of my own humanity?”

With the last story in The Games You Cannot Win, titled Escaping Avila Chase, I wanted to tackle the complex issue of domestic violence or violence against women in our society. Writing it from the viewpoint of the aggressor, I wanted to make my audience question their assumptions of guilt and redemption. How can an abuser ever find absolution? Can a woman really just walk away after the first instance of violence without anyone criticizing her actions?

 

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?

From the very first idea to the final product it usually takes me about 3 years to write a book so the motivation comes in short spurts. I’ll have a new idea and I will need to get it written down and then maybe I’ll let that sit for a while.

My biggest motivation to finish a story and get a book published comes from this fear that someone will publish the same exact story before me or that the plot line will play out in the real world and everyone will think that I just copied the idea.

This actually happened with my latest work, The Games You Cannot Win. The second story, The Joker, was written in November of 2015. When I wrote the story, I believed it to be a far-fetched conspiracy theory about the election. By the time it was published in October of 2016, the US Presidential election was only a few days away and many of these crazy ideas had already played out in the media.  

Where can people find you and your work?

My books are available for sale on Amazon, Nook, iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords, and other online retailers. They are also available in some local libraries, if you want your library to add my book to their catalog you can usually find a purchase request form on your library’s website.

Website, where I post updates about my books and new releases: https://nailbitersnovel.com/

Facebook Page, to stay connected to my fans: https://www.facebook.com/1mkwilliams/

Nailbiters: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B015QRVSWA

The Games You Cannot Win: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MCU6A0W

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

John M. Wills

Your Name: John M. Wills

Genre(s) of your work: Varied

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

The most recent five:

  • Targeted, 2011

  • Women Warriors, Stories From The Thin Blue Line, 2013

  • The Year Without Christmas, 2013

  • HEALER, 2014

  • The Storm, 2016

Bio : John M. Wills writes mostly fiction, but he’s also a freelance writer and has published more than 150 articles. John write scripts for the William McLlain Foundation for videos honoring fallen first responders as well. He’s been fortunate to have poetry and short stories published in eight anthologies, and writes book reviews for the New York Journal of Books. His books, articles, poetry, and short stories have won more than a dozen awards.

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

After writing reports and affidavits most of my life, I enjoy escaping into the world of make believe and writing about fictional characters and places.

 

How has writing changed/altered your life?

Writing has allowed me to explore new topics and given me a small platform to express myself. And while I never started writing to make money, happily I’ve been able to make a bit of money through my freelance work. My books, while not all that profitable, give me an intangible reward vis-à-vis the feedback from readers who enjoy my stories.

 

Who are your favorite authors and why?

I very much enjoy the works of Dan Walsh. He writes wholesome stories with  redeeming themes that resonate with me.

 

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

I’m disappointed in the direction they’ve gone in the past several years. My books used to be carried by them, at least locally, now unless you’re a mainstream author or celebrity author there’s hardly a chance they will carry your books. Sure they’re in the catalog and will order them if a customer requests, but they’re not on the shelves in store. Sad. I have a couple local bookstores that do carry my books.

 

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

Most of the time I have the good guys winning, so I want to reinforce the notion that doing the right thing is the best policy. Bad guys lose—good guys win.

 

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

My background has been structured: Army, Chicago Police Department, and the FBI (retired). I’ve seen and done many things and I use that history to help weave stories.

 

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?

I get very involved with the characters and look forward to developing them each day. As the story moves forward, characters change and new ones emerge. It’s exciting and I look forward to adding a new chapter each day.

 

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

A dull story line and lifeless characters, too much telling rather than showing, poor dialogue, and too many errors.

 

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?

No, I may not like certain topics but stifling creativity and speech is detrimental. The market place will usually decide what stays and what disappears.

 

Any pet peeves in writing? In reading others’ work?

In thrillers and mysteries involving police, I hate when the wrong terminology is used regarding weapons and procedures. I instantly question the author’s credibility and/or research.

 

Where can people find you and your work?

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and my website/blog:

https://jwillsbooks.com/books/

As well as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Stacy M Wray

 

 

Name: Stacy M Wray

Genre(s) of your work: contemporary romance, although my current WIP is a suspense

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

The Girl from the Kitchen Store 2014

Unclaimed Regrets 2015

Finding Karma 2017

Libra Rising 2017

 

 

Bio:

Stacy M Wray loves writing and reading anything romance – Judy Blume being one of the first authors she read in middle school. After all, a world without love, heartache and angst would prove a boring place to live.

Lover of gray and white cats, craver of all things sweet, enthusiast of hiking and camping, wife of an extremely supportive husband, and mom to two amusing adult children, she realizes life is pretty damn good.

She also appreciates that it’s never too late to try something new. Never.

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

I love all things romance so naturally I write it too. The build up between two people meeting and falling in love never gets old for me.

How has writing changed/altered your life?

It hasn’t. I started writing later in life. I am the mom to two adult children, and when they left for college, I bought a Kindle and never looked back. I read so many books that I decided to give it a go. I have learned so much with every book I publish.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

In middle school I discovered Judy Blume and I couldn’t get enough. I also enjoy Anita Shreve – I’ve read every book she’s written. Now my favorite author is Tarryn Fisher. I love how she writes about flawed, raw, real characters and how she doesn’t necessarily stick to a certain genre. She writes what she feels.

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

Hopefully I provide some sort of escape for them. And if I’ve managed to get them to shed a tear or want to throw their book across the room, then I’ve done my job.

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

Nothing major. I’m sure I slip nuances of myself and life in my books, but nothing big.

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?

I’m a slow writer. I don’t use an outline or a storyboard. My story shapes itself as I type. So it might take me awhile to get there, but I WILL get there.

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

Bad, cheesy dialogue. If it’s not realistic, I just can’t.

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?

No. Writing is a form of art, an expression of oneself. And there are thousands upon thousands of books to choose from. No one forces anyone to read what they don’t like/believe in. It’s all about choice.

 

Where can people find you and your work?

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Stacy-M-Wray/e/B00PS4NQ4U/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1522549474&sr=8-1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/dashboard

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/authorstacymwray/

website: www.stacymwray.com

Twitter: @stacymwray

 

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Joyce Burns Zeiss

Name: Joyce Burns Zeiss

Genre(s) of your work: Young adult historical fiction

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

Out of the Dragon’s Mouth, Flux, March, 2015

Bio:

I am a retired junior high school teacher, married, with three grown children and three grandchildren. I live in Evanston, IL and belong to Off Campus Writers Workshop and The Writers in Glencoe. Besides writing, I tutor English as a Second Language students in my friend’s classroom, practice yoga, garden, read , and travel as much as I can. I love spending time with my children and grandchildren.

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

I have always loved history and think it is important for young people to learn about what has happened in the past and the lessons we can take from it.

How has writing changed/altered your life?

I have become a part of a whole community of writers which is wonderful considering how solitary the writing life can be. Writers are such interesting people. I love getting to know them and read their works.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

I’ve always been a fan of Steinbeck. Grapes of Wrath changed my life. A contemporary author is Ruta Sepetys who has written Salt to the Sea, and Between Shades of Gray, two powerful young adult books about World War II in Eastern Europe. Between Shades of Gray is being made into a movie.

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

I hope they don’t run the independent bookstores out of business. I do love browsing in them.

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

I want readers to understand what refugees go through when they lose everything and have to risk their lives to leave their country and travel to another land. Most young people know nothing about the Vietnam War and what happened after the fall of Saigon.

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

My book is based on my friend’s experience as a Vietnamese refugee. In 1979, our family sponsored a Chinese Cambodian refugee family so I came to know up close what a refugee goes through. My husband and I also worked in several Angolan refugee camps in Zambia and Namibia. All this has fueled, my interest in the plight of the refugee.

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?

I need to be in a writing/critique group with deadlines. I am currently working on a sequel to Out of the Dragon’s Mouth and I really need the feedback I get from my fellow writers.

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

If the book is really long and I am becoming bored with the character, I will not finish it. I shocked my librarian friends by not finishing The Gentleman in Moscow, a book everyone seemed to think was wonderful. Beautiful language but the plot really dragged for me.

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?

I do not believe in censorship, but I do think there is age appropriate reading. No topic is taboo, but I don’t have to read about it.

Any pet peeves in writing? In reading others’ work?

Since I was an English teacher, the grammatical errors jump right up at me. It’s okay in a first draft, but after that, no. Writing is hard work and we all need to encourage each other.

Where can people find you and your work?

joyceburnszeiss.com

joyceburnszeiss@amazon

Joyce Zeiss author, Facebook

Joyce Burns Zeiss, Goodreads