Author Interview: R.K. Gold

Here is #5 in my author interview series! If you’re an author and would like to participate, click the Contact button at the top of the page and send me an email!

PepperWords: Easy stuff first: Who are you and what should we know about you? Where are you from, etc.?

R.K. Gold: My name is R.K. Gold, I am a novelist from Buffalo, NY. I am a dog lover and enjoy spending my free time walking my plott hound through the city. He is so manipulative and gives the cutest puppy eyes it’s impossible to not give him all your attention when he’s in the room.

PW: Awww. I grew up with dogs but don’t currently have any. Would love a Corgi, though! (Then I war with myself because I know it would be better to get a shelter dog, if I ever got a dog at all.)

Okay, enough of that. Back to you. Tell us a bit about your writing history. Have you been doing it long? What inspired you to start writing?

RKG: I started writing in the end of January 2014. It was my senior year of college at the University of Maryland and I was in a bad car wreck. When I got back from the hospital, I realized that no matter what—even if you aren’t doing anything wrong—your life can end at any moment. So I made the conscious decision to pursue my greatest passion and haven’t looked back. I began writing novels in March the same year and signed my first deal at the start of 2015.

PW: Wow. Talk about motivation! What an inspirational story! And what about this book? What sparked it? What genre is it, and what draws you to that particular genre?

RKG: Just Under the Sky is—well it will always be meaningful to me because it’s the first novel I ever wrote. Though it’s only a little longer than The Old Man and the Sea I really touched on some themes of self discovery and our unknown impacts on the world. It is closest to the magical realism genre. I would like to thank Weasel Press for all the marketing and designing efforts they put into it, I really love everything they’ve done.

PW: How did you land Weasel Press for this book?

RKG: I found Weasel on PW.org and started talking to them on social media. I had a short story published in one of their anthologies and they liked my work so I sent them a query letter with my manuscript attached. They sent me back a contract and we enjoy working with each other so much I have signed on for two more books (three total).

PW: That’s awesome! Okay, going backward a bit, tell us about your writing process. Is it very structured? Do you have a favorite place to sit and write, or a favorite food or drink while writing?

RKG: I love sitting in my kitchen next to the window or in my family room by the fireplace. I don’t have a set time to write but I aim to write at least 2500 words a day when I am working on a rough draft.

PW: And how long does it take you to write a book? How do you know a manuscript is ready to send out to agents and publishers?

RKG: Oof, depends. I have knocked out a 50,000-word manuscript in a week but editing normally takes me a while. My big problem is I start editing and then I think of a new idea and write a new book instead. I’ve been writing novels for exactly 2 years now (March 2014) and I have 10 completed manuscripts—only 3 have been fully edited.

PW: 50,000 words in a week?! @.@

What are you working on now?

RKG: Ha! What am I not. Let’s see I’m editing a manuscript following a high school girl’s friendship with a 79-year-old woman while being cyber bullied. I just finished two rough drafts since January for new manuscripts and I am prepping for my next two releases with Weasel Press (Brinwood May 6th 2016, and Lost Boys August 2016).

PW: Let’s go back to your most recent release, Just Under the Sky. In Hollywood we write log lines for scripts—one sentence that sums up the story, a bit like the write up in TV Guide. For example, the log line for Back to the Future might read: “A teenager gets sent back to 1955 where he must contrive to get his parents to fall in love else risk never being born.” What would the log line for your book be?

RKG: Two journalists discover the truth of their village while trapped in a forest that’s trying to kill them.

PW: Definitely sounds intriguing. And if you were casting your book as a movie, are there any particular actors you envision as your main characters?

RKG: Daniel Radcliffe for Jasper and Donald Glover for McMichaels.

PW: What are some of your favorite books and authors?

RKG: Too many. Reading is so engraved in my daily routine—I feel incomplete if I don’t read. Off the top of my head I think Hell’s Angels by Hunter Thompson and Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card are two of my favorite books. I can say I am currently reading The Dark Side by Jane Mayer and since January I’ve read Catch-22, Saving Capitalism, Swag, Race Matters, Skin Cage, On Writing, And Then All Hell Broke Loose, and I think Going Under but that might have been December.

PW: What advice would you give to young writers, or writers who are only just starting out?

RKG: Actually, I don’t mean to plug but here is a blog post I wrote on the 8 most useful tips I have discovered since I started writing: http://www.buzzfeed.com/rkgold/8-tips-for-indie-writers-1osct. I think that will do a better job at explaining than a couple sentences but I guess if I had to sum up the most important thing you could do—I would say read as often as you can and find time to write at least 6 days a week.

PW: Where do you see yourself in five years?

RKG: Hopefully signed to a large publishing house. I also want to help encourage creative education with students from public schools that lack sufficient funding. STEM is amazing and very important to education, but the one thing all of the greatest minds in history have in common is an influence by art and literature. While sciences can help us find answers, the creative arts helps us ask questions we never thought of asking before.

PW: Those are admirable goals. Now a little about you in general. Favorite quote or inspirational saying?

RKG: Ha, again too many. Oscar Wilde has always offered some good quotes to reference. I’m a fan of “There is no sin except stupidity.” “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” And “Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.”

PW: Favorite color?

RKG: Purple.

PW: Favorite TV show?

RKG: Ink Master and The Edge and Christian Show That Totally Reeks of Awesomeness.

PW: Favorite movie?

RKG: V for Vendetta, Scott Pilgrim vs the World, Midnight in Paris, and Wimbledon.

PW: Someone (living, dead, or fictional) you’d like to meet:

RKG: Lin-Manuel Miranda.

PW: And last but certainly not least, where can we find you and your book?

RKG: Weasel Press: http://weaselpress.storenvy.com/products/14275899-just-under-the-sky

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Just-Under-Sky-R-K-Gold/dp/099729681X/

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/just-under-the-sky/id1053995353

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/just-under-the-sky-rk-gold/1122874676

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/just-under-the-sky

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/588646

Thank you, R.K. Gold, for being a willing victim! Find him on Twitter at @RKGold91 and online at rkgoldcreations.com.

Author Interview: Christine Rains

Here is the fourth author in my interview series! Christine Rains runs the gamut from urban fantasy to paranormal romance to outright erotica. The second book in her Sasquatch Susies series is out TODAY from Ellora’s Cave. No foolin’! I hope you enjoy getting to know her and her work better!

PepperWords: Easy stuff first: Who are you and what should we know about you? Where are you from, etc.?

Christine Rains: My name is Christine Rains, and thank you for having me here today, M. I’m a writer, blogger, and geek mom. I grew up in southern Ontario, Canada, and fell in love with an American. Now we live in Indiana with our little geek and a cat who can flush the toilet.

PW: That’s more than some kids can manage! Now, tell us a bit about your writing history. Have you been doing it long? What inspired you to start writing?

CR: I’ve always been writing. I have a poem about the moon I wrote when I was five that won an award in the local fall fair and binders full of short stories about the neighborhood kids I grew up with. I’ve always been interested in the scary stuff. Maybe since my childhood playground was a cemetery.

PW: That’s interesting. I used to go with my dad to a local cemetery to stargaze as a kid because it had the least light pollution.

What about this particular book? What sparked it? What genre is it, and what draws you to that particular genre?

BigLongingcoverCR: Big Longing is the second book in the Sasquatch Susies series. The idea for this trilogy came from me watching TV shows about monster hunters. A lot of them are silly and fake, but they do make you wonder if these creatures exist. Many of the hunters in these shows chase after Bigfoot, and not once have I seen a female hunter. So I played the what if game. What if three women became Sasquatch researchers? What would they be like and what motivates three smart women to spend their time hunting for evidence of Bigfoot?

This series is contemporary erotic romance. I’m big on characterization whether I’m writing or reading. And with romance, I get to explore many aspects of one’s character. There’s a whole range of emotions when dealing with relationships. I like delving into the depths of these characters with no closed bedroom doors! Then throwing some danger and mystery in there to top it off.

PW: In Hollywood we write log lines for scripts—one sentence that sums up the story, a bit like the write up in TV Guide. For example, the log line for Back to the Future might read: “A teenager gets sent back to 1955 where he must contrive to get his parents to fall in love else risk never being born.” What would the log line for your book be?

CR: A Bigfoot researcher finds love only to fight for their lives in the whitewaters of a mountain river.

PW: What are some of your favorite books? Favorite authors?

CR: Though I write books for adults, my favorite series is Harry Potter. The magic of that world never fails to enchant me.

My favorite authors include Stephen King, George R.R. Martin, Karen Marie Moning, Christopher Buehlman, and Jim Butcher.

PW: And what are you currently reading? What’s on your TBR list?

CR: I’m currently reading a contemporary romance ARC that is a secret! But it’s amazing. I have six pages of books on my Kindle waiting to be read. It will depend on my mood what I read next.

PW: Tell us about your writing process. Is it very structured? Do you have a favorite place to sit and write, or a favorite food or drink while writing?

CR: Structure. My pansting muse laughs at that word! I usually have an idea of a character and/or scene, and I start writing. My characters take me along with them. I always drink water while writing. My office is a tiny room which I have realized needs to be declutter because the cat comes in and knocks stuff down while I’m working.

PW: How long does it take you to write a book? How do you know a manuscript is ready to send out to agents and publishers?

CR: It depends on the story. I’ve written a novel in a month. (Thank you, NaNoWriMo!) Other times, it’s taken me six months to write a novella. If I’m on a roll, I can write two to three thousand words a day.

I know when a manuscript is ready when my critique partners give me the okay. Sometimes I can be impatient with myself or too critical. They know when it’s just right.

PW: And how did you find your critique group?

CR: I didn’t find my critique group, they found me! S.C.I.F.I. (South Central Indiana Fiction Interface) has been around for over three decades. One of their members emailed me in 2010. I had a story published in the same anthology as another member and they invited me to their meeting. We meet every third Saturday each month at the local library. It was intimidating at first, but I’ve learned so much from them. Joining the critique group was one of the best things I’ve done for myself as a writer.

PW: How did you get the publisher for this book? How long did it take, and how many queries or submissions did you send out?

CR: I answered an open call from my publisher in 2014. They wanted erotic romances about geeks. I laughed about it with my husband and decided to give it a try. I would write about real geeks, not idealized or stereotypical ones. And the editor liked it. Really liked it! I sent in my manuscript near the deadline and heard back twelve weeks later with a yes. They’ve loved every idea I’ve had for a story for them since. The acquisitions editor was happy to see another submission from me when I sent in the Sasquatch Susies. Everything happened fast with it, and I’m excited to share my Bigfoot hunters with the world.

PW: What are you working on now?

CR: I’m working on a paranormal romance series called Totem. It’s my biggest project to date. Nine novellas about three sisters who are polar bear shifters. The fate of all shifters is on the line when a sacred totem pole is stolen. I’m writing book #4 and editing the previous two. Book #1 is nearly ready for the public. Tentatively, I say I’m going to start releasing them in October.

PW: That sounds like something worth looking forward to!

What advice would you give to young writers, or writers who are only just starting out?

CR: Write, read, and learn everything you can while doing so. Never give up on your dreams. There will be rejections, bad reviews, and horrible sales. Don’t let those defeat you. Perseverance is key.

PW: Where do you see yourself in five years?

CR: Likely right here, in this chair, writing. Hopefully making enough money from my writing to buy a new chair!

PW: I actually got a new chair (and desk) not so long ago myself. Wore the last ones out.

Now a little about you in general. Favorite quote or inspirational saying:

CR: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” Albert Einstein

PW: Favorite color:

CR: Blue.

PW: Favorite TV show(s):

CR: Supernatural, Firefly, Fargo, Game of Thrones

PW: Favorite movie(s):

CR: The Harry Potter movies.

PW: Someone (living, dead, or fictional) you’d like to meet:

CR: Stephen King.

PW: (Random aside: I ran into Mr. King once at a bookstore in Boston but opted not to bother him. Even from a distance he looked intimidating!)

Last but certainly not least: Where can we find you and your book?

CR: I’m online at christinerains-writer.blogspot.com and on Twitter at @CRainsWriter. Big Longing is on Amazon along with my various other titles.

Author Interview: Tony Riches

Here’s the third in my author interview series! I’m loving getting to know all these new authors, and I hope you are, too!

PepperWords: Easy stuff first: Who are you and what should we know about you? Where are you from, etc.?

Tony Riches: Hi my name is Tony Riches and I’m a full-time historical fiction author. I live in beautiful Pembrokeshire, West Wales. I was born within sight of Pembroke Castle, which features prominently in my new sixth novel, the second book in The Tudor Trilogy.

PW: Tell us a bit about your writing history. Have you been doing it long? What inspired you to start writing?

TR: I always wrote for magazines and journals and wanted to return to my home in Pembrokeshire, so writing has provided the perfect occupation, allowing me to work whenever and wherever I wish. I was also encouraged by the success of my non-fiction books in the US, which gave me the confidence to become a full-time author. I have also written successful non-fiction books on subjects ranging from the story of Scott’s Antarctic ship, the Terra Nova, to Atlantis, about the last flight of the NASA Space shuttle, although now my focus is very much on the fifteenth century.

My first novel was Queen Sacrifice, set in 10th century Wales. My original idea was to bring a famous chess game to life, with the whole of Wales as a ‘chessboard’, complete with castles and bishops, knights, kings and queens. I enjoyed working out the ‘back stories’ for sixteen pawns! The real challenge was to make sure the narrative faithfully followed every move in the real game, as I had to find ways to explain why, for example, a pawn had ‘killed’ a bishop.

PW: And what about this book? What sparked it? What genre is it, and what draws you to that particular genre?

Book Two of The Tudor Trilogy
Book Two of The Tudor Trilogy
TR: JASPER is the second book of my Tudor Trilogy, a historical fiction about the amazing yet true adventures of Sir Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke, son of Owen Tudor, the subject of book one of the trilogy, who founded the Tudor dynasty. (The great thing about writing a trilogy is that readers are already looking forward to the next one—and often ask when it’s going to be published.)

PW: Why the Tudors? Is there something that draws you to them or that time period? (Or is it just that you live right where a lot of it was happening?)

TR: People are as fascinated now by the Tudors as they ever were—and even those failed by their history teachers can tell you Henry VIII had six wives. That’s why there are endless books and movies about Henry and his daughter, the ‘Virgin Queen’ Elizabeth I.

I was astounded to discover were no historical fiction novels exploring the amazing life of Owen Tudor, the Welsh servant who married the Queen of England and founded the dynasty. His son Jasper also deserved more recognition for, against all the odds, helping Owen’s grandson to defeat King Richard and become King Henry VII. That’s how The Tudor Trilogy was born, and the rest, as they say, is history.

PW: Do you think you’d go on and write more, extending into the lives of Henry VIII and so on? Or do you feel that ground is already trod flat?

TR: I thought the world of Henry VIII had been covered well enough—but then read the story of Thomas Cromwell in Hilary Mantel’s wonderful Wolf Hall. I’m excited about exploring the lives of several others in King Henry’s court, and bringing a new perspective to the myths and legends surrounding this compelling period of history.

PW: In Hollywood we write log lines for scripts—one sentence that sums up the story, a bit like the write up in TV Guide. For example, the log line for Back to the Future might read: “A teenager gets sent back to 1955 where he must contrive to get his parents to fall in love else risk never being born.” What would the log line for your book be?

TR: “Jasper Tudor was a rebel and a warrior, the man who created the greatest dynasty England has ever known… The Tudors.”

PW: And if you were casting your book as a movie, are there any particular actors you’d envision as your main characters?

TR: Welsh actor Michael Sheen was great in last year’s adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd and has exactly the right attitude (and accent). French actor Gérard Depardieu would also be perfect for the character of King Louis of France!

PW: What are some of your favorite books? Favorite authors?

TR: As a teenager I was a great Stephen King fan, and one of my favourite books is The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.

PW: What are you currently reading? What’s on your TBR list?

TR: I’m reading CJ Sansom’s Lamentation, a huge ‘brick of a book’ and enjoying the way he evokes the tensions of the last days of Henry VIII. My TBR list is massive, as I have at least a year’s worth of book reviews to write…

PW: Tell us about your writing process. Is it very structured? Do you have a favorite place to sit and write, or a favorite food or drink while writing?

TR: I like an early start, and try to deal with emails and social media in time to catch the US and Australia, then read through a few pages of the previous day’s writing to remember what comes next. As I’m a historical fiction author there is always a huge pile of research books for cross-checking facts, so there’s a lot of reading to do.

I have to be quite structured, and keep a spreadsheet to track my word count, so I usually review progress on the chapter before setting a target for the day. I write on a high specification laptop which I chose for its excellent speakers and like to have music playing while I’m working. (Anything from Katie Melua to the Vikings soundtrack)

PW: How long does it take you to write a book? How do you know a manuscript is ready to send out to agents and publishers?

TR: The whole process takes about a year, as I allow about six months for the first draft, then another three for editing and revisions. I try to have a long summer break, as my main interests are sailing and sea kayaking, so I like to have the best of the weather. When I first started I wanted to keep making improvements to the final draft, but experience helps make it easier to know when it’s time to publish.

PW: Okay, a bit off topic here, but I’m curious: Where do you go kayaking and sailing? In Wales? Or do you travel for it?

TR: I love the sea, and Pembrokeshire has some of the most beautiful beaches in the UK, as well as the tranquil twelve-mile long River Cleddau, which is perfect for an evening sail. I’ve kayaked all round the world, from Mombasa to the Mediterranean, but I have to say that West Wales has it all.

PW: I’ve only been to Cardiff but would love to see more of Wales.

Back to business. How did you get the agent/publisher for this book? How long did it take, and how many queries or submissions did you send out?

TR: My last three books have become bestsellers in the UK, US and Australia, so I’ve not needed to send out any queries and have had several approaches from commercial publishers. As an ‘indie’ publisher, I keep 70% of my book royalties, a deal which I’ve yet to find anyone can improve on.

PW: Yes, I’ve heard similar stories from a number of authors. They enjoy the creative control and greater returns they can get with self-publishing. What are you working on now?

TR: Book three of my Tudor trilogy explores the life of King Henry VII, so I’m already deep into the research. Henry Tudor was born in book one, and book two takes him up to the Battle of Bosworth, so the final book will follow his life from there to his death at Richmond Palace on the 21st of April 1509. It will be published in the spring or early summer next year.

PW: What advice would you give to young writers, or writers who are only just starting out?

TR: I read somewhere once that a page a day is a book a year, so even if you still have to juggle other responsibilities, write something, every day, until it becomes a habit, which it will.

PW: Where do you see yourself in five years?

TR: I don’t think I’ll ever stop writing, although I’d like to see TV adaptations of my books. I recently heard an audiobook edition of one of my novels and it made me realise I should keep exploring new developments in publishing.

PW: Funny, I just had an agent telling me I should try to do some audio versions of some of my stuff, so now I’m considering it.

Tony RichesNow a little about you in general. Favorite quote or inspirational saying:

TR: “The smile that you send out returns to you.”

PW: Favorite color:

TR: Deep Purple.

PW: Favorite TV show:

TR: Blackadder

PW: Favorite movie:

TR: Groundhog Day

PW: Someone (living, dead, or fictional) you’d like to meet:

TR: Jasper Tudor!

PW: And last but certainly not least, where can we find you and your book?

TR: My new book JASPER Book Two of the Tudor Trilogy is on Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01D6KSLJ2

Author Interview: Erika Gardner

Second in my new series of author interviews. If you’re an author and would like to be featured, please contact me via the link at the top of the page.

PepperWords: Easy stuff first: Who are you and what should we know about you? Where are you from, etc.?

Erika Gardner: I’m your basic California girl, except the NorCal version. I’m a sixth generation San Franciscan. I’m a complete peasant—no royalty in my family tree, just a whole lot of Irish, Italian, French and Scandinavian immigrants. I’m the proverbial mutt, aka an American.

PW: Tell us a bit about your writing history. Have you been doing it long? What inspired you to start writing?

EG: I actually can’t remember a time when I haven’t been writing. I think most kids are born storytellers. (Parents are nodding their heads, remembering the tall tales their children have sprinkled through the years—sometimes on a daily basis.) Some have that behavior ground out of them, some are compulsive and can’t help it. I am the latter. I hear voices—it’s write down what the voices tell me or settle back and wait for the guys with the white coats. I started with pictures and then moved on to words. Even if I never made a cent, the stories would still come. Er, I would like to make a fair wage though, let’s be clear about that!

PW: Yes, there has been a lot of blogs lately about paying writers versus expecting them to supply content for free, or for “exposure.” I have definite feelings about that, but we’ll set those aside for now. Why don’t you tell us about this book. What sparked it? What genre is it, and what draws you to that particular genre?

The dragon in Erika Gardner's garden.
The dragon in Erika Gardner’s garden.
EG: The Dragon in The Garden began as a children’s book. In my actual garden I have a small statue of green dragon curled in a ball. One day I was weeding near it and I heard wind chimes in the distance. The breeze, the music of the chimes, the smell of the earth, and the statue—what if the statue wasn’t a statue? What if it were a dragon in hiding? Of course then a hot fallen angel and an even hotter King of the Fey cropped up and I quickly realized that this was no children’s book!

PW: In Hollywood we write log lines for scripts—one sentence that sums up the story, a bit like the write up in TV Guide. For example, the log line for Back to the Future might read: “A teenager gets sent back to 1955 where he must contrive to get his parents to fall in love else risk never being born.” What would the log line for your book be?

EG: Well, I’m no Hollywood insider but, I’ll give it a shot. Something along the lines of, “How does one person with a small talent, but no magic navigate the travails of an ancient war when all of humanity is counting on her?”

PW: And if you were casting your book as a movie, are there any particular actors you’d envision as your main characters?

EG: [laughs] As it happens the character of Turel is physically based on the actor Oded Fehr as he looked playing Ardeth Bay in the film The Mummy, but with no tattoos. Of course, I make Turel Persian whereas Fehr is Israeli. (I’m sure I’ve offended someone there.) As to Siobhan, Alex, and Daisy the Dragon (in her human form)? No idea, but I love the idea of a casting call!

PW: What are some of your favorite books? Favorite authors?

EG: I run the gamut. Jane Austen, Edgar Allen Poe, Tolkien, Richard Adams, Lois Lenski, L. Frank Baum, Zilpha Keatley Snyder, Shakespeare, I’m all over the map. Favorite fantasy writers? I love Jim Butcher, Glen Cook, David Eddings, Robert Jordan, Julie Kagawa, Mercedes Lackey, Ursula LeGuin, Anne McCaffrey, Katherine Kurtz, and Kevin Hearne among a hundred others.

Top favorite go to read again and again books are: Pride and Prejudice, A Wrinkle in Time, Lightning (by Dean Koontz), Little Women, The People of The Book by Geraldine Brooks, and The Hobbit/LOTR.

PW: Ah, yes, Lightning was the first Koontz book I ever read and still one of my favorites as well. (If anyone wants a book about time traveling Nazis, go look it up.)

What are you currently reading? What’s on your TBR list?

EG: My list is a bit long and neglected at present, but eventually I’ll get there again. I have a stack by my bed: the latest Garrett Files book, Wicked Bronze Ambition by Glenn Cook, The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England by Dan Jones, and lastly, The Marriage Game—A Novel of Queen Elizabeth I by Alison Weir. I’ve started all three.

PW: Alison Weir does an amazing job with both her historical fiction and her nonfiction; I have several of her books in my library.

Tell us about your writing process. Is it very structured? Do you have a favorite place to sit and write, or a favorite food or drink while writing?

EG: Most books begin with one magical idea or moment. It might be something I experienced or it could be a song lyric. Something that sparks my imagination. From there it’s a matter of letting the voices in my head get louder until the plot begins to form. I find that going running or working out helps my creative process immensely. I love red wine and French fries when I write. My critique group and I have several restaurants and coffee shops we frequent to work, but I also enjoy writing at home.

PW: How long does it take you to write a book? How do you know a manuscript is ready to send out to agents and publishers?

EG: It varies from book to book. While Dragon is my first to be published, I have three others and two in process. My first took me twenty-two years (on and off) while The Dragon in The Garden took about a year, maybe a little less. My latest, Galliano Grays, has taken over a year, but mostly because life has been so hectic.

As to when to begin sending it out? That’s the hardest part. You think it’s ready, but it’s not. The polishing part, when you are dying to introduce the world to your new baby, is rough. I white knuckle it these days and wait until I get the green light from my critique partners—they know best!

PW: How did you get the publisher for this book? How long did it take, and how many queries or submissions did you send out?

EG: I finished Dragon in 2012 and it was published in 2016. Not a quick process. I initially tried the traditional query process. I had many requests for materials, even a revise and resubmit from the agent of my dreams. The feedback was always the same, “This is good. I just don’t know where I’d sell it.”

Last summer I participated in a Twitter contest. Put one line plugging your manuscript. Agents and editors of small presses would be watching at a certain time. Mine was, “What’s worse than battling fallen angels, demons, and hags? Your ex making cow eyes at you in the middle of it all.” I received three requests from small presses and contracts from two. On the advice of the agent of the dreams I mentioned above, I signed with Tirgearr Publishing in August and it’s been great!

PW: What are you working on now?

EG: I am finishing up a novel called Galliano Grays set in downtown San Jose, California which features a female P.I., Charlie Watts, working a case of a very supernatural manner. I have also begun the sequel to Dragon. It’s called The Gryphon in The Tree.

PW: Where do you see yourself in five years?

EG: Hopefully still writing, still running, and still married to my adorable husband, Eric.

PW: I like to end my interviews with a little about the author in general. Favorite quote or inspirational saying:

EG: “Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost” -J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

PW: Favorite color:

EG: Periwinkle

PW: Favorite TV show:

EG: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Doctor Who, and The Big Bang Theory (sorry, couldn’t pick just one)

PW: Favorite movie:

EG: The Princess Bride

PW: Someone (living, dead or fictional) you’d like to meet:

EG: The late, great Ronnie James Dio

PW: And last but certainly not least, where can we find you and your book?TheDragoninTheGardenbyErikaGardner-500

EG: I’m available on all the eFormats. I’m including the link to my publisher which will lead readers to the format of their choice. Thanks so much for checking out The Dragon in The Garden!

http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Gardner_Erika/the-dragon-in-the-garden.htm

Erika is a sixth generation San Franciscan of Irish descent. She attended the University of California at Davis and completed degrees in Medieval History and Biological Sciences. A lifelong lover of books and a scribbler of many tales from a young age (her first story was completed at age five) she turned to writing full-time in 2011.

Erika resides in Northern California with her incredibly hot husband, their three amazing kids, and their chocolate Labrador named Selkie. To reach Erika regarding her books, wine recommendations, or to debate which Iron Maiden album is the best (clearly, it’s Brave New World), you can find her online at www.erikagardner.com.

Author Interview: Misha Gerrick

I’m very excited to have author Misha Gerrick as a guest today, kicking off a new author interview series on my site!

PepperWords: Easy stuff first: Who are you and what should we know about you? Where are you from, etc.?

Misha Gerrick: My name really is Misha, but my surname (Gerrick) is a pseudonym based on how people pronounce my real name (Gericke) when they pronounce it wrong. I live near Cape Town, South Africa.

PW: Okay, so that begs the question: How do you correctly pronounce Gericke? (I totally sympathize given my own last name gets twisted a million different ways.)

MG: I think German people will argue that I’m pronouncing it wrong too, but I think the pronunciation changed in South Africa over two or three hundred years. Gear-uh-kuh is probably the closest an English speaker’s going to get. Afrikaans (my mother tongue) has a hard r (like Spanish) and a guttural g which is pronounced the way the Dutch pronounce their ch sound. (And if you haven’t heard that, I have NO idea about how to explain it. :-D)

PW: I have a friend from the Netherlands, and now I’m itching to go ask her! Now, tell us a bit about your writing history. Have you been doing it long?

MG: I’ve been writing since I was thirteen. Although, I’ve been creating stories long before that. I’m now twenty-seven, which means I’ve been a writer for longer than I’ve not been a writer.

PW: In Hollywood we write log lines for scripts—one sentence that sums up the story, a bit like the write up in TV Guide. For example, the log line for Back to the Future might read: “A teenager gets sent back to 1955 where he must contrive to get his parents to fall in love else risk never being born.” What would the log line for your book be?

MG: An immortal woman wakes up in hospital suffering from retrograde amnesia, which is a problem because her doctor might want to kill her.

PW: Sounds compelling! What sparked the idea?

MG: This story is the fourth idea I ever had, actually. I kept thinking about an amnesiac immortal as a concept, but it took me about four years before I had my ah-hah moment that made it all came together. (Ironically, during a completely unrelated Assassins Creed playing marathon weekend with my friend.)

PW: What are some of your favorite books?

MG: The one I’m reading. Followed closely by the one I’ll be reading next. (I read really widely, so picking faves will take a few weeks.)

PW: A very diplomatic answer. But it’s true that there are always new favorites lying ahead, I think. How about this: What are you currently reading? What’s on your TBR list?

MG: Right now I’m reading Roughing It by Mark Twain. Next up will probably be a few chapters of Les Trois Mousquetaires (The Three Musketeers) so I can brush up on my French.

PW: Classics! Tell us about your writing process. Is it very structured? Do you have a favorite place to sit and write, or a favorite food or drink while writing?

MG: When I have a new idea, I put together a music playlist that reflects the feeling the story gives me. Then I pick a notebook (I collect them) and use a pen I reserve only for fiction writing to draft out the idea by hand.Once I’m done with that, I work on something else before rereading the draft and planning the outline for the rewrite to my computer.

I like sitting on my bed and writing, followed by a restaurant.

Favorite drink is water. I try and drink two glasses before I start writing because it helps me clear my mind.

PW: No caffeine?! I think that’s unheard of in writer history! How long does it take you to write a book (without caffeine)?

MG: Depends. My current record for a rough draft is eight days. My epic fantasy rough drafts tend to take me between three and four months to rough draft. I rewrote Endless in a bit more than two weeks. Epic fantasy… again, three or four months.

PW: That’s serious output. Maybe I should switch to water, too.

You self-publish. Are you happy with the way self-publishing has worked for you? What do you like about it? Would you recommend it to other authors?

MG: Happy? Yes. So far I’m pretty pleased with how it’s going. I like the fact that I can decide when I’ll publish, what price I’ll be publishing at and how I want the book to look. It takes up a large chunk of time, though, so I recommend it to authors who don’t mind getting involved in the business end. (As supposed to authors who only want to write.)

PW: Having done both myself, I agree that the control of self-publishing is nice. And you’re right; it’s time consuming. Formatting etc. takes a lot of patience. You need to know what you’re doing or have lots of help (freelance cover artists, editors, etc.)

What are you working on now?

MG: Right now, I’m working on the third book in my epic fantasy series, the rewrite to the record rough draft I mentioned, a dystopian, a historical romance and the sequel to Endless.

PW: That’s, like, five projects! Do you dedicate specific time to each one, or is it more whatever you’re feeling like playing with that day?

MG: It’s sort of a combination of both. I have a priority list for every single book I have pipe-lined at any given moment. The top priority book gets the most attention. Followed by the second priority book etc. But sometimes if I get stuck on the higher priority books (or for some reason I just don’t “feel” them on the day) I move down the list until I find something I can work on.

I find it’s a better system for me, because when I used to only work on one project, I would do nothing for the whole time I was stuck on it. Now I almost never have down time.

PW: Sounds smart. I know when I get stuck, I just sit there like a lump. I should probably have some other small projects to tinker with when that happens. Any other advice for young writers, or writers who are only just starting out?

MG: Write what you enjoy writing. Don’t chase money.

PW: Where do you see yourself in five years?

MG: I’m building myself a steady-flow of income over the next five years, which will hopefully allow me to have the option of writing full time.

PW: That’s right, your blog is called The Five Year Project!

Now a little about you in general. Favorite quote or inspirational saying:

MG: If the voices in your head tell you you can’t paint, then by all means paint and the voices will be silenced. Vincent van Gogh said that, or some version of it. I remind myself of it when doubts and insecurities start whispering in my ear when I should be writing.

>PW: Favorite color:

MG: Lavender

PW: Favorite TV show:

MG: Right now… Masterchef Australia. Actually, it’s literally the only thing that falls in a time-slot on tv where I can spend time watching it. The rest of my time basically gets split between work, writing and (when I manage to squeeze it in) reading.

PW: Favorite movie:

MG: Tombstone, The Untouchables, The Man in the Iron Mask (which I prefer to the book) and Inception

PW: Someone (living, dead, or fictional) you’d like to meet:

MG: Oscar Wilde

PW: And last but certainly not least, where can we find you and your book?

MG: Endless is on pre-order at Amazon, Createspace, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, Scribd, Book Depository

Thank you, Misha Gerrick, for being such a good sport!

Note: This interview discusses Misha Gerrick’s book Endless, but I’ve linked above to her Amazon author page so you can browse all her titles.

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Want to be featured in my author interviews? Send an email to the contact info at the top of the blog!

Once more into the breach . . .

Sick of me yet?

If not, I have one more post to share with you. Misha Gericke interviewed me for her site The Five Year Project. I delve a bit more into my writing process and talk about how great it is to have a critique group.

Finally, if you haven’t bought and read The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller yet, I hope you’ll go take a look. The publisher has an excerpt up and all the buying links here.

Happy Fire Monkey!

Today is Chinese New Year, and we’re kicking off the Year of the Fire Monkey. I’m wearing some red today for good luck. I’m also excited to be hosted by author Christy Nicholas on her site. Go read the interview! It’s short so won’t take long, and I’ll tell you (among other things) how The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller got its name. Afterward, be sure to go pick up a copy of the book. If you already have it and have read it, please consider leaving a review on Amazon, Goodreads, and other sites! Thanks for being readers!

I Wrote a Book!

I’ve written a few, actually, and you can hear about it on the “She Wrote a Book” podcast. It gets off to a somewhat rocky start, but after the first couple questions, the interview starts to flow. Click here to listen.

And apologies to my publisher Tirgearr, whose name I mispronounced during the podcast. It’s “teer gar,” rhymes with “beer bar.” Will get it right next time!

IWSG: ALL THE THINGS!

(You can visit other Insecure Writers by clicking on the IWSG link on the sidebar.)

What am I insecure about these days? A lot of things! Peter is due out in a few short months, and so of course I’m worried about reviews and how well it will do. I’m also worried about being able to write a sequel. I’ve dabbled with it a bit, have a couple pages written and a vague notion of the plot, but it’s all still very amorphous, like a cloud with no clear shape.

I’m insecure about finding a place for Changers, and about writing more Sherlock Holmes stories. Can I keep three series going? (The Holmes stories, the Peter Stoller series, and the Changers series?)

And I’m insecure about how I will come off in a recent podcast interview I did. Like, I’m excited for having done it and simultaneously worried I’ll sound like an idiot or a nut job or something. Sigh.

The more I have going on, the more paralyzed I begin to feel. It means I have to be (gasp!) disciplined and have to (double gasp!) prioritize. I never had any trouble with it when I worked in publishing because we had set deadlines. But when you’re working for yourself, unless you have a publisher breathing fire on your neck . . . And if you do, never complain about it—you’re lucky.

I know I’m capable. I can do it. I just need to organize myself. And some encouragement wouldn’t hurt either. I heard from a reader this week, and it was just lovely that she took the time to say she’s been enjoying my Sherlock Holmes stories. Stuff like that makes me want to keep going, even when I’m feeling insecure and stuck.