More Stuff!

Read the previous post for all the fun things currently going on, then come back to this one for one more thing to add to the pile. Manifesting Destiny got another lovely review, and it’s paired with a little author interview I did. You can find it on With Love for Books. And remember that a Goodreads giveaway is currently on! Enter to win one of three signed copies of Manifesting Destiny! You can do it right here on my sidebar.

Author Interview: Elizabeth Spencer

Today I’m welcoming Elizabeth Spencer to my blog as part of my ongoing Author Interview series!

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

justice_unending_cover_largeElizabeth Spencer: Hi! I’m Elizabeth Spencer, and I’m a bit of a nerd. A nerd who likes to make stuff. So it’s no surprise that I spend a lot of time writing YA fantasy—but also baking, crocheting, sewing, and pretty much anything else that involves making cool things. (I’m currently working through the entire World of Warcraft cookbook!) I also play a lot of video games, particularly RPGs. I live in New England, but I’m a very new transplant and I haven’t really settled in here yet.

PW: I lived in Massachusetts for 12 years myself. Tell us a bit about your writing history. Have you been doing it long? What inspired you to start writing?

ES: I’ve been writing since I was in grade school, but it took me a long time to muster up the courage to try to publish something. I started writing seriously about nine years ago, and wrote five full-length novels before Justice Unending. Justice was the first book that I really made me stop and think, “Wait. What am I doing? This is good. I could query this.” I’m glad I did!

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

ES: 

Justice Unending is an action-adventure-style YA fantasy with some light steampunk elements to it—so while there are corsets and trains and at least one giant steam-powered laboratory, the story’s main focus is an insular group of bodiless immortals and the conflicts between them and the people they possess.

Justice was the product of this persistent, half-formed idea that haunted me for most of a year, where I wanted to write some kind of fantasy about people marked with tattoo-like symbols on their body that gave them certain magical powers. But that wasn’t an idea as much as it was a magic system, and I had no idea what kind of story should go with it. I was on a long plane ride when it finally all came together—what if these people were possessed by some sort of spirit, and the symbols on their bodies were the marks of whoever was inside them? And, hey! I love Victoriana and steampunk, but I hadn’t actually written anything but high fantasy. So why couldn’t I throw in some corsets and big hats in this one? By the time that plane landed, I had the setting, the main conflict, and most of the main plot points and characters worked out.

PW: Oh my God, I am so in! This book sounds amazing. Okay, 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?

ES: A teenage girl is possessed by the spirit of an ancient assassin who wants to use her body to take down the kingdom—and to right an ancient and terrible crime.

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

ES: Is… is this the time to admit that I don’t watch a lot of movies?

PW: LOL! Fair enough. What are some of your favorite books? Favorite authors?

ES: Ahhh, I can never pick a favorite! The Seraphina books by Rachel Hartman are some of the best YA books I’ve read in the last few years, and Catherynne Valente’s Fairyland books are my new favorite MG series. But Patricia McKillip will probably always be my favorite author, though—I started reading her books when I was very tiny, and read all of her books throughout my teens and early twenties. She’s probably the reason I became so determined to write my own books.

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

ES: I just started on the first Mistborn novel! It’s amazing, and there are tons of them, and I can already tell that this is going to be a series I’m going to be reading for a very long time. I also want to check out Martha Wells’s Ile-Rien books, if only because I have been completely obsessed with her Raksura series, and the next one doesn’t come out until mid-2017.

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?

ES: I’m definitely a plotter! But recently, I’ve found that something halfway between plotting it and winging it seems to work best for me. I go into my first drafts with about four or five major plot points and a lot of world building—I like to have my world, characters, and magic systems figured out in advance. But then I just loosely follow the outline, point my characters toward the next big plot point, and see if I actually end up there. When I hit the end of a writing day I’ll write a quick “mini-outline” of the plot points that feel like they should happen next, and then use that as a guide the next day.

I write in a seldom-used guest room that I’ve crammed a desk into. I’m a bit ritualistic about it—that room is only for writing, and the internet is only for accessing my files and doing research. There are very few distractions in there, except a bunch of warm blankets and a pair of speakers for background music. Alas, while I’d like to say my writing drink is “hot chocolate,” if I make some before I write I’ll forget about it until it’s ice cold. I just wait until I’m done to treat myself now.

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?

ES: I am extremely neurotic about tracking how much I write—I have an Excel spreadsheet that tallies up my totals by day, week, month, and story. So I can say with complete confidence that it takes me 4-5 months to write a first draft, about two to do the first edit, and however many more months it takes to drum up some beta readers and work through their changes. Thus far I average about a year to a year-and-a-half from starting to being query-ready.

Justice was a bit of a mess, though. I started querying it before it was ready and had to stop, get some new betas, and rewrite some of the story before I tried again. The first version I queried was only proofed by me and my beta friend who reads everything I do. And while they’re a fantastic reader, I needed the cold, hard, dispassionate gaze of a perfect stranger to figure out which things really weren’t working. After getting three new betas and rewriting the first fourth of the story, Justice was finally ready to go. That took nearly two years. Goodness!

PW: I’m a slow writer myself, which agonizes me since so many people say you should put out several books a year. How did you get the publisher for this book? How long did it take, and how many queries or submissions did you send out?

ES: I queried 30ish agents, stopped, then rewrote. Then I queried 93 agents over the span of (again—crazy detailed Excel spreadsheet here) 10 months. That resulted in 5 full requests and 1 partial, but no one ultimately offered me representation. And while that was very disappointing, I knew by the end of it that I probably had something special if I was getting this much interest.

I later submitted it to nine publishers and got two full requests and two contract offers. That took another 10 months—although most of that time was spent trying to get my first contract offer to work out, and then having to hunt down and negotiate a second one. But this is my first published novel. Now that I know the ropes, I hope the next ones will go faster!

PW: I’ve had similar experiences in querying and submitting. It does (usually) go faster once you get the hang of it. That said, never a good idea to rush it, right? What are you working on now?

ES: A YA high fantasy about an impenetrable fortress in the middle of the ocean that is said to be home of the gods—until a ship full of starving and half-dead children crash-land on the shore, bearing a curse that’s slowly killing them. I’m about 85K into it and am hoping to be done with the first draft by the end of the month.

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

ES: Start a writing habit. Don’t worry about being good. Don’t worry about publishing or getting an agent. Worry about establishing a habit where you write on a schedule—whether it’s every day, 3 times a week, or whatever makes sense for your schedule. Then learn how to finish projects reliably and on a decent timeline. It took me wayyyyy too long to learn that it didn’t matter how good my writing was or how interesting my ideas were if I was unable to finish a first draft in a reasonable amount of time—or if I never did at all.

PW: Where do you see yourself in five years?

ES: I’m hoping I’ll get an agent sometime in the next five years. Fingers crossed! But even if I don’t, I intend to keep publishing books. It took me a long time to decide to publish something. Now I need to get my butt in gear and actually start building a library!

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

ES: I’ve always been fond of “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

PW: I’ve never heard that one, but I really relate.

Favorite color:

ES: Plum-colored purple!

PW: Favorite TV show:

ES: Is this a bad time to say I don’t really watch TV, either? Uh. Can I do my favorite video game?! I’m a diehard fan of the Castlevania series (before they rebooted it with the Lords of Shadow spinoff), and while Symphony of the Night is probably the best game in the series, my favorite story (and cast of characters) will always be Aria of Sorrow.

PW: Works for me! (I know nothing about video games except what my kids and husband try to explain to me.)

Favorite movie:

ES: I’m not sure I have one! I’ve enjoyed a bunch, but claiming a “favorite” seems like a pretty big burden. And I’m not sure I’m ready to make that sort of commitment.

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

ES: It’d be so lovely to have a chance to talk to Tolkien about how he came up with his ideas and built his worlds. World building and linguistics fascinate me!

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

ES: My website is at elizabeth-spencer.net, and you can find Justice Unending on Amazon and the Evernight Teen website!

Blurb

Within the walls of the Bastion, it’s an honor to become a host for an Unending—the bodiless, immortal spirits who rule the country.

But for Faye, it meant her sister would have to die.

When Faye sneaks into the Mother Duchess’s manor, she just wanted to see her sister one last time. Instead, Faye finds a manor in chaos, a murdered man, and an Unending assassin named Aris who needs a new body—Faye’s body—to bring the Bastion to its knees.

Now Faye’s harboring the Bastion’s most wanted criminal. And if she wants to live, she’ll have to escape the Duchess and her immortals, all while keeping Aris from harming anyone else.

There’s just one problem—Aris is not the villain. And now Faye is the only one who can help her stop the Duchess before anyone else—and especially Faye—has to die for the Unendings’ whims.

Excerpt

Trays rattled. A half dozen women gasped. Justine was on her knees and forearms, her head inches away from the tiles. Her fingers clawed at the grout.

It happened so quickly Faye was left standing with her hand in the air. She dropped to her knees and put an arm gently on her sister’s back, her voice shaking so hard she had to force herself not to yell, “Why didn’t you say you felt this bad?”

“I—” Justine croaked. She clenched her eyelids shut, clamped her arms against her chest, and bent over herself, folding her body into a tight ball of pain.

The maids crushed around them. Olivia crowded up behind Faye, sounding worried. “We’ll have to carry her to her room. Two or three of us can do it. Faye, tell your father—”

“No,” Justine whispered. “No.”

Faye watched Justine’s back rise and fall with every unsteady breath. “Oh. Oh. Me? You want me.”

“What?” Faye asked.

“I can’t… I’m sorry. Please, one moment… I…”

“Justine?”

Justine didn’t answer. Slowly, unsteadily, she pushed herself up to her knees. She was still shaking as she pulled her arms away from the curve of her stomach, lifted them, and showed their backs to her sister.

Thin black sigils ran all the way down her arms, spiraling and looping from her knuckles to her elbows. They looked like stylized flames.

Those were the sigils of an Unending.

Faye stiffened. The maids sucked in a collective gasp of surprise. Only Olivia managed to croak, “Whose are they?”

Justine stared at her own hands like they belonged to someone else and cocked her head to the side, as if listening to a voice only she could hear. “Belisama.” She paused a moment, dreamlike. “The Mother’s guard? I would imagine that she’d choose someone big, someone strong, someone who can…” She fluttered her eyes weakly, and it sent tears sliding down her cheeks. “I am admirably responsible? Duty? Is that enough?”

Faye wished Justine would stop talking. Her sister did not ramble. Her sister was proper and well spoken, and this … this was terribly, desperately wrong. Faye stared at the sigils as her stomach shuddered like a pot in rolling boil.

Justine pulled herself away from Faye as she rose to her feet. Olivia offered her a shoulder, and Justine leaned against it before she tried to speak again. “We need to send a message to the Mother Duchess. I’ll have to go there, talk with her, be Fixed.” Her eyes widened, as if she only then realized what she was saying. “I have to tell Mother and Father. I have to get my things in order. I have to make sure the maids know what to do. I…”

No one said anything, even as Justine trailed off into silence. The maids looked at her achingly. Olivia shot Faye a concerned glance, then gently took Justine by the arm. “Come, miss. Let’s tell your parents the news.”

Faye tried to breathe and choked on a sob. No one seemed to notice. The maids stepped around her, their skirts rustling against the tiles as they followed into the hall, leaving the half-finished dinner still bubbling and popping on the stoves.

Faye couldn’t move. She was trembling, she realized, trembling so hard her fingers were numb. Her brain looped wildly, madly, hysterically through a pair of awful, unbearable thoughts.

Her sister had been chosen by an Unending. Her sister was going to die.

Buy Links:

Evernight Teen:

http://www.evernightteen.com/justice-unending-by-elizabeth-spencer/

Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MD2BSZT

About the Author:

Elizabeth Spencer is a YA fantasy author who writes action-packed adventures about magic, mystery, and very brave women. She also writes steampunk, although that’s mostly because she really, really loves big hats. Her first novel, Justice Unending, was released by Evernight Teen in November 2016. She otherwise has a very normal job as a professional editor and project manager. She lives in New England with her husband and an extremely fluffy cat.

Author Interview: Sarai Henderson

Today I’m welcoming Sarai Henderson to my blog as part of my ongoing Author Interview series!

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

hunter-evernightpublishing-2016-ebookSarai Henderson: My name is Sarai Henderson. I live in Oregon, in a small town south of Portland. I’m the mother of three young boys who keep me busy and the author of HUNTER, a YA urban fantasy/paranomral about bounty hunter telepaths who work for a ruthless telepath faction.

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

SH: My writing started after my ballet career suddenly ended when I was 18. I had always enjoyed writing when I was young, but didn’t truly come to life until that was all that was left. I wrote my first novel in my early twenties (House of Chaos) but didn’t publish it until this year, 2016. After I had my third son, I decided to write Hunter, my most recent novel and my first to be published. It took me a year of lunch breaks from work and a Twitter pitch party to land my publisher, Evernight Teen.

PW: ET is the publisher of my YA novel Manifesting Destiny! What about this book? What sparked it? What genre is it, and what draws you to that particular genre?

SH: Hunter is a YA urban fantasy/paranormal. I love urban fantasy because I can describe the world around me, so people can see what I love and hate about places I’ve been. In Hunter, I describe how the rain falls here in the NW. Its something I actually love, but I let my main character in the book loathe it. I wanted her to portray misery in that moment and the rain really helps with that (even though it truly is a beautiful thing).

PW: Nice use of imagery and symbolism. 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?

SH: Sixteen-year-old Hunter is stuck between her telepath world and the strong arm of the government where she must choose between trust and loyalty.

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

SH: I’ve always loved Emma Stone and her big eyes. She would be a perfect Hunter and I think I would make Chris Pratt Seeker. He has the big brother kind of vibe that Seeker is known for.

PW: I love Chris Pratt, would watch him in just about anything.

What are some of your favorite books? Favorite authors?

SH: I’m a huge fan of Garth Nix and his Old Kingdom series. He was what drew me to epic fantasy, magic and the paranormal. Everything he writes is unique and creative. He is my favorite author.

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

SH: I’m reading Allegient right now, finishing up the series before I see the last movie. I’m also working through the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. I’ve been reading those books for 10 years now and I’m only on Book 4. That’s some deep stuff.

PW: I read the first couple Wheel of Time books but felt overwhelmed, not up to the task. I think it takes a special kind of person to be able to read something so densely, lushly written. I stand in awe of Jordan’s world building, and in awe of you for attempting to read it!

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?

SH: My process is pretty much word vomit. I sit in my car on my lunch break from work and write until my hand cramps. I can usually come up with a pretty good plot in my first draft that needs some small tweaking in the next draft. Its worked for me so far.

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?

SH: My first draft takes me about a month and a half, but the following drafts can take me another six months or so. I usually consider a novel done when I can’t stand reading it any longer.

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?

SH: This book was unusual when it came to the submission process. I finished it just in time to participate in Pit2Pub, a Twitter pitch party by Kristin D. Van Risseghem. My first 40-character pitch received eight requests, one of them happened to be my current publisher, Evernight Teen. I was researching all the publishers that had shown interest in my novel when I got a message on Twitter from Evernight Teen saying that they were really interested in my novel and how much they wanted me to submit to them, so I did. They were the second query I made with this new manuscript. A few months later, Hunter was published.

PW: I had a similar experience with Manifesting Destiny. What are you working on now?

SH: Right now, I’m working on the sequel to Hunter called Seeker. It’s going to be telepaths against telepaths with a new threat and blast from Hunter’s past. Who knows what will happen? Well, I guess I do 🙂

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

SH: Don’t give up. I spent several years trying to publish my first manuscript and only two tries to publish my second. Anything can happen. You never know.

PW: Good advice. Seems like if the first book doesn’t sell, write something else and try again.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

SH: I dream big and want to have my Hunter series turned into a movie, but in reality, I think I’ll have my current series done and started on another. Hopefully, a little better known than I am now.

PW: I’ve been trying to get one of my novels turned into a movie for over three years now, but the industry is a tough nut to crack. Good luck with your work!

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

SH: My favorite quote is from the movie ThorL “You want me to put down the hammer?” I use it for everything. “You want me to put down the tuna sandwich… Laundry… Three-year-old child.” It works for everything….

PW: Ha! Love it! Favorite color:

SH: Orange!

PW: Favorite TV show:

SH: The Walking Dead

PW: Favorite movie:

SH: Fifth Element… Lelu Dallas, multi pass.

PW: Oh my God, we say that around our house all the time! Okay, someone (living, dead, or fictional) you’d like to meet:

SH: My favorite Chrises: Pratt, Evans, Hemsworth, Pine.

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

SH:
http://www.exballerina.com/
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7708229.Sarai_Henderson
https://www.amazon.com/Sarai-Henderson/e/B01H7MFNUA/
https://twitter.com/shendersonbooks
https://www.facebook.com/authorSarai/
https://www.pinterest.com/udjb1984/
https://www.instagram.com/exballerina/?hl=en

Blurb

Sixteen-year-old Hunter belongs to the Telepathic Alliance for the Latent or Newly manifested, otherwise known as Talon, a bounty hunter community known for their ruthless tactics. Her latest mission in San Diego was supposed to be a piece of cake, but when the job takes a treacherous and deadly turn, not even her telepathic abilities could have warned her of the dangers lurking around the corner.

There is only one place for Hunter to go, and that is straight into the hands of the government and their Psychic Intelligence Team, but even the “Normal” world isn’t safe. With each passing hour throwing her deeper into the game of life and death, Hunter must decide who to trust before this mission becomes her last.

Buy Links:

http://www.evernightteen.com/hunter-by-sarai-henderson/

https://www.amazon.com/Hunter-Sarai-Henderson-ebook/dp/B01I4MKWRG/

saraihendersonAbout the Author:

Sarai Henderson is a retired ballerina from Oregon City, Oregon, where she spends most her time chasing down her three rambunctious boys and writing on her lunch break at work. She enjoys DIY projects, Photography and writing on her blog about life as a mother of an autistic son. Find her online at www.exballerina.com or on Twitter @Shendersonbooks.

Author Interview: Stacey Bryan

#6 in my author interview series. If you’d like to participate, please send me an email at the Contact link at the top of this page.

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

Stace Bryan: I was born in San Francisco but raised from age 6 in the San Fernando Valley. I was extremely embarrassed when Valley Girl came out in the ‘80s because I recognized myself in there—at least a little bit. I’m mixed race and was adopted as a one-year-old, and I write about those issues a lot. I was a tomboy and have never grown out of it. I wiped out on my bike in Griffith Park a few years ago and have a nice scar on my left forearm that makes a good conversation starter. I met my husband in Brooklyn when I lived in NYC for several years. He’s also a writer but more of a film guy, and we both love movies.

PW: Already I’m fascinated, and since I also have a film/screenwriting degree, I totally dig that you guys love movies. But I’ll try to stay on topic here. Tell us a bit about your writing history. Have you been doing it long? What inspired you to write?

SB: I don’t remember being inspired, per se. I just remember being alone a lot—my choice—and reading all the time. I loved stories so much, I started to write them myself. I sort of just moved into it as the natural course of being a hermit. I also love the sound of words and love it when words and/or images that don’t ordinarily go together are forced together in a sentence.

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

DayForNightFinalRETAILCover700x1066p96dpiRGBSB: Day for Night is an urban paranormal comedy that I was inspired to write because of all the “serious” vampire/paranormal literature. Not that serious is bad, but I like to laugh. I had to work up the nerve to read “The Lovely Bones” because it’s about a serial killer, a monster which is all too real. In the paranormal, nothing is real. And anything can happen. I also thought all the non-ethnic 25-year-old protagonists in general needed some variety, so my protagonist is an “older” mulatto wannabe actress.

PW: You’re hitting a lot of my sweet spots here. I love stories about actresses and Hollywood. Plus an urban paranormal comedy?! That sounds too awesome to miss.

Speaking of Hollywood, do you have a log line for your book? (A log line is one sentence that sums up the story.)

SB: A 39-to-40-something wannabe actress walks in on an alien abduction taking place in a laundry room and turns to supernatural means and a little Jack Daniel’s in order to fight back.

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

SB: Thandie Newton or Sherri Saum as Rae, the lead character. Raul Bova as Rex, her long-time-and-lots-of-sexual-tension-friend. Luca Calvani as Giancarlo, her date.

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

SB: I’ve read The Descent by Jeff Long three or four times, A Certain Age by Tama Janowitcz three or four times, and all of T.C. Boyle’s short stories three or four times. I love Cormac McCarthy (The Road) and Diana Gabaldon (Outlander).

PW: I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to stomach The Road, though I’ve heard it’s wonderful. How about current reads? Your TBR list?

SB: A hilarious novel called Blood Sucking Fiends by Christopher Moore to counteract the gloom and doom of the novelization of Alien. I’d love to get more of Richard Kadrey’s stuff and I’m always looking for really good time travel romances.

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?

SB: I need to be completely isolated with maybe only instrumental music playing when I’m in the early stages of planning and writing. So that’s the bedroom with the door closed and the soundtrack from The Hours playing in my headphones. Once everything’s laid out or I know where I’m going, I can go to a library or coffee shop with the laptop and not worry about distractions; I’m beyond them at that point. I usually don’t eat or drink while I’m working. Except for potato chips.

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?

SB: I haven’t written that many, but the ones I have completed have taken six months or under. Once I’ve shown it to writing friends and rewritten it to the point where I can’t stand the thought of it anymore, I basically regard it as ready.

PW: 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?

SB: Day for Night is the first novel I’ve attempted to publish, and the road has been long and frustrating for me. I spent over a year querying agents and got two responses back. At some point I found a handful of publishers that accept un-agented manuscripts and began querying them, which is how I found my publisher. I wrote to the self-published author of the Breakers series a few times, and he told me he got so frustrated querying agents, he just gave up and did it himself, and he’s achieved a nice amount of success all on his own!

PW: What are you working on now?

SB: I’m planning the sequels to Day for Night. I was working on the novelization of a sci-fi screenplay (which is why I’m reading the Alien novelization; to see how Alan Dean Foster did his) but I think I have to put that on the back burner for now.

PW: I’ve found it’s good to have something simmering so that if you get stuck on one thing, you’ve got something else to jump to. What advice would you give to young writers, or writers just starting out?

SB: I hate to be a cliché, but try to write every day. And if you can’t write every day, try to do it every other day. And if you can’t do that, do it several times a week. Or at least once a week. Until you can get back to several times a week and then back to every day. I’m saying this because I stopped writing for a long time and then wrote intermittently, and I regret having lost that time. You can never get that time back, so keep writing. I have nothing to say about too many adjectives or get life experiences or write what you know. I say just do it. The rest will fall into place.

PW: Where do you see yourself in five years?

SB: In the best of all possible worlds, living on Maui with my husband, freelance captioning for chump change, and writing for a living.

PW: Sounds divine! Now a little about you in general. Favorite quote or inspirational saying?

SB: When I die, I want to go peacefully like my grandfather did–in his sleep. Not yelling and screaming like the passengers in his car. —Bob Monkhouse.

PW: Favorite color?

SB: Aquamarine!

PW: Oooh! I love that color, too! It figures as the wall color in a number of my novels. Okay, back to business. Favorite TV show?

SB: Man Seeking Woman

PW: Favorite movie?

SB: Your Highness

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

SB: Octavia Butler

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

SB: Please visit me at: https://staceyebryan.wordpress.com/

PW: Thanks so much to Stacey Bryan for taking part in this interview! Go check out her book!

Blurb:
When reality TV star Rae Miller is kicked unceremoniously to the curb by her back-stabbing cast mates, she quickly realizes that revenge fantasies and unemployment are the least of her problems after she witnesses an alien abduction in broad daylight. Worse, after escaping a terrifying almost-abduction herself, Rae succumbs to a sexy Nosferatu’s silky assurances, becoming undead in order to up her alien Ultimate Fighting skills. Life is hard as a 38-to-40-something aspiring actress in L.A. Thank God for Jack Daniel’s and denial.

About the Author:
Stacey was raised in the San Fernando Valley but born in San Francisco, where she left part of her heart. She has worked on a dude ranch, coached gymnastics, and captions for the hearing impaired. Her work has appeared in several literary magazines in New York and L.A., including Ginosko and The Rag. She is currently working on the sequel to her novel Day for Night. She lives in “beautiful downtown Burbank,” as Johnny Carson used to say, with her husband who is also a writer. Visit her at https://staceyebryan.wordpress.com

http://www.vagabondagepress.com
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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: 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!