Friday, August 30, 2013

Blog Ring of Power Presents: Michelle Hauck

It is that time of week again. All the woes of the week can now melt away. Let's have some Blog Ring of Power time, then some chocolate!

hauck_authorpicWelcome to MICHELLE HAUCK, this week’s Blog Ring of Power guest. She's an AQC buddy of mine! Michelle lives in the bustling metropolis of Northern Indiana with her hubby and two teenagers. Two papillons help balance out the teenage drama. Besides working with special needs children by day, she writes all sorts of fantasy, giving her imagination free range. A book worm, she passes up the darker vices in favor of chocolate and looks for any excuse to reward herself. Bio finished? Time for a sweet snack. Her epic fantasy, Kindar’s Cure, is released from Divertir Publishing. A short story, Frost and Fog, will be released in a summer anthology from The Elephant’s Bookshelf Press.
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  • Part 1 @ Terri - Wednesday, August 28
  • Part 2 @ T.W. - Thursday, August 29
  • Part 3 @ Hi - Friday, August 30
  • Part 4 @ Sandra - Monday, September 2
  • Part 5 @ Vicki - Tuesday, September 3

Section #3: The Creative Process

  1. Where do you get your story ideas?
Like most people, my ideas tend to come from everywhere. I do have a lot of ideas right before I fall asleep. So I keep paper and pencil there just for that reason, though I use the hall light to avoid waking up my husband.

  1. Do you have a specific writing style?
I’ve heard that I have an old-fashioned voice. Someone once compared my writing to an Errol Flynn movie.

  1. How do you deal with writer’s block?
I take a walk or clean house. I never have writer’s block for long. When it comes along, it usually means something is wrong with my manuscript and needs to be changed.

  1. How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
I don’t use any particular method. I just daydream about them a lot, which leads to a lot of people talking to me and being ignored.

  1. Are you a “plotter” or a “pantser” (do you plan/outline the story ahead of time or write “by the seat of your pants”)?
Panster! All my plotting is done in my head. I usually have a general direction toward which I try and steer the story. The only time I do any on paper plotting is when I write the ending of a complex story. Then I use Word to jot down ideas or threads I need to make sure and complete. I can color code each idea as I either use it or reject it. I find the color coding really works for me. Orange for something I completed. Red for something still to be finished. Green for something I decided against using.

  1. Do you use critique partners or beta readers? Why or why not?
Absolutely. I rely on critique partners. I would be nowhere without them. I used to be afraid to share my work with others, but that soon vanished. Now I fling my chapters to anyone that will read them. Often I don’t even wait for my first rough draft to be finished, but send them off chapter by chapter. My biggest rule for successful writing is to get yourself good CP’s. Don’t try to go it alone.

  1. How much time do you spend on research? What type of research do you do?
As a pantser questions tend to arise as I write. If I have a question about some aspect of falconry, I’ll jump over to the internet and Google it on the spot, instead of coming back to it laer. Other than that, I’ve always been a huge reader which provides me with lots of ideas. I’m also a trivia buff. It’s surprising what you pick up that ends up in a manuscript. 

  1. Is there anything you find particularly challenging to write?
Action scenes! It involves so much description. He moved here and then he moved there. The other characters are doing something in reaction. I find fight scenes hard to invent because it is such a step by step process. On the other side, I love to write dialogue. I’m often holding conversations in my head.

hauck_kindarcoverKINDAR’S CURE: Princess Kindar of Anost dreams of playing the hero and succeeding to her mother’s throne. But dreams are for fools. Reality involves two healthy sisters and a wasting disease of suffocating cough that’s killing her by inches. When her elder sister is murdered, the blame falls on Kindar, putting her head on the chopping block.
A novice wizard, Maladonis Bin, approaches with a vision—a cure in a barren land of volcanic fumes. As choices go, a charming bootlicker that trips over his own feet isn’t the best option, but beggars can’t be choosers. As Mal urges her toward a cure that will prove his visions, suddenly, an ally turns traitor, delivering Kindar to a rebel army, who have their own plans for a sickly princess.
With the killer poised to strike again, the rebels bearing down, and the country falling apart, she must weigh her personal hunt for a cure against saving her people.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Blog Ring of Power Presents: Lauren Jankowski

Grand CanyonWelcome to this week’s Blog Ring of Power guest, LAUREN JANKOWSKI. Lauren has been an avid reader for most of her life. She holds a B.A. in Women and Genders Studies from Beloit College. Aside from fiction, she has also dabbled in non-fiction, writing for sites like “The Next Family” and “Planet Fury.” She keeps a blog at Blogspot entitled “The Life and Times of a Writer.” She has been writing fiction since high school, when she noticed a lack of strong women in the popular genre books. When she’s not writing or researching, she enjoys reading (particularly anything relating to ancient myths) or playing with her dogs. She also participates in activism for asexual visibility and feminist causes. Her debut novel was Sere from the Green, the first volume in The Shape Shifter Chronicles. 
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Don’t miss the rest of Lauren’s interview:
  • Part 1 @ Sandra – Monday, August 19
  • Part 2 @ Vicki – Tuesday, August 20
  • Part 3 @ Terri – Wednesday, August 21
  • Part 4 @ T.W. - Thursday, August 22
  • Part 5 @ Emily – Friday, August 23

Section #5: Words of Wisdom

Tell us about your route to success – how/when did you decide to self-publish? Did you query an agent first? How did you handle the editing, proofreading, cover design, etc.

For more than five years, I was querying agents and publishers.  All I got in return was form rejections and occasionally some extremely sexist rejections (I was too feminine to write serious fantasy, I should write YA romance fiction, and the wonderfully clueless, “Can’t you stick a vampire in there”).  After getting rejected from a press for not being feminist enough, I got fed up and looked into self-publishing.  For all its drawbacks, I liked the idea of having complete creative control over my work.  Since no one else was going to give me a chance, I decided I had to do it myself.

I lucked out: my brother majored in English and is willing to look over my work for me (editing, proofreading).  If I experience any kind of success, a great part of it will be thanks to his sharp eyes.  For my first novel, I didn’t have any money (still don’t) so I had to take advantage of the free cover designer.  After getting ripped apart for this, my brother graciously designed the cover for my second novel.  I feel it makes my novel pop a bit more.

What are the most important elements of good writing? 

Passion, without a doubt is the most important element of good writing.  You have to love what you do because writing is not fun.  At all.  Writing the story is the easy part and even that comes with its fair share of frustration.  However, when you start rewriting your story, you really start to hate it.  And stories have to be rewritten at least three separate times.  If you just write a story once, you’re doing something wrong.  By the time I’ve completed a novel, words can’t even describe how much I hate it.  I’m proud of what I accomplished, but I don’t want to read it again.  When you read through and rewrite a story four separate times, trust me, you get tired of it.  Like most art, writing isn’t something one necessarily wants to do.  It’s something you have to do.  For me, writing isn’t a choice any more than breathing is.

Art is another important element of good writing.  Writing is an art.  It needs to be vivid and full of life.  Your words should jump off the page, grab ahold of the reader, and never let go.  You need to paint pictures using only words and it’s not easy.  Writing needs to stimulate the imagination and provide the reader with a picture they can easily see.  There has to be a point and purpose to your writing, which you must be in complete control of.

What tools are must-haves for writers?

You have to have a firm grasp of all the technical aspects of writing.  Grammar, sentence structure, plotting, characterization, these are tools you need to be able to wield like a pro.  You need to work on them constantly, to the point of being obsessive about them.  You should know why you used every single word in your manuscript, no matter what genre you write in.  The technical parts of writing are the tools a writer uses and therefore must be a master in.

A writer needs to come off as an expert in everything.  For example, if a character is an astrophysist, the writer doesn’t have to be one, but s/he needs to know at least enough basic information so the character is believable.  Trust me, this is nowhere near as easy as it sounds.  Writers have to know a little bit about everything and this requires a ton of research, which sometimes isn’t fun (it can often be dull or confusing, but you have to work through that).

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Writing is something you have to do.  It is something you live and breathe.  You are going to sacrifice so much more than you are willing to.  Be prepared to live on the edge of poverty for a good amount of your life (especially if you’re in the states.  You’re probably going to have to sacrifice things like health insurance, which really sucks).  Writing is not something you do to get rich.  It is not glamorous.  It is hard and exhausting work, often times thankless and always incredibly lonely.  There are going to be times when you’ll be the only one who believes in yourself.  However, if you’re a true writer, none of this will matter.  Because writing is in your blood and bones.  The work needs to be its own reward, first and foremost, no matter how many or how few readers read it.

Also, a couple small requests:

*Please don’t get into writing because you want to be a movie star.  If you want to write a movie, become a screenwriter.  I swear, so many modern novels I read feel as if they were written solely to be adapted for the big screen.  It is my biggest pet peeve.  A novel should be a novel.  You should write it because you are a novelist and enjoy reading/writing novels.  Not because you want to be the next Stephanie Meyer (don’t even get me started on her).

*For the love of all things, don’t sell out! Don’t write what publishers want to read just to “get a foot in the door”.  You have no idea how much harder this makes things for other women writers.  This isn’t to say ignore good constructive criticism, but be aware of what you want your work to look like and what you want it to say.  Your story should be unique, not a carbon copy of someone else’s work.

What do you feel is the key to your success?

As I've mentioned before, I write because it’s something I absolutely have to do.  I’m also too stubborn for my own good.  I don’t back down from things I’m truly passionate about and I’m most passionate about the art of writing.  I have dedicated my life to my work and I am determined to be successful.  I’m not fearless, but I know how to work in spite of being scared or anxious (writing can provide catharsis as well).  I follow the example of indie artists like the Soska sisters, who worked even when poor (their parents mortgaged their house so they could make “American Mary”, which was a superb feminist horror film).

I don’t fear obscurity.  The only thing that I’m scared of is not writing.  There are so many stories in my head that need to be committed to paper.  Some of them are missing parts (beginnings, endings, etc.), but they still need to be written down.  I also have unwavering belief in my stories.  I’m a good writer (not a great one, but I work towards that every day, even though I’ll probably never get there) and I’m proud of my work.  More than that, I’m proud to be a genre feminist and I’m proud of who I am.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I think readers would agree fantasy needs more women’s voices.  More women need to be shown strong empowered women.  Fantasy is rife with damsels in distress.  It’s time to stand up and say that trope is bullshit.  There are women of all shapes and sizes and colors and orientations out there and we are strong.  We can rescue ourselves.  It’s about damn time all genres of writing reflected that.

Also, I want to say thank you to my readers.  Thank you for helping me achieve my dream.  Thank you for being the amazing people you are.  You really make a significant difference in this indie genre feminist writer’s life and I could not be more grateful.  I hope to see some of you at the conventions I’ll be at.

What are your current / future project(s)?

My next task is whipping the third novel in the series into shape.  From the Ashes is one of the best stories I’ve written to date and I’m so proud of it (I’m anxious to release it).  However, it still needs some work before it’s ready for sale.

I’ve also been working on a fairly ambitious project off and on (it’s great to have when I’m too tired to rewrite).  I’m writing a complete history of the Meadows, which is the home of the guardians.  Through it, readers will learn the history of shape shifters and guardians.  It’s incredibly difficult and I can already tell it’s going to take me years to finish.  At the moment, it’s mostly just an outline with some family trees.  It’s probably going to be a collection of tales, which is a style I’ve never written before.  If nothing else, it will be a valuable learning experience.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I hope I don’t sound like I’m on a soapbox, but there are many –isms still apparent in writing. However, the one no one seems willing to comment on is classism (or the discrimination of those from lower socioeconomic statuses). I have noticed a disturbing trend among writers of being dismissive towards poorer colleagues to the point of not recognizing them as actual writers. When I read articles that state things like “you can’t NOT afford to have a professional X-Y-Z”, I always think, “Really? You want to see how much money I have right now? Don’t tell me what I can afford!” The snide suggestion of some writers that poor people shouldn’t get into writing if they can’t afford it is offensive. This silences the voices of many women, which feminism should be against. It suggests only the rich and privileged should be allowed to be writers.

Many artists started out in abject poverty in the past. To dismiss an individual’s work because they happen to come from a lower socioeconomic class is unconscionable. To shame a writer for not being as well-off as some writers is just awful and the fact that it happens so frequently really disgusts me. I understand writing is a competitive thing, but there is such a thing as being too competitive.

Anyone who has the courage and tenacity and skill to create a well-written story is a writer. Period.

Through Storm and Night Covers OfficalTHROUGH STORM AND NIGHT (THE SHAPE SHIFTER CHRONICLES VOLUME 2): The Meadows is home to the guardians, a race of beings similar to the deities in ancient mythology. They watch over the Earth from their serene lands like the gods on Mount Olympus. For millennia, it has been peaceful. However, in the beginning, there was a great war. A war with Chaos: a war that is still remembered in the legends of guardians and shape shifters. More than five months have passed since Isis, a shape shifter/guardian hybrid and member of the prophesized Four, last saw Coop. The Four are still no closer to finding the Key and their search has yielded nothing but more questions. The sudden and unexpected return of a face from the past, one long believed dead, plunges them even deeper into the mystery of the Key. Meanwhile, a powerful enemy begins toying with them. Who are the strange, scentless men in suits who can move impossibly fast? Who are the strange shape shifters known only as “the glowing-eyes” and what connection do they have to the vanishing bodies? The answers may be found in the stories about the War of the Meadows, but a small oversight in the legends may prove to be the shape shifters’ undoing.
BUY IT NOW: Amazon | Add on Goodreads

Contact Information:
If you have them, we’d love to have your author headshot and/or a picture of the book cover. Please let us know where can your readers stalk you:

Twitter: @Lauren_Jankowsk

Is your book in print, ebook or both?

Both novels (Sere from the Green  and Through Storm and Night) will be available in print and ebook.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Blog Ring of Power Presents: T.J. Loveless

It's Friday!!!

I've got my coffee, my critiques and edits to work on for today.  Now I just need my hug-me jacket.  I've got someone here today that can provide! Everyone jump for joy and pass them around. Don't worry, they come in all colors!

Welcome T.J. Loveless to the Blog Ring of Power.

T.J. can often be found surrounded by the wonderful chaos of life, writing, editing and laughing at the antics of family.

Section #1: About You

BRoP:  When and why did you begin writing?

T.J.  In the fourth grade, we had an assignment to write a one page story. I don’t remember what I wrote, or even the accompanying illustration I turned in. What I do remember is my teacher, Mrs. Hunter, refused to return the story and said I had all the makings of a writer. I dabbled for years. In 2010, my beloved grandmother’s last words were to never give it up, to keep pushing, to be myself and not the person everyone else kept saying I should be. It was then that I realized Nanny was right … and I dived into learning how to write and all of my options as an author.

BRoP:  When did you first consider yourself a professional writer?

T.J.  It wasn’t until I’d finished an MS, edited it, sent to Betas & Critique Partners, revised it yet again … and jumped into the middle of the query process. Then I thought of myself as a professional writer, trying to build a career in publishing.

BRoP:  What books have most influenced your life?

T.J.  Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. She wrote about strength in women, how they could shape their lives, despite going through some of the worst moments in history.

BRoP:  What genre do you write?

T.J. I write mostly in the Spec Fic genre. When my imagination runs, it refuses to remain in this reality at all times. Something must always twist into the story. Like unicorns, dragons, Fairy Godmothers and Murphy.

BRoP: What is your favorite theme/genre to write about?

T.J. I’m stuck in mythology – as in gods/goddesses, and the creatures they surrounded themselves with. It is my favorite, although I read plenty of others.

BRoP: If you couldn't be an author, what would your ideal career be?

T.J. I’d return to genetics, go back to school to finish my Masters, likely go for secondary degrees in history and anthropology. I’d love to study human DNA from millennia ago.

In New Orleans, Louisiana, something with a weird sense of humor is stranding myth in a nonmagical world.

Dr. Tiffany Crews is a renowned psychiatrist, a klutz, Arkansas hillbilly born and bred with her feet firmly rooted in reality. Her two best friends, Janet and Mark, keep life interesting. Add in a duck with Houdini tendencies, and Tiffany leads a wonderfully laughter filled life.

One morning, they find a unicorn in the communal courtyard of their townhouse and life takes a surreal twist. It leads to burning the bacon, along with the kitchen, yet they nevertheless refuse to leave the animal in a possibly bad situation. Until they learn it talks, anything veggie causes rancid flatulence in the form of rainbows, and its grumpy attitude can only be helped by indulging his carnivorous tendencies with Shrimp Po’ Boys.

Drop in Flying Granny, sporting dragonfly wings and really flies, who calls herself The Fairy Godmother, and believes she was summoned to help find their soul mates. Reality takes another twist nobody is prepped for.

The three friends are on the prowl during New Orleans’ infamous Mardi Gras to find where the two myths truly belong. Every attempt to find the truth leads to hijinks and compromising situations for the three friends, and a true appreciation for the unknown. Tiffany needs to find a way for the two myths to fit into reality, and keep her sanity in one piece.

If only it was that easy.

Facebook page:
Goodreads author page:
What format is your book(s) available in (print, e-book, audio book, etc.)?  All books are in eBook at this time

Don't forget to read the other sections of this interview with my fellow hosts

Part 1 @ you are here!- Friday, August 9th

Friday, August 2, 2013

Blog Ring of Power Presents: Jennifer Allis Provost

Everybody dance! Friday is upon us and so is another week with Blog Ring of Power.  Today we are going to have a wicked time with fellow New Englander Jennifer Provost. *waves*
Now let's get this party started. Don't forget to check out the rest of her interview with my buddies and yours:

Part 3 @ You are here!  - Friday, August 2nd

Jennifer Allis Provost is a native New Englander who lives in a sprawling colonial along with her beautiful and precocious twins, a dog, a parrot (maroon bellied conure, to be exact), two cats, and a wonderful husband who never forgets to buy ice cream. As a child, she read anything and everything she could get her hands on, including a set of encyclopedias, but fantasy was always her favorite. She spends her days drinking vast amounts of coffee, arguing with her computer, and avoiding any and all domestic behavior.

Section #3: The Creative Process
  1. Where do you get your story ideas?

JP: Anywhere and everywhere: music boxes, oddly-shaped trees, and burnished copper faucets, to name a few.

  1. How do you deal with writer’s block?

JP:  I normally have a few ideas cooking at once, so I switch to another project when I get stuck on a plot point. I find that after I’ve worked on something else for a while, the original project becomes new and shiny again.

  1. Are you a “plotter” or a “pantser” (do you plan/outline the story ahead of time or write “by the seat of your pants”)?

JP:  I’m a total pantser – I open a blank page and hammer away scenes until I have something usable. The most plotting I do beforehand are character profiles and the climax.

  1. Do you use critique partners or beta readers? Why or why not?

JP: Sometimes, and I’m very picky about them. I only use readers that “get” what I’m working on at the time. For instance, I wouldn't ask someone who only reads cozy mysteries to critique an epic fantasy. Also, I’m unlikely to use the same beta more than once; by using fresh eyes, prior inconsistencies may be brought to light.

  1. How much time do you spend on research? What type of research do you do?

JP: Again, it depends on what I’m working on. For my fantasy series, The Chronicles of Parthalan, I did hardly any research. The world is a complete product of my imagination, with a magic system just as unique. I couldn't very well Google “Aeolmar, First Hunter of Parthalan.”

I’m currently working on a project set in Scotland, and I am researching all things Scottish. I even picked up a “Learn to Speak Scots Gaelic” CD, as well as a few books on Scottish slang. I’m currently looking for a research grant that will let me spend a day or two in Scotland. You just can’t get the proper feel for pub food from a magazine page.

Back cover matter:

Sara had always been careful.

She never spoke of magic, never associated with those suspected of handling magic, never thought of magic, and never, ever, let anyone see her mark. After all, the last thing she wanted was to end up missing, like her father and brother.

Then, a silver elf pushed his way into Sara's dream, and her life became anything but ordinary.

Please let us know where your readers can stalk you:
Twitter: @parthalan