Author Interview with Mark Harris

I thought this book was kinda neat and appreciate the fact that it was written as a Nanowrimo project.

Mark Harris Fire in the Bones cover.jpg

How do you get inspired to write?

For me the hard part is getting the initial idea. With my novel Fire in the Bones, music, part of a song, sparked it.  Once I have an idea, I’m inspired to pursue it, and I start thinking about characters. Characters drive fiction just like people make things happen in real life. And once the characters start moving, I can’t wait to keep up with them. (:
Where did you get the idea for your most recent book?

Where the story came from—that’s pretty cool. My son had been doing NaNoWriMo—National Novel Writing Month—for a year or two, where you try to draft a novel of 50,000 words in a month.  One November I decided to do it too.  We went to a little café in a bookstore for the first “write-in,” and I had a song in my mind—I’ve always loved popular music, and I’m an auditory person, so music is often floating around in my head—anyway, I had in my mind this song about fire and how it can actually clean or purify things, make them better.  And I started to picture a scene I vaguely remembered about a little boy sitting in a little country church, fanning himself with one of those rectangular picture-fans on a stick that little country churches in the South used to have (maybe they still do).  And the words started to come.  That turned into the first scene/chapter in the book.  The next three or four chapters of the book I based on other early memories or early stories I had heard.  Then as the plot and the characters started to take shape and develop, it became clearer and clearer where to go with the story.
What’s your advice for aspiring writers?

Write about something that you deeply care about and are truly interested in—not what sells the most or what is most popular. That way, no matter what the final outcome for your book, you can still feel good about it, knowing it is honest and true to you and genuine. And that genuineness should also come across to readers, reflecting in the quality of the writing. If you don’t deeply care about what you’re writing, it’s never going to be your best.
What’s the best thing about being a writer?

Not money, not fame.  Sharing something of value with the world, with whoever is willing to take a look—that’s the best thing for me.
How do you deal with writer’s block?

You have to know yourself as a writer.  Writers are not all the same. I could never sit and work on the same thing for hours on end.  I must take frequent breaks, with almost anything.  So that’s how I approach writing.  I do a little, and when I find myself getting stuck, I take a break. A really good piece of advice I’ve heard and I try to apply is to stop writing each day before you finish whatever you’re working on.  Leave yourself something to pick up with tomorrow.  That way you never have to start from scratch the next day, just sitting there starting at a blank screen.
What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on a second novel, which is a sequel to the first. It follows Luke through his high school years, and his pursuit of happiness through three different girls and LOTS of 70’s music, movies, and TV.  I have completed the first draft and am currently in the revising stage.  Working title:  We Are Not Consumed.
What is your book about?

Fire in the Bones is about a boy, Luke, trying to find happiness in middle America, and it’s not so easy.  He faces fears and often feels alone. He’s looking for security, love—something to take the pain away—wherever he can find it, be it God, girls—and eventually, one girl, Lonnie; and popular music—especially the Beatles.
What book/movie/etc. is it comparable to?

I think the book transcends any one book or movie, but you’ll get a good idea by thinking of “Coming of Age meets Classic Rock.” (:
Where can readers go for more?

My website!                   www.markrharris.net    –        It has more on the book, on me, as well as links to my other written works (articles, poems), as well as links to my blog and vlog—half a dozen video installments!

Advertisements

State of Writing

stock-photo-10688046-quill-and-inkwell

Weird… last weeks blog didn’t publish. That’s fine. It wasn’t very good anyway. This week has been better for me. My last rewrite on The Kakos Realm: Grinden Proselyte is within 30 pages of completion #amediting (I really hate rewrites…)

I also got an installment done for my devo John in the John completed. So I’m feeling pretty good about the week as I head into my vacation and disappear from civilization for a while.

Evil Demon Pokemon vs. Our Savior The Donald

beckytrump
Captain Trumpcard: “Fear not good Christians! I shall save your children!”

I promise you I’m not going to get political, but I wanted to share this piece of art my friend Becky Alexander did after a conversation her husband and I had about the insanity that is often Western Evangelicalism and how as a group they tend to create their own heroes and villains from completely arbitrary psuedo-scripture that they invent or write themselves. I say this as a Western Evangelical. Seriously. We’ve got to stick to the script. If those who didn’t like Pokemon Go, Hilary Clinton, or the Scopes Monkey Trial funneled the energy required for that kind of activism into actual Bible Study, missions work, or living out their faith through community service the planet might not be quite as bad off as it appears right now. Anyhow–not bashing on Christians, just encouraging us all to act a little more like it on occasion and stop using that label as an excuse to win an argument.

Anyhow–if you haven’t peeked at the Pokemon Go discussion we had on my Author Facebook Page, then you really ought to go check it out! Give me a follow and consider joining my mailing list.

How to Create Coupon/Discount Codes for Createspace/Indie Boooks

Typesetter

I know I had to do a little research into this for myself when I wanted to offer discounts as an added bonus to friends and readers who subscribed to my mailing list (BTW, you should totally signup here for that: OFFICIAL MAILING LIST)…

Right at the get-go I want to mention that this method does not give you coupons for Amazon.com. It gives you coupons only for the Createspace eStore. Yes. There is a difference. You make more money per sale if a book is purchased directly via Createspace–while Amazon owns CS, they are not the same and have different front-end and back-end systems. That said, Amazon is a middle-man reseller and takes their cut for housing your book on their digital shelves, just like any brick-and-mortar store would. I would suggest creating your own e-book store on your personal author website (don’t have one? Get one! Like, before you finish reading this sentence. You need one.) You can use your own point of sale system and integrate the CS bookstore into it.

The up-side is more money and the ability to grant coupons (even down to the point that you make nothing on a sale if you wish.) The down-side is that it’s not directly Amazon (which shoulders the burden of consumer confidence) and there aren’t options for free shipping.

For the purposes of this post, I will use my Sci-fi novel Dekker’s Dozen: The Last Watchmen, which I’ve just linked to the CS store page. (BTW, if you buy it, you can a 10% discount with this coupon code: GK4AEER4 )

Step One:
Where the heck is your createspace book link? Here it is, (it’s the above linked book, in fact.)

cs1

Step Two:
Go to your Sales Channels page. Make sure that the Createspace eStore is selected as a possible sales channel (it is selected by default). You have limited control to setup how your page looks under the Setup link and you can create coupons under the Discount Codes link. The system is a little clunky (you have to go through a separate setup page to get a code and then go back to enter the code and it’s discount amount–also, you don’t get to pick what the codes are,) but it is a functional system.

CS2

Author Interview: RJ Mirabal

RJ Mirabal face square pix LoRes

Here’s another fantasy author that I know who you might be interested to hear from. He’s got a couple of books available and some new stuff on the way. Check out RJ Mirabal on his website and watch for his new book coming in August.

 


How do you get inspired to write?

Strange as it sounds, once an intriguing story idea gets in my head, I lose control and either I start working on the idea—mentally or in hardcopy—or it keeps popping up like an annoying “mind-worm” whenever my mind drifts. The sane choice is to start writing down the basics. Then more ideas flow as I jot notes, develop the story line, describe characters, establish setting details, etc.

The self-generating inspiration comes from the idea. That, or I eventually forget it and regret the loss.
Where did you get the idea for your most recent book?

RJ Mirabal Zero Visibility Possible FRONT cover FINALZero Visibility Possible, is Book III of my Rio Grande Parallax series, a further development of a short story I wrote thirty years ago. I wanted to write a fantasy story in the general mold of The Lord of Rings but with a twist. Instead of the typical European-style Middle Ages setting, it would take place in the American High Desert, specifically New Mexico where I was raised and still reside. So I created my own sub-genre of Southwestern Contemporary Fantasy.

But as the idea developed I realized that High Magic had been done very well by a multitude of writers, so I have aimed for a low key magic coupled with stronger psychological, romantic, mysterious, and adventurous elements. Later, I developed a main character who starts out as very disturbed and apathetic when he is thrust into this alternative New Mexico where danger and exciting possibilities beckon.

At first, I thought it was good for a 10K short story or two, but so far, it’s spawned three lengthy books with an idea for a prequel of unknown length!
What’s your advice for aspiring writers?

Write. Write every chance you have. Make even each email a work of craft instead of a sloppy mess of incoherence and bad mechanics. Have a short idea? Write a short story. Big idea? Write at least a story line. If you like that, get started on your new novel.

Keep at it and submit often to whatever outlets will publish you whether free Internet sources or commercial publishing. But then that’s a whole other subject that requires careful research and advice. Definitely, I would advise any writer to join a writers group to share ideas, information about publishing, and critique each other’s writing.

Don’t write in isolation.
What’s the best thing about being a writer?

Time and effort is solely your choice. You’re working for yourself and may not get paid, but the satisfaction of creating a world with people, situations, an environment, and rules that are all under your Godlike control can be addictive. If you meet expenses, great! If you make a profit, fantastic (but don’t expect that at first).

The point is you’re in charge of your universe.
How do you deal with writer’s block?

Keep writing something, anything, until substance comes. Sometimes when there are no expectations or a “plan” is when the best stuff emerges. When all else fails, I wait until evening and then lie thinking in bed trying to drop off or when partially awake in the middle of the night or morning. I’ve been pleased and surprised how something “far-out” would hit me and break the block.

My advice, just don’t forget what that flash of inspiration was before you get up!
What is your current book about?

RJ Mirabal The Tower of Il Serrohe NEW FRONT cover Nov 2015As mentioned above, it takes place in New Mexico, specifically the Middle Rio Grande River Valley. There is the present-day “real world” in the town of Rio Luna and an alternative valley called Valle Abajo. In the Valle the terrain is on a monumental scale and life is more primitive and magical. Many clans of the Valle are subjected to terror, murder, and slavery at the hands of a powerful, evil clan called the Soreyes.

My first main character, Don Vargas an alcoholic loser, is lured through a portal to the Valle Abajo. He is asked to assist the simple-minded clans to resist the Soreyes. But his reluctance is even greater than his bad attitude. Once there he learns he is not the first to travel to this alternate existence. He is also not the last as his young cousin, Esther, arrives five years later with a similar mission.

And now here’s my spiel for the new book.

Adventures and conflict develop in Books I and II, finally intensifying in Zero Visibility Possible, Book III. Events move at a breakneck pace to the shocking conclusion of the Parallax series. Impossible odds face two groups of comrades who have traveled far seeking answers to mysteries. The first company heads for the Saddle of the Mountains of the Sky while the second, a hundred miles to the west on the barren Malpais, a vast and ancient lava field, is led by Esther. Both groups face deadly enemies and startling enigmas.

Back in Rio Luna, Esther’s mysterious disappearance confounds her parents and her friend, Markey. In the Valle, though, questions surrounding Don are resolved. Meanwhile, the Soreyes heap new terrors on the clanspeople. Will the travelers return in time? Facing challenges far more insurmountable than bringing down the Tower of Il Serrohe, can the hapless clanspeople dare hope for freedom?
What book/movie/etc. is it comparable to?

Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings compares to my series as well as Stephen R. Donaldson’s The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (also a New Mexico author) with elements of Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless Me Ultima (a coming of age New Mexico novel with strong magical realism elements). There are some features from TV’s Breaking Bad present in my main character, Don Vargas, though Walter White is more extreme than Don Vargas (Yep, takes place in New Mexico, too, though I wrote the first book years before!).

 

What are you working on now?

I’m mulling over a prequel to the current series explaining how this whole alternate world came into being as well as those from whom Don Vargas descended. But I believe I’ll first turn to a more conventional novel based on one of those “out of the blue sky” inspirations that has hounded me lately.

Mum’s the word for now.
Where can readers go for more?

Excerpt from Zero Visibility Possible: “Zero Teaser!”

Website/Blog: RJ Mirabal, Author

Author Pages: Amazon, Goodreads

Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Google +

Buy Links:

The Tower of Il Serrohe, Amazon, Barnes and NobleKobo, Page Foundry/Inktera, Scribd, 24symbols, and from my publisher, Black Rose Writing.

Extreme Dust Storms May Exist (published Summer 2015, see the Dust Storms “teaser”) is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Page Foundry/Inktera, Scribd, 24symbols, and my publisher Black Rose Writing. Of course signed copies of both books can be ordered directly from me, rjmirabal@gmail.com.

Zero Visibility Possible (tentatively scheduled for an August, 2016 release) sources will be announced soon on my web site, though the outlets mentioned above for Books I & II should all be included.

 

Author Interview Caleb Wygal

I know I did a review of Blackbeard’s Lost Treasure several months ago. I thought I’d post a full interview with the author!

Blackbeard's+Lost+Treasure+eimageHow do you get inspired to write?

My inspiration comes from within. Many years ago, I thought to myself, “I know that life is short. How can I leave something that will leave a mark, and possibly be discovered by someone a hundred or a thousand years in the future?”

Writing a book was my answer. Now that I’ve completed a third, half of another, and started a fifth, it’s an addiction. I am driven to complete what I started, and I want to do it in the best possible way.
Where did you get the idea for your most recent book?

I got the idea while I was on vacation in South Carolina. My wife and I watched a show on the History Channel about pirates, and Blackbeard in particular. It struck me that he had been in the same waters three hundred years before.

During that same week, I learned about how the first settler to the island we were on had his plantation destroyed in an attack by unknown pirates.

I asked the question to myself: What if that was Blackbeard?

Thus, the idea for Blackbeard’s Lost Treasure was born.
What’s your advice for aspiring writers?

Practice, practice, practice. Don’t be afraid of what others will think of your writing. Let it come from the heart. Write with the door closed, and don’t open it to others until you have your first draft complete.
What’s the best thing about being a writer?

I love being able to create worlds and craft characters. My two main characters in Blackbeard’s Lost Treasure, Darwin and Lucas, grow as the story goes on, and by the end, they have a different outlook on life.

Sometimes, as with my murder mystery A Murder in Concord, I like setting an elaborate scene with a dead body dropped in the middle of it. Lucas found himself as the only suspect and took it upon himself to clear his name. To do that, he had to figure out the puzzle for himself during the book while having to run from another character with, um, bad intentions.

For me, the challenge was figuring it out myself on the fly. That was fun.
How do you deal with writer’s block?

Take a shower or go for a drive. I kid you not, most of my best ideas come from those two places.
What is your current book about?

A 300-year-old mystery from one of the world’s most notorious pirates leads to the adventure of a lifetime for two friends – an adventure which could lead to fame and fortune, or to their deaths.

Deep within the archives at a museum in Raleigh, NC, Darwin Trickett makes the discovery of a lifetime: the diary of Blackbeard’s wife and a folded treasure map tucked in its pages. He asks Lucas Caine for assistance in helping find the location marked on the map which they believe was drawn by Blackbeard.

Now, these two friends embark on a journey in search of treasure. They uncover clues leading them to several locations along the Carolina coast while being shadowed by a group of mysterious men.

By the time Darwin and Lucas unravel the puzzle, they find themselves fighting for their lives.

What happens next will rewrite the history books and change the two men’s lives forever.
What book/movie/etc. is it comparable to?

I use real settings and events from the past to tie together a believable story in much the way Clive Cussler and Dan Brown does.

 

What are you working on now?

An action/adventure novel about the search for the Fountain of Youth usi

 

ng the sa

me cast of characters from Blackbeard’s Lost Treasure.
Where can readers go for more?

They can visit my website at CalebWygal.com or find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

State of Writing

stock-photo-10688046-quill-and-inkwell

Wow. I had a heck of a week… and not the “I exceeded all my goals” kind. I did no writing. Zero. Nodda. I hit dead ends all last week. I worked, as normal, but took two days off at the end of the week to go do some house maintenance on a rental property I own–that alone ate up 35 hours of time over 3 days. So no writing last week.

At least I could do promo, right? I barely used social  media–too busy with my hands. I got responses about book signings I have been trying to schedule for a while now… the timing is working for any of them (although I am set up for a sci-fi/fantasy con this fall, but that’s mostly due to fellow author Jeffrey Kohanek.) Oh yeah, I got banned from Facebook by the system for TWO WEEKS! As they perceived some of my self-promo (in groups explicitly meant for author self-promo) as spam/abuse. Yeah. I had a heck of a week.

It’s been crazy this summer with fundraisers and extra projects, but I’m resetting the rhythm today back to where I’ve been and prefer to be. Starting today with a quick update and trip to the gym (also stopped that for 3 weeks after 2nd/3rd degree gasoline burns). Feel like I’m coming back.

Free Fiction Tuesday

50041127-208-k606736.jpg

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve had anything worth really sharing (that may be because I’ve bee so busy with my real-life job). I talked recently with fellow author Lee Burvine who asked me to look at his book The Kafir Project: “Astronomer and TV science guy Gevin Rees just landed the interview of a lifetime with the world’s most famous physicist. Remarkable, because the eccentric genius is notoriously reclusive… And he’s dead… What happens next forces Rees to run for his life from not one but two deadly assassins and global powers desperate to bury what he’s just uncovered.”

I found The Kafir Project to be engaging and grab me right away. The end of the first chapter even does a great job of setting the hook! His writing style has a visceral sense of realism that you see in authors like Dan Brown or Clive Cussler and the plot and characters were certainly engaging. The Kafir Project is certainly worth checking out.

State of Writing

stock-photo-10688046-quill-and-inkwell

I hit my bare minimum goals this week. I didn’t get to my editing endeavors yet, however. I need to do a final rewrite of The Kakos Realm: Grinden Proselyte so I can get it to my editor and put it in print before before the end of the year.

I’m thinking I’ll take it easy this week with no real goals–I’ve got some other real-life commitments this week which will take some time away from my writing. I’m going to shoot for two new devo pieces, though: just a thousand words combined… should be a pretty simple task

Frequent Question #1 What if my story’s title is already used?

Typesetter

I thought I’d maybe start an occasional series of questions younger authors often ask me… mainly because a friend/fellow blogger answered one that I hear often (both when I was making music, but also as an author).

“What if my book title/song name is the same as one already in print?”

It really comes down to a trademark issue and if you are obviously trying to infringe on someone else’s intellectual property for your own gain. I don’t know the actual laws, so don’t rely on me for legal advice, but it’s not as big of a deal as many might think… it can’t be–if you’ve ever gone to rent a video it seems there’s always a cheap knock-off straight-to-dvd release of the latest Hollywood blockbuster.

Here’s a good piece of advice lifted from Cayce Berryman’s blog:
“Well, according to Circular 34, works as short as book titles cannot be copyrighted, which technically means you are able to use it. This can be confusing for your audience, however, as well as the audience of another author. This might seem exciting if you have a book with a similar title as a more successful author, but do you really want to subject yourself to hiding under their umbrella? For that matter, do you want to risk the loophole that could get you in a lot of trouble?”
–I agree with that last line. Be original and stand out.

I’d recommend giving it a read if it’s a concern of yours. If you look through my blog you’ll probably see the posts from when someone tried to steal one of my stories and release it as their own. Don’t even mess with infringement, but if you are trying to be careful and have a genuine concern, then you’re probably not infringing on anybody, as demonstrable by the fact that you care.

Here’s that link:
http://cayceberryman.com/what-if-your-book-shares-a-title-with-one-published/