Tag Archive | author interview

Book Launch for THE HUNT FOR XANADU Coming December 20th!

The Hunt for Xanadu

The Hunt for Xanadu

This is it! I’m so excited to announce that my adult contemporary fantasy thriller, THE HUNT FOR XANADU, is ready for release on December 20th. It will be available in print and ebook versions. This is the first book in the Kelsey Porter series. Book #2 is halfway done and I’ve a working outline already for book #3.

A girl, the Buddhist devil and a mystical world, tying them all together in ways unimaginable…

Twenty-two year old Kelsey Porter has dedicated her life to avenging the death of her parents, murdered in their quest to find the mystical land of Xanadu. Before she can locate the murderers, she has to discover their motives for the brutal crime and finds herself at the epicenter of a Buddhist mystery as old as time. With the help of her companion, Detective Desmond Gisborne, she hunts the killers across the globe and discovers a darkness in her spiritual past that tests the very limits of her soul. Soon she realizes that it is not she who is doing the hunting, but the one being hunted. Kelsey must find a way to survive, while ancient demons attempt to destroy her.

This morning I woke up to this awesome email from one of XANADU’s ARC readers: “About 3/4 of the way done… please continue writing books like this…” (SQUEE!)

If you’d like to learn more about me and my other works, Clive Eaton conducts amazing author interviews. Here is one he just did for me. Writers, please inquire about your own! http://www.cliveeaton.com/elysesalpeter.html

Why I Edit as I Write… Gaffes – did I really write that?

reallyThere’s an ongoing question authors ask each other about writing. “Do you edit as you write, or just write?” Me? I write, then edit, then edit, then write some more, then edit. Why? Because as I’m writing I have a tendency to add, or change things and I need to reread for consistency. It’s the way I self edit myself and it works for me.

The problem is, sometimes my issues have nothing to do with consistencies at all and have to do with gaffes. You know, those editing nightmares as you’re reading a book and the character in one paragraph is eating pancakes and two paragraphs later they’re staring into their cereal bowl? (this actually happened in book #4 in an extremely popular YA series that ended up being produced into 5 films. I’ll let you figure out which one – hint: think vampires…)

I had one of those gaffes in my new WIP and it was a doozy. My characters are in Egypt. There is an Englishman, an Italian, a Frenchman and an American in the bunch. I have my characters running from bad guys. The Englishman is saying all these sayings like gawd blimey, and bloody hell, and stuff (I was researching English phrases to get it right) and to get away from the bad guys, I have my people escape into the Underground. You know, the equivalent of the NYC subway system, but in London? I continued the chapter where they got off at their stop, queued up in line to get a taxi, and then were dropped off on a quaint country road.

Did you catch the gaffe yet? My characters are in Egypt, not London! Why in the world would they be in the Underground and what in the heck was I thinking as I wrote this chapter? I do remember thinking, “Wow, this is moving smoothly, the words are flowing easily.” Sure they were, because I WAS IN THE WRONG PLACE. When I reread what I wrote, because I always go back and reread what I did the session before, and noticed this, I stared at the screen in disbelief.

I love when I gaffe a description of a character as well. My protagonist stared into her boyfriend’s “beautiful amber eyes, flecked with yellow making them seem to sparkle and shine.” Nice, but the guy has blue-green eyes in book #1 of the series. Funny how in book #2 his eye color changed – and it wasn’t from contact lenses.

I know for a fact that I’m not the only author to experience something like this, so this week I asked authors Sara Barnard and Diane Rapp to chime in on this topic.

Question #1) Do you edit when you write, and why?

Sara Barnard: The more I write and the more I learn, the more I edit as I go. Not only does it save time when the manuscript goes to my totally awesome editor, but it has become habit. I like to think it makes me a better, more efficient, scribe. Writing a sentence or a paragraph then going back through and quickly reading, looking for errors or omissions helps keep me on track, too. But as a lesson, I also let it sit before sending it in and read through it at least one more time. It’s amazing the mistakes you’ll find when you let it rest then go back to it later.

Diane: I’m a “stream of consciousness writer.” I think about a scene and how the characters interact before I fall asleep each night, and my subconscious works on it. When I’m ready to write the scene, I type as fast as my fingers will move to put it into the computer.

After I write the newest scene, I wait a day and read through everything with a critical eye. At that point then the editing process starts. The first draft of the book is flexible, so I make changes and fix problems along the way. Sometimes I redo a scene three or four times until I’m satisfied, at other times I’m surprised that I already like what I created. It’s that sneaky subconscious doing a good job.

After the first draft of the book is complete, I reread everything straight through. That’s when I hope to spot inconsistencies and major errors. I also take time to check a thesaurus for more effective words. The third time through, I concentrate on punctuation, grammar, and incorrect words. This is the most boring part of the editing process, so I find myself daydreaming. I can’t count how many times I speed along, enjoying my own narrative, when I realize I’ve stopped paying attention to editing.

Question #2) What is the most major gaffe you found editing?

Sara: I’ve found numerous mistakes in my self-edits. One was in A HEART ON HOLD … Charlotte’s horse, Achilles, was written to be a gelding. Well, later, I had him as a stallion. That may not seem like much, but it was certainly important to Achilles! In my forthcoming Amish romance Rebekah’s Quilt, I had my heroine’s little brothers named something different in almost every chapter!

Diane: My worst mistake was using the wrong name for my heroine in a full chapter of a first draft. It was understandable. I just finished writing a Mystery with a heroine named Kayla, and the character in the new Science/Fantasy is named Krystal. My brain got mixed up, or maybe it was my fingers. Suddenly Kayla appeared on the planet Drako to confront an evil villain. The worst part was that I didn’t notice the error at first. One of my Beta readers sent me an e-mail asking, “Who is Kayla?” She had not read my mystery, so she didn’t understand the mistake. I was so embarrassed. At that point I realized many of my characters had similar sounding names. I reconsidered the character names and made major changes. I discovered that characters behaved differently after I changed their names. It’s true. I got in a few arguments with those characters, but they won in the end. Darn!

Ladies, thank you both so much! I think everyone can relate to the gaffes above – I know I do! I think I’ve done all of them at one point or another, as well.

If you’d like to learn more about Sara and Diane, please check out their links below:

Sara is the mother of four small children and wife to an awesome and supportive husband. Now that her husband is out of the Army and she is done following him around to various military bases around the world, they’ve settled down in their shared hometown in west Texas. Sara’s debut historical romance series, An Everlasting Heart, consists of four books: bestseller and 2012 RONE award finalist for Best American Historical Fiction A Heart on Hold, A Heart Broken, A Heart at Home, and the forthcoming final book in the series A Heart Forever Wild. Her debut Amish historical romance, Rebekah’s Quilt, will be released November 16th, 2013. All of these are from 5 Prince Publishing. Sara also writes children’s books: Chunky Sugars was her debut children’s book from 5 Prince Kids, with Little Spoon coming in September 2013. Sara independently publishes a nonfiction children’s line as well, all of which have remained on Amazon’s bestseller lists since being released. Those titles are: The ABC’s of Oklahoma Plants, The ABC’s of Texas Plants, and The Big Bad Wolf Really Isn’t So Big and Bad. She can be reached at twitter at @TheSaraBarnard, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sarabarnardbooks, her website at http://www.sarabarnardbooks.com and lastly, her blog at sarathreesuns.BlogSpot.com

Diane Rapp is a split-personality author, who writes a Mystery series and a Science/Fantasy series. She particularly enjoys works by Anne McCaffrey, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Agatha Christie, and Arthur Conan Doyle. As an animal lover, she always includes animals such as telepathic wolves, flying dragons, or poison dart frogs (as a murder weapon) in her novels. For more information about both series, visit her website at http://www.quicksilvernovels.com. You can also reach her at her author’s FB page at: http://www.facebook.com/quicksilvernovels and on twitter at @DianeRapp

Perseverance – How Long is “Too Long” to Keep Reaching For Your Dream?

perseveranceI sometimes wonder if I’m just a glutton for punishment. My auspicious start to writing wasn’t good. After a very difficult 9th grade honors English teacher, who shall remain forever nameless, insulted me and my skills in a deplorably embarrassing and public manner, I stopped writing until my second year of college. At that point, something happened. Maybe I finally matured or got guts, but I remember the moment I said “I don’t care what that horrible lady thinks” and I wrote my first fantasy novel.

When it was complete, I was so proud of myself. Was it good? Um… no. Was it a little good? Well, probably not. It was my first novel, the first draft, and I really didn’t know a thing about POV, structure, grammar, character development, or well, anything. But, I had the ideas in my head and just decided to get them out. I grabbed onto a great editor and latched myself tight to a wonderful group of writing friends and started to learn the craft. The fact is, it’s been twenty long years learning the craft and trying to get published. But, I persevered and now I can say I just signed my first literary agent. My YA books, FLYING TO THE LIGHT and FLYING TO THE FIRE (which had been with a small pub company first and who folded) are now being represented by Pete Riva from International Transactions.

So, what makes us persevere? What makes us keep putting ourselves out there? What motivates you day in and day out to keep pushing? I’m self motivated to achieve – some compulsive goal oriented personality disorder I’m sure, but what do other authors think? So I asked Bob Nailor and Kevin Rau this very question. (you might find the answers alternately frank and surprisingly funny)


Kevin Rau: An obsessive personality! I’m fortunate that I didn’t also gain a quirk of being compulsive, but my obsessive nature has allowed me to lock onto my H.E.R.O. series and really grow it into something far beyond what even I imagined years ago.

Q #2) What have you learned over the years?

Kevin: That it takes a lot of effort to write, it isn’t fun and games. Giving up so many hours every week to write is hard at times as well, and often we have to choose to sacrifice time with friends and family (or from watching TV, etc.) and it can be rough. Advertising/promotion is just plain not enjoyable for me, and it takes away from the time writing/editing. Overall, though, I’ve learned that if we put in the time (and a lot of it), we can accomplish things.

Q #1) What Motivates You to Keep Writing?

Bob Nailor: Back in college Psych class we were taught about strokes. Good stroke aka praise.
Bad stroke aka punishment. We learned that everyone wants to receive a stroke, whether it be good or bad. No stroke was equivalent to being ignored and not acceptable. We are humans and we want acceptance. So, we would rather receive a bad stroke in place of no stroke. For me, motivation is reaching that next goal whether it be through praise – good stroking, or via criticism – bad stroking. If I am praised, I am ramped and ready to move forward. If I am criticized, I know I must work harder and better. Without either, I struggle, lost with no goal. So, I must reach that next step, that goal, no matter what stroke.

Q #2) What have you learned over the years?

Bob: Blame the publisher for any punctuation, grammatical, fact, spelling etc. errors found in your work after it is published. No matter how hard you try, there will be flaws in the story.  Get over yourself and get writing the next project. Oh! And no matter what you do — submit! Repeatedly.

So there you have it. A writer is at their core goal-oriented and self motivated. You have to be or why would you take the sheer amount of hours out of your day to do this, or the risk of negative criticism, if you didn’t love it?

I want to thank Bob and Kevin for sharing some of their thoughts and experiences with me. To learn more about them (whose books I have read and are amazing) please check them out here:

Kevin Rau is the author of the massive 13-book (1.2 million word) H.E.R.O. series of superhero novels. The first ebook in the series is provided free at most major ebook vendors. Links can be found at http://www.kevinrau.com/books.asp. You can also reach him at his author page at http://www.facebook.com/herobooks

Bob Nailor is an author of several books. His writing genre is somewhat non-specific with science fiction, fantasy, and horror but he also delves into romance, adventure, thriller, action, mystery and now Christian. He loves to write, cook, travel and enjoys the opportunities of doing conference and workshop sessions where he can interact with other writers. Visit him at http://www.bobnailor.com or follow him on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/bobnailor

Author Interview with Jocelynn Drake

How many times do you read a stand-alone novel and wish it were a series? Well, I was given a copy of Jocelynn Drake’s NIGHTWALKER and absolutely loved it. What’s not to love? I’m a vampire fan and appreciate books with strong female characters, lots of fighting and oozing tension on all levels. This book fit the bill to a “T”. When I finished the novel, I actually went and found her on Twitter and Goodreads because I just wanted to tell her how much I loved the book and give her a review. To my surprise, other fans of hers tweeted me that this was actually a series and there were five more novels! I raced through each one of THE DARK DAYS SERIES and was just so impressed with the quality of the writing and the intricacies of the characters and worlds she created. The books were fun, action-packed and at times quite “saucy!” I truly enjoyed them.

So, since I’m not shy and love interviewing authors, I took a chance and asked Jocelynn if I could interview her for my blog and she graciously said yes. So without further ado, please let me introduce you to a native Cincinnatian who is a devoted fan of the Reds and Bengals, (and strangely not a Skyline Chili fan, but we’ll let that slide because her books are so amazing),  Ms. Jocelynn Drake…

1) Let’s talk about writing a series. When you first set out to write the Dark Days novels, did you already envision it as a series from the “get-go?” What was your process like?

Funny enough, when I started writing Mira and Danaus, I was intending to create only a short story. I handed the story off to a friend to read. He returned it demanding I write more. By the time I was halfway through the first book, I realized I had enough material rattling around in my imagination to write several books. The original first book ended up being split into three books and expanded. And then when I was working on the second book, my publisher indicated that they wanted to do a total of six books.

The entire process of plotting/outlining the series has been very fluid, requiring I be flexible. From day one, I knew how the series was going to end; I just tweaked how Mira and Danaus got there. I didn’t plan on readers meeting Mira’s real father, even though I always knew who he was. I had always planned on Danaus getting his own book, but I thought it was going to be the second or third rather than the fourth. Some people died that I hadn’t planned on, which was as heartbreaking for me as it was for the readers.

When I worked on the series, I always had a goal in sight that I was working toward. I just didn’t always know how I was going to get there and who was going to survive the journey.

When I sat down for each book, I made plans for that particular book, listing problems and questions which needed to be addressed. I also tried to make notes of ideas of I had for future books. For several years, I had Mira constantly whispering in my ear as I worked.

2) There were a tremendous amount of plot lines and rules for all the different beings in these novels. How did you keep track of everything? Are you a big outliner or are you a panster, letting things develop as they go along?

I am something of a mix. For the main plot of the book, I am a serious outliner. The entire book has to be outlined before I am allowed to start working. I have to know where I am headed so my characters don’t get sidetracked. However, the character development and the personal moments develop more organically as I am working on a scene. I can’t plan those things. Sometimes a character will open his/her mouth and say something I wasn’t expecting, and the whole scene shifts to something wonderful and new. My outline is like a skeleton which supports the story and the story grows out from that structure. It demands flexibility. I can’t be locked to my outline, unwilling to change if I want the characters to be true and convincing

To keep up with it all, I make extensive notes. I have world-building notes. I have several different versions of characters lists so I know who’s alive, who’s dead, and when/how they died. I have several interviews of my major characters as well as essays written from the point of view of a character. Some of this I share with readers and some never sees the light of day. These notes help me understand the world I’ve created, keep details straight, and help develop new plot ideas.

3) I don’t think readers realize how much work goes into the telling of a story – they simply just get lost in the tale, which is what we want to happen. That’s probably the greatest gift for an author. So please, tell us about the new series you’re working on.

The Asylum Tales is a completely new and strange world. Humans live in a world surrounded by every magical and mythical creature we’ve ever run across in a story. Your next-door neighbor may be a werewolf, your office cube mate could be an ogre, your dentist is a siren, and your favorite bartender is a minotaur. And the strange thing? This is normal for you. In this world, everyone needs a little help every once in a while. Maybe it’s some good luck? Maybe your love life needs a boost? That is where a good tattoo artist comes in handy. With a magic potion added to the ink, the tattoo artist can help you woo your sweetheart or maybe hex your ex.

The series focuses on Gage Powell, owner and tattoo artist at Asylum Tattoo Parlor in Low Town. Gage, along with fellow tattoo artists Bronx (a troll) and Trixie (an elf), help people with their troubles while trying to stay out of trouble as well. Unfortunately, that’s not very easy for Gage, because he’s a former warlock from the Ivory Towers – the dark rulers of this world. The members of the Towers are still hunting for Gage because he left them. Dodging witches and warlocks, Gage tries to help his friends without losing his own head in the process.

4) Was it hard writing a whole new set of characters? Did you set out to make the book completely different than your previous work?

When I started working on the Asylum Tales, I set out to make it as different from the Dark Days series as possible. The new series involves vampires and shifters, but right now they have been relegated to smaller side characters. The new series is told from a guy’s point of view and Gage is very different from Mira, even though he does have a similar fast, hot temper. I tried to inject a little more humor into this new series. The new series isn’t as dark, but it does have its serious moments. I also wanted all the paranormal creatures out in the open. I didn’t want to worry about protecting anyone’s identity because humans didn’t know about vampires or faeries or trolls etc. Funny enough, it turns out that Gage is the one in hiding.

It actually wasn’t hard to work with an entirely new set of characters. I guess my mind was ready for the change of pace, because I found myself easily slipping into this world so I was mentally kicking back at Asylum with Gage and the gang. Gage’s voice reminds me of all the male friends I’ve had over the years, and he definitely has the potential to be just as crass. I think the hardest thing is balancing this large ensemble cast of characters. I’ve just finished the second book and the character list keeps growing. I’m struggling to find ways to work everyone into a book because they are all so fun to play with. I look forward to Gage’s visits to Chang’s black market because the wily old man is hilarious. I love visiting Jack because Jack hates Gage. I love working with Bronx because he’s so even and steady amid the chaos.

5) It sounds like you’re having wonderful fun with these books, so congratulations! So please, tell me what advice can you offer new writers who are struggling to receive recognition for their work? And how do you personally gauge success?

The best advice I can give is that as a writer, you should only focus on writing the best book you can possibly write. You should think only about that. Don’t worry about marketing, social media, publishers, and all the rest. Write the book. Finish the book. Revise the book. The rest will come later. The best way to get the attention of readers and publishers is to write a good book.

At first I thought success was measured by how many books were sold or whether I was offered another contract from my publisher. I’ve now been in this business for a few years and I think the best measure of success are the little notes and comments I get from readers saying they enjoyed the book. I love hearing someone loved a book or cried in reaction to an event in a book. I love hearing they’re looking forward to the next book or sad the series is over. I spent close to seven years working with Mira and Danaus. They were a big part of my life and it’s nice to know other people loved them as well. If I can entertain someone for a few hours, help them escape into another world, then I’ve accomplished my goal and that is the greatest feeling in the world.

6) It really is a wonderful feeling. And I love to ask this last question: Tell us something we don’t know about you.

I didn’t set out to be an author. It was never a goal. When I started college, I was actually an engineering major. Oh, I started writing stories when I was 12 and I wrote stories all through high school and college, but I was also aware of how hard it was to get published. I knew it was a long shot. I just wanted to write stories. I wasn’t concerned with anyone actually reading them. It wasn’t until I had been out of college (with my English/Journalism degree because I hate calculus) that I started working on Nightwalker. It wasn’t until I finished writing the book that I thought it might be good enough for publication. It took two years and countless revisions, but I sold the book and several others.

If I couldn’t be a writer, I think my only option would be for me to be a cat. Yes, I will be a cat if I can’t be a writer.

Jocelynn, thank you so much for your time and allowing us a glimpse into your writing world.

If you’d like to learn more about Jocelynn Drake and her breadth of work, please feel free to locate her at the following addresses:

Website: www.JocelynnDrake.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JocelynnDrake
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jocelynn.drake
Blog: http://jocelynndrake.blogspot.com/
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Jocelynn-Drake/e/B001RXUEXW/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1345144382&sr=8-2-ent