Author Interview M.J. Preston


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MJ Preston

  1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

That depends. In the beginning of a project I am most definitely energized and that is because the story is yet to be told. By the end of a project, after the editing multiple drafts, the process is mentally exhausting. Luckily, I have a very short memory and repeat this process again and again. 

2. What is your writing Kryptonite?

Distraction. When I write, all social media and the internet are shut down, except for bringing up a browser to reference something pertaining to the piece I am working on.

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3. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

MJ Preston is as close to a pseudonym as I ever got.

4. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

Too many authors to name really. A short list would be Gregory L. Norris, B.E. Scully, F. Paul Wilson, Kevin M. Sullivan, Joseph Boyden. Reading their work certainly helps. I am often in awe at their creativity.

Equinox

5. Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

My latest novel, which is in pre-publication has no connection to my other works, but often I will revisit characters and link them to other works.

6. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

That’s a tough one. Let me get back to you.

7. What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

I believe it was around 1983. I wrote my first letter to the editor of my home town paper. The subject was regarding employers who pay their employees poorly. At that time, I was working for $4.00 per hour in a local carwash. The response to that letter blew me away. There was no email or internet back then, so people put pen to paper and mailed in their responses. That impressed me. Even those who disagreed with my opinion impressed on me that words were a way of invoking discussion and sometimes debate.

8. What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

I’d have to say, Robert R. McCammon’s vampire novel, THEY THIRST. A great book, set in the 70’s and fun read.

9. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

Easy answer. The raven. I have always had love for these dark creatures. I’ve taken hundreds of photographs of them. Written stories and a novel that included them and I am always taken back by their intelligence.

10. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I don’t discuss unpublished work.

11. What does literary success look like to you?

Readers. Plenty of readers. I don’t care much about awards or being the darling of critics. I just want more readers.

 

 

12. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

Research is certainly part of the process. It varies by project. In most cases, the research begins and continues during the project.

13. How many hours a day/week do you write?

I don’t know really. Again, it varies. Could be 20 hours, could be 30, depending on my schedule. Let’s just say I write as much as I can and as long as my muse is available.

14. How do you select the names of your characters?

Usually, it’s random thought, but once that’s exhausted the internet provides a well of opportunity.

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15. What was your hardest scene to write?

I have written about the murder of children. Not an easy task. You have to know where your line is and whether or not you’ve crossed it.

16. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?  If you write more than one, how do you balance them?

I guess I would be categorized as a horror/thriller writer, but I often ponder writing a book that is completely away from that genre. I sometimes write small pieces or opinion pieces that are of a more serious nature. Balance doesn’t really come in to. If somebody asked about me it would probably be, “That M.J. Preston is a horror writer.” ―but I consider myself a writer.

17. How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing fiction since the 70’s, with a hiatus from about 1986 to 1998. During that period, I wrote articles for newspapers while serving in the Canadian military. So, technically, I’ve always wrote, but my love of fiction took a short vacation.

18. What inspires you?

Reading the work of others inspires me.  

19. How do you find or make time to write?

If you want to be a writer you just make time. That’s what I do, anyway.

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20. What projects are you working on at the present?

I said I don’t discuss unfinished work, so I’ll avoid specifics. I will say that there is a new book on the horizon pre-publication as well as another in the works.

21.    22. What do your plans for future projects include?

Warmer climates? 😊

Share a link to your author website.

Folks can visit my author website: http://mjpreston.net

 

Blog Tour – Simon Rose


Simon Rose

My guest today is Simon Rose, author of many novels and nonfiction books for children and young adults. His latest novel, Parallel Destiny, has just been released.

So tell us about the new book

Parallel Destiny is the third part of the paranormal Flashback trilogy. The first instalment, entitled Flashback, was published in 2015 and the second, Twisted Fate, was published in 2017.

The trilogy features ghosts, psychics, alternate timelines, parallel universes, and Project Mindstorm, a secret operation involving deadly mind control experiments, as Max and Julia investigate events concealed for over twenty years.  

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Parallel Destiny takes place immediately after the events depicted in Twisted Fate. Project Mindstorm no longer exists and Kane and his associates no longer represent a danger. However, Max and Julia now have to contend with the sinister Alastair Hammond and his experiments into the existence of parallel universes and alternate realities. Marooned within a bewildering series of multiple universes, Max and Julia are forced to fight for their own survival and to save the very fabric of reality from Hammond’s deadly scheme.

Will there be any more books in the series?

I’m not sure. Right now I’m not planning on any more since the story has reached a logical conclusion. However, Flashback was originally going to be a single novel and I didn’t consider sequels until later, so you never know. I think there’s certainly some potential to write something else in this genre featuring the two main characters, but I guess time will tell.

You don’t seem to have any shortage of ideas. Where do you get them all from?

Ideas come from anywhere and everywhere really. Books, movies, TV, online research, out walking the dog, dreams, an overheard conversation, friends and family, history, mythology, and so many other sources. I have a few ideas that may never come to anything, but I still keep them anyway. It’s always a good plan to save them because you never know if, or when, an idea might fit into a story. My first four novels were all very early story ideas and were the first books to be published. However, more recently published novels, such as The Sphere of Septimus and the Flashback series, were also very early ideas for novels. They just took longer to develop as novels. Flashback was also one of my earliest ideas but again it took a while for me to develop the initial story, and consequently the rest of the series. Even if the ideas don’t work right away, they might in the future and you just never know when you’ll get another piece of the puzzle.

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What other novels have you written? 

I’ve written fifteen novels so far, since the first one came out in 2003. The Sorcerer’s Letterbox and The Heretic’s Tomb are historical fiction adventures set in medieval England, – The Alchemist’s Portrait is a time travel story, The Emerald Curse is all about superheroes and comic books, The Doomsday Mask is all about the legend of Atlantis, and The Sphere of Septimus involves the characters traveling into another world and is in the same vein as the Harry Potter series, The Chronicles of Narnia, or Lord of the Rings. Future Imperfect is a technology-driven story featuring mysterious messages from the future and The Time Camera about a myserious device that captures images of different historical periods, and The Clone Conspiracy features secret experiments into human cloning. The Shadowzone series featuring ShadowzoneInto The Web, and Black Dawn, was published last year. The series involves the discovery of a grim dystopian version of Earth that’s ruled by a totalitarian dictatorship, the threat of a deadly virus, and a race against time to save the lives of millions.

I’ve also written seven nonfiction guides for writers, including The Children’s Writer’s Guide, The Time Traveler’s Guide, and The Working Writer’s Guide. 

Are these your favourite genres in which to write? 

Yes, there are certain genres that I like. When I first read the Harry Potter books, I knew that they were written for the age range, style, and had the level of danger and excitement for young readers that I was aiming for with the many story ideas that I had at the time.

However, as much as I enjoyed all the Harry Potter books, I wasn’t interested in writing my own story ideas on themes like folklore, mythology, magic wands, witches and wizards, or mythological creatures and monsters. Instead, I wanted my stories to be about the sort of things that I enjoyed reading about. These included time travel, fantasy, history, science fiction, lost cities, superheroes, other worlds, parallel universes, and the paranormal, and those are the types of stories I’ve been writing ever since. 

So is it true that authors should write what they know? 

In some ways yes, although this might sound a little odd because no one actually knows how to travel in time, attend a wizard school, visit other dimensions, have super powers, or go to the edge of the universe, at least as far as we know anyway. But what this term actually means is that it’s much easier to write about what you know or about what you’re interested in. You’ll have far more ideas about your own favorite topics and you’ll also decide exactly what you want to write about and not just try to do the same as everyone else or follow a hot new trend, whether it’s teenage wizards, vampires, zombies, or something else. If you write about unfamiliar topics, you’ll have to do more research for a story or perhaps plan out the story a lot more, rather than letting the ideas from your imagination flow into the computer or onto the paper as the story keeps coming to you. Writing about things that you’re not passionate about will seem much more like work, when writing is supposed to be fun. Write about what you know and love and it’s going to be a much more enjoyable experience.

Have you worked with lots of other authors? 

Yes quite a lot over the last few years, in many different genres. This has involved both substantive and copy editing of completed novels, but I also work as a coach for writers with works in progress. Some of the projects I’ve worked on that have subsequently been published are here on my website. You can also see some of the references and recommendations from other clients that I’ve worked with.

What are you currently working on?  

I’m always working on something but currently I’m writing a number of nonfiction books and doing quite a lot of editing and coaching work with other authors, helping them with their novels, short stories, or works in progress. I’m also working on a historical fiction novel set in the turbulent era of the English Civil War in the 1640s and I hope to be able to focus on that a little more in the coming months. 

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Where can a reader purchase your latest book? 

Parallel Destiny is available in paperback and as an ebook worldwide on Amazon, KoboBarnes & NobleiBooks, and Indigo Chapters in Canada, and at many other locations online. Your local bookstore should also be able to order a copy.

You can learn more about Simon and his work on his website at http://www.simon-rose.com or online at the following social media sites:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • Google +
  • Pinterest

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Happy Birthday to Me!!!


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No blog post today because a) it’s my birthday and b) I’m traveling with my ‘kids’. A special 5 day trip to somewhere I have always wanted to go.

So I hope you all have a wonderful day see you Wednesday with a trip inspired writing prompt.

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Author Interview Courtney Wendleton


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Courtney

1. Does writing energize or exhaust you? It depends on how I feel before I start writing. If I have been having problems writing anything for a couple of days, I’m apprehensive to sit and write. On those days, if I can actually get something out, I feel energized and go for hours. Then there are days where I’m full of energy and ready to write and come out a few hours later exhausted and having to put on wrist braces because the carpal tunnel sets in.  

2.What is your writing Kryptonite? Like a topic I won’t touch? Harming little children and elderly. Something that kills my writing would be Netflix. I get sucked into the black hole that is Asian TV/movies and it will be days before I write anything because I’m watching.

Touchdown

3.Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? Actually I have a book in the works that will be under a pseudonym because it contains a lot of personal information that my family probably wouldn’t appreciate me putting out there, but I feel like I need to write it and have others read it. Then there is another work in progress that I’m thinking about using a pseudonym for but not quite sure if I will or not.

4.What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer? I have many on Facebook through different writing groups, but Zoe Ambler has been the most influential and active in my writing. We just talk about our writings and give different points of view on different aspects of the work. Although recently I’m hoping to expand my tiny writing circle through a group I’m putting together where authors help each other out more than just posting advertisements. I’m trying to help authors that don’t necessarily have the money to pay an editor or don’t have any support and help them in a sort of exchange thing.

Luna

5.Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book? Most of my currently published are stand alones, but there are two that are part of a trilogy and one is becoming part of an unintentional series. For the most part, I just let the stories take me where they want to go and if that leads to a standalone or a series, I just go with it.

6.What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? I broke down and spent some money on two book covers. Until then I have always made my own and wanted to try having them professionally done. I think those are the best two book covers I have right now.

Innocence

7.What was an early experience where you learned that language had power? Since I was born my great-grandma read stories to me, then she taught me how to read at the age of three because while I was living with my great-grandparents and my mom, great-grandma thought I needed to be quiet. I’m not sure if I ever had that brilliant “A-ha” moment because it has always been there for me.

8.What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel? Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. It is a sci-fi novel about a mentally challenged man and a mouse that undergo surgery to make them smarter. The surgery is a success and Charlie eventually surpasses the intelligence of the doctors that created and performed the procedure. As he became smarter, Charlie’s friendships break off because of his major attitude changes and eventually all he has left is his mouse. He finds a flaw in the research, and the result is Algernon, the mouse, goes back to his original state and dies. Knowing he will lose his mind, he tries to reconnect with friends and family, but decides to live at a state-sponsored institution where no one knows about his former intelligence. I loved the book because it shows a harsh reality of how people treat others that are different from themselves. Then it flips the coin and you can see how the change can twist a person into a shadow of their former selves. I think this is the first book that made me cry and really feel for the characters.

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9.As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal? A Pokémon called Ditto. Over the years I have felt my spirit animal change because of what is going on in my life at the time and how it effects my writing. With Ditto, it can change into any animal with the same characteristics but always revert back to a pink blob of potential.

10.How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? *Laughs manically in a corner wearing a strait jacket* The last time I counted, it was at 47. However I have added more to that list, and put a couple in an “I’m not sure if I really want to do this but I’ll keep it just in case” pile. I’m crazy I know.

Authors Romance

11.What does literary success look like to you? I’m a simple girl when it comes to my idea of literary success. While it would be nice to be a big name like Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, I am happy with reviews from customers who enjoyed my books. I write because I have to get the words out, but nothing makes me feel like a big real world writer than when I read how much a person loved one of my books.

12.What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? Aside from reading other stories inside the genre that are similar to what I’m working on, I do not do much research. I might look up how things work or certain types of devices I want to use or non-stereotypical attributes for characters to ensure I don’t make a mistake but mostly I write about what I know or invent in my imagination. That said, one of my favorite current works in progress is involving a lot of research into Japanese culture and history. I am looking on websites that are educational reference worthy, reading books about the culture and history, watching movies to figure out how their stories differ from Americans. I have even started to attempt learning to read/write Japanese and the Kanji.

Perfect Murder

13.How many hours a day/week do you write? I try to write a little bit every day and have set up spreadsheets to keep track of daily/weekly/monthly/yearly goals. Daily, this month, I’m just trying for 540 words a day. I have been trying to climb out of a slump and find smaller goals work better for me when this happens. Come July I would like to be back up to at least 2000 a day so I can feel confident going into Camp NaNoWriMo. Other than the goals, I do not mark how long I write daily because sometimes I don’t have the ability to sit and write for so long or I am sick and don’t feel like writing. Other days I can sit and write for four or five hours at a time.

Love & Drugs

14.How do you select the names of your characters? I love looking for new names. Sometimes the names just pop into my head and other times I search baby name websites and apps looking for the right name. Any time I find a name I like I write it down and add it to a running list on Excel for when I need help.

15.What was your hardest scene to write? The hardest scene I have written involves the book I plan to use a pseudonym for. It involves a taboo sexual experience between two characters and one does not know what they feel. They don’t know how they should feel about it because in one way the other person wasn’t supposed to do that to them, but they felt it was the only way to gain that person’s love. If they tell someone else it could either cause legal problems or mental issues because they wouldn’t be believed. This scene is based on a true event and because I’m still unsure how to feel it makes it hard to put it down on paper.

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16.Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?  If you write more than one, how do you balance them? In the broad sense I write in the romance genre. It is just the one I latched on to based on the sheer number of them that I read. Inside that I write paranormal, LGBTQ, historical and I guess contemporary romance sub-genres. I try to write in the fields that I like, but at the same time those are the types of stories that just come to me. I kind of just write the book and figure out where it fits in the market afterwards.

17.How long have you been writing? Publication wise five years. I have been writing stories since I was like ten, but have lost many of those manuscripts through the multiple moves I made growing up.

18.What inspires you? Everything. I know it sounds like a copout, but I could be reading or watching a movie and get an idea. Watching my family interact with each other. Talking with friends or just watching people walking down the street and coming up with the type of life I think they live.   

19.How do you find or make time to write? I mostly write in the middle of the night. Aside from always have been a night owl, I live with my aunt and her two adult children. She works night shift and in the past year or so her youngest (21 or 22) has started having seizures in his sleep. So to keep me awake on the nights she works, I stay up writing and listening for him. I can’t really watch TV or listen to music because I need to be able to hear if my cousin has a seizure I need to be able to hear him so I can go help him. Plus it is one less thing to worry about if I have to call for an ambulance. On the days that she has off, I wake up in the afternoon and it is part of my wake up routine. I try to write a few hundred words before joining the rest of the family. Then I’m usually up most of the night and write more. Other than that I come up with ideas in the shower and write them down when I get out. Same while I’m driving and doing dishes. When I am doing something that can be done on “auto-pilot” my mind composes and I write it down soon after I’m done. I use a note app on my phone when I’m not near my computer.

20.What projects are you working on at the present? 2 Werewolf projects, a Japanese project, a Mermaid and a couple contemporary romance are a few of the most prominent.

21.What do your plans for future projects include? Because I am neck deep in works in progress, my future lies with whichever book idea comes to mind next.

22.Share a link to your author website. Website I need to update: http://charliesangel-0069.wixsite.com/cmwauthorpage

        Amazon website: https://www.amazon.com/Courtney-Wendleton/e/B00KYMLGKC/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Blog: https://charliesangel0069.wordpress.com/

Bio:

Courtney M. Wendleton is a nation traveler, covering mostly the Midwest. She has lived in Alaska and currently resides in Hawaii, after graduating from high school in Missouri. Since a child of 10, Courtney has wanted to travel and write stories. She has been traveling her whole life, and writing since childhood but only two years ago did she publish her first book.

Touchdown Interruption is her first short story, and has paved the way for six other books currently on the market with more in the works. Courtney toils through her day reading, writing, and striving to be a better author.

A near death experience during her time in Alaska proved to her that life is short and she needs to spend her time doing something she loves. It took three years for her to build up the courage, but she published her first book and started going to school again. Now she happily lives in Hawaii with family, still hoping to inspire her readers to chase their dreams.

Writing Prompt Wednesday


alleyway

Using this image write about an incident in an old alleyway. It can be a poem or a short story or a list of words that come to mind when you look at the image.

This is my response.

With my back pressed against an old wooden door in the weathered stone wall, I glance back along the alleyway. The early morning light shows the pathway clear of pursuers. I inhale in a bid to calm my beating heart and the fear crawling under my skin. 

Why had I been so stupid? Walking alone at night is a really dumb thing to do. I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing such a thing at home, so why here in this ancient town? My holiday mood had gotten the best of me, obviously. 

The slap of running feet on the stones makes my head snap upward. It isn’t possible to press my body into the door any further. If I run now they will be able to see me. My eyes search the doorways on the opposite wall but all are closed. Praying for a miracle, I knock gently at the door behind me. The warm touch of a hand startles me. I turn to face a hunched old lady in black. Her face is wrinkled and brown from decades of sun exposure but her smile is friendly. 

“Please help me. There are men chasing me.” 

“Non capisco.” 

How do I make her understand? The footsteps are closer now. I don’t have time to explain so take her hand and close the door. With a finger to my lips we face each other in the dimness, listening intently to excitable chatter, halting steps and then running feet fading away. Once silence returns I take her hands and nod hoping this gesture conveys my thankfulness. She nods back and leads me into a kitchen with pots and herbs hanging from the ceiling. Motioning me toward a wooden chair, she places a kettle upon the stove and opens the oven door, releasing the scent of freshly baked bread. 

My stomach grumbles and she smiles as she places cut tomatoes, olives and oil beside the sliced bread. The coffee is strong and makes me wince, my companion signals me to continue drinking whilst patting her chest slowly. So much caffeine may calm her nerves but to a confirmed tea drinker it is only makes my heart beat faster. I dip the warm bread into the oil and lay a tomato slice upon it before taking a satisfying bite. 

I will have to return to my hotel shortly and deal with the ramifications of a police report but for now I am enjoying the peaceful surroundings and kind company after my misadventure of the night.