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Ask a Question Thursday

August 15, 2019
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This week’s question is: How do you prepare for an author reading?

I have a reading with several other authors this Saturday for Bookstore Romance Day, so have prepared a gift basket, gathered not only the book I will be reading from but also most of my other books to take with me. As there will be a table at the front of the store with our books I have packed a display shelf, summaries of each book, and have decided on the excerpt I will read. Obviously, this has to be practiced to allow me to look up at the audience but also practice my inflections to give the piece a real sense of drama.

romance bookstore

If you happen to be in Edmonton, Alberta come and say Hi. We will be at Audreys Books Ltd.  10702 Jasper Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta T5J 3J5 at 2 pm. I will read from Life in Slake Patch, which is a speculative fiction romance set in a matriarchal society from a young man’s perspective. Yep, it is certainly an interesting and unique story.

Please comment below with your typical planning for an author reading, we may learn new tricks from each other!

Last week’s post was a 10 minute writing prompt: A bag of multiple buttons.

When I worked with K-3 writers, I always carried by button tin inherited from my mother. Each student would receive one large button. Next they would draw the person or animal wearing it and glue the button in place. It could be a nose, a toenail, a wing decoration. Anything.Then they would write a story or poem about the character. They had a lot of fun.

Author Interview – Craig DiLouie

August 13, 2019
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AuthorInterview

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What inspired your latest novel?

Published in hardcover, eBook, and audio book by Orbit and released August 20, 2019, OUR WAR is about the consequences of political tribalism as told in a story about a second American civil war. This story is about a brother and sister forced to fight as child soldiers on opposite sides, and the people whose lives they touch: a UN worker who wants to stop the use of child soldiers, a journalist seeking to expose it, and a rebel militia sergeant who begins to see the humanity in those he hates.

The novel has several influences. The first is the rise of violence and polarization in American politics. Another is the Bosnian War of the 1990s; if a second civil war occurred in America, it would far more likely be between city and country than between states. And the last is American exceptionalism, the idea America is superior to broken countries like Syria, but should war ever break out inside our borders, the country will suffer like any other, producing refugees, atrocities, and even child soldiers. This brutal world provides the backdrop for a story about love, sacrifice, and the meaning of patriotism.

OUR WAR final cover                                                                                                                  

How did you come up with the title?

The title speaks to the personal nature of a war that divides communities and even families.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

The message is simple. If Americans cannot agree on a common set of unifying ideas, then it is just another multi-ethnic empire. Aside from that, there are many minor themes.

How much of the book is realistic?

All of it—that’s the intent, anyway! As I said, I took a great deal of inspiration for what a war in America would look like from the Bosnian War of the 1990s. This was a war between conservative and liberal, between ethnicities, between urban and rural. Most of the combatants were average people motivated to fight either out of resentment and demonization of their countrymen, or out of desperate self defense. In a war like this, everybody fights, and nobody wins.

Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?

I’m on Facebook and Twitter, and I have a blog at www.CraigDiLouie.com. At my blog, I review a lot of interesting books, movies, and TV shows.

Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?

OUR WAR is a standalone novel, though of course there is potential to continue the story, if enough readers want to read it.

My next novel is about a group of people who grew up in an apocalyptic cult and survived its horrific last days, and who reunite to confront the past and the entity that appeared on the final night. This novel is about trauma, memory, belonging, and faith.

Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?

I grew to love all the characters in OUR WAR, but my favorite is Hannah, a girl who joins a local militia after everything has been taken from her. Forced to grow up fast, she accepts her new cause and family and fights for them. In the end, she must learn to fight for herself if she wants to survive the war’s aftermath. Her story is heart-wrenching, relatable, and hopeful.

Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?

For me, genre is what the story needs, not what I need. My job as the author is to tell a good story. That being said, some genres allow you to do more interesting things. OUR WAR is a straight-up literary thriller. Otherwise, I’ve written sci-fi, fantasy, and horror, which allow me to play with a fantastic element. Horror is particularly fun because you can really push boundaries and entice the reader to consider uncomfortable truths.

Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?

Both, in that I outline the major plot points so I always know where I’m going. During writing, there is a process of discovery between the plot points, where the story and characters tell me what they want to do.

What is your best marketing tip?

Write the absolute best book you can write. Nothing sells a book better than a good book that resonates.

Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?

I use social media primarily to network with other writers. It’s been invaluable for that. I also connect with fans. I think it’s very hard to get new readers on social media these days unless you dedicate a lot of time and energy to developing a certain persona and flogging it. I’d rather my books speak for themselves, while remaining accessible and responsive as an author.

Bio:

Craig DiLouie is an acclaimed American-Canadian author of literary dark fantasy and other fiction. Formerly a magazine editor and advertising executive, he also works as a journalist and educator covering the North American lighting industry. His fiction has been nominated for major awards, optioned for screen, and published in multiple languages. He is a member of the Imaginative Fiction Writers Association, International Thriller Writers, and the Horror Writers Association. He lives in Calgary, Canada with his two wonderful children.

Please check out Craig’s Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Craig-DiLouie/e/B001JS1SCQ

Ask a Question Thursday & Writing Prompt

August 8, 2019
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Today’s question is by way of an exercise to inspire the writing Muse. I hosted my writing group’s meeting on Tuesday and used a bag of multiple buttons as a 10 minute writing prompt. There were hundreds of buttons in various colours, styles and shapes. Each participant choose one to three buttons and then had to use them in one of the following ways.

  1. Describe the button in as much detail as possible.
  2. Tell a story of the garment the button came off and the person it belonged to.
  3. Give the button(s) personalities to match their appearance and tell a story about them.

The result was a variety of stories, each with individual ideas stemmed from the chosen button(s).

So today’s question is: you can use the photo herewith and pick a button or two or pick out buttons of your own and tell their story. I would love to read your stories – so comment below.

buttons

I will share one of my stories as the other one is not complete.

My Perfect Doll

Adeline picked up the purple button,  a tear running down her cheek.

“Poor Sandy, your beautiful coat is ruined.”

Picking up her favorite blonde haired doll, Adeline ran downstairs calling for her mother.

“Mummmmeeee….” the last syllable became a long whine, as she ran through the living room into the kitchen. The room was filled with the aroma of chocolate cookies.

“Mummy…”

“Oh my goodness, whatever is the matter?”

“Sandy’s coat is ruined – look. Now she isn’t perfect.”

She held up the doll dressed previously to perfection and opened her clasped hand to reveal the large purple button.

“Well, I wouldn’t say she is ruined, darling. It’s just a matter of sewing it back on.”

Adeline’s tears stopped and she looked up at her mother full of hope.

“Really, you can mend it?”

“Yes, of course I can. Sit here and have a nice warm cookie, I I get my sewing box. Sandy’s coat will be as good as new in no time.”

Comforted by her mother’s words, Adeline took a cookie and watched fascinated as the button was sewn back onto the doll’s coat.

“There all perfect again, I love you Sandy. And thank you Mummy.”

Her mother shook her head as Adeline disappeared back upstairs. I really need to teach her not everything has to be just so or prefect. She turned to the kitchen counter and began cleaning the counter top, every inch was meticulously scrubbed.

 

 

 

Author Interview – Catherine Saykaly-Stevens

August 6, 2019
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AuthorInterview

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What inspired your latest novel?

This time around, I’m writing a screenplay. I see a new space opening up in Transformation/ Transformation thrillers. The inciting idea was watching a young man open his 23ANDme results and discovering that he was not related to either parent or his siblings.

How did you come up with the title?            

Serf, in early Christian times ignorant and powerless French peasants worked the land, handing most of their hard earned labours to the local Lord. 

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

When change happens slowly people don’t necessarily notice it until it’s happened. Politicians are corrupt, and groups of young adults attempt to publically prove the consequence of a bad political decision can be overturned. They captures the unwanted government attention, just as they are about to graduate.

  • Anyone can capture anyone’s attention.
  • Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
  • It only takes one action to start a movement.

How much of the book is realistic?

It’s based on our normal North American history, but where one political decision made 4 years earlier launched a new direction, and how one privileged young man searches for answer to a personal dilemma in this new political environment.

Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

They are completely fictitious and living in my head.

Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?

I have a digital marketing Blog on my Website: TheNetworkingWeb.com
Connect with me: LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook1 | Facebook2 | Instagram | YouTube (launching April)

Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?

This one is written specifically for the Netflix 5-year Series.  No other sequel, but the books will spawn 2 more from the same Story World.
So far, I have over 200 story outlines. My biggest problem isn’t coming up with ideas; it’s finding the time to write and to STICK TO and FINISH 1 story.

Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?

Honestly, I don’t have favorites. Each has their uniqueness, secrets, and quirks. I just jump from brain to brain when the moment calls.

Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?

Mystery, missing persons, and thrillers have always been my favourites.  Today I see the transformational writing space opening up and am interested in producing transformational thrillers.
Curious? The Matrix is one.

Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?

I used to be a seat of the pants style writer. Now I outline EVERYTHING to develop intriguing layers first, to ensure that it works. (Fiction) In business writing, you plan everything.

What is your best marketing tip?

It takes MONTH’s to launch a book properly.
Use your book as a tool to get interviews, lots of them!

Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?

Good question, as a digital marketing expert, social media could very well be the most disruptive tool ever seen, or when used effective, they greatest tool to grow your audience and sell more books, attend more conferences, and to maybe get a movie deal.

OPTIONAL QUESTIONS

What do you enjoy most about writing?

It’s cathartic. It’s my outlet. It lets me release the ideas in my head.

What age did you start writing stories/poems?

Maybe 6. I may have rewritten my cartoon to run stories the way I wanted them to turn out. Fan Fiction circa @1983

Has your genre changed or stayed the same?

I’ve always writing the mysteries/missing person thrillers in fiction.
For work, because social media and digital marking is ALWAYS changing, I’ve had to rewrite old books and keep putting out new ones. That’s why they are never in print.

What genre are you currently reading?

Thrillers, mystery, crime, Psychological drama’s in fiction – business and marketing books and biographies in non-fiction and biz.

Do you read for pleasure or research or both?

I use to read far more for pleasure, not I read mostly for work.

Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?

My brother from another mother. We are each other’s biggest content creation supporters.

Where is your favorite writing space?

Comfortable bustling coffee shops where I don’t know anyone.

Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one?

I used to belong to Inklings until a few years back, most crime writing, but not for a few years.
I belong to one of the many #12WeekYear now, for HIGH productivity

If you could meet one favorite author, who would it, be and why?

Two come to mind: For science and for decades I’ve always wanted to meet James Burke. These days, I’d love to interview Malcolm Gladwell.

If you could live anywhere in the world – where would it be?

I am partially connected to many cities. I’d like to live a winter to WRITE in Prague, Florence, or Seville, or most other locations where old cobble stone roads are the norm, little watering holes has people speaking English as a second language and the locals LOVE to share their stories, history, and folklore.

Do you see writing as a career?

Absolutely. For work, I regularly produce technical writing, copy writing, blogs, articles, even copy for explainer videos. For myself, I write Novels, Outlines and Screenplays.

Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food?

I drink as I write all day; coffee mostly, then water, a specialty soda is a treat.

What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline?

Start the next project. No rest for the wicked

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TITLE:  Online Research Paths: Fake or Real?

Once the internet became available to the masses, new opportunities to collect and post data fueled new research.

However, not all information online is true. Still, there are many rich information resources to collect information, post queries to request information, and apply listening tools to seek information not yet posted. There is truly no limit.

How can you use this great online resource to your advantage yet not waste value time?

This interactive class explores online search methods, queries, and untapped resources.
Catherine invites you to bring your search queries, mobile devices, and questions.

Ask a Question Thursday

August 1, 2019
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For those of you with school age children/grandchildren – are you celebrating having the house to yourself after the summer holiday/vacation? Do you plunge right back into your current manuscript or have some downtime to refresh?

back to school

Last week’s question: Do you incorporate politics and/or religion into your stories? What is the reason?

Mandy Eve-Barnett

 

I have used a matriarchal society in my novel, Life in Slake Patch as the background to a young man’s life in that regime. It was interesting to write about the influences and attitudes of a different society. In contrast my novel, The Twesome Loop, which covers two time periods, shows the patriarchal suppression in the 1800’s.

 

Join the conversation and leave your comment below.

If you have a suggestion for a question please let me know.

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