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Author Interview – Bruce Solheim


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bruce-solheim

1.      Does writing energize or exhaust you?
When I’m in the zone I can go all day long and stay focused and energized. I’m even manic sometimes if you ask my wife Ginger. Then I crash. When I’m agonizing over some plot point, character, twist, nagging and elusive detail or whatever, that is exhausting, and I can slowly slip into madness (to quote the Grinch).

2.      What is your writing Kryptonite?
Thankless, petty BS piling up that I don’t want to do and that sucks up my precious time. Any kind of paperwork or forms or the like. These things put me in a bad mood and I can’t write when I’m in a bad mood.

3.      Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
How do you know that I’m not already writing under a pseudonym? Yes, honestly, but those thoughts passed quickly, just like my plan to be a caped superhero.

 

 

 


4.      What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
David Willson, my mentor, Vietnam veteran and author of the REMF series (REMF Diary, REMF Returns, In the Army Now). I met David when I started teaching after graduate school in 1993. His encouragement, honesty, attention to the details of quotidian life, sardonic wit, and dark Nordic sense of humor have influenced my writing heavily.

Dr. Gary Hess, my doctoral committee chair and author of many fine history books (The United States at War, 1941-1945, Vietnam: Explaining America’s Los War, Presidential Decisions for War: Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, and Iraq). Gary has impressed me with the volume of his work, the detail and scope of his historical analyses, work ethic, kindness, and service to his community.

Neil H. Weiss, another mentor. Neil helped me learn how to write plays. He is an accomplished screenwriter, television writer, and director. Neil has pushed me to be the best I can be and will not accept anything else other than your best. He is a hard-driver and does not mince words or waste any time.

Jose Cruz Gonzalez, another mentor. Jose writes plays for young audiences (The Astronaut Farmworker, Tomas and the Library Lady). He inspired me and taught me to write through mystical expression and the exercise of capturing butterflies. He is a kind and gentle human being with a heart of gold.
Ali's Bees
5.      Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

I write books, plays, poetry, and songs. They largely stand alone, but there is a common theme in all my written works: find the hero within and make strong choices in your life. We are the heroes of our own life stories. I’ve written about a diverse selection of characters from a gay combat soldier in Vietnam (The Bronze Star) to a 13-year-old refugee boy dealing with Islamophobia in East Los Angeles (Ali’s Bees), from a timid school teacher who finds her inner strength and becomes an anti-Nazi resistance fighter in occupied Norway (The Epiphany), to a wounded Civil War veteran who goes west to find his runaway wife and search for gold, only to find himself and recover his lost soul (Tough Trip Through Hell, a play based on David Willson’s unpublished novel). Most of my written work deals with the impact of war on people and on society. The settings range from the Old West to occupied Norway in World War II to a post-apocalyptic Earth ruled by wandering bands of mutants. My non-fiction books range from foreign policy in the Nordic Region to women leaders to the Vietnam War to a new take on modern American history since the Civil War. They all focus on the individual and how people who make brave and strong choices make our world better and lead the way in search of truth and meaning. My latest work includes illustrations. Gary Dumm, of American Splendor fame, illustrated 12 comic book pages for my anti-textbook (Making History: A Personal Approach to Modern American History) and will illustrate my two paranormal books (Timeless: A Paranormal Personal History and Timeless II). Gabby Untermayerova illustrated my fiction book for middle grade readers. “You can do anything with words and pictures,” as Harvey Pekar once said.

6.      What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Copy editing, line-editing, and more editing. Also, illustrations by inspiring and amazing artists.

7.      What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
I grew up with two languages, Norwegian and English. Because my father could not write in English, I would write letters for him. Actually, I would type letters for him. This started when I was nine years old. I was fascinated by typewriters and books. I loved listening to my dad’s stories of his sailing days in the 1930’s and of the Nazi occupation. I began writing stories at age 10 and have never stopped writing. I wrote short stories, screenplays, poems, and illustrated and wrote comic books (nothing published). I had a short-lived comic strip (Snark: A Space Tragedy) in my school paper at Montana Tech. I published my first book in 1994 and had my first play produced in 2012. Now I’ve written seven books and eight plays. When I visit Norway, I speak Norwegian and it’s almost as if I’m a different person, or maybe a more complete person. My friend Neil said that I’m like a gate that swings between the United States and Norway. That is powerful.

8.      What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
David Willson REMF Diary. David has captured what it is like to be a file clerk in the middle of a war. The great majority of veterans do not see any combat, but that literature is rather thin. David Willson’s REMF Diary set the bar for all others.

9.      As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
Lion. When I was a kid I watched a Daktari on TV. Clarence the cross-eyed lion was a regular.

10.  How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Two books. Three unfinished plays.

11.  What does literary success look like to you?

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

12.  What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Oral interviews, correspondence, networking, and online archival research. I start as soon as I get an idea and write as I research. “Time’s a wasting.”

13.  How many hours a day/week do you write?
On average, 3 hours.

14.  How do you select the names of your characters?
The sound of the name, the interesting people whom I have met who have similar names, and historical figures.

15.  What was your hardest scene to write?

The first one and the last one. If you mess up either one, the book is ruined. In fact, the first sentence and the last one, are the hardest to write and can also mess up your work. Start strong and finish strong.

 

 

 

 

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 have a Ph.D. in History so naturally I have written historical non-fiction. My theatrical plays are usually historically-based and then fictionalized, but I’ve broken away from that with certain issues that interest me or problems that I see not being given enough attention. I wrote my first fiction novel just recently. It was geared for middle grade readers and above and it began as a play. My latest play is a sci-fi rock opera set in a post-apocalyptic Earth (Timothy). I feel compelled to write something based on what possesses me. Sometimes the idea is a sudden burst and sometimes it is a slow burning compulsion. I don’t attempt to balance anything, it just happens.

17.  How long have you been writing?

Since age 10, so 49 years.

18.  What inspires you?  

Good food, Ginger (my wife and muse), music of all kinds, my children and grandchild, a thought-provoking book or film, animals, Northern Norway, and a righteous cause.

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

I get up earlier than anyone else. The early bird gets the worm. I don’t like downtime, so I fill my day here and there with research or writing.

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

I’m working with my friend Carsten Dau on a rock opera based loosely on Timothy Leary but set in the post-apocalyptic future. I’m finishing up Timeless and have already started Timeless II. The premise of my paranormal books is that science has already found evidence for the paranormal and we all experience these phenomena, but many people are afraid to acknowledge their experiences. I’m not afraid, and I encourage others to come forward. As I always say, “it is not that I believe in ghosts, it’s that they believe in me, so I don’t have a choice.” As I write these words I have just started a thriller set in the near future in the Nordic region (written in Norwegian).

21.   What do your plans for future projects include?

More plays, getting my other plays fully produced, more paranormal personal history books, and responding to the next question in life. I also don’t rule out some type of interplanetary travel, as long as I can fly first class. Coach is rough enough as it is here on Earth.

22.   Share a link to your author website.

www.bruceolavsolheim.com
www.thebronzestar.com
www.Alisbees.com
www.theepiphany.net

 Bio:

Bruce Olav Solheim was born on September 3, 1958, in Seattle, Washington, to hard-working Norwegian immigrant parents, Asbjørn and Olaug Solheim. Bruce was the first person in his family to go to college. He served for six years in the US Army as a jail guard and later as a helicopter pilot. He earned his PhD in history from Bowling Green State University in 1993.

Bruce is currently a distinguished professor of history at Citrus College in Glendora, California. He also served as a Fulbright professor in 2003 at the University of Tromsø in northern Norway.

Bruce founded the Veterans Program at Citrus College and cofounded, with Manuel Martinez and Ginger De Villa-Rose, the Boots to Books transition course—the first college course in the United States designed specifically for recently returned veterans. He has published five books and has written seven plays, two of which have been produced.

Bruce is married to Ginger, the girl of his dreams, who is a professional helicopter pilot and certified flight instructor. He has been blessed with four wonderful children: Bjørn, Byron, Caitlin, and Leif. He also has a precious grandson, Liam. Bruce, his brother, and his two nephews still own the family home in Åse, Norway, two hundred miles above the Arctic Circle.

Author Interview – Richard Paolinelli


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  1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Both at times, as strange as that may sound. When the words are flowing I seem to gain energy as I go along. But there are times, usually when I am pushing to make a hard deadline, when I feel like I’m dragging about five tons of brick around on my shoulders and it is difficult to write the next sentence.

  1. What is your writing Kryptonite?

The Internet. It is just too easy to hop on to check my email “really quick” and get distracted by something and three hours later suddenly remember I was supposed to be writing. The house hound also tries his best to distract, usually when I am really on a roll.

  1. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

Briefly. But I was writing for newspapers for so long that it just seemed natural to continue to do so when I transitioned to fiction writing. Plus, I really dislike posting in online forums under fake screen names as I feel that leads to bad behavior by folks who feel they can get away with anything without any accountability. So I have always made it a point to put my real name behind everything I write, online or off.

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

I know so many of them that if I tried to list them all here we’d break the internet. Not to mention I’d probably forget some of them and then have to spend the rest of the year apologizing. But in their own ways they have all helped me become a better writer. Sometimes it is from just reading their work and seeing how they develop a character or lay out a scene. Sometimes it comes from the way they market their books or deal with unfair criticism.

 

 

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

Almost all of them are stand alone, although I have readers asking me when the sequel to Escaping Infinity is coming out. I do have one trilogy though, the Jack Del Rio political thriller series. Writing in so many different genres as I do I very much doubt there a way for me ever to be able to connect them. All I really hope for is that they are all enjoyable stories that readers continue to want to read.

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

The $20 that I spent on three Himekami CDs many years ago (pre-MP3 era). Listening to the beautifully enchanting synthesized music produced by this group from Japan seems to put me into the perfect state of mind to write.

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

When I sat down one day at the age of 4 and heard a man say that he hoped for a world where his children would be judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin. It took a few more years for me to fully understand the concept, but those words made perfect sense to 4-year-old me. It wasn’t what a person looked like that mattered, it is what they said and did that was all that counted. I’ve always strived to keep that lesson in my heart in the half-century that has passed since I first heard them and am reminded of that day every time I read those words again.

 

 

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

Time Traveller’s Never Die by Jack McDevitt. I loved the way Jack (I get to call him that because we’ve worked together on a Sherlock Holmes anthology and corresponded a few times since) dealt with the paradox of time travelling and it was this book, and discovering Jack’s path to becoming a writer at a later age, that inspired me to try to give fiction writing another try at the age of 46. 

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

Polar Bear. Because they are patiently relentless in their pursuit of their goal. For them it is their next meal but for me it is getting the current novel finished so I can begin working on the next one.

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

About 30 in various states of started but not finished to just outline-only.

  1. What does literary success look like to you?

When I have finished a book and it is available to be purchased on Amazon or in a bookstore. That means another story of mine – another world or universe of my creation – is available to be read and, hopefully, enjoyed.

 

 

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

With my two non-fiction books I spent years going through newspaper microfilms, online searching and interviews before I sat down and started writing them. It probably worked out to two years each from starting research to writing completed and the book released.

With my fiction works I’d say I research for about a week before I start writing. Even then I find I will pause writing at points to do additional research when something does not sound right or if I make a change in the original outline along the way.

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

At least 30 hours a week and sometimes as many as 60 depending on other things going on in my life.

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

I have a couple of ways. Usually the names seem to come to me and I go with them if they “feel” right. But I discovered a website that generates first and last names based on several factors of race, ethnicity, gender and genre. I’ll scroll through a few randomly generated names until I find a combination I like.

  1. What was your hardest scene to write?

In Reservations which was the first Jack Del Rio novel. I had decided to kill off one of the major characters and when I got to the chapter when the death was to occur I found it harder to write with each passing word. I kept going back and forth on whether or not to kill the character or not. It took me 14 hours to write that chapter and I recall finishing it, saving it and then walking away from my desk in tears when I finished writing the death scene that ended the chapter. It felt like I had murdered a loved one. But the response I have received from readers has convinced me that I made the correct decision.

 

 

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

My early books were sports non-fiction, which were easy to do coming off 20 years as a sportswriter, and then my initial fiction works were political mystery-thrillers. But my first love as a young reader was science fiction and that is the genre I will be doing most of my writing in for the foreseeable future.

  1. How long have you been writing?

Since 1983 when I started as a freelance writer. Aside from being the lead writer for two issues of a comic book series in 1986, I started as a full-time novelist in 2011 after I retired as a newspaper writer/editor in 2010.

  1. What inspires you? 

 My family. I want to leave a legacy in my writings that my children and grandchildren and their grandchildren can be proud of long after I am gone.

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

I am fortunate in that this is my full-time job so I have a nice routine that allows me to write on a regular schedule. Having worked for 20 years in newspapers where I was expected to write 2-3,000 words a day has made it something of a habit now, one that seems as natural to me as breathing.

legacy

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

Many. I am helping finish the final book written by my friend Gibson Michaels, who passed away last year before he could finish it. It would have been his fourth book and we want to make sure his readers get to read it. I am co-writing a western novel with Jim Christina, with whom I co-host an online show about writers and the craft of writing – The Writer’s Block on LA Talk Radio. I’m editing one of the 11 books in the Planetary Anthology series (and have stories in several of the others) and I am helping start up a new organization for professional creators in science fiction and fantasy, the Science Fiction & Fantasy Creators Guild ( www.sffcguild.com)  .

  1. What do your plans for future projects include?

I have three science-fiction/fantasy projects lined up I want to finish by the end of 2018 – When the Gods Fell, Cursed Firstborn and Seadragon.

  1. Share a link to your author website.

https://scifiscribe.com/

 

Author Interview – Rick Lauber


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RickProfile

  Does writing energize or exhaust you?

This mostly depends of what I am writing. Subject matter or issues of personal interest can be energizing to work on while other subject matter can be more difficult.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

Probably distractions of any kind. When I am writing, I like to sit down in my office chair and completely focus on the job at hand. Interruptions can disrupt my thought patterns and make it difficult to concentrate completely.

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

Not yet! I don’t feel a need to do so and feel this may not be in my best interests. I would prefer readers to recognize my name and/or associate it with my books.

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

I know a number of local authors – including Todd Babiak, Roberta Laurie, Mandy Eve-Barnett, Alison Neuman, Darla Woodley and Dorian Joyal. I am also a long-standing member of a local writer’s group. Knowing and associating with other writers / authors can be helpful (writers seem to be the only people who understand writers …), motivational, and inspirational. I would have to give credit to my writer’s group for helping me increase my self-confidence as a writer and to give me the push needed to write my first book.

Caregivers

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

I am favouring the second route where I am building a body of work with connections between each book. My first book, Caregiver’s Guide for Canadians, opened the door to my writing my second book, The Successful Caregiver’s Guide. As a twice-chosen contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul, I have provided them with caregiving-related stories. I also continually freelance write about senior caregiving and other senior-related issues.

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

Probably hiring a lawyer to review my first book publishing contract. This was an area I knew very little about but I knew it would be important to have somebody more in the know to read through this contract, make sure that all the “I’s” were dotted and the “T’s” were crossed, and that this contract was fair for me.

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

Many years ago when I was much younger, I remember writing a letter to the Editor of the Edmonton Journal about my lost dog being found and returned. Unbeknownst to me, my mother kept a copy of that letter until she passed away. When sorting through Mom’s filing cabinet after she died, I came across this letter and was very surprised! The message that I learned here was that if I had impacted my mother so greatly with what I had written, I expect I would have impacted others as well. That theory has been repeatedly verified from my meeting with people at current book signing events … I routinely see nods of approval for my topic choice or hear high praise from those who have read my books.

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

Hmmm, I think I would choose an owl. My mother always liked owls and shared her appreciation with her children. I admire these birds for their grace and beauty.

sucess

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

Perhaps surprising, but none! While I do know other writers with half-finished book projects saved on their computer’s desktop, the only thing I have saved is a related project I am currently working on!

What does literary success look like to you?

Publication of one’s written work and royalty cheques! Literary success also includes the positive feedback from readers (meaning that they have read your book and appreciated it at some level).

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

This depends on the book’s subject matter. With my own works, I drew from my own personal knowledge as a caregiver for both my own aging parents. Researching can also be done by other means … I have “google-searched” on-line (being mindful of both the source and the currency of the information provided), read associated material, and interviewed subject matter experts.

How many hours a day/week do you write?

Due to other working commitments, I often can write for only two to three hours per day a couple of days per week. I have been known to also write in the evenings and/or on weekends, but I usually only do that if I have a tight deadline and need to get something done in short order.

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

After serving as a caregiver for both my own aging parents, this area has become very important to me. While I realize that the number of seniors in our country is ever-increasing and there will be a higher demand for the type of information I provide, I also gain immense satisfaction by helping others (who are prospective, new, and/or current caregivers).

How long have you been writing?

I have been casually writing for many years (as mentioned, I think it all began with that Letter to the Edmonton Journal’s Editor about my missing dog). I recall enjoying writing English essays in school and have worked a number of jobs where writing was involved (i.e.radio broadcasting and marketing). I finally stumbled across the Professional Writing program (offered through Grant MacEwan University) and decided to register for classes to see if writing was simply a casual interest or something I should take more seriously.

What inspires you?

Good writing, music, the great outdoors (gazing at a mountain peak, for example), a cleaner and more organized desk and working area, and participating in a writer’s group (where I can receive support and motivation from others).

How do you find or make time to write?

While I do have a secondary job outside of my own writing from home, I have arranged for this work to be part-time. As a result, I have a couple of days per week left mostly open for writing projects. My reduced regular paycheque provides me motivation to chase after freelance markets as well!

Caregiving seems like an odd book subject choice … why did you pick this area to write about?

Thanks for asking! I was a former co-caregiver for my own aging parents (Mom had Parkinson’s disease and Leukemia while Dad had Alzheimer’s disease). By helping and supporting both of them before they passed away, I learned a great deal about their health conditions, my own abilities, and how relevant caregiving has become in today’s society. As a means of coping with Mom and Dad’s decline, I began by writing newspaper and magazine articles about my own experiences, thoughts, and feelings. After my parents both died, I continued to write about this subject – feeling that it was both very valuable to other prospective, new, and current caregivers as well as therapeutic for me. Some years later, I spotted a book publisher’s call out for an author to write a book about caregiving. This got me thinking, “I have the related experience and could probably do this …”. I, very nervously, wrote up a pitch letter to introduce myself and the proposed book (as I saw it …). After some dithering on my part, I finally mustered up the courage to e-mail my letter to the publisher. It’s a good thing I did as I received a very enthusiastic “yes” on my proposal and then a book contract.

What projects are you working on at the present?

I am mostly writing in support of what I have written. This means I am continuing to write caregiving-related articles for newspapers, magazines, and on-line markets. While I am not always paid for these articles, I always have the opportunity to provide a concluding bio – this includes my own name, my book titles, and my author’s website. I feel that doing this is a great way to promote my own name and work.

What do your plans for future projects include?

Probably more similar writing. I always have my door open for other opportunities and am interested in a number of ideas: public speaking, collaborating with others, exhibiting opportunities at senior’s trade shows, and so on. Although book authoring can be an extensive job, I haven’t ruled out my writing another book (or more …)!

Share a link to your author website.

http://www.ricklauber.com

(I am also on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CaregiversGuideForCanadians/ and Twitter at https://twitter.com/cdncaregiver).

Author Interview – Shawn Bird


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shawnlbirdtealsmall

1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Generally, it’s an energizer while I’m writing; however, when plot problems or new ideas keep me up all night when I need to be teaching in my high school class room bright and early, it can lead to exhaustion! When I can write all night, during summer and holidays I’m in a constant state of creative euphoria

2. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

Yes. I think if I decide to do something with that Romance manuscript in my drawer I would publish under a pseudonym to establish a separate audience for that genre.

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

From regular attendance at Surrey International Writing Conference (SiWC), I have developed a wide social network of writers. I probably interact the most with Carol Mason, Eileen Cook, CC Humphreys, Tyner Gillies, Sylvia Taylor, and Diana Gabaldon. From workshops, blue pencils, social time at events, and then continued social media or email contact through the years, I’ve benefitted from the experiences they share and the feedback they give. Diana in particular, has helped with a historical novel I’ve been working on and been very encouraging of other projects, including providing a cover blurb for Murdering Mr Edwards. When someone who’s sold millions of books is willing to put her name behind your project, it’s a profound gift.

I’m presently doing a mentorship with Giller nominated , local author Gail Anderson-Dargatz on a literary novel project.   There is so much to learn, and it’s wonderful to know people who are willing to share their knowledge.

When you become a regular at a conference, you have a built in support network. I love presenting at conferences, too, which is great way to give back. I’ve enjoyed meeting beginning writers and helping then bring their projects to life. At SiWC I also met Leena Niemela who’s an awesome Finnish Canadian poet. I’ve stayed at her place on Vancouver Island to play in poetry together. It’s wonderful to have friends who understand about the voices in your head.

Dreams

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

I seem to be writing many distinct things at this point. I have published poetry books; Grace Awakening is an urban fantasy YA novel (modern romance and Greek mythology), and the most recent project, Murdering Mr. Edwards, is a series of a short stories that became a ‘noir-vella’. I’ve got drafts of two more books in the Grace Awakening series, but lots of other projects, too. I suppose if something really took off, I’d turn my focus to that genre, but at the moment I just write what I’m in the mood to write at the time. I read a lot of different genres, so it’s not a surprise I write several, too. That said, I love Charles de Lint’s books that are set in Newford, with assorted characters that wander into each other’s stories. That’d be fun to do someday. I could send some of the teachers in Grace Awakening to teach at Canterbury High, perhaps they’ll want to murder Mr. Edwards, too…

Dreams & Power

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

The money I spend each year to attend writing conferences is an annual expenditure of around $4000, but I think it’s well worth it. I’ve been signed by an agent and two publishers as a result of pitches at conferences. I learned how to pitch at conferences. I network with others at conferences. They are worth the investment. You get the tools, the tips, and the encouragement at conferences. You get out of the slush pile and meet the people you need to impress face to face. I try each year to attend Word on the Lake Writers’ Conference in Salmon Arm, BC; When Word’s Collide in Calgary, AB; and SiWC in Surrey, BC. Usually I manage at least two of the three. Last summer I attended a fantastically inspiring poetry retreat with Patrick Lane on Vancouver Island. There is so much to learn from these masters.

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

I remember the laughter of the grade 3 class audience when I read stories or put on puppet shows I’d written for Show and Tell. I guess that means I can blame all of this on Mrs. Thompson.

Power

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

I’m a chickadee.  

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

Hmm. Half a dozen or so novels done or in progress, three completed novellas, and a dozen or more completed short stories. Hundreds of poems are published on the blog, but there are more in the computer, I don’t know which are which any more.

2011

9. What does literary success look like to you?

People laughing in an audience when I read my work. People writing or stopping me in the street or in the grocery line to tell me they’d read and enjoyed my books. I love it when that happens. I’m so honored that strangers will take the time to comment.

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

Depends on the project, of course. Usually I just write, and if there’s something I need to check, I look it up later, rather than interrupting the flow. Chris Humphreys and Diana Gabaldon have both cautioned about the research rabbit holes. It’s so easy to get lost in fascinating stuff, and forget there’s a story to be telling. I do some general reading on the topic, perhaps, but then I dive right in. There’s an exception to that. I have a historical piece that is on hiatus. I own translations of 600 year old texts and 300 year old volumes. I am not quite ready to pull it all together. I want to go to France where the events took place and immerse myself. I visited a few years ago, but that was only enough to tell me that exploring the museum and chatting with the curator was not enough…

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

On various projects (including editing and promotional tasks, educational and curriculum writing, blog, poetry, and whatever novel project has my attention at the time), somewhere around twenty to twenty-five hours a week. More in the summer. When I don’t have to be in my class room at 9 a.m., I write all night and go to bed at 4 or 5 a.m.

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

Sometimes baby name books, sometimes I use the name of students (with their permission, of course), sometimes they just introduce themselves with names in place, and I have no idea where they’ve come from.

13. What was your hardest scene to write?

I did a lot of weeping when I was writing a scene on a logging road about Josh and a Sasquatch in Grace Awakening Power. But apparently readers do a lot of weeping there, too, so that was a good emotional investment.

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

I don’t think about it. I’m writing what I’m writing when I’m writing. I don’t have anyone telling me what to do with my projects, so I just do what speaks to me at any given time. Of course, Coffin Hop has been a priority this fall. If they’ve sent edits or whatever, everything else stopped while I dealt with Murdering Mr. Edwards. That’s been a fun, and completely unexpected project.

For me the harder balance might have been sorting out teaching life and writing life. I’ve decided to blur the boundaries a bit by sharing my work and experiences with my students. Lots of them would like to be writers, all of them need to know how to write something. Lots of advice applies to both situations: “You can’t edit a blank page.” “First drafts don’t have to be good, they just have to be written.” I show them manuscripts covered with editor marks so they know it’s normal to have to re-write, edit, and polish repeatedly! So many scribble something on the page and think it’s perfect. None of us is perfect the first time!

15. How long have you been writing?

I won my first writing prize at age 9, and received my first rejection letter at age 10. Both for poetry. I paid for my husband’s wedding ring with short story prize money. Then I was busy with university and only did non-fiction writing for about twenty years while I raised kids. The month after the kids moved out, Grace awakened.

16. What inspires you?  

Almost everything. There are stories EVERYWHERE.

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

I sit in the chair and I write. I write in the evening after dinner. I write while watching TV (if I’m not knitting). At this precise moment, I’m sitting in the tub, typing this on a waterproof keyboard. (I think about a quarter of Grace was written in the bathtub). Like Nike, I just do it.

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

I’m promoting Murdering Mr. Edwards. It’s a noir-vella that’s a collection of 12 tales. The same annoying English teacher is murdered in each story. The literary novel I’m mentoring with Gail Anderson-Dargatz explores the relationship of a couple dealing with his mental illness. I’ve got some short stories brewing for contest season. I am trying to get back to daily poetry on my blog. I’m compiling a curriculum guide for teaching poetry. I compiling a collection of non-sectarian invocations for Rotary Clubs. I keep lots of stuff on the go all the time; that’s one of Diana’s recommendations for avoiding writers’ block. It works for me.

19. What do your plans for future projects include?

Finishing a few unfinished projects, editing a few completed projects, touring around telling people about Murdering Mr Edwards

20. Share a link to your author website.

www.shawnbird.com   Twitter and Instagram @ShawnLBird (I share a lot of shoes on Instagram. My shoe collection is infamous).

Bio:

Shawn Bird is a high school English teacher, an author, and a poet in the beautiful Shuswap region of British Columbia.  After 2 years as a graduate student in the Faculty of Education at University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus Shawn can no longer say she’s a  “jack of all trades master of none” ’cause she’s wielding a certificate that proclaims she’s a Master of Education! 🙂

 

Author Interview – Lorna Schultz Nicholson


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  1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

In all honesty, it does a bit of both.  I get so energized from the thinking, creating and writing.  But the mind is a funny thing and once I/we (my editor and me) are down to the nitty-gritty edits, it starts shifting towards my next project.  Ideas start popping up and I have to hold them down. This is often the time when I also wake up in the night and think…I made a mistake and then I lose sleep over that one mistake.  Often I get up in the night and make the change, then I can’t go back to sleep.  Does this make any sense?

But writing does give me charge.

2. What is your writing Kryptonite?   I want to say my dog because he is always wanting to go for walks but then when I walk I get energized and my mind frees a bit and thoughts come through.  So that isn’t really true and I don’t want to blame him anyway, he’s too good a dog.  Well sometimes.  I know that coffee and chocolate are my reverse Kryptonite’s.  Maybe being with friends?

3. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

I haven’t really thought about that.  Right now there is no need for me to do that.

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

I have tons of author friends.  I dog walk with Karen Spafford-Fitz and Debby Waldman and I eat dessert or talk about eating dessert with Natasha Deen.  I get together with Sharon Jennings, Karen Bass and so many others when I’m in Toronto.  They all help me because they write such amazing books and reading their books makes me better.  And talking about plot problems, character problems or even publishing problems is really helpful. 

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

I have done both.  I have written series. In fact the 4th book in my One-2-One series has just been released and all the characters are connected through their high school Best Buddies group.  But I have also written stand-alones and have one pitched as I’m writing this.  No confirmation but it is pitched.  I also take on the odd non-fiction project.  I’m currently writing a 40th anniversary Oilers book which has been a huge project as I interviewed so many people.  Just different work. 

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

Years ago, I took a trip to the NWT and I paid out of my pocket but it was such a great trip and gave me insight into my characters and their landscape.  I went to Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk and it has stayed with me.  Years later I went back to the NWT with the TD book tour and loved it all over again.

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

I loved to read as a child and my mother really encouraged us to read.  I remember reading Anne of Green Gables and I loved Anne so much. The scene with Matthew and the puffed sleeves has stayed with me for years.  I also loved Trixie Beldon and wanted to be in the Bob Whites of the Glen.

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

That is a super hard question because I don’t think any novel is under appreciated but I know what you are asking.  You know, I can’t answer this question if I’m honest.  I’m thinking and thinking and to me all the books I’ve read and loved are appreciated by me.  It’s a hard business and sometimes as a writer you wonder why your book doesn’t get this or that, why you don’t get foreign sales or front spots in Chapters, then you get an email from a reader who tells you how much it meant to them.  That means it was appreciated.

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

Wow, you ask really amazing questions.   But they are hard.  I’ve never thought about this but once I went to a shaman and he said perhaps I was a deer in a past life.  So maybe a deer.  Because sometimes I need to slow my work down, and fill the holes.  I’m a fast worker and I like to get to the end so it would be helpful to slow down every now and again BUT deer can get moving too when they have to and can they jump! 

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

Tons.  I have a few adult mysteries, an early reader, a middle grade reader and a couple of teen novels.  Boo hoo.  No one wanted them.  Oh, and I have a one-act play and a screenplay.

11. What does literary success look like to you?

This is something that keeps changing as I raise the bar for myself.  At first it was to get published. Then it was to get a second book published.  Then it was to try a non-fiction and a teen novel.  Now I want to maybe do a teen thriller, something completely different.  I would also love some foreign sales.  BUT…all that aside, what is important to literary success is the reader telling you they read your book and got something from your story.  I think in the end that will be my definition of literary success. 

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

I do a lot of research.  How long I spend depends on the book and what I know or don’t know about the subject matter.  I can research for months before starting a novel. 

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

This really depends on my travel schedule.  I travel a lot, and do a lot of author visits to schools and sometimes this disrupts the writing.  When I’m home, at my desk, I can work 4-5 hours on a new project before I have to answer emails and questions like I’m doing now.  Lol. 

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

Names just come to me.  Although once I wrote an entire novel knowing I didn’t like the one character’s name and when I finished it and was doing my second draft I changed it.  And the name worked. 

15. What was your hardest scene to write?

I wrote a bullying scene in a novel titled Born With (One-2-One series) and it was hard to write because I know that it was mimicking reality and that made me sad.  My character getting bullied was gay.

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 write in many different genres because I’m always trying to improve my writing and challenge myself.  For instance, I’m writing this Oilers project which is non-fiction and I’m almost nearing the end – woo hoo- and I can’t wait to write a middle grade novel I signed a contract with Orca.  Did I tell you I can’t wait to go back to fiction???  So exciting. 

17. How long have you been writing?

Since I was little.  I took a break in high school to play sports and be a jock and in university to get a science degree.  But I did write a lot when I was young.

18. What inspires you?  

Everything and anything.  My mother wrote poetry and loved books so she is a huge inspiration to me.

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

I don’t believe in writer’s block.  I call it procrastination.  I just make time to write because I can’t not write.  Even when I wasn’t published and was getting rejected and wanted to quit.  I just couldn’t not write.

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

I have my non-fiction Oilers book which will come out in the fall, and I’m currently doing photo captions for.  I will go back to my work as soon as I finish this questionnaire.  (Nice break.)  And I just had a teen novel A Time To Run: Stuart and Sam be launched, so I should do some media stuff and get my website updated.  I have a middle grade I’m going to write for Orca Currents in the spring and another hockey book in my Amazing Hockey Series.  

21. What do your plans for future projects include?

Not sure.  I’ve pitched a couple of teen novels and I’m playing around with a teen thriller.  Not sure where it will go.  It’s fun sometimes to play around. 

22. Share a link to your author website.

www.lornaschultznicholson.com  

lornasn on Instagram

Lorna Schultz Nicholson on facebook

Lornasn on twitter

Bio:  

 

Lorna Schultz Nicholson has published over thirty-six books, including picture books, middle grade fiction and non-fiction, adult non-fiction and YA fiction. (She is currently working on a 40th Anniversary Edmonton Oilers book.)  Many of her books have made the CCBC Best Books list, been Resource Links picks and been nominated for awards.  Her children’s books are about kids and their diversities and friendships and school and family life and emotions and feelings and… the ups and downs in life.  We all have those ups and downs, and we’re all different, which makes us all special.  Lorna lives in Edmonton with her hubbie and two dogs, a whiny Bichon Shih Tzu, and a naughty, hyper puppy she rescued from Mexico.   Well, he’s not a puppy anymore but she treats him like he is.  Over the years she has been a television co-host and reporter, radio host and reporter, theatre and murder mystery actor, fitness coordinator and rowing coach.  Now she is full-time writer. She travels to schools all across Canada to inspire children about her love of reading and writing, and she loves talking to adults about writing, and leading writing workshops.  She remembers her before-published days and wants to encourage writers to keep pursuing their dreams.  Being an author is a dream come true.