writing process

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A Book Report on Peter Rabbit

Published October 7, 2016 by admin

I know, I know, it’s been forever.

I feel like I’ve needed time away to realign and figure out what works for me. Some days it feels like my whole life is about learning how to balance. I still have a huge to do list and a lot of things to get to, but the great news is I’m starting to write again.

Who knows if it’s any good, but they’re words and they’re mine, so that’s something.

The past year, whether it’s been blog posts or stories or longer works, I always feel like my timing is off, or if I just wait and get rested or eat something first, or tick off fifty things on the list so I’m really ready to concentrate, then I can write. Maybe. Of course you know how that goes.

Back in the bronze age of my childhood, I was obsessed with the Peanuts comic strip and characters. In the course of my life if I haven’t read every single strip, I’ve probably come close. Seriously, I’m a walking Wiki for Peanuts, it’s a little terrifying. What started out as a way to get close to my parents (they read the strip all the time) turned into a love of Snoopy and his antics and grew into an appreciation for the more intellectual humor as I grew older and understood all the nuances. Plus, it was an easy way for the folks to bribe me into doing my homework (our libraries had a ton of Peanuts collections at the time). This was back in the day when you didn’t need a holiday to have an animated special on network television, and Snoopy and the gang popped up pretty often (plus every Saturday on their own TV show).

Most people who know of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown know it as a stage musical. It’s not particularly hard to put on, so most groups do it (I helped do costumes for it in college, never knowing that everything I was learning about costumes and the Peanuts brand would help me out later on in life, ever proving that my goal list was written by my six-year-old self). It was also an animated special back in the day, which was my very first encounter with it. We taped it from TV so I could watch it all the time and annoy the adults by singing it any time I wasn’t in front of the television for like six months. At least. Random phrases still pop into my head and if you drop a line in front of me I can’t guarantee that I won’t go full on Snoopy on you. It happens.

There’s a song in the show called ‘Book Report,’ and I remember being impressed with it and being really irritated by it as a kid. It’s a cool concept and a great set-up. Admittedly the vocals can be a little grating in the animated version, but it was more that I was one of those people that was intent on being the best student ever and NONE of the characters were taking their assignment seriously! Lucy’s just hitting the word count, Schroeder isn’t even talking about the same book, Linus is going above and beyond, but he was too smart for me to relate to. Plus I viewed him as younger than me, so what did he know? And the song just always makes me feel sorry for Charlie Brown. Poor Charlie, the procrastinator, the worrier, the one who feels that if he can just get rested or start a little later because he works better under pressure or have a snack first, it’ll be okay. It made me so frustrated because if he’d just GET STARTED he’d see that he could do the report and it wouldn’t be so bad! Even his last line would just make me so irritated because he could’ve been done already!

Here, just see for yourself

Yeah, you know where I’m going with this. Just put a striped shirt on me, because that’s where I’ve been the past year or so. I’ve had to grit my teeth and be a little bit more Lucy, maybe curb my Linus researching tendencies a smidge, and stop thinking of every other thing I could be writing while trying to write something else, like Schroeder. Argh, it’s worse than I thought, the whole Peanuts gang resemble my bad habits when I really want to be Snoopy off having adventures and not even having to do menial stuff. Except that I love writing, and writing is my excuse to have adventures.

But I’ve especially had to step away from my inner Charlie Brown and Just. Start. Writing.

Sometimes that’s what it takes, for better or worse. Just start and see what you end up with and worry what becomes of it later. Not the easiest thing for me, but I’m getting there.

Or, if you rather:

A book report on Peter Rabbit…

 

 

 

 

Southern Haunts 3: An interview with Alexander S. Brown

Published May 8, 2016 by admin

SouthernHaunts3TourBadge

It’s blog tour time! Today I have an interview with not only a fantastic editor and author, but one of my favorite people and podcasting co-host. But first, ze book.

SouthernHaunts3Cover_1200X800

Amazon           B&N

Genres/Subgenres: Horror, Short Story, Paranormal, Occult, Folklore/Southern Regional

Deep within the South, read about the magickal folk who haunt the woods, the cemeteries, and the cities. Within this grim anthology, eighteen authors will spellbind you with tales of hoodoo, voodoo, and witchcraft.

From this cauldron mix, readers will explore the many dangers lurking upon the Natchez Trace and in the Mississippi Delta. They will encounter a bewitched doll named Robert from the Florida Keys, and a cursed trunk that is better left closed. In the backstreets of New Orleans, they will become acquainted with scorned persons who will stop at nothing to exact their revenge.

These hair raising tales and more await you in Southern Haunts 3: Magick Beneath the Moonlight. Read if you dare.

Authors:

Alexander S. Brown

Angela Lucius

  1. H. David Blalock

C G Bush

Della West

Diane Ward

Elizabeth Allen

Greg McWhorter

John Hesselberg

Jonnie Sorrow

Kalila Smith

Linda DeLeon

Louise Myers

Melissa Robinson

Melodie Romeo

J L Mulvihill

Robert McGough

Tom Lucas

***

SJ: Tell us about SH3.  What makes it unique compared to 1&2?

ASB: Actually, each vol. of Southern Haunts is unique, as the subjects vary with each book.  Vol 1. Spirits that Walk Among Us, focused on ghosts.  Vol 2. Devils in the Darkness, featured on demonic entities.  Vol 3. Magick Beneath the Moonlight, regards witchcraft and cursed objects.

SJ: Why witches?  What attracts you to the theme?

ASB: I have always been attracted to the occult.  I find the whole subject fascinating and since Spirits that Walk Among Us was published, it was only a matter of time before we released an anthology about magickal persons.  But for this to happen, I had to wait.

For vol. 3 to be about witches, there is a great significance to the vol. number and the subject matter.  In the occult, there is the belief that what one puts out into the world comes back to them in triple abundance.  Also, in paganism, the maiden, the mother and the crone are recognized and honored as a trinity. These reasons are specifically why this vol. could be none other than occult related.

SJ: What makes for a good southern horror story?

ASB: Multiple elements can make a good southern horror story, such as elaborating about the habitat, cultural development, history, verbiage, and so forth.  But personally for me, what makes a southern horror story great, is the way that it is told.

Many times during childhood, I had found myself at family gatherings and I would overhear elderly relatives speak of infamous legends from the region.  The richness of their slang and phrases, made their ghost stories all the more horrifying, because it seemed more personal.  It seemed like the story tellers weren’t utilizing proper words and phrases to identify something infamous, they were using an age old southern dialect that seemed even more tangible.

SJ: Why do you think readers gravitate to themed horror like this, especially in short form?

ASB: I think the majority of readers are under attack from having a short attention span.  Because of life being so hectic, short stories can allow readers to enjoy complete stories in minimal time.  With the subjects being themed, it lets the reader know immediately what they are in store for.  This can result in a quicker purchase.  For example: Southern Haunts 3 is about witches, the title and cover image are self-explanatory.  If the reader loves witches, they are more likely to purchase.  If that reader is not a fan of magickal themed stories, then perhaps Southern Haunts vol. 1 or 2 is more their preference.

SJ: What are the benefits of anthologies?  Any downside?

The biggest benefit for an anthology is that it presents readers with a diversity of authors who they may not have read before.  This works well for the author because it can help them gain new fans.

The downside to anthologies is that no one really makes money, as book royalties are normally split between 15 to 20 creators.

SJ: Was it different wearing the editor hat compared to being an author?

ASB: It was quite different.  After finishing Southern Haunts vol. 1, I had a new respect for editors.  To me, writing is simple and relaxing, editing is time consuming and feels like work.  Although I prefer writing more than editing, editing the Southern Haunts series has improved my writing skills.

SJ:What is the best thing about putting a book like this together?  The most difficult?

ASB: The best thing about constructing an anthology is seeing likeminded authors come together and submit their creativity.  It is a good feeling to know that other names in the profession want to work with you and contribute stories that might have been stuck in their head for quite some time.

The downside is when I have to reject stories.  I can understand how an author might think that it’s so easy for an editor to dismiss a story, and this isn’t the case.  For me, sending a rejection email, hurts me just as much as it does the author.

SJ: Any advice to authors who are interested in submitting to anthologies?

ASB: First, research the publisher before you submit.

SJ: Second, follow the guidelines.  Sometimes guidelines are overly specific with their requirements, even down to spacing, font, and letter size.  Obey all of these rules.  A lot of times, editors will use these demands as ways to see if the author payed attention, or cares about their work.

SJ: What’s next for Southern Haunts? For you as an author?

ASB: For Southern Haunts vol. 4, we are anticipating creature stories.  We haven’t decided on a title yet, but it will follow the theme of its predecessors, but with monsters.

I have a few books that are in the works.  One of which is in the final edit stage, and is being published by Pro Se Press, this will be a collection of Halloween stories called The Night the Jack O’ Lantern Went Out.  I have one story left to write before Traumatized pt 2 is complete, and The Looking Glass Creatures is currently undergoing a massive edit.

AlexanderSBrown

Alexander S. Brown is a Mississippi author who was published in 2008 with his first book Traumatized. Reviews for this short story collection were so favorable that it has been released as a special edition by Pro Se Press. Brown is currently one of the co-editors/coordinators with the Southern Haunts Anthologies published by Seventh Star Press. His horror novel Syrenthia Falls is represented by Dark Oak Press.

He is also the author of multiple young adult steampunk stories found in the Dreams of Steam Anthologies, Capes and Clockwork Anthologies, and the anthology Clockwork Spells and Magical Bells. His more extreme works can be found in the anthologies Luna’s Children published by Dark Oak Press and State of Horror: Louisiana Vol 1 published by Charon Coin Press.

Visit Smashwords.com, Amazon.com, and Barnesandnoble.com to download his monthly short stories known as Single Shots. These are represented by Pro Se Press and they are known as stories that will be featured in the upcoming book The Night the Jack O’Lantern Went Out.

 

Getting Started: Anthologies

Published April 15, 2016 by admin

This goes hand in hand with yesterday’s post, which is why I’m yammering about it here. So you want to get started writing stories, but you just have no idea what to write? You’re overwhelmed looking at magazine listings but don’t have a novel in you yet?

May I make a suggestion? Anthologies.

About half of you just knee-jerked and threw holy water at me and the other half of you fist-pumped in the air. I get it. It’s divisive territory. Here’s the thing: you probably aren’t going to make a ton of money off the antho market.

The thing is, though, is that you will reach different types of readers. Exposure isn’t a dirty word, especially if you’re making some money off it here and there. And if you’re a brand new author and need some credits, this is a great way to learn to write for a market.

Everything is an anthology these days. Seriously. I’ve seen anthologies for genres (horror, sword and sorcery, sci-fi), I’ve seen them for themes (gaming, vampires, halloween, faeries), I’ve seen them for what would happen if you went on a honey moon with a paranormal creature or had a paranormal creature as a teacher. The territory is endless. They also usually feature small word counts (anywhere from 3k to 10k, depending), and force you to be specific. They’ll also get you used to working with an editor and all the other little ins and outs of the publishing world.

I love and hate the small word counts and rigid themes, personally, but that’s my problem. I love a challenge but I don’t always like to be made to behave. Story of my life.

These tend to be more specific than a magazine market, they get you out of your comfort zone and may get you breaking bad habits or doing things that you wouldn’t naturally include in your usual bag o’ tricks. Sometimes you’ll luck into a higher paying one on a listing. As you do more and get more published, you’ll slowly get invites to these things, which is nice (though my editors may think otherwise).

I’ve had some of my more intriguing ideas come from anthology submissions, and it’s nice to be put through my paces on occasion. Plus, this seems to be where a lot of people get to know my work. I’ve had a few people tell me they’ve read me in something then started getting into my standalone work. You just never know.

 

On Markets and Getting Started

Published April 13, 2016 by admin

One of the things I get asked about as a writer is where to submit when you’re ready. My first response is to write out a pile of stuff before you start submitting, because it’s way easier to get a rhythm going that way and rejection doesn’t suck as bad when you’ve got a lot of other things to think about.

The thing is, you have options. I get the worry about wanting to pick the right place and wanting to pick a legit place. Any place that requires you to pay, no. You also need to really review any sort of contract your given in terms of what rights you’re giving – be wary of perpetual rights because you will never get those suckers back. Be leery of giving up any sort of tax info until it’s obviously needed.

In terms of for the love/exposure markets – everyone has a different view of them and you have to decide if that’s for you. I’ve done a few to get a few credits to my name, I’m not really into that sort of thing anymore. The problem is these days not a whole lot of people want to reprint things unless you’re a big name, so you have to decide what a non-pay market is worth to you.

So, where do you even look to submit to stuff?

Writer’s Market is the basic thing that everyone turns to. They put out a new book every year and they do a site with a fee, as well. I’ve used them, I’ve had a little luck with them but not a huge amount. If you write very specific genre work, this can be a frustrating lead unless you’re looking for an agent. It’s not good or bad, but it also depends on who’s listing with them that year.

Ralan – This is one of the best websites I’ve ever found for genre-specific submissions. It breaks things down in terms of pro, semi-pro, pay, for the love, anthology, and book markets. It does a fairly good job of keeping things up to date and has links to all listings. Also free to use.

Duotrope – A site that charges a small fee, it’s also pretty good for genre-specific work. I used it before it went pay with mixed results, but it’s a great way to keep an eye on all the markets out there. I also like how they do their listings, as well.

With anything, read each listing. Read each site on the listing. If they offer a free or reduced sample copy or online examples of what they’re for, look at it. Look them up on writer’s beware or preditors and editors. Follow your gut if it doesn’t seem to be for you. Ask those around you if they’ve heard of them, submitted with them, etc. What people seem to forget is authors talk to each other, online and in person. I have healthy relationships with truck-loads of people and I definitely have asked their opinions on different places and vice versa. If you go to conventions, definitely pitch to publishers there (or at least talk to them), but also talk to any authors there with them and any authors there not with them. Talk to people. Talk some more. Don’t be afraid to get the skivvy.

This is also where writing groups are nice. If you have a group, a mentor, or are in writing groups on social media, ask around about places. I think sometimes we get so desperate to submit our stuff to places, we forget that we also have to keep some sort of control. You don’t want your dogs to destroy other people’s lawns, but you also don’t want other people stealing them when you think they’re just going out to do their business, either.

Or something.

There are also a lot of market listing groups on Facebook, and I’m sure there are other places on various social media sites, as well. Twitter is becoming known for agent submissions, and there’s always something new out there.

There are always places to submit your fiction to, so no worries.

It is, however, up to you to decide if every place is worth your time and will be good to you as an author, be it a magazine, e-zine, publisher, agent, whatever. This is why you read about contracts, rights, typical processes, and all the rest, and then decide what your threshold is. Take a deep breath and do your homework. I know, there’s unfun stuff in the creative world too, believe me I know, but you’ll be better off knowing what you’re looking for.

Other than that, pay attention to what submission guidelines are, whether it’s the format they want things submitted in or the type of story they’re looking for. And, as always…

Just keep writing.

 

 

 

Permission Granted

Published April 6, 2016 by admin

I want to get back to talking about writing and creation specifics off and on. I get that I may not have as much credentials as Stephen King or JK Rowling, but at the same time, sometimes I think it helps to hear what people are dealing with and their take on different parts of the process. Like anything else, I hope you know that your journey is just that: Yours. It is specific to you and things will change as the world and businesses in them change. There’s no way to draw a direct map from A to B, no elusive magic that will suddenly zap you in the butt if you want it bad enough or happen onto the right place at the right time. It’s work and a little luck and paying attention.

Beyond that, though, I think there is an ingredient that we don’t talk enough about.

Ten million years ago, I was writing original fiction in secret while still keeping an eye on fanfic lists. This will probably forever be a guilty pleasure of mine off and on, but at the time it was a way to have friends with similar interests when being a girl with geek interests wasn’t a great thing. It still isn’t looked at as a great thing to be, but that’s another post, entirely.

A long-time friend was a sounding board to a lot of off the wall ideas I was flinging at her, a lot of which involved a lot of intricate mythos and legends that I’d either need to warp or reinvent or whatever. These days, that’s my life, but back then? It felt like I was staring up at a million foot cliff with no rope. She was able to help me fill in a lot of the blanks with obscure Celtic legends, but suggested I hit up a friend of hers who was doing some amazeballs work at the time. Not only was he behind some of fandom’s up and coming events, but he was working at a graphic novel company, as well. I knew better than to outright hit anyone up for an opportunity, and this was long before I even had enough of a concept to pitch anything or would dare to do that anyway. These days, that’s a lunch conversation. I emailed him explaining how I got his address,  our mutual friend, and the big fat impossible wall I was facing.

I don’t have the email anymore, but the sentiment still very much rings true. His reply was incredibly nice and he said it sounded like an intriguing idea, an intriguing world, and he agreed I still had some work to go.

I don’t know what I had been asking for or what I was expecting, but the womp-womp sound effect would perfectly describe my mood upon reading that.

He went on, though. He said something like I obviously knew where I wanted things to go and had a huge drive to do it, and it actually seemed to him that the problem was that I hadn’t given myself permission to do that…just do it. He went onto say something that I’ll never forget: that if I couldn’t give myself that permission, he would give it to me, right here, right now. I had his permission to go work on this project or whatever else I wanted to write.

Huh.

That still can be a hang-up of mine. I put the cart twenty miles before where the horse is stabled, I’m worried about things that don’t need to be addressed immediately. Now I recognize it, because it definitely gets in the way of what I want to be doing at any given time. Then, his reply was a distinct revelation, and it’s one I go back to in my mind when I get ideas but immediate jump the gun and start getting anxious about everything except actually just getting started.

A lot of people I talk to talk of someday: someday they’ll write the book or make that outfit or take that class. Or, a lot of people use the c-word. ‘Oh, I can’t do that, I’m no good at this, I don’t know how…’

I hate that mindset. I  hate it about myself and I hate that the world in general cultivates it. That is one of my biggest pet peeves and if I ever meet you at a convention and you say something akin to that and I vault a table to yell at you, I’m sorry. I do it out of love, I swear. Here’s the thing:

1. You are alive, right?

2. Then there is time because you aren’t dead.

3. Learn. or try. or do. If it makes you happy, do it.

4. Didn’t work and you still want to? Repeat.

That’s all it is, folks. Seriously, whether you’re wanting to do something for a hobby or a profession, there you go. I think we scare ourselves into thinking we can’t write a book unless it’s a best seller. We can’t make an outfit unless it’s on a runway. We can’t act unless Joss Whedon is going to be directing us or Oscars are involved.

If you want to do something, please take away the end result and just do it. Give yourself that permission. It may lead to nothing it may lead to material results it may lead to soul results. But if you feel like you have that hot fire under foot feeling and are staring up at the wall and freaking out, then ask yourself what you need, why are you freaking out? Do you not know something and are scared to go look for those elements? Are you just feeling intimidated? Are you afraid of what people say? Are you scared of putting in that work and having nothing come of it?

Now, more than ever, it’s easy to find information and missing pieces of puzzles. It is very easy to feel intimidated, but think of what you’re starving your soul out of by not at least trying. People say a lot of things and they usually don’t remember them a month down the road. I’ve had a lot of projects happen that came into nothing. You’ll live, trust me. Beyond that, though, I still care about them, and as long as I care, they can always be reborn, transformed, or reused. There’s life after death for ideas, I swear.

And if you’re just flat-out in denial of your gifts or scared, I am telling you it’s going to be okay. Okay comes in many forms. It will be fine. Please, please, give yourself permission to do that thing that you really, really want to try.

And if you can’t do that? Then I’ll do it for you. I give you permission to go create. Go write. Go make something. Go paint. Do it for you, do it because you have to, do it to see what other people say, do it for whatever reason, but do it. Slam out those words and ideas, sing that song, put your spark into the mass bonfire and watch it catch and sparkle.

It will be okay.

Permission granted.

 

Persephone & Me by Corinne Desjardins

Published January 21, 2016 by admin

Persephone and Me Banner

It’s time to take a look at another new release! Come on, those who know my Jung kick, love of mythological archetypes, and such should know that I’d be all over this book. I also have a special love for Persephone, poetry, and creative nonfiction in general, so as soon as I saw the title, I was all in.

We’re talking to author Corinne Desjardins today, but first, let’s take a look at her book Persephone & Me.

Persephone and Me

Title:  Persephone & Me

Author:   Corinne Desjardins

Published:  December 10th, 2013

Genre:  Women’s Poetry

Recommended Age:  16+

Synopsis:

A poetry collection following my youthful fascination with Persephone and how she came to haunt me. I saw her constellation of characters within my own family and my own life. Ultimately, describing what I learned from the goddess.

Amazon | GoodReads

Read FREE with Kindle Unlimited!

Grace

SJ: Every writer has some sort of process. Give us a glimpse into yours. Do you meticulously outline? Do you write depending on what calls are out there?

CD: I write poetry as a means of reflecting and processing, so I happened to have a bunch of poems that just seemed to fall naturally into the structure.  I have outlined two other projects, started them both, and then deviated from said outlines.

SJ: Bonus question – Do you put on a cape and do a chant before hunkering down to work? Sacrifice anything? Along with your process, what’s your quirkiest writing habit?

CD: I wish I had a cape!  That would be so cool.  Mine would be a warm red, like Little Red Riding Hood!

I did stop watching an entertaining TV series a few years ago, and I haven’t looked back.

SJ: Are you a meticulous planner or do you believe in the muse? Where do your ideas come from? Do they filter in through your dreams? Do they show up at inopportune times and whap you upside the head? Do they result in a shady deal with a dark power?

CD: I am not a planner at heart, I’ve only learnt to do some amount of planning for basic time management.  I often get random ideas from some quirk of television or some other thing. I suppose I do have some shady deal with my personal Hades, since I tasted the pomegranate seeds of marriage.  But I have come to understand Hades as not evil, just misunderstood (and socially challenged due to his lack of interaction with people of life.)

SJ: If you could only write one genre ever again upon pain of being sacrificed to Cthulhu, what would it be and why?

CD: ChickLit, because ultimately I don’t want to be depressed.  And ChickLit is always funny.  It’s important to celebrate the humor in life.

SJ: What’s your biggest frustration as a writer? What do you consider the downside, or is there one? Is there any cliché that makes you want to wring people’s necks?

CD: Time. There just doesn’t ever seem to be enough time, or the writing/editing process just takes so much longer than anticipated.  Writing a novel in 30 days, a compellingly good novel, just isn’t feasible.  Don’t get me wrong, I applaud NaNoWriMo, but I have never actually completed a novel during November, because, Life Happens.  I have had much more success with Camp NaNoWriMo in other months, choosing my own genre and word count goal.

SJ: If you had to be stuck in one of your own books/stories for the rest of your life, what would it be and why? If you had to stick a loved one in one of your own books, what would it be and why? An enemy?

CD: I am already kind of stuck in this book, being that it’s the creative non-fiction version of my life!  I wouldn’t want to be stuck in the Black section, however, that would be depressing. I might put an enemy in there, though.  It does kind of feel like a dungeon.  Maybe they can learn from their time there.

SJ: Do you think it’s possible to develop a sure-fire recipe/formula for success as a writer? Would you want to, or does that compromise the art or the fun of it?

CD: I think the best stories are ones with a character arc of personal development and growth. There are different ways of highlighting this arc: hero’s journey, literary alchemy, the Pyramid, it’s all good.

SJ: Everyone has words of wisdom for young writers, so I’m not going to ask you about that. With a few unknown writers becoming success stories, a lot of people seem to think it’s an easy career choice. What would your words of wisdom be to these people?

CD: It’s not easy.  Mostly I write because I have to.  I’m not doing it for the money.  And I do hope that my story resonates with other women, and maybe they may become inspired to write their own stories, too.

SJ: It seems like everyone likes to gang up on certain genres as being inferior, less meaningful, or cheap entertainment (especially if it’s speculative in nature). Make a case for the genre you write.

CD: Creative Non-Fiction allows for therapeutic reflection and invites a new perspective or framework of understanding.  It’s healing. Poetry evokes the soul, of both the writer and the reader. It’s a mystical connection which we all crave.

SJ: What do you want people to instantly think of when they hear your name or your work mentioned?

CD: “That’s the book that made me consider my own life story, and made me realize that I could write my own book!”

SJ: Please tell us about your latest/favorite work or a little bit about what you’re working on right now. It’s plug time, so go for it!

CD:  I’m working on a novel called The Persephone Connection- it will be indirectly related to Persephone & Me in that the archetypes interact.  It is the second in this non-linear trilogy. This is taking a long time, it may be out sometime next year.

Perceiving Red

About the Author:

I am a writer. I love stories. I love to read. I love to write. Also love coffee, chocolate, and Merlot.

Amazon Author Page | Twitter | GoodReads | Blog

Elementals Season One by S.G. Basu

Published November 17, 2015 by admin

Elementals-Banner

I’m excited to be able to bring you a whole season’s worth of exciting titles today! We all know how I love sharing books and talking process, so it’s extra fun that it’s an interview day, as well. You know the rules, though…first, we check out the books!

Elementals-Season-1

 

Title:  Elementals: Season 1

Author:  Author: S.G. Basu

Published:  September 29th, 2015

Publisher:   Vinayaka Publishing

Genre:  Science Fiction Thriller

Content Warning:  Mild violence and language

Recommended Age:  15+

Synopsis:  Mayhem is about to visit Löthia.

Löthia is at peace–after a millennium of genetic tinkering, Löthians’ power over the elements has been obliterated. The Elemental Wars that have plagued their civilization from the beginning of time is now distant history.

But have the Elementals been tamed for good?

Or is this just the quiet before the storm rips Löthia apart once again?

Amazon | Goodreads

Read FREE with Kindle Unlimited!

***

SJ: Every writer has some sort of process. Give us a glimpse into yours. Do you meticulously outline? Do you write depending on what calls are out there?

*Bonus question – Do you put on a cape and do a chant before hunkering down to work? Sacrifice anything? Along with your process, what’s your quirkiest writing habit?

SGB: Thank you for having me on your blog. A lifetime ago, the first step of my writing process would have been a painstaking and meticulous outline. In the last two years the process has changed significantly. I like to experiment, challenge myself, and push my boundaries. Often I’m surprised by the results and the changes they bring about. Just like they changed my process—I have stopped outlining as thoroughly as I used to. I still do a broad outline, but now I go easy on the in-between stuff.

I don’t put on a cape or chant, although I might try those out now that I’ve heard about them. There’s one odd thing I do–I design a book cover right after I have the basic frame of a story. That gets my creative juices flowing real good. These covers often don’t make it to publication, but they serve well as part muse, part artistic anchor for the project.

SJ: Are you a meticulous planner or do you believe in the muse? Where do your ideas come from? Do they filter in through your dreams? Do they show up at inopportune times and whap you upside the head? Do they result in a shady deal with a dark power?

* bonus question – If your muse had a physical manifestation, what would he or she look like and how would she or he act? Is it a sexy superhero version of Callisto? A sharp-tongued rogue? A reptilian alien? Do they have a catch phrase?

SGB: The muse is everything. I plan and plot, of course, but if the muse doesn’t cooperate, said plans go nowhere. The ideas stream in from everywhere, while I’m watching TV, or reading a book or simply taking a casual stroll. And yes, they even show up in dreams. A project I have just started actually crystallized around a dream I couldn’t forget. The story involves time travel and I’m super excited about it, especially since I’ve never written anything like it before.

My muse? That would be the sharp-tongued rogue. Think Han Solo.

SJ: What’s the book/story that’s closest to your heart? Is there a piece that you clearly feel is a piece of you? Do you play favorites?

SGB: “The Lightbound Saga,” my YA science fiction fantasy, is closest to my heart. It is a work-in-progress pentalogy, with the first two books—“Maia and the Xifarian Conspiracy” and “Maia and the Secrets of Zagran”—already published. The third book will be released in February of 2016.

“The Lightbound Saga” is my first venture as an author and every character, especially Maia, the thirteen-year-old protagonist, is very dear to me.

I try not to play favorites, although I always wish I could. That is the problem with being a career writer. If writing was just a hobby, I would indulge in one story or one character for as long as I could. But, to make writing a career, that too as an indie author, I can’t be stuck to one story for longer than is necessary. That in turn means, I can’t be partial to one story. 

SJ: If you could only write one genre ever again upon pain of being sacrificed to Cthulhu, what would it be and why?

SGB: Hands down it’s Science Fiction. I’m a dreamer—fantastical places and weird characters always crowd my head. I need to set these ideas free on the pages of a book or they would badger me nonstop. What better genre than Science Fiction for my band of misfits?

SJ: What’s your biggest frustration as a writer? What do you consider the downside, or is there one? Is there any cliché that makes you want to wring people’s necks?

SGB: Writing is a very lonely profession. A writer has to be alone, that’s a necessity to be able to bring their characters to life. Then again, too much time alone can exhaust and cause burnout. I have found that writer’s block sets in faster when I’m at my desk for very long stretches. Tempering my schedule with a good amount of social activities, exercise etc helps tremendously.  

Cliché? None, actually. I’m very accepting as a reader. I think even the most-used clichés when used correctly in an awesome story, can do good.

SJ: If you had to be stuck in one of your own books/stories for the rest of your life, what would it be and why? If you had to stick a loved one in one of your own books, what would it be and why? An enemy?

SGB: “The Lightbound Saga” for sure. I would like to be a part of Team Maia, if they were recruiting. There is danger in that world, the whole star system is under threat of extinction, but still, there’s so much fun to be had. Tansi, broken as it is, it the most intriguing place in the galaxy, with the coolest powers to possess, the funnest gadgets to tinker with, and wildest adventures to have, strangest people to meet—what’s not to love?

A loved one should be sent to “The Lightbound Saga” as well. They would also do fine in “Elementals” until all hell breaks loose. As for an enemy, they have to be in my “Seeder Chapters,” where Earth is almost dead and the human population is teetering at the brink of a mass extinction event. It is a tough, tough place and I’m sure my enemy could be taught a lesson or two there.

SJ: Do you think it’s possible to develop a sure-fire recipe/formula for success as a writer?

Would you want to, or does that compromise the art or the fun of it?

SGB: In my opinion, there cannot be a sure-fire recipe/formula for success in any field. Writers and a writing career is no exception. Hard work, dedication, perseverance, attention to quality and details—all of those go a long way to push one toward success though. Also, writers should be willing to take risks; be it trying out new POVs, changing up narrative styles, trying out a new genre or story structure. All those help improve a writer, her craft and her chance of standing out among the many other excellent writers out there.

Sure, why wouldn’t I want a sure-fire recipe for success? I totally would. However, I also like figuring things out for myself. In the two years since my first publication, I have learned so much and grown so much—I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything else. The journey so far has been amazing, and I think it’ll feel even more amazing once I reach my destination.

SJ: Everyone has words of wisdom for young writers, so I’m not going to ask you about that.

With a few unknown writers becoming success stories, a lot of people seem to think it’s an easy career choice. What would your words of wisdom be to these people?

SGB: There’s no wisdom I can give them. I can tell them how difficult a writer’s journey is, but that’s not the same as them walking in my shoes. And until they walk my walk, it is only human to think of the grass as greener on my side.

The media, which likes to make fairy tales out of the successes, often omitting the amount of time and hardship that went into making those success stories happen, shapes people’s opinions a lot. Even the outliers, who are a handful among millions of writers, have had to put in countless hours to get where they are now. The odds are immense, yet we never hear about it. So, it is only natural for people to think that anyone writing a book today will be the tomorrow’s J. K. Rowling. 

SJ: It seems like everyone likes to gang up on certain genres as being inferior, less meaningful, or cheap entertainment (especially if it’s speculative in nature). Make a case for the genre you write.

SGB: Been there, heard that. I write science fiction, and I’ve been told that I should write real stories that make a statement about the human condition.

I will say this—science fiction, or any speculative fiction for that matter, isn’t—in most cases—a story about the fictional science. It’s a story about humans affected by said science. So, a good scifi story will tell plenty about the human condition, in addition to the fiction and fantasy aspect. I agree that reading science fiction for the first time can be difficult, but if people open their minds and embrace it, their imagination can take them anywhere.

SJ: What do you want people to instantly think of when they hear your name or your work mentioned?

SGB: I want to be thought of as an “one stop shop for all your science fiction reading needs.”

I hope, within the next two years, anyone who stops by my shop, can find a piece of science fiction they like. I’m slowly building variety in my offerings—fast-paced thrills and slow, intricate world-building, tales for young adults as well as those with mature-themes, short stories to epics and everything in between. 

SJ: Please tell us about your latest/favorite work or a little bit about what you’re working on right now. It’s plug time, so go for it!

SGB: Apart from working with my editor on the third book of “The Lightbound Saga” series, I’m in the middle of two new and extremely interesting projects.

First is “The Eternity Prophecy,” a science fiction thriller with an ambiguous theocracy at its core. Never having created religion or faith in any of my stories until this one, I’m excited as well as terrified working on it. It’s shaping up well though. You can find details of the book here – http://booklaunch.io/sgbasu/eternityprophecy

The other is a fun superhero book, tentatively named “Jumpers.” It is about a group of people who get the power to travel back in time—not back into the age of dinosaurs and not even back a year, but only a day at most. They decide to use this power to save victims of recent crimes. I have wanted to write a time travel story for a very long time and I’m thoroughly enjoying writing this. 

***

I love the insightful answers! We also have an excerpt from Elementals, so let’s check it out!

***

Nothing during the course of the grouchy summer day indicated that, by the time it was over, seventeen-year-old Anavyx Elon would be accused of the grisliest murder in recent Löthian history.

Dual complete moons blazed across the purple skies of Löthia that evening, and there shouldn’t have been any interruptions to Anavyx’s routine, yet there was.

She heard the faint noise of her bedroom door opening when she was halfway through her shower. Her body, warm from the water cascading down from the canopy over her head, stiffened immediately.

“Moma?” Anavyx called, voice trembling a little as her throat dried up with fear. No one replied.

It couldn’t be Moma.

Alana, her mother, was a top geneticist in the Peaks. Her evening consultation hours ended precisely at 2030 hours, not a moment before or after. There was no reason for her to leave her patients and come into the private section of the house looking for Anavyx.

Maybe it was Dadi.

Anavyx banished that idea with a shake of her head. It was impossible. Her father did not set foot in the house before midnight. Nothing except a calamity would bring him home this early. And even if he came home, he would never venture into her room. So who could it be?

There was no other noise after the door opened. That was the oddest thing—the silence. It made her insides curl up in a tight ball.

Anavyx reached for her robe and having wrapped its flowing expanse around herself, tiptoed forward to investigate. She barely took a step into her room, heart pounding uncontrollably fast and unbearably loud, when she saw him.

 

SG-Basu (2)

S.G. Basu is an aspiring potentate of a galaxy or two. She plots and plans with wondrous machines, cybernetic robots, time travelers and telekinetic adventurers, some of whom escape into the pages of her books.

Once upon a previous life on planet Earth, S.G. Basu trained to be an engineer, and her interest in science and her love of engineering shows up time and again in her books.

She shares her home with a large collection of Legos, a patient husband, and resident inspiration and entertainer, her daughter.

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