Friday, December 30, 2016

Fast Friday Indie Interviews: Emma Mohr

Emma Mohr

Tell me about yourself, Emma?

Emma Mohr is a Midwestern girl who happens to be a writer. She loves reading, her three cats, and fiancée. Makeup is a secret obsession, and coffee is what separates the waking and dreaming worlds for her. When she isn't writing or reading, you can find her on the couch drinking wine and playing video games. Sometimes, you can find her camping, and hiking when she's feeling really frisky.

Tell me about your current Book:

The relationship disaster may have met her match.

After a long line of bad dates, Amy is a little hesitant to go on a blind date. Even more so since it was her best friend Jenny who set it up, who has a bad habit of setting her up with jerks. After much begging from Jenny, Amy agree to go on the date. That is how she met Charles. Charles who is good looking, wealthy, and somehow, still single. He also likes Amy. Is it too good to be true? Is it fate? Or is there something darker keeping this man from happiness?

The Lovely Garden is about two people trying to find love and a sister that will do anything to make her brother miserable. It’s a cute love story that will make you laugh, but it has dark and heart-wrenching moments as well. It is a hard novel to put down.

What are you working on now?

A first book of a paranormal romance series. The love is between Sophia Thatcher and Lucifer. It will more than likely be the same length as The Lovely Garden. The title of this book will be Betting on the Devil.

Where is your favorite place to be when you write?

I don’t really have a favorite place. I just write where I can.

What is your favorite Website?

Imdb. I really love movies.


Amazon Book:
Amazon Author Page:

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

RIP - Richard Adams

Hazel: Yes, my lord. I know you.

Black Rabbit: I've come to ask if you'd like to join my Owsla. We shall be glad to have you, and I know you'd like it. You've been feeling tired, haven't you? If you're ready, we might go along now.

[Hazel looks at all the younger rabbits of Watership Down]
Black Rabbit: You needn't worry about them. They'll be all right, and thousands like them. If you come along now, I'll show you what I mean.”

― Richard Adams, Watership Down

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Tuesday Tips: Avoid Excuses

I keep trying to think of the things that really helped me become a published author. Some of them on the surface seem so simple, they are almost too obvious.

To say, "Avoid Excuses" is very simple and easy to say. It's not so easy to do.

Most aspiring writers I know need a lot of planets to align to get work done, much less finish a project. Here is the key piece of information everyone needs to know. You can't wait until you feel like it. Because this is the truth: 

You are never going to feel like it.

With me, there are only a few seconds that happen in my brain before the Excuse Engine fires up and talks me out of getting up from my warm bed or sitting down to write or going for a walk. My Excuse Engine was finally tuned over the prior 50 years to steer me to the path of least resistance.

I have learned to be decisive, to act, in that instant.

I never hit the snooze button. I get out of my warm bed early, even on weekends. I blog in the morning and work on fiction in the afternoon. I have learned to never give my brain a minute to consult the Excuse Engine because it always can find an excuse. As soon as an idea hits my mind, act, write it down, email myself, get up, do the thing!

Try this: Don't hit the snooze button. Get up right away. It will only suck for a few seconds that then you will be glad you did. There will be a subtle pride in yourself the whole day. It will start on a positive note. You will sleep better the next night. The snooze button is evil. It is stealing your life away, five minutes at a time.

--All you have to do is ACT before the Excuse Engine cranks up.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Reading: Caliban's War

This week I am reading Caliban's War by James S.A. Corey.

Here is the description from Amazon: 

We are not alone.

On Ganymede, breadbasket of the outer planets, a Martian marine watches as her platoon is slaughtered by a monstrous supersoldier. On Earth, a high-level politician struggles to prevent interplanetary war from reigniting. And on Venus, an alien protomolecule has overrun the planet, wreaking massive, mysterious changes and threatening to spread out into the solar system.

In the vast wilderness of space, James Holden and the crew of the Rocinante have been keeping the peace for the Outer Planets Alliance. When they agree to help a scientist search war-torn Ganymede for a missing child, the future of humanity rests on whether a single ship can prevent an alien invasion that may have already begun . . .

--Great Fun. Highly recommended.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Fast Friday Indie Interviews: Magnus Stanke

Magnus Stanke

Tell me about yourself, Magnus?

While my books are not autobiographical in a literal sense, there is a lot of me in them. Like most people, I have created a comfort zone around myself that attempts to emulate aspects of my childhood.  I have spent more than half of my life outside of my native Germany. I have willingly – and happily – lived and travelled on a shoestring and off, in places in and out of Europe and put myself in situations where I’m the proverbial ‘outsider looking in’; close to, but on the margins of, well, for a lack of a better word, ‘society’.

That’s where I feel at home, no matter whether it’s South America, the Middle East, the Caribbean or Spain (where I’ve lived for seven years). I always endeavor to learn the language and adapt as much as I can. And I’m successful at it, to a point.

And that’s where my narratives set out from, my personal vantage point from the outside peeking in. The drama arises from the protagonists’ yearning to be part of something that’s essential alien to them, but without getting too close. Of course they get burned, sometimes severely. There’s such an enormous potential for antagonism that I think I could write for the rest of my life.
That’, at least, is the plan.

Tell me about your current Book:

When cupid’s lightening strikes, Aurora and David are ready to turn a Mediterranean romance into happily ever after. But in post-dictatorship Spanish Mallorca, a holiday paradise can turn deadly at the drop of a match.

It’s no fun being the mouse when fat cats shoot sharp.

Love hit when they met. Murder came later.

The year: 1977. No internet, no mobile phones; tablets cure headaches not boredom.

The place: Mallorca, Spain. The Dictator is Dead, Long Live Tourism.

David falls hard for Aurora and vice versa, but the holiday is over. When she returns she isn’t alone, the deadly chase already underway. First the hitmen then the police.  ‘Falling in Death and Love’ is a hard-boiled, heartfelt thriller, a breathless ride through times of change. Love, guilt, paternity, murder - probably not in that order.

What are you working on now?

Another thriller, another ‘Retro-Thriller’ at that. My new book ‘Time Lies’ (UPDATE:  Now Available) is set in Cold War Germany of the 1980s. The story deals with a reluctant serial killer who realizes that he has been murdering the wrong people. It’s not a comedy, though at times darkly comic. Think North European Neo-Noir…

Where is your favorite place to be when you write?

For the first draft I have to write at home, and according to pretty set routines. In later drafts I can work anywhere as long as I can plug in my laptop

What is your favorite Website?

I’d have to pick two favourites: – and no, it’s not a porn site. Far from it. It’s a site that compares DVDs to their blue-ray equivalents. It’s very informative if you care for movies like mad – which I do. Like a hatter.

The other site is – and again, it’s film related. In this case they review new films, not digital home entertainment. Between these two and I could browse endlessly, and I do, mostly when I should be writing


Amazon US:
Amazon UK:

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Quotes of the Week

Read widely...and sometimes while immersed in the multitude voices of others, you just might find your own.
—Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

First requirement of the writer is the ability to concentrate for long periods of time. Second...the wish to do so.
—Joyce Carol Oates

Just trust your own voice. And keep exploring the things that are interesting to you.
—Nikki Giovanni

A good style should show no sign of effort. What is written should seem to be a happy accident.
—Somerseet Maugham

One must be ruthless with one’s own writing or someone else will be.
—John Berrymant Maugham

You can close your eyes to things you don't want to see, but you can't close your heart to things you don't want to feel.
—Johnny Depp

Follow your inner moonlight; don't hide the madness.
—Allen Ginsberg

The best work that anybody ever writes is the work that is on the verge of embarrassing him, always.
—Arthur Miller

Talent is helpful in writing, but guts are absolutely essential.
—Jessamyn West

I don't want life to imitate art. I want life to be art.
—Carrie Fisher

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Tuesday Tips: Brainstorming

For me, writing is a pretty solitary activity. The only exceptions being my writers groups.

Next week I will have a brainstorming session with them regarding a future project. I have a seed of an idea, a setting, a pile of characters, a few plot points, locations, and even a couple space ships.

I give the writers group the seed file with all these details and then we brainstorm.

I want to be able to decide on who will be the protagonist, antagonist, what will be their goals, their conflicts, their strengths and weaknesses.

My writers group can also help me keep things original, avoid tropes, and even avoid names or plots that have been over used.

I prep for the brainstorm I like to create a character list. It contains the characters name, a short bio describing their role, and even a photo of them from the Internet. I typically use actors from IMDB. Sometimes I even use people I know!

Here is an example:

Base Maintenance Guy: Lloyd Hansen

Actor: David Bamber
Lloyd spends most of his days doing "bullshit work that we should have a goddam bot for!".

He is not an Engineer. He is a maintenance guy. He spends most of his time fixing the air circulation systems. They have ancient CO2 scrubbers and air handlers he bitches about constantly.

Even though he has a low paying, long term contract, he has a sort of pride in the base. He keeps it as clean as possible. He is obsessed about painting. He never has enough paint. He always complains about being treated like a janitor, but no one treats him like that.

They think he has PTSD.

No one seems to know where he sleeps.

It's really important that you do this with people in the right spirit. Keep the brainstorm positive, record all the ideas. Allow it to go anywhere. You never know when the craziest idea may be a great catalyst for a great story. You can use all or none.

--Plus, it is big fun!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Reading: Leviathan Wakes

This week I read Levithan Wakes by James Corey.

Here is the description from Amazon:

Two hundred years after migrating into space, mankind is in turmoil. When a reluctant ship's captain and washed-up detective find themselves involved in the case of a missing girl, what they discover brings our solar system to the brink of civil war, and exposes the greatest conspiracy in human history.

--Great stuff, great characters, great plot. Highly recommended.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Fast Friday Indie Interviews: Seon O. Stronghold

Seon O. Stronghold

Tell me about yourself?

Seon Stronghold is, at the moment, a 2nd degree black belt in Shotokan Karate with sixteen years of drafting experience in Architecture and Structural Engineering under his worn out but beloved 20 dollar belt. A lover of almost all things Art, he enjoys Reading, Writing, Hitting the gym, Training at the dojo, Hiking, Swimming, Gaming, Skyrim...which he considers to be more than just gaming...and gambling (Gin and Poker) for candies with his wife. He lives in St. Vincent and the Grenadines...for now.

Tell me about your current Book:

When an Earthfront Base on Venus is attacked, a group of soldiers; the Iron Five must find the culprits, or else Earth and everything they know, will fall.

To give a traditional description of my book would be the acceptable thing to do, however, I tend to do things my way every-so-often and so, in light of my excitement to share my world with is what I know. According to history, mankind came across Sol-technology in the year 2035 AD. A scientist by the name of Doctor Lorenz Olivius created the first ever successful, miniature replica of the sun. The applications were, as one can imagine, limitless. Within fifteen years of its dawn, the Sol Combustion engine had allowed mankind to go beyond their limitations and finally reach for the stars. This breakthrough had then led to one hundred years of galactic searching and mapping and development. Then in 2150 AD, our ancestors left Earth in massive Starship fleets for new homes and in doing so, a new era was born; the era of, The Exodus.

Now as far as I remember, Kedenians were among the first to leave for the stars. Originally, settling on Nema; a Goldilocks planet in a system five light years from Earth. But after fifty years of disputes now known as The Splinter Wars, Earthfront expelled the rogue clan, known then as, Keden Industries. Their leader, Amir Kedeni and his supporters were banished and forced to search for a non-hostile world in unknown space and it wasn’t long before they stumbled across a rich, desert planet now named Keden.

Shortly after...a few decades to be precise...mankind colonized many systems in the Milky Way and large Corporations, Governments and various organizations rose to govern it all. Earthfront, the leading authority in most of our Galactic Domain, is the largest governing body in existence but even as peace reigns throughout known space, Keden, it seems, would forever be a hostile world toward them.

And so here we are. The year is now 878TE and eight thousand Light-years from Earth, on the arid Planet Keden, is a wealth of untapped resources and power. But one man, with a twisted vision, sets in motion a plan that can change the fate of the Galaxy forever and caught in the crossfire, our heroes of Iron Five, Captain Richard Gant and his crew, must overcome the challenges of Love, Grief and Betrayal, and strap themselves into the cockpits of Next Generation war machines as they are thrown headlong into the heart of a conflict, the likes of which has never been recorded.

What are you working on now?

I am currently working on the second book in the Iron Five saga.

Where is your favorite place to be when you write?

The library.

What is your favorite Website?


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Images that Inspire

I want to sit out on this porh with my coffee and laptop.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Quotes of the Week

Sing your song. Dance your dance. Tell your tale. Inspire them.
—Frank McCourt

Writing is like getting married. One should never commit oneself until one is amazed at one's luck.
—Iris Murdoch

The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.
—Philip Roth

Forget all the rules. Forget about being published. Write for yourself and celebrate writing.
—Melinda Haynes

If history was taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.
—Rudyard Kipling

If you can speak what you will never hear, if you can write what you will never read, you have done rare things.
—Henry David Thoreau

Sometimes good things fall apart, so better things can come together.
—Marilyn Monroe

I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.
—Anne Frank

If I see an ending, I can work backward.
—Arthur Miller

What people are ashamed of usually makes a good story.
-F. Scott Fitzgerald

The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.
—Albert Einstein

Let the readers do some of the work themselves.
—Fyodor Dostoevsky

I write to find what I have to say. I edit to figure out how to say it right.
—Cheryl Strayed

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Tuesday Tips: Deadlines

Today's tip is regarding the dreaded Deadline.

I am an Indie Published Author. The thing I like most about being an IPA is that I am the boss. Consequently, I am the one that sets all my deadlines.

Since I published my first novel I have been publishing a new novel every six months. In that period, I have several self-imposed deadlines.
  • Concept
  • Outline
  • First Draft
  • Second Draft
  • Third Draft
  • Editor Delivery
  • Revisions
  • Beta Reads
  • Final Draft
Being the Boss, I have business related deadlines with my Accountant, Lawyer, Editor, Beta Readers and Cover Artists.

The best way for me to avoid the stress of deadlines is to maintain discipline. Write daily. Just keep kicking the can down the field. You also need to forgive missed deadlines and reward deadlines met.

--Deadlines are not the enemy. Procrastination is the villain.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Reading: Brave New World

Last week I read Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.

Here is the description from Amazon:

Originally published in 1932, this outstanding work of literature is more crucial and relevant today than ever before. Cloning, feel-good drugs, anti-aging programs, and total social control through politics, programming, and media has Aldous Huxley accurately predicted our future? With a storyteller s genius, he weaves these ethical controversies in a compelling narrative that dawns in the year 632 AF (After Ford, the deity). When Lenina and Bernard visit a savage reservation, we experience how Utopia can destroy humanity. A powerful work of speculative fiction that has enthralled and terrified readers for generations, "Brave New World" is both a warning to be heeded and thought-provoking yet satisfying entertainment."

I read this originally in the late 1970's when I was an angry young man. The same time I read 1984 and Animal Farm.

Reading it again now was a different experience. It was not as good as I remember. It's the 75th anniversary of the book and a lot of people will read it again. I guess I prefer happy endings and hero protagonists.

--I am finding it hard to find anyone that's actually read it to discuss it!


Friday, December 9, 2016

Fast Friday Indie Interviews: Robert D. Calkins

Robert D. Calkins

Tell me about yourself?

I’m a search and rescue dog handler in Kitsap County, WA, west of Seattle across Puget Sound. In our state that’s a volunteer role, and I have worked everything from routine missing person cases to homicides. Prior to my retirement I was a Public Information Officer (i.e. spokesman) for the Washington State Patrol. That gave me great insight into the world of law enforcement which I use in my books. About a year ago I did something I’m learning is unique: I’m writing a “spectrum” (not a series) of books for different age groups with all the same characters.
Please attach an Author photo. Attached to the e-mail.

Tell me about your current Book:

When bodies start turning up in the woods of western Washington, Bryce Finn and his cadaver dog Sierra must sniff out the evidence, lest more of society’s most vulnerable women fall victim to the Chimera Killer.

“Digger” is a story of sweet dogs and serial killers. Washington state’s youngest search dog handler, 17-year old Bryce Finn, is up to his fanny pack in a series of murders that some political leaders deny is happening at all. He and his cadaver dog Sierra continue to be one step behind whoever is dumping bodies and one step ahead of detectives trying to unravel the mystery. As the body count grows, Bryce risks his career in SAR, and eventually his life, to resolve the Case of the Chimera Killer. Along the way Bryce meets and nearly loses his first love, and learns the manly art of saying “yes, dear” at all the right times.

Released simultaneously with Digger, Sierra Becomes a Search Dog and Sierra the Search Dog Finds Fred introduce pre-school and early readers to the world of K9 search and rescue.  They provide some backstory for adults who read Digger and, in turn, adults learn things in Digger that will help them explain concepts in the children’s books. The literary industry hated my idea, but parents are telling me it’s generating some great discussions.

What are you working on now? 

The sequel to Digger will be unique and barely believable. In it, Bryce’s nose will play as much of a role as K9 Sierra’s.

Where is your favorite place to be when you write?  I break writing into two components: creating and typing. My favorite place to create is in the woods with my current search dog K9 Ruger. I come up with ideas, many based on actual searches, and flesh them out in my mind. Then, when I’m back in the home office I do the mechanical typing of what’s in my mind’s eye..

What is your favorite Website?

My favorite web site is the Weather Underground, a weather forecasting service. I don’t hang out there for long periods (no games, etc.) but it’s the best managed web site in or out of its niche. Great weather info, often at odds with the “official” forecast, and they’ve allowed users to link in their personal weather stations. I can actually see what’s happening in real time at six or eight weather stations in my community.



Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Quotes of the Way

You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.
—William Faulkner

So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.
—Dr. Seuss

I think most writers, even the best, overwrite. I prefer to underwrite. Simple, clear as a country creek.
—Truman Capote

Without tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.
—Robert Frost

We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.
—Ernest Hemingway

Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.
—Leonard Cohen

It’s such a confidence trick, writing a novel. The main person you have to trick into confidence is yourself.
—Anna Deavere Smith

Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity.
—Charles Mingus

There’s many a bestseller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.
—Flannery O’Connor

If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of suprise: attack it at an hour when it isn't expecting it.
—H.G. Wells

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Tuesday Tips: Editor Partnerships

This tip boils down to being honest with yourself. It is a good policy on all fronts in your life, but in writing, it will make your books better.  

If you can honestly identify the common mistakes you make you can convey the info to beta readers and editors.

Here are a couple examples:
  • I overuse certain words. My wife is great at finding these. I now have Grammarly and it watches of overuse as well.
  • I sometimes use the same phrase redundantly. This is straight from the Department of Redundancy Department.
  • I tend to go into too much scientific data details in my first drafts. Way too verbose.
If you know these things about yourself, tell your editor. Tell your beta readers. Tell them if you have changed the name of a character. Tell them any concerns you may have. Make them a partner.

The key is, listen to what they have to say.

I have heard writers say, "My first draft if final draft." and then they wonder why they never sell any books. If your readers are honest with you and tell you, "Dude, too many adverbs!" have a look.

--If you want to sell books, be honest with yourself. If you don't care about selling book, lie all you want...

Monday, December 5, 2016

Music Inspiration

I often find inspiration for my writing in music. Here my recent muse:

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made...

Friday, December 2, 2016

Fast Friday Indie Interviews: Tim Rees

Tim Rees

Tell me about yourself?

Published by The History Press in 2013 with the memoir In Sights, I have since written two novels, Delphian and WTF. I have self-published both novels, the reason being, my agent asked me to cut 60,000 words from Delphian before he read it, because, he said, 170,000 wouldn't be considered by traditional publisher by a debut novelist. Okay, so now I'm a debut novelist rather than a published author... I, of course, refused to cut 60,000 words as it would, in my opinion, ruin the book. The reason was explained to me as the price point. Anything over 250 pages and the costs escalate and the price point for a thriller paperback is £7.99.  I immediately set about writing a novel that would come in at 250 pages and this WTF was born. By this time I have researched and learned a lot about indie publishing and am liking what I see and experience, so self-publish WTF as well.

Prior to all this, my background is the military where I saw action in the Falklands war and then I moved into BBC drama where The Play For Today, Mimosa Boys, was written from my diary and letters of the war. After Mimosa Boys I worked on six plays for BBC Belfast and returned to Wales to work on many more dramas. I left the BBC to focus on my own material. After a series of short stories, I wrote a novel about a black president coming to power and what the Klu Klux Klan were doing to prevent it. The novel was extremely well received by junior editors in major publishing houses such as HarperCollins and it was also being considered by a major Hollywood film producer, but the outcome was the novel wasn't published because the senior people pulled the plug due to a fear of riots on the streets...

I have written numerous short stories, one of which has been produced for BBC TV. Both my current novels have been scripted and are currently in front of producers. Film and TV is my primary target. Writing the novel is my way of cementing my interpretation of the story I want to tell...

Tell me about your current Book.

I would like to tell you a secret, but can you handle the truth?

The British intelligence community now has a problem. A secret agent who specialised in cover-up operations is now hell bent on disclosing top secret medical research funded by the British government. He is now a rogue agent whose conscience has been compromised. Now he's a law unto himself. He is an assassin with a conscience. The clock is ticking as he’s pursued by the British secret service and he’s determined to save as many innocent lives as possible.

People believe money is power, but he understands it is with information where real power lies.

There's no such thing as good and evil, there's just people.

What are you working on now?

A sequel to Delphian.

Where is your favorite place to be when you write?

It doesn't matter so long as I am not interrupted.

What is your favorite Website?

Facebook. It has reconnected me with so many valued friends and ex lovers.