Posted in Interviews

Interview with Author Christy J. Breedlove

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

My early writing accomplishment were multiple hits within a few years: In my first year of writing back in 1987, I wrote three Sf short stories that were accepted by major slick magazines which qualified me for the Science Fiction Writers of America, and at the same time achieved a Finalist award in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest. This recognition garnered me a top gun SF agent at the time, Richard Curtis Associates. My first novel went to John Badham (Director) and the Producers, the Cohen Brothers. Only an option, but an extreme honor. The writer who beat me out of contention for a feature movie, was Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park. My book was called Dinothon.

A year after that I published two best-selling non-fiction books and landed on radio, TV, in every library in the U.S. and in hundreds of newspapers.

I have been trying to catch that lightning in a bottle ever since. My YA dystopian novel, The Girl They Sold to the Moon won the grand prize in a publisher’s YA novel writing contest, went to a small auction and got tagged for a film option. So, I’m getting there, I hope!

2) What inspired you to write your book?

It all started with the dream catcher. This iconic item, which is rightfully ingrained in Indian lore, is a dream symbol respected by the culture that created it. It is mystifying, an enigma that that prods the imagination. Legends about the dream catcher are passed down from multiple tribes. There are variations, but the one fact that can be agreed upon is that it is a nightmare entrapment device, designed to sift through evil thoughts and images and only allow pleasant and peaceful dreams to enter into consciousness of the sleeper.

I wondered what would happen to a very ancient dream catcher that was topped off with dreams and nightmares. What if the nightmares became too sick or deathly? What if the web strings could not hold anymore visions? Would the dream catcher melt, burst, vanish, implode? I reasoned that something would have to give if too much evil was allowed to congregate inside of its structure. I found nothing on the Internet that offered a solution to this problem—I might have missed a relevant story, but nothing stood out to me. Stephen King had a story called Dream Catcher, but I found nothing in it that was similar to what I had in mind. So I took it upon myself to answer such a burning question. Like too much death on a battlefield could inundate the immediate location with lost and angry spirits, so could a dream catcher hold no more of its fill of sheer terror without morphing into something else, or opening up a lost and forbidden existence. What would it be like to be caught up in another world inside the webs of a dream catcher, and how would you get out? What would this world look like? How could it be navigated? What was the source of the exit, and what was inside of it that threatened your existence? Screamcatcher: Web World, the first in the series, was my answer. I can only hope that I have done it justice. You can be the judge of that.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

The overall message of Screamcatcher is survival. This is accompanied by teamwork, love, persistence, loyalty and dedication. Teenager, although they can be reckless, they are nearly immune to complete failure and so resistant and resourceful that they often solve problems as fast as they encounter them. I always had The Hunger Games in mind because it showed undaunted courage and determination–that working hard and continuing on was the main thrust of the characters. I thought to mash-up Jumanji and The Hunger Games. There is a very slight sub-theme that I thought I would sneak in, whether it was popular or not. I didn’t care. And that was the message that sometimes, the nice does finish first and get the girl. Hardly an Alpha prospect, but one that I wanted to touch on nevertheless.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I do like adult thrillers and science fiction, but I’m now leaning toward upper YA in the low fantasy realm–portal fantasies. I’m really addicted to YA dystopian!  Divergent and The Hunger Games had quite an impact on me, among others like Harry Potter series. There is a huge cross-over appeal to writing YA, and my sample is in the upper age range of YA, from about 14-15 to 19 years-old.

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

I guess I would ask Jory why she didn’t notice how infatuated Choice was with her, or if she purposely denied it. We find out later that his courageous and unselfish behavior gets the team out of quite a few jams. He’s smart and resourceful. She does notice him, but I wonder why she pushed those feelings aside at first. Since I’m a guy (no big surprise there) I was curious about the female mindset and how she would ultimately react to him. It seems I wrote my own nagging mystery, for which I had no real answer.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Gosh, I couldn’t pick just one, without admitting that I belong to over 25 major social media sites; display sites, writing groups, contest sites, promo companies and all others in Sundry. It’s very, very difficult today to get noticed. We have a glut in the industry like we’ve never seen before. Every author I know is clamoring for attention, some of them spending thousands of dollars on ads. I would imagine my FB followers of nearly 4,700 strong have contributed more than the others. I spend 14 years in a giant writing group and always got clicks from them about my posts and articles. My blog, Guerrilla Warfare for Writers helped out too, since my members were very familiar with all of my books, not just one.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

If a budding writing asked me if they should pursue a career in writing, I would tell them to take a couple aspirin, go into a dark room, lay down and wait for the feeling to pass. Don’t stop until you’ve finished a first draft. Then edit like there’s no tomorrow. After publication,seriously watch your spending on ads–they can be grossly ineffective. Use social media and generously interact with fellow writers and readers. Don’t abuse FB and Twitter solely for the purpose of “Buy My Book.” Join writing groups and learn from the pros. Ask politely for reviews–don’t pressure, harass or intimidate. Be creative. Target your genre readers. Offer incentives and freebies. Craft a newsletter and send it out bi-monthly. Don’t take critiques as personal attacks–learn from honest opinions. Don’t despair. Never give up. Revenge query.Get started on your next book.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?


The Screamcatcher trilogy is bought, and the next two books are in the dugout awaiting my publisher’s editor, which should be soon. There is a lot to do there, even as far as doing some major revisions and added information in books 2 and 3. Book 2 is called Screamcatcher: Dream Chasers, and book 3 is Screamcatcher: The Shimmering Eye. I’m nearly done with totally revising a weird werewolf book, and I’m stuck halfway through a Middle Grade Fantasy.

AUTHOR SEMI-BIO

I’m a diehard frantic creator of Young Adult fiction, whether it’s paranormal, science fiction, suspense or fantasy. I believe in pure escapism with unceasing action adventure and discovery. If you want a moral message or cultural statement, you’re apt to get a small one. But let me tell you something, reader, I want to make you laugh until you gag, cry until you’re dry and tear out tufts of your hair. Today, young adult literature needs some support and renewed interest.. How soon we’ve forgotten about Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Divergent and Twilight. Oh, the mania! Where has it gone? Are we losing our young readers? We need something really fresh and new. I and several writers are going to pour everything we have into that end. You are the kindly judge–help us get there and we will deliver!

AUTHOR BIO

Christy J. Breedlove (Chris H. Stevenson), originally born in California, moved to Sylvania, Alabama in 2009. Her occupations have included newspaper editor/reporter, astronomer, federal police officer, housecleaner and part time surfer girl. She has been writing off and on for 36 years, having officially published books beginning in 1988. Today she writes in her favorite genre, Young Adult, but has published in multiple genres and categories. She was a finalist in the L. Ron. Hubbard Writers of the Future contest, and took the first place grand prize in a YA novel writing contest for The Girl They Sold to the Moon. She writes the popular blog, Guerrilla Warfare for Writers (special weapons and tactics), hoping to inform and educate writers all over the world about the high points and pitfalls of publishing.

Amazon Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Chris-Harold-Stevenson/e/B001K8UUBK

Christy’s Website:  https://christysyoungadultfabuliers.com/

Blog:  http://guerrillawarfareforwriters.blogspot.com/

Posted in Interviews

Interview with Author Anne Joyce

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I started writing because I was bullied very badly throughout my childhood. I didn’t have a lot of friends or anyone I could really talk to, so I channeled my frustrations into comic books. I was the sidekick to the superhero and in my own world I was somebody really cool instead of the kid that got beaten up. When I got a little older, I moved into poetry and eventually novels

What inspired you to write your book?

I was watching a conspiracy theory show that documented the stifling amount of lakes and rivers that are mysteriously being drained throughout the country. It appears some powerful force has a very specific motivation for the water disappearance. It just got me thinking about so many different possibilities and outcomes

What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

Always be cognizant of what’s happening around you. Stand up for what you know is right even if others disagree with you

What drew you into this particular genre?

I’m not sure, to be honest.  I guess many years of being a nerd

If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

I would ask Blane why he made some of the idiotic decisions that he made because he’s not a stupid man at all. I can’t provide a lot of detail or I’ll give too much away

What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Instagram and Facebook

What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Network with other authors. Promoting and selling your work is a group effort so be part of a community and scratch each other’s backs

What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I’m currently writing a Prequel to Arid called “Parched-The Days Before Exile.” 

About the Author

Anne Rasico (AKA Anne Joyce) was born in a small town in Indiana you’ve probably never heard of. She composed short stories and comic books as a child to amuse her family and began writing poetry at the age of thirteen.

In 1998 she received an Honorable Mention for Literary Excellence for her poem “She Didn’t Come Home.” She attended business school and made the Dean’s List for three consecutive years, putting her love for writing on the back burner. It wasn’t until her mid-twenties that a political post on social networking rekindled her literary flame that has since become a bonfire.

In 2013 her novella When the Chips Are Down was named a Finalist in the MARSocial Author of the Year Contest. When she is not writing, thinking about writing, or going insane from writing she enjoys camping, fishing, swimming, and otherwise spending time with loved ones. She is mother to three extremely spoiled cats. Crazy cat lady? Probably.

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7159849.Anne_Rasico

Anne Rasico (AKA Anne Joyce) (@AnneRasico) | Twitter

https://www.facebook.com/AnneJoyceWriter

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Posted in Interviews, mental health awareness

Interview with Author Kenneth Richard Fox

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

There came a time almost twenty years ago that I felt I had actually been quite fortunate to have had so many experiences already during my lifetime that I wanted to share.  I had invented and patented some laser technology which could, if introduced deep inside the human body, remove even potentially lethal obstructions, as in clots in small blood vessels and otherwise.  I had practiced medicine and surgery around the world.  And more.

I focused first on a few of those and wrote short articles about some of them.  Mirage in the Desert was about my period of living and working in the Persian Gulf.  Here Today, Gone Tomorrow had to do with some of the tragic losses in my life when I lost loved ones under the most painful of circumstances.  Something From Nothing was about the strange process of inventing with all of its uncertainty– somehow, one day,  coming to believe you actually had stumbled upon something new and potentially important or valuable.  Monster in the Midst was about the tragedy of living with a loving spouse who is turned into a human monster by the emergence of violent, psychotic bipolar disorder. But then I felt there was more I could say and at the time, to me, the most efficient way to do that was using free verse.  That lead to my anthology of some 88 poems I wrote over the course of about one year.  In 2018, finally, I decided to write At the Point of a Knife, a narrative that encompassed a lot of the above in just one book.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

At the Point of a Knife is also the story of a lot of things that can go very wrong, with the backdrop of  a lot of others which are very right.  I was certain that there are so many people who struggle with living with severe untreated mental illness, even if that manifests itself in a partner or someone else very close.  It is tragic in its destruction, and with the stigmas about such things which run so strongly in society, there must be better ways.  First, though, something cried out for this tragic type of circumstance to be called out and exposed. Somehow society needs to not only recognize the enormous destruction that these severe mental illnesses cause to it, not only to the affected individuals directly, but it needs to open channels for proactively identifying these ill people who desperately need help, and force them to get it! The costs of not doing so are far too great.  Mental hospitals hardly exist any longer in the U.S., but if the stigmas are removed, their benefits are great and the costs of not having them are extreme.  Having these facilities is half the battle. Forcing their use in extreme situations is the rest-  proactively, not after people die and lives and livelihoods are ruined.

After my experience with losing fabulous children who were so horribly abused by their other, alienating parent, ruining our family and my relationship with them and theirs with me, I came to realize that there were many such circumstances, albeit with differing degrees of  adverse impact.  In the 90s when my children were so severely alienated and abused, Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) was still being broadly challenged in society, in essence a cover up of an enormous problem which destroys families.  Since, through the hard work of many dedicated mental health, medical, social work, justice and other professionals, that has changed to a signficant extent, although the battle still rages in society about PAS.  But it turns out, quite conclusively so unfortunately, that if courts don’t both enforce custody and visitation by and with the non- alienating, normal parent and restrict and severely control the visitations with the alienating one, the problem will not only not be solved, it will become permanent.  When the abused, alienated children grew up, they retain that ‘blind spot’ in their brains inculcated by the abuse, and they can not re- form relationships with the non- alienating parent.  Again, as with severe mental illness, ignoring the problem is horribly destructive and futile, and proactivity, by society, in all such cases is imperative.  This is one situation for judicial pro- activity.  

My problems, as described in At the Point of a Knife, also included how horribly one rogue judge was able to piggyback on his own sordid past  to wield power from the bench which made a mockery of justice. While he turned a blind eye to  the above mentioned severe problems squarely before him, the system let him carry on his own psychopathic brand of jurisprudence unabated, while he slashed and burned everything in his sight.  Not satisfied with allowing a potential murderer to run loose, a beautiful family to be destroyed, he persisted in destroying a thriving start- up international business involving life- saving technology, a professional career and sought for as long as he could to put in jail his chosen victim.  For the judicial system to hide behind veils of opacity, while according no recourse in reality even in situations of gross abuses of power by a few who clearly have no business having been given the trust placed in them, is simply a wrong crying out for change. Juries of peers sit on crucial cases, both civil and criminal, in American jurisprudence.  There is no reason that peers, ordinary citizens, can not sit in courtrooms so that when the obvious, gross abuse of power and justice does occur, they are there to see it and have the authority to make those few perpetrators of these quasi- judicial horrors disappear into the oblivion they deserve.  Anyone sitting in that Virginia judge’s courtroom would have likely recognized in short order that he was an outlier who did not belong in that position.  There were lawyers sitting in the gallery at times, unrelated to these cases, who said as much openly– but they had no power to act.   No one deserves that kind of immunity from exhibiting even a minimum level of responsibility in society which places trust in their hands, or the impugnity to openly scorn that society while abjuring that trust.

Large companies are also given huge sway in our society.  Perhaps even like big government itself, they become too big to control.  Unrestrained, they continue to get bigger and more powerful yet.  But since there are, alas, too many flaws in societies, manifested by the underlying flaws in the individuals of which they are comprised.  Somehow the society must rein in not only the sickest individuals before they can harm themselves and others, they must control those who abuse their powerful positions for their own gain and to the detriment of so many others.  My small, but very successful start- up hi- tech company was robbed blind by a few in power in some large companies that knew they could just steal our patented technology and probably never have to pay for it.  By virtue of bonuses, stock options and the like, sometimes well deserved, othertimes not at all, those individuals could steal from us, not pay royalties and get away with millions.  Their companies benefitted financially as well, but inventing is thwarted and society several disadvantaged when the incentive to invent is stifled, particularly when that is done totally illegally.  We had fought for the international patents and we even managed to enforce them in courts.  But the losers in all of that simply went on to lie and cheat about their royalty- bearing revenues, having little to fear.  If, in the end, after almost endless litigation all over the world, we would win, time and again, they might have to pay, but no more really than what they owed in the first place.  That is not justice, it favors the greedy and the rich and discourages the honest and the inventive among us in this type of situation.  Patent cheating is theft and that is a crime, and societies should extend that type of control to patent infringement and to wanton breaches of patent royalty  license agreements. Those crooked executives who are in it only for their own aggrandizement and care not a wit about who might benefit from new and better technology, including in the life sciences, or even if they ever do, should risk being put in jail for patent crimes.  That might put some control in place on what, now, is their unfettered rampage over smaller inventors whose technology represents, collectively, the way forward for societies and stimulates the growth that they all need to stay healthy.  Furthermore, the companies that steal this technology, if found guilty of same in the courts, should pay treble, not just once for their crimes and defalcations, and that might get the proper attention of their shareholder- owners who are all too happy now to put their crooked managers in place and look the other way from their foibles.

My story, told in At the Point of a Knife, from my experiences, points to a lot of grotesque wrongs that exist quite openly today and which reap huge destruction on our society because they are not realized and even less addressed in meaningful ways.  It is death, injury, mental abuse and the collective pain and ravages of corruption, negligence and distrust.  That is what inspired my writing this book.

3) What drew you into the field of developing new technologies and inventions as mentioned in your novel?

My entrance into the field of innovation, via the basic medical science investigations and inventions ultimately happened by accident.  My late inventive partner asked me a seemingly simple question, having to do with laser energy, something I used in my clinical practice therapeutically, but the answers were anything but obvious.  We discovered that no one else seemed to know those answers either.  We experimented, with the laser energy, applying it in the laboratory to human and animal tissues, and we observed what happened.  Eventually, quite literally, we stumbled upon a way to control that laser energy which produced the desired results we sought, but avoided the damaging ones which had thwarted prior efforts.  We defined what we had done and that lead to patents being written, then prosecuted before patent offices around the world. As is often the case with innovation, it was happenstance.  In this case, things went well.

4) What is the biggest obstacle facing the legal field in regards to mental health and those afflicted from it (not to mention the families of those individuals)?

How to make societies more attentive to and focussed on real problems is very difficult.  The problems are complex and there are always seemingly forces of evil which miltate to take advantage of those problems rather than to ameliorate them.  It is in the end about the people.  If they want and can take responsibility, then that is hopeful.  But when and if they won’t, they are doomed.  Abdicating that responsibility is often disastrous, whether to those powerful in business or to those in even any branch of government too. After all, they are all made up of people, sometimes even the same people.  Blindly trusting all justice makes that justice blind.  When something is fundamentally wrong, someone has to be both motivated to, but also empowered to be able to do something about it.  Letting a judge like the rogue described in At the Point of a Knife to act unempeded is disastrous.  Letting a violent mentally ill individual, untreated, reak havoc on those nearest to her, and indirectly even those not so close, is calamitous.  Similarly letting those in high authority in private industry trade on their enormous advantages unchecked is extremely dangerous.  I believe we all need a much stronger fundamental level of responsibility and personal integrity, or else we are doomed.  Society can not  determine for any of us specifically what those things look like better than we  individually can by  deep personal searching within.  Education is crucial, since the more each of us  knows, the better chance we have.  

5) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

The lessons I perceive from my own extensive experiences which are chronicled to some extent in At the Point of a Knife, and in my other writings, are varied and cut a broad swath through society.  I have been very fortunate to have seen so much of that over many years.  It is, now, difficult to point to any social media which directly speaks to a lot of that.  Probably the answer may be that a lot of social media speaks to a little of what I write about and very little current social media speaks to a lot of it.

6) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

People sometimes seem to say that writing a memoir or a narrative non- fictional story is cathartic.  Actually, I am not sure that is so because it is so painful to do, and the pain persists.  It is also a sacrifice, as such, but one I felt compelled to undertake in these ways, manifested by the written words.  Also, as before so often in my life, whether in Medicine or in inventing life- saving laser technologies, in trying to be a loving parent and spouse and son, I like to believe I cared enough to make the effort, to face the problem and to react to it, this time in words rather than in deeds.  Given how popular writing seems to be, that must be, in general, a good thing.

There are, of course, many genres of books, of stories, as there is variety in life itself.  I seem to be inspired by what I have seen and felt.  One can only encourage that sort of thing in others.

7) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

For me it is important to continue to confront challenges, which is, to live.  I continue to try to find what seems best, and to act on that as best I can.   I continue to learn since that, too, should never end.  I always want to find what motivates me most, and to act on that as much as I can.   I continue to be inspired by those around me most, who I love.   I continue to seek justice, even all too often in all too mediocre courts.  But I continue to seek harmony, compromise and peace.  I continue to try to support technology, inventiveness and innovation since, alas, it seems to me we continue to need those things.  I continue to tell tales, and to write, as I am doing now. 

About the Author

Kenneth R. Fox is the inventor of a great deal of laser medical technology and the patentee of many international patents. Dr. Fox has practiced Medicine in six countries on four continents and has lectured in many others. He has taught both Medicine and Business at several universities in a number of different countries. He is the author of many peer- reviewed medical and scientific articles, quite a few published poems and several short articles, mostly related to various aspects of health, but all based on his personal experiences over many years, as is At the Point of a Knife. 

Your can find more at http://www.kennethrfox.com

Posted in Guest Post, writing tips

The Blurb Factor: 3 Crucial Steps to Optimize Your Book Description | Guest Post

I am honored to be able to share this next guest blog post with you all. Writer Greg Josselyn from Reedsy has reached out with a brand new post on the Blurb Factor to share with aspiring authors and writers out there. Enjoy and be sure to follow Greg’s work on Reedsy.


From botched to bestselling

When romance writer Alessandra Torre uploaded her first book on Amazon eight years ago, she only sold three on the first day. And for the next few months, she averaged a still-disappointing 15 – until one night, she looked at her book description and said: “I’m going to re-write this.” 

That re-write sparked a renaissance. First, it was 100 books sold in one day. Then 300. Then 2,000. That’s when she started ranking as a top seller in the Romance category, and offers from agents and publishers came flooding in. Now, Torre is an Amazon International bestselling novelist, with over a dozen books to her name. 

We can’t pin Torre’s success entirely on a book blurb – she is a good writer, after all! But we would be remiss not to poke around the subject, especially since this is a great Amazon self-publishing success story. The fact is, without the social credit and marketing budget of a big publishing house, the seemingly small things we usually save for last – like book descriptions – will make or break you. 

If you’re a writer who’s planning to self-publish, this post will help improve your book description (or back cover text) and grow your profitability on Amazon. But even if you aren’t quite at that stage yet, you can apply these techniques to query letters and pitches for your book. After all, it’s never too early to start selling people on your ideas.

Step 1: Get a hook and bait

Hook, hook, hook. That seems to be all writers and editors ever talk about, and yet, most of us still wonder what it really means. When we say “hook”, we mean like a fish hook, with – you you guessed it – bait. This is particularly important in the sea of distractions that is Amazon.com. But what are the raw materials that will make up your hook and bait? You’ll require: 

  1. A brief – we cannot stress this enough – summary of the story (no spoilers, please!) 
  2. A question that the story poses (which, of course, makes the reader want to find the answer so much that they’re willing to pay $9.99 for it). What’s going to compel Suzie So-And-So to forgo her mocha lattes this week for your book? 
  3. A little typography dress-up. You don’t have to go to coding boot camp to try on bolds, italics, and colors when setting up your product page. For example, on Amazon, you can:
    • Make things bold: <b>Be Bold My Friend, Be Bold</b>
    • Italicize Things <i>don’t go overboard though here because sometimes readers breeze over italics </i> 
    • Headline: <h1>This is a classier way to do all caps</h1>
    • Amazon Colors: <h2>Jeff Bezos will approve.</h2>
    • Indent: <blockquote>for anyone who likes a good old indent, you’re welcome. </blockquote>

Step 2: Blurb it out

Try to think of your book description in the most succinct terms possible. This isn’t a school book report; it’s like more like an elevator pitch. In other words, don’t blurt it out – blurb it out!

And when it comes to blurbs, our friend Torre is the master. If she didn’t revise the blurb for her first book, she may have switched careers instead of rising to the New York Times best seller list, which is why we always refer aspiring writers to her video tips on the subject. But in brief, she stresses these two essential facts: 

  1. The first three sentences of the blurb matter most. It’s like a teaser trailer – after those three sentences, users are going to have to click “Read More” to well, read more. To keep them scrolling, or get them to move onto the “full trailer,” as it were, those three sentences should stand out by utilizing the problem/question structure mentioned above.

One strong way to do that is to employ the classic proposition “but.” For example: “Will Byers lived a normal life in a boring suburban town. But when a mysterious alien creature shows up, his life turns upside down. Will it ever turn right side up again?” (Read More…)

  1. Leave out unnecessary details. All too often, authors use their blurbs to share irrelevant details like character surnames, where they live, their professions, or other excess exposition to no end. Cut all of that out – just set up the problem and the stakes of the story. You can always go full-on Charles Dickens in the actual book. But don’t make your blurb into Bleak House, or you’ll send readers running for the hills. 

Step 3: Demonstrate (and prove!) a social benefit

You’ve done it all so far: The blurb is short enough for a social media share. Your first three sentences set up a key question and further dilemma. You’ve omitted unnecessary details, like your character’s middle name or their township’s population.

And yet, potential readers are still scrolling to click on other book titles in your category. Yes, it could be other factors like book cover design and reviews, but still – there’s one last ingredient needed to seal the deal on your blurb. This is, of course, why the book matters to the potential buyer. What does your book provide for them? How will it make an impact on their life? Advertisements do it all the time, so why not utilize this technique to sell your book?  

For example, if your book is self-help, be sure to mention that they’ll never think the same way about X problem ever again. Or if it’s fiction, show how your main character is relatable to readers, and how they overcome problems that many of us experience in our own lives.

If you have reviews or testimonials to prove this, even better: up the social proof to the max. And if you’re new to self-publishing, drawing comparisons to pre-existing works is one great way to do it (e.g. “This Gender Bending Historial Fantasy is Games of Thrones meets Queer Eye), or just stress how it’ll change the reader’s way of looking at the world (“fantasy fans and fashionistas will never be the same again…”). 

Takeways

In order to make a successful book blurb, be sure to include:

  1. An enticing lead to grab readers
  2. A question that a reader can only answer by actually reading your book
  3. Proof that the story will benefit the reader’s life – this might be pure entertainment, or genuine self-improvement

There are endless ways to play around with these elements. Try out different options – at least three – and test them with friends and family, as well as pro beta readers. Ask: which description pulls you in? Which one doesn’t do it for you? And why? Or, do an A/B test in Amazon: swap out the different descriptions and see which one performs the best.

Still no sales? Keep re-writing and testing until you do, like Alessandra Torre. Otherwise, accept that the marketplace just may not be ready for this particular book, and start re-examining your content from the ground up.  

Greg Josselyn is a writer for Reedsy, a curated marketplace dedicated to empowering authors. When he’s not covering KDP Select, he writes short fiction and makes podcasts.

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Posted in Interviews

Interview with Author Lynn Nanos

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing? ​

I never considered myself a writer until literally just a couple of days immediately preceding the start of creating Breakdown. Rather I considered myself a full-time mobile emergency psychiatric social worker. As I struggled to shake off the sense that something was missing within me professionally, the idea of writing a book about my profession came to me suddenly. I completed an online writing course, researched the difference between traditional publishing and self-publishing, purchased writing software, learned how to cite research, and began researching marketing techniques for books. I felt intrinsically rewarded upon completion of every major milestone. Sure there were obstacles to overcome, such as when the interior formatting company sent me a 20-page sample ridden with mistakes they refused to fix. And when my requests for testimonials to publish at the beginning of Breakdown were ignored. And when the first illustrator I hired plagiarized her work before I quickly fired and didn’t pay her. Writing a book takes intense commitment to the finished product. The recognition I’ve received from people has been priceless. 

2) What inspired you to write your book?

I had done mental health advocacy work on a national scale for years before beginning to work on Breakdown and was very inspired by advocates’ tragic stories. Their stories motivated me to become a better social worker. I increasingly realized that there is no opportunity to influence legislators to change the system in the clinical setting. I didn’t feel that my employment was enough to make a difference in the world. Certain clinical cases were at the forefront of my memory because they were especially dramatic and shocking. All of a sudden it dawned on me that the world has to know these stories. Very few people are aware of the population I help and what they struggle with. Breakdown aims to close the gap between clinical and legislative settings. 

Breakdown Nanos

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

The most common reason that approximately half of people with schizophrenia are unable to initiate treatment independently or adhere to treatment is anosognosia. This means they lack awareness of being ill. Anosognosia is a key factor contributing to the need for involuntary treatment. When schizophrenia goes untreated, the consequences can be deadly. I’ve detailed high profile cases based on media reports and my interviews with family members. These cases have involved people getting killed due to untreated mental illness. This statement is bound to make many people uncomfortable for fear of stigmatizing mental illness by suggesting that people with mental illness are violent. The majority of people with mental illness are not violent. Yet a small subset of the population with untreated serious mental illness, especially involving psychosis, is more violent than the general population. Truth does not enhance stigma. I make a strong case in favor of involuntary outpatient treatment, otherwise known as Assisted Outpatient Treatment. Just three states – Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Maryland – do not allow this while all other states and Washington, D.C. allow this life-saving treatment. Not coincidentally, Massachusetts has a very strong antipsychiatry movement. Groups promoting the belief that mental illness doesn’t exist are funded by the government and supported by the National Alliance on Mental Illness. This is wrong.  

4) Your novel was expertly crafted and showcased just how expertly researched and utilized the statistics were for the mental health care profession and mental health stats overall in our nation. Based on your research, what was one statistic that shocked you or would shock the average reader who is unaware of the problems facing the mental health profession or those suffering with mental health struggles?

The extent of malingering on inpatient and emergency settings is astronomical. According to a study, 12% of those admitted for emergency psychiatric care lied about their symptoms to get admitted to inpatient. The reasons for malingering vary. Malingerers drain health care resources and literally take away precious and limited inpatient bed space from those who truly need it. 

5) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership? 

Facebook.

6) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors or anyone working in your field of study out there?

Please read Breakdown to learn from example or learn about emergency psychiatry. 

7) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects/studies on the horizon?

I am still working as a full-time mobile emergency psychiatric social worker. I will not write another book, though plan on resuming blogging about my profession in the next few months. 

When it comes to therapy, there is no better site to find relationship advice from a licensed therapist than Regain. Click the link https://www.regain.us/advice/therapist/ to learn more!

About the Author

Lynn Nanos is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker in her twelfth year as a full-time mobile emergency psychiatric clinician in Massachusetts. After graduating from Columbia University with a Master of Science in Social Work, she worked as an inpatient psychiatric social worker for approximately seven years. She is an active member of the National Shattering Silence Coalition that advocates for the seriously mentally ill population. She serves on its Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee committee and co-chairs its Blog committee. 

Posted in Interviews

INTERVIEW WITH Lachlan Walter

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I’ve always loved books and stories, and like many people who love these things, I always wondered if I had it in me to be a writer. And so I started writing in my late teens, working on short fiction and poetry but never taking it very seriously. One day, I just stopped. Almost a decade later – having moved back to my old hometown in the bush, at the tail end of a ten-year drought – I had the idea for my first book. It seemed to come from nowhere, and I hadn’t even considered returning to writing. But the idea burned within me, so I decided to take writing seriously. After all, no one else was going to bring this idea to life. 

I returned to university, took a bunch of writing classes, and eventually undertook a PhD that involved writing both a novel and a piece of literary criticism. In effect, I took the small-talent I already possessed, and the passion I felt, and nurtured them and learned how to make them grow, and practised and practised and practised until I understood what discipline meant. And then one day, while working on my second book just for the fun of it, I realised that I’d become a writer.  

2) What inspired you to write your book?

I’ve always been a voracious reader, and sometimes an obsessive one, and giant monster fiction was one such obsession that consumed me around the time I completed my first book – I’ve also always been a fan of giant monsters, which I’ll get to shortly. 

Gripped by this obsession, I devoured whatever giant monsters fiction I could find, looking for something that took giant monsters seriously, and something that was more than just capital-A action or zany in a post-modern way. But nothing really scratched the itch I’d developed. And so, looking for a new writing project that I figured should be distinctly different from my first book, I settled on the serious work of giant monster fiction that I had been craving. 

In other words, I decided to write the book that I wanted to read. Isn’t that what an author does?

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

My real hope with We Call It Monster is that people might start to see that life will go on, and that hope perseveres. It’s just that life in the future – life after we’ve faced the earth-shaking forces of climate change – won’t be the same as it is now. We’re a persistent, determined, ingenious and tenacious species, and I firmly believe that we’ll still be around once it’s all over. As far smarter people that me have said: It’s not really the end of the world, just the end of the world as we know it. 

This is the lens through which I hope people interpret the various beasts and kaiju of We Call It Monster. I hope people see them as forces almost beyond comprehension, and from which is there no real escape or ability to defeat. The only real solution lies in accommodation; only by changing the way we are now, will what’s to come be that little bit brighter. And to do so, we must remember that the things that will be most important are those that have always been the most important: Community and compassion, love and family, kindness and togetherness, hope and faith.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I’ve always been fascinated by giant monsters. At first, as a kid, it was a childish fascination with things being smashed. After all, every little kid has thrown a tantrum, broken something and then experienced relief at the wordless release this brings. Giant monsters flattening cities for no apparent reason readily reflects our own difficulties in articulating and making sense of our emotions at a young age. As well, giant monsters conjured a feeling of awe and mystery, in much the same way dinosaurs did – show me a kid who’s never gone through a ‘dinosaur’ phase’ and I’ll eat my hat. 

But beginning in my teenage years and continuing on into the present day, I’ve loved the metaphorical potential inherent to giant monsters, and their ability to ‘stand in’ for so many incomprehensible problems that seem beyond our control. Nuclear war, environment degradation, international terrorism, industrial pollution, climate change, the staggering number of displaced people around the world – giant monsters can represent them all, and more.

And so, as I mentioned earlier, when I was looking for a new writing project that would be distinctly different from my first book, I settled on revisiting this fascination. 

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

Owing to its structure, there are at least two-dozen featured characters in We Call It Monster, and so choosing to sit down and talk to just one of them is tricky. Instead, if I could, I would sit down with Sue Fleming from the first chapter, and Melaarny from the final chapter, and encourage them to talk to each other, in the hope that what they have in common outweighs that which distinguishes them. 

Here things get a little dicey, as I don’t want to be so gauche as to unleash any spoilers. But I will say that despite the years that separate them, Sue and Melaarny are really the same and are inextricably linked, and are just like all us. They live their lives, making do as best they can; they have friends and families, hopes and dreams, fears and anxieties.

And so I would like to sit down with Sue and Melaarny in the hope that they realise this, and that we could all share in the comfort of this realisation. After all, isn’t that the point? No matter who we are – or what or when – in the end we’re just like them: We’re living our lives. 

6) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

There’s so much advice for aspiring authors out there, much of it contradictory, so I’ll share something that works for me. 

If you want to write, you need to have some understanding of the science and art behind it, and have some small talent. After that, all you have to do is keep at it – like all creative arts, writing is something you need to practise. By writing and writing and writing – and keeping your chin up as you wade through it – you’ll eventually get there.

But remember, there are no real rules when it comes to writing – what works for some doesn’t work for others. Finding your own way is what’s important.

7) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

If I’m not careful, I end up with too many different projects on the go at the same time. And so aside from my semi-regular pieces of science fiction criticism and the occasional piece of short fiction, I’m trying to be disciplined about focussing on my third book – a piece of metafictional science fiction that’s a bit “lighter” than the rest of my work – rather than get lost in daydreams about the book after it, or the book after that. 

With a bit of luck and perspiration, it’ll be done by Christmas. Won’t that be a nice gift to myself?

About the Author

Lachlan Walter is a writer, science-fiction critic and nursery-hand (the garden kind, not the baby kind), and is the author of two books: the deeply Australian post-apocalyptic tale The Rain Never Came, and the giant-monster story-cycle We Call It Monster. He also writes science fiction criticism for Aurealis magazine and reviews for the independent ‘weird music’ website Cyclic Defrost, his short fiction can be found floating around online, and he has completed a PhD that critically and creatively explored the relationship between Australian post-apocalyptic fiction and Australian notions of national identity.

He loves all things music-related, the Australian environment, overlooked genres and playing in the garden. He hopes that you’re having a nice day.

AN EXTRACT

The old man shuffled out to the balcony, dusted off an outdoor chair and

then made himself comfortable. The sky was a shade of blue that painters

only dream about; it was a beautiful sight. The old man drank it in,

leaning back in his chair. He sipped at his coffee and smoked a cigarette.

He was happy to wait as long as was necessary – he had all the time in

the world and he wasn’t going anywhere.

The monster finally appeared, a blurry smudge in the distance.

Slowly, but not as slowly as he would have thought, it grew both

closer and more distinct. The old man laughed out loud; it looked like

nothing more than a child’s drawing of something that might have been a

lobster or might have been a spider or might have been both, propped up

on flagpole-like legs that supported a wetly-shining carapace, a beaked

head, and a tail as long as a bus.

It was enormous and ridiculous in equal measure. The old man was

surprised to find that it failed to frighten him.

It drew closer to the city. It stopped suddenly and bit a great chunk

out of a stately old tree lining a boulevard. Chewing slowly and

methodically, it worked its way through the mass of wood and foliage

before throwing its head back and opening its mouth wide. Despite his

deafness, the old man felt the monster’s keening in his bones and in the

pit of his stomach.

He pulled his hearing aid from his pocket, turned it on then slipped it

in place.

The beast’s cry was low and mournful, more a melancholy bellow

than a ferocious roar. Thankfully, the klaxon-blare of the evacuation

alarms had stopped. The monster cried out again and it shook the old

man, both literally and metaphorically. The beast shifted its legs,

presumably adjusting its weight, and destroyed an office building in the

process.

Almost comically, it looked down at the destruction it had wrought

and seemed to shake its head.

It looked back up and cried out a third time, and then started walking

again. It seemed to meet the old man’s eye. Without breaking its gaze, the

old man took another sip of coffee before lighting another cigarette.

Slowly-slowly-slowly, the monster drew closer. You could almost see

a smile on the old man’s face.

A Q&A WITH THE AUTHOR

What is it about giant monsters that appeals to you?

Initially, it was a childish fascination with things being smashed. Let’s face it: Every little kid has thrown a tantrum for reasons they can’t explain, broken something and then experienced relief at the wordless release this brings. A giant monster barging through a city for no fathomable reason can reflect our own difficulties in articulating and making sense of our emotions at that age.

This fascination soon turned to awe and wonder at their scale and mystery, a reflection of the feelings inspired in me by my discovery of dinosaurs and cryptozoology (the study of creatures such as the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, Yetis and the like). My love of dinosaurs is easy to explain – show me a kid who hasn’t at some point gone through a ‘dinosaur’ phase’ and I’ll eat my hat – while my love of cryptozoology was inspired by a book entitled Creatures From Elsewhere, which my parents gave me and which is actually still sitting on my bookshelf.

Beginning in my teenage years and continuing on into the present day, I’ve loved the metaphorical and symbolic potential that giant monsters possess, and the ways in which they can ‘stand in’ for so many different problems that seem beyond our control and almost impossible to deal with. Nuclear war, our negative impact on the environment, international terrorism, industrial pollution, climate change, the staggering number of displaced people around the world – giant monsters have represented them all.

Why did you decide to write about giant monsters?

As mentioned, I’ve always been fascinated by them. But I’ve also always been a voracious reader, and sometimes an obsessive one. I’ve been known to occasionally get my nerd on for a particular sub or micro-genre, looking up ‘similar title’ and ‘you might also like’ lists online when I should be doing better things with my time. But I still keep searching, because there can’t just be one example of Mystery Sub/Micro-genre X out there.

Giant monster fiction was one such obsession that carried me away, the timing of which coincided with the completion of my first book. I binged on literally anything I could find, looking for something that took giant monsters as seriously as some of the movies do, something that was more than just capital-A action. I found lots of fun, post-modern stuff out there – some of which could even be described as zany – but not much that approached giant monsters with a serious eye.

Looking for a new book to throw myself into writing – a book that I wanted to be distinctly different from my first book – I decided upon a piece of serious giant monster fiction. In other words, I decided to write the book that I wanted to read. Isn’t that what an author does?

Do you need to be a fan of giant monsters to appreciate We Call It Monster?

Nope, but it probably helps… In all seriousness, though – no, you don’t need to be a fan. My aim with We Call It Monster wasn’t only to write a serious piece of giant monster fiction because giant monsters have, historically, rarely been written about in such a way. Instead, I also wanted to write a piece of speculative fiction that does what all good speculative fiction should: Use the speculative element within to make us look at ourselves and our place in the world with fresh eyes.

Despite its title, We Call It Monster is more concerned with people than monsters. It isn’t a ‘wham-bam, shoot-em-up’ but instead a serious look at how we might react to forces beyond our control, and to forces that illuminate the precariousness of our position as world-conquerors sitting atop the food chain. And ultimately, it’s the story of what really matters: community and compassion, love and family and friendship, hope and faith. Anyone that appreciates such people-centric stories should find something within We Call It Monster that they can enjoy.

Why did you decide to write We Call It Monster as a story-cycle/novel-in-stories?

To me, one of reading’s biggest attractions has always been in my sense of engagement with the world being built on the page (a process even more absorbing when reading science fiction and speculative fiction). I think this enjoyment of engagement applies to most people. We all ‘see’ things in written worlds that the author didn’t actually write, even at the most mundane level: we populate a footpath with pedestrians, a street with cars.

A story-cycle/novel-in-stories can increase this sense of engagement to an incredibly strong degree, and their traditional structures allow writers to work magic. They can give us different perspectives on the same events, blocks of ‘missing time’ that exist between stories/chapters, events that are only alluded to rather than seen first-hand, a multiplicity of narrative “voices”, and so much more. But ‘missing time’ begs to be filled; events only alluded to tantalise us; we can’t know the truth when presented with different perspectives, or even if the truth exists. And so our minds do this work for us, conjuring up and giving life to parts of the story the writer has withheld.

The way story-cycles/novels-in-stories allow us to create the world right alongside the writer is a beautiful thing. However, the structures behind them aren’t just beautiful, but also incredibly practical. They can allow a story to cover a span of time longer than a regular person’s life; and help do away with the inevitable and repetitive ‘amazing coincidences’ that prop-up stories where one single character guides us through an incredible sequence of events covering an incredible amount of time; and enable a wider representation of voices from a wider variety of countries and cultures, without also falling back on the aforementioned trope of inevitable and repetitive ‘amazing coincidences’.

IMPORTANT LINKS, SOCIAL MEDIA & CONTACTS LINKS

Official Website

Severed Press

SOCIAL MEDIA

FaceBook

Twitter


Posted in Interviews

Interview with Author Jackson Coppley

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I had an unlikely path towards writing. I spent my career in technology. Working as an engineer for the Bell System (that dates me), striking out on my own to start a software company, then managing projects for IBM. But I had a knack for storytelling and writing is the outlet for those stories.

What inspired you to write your book?

I always toy with ideas that upset our sense of reality. What would happen if we found a sophisticated code deep in the earth? We’ve come to accept a certain evolution of our development from primitive cave drawings, but wouldn’t such a new discovery turn history upside down?

What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

The Code Hunters, while meant to be a strait adventure thriller, does suggest that there may be other mysteries waiting to be discovered that might shake up what we know to be true. Don’t assume that history is fixed, not to be changed.

What drew you into this particular genre?

The Code Hunters is a technothriller. You only have to see what I said about my background to understand the ‘techno’ part. As far as the thriller, an adventure like that of Indiana Jones is just plain fun.

If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask him or her and why?

Most readers have favorite characters other than the title character, Nicholas Foxe, but Nick’s my guy. I would like to meet Nick in a bar and talk about the history of the world over a round or two of drinks.

What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Facebook is number one since I have a page there where I post information about my books and direct people to my blog (www.JacksonCoppley.com/blog). On my blog, I write about, among other things, heroes and why we love them. I also have a large Twitter following and keep them entertained.

What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Determine if you love to write. Don’t think about it much. Just do it. Don’t worry about creating perfect prose. You can fix it. You can improve it over time. But you cannot fix or improve what’s not been written.

What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I have much of the second Nicholas Foxe adventure written. I’m spending a few weeks in Italy and along the Dalmatian Coast getting the locations right. I’m hyped about the book and I have readers of The Code Hunters asking for more. I aim to please.

About the Author

Jackson Coppley, a consummate storyteller, illuminates in his writing what happens when technology intersects with human behavior and emotion. Coppley weaves his stories from a sophisticated knowledge of technology and an understanding of human behavior. Coppley’s resume includes a dynamic career with leading world communications and technology companies, and the launching of what the press called “a revolutionary software program” during the rise of personal computing. As a world traveler, Coppley developed an interest in and an understanding of cultural differences and nuances which play an important role in his stories. His YouTube video on the Hmong people of Vietnam, as an example of how he investigates other cultures, received thousands of hits. It is this sensitivity about human behavior combined with the understanding of the potential of technology that brings to his writing a glimpse of what is yet to come.

Facebook Author Page: www.facebook.com/jcoppley

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jcoppley

Website: www.JacksonCoppley.com


Posted in Interviews

Interview with Author Angelica Clyman

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I’m a painter, an educator, a business owner, and a mom (among other things)! I’ve always loved writing poetry and prose, but as I seriously pursued the visual arts, I put my writing aside…or tried to. As much as I attempted to convince myself that I wasn’t a writer, I couldn’t ignore the drive. I finally gave in while I was pursuing my Master of Fine Arts degree and made writing a priority again. I realized I didn’t have to make such a drastic choice – I could chase all my varied dreams.

What inspired you to write your book?

Actually, this was a story I was carrying with me in one form or another since I was twelve years old. I had a wonderful English teacher in seventh grade who really encouraged journaling and creative writing, and this story had its earliest beginnings in a class writing prompt. It changed a lot along the way, discarding its original Tolkien-inspired backdrop and undead characters, and finding its way into a dystopian world with Angelic magic, but the main characters and overall plot emerged from this time in my adolescence.

What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I hope readers enjoy the beautifully desolate imagery and the slightly twisted love story, but on a deeper level, I hope the underlying philosophy comes through – that the answers we are all looking for truly come from within.

What drew you into this particular genre?

I feel like this story doesn’t neatly fit into one genre, but I’ve always been excited by the different forms fantasy can take. In my paintings, I often play with abandoned imagery, so a dystopian setting was natural for me.

If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

The pirates would probably be the most fun to hang out with, but I think I could learn a lot from Asher Serafin. He’s one of the characters that is the least like me, but I strive to be as steady and unwavering as he is. He has seen the world before and after an apocalypse, he’s basked in the glow of the divine, he’s seen extreme good and evil (and the uncomfortable gray areas too), and he’s survived things that would have destroyed most. If I was having a difficult time and needed some perspective, he would be the one to go to.

What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Goodreads and Facebook have been useful, and I’ve finally made an Instagram! Sometimes social media distracts me from writing, but I’m trying to stay connected.

What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Write the story you want to read. There are times that I almost stopped myself, worrying about what others might think or concerned that the book wouldn’t be well received. But in the end, only you can write your story, and something written honestly is bound to resonate with someone else.

What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I’m currently working on the sequel to Dominion of the Star – the second book of the Descendants of the Fallen series – tentatively titled Resurrection of the Hierophant. It takes place seven years later, and it finds some of the characters much changed. I’m also working on the audiobook for Dominion of the Star, which is already proving to be an adventure!

About the author:

Angelica Clyman was raised on Catholicism and urban legends, fairy tales and 80s movies. Her love for fantasy books and poetry was put on hold while she pursued other passions, but she found her way back to words and stories after following the seemingly disparate paths of the visual arts, academia, yoga, martial arts, business, dance and magick. Angelica is an artist, educator, wife, and mother. “Dominion of the Star” is her first novel.

https://www.facebook.com/DominionoftheStar/

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28700275-dominion-of-the-star

https://www.instagram.com/angelclyman/

Posted in Interviews

Interview with Author Tomas Cudzis

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I’m originally from Slovakia but live in the UK since 2005 with two year pause 2010-2012, when I bounced between the US and Slovakia.

After my parents divorced, my dad stayed in the Slovakia while my Mom went to live with me in the UK for few Years and then with my sister that is living in the US since 2004 to help her with household. She stayed there ever since with occasional trips to visit me or her sister in the Slovakia.

So now I do have 3 homes really. At hearth, I’m still Slovakian and even though I live in the UK for a long time now, I never applied to be UK citizen, still remaining Slovakian. On the other hand, I do go every second-ish year to visit my sister and mom that live in Las Vegas for my holidays and still plan to  move in the future into the US if possible. But truthfully, since I have been in the UK for all of my adult life now, UK feels like home the most. I’m very  glad and happy that I had the opportunity to be part, live, study and work in it, due to the UK being within the EU zone at the time (Slovakia is EU country). But now, since there is impending brexit, it could go all into a halt (since I’m still only Slovakian citizen). Currently, I’m about to finish my masters (in September) at Coventry University in Exercise and Sport Science, and will be looking at my options after.

To answer how I did get into writing…Well, it’s really down to a chance really. Ever since I have been growing up, I think I was very creative. There was always a story behind everything in my head. Listening to a music? I have seen in my head a story to it. An object of any kind? Instant story in my head. I have always seen it more like a movie.

Could visualize everything in my head and eventually, music became more prominent where there was always not just a story behind everything, but also a song that would reflect the emotion that I personally felt and fitted the narrative of the story in my head. The books are really a tribute to the Linkin Park music band songs to date. When I was a teenager still growing up,  I started to imagine a story where I was the hero (what a surprise), or rather a superhero like a Batman. It started all with the “In the End” song from Linking Park that I heard possibly in the radio. Then I got their whole first album: The hybrid theory and that created a whole anthology of stories (of my superhero) in my head based on that. Needless to say, their follow-up albums didn’t disappoint, regardless of them being always different in the style of music, adding more and more stories in my head with each new song. The only band that I can honestly say, that I do enjoy an cherish every single song they had made. All of them are “hits” for me. But naturally, with me growing up, the stories in my head changed into something slightly more realistic (slightly I admit), that didn’t necessarily involve a super-hero. I always wanted to be in a movie production industry, but never really got a chance. Either way, I was getting (way) older, and I felt that the stories in my head are slowly fading, vanishing even. I just thought, I should preserve them for myself, if nobody else, as I thought they were pretty cool.

After Chester (LP singer) had passed away, it prompted me into action before it was too late. Although the whole 4 books stories are largely changed from the original one (about the second, more realistic hero).  Mainly due to me either forgetting it, or that now I had to also connect it into logical order (one giant story made of pieces of my previous visions connected to the songs) that would include all of the LP’s songs. Also, because I tried to add controversy into it, things that would challenge the reader himself. As you know, in the books (or the one you did read) the characters express the way they think, to make it seem logical (or perhaps not). However, many times challenging if not controversial in their final decision and action. None of the characters are perfect, and more often contradictory rather than complimentary to each other. No-one is straight up good, or just plain bad with a perhaps exception on the truly evil (bad guys) side. Nothing is white, nor black. All is grey and the reader himself would be the judge to who is his “good” guy, the most reasonable, the most compassionate etc., no doubt different from reader to reader. Just like in real life.

We all have a bright and dark side. We all are liked, and certainly also disliked by someone else. It didn’t matter that we didn’t give them reason for it, or at least we’re not aware of it, it’s just the way life works. People are different, unique, sometimes with contradicting values, simply can’t please everyone. I’m glad that you liked my book, but I’m sure that for some others, the content may be too graphic, too controversial, too violent or simply not good enough quality. I accept that, but to finally hopefully and definitively answer your question how I did start my writing: I wanted to preserve what I still had in my head whilst giving a tribute to the People who perhaps influenced it the most – the Linking Park. My only worry was that since I am not a writer really, and I’m certain that I will not write for a long time after I finish the last 4th book (never say never), the books would not by a tribute by far, rather lacking the quality of content, uniqueness and excellence of the LP’s genius. Thank you for bringing me peace now, that I know at least ONE person did like it and appreciated it for what it is: an amateur work.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

Oh, I accidentally answered that I guess. Well, to preserve what little of the  stories I still had in my head, to give back a tribute to the people that largely influenced me, and certainly, it was also fun and satisfying to actually use and to present my creativity, to make it “come to life”. Before, no-one really knew. Nor my family or friends, what I could be capable of in terms of creativity. To them, my previous attempts to get into let’s call it “entertainment” industry, was just that – a talk with no real evidence of skill.

There is but one: one I did when I was still only 18y old back in 2004 as a diploma project.

It is rather basic in animation and graphics, but I did it alone on a already slightly dated computer at that time. The rendering process alone took 3 whole days and I had to borrow my friends PC’s hard drive so that I had enough space. I will include a link: Aliens attack earth vs 4 heroes animation
Aliens attack earth vs 4 heroes animationI am not a animator, i have wanted to be a games designer.I have made full concept game with storyboard and ever…

The character in the video with the yellow eyes is the original “superhero” me, the rest my closest friends at that time. Largely influenced by largely unknown “Guyver: the dark hero” movie. I hope that you did recognize the aliens, as of the actual alien’s franchise. Hope you enjoy that too.

Damn, I wish I had a chance to do what I would love to do, to be part of a movie productions.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I hope it will force the reader to think more. To try to understand other people actions and beliefs, not disregarding them instantly based purely on personal feelings, or opposing view on topic.

Although, I had not explored the possibility to give a reason and a story behind the “primary” bad guys. I do believe that we are not born evil, or good for that matter. Nature and nurture are both influencing how we will develop. I didn’t need the need since the “main” character is controversial and “dark” enough on his own, but his way of thinking is explained. Again, not that the reader could agree or disagree with his actions, but to try to understand why. Especially if you account for the previous two books and the first one where Tomas is only 12 Years old at the very beginning. Reader could read and perhaps understand (or not) why he does what he does, or how he did end up at this point (end of book 3). It is really complex.

Again, I hope it will make the reader be more emphatic (or critical) of everything around, and himself. Therefore, dare I say it?: grew as a person, taking away whatever he finds of value in the book, if any. At the very least, I hope he will enjoy reading it.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

Oh boy, my sick head? This question really brought smile on my face, thank you.

Well, you know it is quite graphic in the action part, and “heavy” psychologically.

I am a person who hides his emotions (just like the main character), but is rich in experiencing them. The first book is largely reflecting this, as it is almost the real story of me until the main character starts street fights and then kills a person, of course. Many things have been changed for the purpose of a story (I moved into the UK not China for instance), but almost half of the book is the actual biography of me with added controversy in regards of “viewing” women, so that it fits the dark, imperfect character and the  lyrics of the songs of course. But to answer the question: I find it richer in emotions (especially if you listen to the dedicated song after), therefore better experience. Personally.

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

Violetta, I would ask her to “fix me”, please. But seriously, I would ask Peter to get me into the movie industry, I’m sure he could hack an account or two, or had straight up connections somewhere that would get me the ONE shot at “it”, that I always dreamed about.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I have virtually no exposure. You are the very first person showing any interest in my work so I must declare, that it will be your blog. Thank you! I do have FB, Patreon, Youtube, Twitter, Goodreads, Reddit and something called Wattpad, I even tried all kind of LP’s fan forums, but none really exposed my work to the world. Partly, due to me not spending all the time, attention and effort I possibly could have on it, I think and hope.

I did have to work and study (full time) at the same time for the last couple of years now, and I do try to live quite healthy lifestyle (gym, dieting), as I am Fitness specialist after all with many years of Personal training and healthy lifestyle consultancy experience, but this takes away a lot of time as well. The little “spare” free time that I have, I tend to use on relaxing (games, movies), but I still managed to produce 3 books along all of this going on in the last two Years. Admittingly, each book is almost twice in the length of the previous one. Mostly because I really wanted to start at the second that was just naturally shorter than the 3rd , but I didn’t want to start it like the star wars: with the 4th movie (story) first, then come back to explain why and how the hero got into that kind of situation, so I was very conservative with the first book.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

It is very hard to get exposure in this business if you are just starting up, or have no social media presence at all. But first you have to have a “worthy product”, before you should worry about that. Now, I’m not saying not to try to build audience (via social media optimally) before your book is actually finished, but If you have none yet, there is no point worrying if you’re not successful at gaining the audience. That is, if this is not your living of course. I mean, I’m not the right person to ask anyway I guess. I’m just amateur who doesn’t even plan to continue to write once the series are finished, and I never really cared that much about the monetary side of it. It would be nice if it could produce me some income, and it would be very much welcomed right now in my life as well, but it was never the purpose of it, nor did I count on it. In fact, I did at least spent money on a professional looking book covers without any returns as of yet. Don’t matter, I’m very happy with them and grateful to the talented artist who drew them. If I could, I buy illustrations from him as well, a professional editor, hire narrator for audio book and more. My patreon is about animating the books to life, perhaps one day I could afford it.

But back to the question: I think It would be wise to make sure that the book that you’re working on has something “to stand out” in it, something that would guarantee that your only real problem is the lack of exposure, not the quality.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

As mentioned before, after I finish (hopefully still this year) the last 4th book of the series, I don’t plan to write anymore. I do plan to invest into illustrations and an editor as soon as my finances would allow it. In most likely distant future after that, I am planning to animate the books. I feel that if this would be an animated series on the YouTube, it would be a lot more successful in terms of exposure than currently in the form of a books. It would also make me very happy that I did in fact (technically) made it into the entertainment industry after all. But that’s getting ahead of myself anyway. Just because you liked my book (one of them), it doesn’t necessarily mean other people will, therefore exposure isn’t all. You brought me hope that it may be “worth something” and thank you very much for that Anthony, so that I will continue best to my ability to try to get more exposure. Who knows, it may actually help somebody to “grew” as a person, or just to enjoy reading it, or hopefully bring even more fans for the LP band. They sure deserve it. Although, they’re massive in the US at minimum, and certainly don’t need my help to gain them more fans, any new fan that will find his way to them thanks to the tribute books would be also a massive success for me.
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