Tag Archives: Author Interview

An Interview with Angela Ackerman

Woot! I have awesome luck. Not too long ago, I managed to score an interview with the awesome Becca Puglisi. I’m happy to announce that now, I have managed to score an interview with her partner, the amazing Angela Ackerman. As you all know, I’ve recieved a ton of help with improving my writing thanks to their Emotion Thesaurus. I’ll go into greater detail about it another day (I can’t believe I’ve not written about it before), but in the meantime, here’s my interview with Angela. Hope you like it.

R.w.Foster: Please introduce yourself to my readers.

Angela Ackerman: Instructions like this always make me feel like I’m attending an A.A. meeting….my name is Angela, I live in Canada, I write books, it has been three weeks since my last confession meeting interview… Angela Ackerman

The “official” stuff is that I am one of the co-authors of The Emotion Thesaurus and a few others, I run Writers Helping Writers with the fabulous Becca Puglisi, who is basically my twin (the better one) and when I do get around to writing fiction, I tend to pen the dark side of middle grade rather than the fluffy, fun side. I also like teaching writing, dreaming up tools that writers need, and then creating them. Oh, and I believe in kindness. Trite I know, but true. My attitude is if you can do some good, then do.

R.w.F: Would you tell us about your latest (or an upcoming) release?

A.A.: Not a book release in the traditional sense, but then I’m not really someone who colors in the lines. Becca, myself and the creator of Scrivener for Windows, Lee Powell are collaborating on something called One Stop For Writers, which is basically a cool online brainstorming library that takes all our work (writing books and online thesaurus content) and puts it together in one place. Beautifully searchable and cross-linked, it provides a wealth of information writers can access as they create, so they write more efficiently and describe more effectively. There are a few other things on the site as well, including new tools we’ve built and a one-of-a-kind generator. One Stop will evolve over time as Becca and I conjure up more useful tools, and Lee works his techno-voodoo to bring it all together in an innovative, intuitive way. One Stop launches on October 7th and we are pretty excited (translation: as excited as preschoolers swimming through a vat of sugar.)

R.w.F: Are you traditionally published, self-published, an independent, or a some combination?

A.A.: I guess a combo best describes me? All three of our books are self-published, but we have traditional translation deals with publishers in Korea, Romania, and we’re waiting for the paperwork for Japan.

R.w.F: What made you chose to go this route with publishing?

A.A.: A few things. First of all, we had an odd project, a book that was, more than anything else, a set of lists. The traditional market (especially in 2012) liked things, well, traditional. We knew it would take a long time to find a publisher willing to take a project like ours on. We were also seeing copycats of our work cropping up and knew if we didn’t get our book out there, someone else would take the idea and run with it. Self-publishing was a terrific option for us, and I am so happy we went this route. We’ve turned down more than a few traditional offers since, simply because publishers as of yet have anything to bring forward that makes fiscal sense. Besides, Becca and I like that we are in control of the end product. It would be hard for us to give that up.

R.w.F: Are you exclusive to one platform?

A.A.: No. We publish across all platforms, print and ebook, and offer PDFs to those who wish using a service called Gumroad.

R.w.F: Do you write by the seat of your pants, outline, or a combination?

 

A.A.: For fiction, I am a “plantser,” meaning I plan some, pants some. For NF, I am a strict planner.

R.w.F: What does the standard advice of “Write what you know” mean to you?

A.A.: This is “safe” advice that should only be loosely adhered to: write in genres you read voraciously, unless that genre doesn’t exist: then experiment and create your own by blending the genre elements you enjoy best. A better rendition of this advice might be: write what you are passionate about, and care enough to get the details right for your readers.

R.w.F: Now for the more unusual questions. None are X-rated.

R.w.F:  What is your current desktop picture? (would you share it with us?)

Angela's desktop

R.w.F: The last song you listened to?

Radioactive by Imagine Dragons

R.w.F: You can only have one kind of sandwich. Every sandwich ingredient known to humankind is at your disposal. What kind do you make?

A.A.: Easy–toasted peanut butter and bacon. Try it and you’ll know why.

Thanks for these fun questions Rob. As I said, I like people who don’t always color inside the lines. J

Angela

And thank you, Angela for agreeing to do this with me.

Advertisements

An Interview with Becca Puglisi

This one is rather special to me as it features one of the folks who really helped me improve my work. Without this lovely writer, and her co-author, I’d still be struggling with rewrites.

R.w.Foster: Please introduce yourself to my readers.IMG_3114

Becca Puglisi: Hi, there! My name is Becca Puglisi, and I’m one of the authors of The Emotion Thesaurus, The Positive Trait Thesaurus, and The Negative Trait Thesaurus. I also write YA historical fiction and fantasy. I also keep busy running my blog, Writers Helping Writers, which has become something of a hub for descriptive writing.

R.w.Fo: Tell us about your latest or upcoming release, please.

BP: My co-author, Angela Ackerman, and I are really excited about a totally new journey that we’re undertaking. We’ve teamed up with Lee Powell, a talented software designer, to create a software product for writers wanting to elevate their storytelling. One Stop For WritersTM is a website that contains a host of reference materials that can help writers improve. As writers ourselves, the three of us understood the frustration of always having to stop drafting, revising, or arranging our stories to go and research different things: multi-sensory descriptions for a setting, how to effectively convey a character’s emotion, figuring out which events from the past may have helped to mold a hero into who he has become. At One Stop, we’re providing resources like these, along with customizable tools and worksheets, craft tutorials on difficult areas of writing, idea generators, and more—all in one convenient place. Our hope is that in creating this software, we will also create the one thing writers really need: more time to write.

R.w.F.: Are you traditionally published, self-published, an independent or some combination?

BP: Our books are self-published.

R.w.F: What made you decide to go this route?

BP: Well, self-publishing, wasn’t our first choice. We’d always had the dream of going the traditional route—getting the call from an agent or editor and being accepted by a publisher. We had just started down this road when copycat sites starting popping up around the Internet, where people had lifted our Emotion Thesaurus content and just pasted it onto their sites. We realized that we didn’t have time to find an agent, then an editor, and wait 12-18 months for the book to be published. So we decided to do it ourselves and get it out there as fast as possible.

 

I love telling this story because it’s a great example of how there isn’t one correct path to publishing. Self-publishing made sense for us; we had a large fan base, we were firmly established on social media, and nonfiction books can do well when self-published. I’m also partnered with a marketing genius in Angela Ackerman, which was hugely beneficial. So, even though we had no idea how to do it, we knew it was the right thing to do. And it’s worked out really well for us.

R.w.F: Do you have any advice for those wanting to start writing?

BP: There’s so much information out there about how to succeed as a writer, which can be really overwhelming for new writers, because it’s impossible to do it all. So, in my opinion, there are two must-haves.

 

First, make time to write. Do it in car line, on your lunch break, before the family wakes up or after they go to sleep. Take those moments whenever they come, and just write.

 

Secondly, you grow exponentially when you study the craft. Attend workshops, read books, listen to podcasts, subscribe to the blogs of knowledgeable authors and industry professionals—whatever works for you, do it. I would also strongly advise new writers to get into a critique group or find a critique partner. It’s difficult to grow when you don’t know your problem areas, and we’re often too close to our own writing to see those difficult spots. Having someone else read your work is instrumental in learning what you need to work on; conversely, reading other people’s work opens your eyes to problem areas, different styles of writing, and new techniques that you can then apply to your own writing.

 

And now for a few fun questions:

 

R.w.F: What is your favorite soda?

BP: All of them. I’m literally addicted to soda in any form. There’s some kind of psychological issue there that I haven’t figured out; I just know that if I drink it at all, it doesn’t matter what parameters or limits I impose, I will soon be mainlining the stuff all the day long. So I’ve had to cut it out completely. I’m now developing an addiction to Snapple…

 

R.w.F: What is the Last song you listened to?

BP: Blue Collar Man by Styx. This is currently my five-year-old’s favorite song. I hear it a lot.

 

R.w.F: What is your favorite desktop picture?

BP: It’s one of my family. Before my mother-in-law passed away last year, we arranged for an extended family photo shoot. This one was taken of my immediate family, and it accurately captures some of the personality of each of us. Props to the photographer, Jennifer Stonebrink at Yankee-Belle.

 

R.w.F: Cool stuff. Thank you for agreeing to this interview, and the enlightening (for me) stuff.

 

BP: Thank you for having me, Robert!

 

If you want to check out those awesome books mentioned by Becca, you can find them at some of the links below:

Emotion Thesaurus

The Positive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Attributes

The Negative Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Flaws

An Interview With Susan Kaye Quinn

Today, I get to interview the wonderful Susan Kaye Quinn. She’s someone I get to gush over fun science stuff with – like scientists freeze light – and, I’ve been able to read a couple of her books (I’ll provide links throughout and at the end).Susan Kaye Quinn 300 pix

R.w.Foster: What is your process for getting in the mood to write?

Susan Kaye Quinn: Belting out “Let It Go!” at the top of my lungs, scaring the cats as well as all my fears away.

R.w.F: In my opinion, the greatest enemy of a writer is Procrastination. How do you defeat this dreaded beast?

SKQ: By openly attacking my fears with a steak knife and some creative action; as well as actively immersing myself in my work once I start. These two have greatly cut down on my procrastination activities.

R.w.F: Do you have any advice for those who want to start writing?

SKQ: Write a lot. Write some more. Don’t endlessly fiddle. The dichotomy between writing fast and writing well is a false one – the more you write, the better you’ll get.

R.w.F.: What do you label yourself as?

SKQ: I don’t like labels – for me or anyone else.

R.w.F: What were you doing at midnight last night?

SKQ: Wishing I was asleep.

R.w.F.: Name one movie that made you cry.

SKQ: If it’s well done, almost any movie can make me cry.

R.w.F: If you were a type of tree, what would you be?

SKQ: Weeping Willow

R.w.F.: If you were a color, what one would you be?

SKQ: Polka Dot

R.w.F.: When was the last time you laughed so hard your stomach hurt?

SKQ: I don’t know, but it was certain to be something my kids did.

R.w.F.: Would you rather be immortal, but dependent on blood, or age 1000 times slower than everyone else?

SKQ: I’d rather have nanites in my brain that will enhance my intelligence, make me independent of my wetware, and give me an immortal robotic body. It’s possible I’ve written a story about this.

R.w.F.: Would you tell us about your latest (or an upcoming) release?

SKQ: I’m deep into writing my YA SF Singularity series – about a future where most of the world has ascended into hyper-intelligent human-robot hybrids, except for the Legacy Humans left behind, preserved for their biodiversity like the rainforest. The first novel of the series, The Legacy Human, tells the story of Eli, a Legacy Human boy who wants to be an ascender… until he finds out he’s something altogether different than he thinks. I’m working on the second novel, The Duality Bridge, which should release in August. Along with the novels, I’m writing a series of companion short stories, the Stories of Singularity, that explore all the dark corners of the Singularity universe that I can’t get to with the novels. The first of those is out— Restore, a story about a med bot ruled by unconditional love, rather than the three laws of robotics.

Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the Singularity Series, the bestselling Mindjack Trilogy, and the Debt Collector serial, as well as other speculative fiction novels and short stories. Her work has appeared in the Synchronic anthology, the Telepath Chronicles, the AI Chronicles, and has been optioned for Virtual Reality by Immersive Entertainment. Former rocket scientist, now she invents mind powers, dabbles in steampunk, and dreams of the Singularity. Mostly she sits around in her PJs in awe that she gets to write full time.

GET A FREE STORY (subscribe):
http://smarturl.it/SKQnewsletter

More about Sue:
http://smarturl.it/SKQwebsite
http://smarturl.it/SKQonFB
http://smarturl.it/SKQontwitter

Author Interview: EDC Johnson pt II

Today, I get to continue my interview with the cool, and awesome author, EDC Johnson. The first part is here.  Her YA novel, Moonflower is available at Amazon and Barnes & Nobel.

R.w.F: What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

EDC: On top of writing primarily at night from the comfort of my bed, I usually write to music. I make a playlist for the particular novel I am working on. I know that doesn’t sound quirky and lots of other writers have said they listen to music while they write. Here is where the quirk comes in. The songs I choose work like a soundtrack to the book, coordinating with scenes from the story. When I am working on a particular section/scene in my novel I will sometimes place that song on repeat. I can literally listen to one song dozens of times in a row.

R.w.F: Will you be including that soundtrack listing in e-editions of your book?

EDC: No, I hadn’t ever thought about including the playlist before. It was really just a writing tool for myself but perhaps I could do that for a blog post in the future.

R.w.F: Do you use Spotify, Pandora, or some other streaming service?

EDC: First let me say I love Pandora, like I really, really love it. I have found more great music that way. I have tried Spotify but I haven’t totally gotten into it yet but it is a nice service as well.  Though I do listen to random ambient or classical music on occasion, while writing I truly use iTunes the most. I really do listen to the same playlist again and again. It is a rather bizarre ritual I need to set the mood.

R.w.F: What’s your favorite genre of music?

EDC: I prefer alternative and indie music.  Like me, the musicians in these categories are doing their own thing, on the most part, despite what may be popular demand.  I also listen to a lot of classical, instrumental, and ambient music.  Sometimes it’s just best to have peaceful music and let your mind do the talking.

R.w.F: One food you would never eat?

 EDC:  Josie Woods, the heroine of Moonflower, doesn’t get her disdain of eggs for no reason.  I can’t do it.  I simply can’t eat eggs.  I don’t like the way they smell and the last time I ate one I vomited.  Amazingly though I do like egg-drop soup.  Go figure.

R.w.F: Reese’s Pieces, or Peanut Butter Cups?

EDC: Peanut Butter Cups, but honestly I wouldn’t pick either of them typically.  I’d go for something with caramel.

R.w.F: What was the scariest moment of your life?

EDC: I would have to say skydiving.  I was determined to do it before I turned 25.  It was one of my YOLOs.  It came about a few years later than I wanted, but my husband and I finally took the plunge.  It was totally worth it.

R.w.F: YOLO? Really? Don’t you think that is one of the most “No, duh” comments, or catch phrases, in the English language? 🙂

EDC: Aren’t you just a cheeky fellow.  I have to agree.  YOLO is used quite too liberally.  Your average Joe may tweet it at least once a week and usually for an insipid reason such as trying the new burger at a fast food chain or drinking in excess.  To me living as if this was my only turn to enjoy the splendors of the Earth involves trying things outside of my normal constraints e.g. to travel the world and see marvels, to eat exotic food (perhaps a sautéed bug), to try things that terrifies me (whether it is acting in a play or perhaps jumping out of a perfectly good plane), or dancing in the middle of a restaurant without a care as to who is watching because my favorite song came on.  YOLO shouldn’t be a phrase commonly used at all.  It should be a way of life.

R.w.F: Besides “Twilight” (barf), what is your biggest “Don’t judge me” pleasure?

EDC: Well, Rw, I wouldn’t say that I include Twilight in my guilty pleasures.  I may chuck it up to wanting to know what all the fuss is about; though I have to admit I don’t foresee myself ever reading 50 Shades of Grey no matter how popular it is.  In all honesty I enjoy animated films probably more than an adult woman should.  I truly enjoy them all claymation, Pixar, anime, you name it, I have probably seen it.  Anime probably has to be the most “don’t judge me” pleasure of them all though I am happy to see it becoming more mainstream with this up coming generation.

R.w.F: Anime is a guilty pleasure? Okay. Why do you like them?

EDC: Some are lighthearted and funny while others have amazing dramatic storylines.  Glass of wine optional!

R.w.F: Do you have a Website or Blog?

EDC: Absolutely, www.edcjohnson.com is where you can follow my updates.  I also have sites on other social media.  I’m EDC Johnson on facebook and @EDCJohnson on twitter.  I would love for my readers to follow me, and to feel free to ask me questions.

R.w.F: (laughs) Excellent. Thank you for you time, and for doing the interview.

Author Interview: EDC Johnson

Today, I get to interview the cool, and awesome author, EDC Johnson. You may remember her from last week’s guest post about the love triangle. Her YA novel, Moonflower is available at Amazon and Barnes & Nobel.

RwF: Are you willing to share what the EDC stands for, or is that part of your secret identity?

EDC: My first name is Elizabeth, I’m not trying to keep that a secret, but in an effort to protect what fragment of my identity I can I will keep the rest to myself.

(I did some digging for my fans. The other initials stand for Desire Chaistain. Or was it Donald Charles? No… Oh, yeah: Depak Chopra! No, that would be insulting. That’s right: Deborah Chinning.)

R.w.F: Okay, then. How would you prefer to be addressed by your crazed, stalkery – Wait, I mean, your adoring, polite fans?

EDC: You have to keep your stalker fans in line you know .  I prefer to be addressed as EDC Johnson or Ms. Johnson.  Some times I get asked or teased about having the three initial but in my defense there are quite a number of Johnson’s out there.  (You have no idea how badly I wanted to say “…that’s Dr. Jones, to you toots.”)

R.w.F: <chuckles> Without giving too much away, can you tell us what your book is about?

EDC: Beyond the synopsis I would have to say it is a real coming of age story.  The heroine, Josie Woods, has a lot of personal growth going on through the novel.  It addresses issues that range from coming to terms with death, falling in love and self-awareness.  Josie’s adventure isn’t limited to a journey to a strange world, but the journey of becoming a young adult.

R.w.F: How long did it take you to write this book?

EDC: I was writing the book for about 3 years in my free time. When it was complete I went through the editing process with my writing group and the publishing process for approximately another year on top of that.

R.w.F: What was your inspiration to write this book?
EDC: It may seem cliché, but it came to me in a day-dream. Right before I was about to fall asleep I imagined this scenario and it began to play like a movie in my mind. Then I incorporated my favorite necklace into the idea. It is made of moonstone. This then made me wonder if there was an actual moonflower, and, well, the rest is history.

R.w.F: Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
EDC: Moonflower is a novel that has something for readers of all ages: action, drama, romance and has debuted to positive reviews.

R.w.F: Which of the so-called rules of writing did you hear the most as you wrote?

EDC: When I began writing I had a tendency to use passive voice too often.

R.w.F: What is your opinion of it?

EDC: Passive voice isn’t totally a bad thing but when it is overused in your writing it will weaken your story.   I avoid this problem by trying to use an active voice often so when a passive phrase sneaks in it isn’t so bad.

R.w.F: Are you an outliner, or a seat-of-the-pants writer?

EDC: I am mostly a seat-of-my-pants kind of writer.  I have distinct moments plotted in my mind and I definitely know how I want the book to end. In essence I will start at moment A and the characters play out action toward their goals to reach moment B.  On occasion I will imagine a new plot point that adds action or meaning to the story and I will work that in unexpectedly.

R.w.F: Why pantsing?

EDC: As an artist, creativity tends to be a very kinetic thing.  I understand the use of an outline and can appreciate those that use them but I have never enjoyed them myself.  For some reason I find it to be busy work, yet it can be very useful.  It is simply how I work—to each their own and all that.

R.w.F: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

EDC: Well, it was really a two-part process. It started by reading Twilight with my husband at a friend’s recommendation. If I am completely honest, at the risk of upsetting Twilighters, it became a running joke with my husband how many times Stephenie Meyer used the word “dazzling.” I still enjoyed the book and read the rest of the series, but I came to the conclusion that it was a good entertaining book without Pulitzer Prize winning writing. I thought to myself I can do that!

As the Twilight craze continued I noticed a few of my students were reading the book. During discussion with a group of girls some had admitted that they would wait for the movie rather than read the thick YA novel. Later that week I saw a girl thumbing through a book she was debating to read. She decided to check it out of the library when she saw the illustrations. This made me decide that I wanted to write a book that would be appealing to young readers yet still challenge them as budding readers. As an art teacher my artistic skills would be put to good use in drawing my own chapter header illustrations. It was my hope that young readers would be less intimidated to read novels while growing their vocabulary and ability for sustained reading.

R.w.F: What is your take on the “rule” to write what you know?

EDC: There is a truth in it. Obviously fiction writers are creating their own worlds and scenarios but to bring a character to life a writer must breathe life into him. The best way to make a character is to understand his/her emotions through your own experiences. How can you write love, hate or sadness if you have never felt it yourself?

R.w.F: Good point. Do you have any writing projects you are working on?

EDC: I am working on the sequel to Moonflower of which I’m not willing to give away too many details. I’ll save the title for a future blog reveal, but I want you to relish in the idea that our characters will meet again—with a few new friends.
I have another series I am working on that will shy away from the period era setting and stretch the idea of fantasy. This project is a long way off as I work on the Moonflower series.

This interview will continue on Wednesday. 

25 Questions With Miss Jen

I decided to write-up some questions for someone very important to me, my best friend, and someone I love a great deal. She’s an upcoming author, hard at work on her first novel. I figure it will be fun to get to know her now. Fair warning: She has some snarky tendencies.

R.w.Foster: What’s your astrological sign?

Miss Jen: Pisces

R.w.F.:What would you say is the greatest act of kindness you’ve received?

MJ: Forgiveness.

R.w.F: What is one legal activity that someone could not pay you enough to do?

MJ: Jury duty.

R.w.F: Barring the birth of your kids, what’s been the happiest moment of your life to date?

MJ: Seeing podlings for the first time.

(Note: Podlings is what our small group of friends is called, due to us being like “3 peas in a pod”.)

R.w.F: Where do you see yourself 5 years from now, professionally?

MJ: I would love to be a published author.

R.w.F: What about personally?

MJ: what about it?

(See? Snark!)

R.w.F: What is your favorite food?

MJ: Candy and pizza. NY style, though. That deep dish version sucks.

R.w.F: What is your favorite flower?

MJ: Any kind of wild flower.

R.w.F: If you could go anywhere in the world, money being no object, where would you go?

MJ: Ireland

R.w.F: Why there?

MJ: It’s where unicorns live! Duh.

(Snark again!)

R.w.F: If you do do anything in the world, money being no object, what would you do?

MJ: Do do? Um, I would write from sun-up to sun-down. Of course with breaks for running and my babies.

(More snark! I didn’t realize I double typed “do”. Naturally, she has to tease me with it. I left it in for fun.)

R.w.F: What is your dream car?

MJ: One that’s good on gas.

R.w.F: What would you say is your greatest phobia (fear)?

MJ: Hurting people.

She also doesn’t like the idea of zombie clowns)

R.w.F: If you could have dinner with any author, living, or dead, who would you choose?

MJ: You, Fab, and Laurell K Hamliton. and Steven King and Clive Barker and James Brown and Connie Suttle and…. There are so many.

R.w.F: Why them?

MJ: Because they rock.

R.w.F: What is your number one favorite song? You have to choose one.

MJ: Hummm… Not gonna happen, but I got this one on loop right now: A Historic Love, from the Tudors OST.

R.w.F: What is your biggest regret?

MJ: Wow, you’re pulling out the big guns now. I’d have to say, “Not speaking with my heart and mind.”

R.w.F: Who is your favorite superhero?

MJ: I do not have one: Men in tights out of the 1800’s are a no-go for me.

R.w.F: How would you describe your ideal first date?

Miss Jen: A carefree, come-what-may one. I like it when there are no set plans.

R.w.F: What is your favorite color to wear?

MJ: Dark blue.

R.w.F: Hollywood is making the Miss Jen biopic. Who plays you, and who is the director?

MJ: LMAO. Ummm, some hot little thing. And the director of Underworld.

(Note: Len Wiseman)

R.w.F: What is the number one thing on your bucket list?

MJ: Having my book published.

R.w.F: For some reason, your loved ones have asked you to plan out your funeral. Please describe it.

MJ: There would be none. No one needs to see my dead ass. I want a party: Music, dancing and happy people. No flowers, or sad music. I want them to be happy for I am now in my next life.

R.w.f: What is your secret fantasy? The one you’ve not told anyone about. The one you pull out to comfort you when you are feeling your worst?

MJ: I wake up and I am 21 again, but in a different world. No one knows me and I have a pet dragon named Spot.

R.w.F: You have a willing partner, and all night. What do you do with him?

MJ: Talk and play cards…. Really.