Indie Monday

Today’s guest: A. Kidd

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With so many cancellations of in-person author events due to World War C, I’m devoting my blog to Indie Monday interviews for the coming months to help my fellow authors with promotion. I’ll be featuring indie and small-press authors who produce quality work outside the boundaries and strictures of the traditional mass-produced, mass-marketed commercial publishing world and traditional bookstore shelves.

Today I’m delighted to host children’s author A. Kidd. A resident of the Detroit metropolitan area, she has a B.S. in Written Communication with a minor in Language, Literature, and Writing from Eastern Michigan University, and an MLIS with a specialization in children’s librarianship from Wayne State University. Her poetry has been published in literary magazines. She is also an artist and a performance poet. She is the author of her debut novel, The Healing Star (Quiet Storm Publishing, 2019).

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Recently I posed some questions to A. Kidd. Here’s what she told me.

DL: Could you tell us a little about yourself?

AK: I’m a dreamer and a kid at heart, thus my name suits me. I’ve been going on adventures, some planned and some unplanned, since I was little. I’m the middle child of three girls, so I’ve always struggled to have a voice. But once I found it, specifically through writing, there was no stopping it. I made up stories before I could write and even drew the pictures. I created my first picture book in high school Spanish class. Imagine trying to write a story in a language you barely understand!

I’m also a published poet. I learned how to tell an engaging story through performance poetry. I studied journalism, which helped me see the value in research. I loved talking to people to discover their stories, until one day I realized I wanted to tell my own stories. I’m also a children’s librarian. As you can imagine, being around all those books was very inspiring!

DL: Tell us about your latest book and works in progress.

AK: My debut novel is The Healing Star, a light middle-grade fantasy for grades 3-6. In it, stars with healing powers are falling from the sky. Feisty 4thgrader Julia is trying to catch one to save her grandma’s life. Grammu has the invisibility illness and will eventually completely disappear. But if Julia catches a falling star, then her wish will be granted, and her grandma will become well again.

The book is a timeless tale that can be read together as a family.

I don’t like to reveal too much about my works in progress, but I’m currently revising a YA environmental dystopian with dual perspectives. I also have another middle-grade fantasy percolating about a girl born during a hurricane who is trying to save her family, and possibly the entire world, from falling apart.

DL: Why do you write? What do you hope to accomplish with your writing?

AK: I write because I can’t NOT write. It pours out of me, sometimes in drips and drabs, other times in gushes. Especially right now, when the world seems a little bit off its axis, so to speak.

I write the way I see the world and hope to share my insights with others: to make people laugh until they cry, or cry until they laugh.

I especially want to encourage children and adults to write their own stories and to find the courage to share them.

DL: Please talk about your writing process. Where do your ideas come from? What is your favorite part of the process? Least favorite?

AK: Is it annoying if I say my ideas come from the ether and that I pluck them from the sky like wishes? But truly, I often come up with ideas while jogging or doing dishes or daydreaming. Anytime I quiet my mind and give it a chance to speak.

I love the idea stage and letting my hand run across the page while I try to keep up with it. I’m less fond of revising, but I’m starting to get the courage to do it. When I’m able to carve away at those initial ideas and refine my work into something even deeper and more satisfying than my initial vision, I know the extra effort was worth it.

My advice to children and anyone is to write the most exciting part first. Then fill in the rest. The connections and details will follow.

DL: Could you reflect a bit on what writing or being a writer has meant for you and your life?

AK: Writing has saved my life over and over. One time I quite literally fell on my face while jogging, and it was only through writing that I had the courage to get back up. I was terrified of the sidewalk for a while. I had to learn to trust my own two feet again. The blank page can be just as scary. Sometimes we have to learn to embrace the unknown. And to find our voice in the chaos swirling around us. It starts with just one step or one word.

DL: What are links to your books, website, and blog so readers can learn more about you and your work?

My FaceBook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/A.Kiddwrites/

Twitter: @AKiddwrites

Instagram: a.kiddwrites

Email: a.kiddwrites@gmail.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50161788-the-healing-star

Amazon:https://www.amazon.com/dp/1733899200

Universal Book Link for eBook: https://books2read.com/TheHealingStar

 

 

Indie Monday

Today’s guest: Andy Lockwood

 

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With so many cancellations of in-person author events due to World War C, I’m devoting my blog to Indie Monday interviews for the coming months to help my fellow authors with promotion. I’ll be featuring indie and small-press authors who produce quality work outside the boundaries and strictures of the traditional mass-produced, mass-marketed commercial publishing world and traditional bookstore shelves.

Today I’m happy to host Andy Lockwood, author of horror and supernatural fiction. A prolific writer, Andy has published the novels Empty Hallways (2013), House of Thirteen (2015), and the newly-arrived Threshold (2020). He has also published At Calendar’s End: Omnibus (2017), a compilation of his twelve-part At Calendar’s End serial begun in 2016. He has also contributed short fiction to several anthologies.

Recently I posed some questions to Andy. Here’s what he told me.

DL: Could you tell us a little about yourself?

AL: Obviously, I’m an author—independently so and Michigan-based. I write horror and supernatural fiction. I’m a horror buff, so it was only natural for me to gravitate to that genre. I recently published my fourth novel, and have numerous stories in anthologies.

I’m also a pop culture and multimedia addict. I absorb creativity in all its forms: movies, tv, art, video games, comics, books, songs, podcasts . . . you name it, I love it all.

I have two degrees in film and have made a few short indie films. I’ve created comics in my off-time. I love to draw and design and create. I have a million side-hustles—screen printing, woodworking, painting, etc.—that I pick up and put down constantly. It’s a wonder I’ve gotten anywhere with any of them.

I’m one of your typical “I’ve always been a storyteller” people. I started telling stories when I was young. I’ve played with comics and video and written narratives, bouncing from one medium to the next because I couldn’t settle. Studying film opened my eyes to some amazing subtleties in writing and narrative, and has heavily influenced my writing style. I’m told quite often that my writing “is like watching a movie.” I really appreciate that.

When I write, I’m not creating; it’s more like transcription. In a way, every story I write is a novelization of a film—it’s just that those films are all in my head. I’m putting down what I see playing out before me. Often, I’m discovering the plot right alongside the characters; I try to have an idea of what is going on, but I’m rarely included in the plot development.

By trade, I’m an eLearning Developer. Not the most common profession, even now, but it’s gotten some attention in recent months. All those courses people are taking from home? That’s kind of what I do, more or less. I’ve been working in the industry for thirteen years, and absolutely love it. I love balancing learning with fun, tempering education with interaction. There’s as much science in there as there is art.

Most importantly, I’m happily married. Bailey is my wife, editor, partner-in-crime, and steadfast supporter. She’s my Swiss Army Wife—whatever the problem is, she’s got a tool to help me fix it. Whether I am struggling with my writing, or art, or depression; maybe I’m being indecisive or high-strung or—heaven forbid—melodramatic; Bailey has some method of helping me through it. She’s always been a helper like that. She’s also one of the most fun, smart, interesting people I know. I’m lucky she tolerates me.

DL: Tell us about your latest book and works in progress.

AL: My latest book, Threshold, came out May 1. It’s been a very strange release, but interesting nonetheless. It’s certainly given me an opportunity to find new ways to get the word out about my book, rather than relying on face-to-face events. I certainly appreciate the opportunities I’ve been given to promote myself through other people’s blogs and social media outlets. It’s amazing how gracious and supportive fellow writers like you are, so thank you. I genuinely appreciate it.

On the surface, Threshold is a story about a young woman who acquires an antique mirror—one that is more than it seems. As the story unfolds, we learn that her reflection has a personality of its own. But is that real? Or is it all in her head?

My stories all stem from my own fears and fascinations. Threshold is no exception. I’ve always been fascinated by reflections—not in an egotistical way, but by the clarity of the room beyond the mirror’s surface. A perfect parallel to our own. That there is such a thin surface separating us from that world and what might lie beyond it is always scratching at the back of my brain, so I tried to let that fascination loose on the page to see what might happen.

This story is also the continuation of an on-going experiment. It is very much a love story folded into elements of supernatural horror. Since I started my first novel, Empty Hallways, I started consciously working from a position of, “I don’t write horror stories, I write love stories where horrific things happen.” Threshold is a testament to that. It’s more than a story about an ancient mirror with supernatural properties—I want my readers to care about what happens to the people involved: Cate, Lucas, their friends and family. I want to know that the story affects my readers.

I think every author has that desire and that longing. I hear how creepy my stories are. How readers leave the lights on, jump their own shadows . . . I’m not complaining—that’s great. That’s exactly what I want. But there’s another part of the story that I worry everyone is missing out on: that human element. I always want to know about the rest, how everything else affected them. I’ve worked at that in my other novels, but I think it really came together in Threshold.

I’m always in some stage of writing on a couple of short stories. One is currently for the next installment of Recurring Nightmares, an anthology produced by the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers.

DL: Why do you write? What do you hope to accomplish with your writing?

AL: I write because I’m a storyteller. Because to not write—to not weave tales and create—is detrimental to my health. Creativity is part of my existence.

Sometimes, I write because the stories I experience don’t satisfy me. Maybe I didn’t like the ending. Or maybe they wasted too much time with extraneous details. I don’t need origin stories, let’s just cut to the story. These are my hangups, obviously, we all love different things for different reasons. But when something doesn’t sit well, it sticks with me. I think about what I would have done differently, what I wish would have happened. Eventually, I start writing my own version—a completely new story on those old bones.

The great thing about this is it can work for anyone. If you don’t like a story, analyze it. Figure out what you don’t like, what would be better to you, and start writing. Make your own story out of those bones and make it better than what you read.

I guess this is what it comes down to for me: I want to show people that it can be done. I meet people all the time who find out I’m a writer and they say something like, “Oh, I wish I had what it takes to write.” You do. Everyone does. There is no difference between me and any other writer on the planet except time spent at the keyboard and the number of words put on the page. I refuse to accept “I can’t” when it comes to writing because you can. If you can post an opinion on Facebook, you can write a novel, you have all the tools necessary. You just have to take the time to do it.

DL: Please talk about your writing process. Where do your ideas come from? What is your favorite part of the process? Least favorite?

AL: My ideas come from everywhere. From other people’s stories, from nightmares and daydreams, from silly thoughts spoken out loud on car rides. There’s a million ideas in my head and on my notepads at any given time, but it’s the ones that are too loud to ignore that get turned into stories. They take up the most space in my head and need to get out. It’s why I have a list of stories that I *want* to write, but I haven’t gotten around to them yet.

My favorite part of the process is the ideas: it’s fun to conjure up ideas. Even bad ones. The bad ones can actually build into the best stories. You know what is terrible about a bad idea, so you can start picking it apart and fixing it right away. it’s harder with a good idea that isn’t good enough. We like good ideas. We’re proud of them. They’re harder to throw away when they’re flawed. We’re already attached.

The worst part of the process is editing. I just want it to be polished and done. I don’t want to fix plot holes and correct issues and add more elements that I don’t want to be there. I just want to write the first draft and be done. I know that’s not how it works, but it’d make me happier if it did.

DL: Could you reflect a bit on what writing or being a writer has meant for you and your life?

AL: *laughs* It’s certainly made my eccentricities easier for people to accept. “Why’s he like that?” “He’s a writer.” “Ohhh.”

In some ways, not much has changed. It’s one more thing to juggle, and one more thing I have to make time for. But there is always something occupying those hours, so why not writing?

In other ways, it’s been a nice change. Writing is a solitary existence. It’s you, alone with your thoughts a lot of the time while you are working. So, one of the nicer things to come out of being a writer has been connecting the Michigan author community, and the indie author community at large.

It’s an amazing comfort to be part of a network that understands what I am going through—even if we aren’t in the same genre. There are frustrations that only authors have. Things that sound insane to non-writers. It’s a relief to have a community that you can vent to. That shared experience can carry you through a lot of strife, and it creates bonds that wouldn’t exist otherwise.

I’ve made some good friends in this community. Every book event is like a reunion. I look forward to seeing everyone, their new books, and new booth setups. It’s been hard not being part of these events this year. I still have the community online, of course, but it’s not the same.

DL: What are links to your books, website, and blog so readers can learn more about you and your work?

Website/blog: https://www.happierthoughts.com/

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Andy-Lockwood/e/B00EZAVBEU

Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/happierthoughts/

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/randomgauge/

Indie Monday

Today’s guest: Brenda Hasse

Hasse author photoWith so many cancellations of in-person author events due to World War C, I’m devoting my blog to Indie Monday interviews for the coming months to help my fellow authors with promotion. I’ll be featuring indie and small-press authors who produce quality work outside the boundaries and strictures of the traditional mass-produced, mass-marketed commercial publishing world and traditional bookstore shelves.

Today I’m delighted to host Brenda Hasse, a prolific, multi-award-winning author and freelance writer. Brenda has written and published young adult historical romance, pre-teen historical mystery, and adult metaphysical/visionary novels. She is also the author of several picture books for children. Brenda volunteers her time researching the history of Fenton, Michigan, and writing scripts for the Fenton Village Players to perform during the Ghost Walk and Historical Cemetery Walk. She is a guest teacher at Fenton High School, and resides in Fenton with her husband and cats.

Brenda’s novels include The Moment of Trust (2020), From Beyond the Grave: An Afterlife Journey, Part 2 (2019), A Lady’s Destiny (2018), On the Third Day: An Afterlife Journey (2017), The Freelancer (2014), and Wilkinshire (2010). Her books for children are A Unicorn for my Birthday (2009), My Horsy and Me, What Can We Be? (2006), and Yes, I Am Loved (2005).

Recently I posed some questions to Brenda. Here’s what she told me.

DL: Could you tell us a little about yourself?

BH: It was difficult for me to learn to read as a child and I hated it. I was one of five students who had to be pulled from my class several times a week to work with a paraprofessional to improve my reading skills. Throughout my education, I relied on notes to pass a class. Upon graduation from college, I worked for General Motors as a computer programmer analyst. I didn’t appreciate the written word until my mid-30s (so, like yesterday, lol) I enjoy reading now, though. I think it is quite ironic that I write for others to read.

DL: Tell us about your latest book and works in progress.

BH: My latest book is titled, The Moment Of Trust. It is a young adult historical romance, which was published on April 21, 2020. I am also working on the third book of a trilogy titled, Until We Meet Again: An Afterlife Journey, Part 3, which I have set a goal of publication by the end of June. The trilogy’s genre is metaphysical/visionary with the first book, On The Third Day, soon to be made into an audiobook.

I am also writing a book based on the true experience of human trafficking titled, A Victim Of Desperation, and hope to publish it by the end of September/October.

DL: Why do you write? What do you hope to accomplish with your writing?

BH: I mostly write young adult historical romance. I have always enjoyed history, especially the medieval time period. Even though it was a dirty and oftentimes brutal era, there is a distinct romance about that time that I like to bring to life.

DL: Please talk about your writing process. Where do your ideas come from? What is your favorite part of the process? Least favorite?

BH: My writing process begins with knowing how the story will end, creating relatable characters for the reader, and a loose outline. Next, I write an extended outline, rewrite adding on the average 10,000 words with each pass-through of the manuscript before passing it onto my beta readers. Once I receive feedback from my betas, I take their comments into consideration, make changes, edit several times, and format the manuscript for printing before passing it onto a professional editor. Once I update the edits, I give the manuscript to another editor to ensure most, if not all of the typos and mistakes are found. Unfortunately, some may still slip through.

While waiting for feedback from beta readers and editors, I am busy writing the synopsis for the back of the cover and designing the front cover. My graphic illustrator helps to layout my design for the print and ebook covers. All of my files must be converted to pdf, jpg, and ebook for submission.

My favorite part of the process is designing the cover and promotional video. The least favorite part is rewriting and editing, which at times is tedious.

My ideas come from my imagination, life experiences, or at times they find me. The book I am writing about human trafficking formulated through the random meeting with the victim. Since she had not told anyone else about her experience, I like to believe I was chosen to tell her story. I also participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) for encouragement and goal setting.

DL: Could you reflect a bit on what writing or being a writer has meant for you and your life?

BH: It is good to create something, whether through sculpture, composing music, or other forms of art. I like to think when I write, I am painting with words. As someone reads my words, pictures form within their mind. Even though the pictures are intangible, they seem real at the moment they are read. Since writing is usually a solitary craft, it is refreshing to participate in signings and share what I have learned about writing with others in writing groups and lecturing.

Even though I have received several awards for my writing, it is nice to overhear someone who has read one of my books boast about its quality to someone else. I volunteer to write scripts for my city’s community actors to perform during the annual ghost walk and cemetery walk.

DL: What are links to your books, website, and blog so readers can learn more about you and your work?

http://www.BrendaHasseBooks.com

I don’t blog often, but there are a few that I have published via my website.

Thanks for spotlighting me on your blog!

Indie Monday

Today’s guest: Jean Davis

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With so many cancellations of in-person author events due to World War C, I’m devoting my blog to Indie Monday interviews for the coming months to help my fellow authors with promotion. I’ll be featuring indie and small-press authors who produce quality work outside the boundaries and strictures of the traditional mass-produced, mass-marketed commercial publishing world and traditional bookstore shelves.

Today I’m proud to host Jean Davis, who writes speculative fiction. Jean lives in West Michigan with her musical husband, two nerdy kids, and two attention-craving terriers. When not ruining fictional lives from the comfort of her writing chair, she can be found devouring books and sushi, enjoying the offerings of local breweries, weeding her flower garden, or picking up hundreds of sticks while attempting to avoid the abundant snake population that also shares her yard. Her novels include The Narvan Series, Destiny Pills & Space WizardsThe Last GodA Broken Race, and Sahmara.

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Recently I posed some questions to Jean. Here’s what she told me.

DL: Welcome, Jean. Could you tell us a little about yourself?

JD: I write speculative fiction for young adults and adults. Most of my work falls under Science Fiction and Fantasy, but I like to dabble in Paranormal, Romance, and other genres depending on where inspiration leads me. By day, I own and operate a sign shop, grow microgreens, and take care of my small flock of egg-laying chickens and ducks. When not working or writing, I’m a Netflix addict, collector of books for my many TBR stacks, and human petting machine for my two terriers.

DL: Tell us about your latest books and works in progress. 

JD: I’m so glad you made that plural. Because: projects! Currently I’m putting together my second short story collection, Dreams of Stars and Lies. This collection focuses on science fiction and includes six never-before-published stories. I’m hoping to have that out this summer. This fall/winter, I’m planning to release Bound in Blue, the third book of The Narvan. As far as new writing, I’m working on Spindelkin, a YA fantasy novel that I started last November.

In March, which, as it turns out, was a horrible time to release a new book thanks to this whole virus pandemic, I released Chain of Grey, the second book in my space opera series, The Narvan.

Here’s the back cover blurb:

Life outside the Narvan is not as ideal as Vayen would like. His job is unfulfilling, the people aren’t his, and even after five years, Anastassia still hasn’t quite forgiven him for stranding them in obscurity. 

Vayen’s idle daydreams of returning to the Narvan turn into a nightmare with an assassination attempt. Old friends have become enemies and old enemies are even less happy to see him. Threats barrage him from all sides, endangering not only his own life, but those of his family. 

There are too many hands vying for the Narvan, sinking the system into chaos. Vayen’s well-intentioned plans have blown up and his homeworld, along with everyone else, is suffering. Putting the Narvan together again means showing his face to the High Council, who will want to make an example of him for betraying their trust.

Staying out of it will get him killed. Unfortunately, his odds with jumping into it aren’t much better.

DL: Why do you write? What do you hope to accomplish with your writing?

JD: I write for much the same reason as I read or watch tv: to escape from reality. Life is busy and full of obligations, but my writing chair puts that all on hold for a couple hours at a time. There, I can create and solve problems for fictional people. Most days, it’s so much easier to deal with their lives than my own. I suppose you could also call it therapy.

DL: Please talk about your writing process. Where do your ideas come from? What is your favorite part of the process? Least favorite?

JD: When I’m coming up with ideas, my launching point is usually a “what if…” question. From there, I start a story with a sentence and see what comes next. Does this make for more editing later? Sometimes, but it makes the writing enjoyable for me so that’s how I roll. I’ve tried outlining, but if it gets into any level of detail, I have no inclination to write the story because I already know what happens. If I do any planning ahead of the game, and that applies more to my series books than standalone novels, it’s very generalized and often more of a few-sentence summary of the story than anything else.

It’s hard to pick a favorite part of the writing process. I suppose it would be the first edit. That’s where I start sewing all the pieces together and adding layers. My second favorite comes after the worst part, which is sending it out to my critique partners to tear into. But their comments always spark great things, often some of my favorite scenes.

DL: Could you reflect a bit on what writing or being a writer has meant for you and your life?

JD: Writing used to be just an escape for me, but now that I have books out in the big world, I enjoy sharing that escape with readers. Throughout the many stages of writing, both the learning parts and the publishing end, I’ve met so many wonderful people, fellow authors, aspiring writers, and readers too. It’s been great being part of a very supportive and inspiring community.

DL: What are links to your books, website, and blog so readers can learn more about you and your work?

JD: You can find links to all of my books on Amazon on my blog:

http://jeandavisauthor.com/

The Narvan series is also available in all the usual places.

Trust (Book 1)  Amazon / Kobo / B&N

Chain of Grey (Book 2): Amazon / Kobo / B&N

I’m also on Facebook and Instagram with pictures of books, authors, dogs, flowers, chickens and ducks:

https://www.facebook.com/jeandavisauthor

https://www.instagram.com/jeandavisauthor