Tag Archives: Fiction

Margaret Mal

My guest today is Russian author, Margaret Mal. She’s penned thirteen novels, although (and unfortunately for many of my readers), only her latest release, Crimson Hills, is written in English. 

IDI – Good morning Margaret, thank you for joining me today.

Tell us a little about the books you’ve written.

Crimson Hills

Crimson Hills

MM – I’ve written 13 novels. The newest one, Crimson Hills, is in English; the others are in Russian. I’ve published 7 detective novels in Russia. But Crimson Hills is not a mystery. It’s an adventure dystopia about a few people who are so obsessive about their fate and future that they decide to make a really dangerous journey, which can give them all the necessary answers. I’ve self-published this novel through Kindle.

IDI – When did you realize you were born to be a writer?

MM – When I was 16, I wrote my first detective novel (this novel, by the way, 11 years later was published by the biggest Russian publishing house). Before that, I’d had several attempts to write a book, but none of them had ended. So when I finished that book, I told myself “Wow, I can do it!” That’s when I totally knew. However, some acquaintances of my family told them I was going to be a writer even earlier, when I was a little child, because of my ability to rhyme. I created my first poem when I was 5 or 6 years old. I couldn’t write then; thus, my granny wrote it down.

IDI – I hope she hung on to them!

Think back to the first book you wrote and then think to the last one you wrote. In what ways have you grown as a writer?

MM – At the age of 16, I was less wise, less smart, less tolerant and less experienced than I am at the moment. And these are the things you need to use while writing a novel. So I guess now I can write a little bit more qualitative books.

IDI – How long does it usually take you to write a book from the initial spark of an idea to the finished product?

MM – Between the spark and the start of the writing process there can be a really long time; it varies. I can tell that it takes me roughly 2 months to write the whole book, from the first word to the last one, if the idea is totally thought-out. However, this time frame only works for me when I have nothing else to do. Unfortunately, you can’t just write books and enjoy your life; very few people can do that. The most of authors are paid so badly for their writing that they have to work somewhere else. And when you have a full-time job, you can’t give enough attention to your books. That’s why the most of my books took a year to write each.

IDI – Give us a rundown of your writing process.

MM – What works for me, first of all, is silence; second of all, is music. Hard to unite those two, huh? 🙂 Well, silence is above all. When you write a scene, you have to merge yourself into this atmosphere. It’s hard, and every extraneous noises make it even harder. As to music, I use it when I can’t put myself in the right mood. For example, when I have to write a scary scene, I open my playlist and listen to some creepy music, like soundtracks from horror movies, etc.

IDI – You’ve said that due to the low earnings, like yourself most writers have to work outside jobs. What do you do for a living?

MM – I tried many jobs. I was a social worker, an accountant, a manager, a journalist, etc. Now I’m trying myself as a screenwriter. I’ve made a few episodes for a Russian TV-show Trace (something similar to American C.S.I.).

IDI – Who is your favorite author, and why?

MM – Being Russian, I’ll pick Mikhail Lermontov. I adore his poetry, and I adore his novel A Hero of Our Time. It’s deep, it has so many levels, you can reread it twelve times and never get bored. He was a great writer with such a horrible fate. As regards non-Russian writers, I choose Oscar Wilde and John Fowles. I love the way they drew their characters.

IDI – We all draw from within. How much of ‘Margaret’ will a reader find in one of your books?

MM – Much, very much. As to Crimson Hills, there are some characters (may I conceal which ones?) whose all thoughts, fears, and moral values were taken from myself. But the whole story and characters’ biographies are, certainly, just a fiction.

IDI – What is the hardest or most frustrating aspect of writing: ideas, getting started, writer’s block, editing?

MM – The last one. As English is my second language, it’s really hard for me to edit my books. I can check every sentence carefully and be still not sure if everything is fine and understandable.

IDI – I can see where that would be an issue.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

MM – I love to travel. I’ve been to France (twice), Spain, Germany, Czech Republic, Belgium, Poland, Belarus. My dream is to see the whole world! Beside traveling, I like to study and to learn. I already have two degrees (Economics and Journalism), and I’m not sure if I’m ready to stop, lol. Also, I’m into self-education. I enjoy learning something new.

Margaret Mal

Margaret Mal

IDI – Is there something you can’t live without?

MM – Chocolate! Muffins! Pies! Green tea! These are the most important things in life! (Kidding. Well… Ok, not kidding, it’s all true.)

IDI – Define a great book.

MM – There are books dedicated to entertainment. There are books that make readers think; it is clever books for intellectual process. Both are good. Well, I think that a great book is the one which contains both funny stuff and intellectual stuff. It’s certainly the most difficult to write. That’s why it is worth readers’ attention the most. In Crimson Hills I tried to combine action and philosophic, romance and religion, laugh and social drama. I don’t know if I achieved this goal; it’s up to my readers.

IDI – In the end, it’s always up to the readers. It was a pleasure talking with you Margaret and I wish you the best of luck with your writing. Hopefully, we’ll be seeing future books released in English as well.

About the author – Margaret Mal was born in Russia. Her Russian pen name is Margarita Malinina. Crimson Hills is her first book in English (dystopia). You can find it HERE. You can find Margaret on Instagram or Facebook.

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Jack Kearney

Today I had the pleasure of talking with a man who is an ‘actor turned writer’. Help me to welcome Jack Kearney, author of Inside Out

IDI – As a writer, what is the one thing you would most like people to know about you?

Inside Out

Inside Out

JK – First of all, I want to thank you for this opportunity. As far as writers go, I don’t really consider myself a real writer in the terms that most people would. I have written several TV and movie treatments, a few short stories, a couple of published poems, and the script that was the inspiration for my novel. So, I’ll leave it up to the readers as to determine whether or not I’m a writer. I think of myself more as someone who gets inspired now and then and has to put it down on paper.

IDI – You’re welcome. I’m happy to do it.

When did you know that you were born to be a writer?

JK – In high school I had to write a book report on The Iliad and Odyssey by Homer.” Instead of the normal format, I created a new character that was one of Odysseus’s men and reported it from his eyes. It was so well received that I knew I had some kind of talent. I think I was born to entertain. I spent most of my life as an actor, so I guess one could say I’m a born storyteller.

IDI – What works for you? Give us a rundown of your writing process from beginning to finished product.

JK – I write when inspired. I first think about the story line and after mulling it over for a few days, a month or more, I just write. I never rewrite unless you count the editing process. I am a bit dyslexic so if it weren’t for computers and spell check, I might not have even attempted any of it.

In the case of Inside Out, it was a close call just missing getting a DUI a few years after teaching some inmates an acting workshop at Lompoc Federal prison that was my inspiration. The scare made me wonder what would happen to an actor after a workshop like I had, but by a twist of fate he were to end up back inside with the inmates he’d been teaching. This is a plot that had never been done, not then and not now. The title, like everything else, wrote itself. Incidentally, I am very proud of my cover, which I designed as well.

IDI – We all draw from within and I believe there is an element of ‘us’ in everything we write. How much of you will a reader find in any given book?

JK – With this book, you can already guess that Danny Belson is a young me had my acting career been more successful. Inside Out was originally a script I had written in the mid-eighties after having taught the inmates in the late seventies. It was to be my Rocky.

Jack Kearney

Jack Kearney

IDI – Can you tell us three interesting things about you that you’re sure we don’t already know?

JK – I worked as an actor, but I was never a working actor. In my younger years, I was also quite a dancer. In the book, Danny plays pool one-handed, which is something I can also do. I have also won numerous Karaoke contest with my Elvis impersonation.

IDI – Had I known about your Elvis impersonations beforehand, I would have asked for a video to include!

Define a great book.

JK – A book that you can’t put down or can’t wait to get back to. I read my favorite book The Godfather in one sitting. Did you know that it was originally written as a script?

IDI – Who are some of the more influential writers that have inspired you?

JK – I am a bit old school when it comes to writers. As an actor, I have read my share of plays so Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, and Arthur Miller are my favorites. As for book authors, I loved Philip Roth, Kurt Vonnegut and Stephen King. I loved Carrie and was hooked ever since. As an actor I also get much inspiration from a good TV show or movie. I am one of those that can guess the plot of most things, so I wanted to make sure Inside Out kept you guessing the whole time.

IDI – How much time/effort do you give to social media as a means of self-promotion?

JK – It’s a good thing I work out of my home because book promotion is fast becoming a full-time job.

IDI – What do you do when you’re not writing?

JK – I am semiretired and work part-time setting appointments for a couple of publishers of a private monthly newsletter. I have to confess that my reading habits have dwindled as I’ve gotten older. I have gone from reading a book a week to maybe one every few months. I do love to watch a well-written TV show or movie and of course, most sports.

IDI – What advice would you give to new/unpublished writers?

JK – Don’t ever give up! If you feel you have something worth while to say, say it. But be realistic when it comes to appealing to readers. If they don’t see your vision, it might be time to try something new. I have a saying that I live by that has been tweeted and re-tweeted so some of you may have seen it: “Dreamers rarely rule the world, but they can change it.”

IDI – Great words to close with. Thank you for appearing with me today, Jack. It’s been a pleasure.

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Pretty Baby… by Mary Kubica

A few weeks ago I read The Good Girl, by Mary Kubica. It was an excellent read by a debut author. Today I finished her sophomore effort, Pretty Baby. Kubica delivers another astounding read.

Once again, she uses alternating first person POVs, between Heidi, Chris and Willow (Claire). And once again the chapters alternate between present day and points in the past, but the similarities end there.

Pretty Baby

Pretty Baby

Heidi and Willow are both unreliable narrators. Heidi because she is on an emotional downward spiral and Willow because much of what has happened was more than her young mind could understand at the time. (Example: thinking her sister, Lily, didn’t have a good life because her adoptive parents had another baby.) She is naïve whereas Heidi becomes delusional.

The story unravels slowly, Willow’s memories giving way to her current situation. It was not predictable from early on. The first act was a bit slow, although not hard to get into. It was just that not much happened. By the second act it began to pick up considerably. Through (often long) narrative passages, we begin to put together Willow’s story, which is far more heartbreaking than portrayed in the beginning. At the same time, Heidi’s behavior comes into question. We’re made aware of her longing for another child early on and know why that can’t happen so initially, her behavior seems rational. But that doesn’t last long. She quickly becomes obsessed with the baby now living in her home and that obsession soon becomes delusional.

The non-relationship between Heidi’s husband, Chris, and his co-worker did not contribute to the overall story and felt like a sub-plot used as a bridge between scenes. It did not aid in Heidi’s breakdown, as having the baby in her home accomplished that on its own.

Daughter Zoe’s attitude was a bit over the top, a little heavy on the whole angst-ridden teen stereotype. Fortunately, she had such a bit part that it failed to cast a shadow on the read as a whole.

One thing that didn’t take away from the overall read, but did slow the story down in spots was several instances of what I can only call misplaced narrative. I did not jot down the pages as I came to them, but on several occasions, there was pages of narrative placed in between a question and the answer. Most of it was internalization, a character falling into a memory brought about by the question, but it seemed to slow down the action/conflict at the moment and would have been better placed as a thought after the interaction was over. That is probably my personal reading taste and again, it didn’t take away from the read

A well-told, interesting and unpredictable story guided by well-drawn characters, a worthwhile read. This was Mary Kubica’s second book, my second Kubica read, and I will definitely look for her next.

Have you read Pretty Baby? Share your thoughts below.

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The Good Girl… by Mary Kubica

Publisher’s Weekly wrote, “Kubica’s Powerful Debut… will encourage comparisons to Gone Girl.” That statement almost made me not buy the book, as I am one of the minority that did NOT care for Gillian Flynn’s novel. But, as it turns out, I’m so glad I ignored the blurb.

The Good Girl

The Good Girl

The Good Girl is told in alternating first person, between Eve, Gabe, and Colin. It is also told in rotating time periods, ‘before’ Mia’s rescue, ‘after’ her rescue, and a few scenes of during, which took place on Christmas Eve. In a lesser writer’s hands, this approach could have unraveled like a ball of yarn making it near impossible for the reader to keep track of time and narrator. The story didn’t need to be told this way, but I felt it added dimension to the characters and an element of suspense to the story.

Colin, the antagonist, is the most developed character throughout the book, although that doesn’t mean that the rest were lacking in development. I used A Perfect World as a reference in the last review I did, and find it fitting here, also. In that movie, Kevin Costner is the antagonist. He gives the audience every reason to hate him. But… he also reveals his human side. He shows kindness to the child he has abducted. Even though it’s done with threats toward others, we can relate to him and end up rooting for him because of the way he treats that child. Colin is much the same. He kidnaps Mia, he threatens her, he causes her physical and emotional pain, but then something happens. He begins to show her kindness and we begin to warm up to him. Rather than to think he is a criminal who deserves whatever rotten demise the author has thought up for him, we start to believe that he is a victim himself. Maybe a victim of life, bad luck, missed opportunities. The way he feels about his mother and the stories he tells of their life when he was a child also helps us to see him as having a heart.

Gabe, the detective assigned to Mia’s case was a likable guy. Professional and compassionate. Not qualities you often see juxtaposed in a detective.

Eve was, in my opinion, the least developed character in the story. She is worried and fearful for her daughter and her safety. Understandable. She spends much of the time Mia is gone thinking about the past, wishing she had been a better mother. Understandable. But it ends there. She has lived a life under her husband’s thumb, to the extent of allowing his desires and opinions to leech over to the way she raised her daughter. Sad, but believable.

James Dennett, Mia’s father. He is more unlikable than Colin. He is an abrasive, insensitive egomaniac who puts power, money, and public opinion above family (which gives credence to the epilogue.)

The story was not predictable as a whole. The bond between Colin and Mia, even if it was the Stockholm Syndrome, was evident as it was happening. The attraction between Eve and Gabe was not a surprise either. I guessed that James was involved more than the story let on, but I was wrong in his actual involvement. I won’t go into the ending, but the story we follow as we read, is not the behind-the-scenes story. You’ll have to read it for yourself!

This is easily a 5-star read and that becomes more impressive when you learn that this is a debut novel. I understand that Kubica has another novel, Pretty Baby, in the works. I am now an eager fan!

k.e. garvey (formerly and regrettably known as Kathy Reinhart) is the award-winning author of Lily White Lies and The Red Strokes

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When Done Right... It's Magic

When Done Right… It’s Magic


Daddy Love… by Joyce Carol Oates

Daddy Love was unlike most of the books I read. It was disturbing. It was irritating and annoying in its style of writing. It was without purpose.

Daddy Love

Daddy Love

Sadly, the ‘topic’ of the story is all too real. Children are abducted at an alarming rate. We turn on our televisions and computers or open newspapers without escaping these heinous crimes. When I read a book, I want to be transported to another world, I want the story to sweep me away, if only for a short time. I also want it to linger once I’m finished, until I can lose myself in the world of the next book I open. This is not a book anyone would want to lose themselves in. It is not a place you want to linger. I would like to forget it. Immediately.

First, the first three or four chapters are repetitive. The author writes the same sentences, almost verbatim, adding or subtracting bits of information. It worked in Groundhog Day, but this was not the place to imitate that approach.

As I mentioned, the style was annoying. Some dialogue was marked with quotation marks. Other dialogue was not. It was simply infused into the narration. Along with the dialogue, there was a lot of internal thoughts that went unspoken. The author’s style kept me from connecting with the characters on any level. The entire book had a distant feel to it.

The characters were one-dimensional. Even antagonists have to have a trait, an action, something the reader can relate to, sympathize with or even like. An example of this would be Kevin Costner’s character in A Perfect World. He is a criminal, but he shows compassion to his hostage when he takes him trick or treating. In that movie, his kindness wasn’t used in a punishment/reward situation as it is in Daddy Love. Chet Cash had NO redeeming qualities.

Oates does not ‘evoke images’, she blatantly states them. Thump, thump thumping his small body against the floor…. and his bleeding rectum. It is my opinion that (in a work of fiction), you should be selective in your choices. Knowing what Daddy Love had done and was doing should not have been so overtly stated. Even news outlets leave out the horrific details when reporting the events of such a  crime. I did not feel it made for a better read and simply added shock value to a book with little else going for it.

This book conjured up many emotions while reading, but unfortunately, none of which I want to take with me once I put it down. It seemed to stall on the horrific parts and once the boy escapes his abductor, that’s it. An abrupt ending.

I’m sure there will be many who left the book with a much different opinion, and that’s what makes us all different. Personally, I would not recommend it.

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Things You Won’t Say… by Sarah Pekkanen

Today I finished a book I had previously heard nothing about. I had also never heard of the author, Sarah Pekkanen. I didn’t head straight to the Amazon reviews once I finished reading to see where my review fell in line with others, I will look when I’m through here and maybe surprise myself.

Things You Won't Say

Things You Won’t Say

Things You Won’t Say follows Jamie Anderson through not only the daily life of a police officer’s wife, but also through the emotions. Her husband is faced with multiple tragedies within a short period of time and not only does it take its toll on him, but also on her. She feels as though her world is falling apart and she no longer has the support of the person she’s always counted on most, her husband.

I felt the book was well written. The main topic is current and controversial. The characters were rich and believable with real feel emotions and reactions. I realize that having Jamie’s kids run on the obnoxious side helped add to her circumstances and emotional overload, but I felt they annoyed me as a reader more than they lent credibility to the situation. Aside from that, I enjoyed the read and liked Pekkanen’s voice. The only thing that took me out of the story and broke an otherwise great flow was a few misplaced flashbacks. For example: when Jamie goes to the hospital to visit Ritchie, there is a sense of urgency in the visit, but a sudden flashback to a vacation they all took several years earlier breaks the flow of the scene. It didn’t make for a bad story or even bad writing, but those half a dozen flashbacks did break flow and feel completely misplaced.

Overall, an enjoyable 4-star read. I would definitely check out other works by this author.

k.e. garvey (formerly and regrettably known as Kathy Reinhart) is the author of the award-winning Lily White Lies, The Red Strokes, and her latest release, Cry Like A Girl, book one in the Like A Girl series.

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Ken Magee

IDI – Normally, I make the introduction when interviewing an author, but today, I’m going to let my author introduce himself as I could not do it better than he does. Ken, please tell us about yourself.

KM – I used to have a pretty straightforward bio which talked about my life, loves, pastimes and writing. Quite recently, I changed it to something which I thought might be a little more intriguing. It begins like this:

Most folk believe that technology rules their lives. They’re wrong. Dark conspiracies and ancient magic actually dominate this planet. My one mission in life is to open people’s eyes to that fact.

Ken Magee

Ken Magee

My name is Ken Magee and I tell people I write contemporary fantasies which blend adventure and humour with technology and magic. My books live under the tagline ‘ancient magic meets the Internet’. I pretend that they’re works of fiction, because I’m afraid of the powerful people behind the conspiracies… I’m hoping a ‘fiction’ writer will slip under their radar.

I quite like this as an introduction, although sometimes I wonder if it makes me sound like a crazy person. I do go on to talk about myself, of course, here’s the sort of thing I say:

Up until the point when I discovered about the frightening plot which deliberately caused the recent global financial meltdown, I’d led a fairly normal life. I’d worked for many years in the computer industry in roles ranging from programming through to sales. In the middle of it all, I’d served in the Naval Reserve… which was hard work, but fun. Then in 2010, I decided to make time to finish Dark Tidings, the book I’d started many years earlier (writing not reading). I would have finished it sooner, but life got in the way. It’s finished now (the book, not life).

IDI – It took you many years to complete your first book. Give us a rundown of your ‘writing process’ from beginning to finished product.

KM – The first book was a little different in the sense that it took a very long time to complete. I had worked out the main plot idea many years ago when the Internet was just beginning to evolve, but I didn’t have time to do anything with it so it just bubbled about in my head, maturing and eventually morphing into what became Dark Tidings.

Once I started writing, I had the main structure and plan pretty clear. I wrote the first three or four chapters, just to get the story flowing and then I wrote the final chapter. I’ve taken this approach with all my books. This means I know exactly where the story is going and, roughly how it’s going to get there. After that, the characters can take over and make the journey happen, hopefully in an exciting and funny way.

When the first draft is complete, I rope in a couple of friends to beta read the story. Based on their feedback, I do a full edit myself, before handing the manuscript over to a professional editor for proofing and polishing.

That’s the book finished, apart from the blurb and cover, but they require a completely different process. Another story for another day.

IDI – What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about writing? How has this helped you as a writer?

KM – Listen to the feedback you get. It sounds like easy advice to accept, but it can be hard if someone is criticizing your baby.

Over the last few years, I’ve had a lot of feedback from my readers, my beta readers and my editors. All of it is valuable, although I haven’t always incorporated the advice in the final manuscript. In my mind, it’s really important to understand the comment and to try to appreciate why it’s being made. That way, I can decide whether changes are needed or not.

IDI – Who is the most supportive of you and your dream to be a writer?

KM – I guess the answer is my family and I think the dedication which I wrote at the front of my first book sums it up pretty well (I’ve added who’s who in brackets):

To Carol (my wife), for putting up with all the long hours – and years – spent typing on the computer! Also, big thanks to Jenny (my daughter) for her enthusiasm about my efforts, Chris (my son) for keeping my technology ticking, and Daniel, Lewis, Allegra, Athena and Alexander (the grandchildren) for constantly reminding me that magic is real.

A Darker Shade of Black

A Darker Shade of Black

IDI – How much time/effort do you give to social media as a means of self-promotion?

KM – I find self-promotion very difficult and it’s something I’m not very good at. I’ve read plenty about the best way to market myself, but I’ve yet to find anything which really works for me. I do all the usual things like participating on various book-related forums (Goodreads, KindleBoards etc). I also play a bit on twitter (@KenMageeAuthor) and I have my own website (http://www.kenmageeauthor.com/).

But, as anyone who uses social media will tell you, you need to engage with people rather than try to sell your books, or yourself, all the time. The problem I have with that is that I love engaging with people so the whole exercise can be very time-consuming. For that reason, I try to limit my time on social media to around 45 minutes a day. Sometimes it turns out to be longer than that, seldom does it turn out to be shorter!

IDI – Last, but not least, who is your favorite author, and why?

KM – Terry Pratchett, without a doubt. I absolutely love his Discworld series and anyone who’s read any of them will probably spot Sir Terry’s influence in my writing style. He gave me the taste for fantasy, humor, magic and wizards, I just wish I had finished Dark Tidings sooner… before JK Rowling stole my limelight!

Terry Pratchett was a perfect gentleman as well as a fantastically original writer. His passing was a great loss to the writing world, he will be missed.

IDI – Thank you so much for appearing on Ink Drop Interviews, Ken. It was a pleasure!

KM – Before I go, I’d like to thank you for this fantastic opportunity to talk about my writing. As I said, I’m not good with self-promotion, so it’s great to get this sort of publicity. And if you want to know more about me or my writing, please check out my website or go and grab one or all of the books: AmazonWebsite

k.e. garvey (formerly and regrettably known as Kathy Reinhart) is the award-winning author of Lily White Lies and The Red Strokes

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Jessica A. Scott

One of my recent interviews was with Glenn Maynard who is signed to Black Rose Publishing. After our interview he asked if he could send a few of their other authors to me for interviews. To date I have had the pleasure of working with four more of their authors. Today, I welcome the second of the Black Rose writers, Jessica A. Scott, author of Chase and Charlie in her very first interview.

IDI – Let’s start with your process. What works for you? Can you give us a rundown of your ‘writing process’ from beginning to finished product?

Jessica Scott

Jessica Scott

JS – A lot of people would find my ‘writing process’ to be very arduous, but I love it; it is the only thing that works for me. I start by writing the entire novel out by hand (Chase and Charlie took up six spiral notebooks, two of which were the five-subject kind). Then I go back and reread and revise it before typing it up on the computer. That part can take months, depending on how much I type per day, but it is essential, because it gives me the opportunity to really slow down and pay attention to the words I have written, and to see what works and what doesn’t. After that, I print the novel and read it over again, and after making the necessary revisions to THAT draft, it is finally ready to start shopping around to publishing houses.

IDI – Wow. That process certainly takes dedication to the craft. We all draw from within and I believe there is an element of ‘us’ in everything we write. How much of you will a reader find in any given book?

JS – In Stephen King’s book, On Writing, he says that all of the characters you write have an element of you in them, and I find this to be absolutely true. In Chase and Charlie, for instance, I can of course see some of myself in the way the main character talks and thinks, but I can also see glimpses of myself in the character of her mother, or her brother, or even in the antagonist, which is a scary thing, if you think about it! But that doesn’t mean that these characters ARE me. They all have their own wants and dreams and life goals like real people, completely separate from mine. I don’t consciously base any of my characters in any of my novels on myself or people I know, but I think it is impossible not to allow a bit of yourself to spill over when you are creating and developing a character.

IDI – What are you working on now? Can we get a peek, an excerpt maybe to tickle our tastebuds?

JS – Sorry, but no. I am pretty private when it comes to my writing, because I find that if I tell people anything about my works in progress, it jinxes me, and I get a raging case of writer’s block! I am not sure why that is. Perhaps subconsciously I feel more pressured to finish something or write a certain way if someone else knows about a specific project, or maybe, for me, writing is an intimate thing that only works if it is between me and the characters in my story. Whatever the reason, I have a policy of not revealing anything about my books until they are finished. So I’m sorry, future readers, you will just have to wait!

IDI – Jessica, you have the distinction of being the first person to ever refuse to share your current work. I’m not sure if that leaves me in awe or incredibly eager to see the finished product!

What is the hardest or most frustrating aspect of writing? Ideas, getting started, writer’s block, re-writing?

JS – Publishing. For me, writer’s block is pretty terrible, but trying to get published is like trying to drive the wrong way down a one-way street. A lot of times I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing, and I didn’t seem to be making any headway, and there didn’t seem to be anyone who really wanted to give me a hand. Then, once I finally got my book accepted by a publisher, the REAL work started! I had to become not just a writer, but a businesswoman, and that is something that I still struggle with. Writing itself is beautiful to me even when I am struggling, because I know that the struggle makes me stronger, and will eventually make my writing better. Even though it is the end goal of the writing, this philosophy seems harder to implement when it comes to publishing. But I am learning, and I will surely get better and more savvy over time. Still, though, if it were possible to write for a living without ever having to deal with the publishing process, I would sign up for that career in a heartbeat!

IDI – Have you ever wanted to give up? What stopped you?

JS – I think all writers have thought about giving up at some point, whether it’s when you’re enduring the agony of writer’s block, when you’re not getting anywhere when you’re submitting your manuscripts or query letters, or when you’re just trying to make your friends and loved ones understand that writing is a valid profession. But I’ve never actually seriously considered giving up. Writing is too important to me. It is the thing that makes me happy and gives me fulfillment in life. I don’t know who I would be without it. And I don’t want to find out!

IDI – This is your first published book. What part of being a published author are you looking forward to the most?

JS – Most authors want to see their book for sale, or on bookshelves in a bookstore, but for me, the most exciting part of being published will be going into the library down the street and seeing my book on the shelf next to all of the other writers’. I have found many a book in that library that unexpectedly changed my life in some way, and I am hoping that my book can do that for someone else. And in the library, as opposed to a bookstore, all they would need to have that experience is a library card. Somehow, to me, that accessibility makes it more meaningful.

IDI – What is something you have learned from another writer, and how do you incorporate this into your own work?

JS – I mentioned Stephen King before, but he is an extremely influential author for me. I am not a huge fan of horror novels, but I admire the way that he makes his characters “real.” He is a big advocate for having your characters speak and act in the way that a real person would out in the world, and I try to do that in my own writing as well. I don’t just make the characters speak as they would if they were real people, but I also write in a style that is accessible to people, so that they feel like they are talking to a friend instead of just reading a made-up story.

IDI – What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about writing? How has this helped you as a writer?

JS – The most important thing I have learned as a writer so far is that you have to try not to get in your own way. I have a tendency (and I think a lot of other writers do too) to overthink things, and to constantly critique my own work. In the moment, when I am writing, things are fine, and the story seems great. But the more I think about whether what I wrote was good or not, or whether eventual readers will like a certain part, the more difficult it becomes to just write the story. So the lesson I have learned is just to allow myself to make mistakes, and save the criticizing and self-doubt for the second draft.

Chase and Charlie

Chase and Charlie

IDI – In your opinion, what are the biggest misconceptions new authors have about the publishing industry?

JS – I know that the biggest misconception I had was that it would be easy to get published. I figured I would just go straight to the top and submit my unsolicited query to the top publishers in the business and be published in no time. In reality, though, it is much harder than this, and you have to do lot of work and research and make a lot of connections before you can really start to get anywhere. So if you want to get published, you have to be prepared to put in the effort, for sure!

IDI – I think that is probably the biggest misconception among new writers. I also believe that is why there are so many new writers. If only it were that easy.

What advice would you give to new/unpublished authors?

JS – DON’T GIVE UP!! As a newly published writer myself, I can tell you that writing is the easy part when it comes to getting published. You are going to face A LOT of rejection from agents and publishers and everyone else when you try to get your book out into the world, but don’t lose hope. Keep querying, keep researching, and just keep trying, because you’ll make it eventually. You just have to stick with it and have faith in yourself and your book.

IDI – Great advice! Writing is not for the faint of heart or thin-skinned. Perseverance is key! Jessica, thank you so much for chatting with me and best of luck with Chase and Charlie.

Interested in learning more about Jessica and her work? You can visit her at the following links:

Website – Facebook – Black Rose Writing – Goodreads – Amazon

Kathy Reinhart is the author of the award-winning Lily White Lies, among other titles.

Kathy Reinhart

Kathy Reinhart

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Omar Alleyne

Today I welcome Omar Alleyne, author of the interestingly titled, Christopher De Bono. I Hate Christmas and Anderson l, the Acute Case of Anthrax.

IDI – Good morning, Omar. First I have to say your titles are unique. They have a certain ‘remember me’ ring to them.

That being said, let’s get down to it. So how does someone get into writing from doing something different? What was your catalyst?

Omar Alleyne

Omar Alleyne

OA – My catalyst to get back into writing? That would be because of school. When I was in sixth form, which I think is senior year for you guys, I had the opportunity to get into a project which meant I could do anything I wanted. I could have done a film on frogs if I wanted for example or a history report on the American Civil War of 1812 and instead of doing a subject I was studying, something inside me just made me want to do a novel and the rest, they say is history.

IDI – So, Omar, if that was what got you back into writing, when did you have your original Eureka moment? When did know that you were born to be a writer?

OA – I would like to say that I’ve always wanted to be a writer but that’s not true. When I was younger I wanted to be a writer and joined things like writing clubs and wrote stories but I didn’t know you could be a writer professionally. Eventually I came back to writing

Anderson l, The Acute Case of Anthrax

Anderson l, The Acute Case of Anthrax

but by then, I was seventeen. Only thing is, that even then, I was studying to go to university to become a Fashion Designer! So I think it must have been around July 2012 when I was writing my first book, ‘Anderson I: The Acute Case of Anthrax’ and I was doing 13 hour writing sessions that I realized I never fell out of love with writing and that’s when I got into writing properly.

IDI – Would you care to share with readers what you are working on now? Just a peek?

OA – I just finished writing the forward for an upcoming book called ‘Penny Smart, Pound Foolish’ but currently I am working on another novel. This one will be called ‘Alashed: Dark Pale’ and is a back story to the sequel of my first novel; ‘Anderson I: The Acute Case of Anthrax’. It’s a historically based Science-Fiction title that explores the ideas about the loss of innocence and maturity and how the two don’t actually touch on one another. It should be exciting and I hope that it can touch people in a way perhaps my three previous books haven’t.

“I thought you wanted revenge?” Screamed Yeates to the boy over the sound of the bickering flames. His breath was labored and his eyes almost completely shut as to shade his retinas from the burning light that the flames emitted.

“I only wanted to win!” He pleaded “I didn’t want to kill him!” Alashed cried back, leaning on his staff as to keep him propped up against the wall. He was clearly battered and his feet felt as if they were destined to fail him.

“Don’t let yourself become a victim. If you let him live, he’ll only rise again to smite you!” Yeates begged, limping over to his mentee. Alashed was making a bigger mistake than he could quantify and Yeates knew it, yet neither the boy would learn and neither could Yeates teach him.

 “Then if that is a problem I have to face, I’ll deal with if it ever comes up.”

I hope to have Alashed: Dark Pale out sometimes before the end of August.

IDI – Sounds exciting and again, I love your titles!

Define a great book.

Chris De Bono - I Hate Christmas

Chris De Bono – I Hate Christmas

OA – A great book, for me is something that sits with you even if you don’t remember it. The other day I read an article about how a road trip saved a man’s marriage and even a few weeks on I still think about it. I might not ever be able to accurately find that article again but it was a fantastic piece of writing that has sat with me. It could be the opposite and really make you think, but it’s sat with you. Anyone can make a bland, forgettable piece of literature but sometimes you need a stroke of genius to make something great. If all else fails, great literature is something you can engage with and hold conversation about because if a writer aimed to reach out to you and now you’re using that as your muse to reach out to other people, I think the writer has done a great job.

IDI – Having written your books now, tell me, is there anything you would have done differently and if so, what?

OA – I would have begun promotion a lot sooner. ‘Anderson I’ was self-published and so I didn’t have the backing of anyone else helping me in promoting the book. Of course, a bonus of this is that you’ll never have to worry about the pressure of getting the book out for a certain date, you do it all yourself. I’d also screen my proof-reader a little better. I got burned with a pretty bad proof-reader who isn’t around anymore but it was an expensive lesson to learn as a 19-year-old kid.

IDI – How much time/effort do you give to social media as a form of self-promotion?

OA – I’m almost completely reliant on social media for promotion. My twitter @DrDolphino is my main platform for self-promotion and it’s by and large the cheapest way to do it. It costs nothing to set up an account and begin tweeting about your book and it’s the same for linkedin, Facebook, Tumblr- whatever. But then again, you have to be. It’s not like a newspaper that they print and it goes out to everyone and that person can read it as many times as they like. With things like twitter, I have to hope that one of my sub 300 followers see it, are convinced to pick up a copy of a book, think it’s good and then the next time I make a tweet about it, they retweet it. Social media is difficult and time-consuming like that. Paying someone to broadcast your book is good too, though they can’t guarantee that promotion elicits sales. Of course, if I had the opportunity to get myself into a newspaper, magazine or even a website, I would take it if I can.

IDI – Speaking of self-promotion, ebooks and the media, what are your thoughts on Amazon’s controversial reviewing process? How much trust do you put into the reviews posted for any given book?

OA – Funnily enough, two of my books are on Amazon, ‘Anderson I: The Acute Case of Anthrax’ and a holiday season book called ‘Christopher De Bono. I hate Christmas’.

When they first came out, I begged my family not to give me a five-star review. At the end of the day, it’s my first two books and I’m not Charles Dickens. If they think it was good, give me a 4 star rating but even so, I wouldn’t believe them. Anyway, I gave it a few days and I started to feel bad because I feel it’s a fake review and I ask them to take it down. Then in February, I check my analytics once again and I see two reviews. One is from a lady named Miss Temple and she’s got a faceless profile, but gives me a 5 star review. I don’t know anyone named miss Temple, last name or otherwise and there is another review from someone in Iowa. I don’t know anyone from Iowa! Wait! They’re both 5 stars! At this point I’m pretty excited, ringing up my mum and telling her “people actually like my book! It’s okay to put up 5 star reviews quick, put up a review of my book, but make it honest!”

Anyway, none of my family put their reviews back up and one of the reviews is still there. From that day onward, I believe in the Amazon review system. It’s not the best or my favorite, but I trust it a lot more.

On the other hand, I’ve seen really good books with people straight out trolling the work which is sad. Someone has tried very hard to make something good for people to enjoy and there are people who read it and enjoy the work. Then someone who has a personal vendetta against the book, or even worse, the person takes time out of their day to essentially, begin to destroy their career.  Of course, some books are terribly written but are still enjoyed and those sorts of critics have every right to critique the piece because there is some basis relevant to the book that they dislike.

Personally, I think some form of screening process should be applied on the Amazon review section because the damage someone can cause before a comment is taken down is far more serious than a simple joke. It could be the end of someone’s livelihood.

IDI – I have my own opinion of the Amazon ranking system, but I will agree with you that there should be some sort of screening process, although I fail to see how it would help.

There is a lot of commotion about the effect eBooks are having on brick and mortar booksellers. Do you think eBooks have reached their climax or do you believe they still have room to expand in the market?

Showcase

Showcase

OA – I’m of the opinion that unless something has complete, 100% dominance over something, it has room to grow. It’s a lot like monopoly in that sense and why a single game can take so long. If you have two determined players at it, one desperately trying to clear the board and another who keeps passing go and just about holding on the game will never end. As a writer, it’s my dream to have my e-books in paper print and sold in a book store and I think that if there are enough writers who still have that dream, brick and mortar booksellers will be fine because there will always be people who want a hard cover more than an electronic one that can get accidentally deleted.

IDI – We all draw from within and I believe there is an element of ‘us’ in everything we write. How much of you will a reader find in any given book?

OA – If they look hard enough, they might notice me in the background of a book. A lot of the time I will give my main character or the protagonist at least one scene with me in the background doing something that they notice or that the narrator can comment on. For me and anyone who knows me personally who may read the book, it’s like finding an Easter egg in a film or a video game so I like to have a little fun with that.

I also talk with my hands and actions and sounds more than any adult should so a lot of my work can seem a little longer than usual because it’s very imaginative and can be a sensory overload, so for the people who don’t know me, I’d like to think that they can get to know me through my writing with a little use of the imagination.

IDI – Online cafés or writers groups (aside from social networking). Do you belong to any and if so, help or harm?

OA – Writers groups are a complicated subject. From experience I’d have to say that it’s a 50/50 risk because it completely depends on the people you’re involved with. I created my own ‘writers guild’ it was designed to be open, honest and supportive which is tough because in the past I’ve tried to get involved and found writers groups to be stifling, snobbery environments that can be toxic for your writing confidence. I know of people in an old group who straight out stole someone else’s work and ideas which I needed say, is a terrible thing to do. Of course, this all depends on where you go and who you meet, so exercise caution. It’s a lot easier to get involved with a friend, though you can do it alone. At the moment I’m trying to set up my own, so if you have any work or none, but you are interested, feel free to mention me on twitter (@DrDolphino) or write a little ask/comment on my website, it would be great to form a network of fellow writers who can help each other.

IDI – In your opinion, what are the biggest misconceptions new authors have about the publishing industry?

OA – The biggest misconception about new authors is the thought that they are rubbish. The other week we had Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao for example. Mayweather has never lost a fight which means that even when he was new, he wasn’t bad. Of course he has grown better over time, but then so does everybody with the right people around them. If we give sportsmen and women, people in the entertainment sector or even that new trainee that you see at your local coffee shop the same treatment we give writers, nobody would have a job! The second problem is that we assume writers getting book deals with certain publishers are good writers. But are they really? It’s like your NFL draft. Someone might get picked for one of the best teams in the country, but then they get released in two years because they haven’t met expectations. I feel that we should give everyone a fair chance to make it and writers can only ever help themselves by having a good portfolio to back them up if they make a few mistakes or if it’s not working out at the publishing level. This could be a blog or a collection of articles, but just something to remind the world that you CAN write well.

IDI – What advice would you give to new/unpublished authors?

OA – I would tell them that it’s okay to want to give up. It’s okay to be working on a project for two years and realize at the end of it that you hated every line. You’re allowed to rework things and get rid of whole sections. As long as you want to make your book better, do it. This is your dream so be the best that you can be at it.

IDI – Everyone has visions of where they see themselves in the future, be it a year or five. Where do you see yourself in five years? Where did you see yourself five years ago? Did you make it there?

OA – Five years ago I struggled to even comprehend that I could do anything different from getting a degree and getting myself a mundane job. Now that I’ve given both of those up, I don’t see myself not ‘making it’. So in the next five years I would like to start to think about retirement. Not because I’ve failed or grown tired of writing, but more like a ‘what if’ scenario.  Meanwhile, I would be very happy having my own publisher or publishing house and writer training program whilst continue to write myself, all the while spending as much time as I can with my family.

IDI – Interesting. That is the first time anyone has ever answered that question with retirement, but what a goal! Omar, thank you very much for appearing on Ink Drop Interviews and I wish you all the best of your future endeavors.

Would you like to learn more about Omar and his work? You can contact him here:

https://twitter.com/DrDolphino

http://omaralleyne.tumblr.com

His books can be found here:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/453443

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-gb/books/Anderson-The-Acute-Case-Of/211qHONpZEa_gChGyLc0Tg?MixID=211qHONpZEa_gChGyLc0Tg&PageNumber=1

http://www.amazon.com/Anderson-The-Acute-Case-Anthrax-ebook/dp/B00P7ZU1GG

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/o.k-alleyne

http://www.amazon.com/Christopher-De-Bono-Hate-Christmas-ebook/dp/B00Q385904

Showcase is a ‘smashwords’ exclusive, which you can get for free:
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/505775

Kathy Reinhart

Kathy Reinhart

Kathy Reinhart is the author of the award-winning Lily White Lies, The Red Strokes, and other works under the pen name Nova Scott.

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Wade Fransson

Today I welcome Wade Fransson, author of The People of the Sign, and other titles. He’s here with me today to talk about his books and writing, but before the interview I just wanted to say when you’re through here, you might want to take a peek at his website as it is one of the most eclectic and interesting author websites I’ve ever seen.

IDI – Wade, lets start off by giving everyone a taste of what you’re working on now.

Wade Fransson

Wade Fransson

WF – The Rod of Iron is the conclusion to a trilogy that began with The People of the Sign. This final volume reaches back to the origins of mankind and the recent archaeological finds at Goebekli Tepe to answer questions about who and what we are today, and where we’re headed.  This book has been submitted to the voting process with Something Or Other Publishing, and I’m about 300 votes away from the 1,000 vote target. http://tinyurl.com/V4TRoI

IDI – I voted for you! I hope you reach your goal. When did you first know that you were meant to be a writer?

WF – I don’t know that I was, but darn it, I’m going to force myself upon the world, like that Blind Melon Bee-girl. Now that I am a published author I rarely meet anyone who doesn’t believe they’ve got one good book in them, if they only had the help to bring it forth – so I guess we’re all just pregnant women looking for a competent midwife.

IDI – Give us a rundown of your writing process, beginning to finished product.

WF – The ideas simmer for ages, then I write randomly, in spurts, at first, and then under self-imposed deadlines. The basic broad brush strokes are laid down when I’m awakened at night and can’t sleep, or when I lock myself in a place away from home, and then it all gets finished in rewrites that are typically reviewed, chapter by chapter, by a hand-picked set of 3-5 fans. Their input is invaluable, not so much on plot, but on broken and missing pieces, and most importantly, I need cheerleaders to write.

IDI – Your process sounds very much like my own (and I don’t think any of us mind getting a boost from a cheerleader or two!)

Everyone has their own style/voice if they’re doing their job right, but who would you say your work most resembles?

WF – I’ve patterned my work after Robert Pirsig – of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle” fame. There is some vague similarity to the subject matter, but it’s the way the story is told which gave me wheels (pun intended). I actually look forward to my next book, in which I’m going to try a new approach, but my trilogy owes everything to that seminal book.

IDI – In this era of the hashtag, how much time/effort do you give to social media as a means of self-promotion?

WF – Way too much. And yet it is critical. What I’m trying to do is constantly improve and find ways to build on what I learn. It’s a social school of very hard knocks, but you certainly can’t ignore it. And in the beginning fans are won one at a time.

IDI – You’re right, it is critical – and time-consuming!

Tell us, what do you feel are the biggest misconceptions new authors have about the publishing industry?

WF – I feel writers approach it in two ways. On the one hand, many view it as a lottery system, they pay their dues and

The People of the Sign

The People of the Sign

hope one day to get lucky. On the other hand you have the tortured artist vs. the evil empire syndrome. To me, the truth is in the middle. It’s a business, and Vitamin C is important. Contacts. Who you know. But emerging authors should look to mentors to guide their activities, and realize that their odds of ultimate success are relatively high, if they are willing to define success as something less than being a superstar, and are willing to approach it as though it’s the Iron Man Triathlon, vs. a 100 yard dash.

IDI – What is your absolute, all-time favorite book?

WF – Frank Herbert’s Dune. I’ve read that mammoth book 3 times. And though it was years ago, it had it all. Two movies later, nobody has come close to capturing 1/100th of it.

IDI – Who, in your opinion, was the best character ever written, and why?

WF – Well, since I went with Dune I’ll go with Paul M’aud Dib – the “Dune Messiah”. He had the tragic childhood story, he was a conflicted hero, torn by great pressure and the weight of decisions, an exceptional human being in an extraordinary situation, whose entire life is determined by forces way beyond his ability to deal with them. It is these external forces that define him as an individual, and Frank Herbert creates a complex character that is flawlessly integrated into the complex universe of Dune.

IDI – He sounds interesting.

Popular music features heavily in your work. How did you decide which songs and lyrics to feature in your book?

WF – Music impacted my life in powerful ways. I gradually came to understand that music is a universal language of the heart. There is a lot of intellectual “stuff” in my trilogy so I knew it needed to be laced with the music to reach people in the right way emotionally, compared to telling stories about real people and events in a sensationalistic manner. Once it became clear that I could, and should, use a Beatles song title not only for the chapter titles, but every single subheading, that eliminated the need to quote Beatles lyrics, for which I probably wouldn’t have been granted permission. The lyrics that did present themselves to me I consider a gift. Then I ended up having to erase key pieces when I failed to obtain publishing rights – thankfully I got a few critical ones. There’s a tip for new writers, start the process of obtaining rights early.

IDI – I’ve never had to obtain publishing rights for music, but I’ve always thought it wouldn’t be nearly as easy as some might think.

What got you off the couch to actually start putting your ideas on paper?

WF – I was newly married, and my wife was pregnant, and there was something about having a child on the way that drove me, relentlessly, to do this. Some kind of “dysfunctional family” male nesting instinct – which has something to do with the lost personal connectivity between my grandfather and father. While my wife was pregnant I had a painful move from California to Wisconsin, and United Air Lines was so much to blame for my pain, that I wrote a 16 page story called “A Thousand Little Pieces” just to get it out of my system. In that story United Air Lines was the metaphor for an organization I had been a part of, and although it is humorous, not a serious story, it is to The People of the Sign as Hobbit is to The Fellowship of the Ring. I say that knowing my 16 pages are infinitely inferior to The Hobbit, so don’t take that as narcissistic Hubris – it’s more like a fractal pattern.

IDI – It’s funny what sparks motivation. Wade, thank you so much for joining me today, I wish you the very best with your writing and invite readers to check out the links below to learn more about you and your work.

WF – Thank you for having me.

Visit Wade’s author blog for The People of the Sign. And be sure to stop by his WEBSITE as there is something to interest everyone there.

K.E. Garvey is the author of the award-winning Lily White Lies, The Red Strokes, and the Like A Girl series (Cry, Run, and Fight Like A Girl)

Kathy Reinhart

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