Spotlight on Victoria Adams

Today, I present a special spotlight on a special guest–my friend and colleague Victoria Adams, who is PDMI’s business director and also an author.  She’s got great insights into life and writing, and I’m proud to work with her and happy to have her here to share her thoughts with you.  Welcome, Victoria!

1) So, how did you get started writing? Any favorite books or authors that inspired you?

I’ve actually been writing for years. Granted, a lot of it was business related and had to do with business modeling, accounting, law and whatnot; but still a lot of conveying an idea with the written word. I also spoke and taught for several years and prep always seemed a bit like writing a story. The real initiative that sent me into publishing something was my husband’s diagnoses of vascular dementia. I felt very alone and overwhelmed so I went to something I knew; I wrote. Eventually my jottings became a book. From there I decided to try to do something that very same man had been bugging me about for years; really write. It’s slow going with the current demands on my time, but I am making progress.

2) I know that you have a business-related background. How easy is it to get the business mind and the creative mind to co-exist (as it seems to me is pretty essential for authors these days)?

I think it depends on how you look at business. I love to create. I like to take an idea, piece of property, or going concern and see what I can do to make it tick better. What can I help build? What future can I help envision? All of my accounting, finance, tax, and business law background goes into taking that vision and putting it into words that garner support. Or that keeps tabs on progress. I try to communicate accounting in a way that non-accountants can see clearly where their vision needs to go. I don’t see them as two different minds. Maybe a different medium in which to communicate.

3) Talk a little bit about your two most recent writing projects—your already-published book Who I Am Yesterday, and your current work in progress, which not everyone reading this may know about?

Who I Am Yesterday chronicles my first year as a full time caregiver. It was my journey to acceptance and some of my first small steps in getting accustomed to a totally different life style. I don’t have all the answers and I still have days I want to run into the street screaming, but I’m learning. PDMI Publishing and I are planning a sequel sometime in the near future. It will be an expanded version with much more material. Current working title is Caregiving Backstage (as used on my blog).

Why Me? Come Let us Reason with Job is an entirely different kind of project. It is the type of work my husband has wanted me to publish for years. Part philosophy, part theology, and part critique. It, too, in many ways, is a personal journey. There is a life time of experience that goes into such a discussion. Why do things happen or not happen to this or that person? Is there Someone that is looking out for us? Do we have a part in what happens? Is there cause and effect? Or do we imagine it?

4) How did you get involved with PDMI?

Ahh. A story indeed. I bumped into Tc and Nessa in a lovely group created by Virginia Jennings for Writers and Authors. “Back in the day” when it was small and just taking off. Their attitude interested me but I wasn’t sure we were a fit. I really wasn’t that interested in the genre that prevailed in their portfolio. But they were expanding and looking for traditional contracts. They read the preface on Job and wanted it. I remember signing their contract and thinking I could write a much better one. Not long after they talked me into a reissue of Who I Am. Now, of course, our portfolio is quite diverse and growing rapidly.

A few months later I was starting to help them with a few business things and one thing led to another and here we are. A year later I’m a publisher.

5) You’re a strong proponent of blogs. Tell me how you think the blogging phenomenon influences the world of writing these days.

I really need to practice more of what I preach. I think that blogs are an incredible tool for authors. No matter what profession you choose to pursue there are always ways to strengthen your skill. Little practice things to get you into shape. A blog does that. It hones your skill so that you can drop a couple hundred words on any subject, anytime, anywhere. That way when you do sit down to work on a manuscript you are in shape. The words don’t drag out of you, you see a vision, hear a voice, and off you go.

It is also a really great way for the public to get to know who you are and what you do. As long as you don’t spend all of your time talking about writing. My blog is about my philosophy, my interest in science and my caregiving adventures. I do write book reviews and have guests occasionally, and when I get really excited about something in the writing profession, I’ll share that. It’s my “Reading Alcove” and I like to keep it in that mode. A place to sit and learn or just read a darn good story.

6) What about self-publishing? Do you think self-publishing helps or hurts the industry?

Both. I enjoyed my experience because I planned it. I researched all the things you are supposed to do to make a professional looking book. I tend to research everything I get myself into. I had people edit my book and I crafted my own cover. The last because I am a hobbyist when it comes to photography and fancy myself at least moderately skilled in some of the arts. It is a book that is well received if not widely marketed. I think that the serious author can self-publish a solid, marketable book. You have to be willing to wear a bunch of hats and work yourself to a frazzle or carefully contract the help you need.

It is bad because there are no gatekeepers. Anything can get published and if you rush to publication you could ruin your name and your brand. People get the impression that the whole thing is so easy when it really isn’t. Crafting a professional, commercial product takes a lot of hard work. It takes a lot of research to know what the trends are and what will make the title sell. I think you have to make up your mind that whatever path you choose, you give it your best however long it takes.

7) Do you have a personal motto or philosophy you can share with us?

I choose to do everything I do the very best way I can. If I don’t know how to do it, I find a way to figure it out or someone to teach me. I am a Christian, though I am not “churched.” I believe my faith informs my decisions but does not give me the right to make decisions for others.

8) What is the most rewarding thing about being involved with a small press like PDMI?

Watching people create. I get goose bumps sometimes watching a talent blossom and grow. Watching a small company come together and really get it on. It is an amazing atmosphere and one worth all the extra hours, the occasional stress and sleepless nights, and the occasional mother hen moments.

9) Anything you’d like to add that I haven’t asked?

Well, that’s a wide open question, now isn’t it? I guess my hope is I can keep all this up long enough to get some books out there, help Tc and Nessa spawn a successful company full of talented, energetic people, and find ways to keep my husband home with me. Both financially and emotionally.

Spotlight on Brian McKinley

 

Today’s interview spotlight introduces new PDMI author Brian McKinley, who, like me, has been writing about as long as he’s been thinking.  Brian’s a talented guy with a great imagination–so I’ll just let him speak for himself.

 

How long have you been writing, and how did you get started?

 

I’ve been writing and creating stories since I was old enough to put words on paper. I was terrible at drawing, so I was the kid who wrote little stories and gave them to my parents and grand-parents. Throughout my entire life, I never had much doubt that writing was something I wanted to do as a life’s work. I added acting for a while, but decided that I was a better writer than actor. Oddly enough, though, despite my certainty, I followed a lot of false-starts before hitting my current path. I dabbled in a lot of different genres and story types before I found my current niche.

 

 

 

 

Who are your favorite authors?

Stephen King, Thomas Harris, Jim Butcher, George R. R. Martin, P.N. Elrod, Colleen McCollough, H.G. Wells. Steven Saylor, Frank Herbert, Jim Thompson, Raymond Chandler, Max Allen Collins, and Neil Gaiman.

 

 

Name one author who’s been most influential on you?

 

 

I’d have to say that Stephen King’s been the most influential. He really helped break me out of the idea that writing had to be polite. His book On Writing was the most eye-opening and exciting book about the craft that I’d ever read. I loved King’s fearlessness with his characters. He doesn’t care whether you like them or not, they just are who they are. Same with Martin as I read his Song of Ice and Fire, I loved his world-building and the way he’ll pull the rug out from under you. No characters are absolutely safe in their worlds, just like in real life. As fantastic as their worlds are, I believe them because they have an uncertainty and untidiness that I recognize from life.

 

What’s your favorite genre, and why?

 

 

Probably urban fantasy nowadays, though it’s starting to become too overpopulated. I read a fair range of things, but I often restrict my reading to things that are of benefit to the project I’m working on at the time. Right now I’m reading a lot of vampire novels to get a feel for what’s out there and keep my head in the right space. However, I’m going to make an exception for Doctor Sleep, which I have to read! I like reading historical novels, fantasy, crime novels, and psychological thrillers as well as vampire fiction. I actually don’t read a lot of horror, which surprises people. Mostly, I’ll read anything that sounds interesting, but most of my reading is these days is keeping up with series that I like and trying to inspire myself by reading other great books.

 

 

 

What do you think you do best as an author, and what do you feel like you most need to work on?

 

 

That’s a great question and one that every author should consider! I think my strengths are my characters. I won’t say that they live and breathe for me, but I do think about them a lot and they often live with me for years before ever making it onto a page. So, by the time they get there, they’ve got a lot to say. The thing I think I really need to work on is plotting.

 

Any advice for beginning writers?

 

 

Paraphrasing King: “Keep reading, keep writing.”

 

 

What’s your favorite food?

 

 

Tough one. My mom’s chicken and rice.

 

 

How did you hear about PDMI Publishing, your current publisher?

 

 

From my friends and fellow PDMI-authors Daven Anderson and Emily Guido.

 

Spotlight on Peter Wells

Today, I’m featuring a little chat with my friend and PDMI colleague from the UK, Peter Wells.  Peter’s the Marketing Director at PDMI now, but it was his words and perspective on life that brought him to our attention.  You can find those at his blog,  http://countingducks.wordpress.com/author/countingducks/?blogsub=confirming#subscribe-blog.  And, you can find them in this interview. Welcome, Peter!

 

 

 

  1. How long have you been writing? How did you get started?

 

 

 

I began writing seriously, or slightly seriously when I started my Blog. I’d written poetry at university and always been identified as slightly creative, but I’d never stuck at anything in a way which might say I was a painter, or writer or anything in that line.

 

 

 

  1. You’re quite noted as a blogger. How did THAT get started?

 

I think my first post was actually about this very question. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of night and my head is full of musings and characters: you can’t shut the devils up. Finally, regardless of the hour, I rose from my bed and wrote my first post. To those who know me, the fact that I got up in the middle of the night, discovered a Blogging platform, and actually got the thing to work is a curiosity yet unexplained but I did. The rest is history, or a very small part of it anyway.

 

 

 

  1. You and I have talked a little one on one about your ideas on the importance of blogging, but explain it a bit for visitors to PORTALS AND PATHWAYS. What’s the value of a blog to authors?

 

There are several hundred thousand books published every year, give or take a dozen, and the chances of an unknown coming to the notice of anyone but his wife and children and that bloke at the fish shop are quite small. Blogging in a thorough and professional manner, which means producing short works of fiction and ruminations on a regular basis, as well as commenting on other Blogs regularly, is a great way to introduce yourself to a world which might otherwise fail to notice your existence.

 

 

 

  1. Is the bookstore as much of a dying animal in the UK as it is in the US? What are your thoughts on the seeming shift from brick and mortar bookstores to other modes of access?

 

 

 

Sadly I think it is. I studied English Literature at University, and I remember how much I enjoyed going down to the book shop and discovering new authors, and being able to feel and touch the text. Bookshops have an atmosphere all their own which a digital experience will never replace.

 

 

 

  1. I know some of the story, but readers of this blog may not: How did you get involved with PDMI Publishing? What’s been your experience with PDMI thus far?

 

 

 

As I continued to Blog the numbers of ‘followers grew, and I spent more time looking out for other Blogs which might engage my interest. One of those Blogs was called “”Reader’s Alcove” which is written by Victoria Adams. She contacted me and asked me “If I had any manuscripts hidden away. I didn’t but her interest inspired me to produce one: hence the arrival of this book. As for my experience of PDMI Publishing–they are a bunch of crazy and talented individuals who each bring something amazing and really eye opening to the party whether they be from editing, illustrating, formatting anything else. I can truly say I would not be with anyone else, and I hope the feeling is mutual.

 

 

 

 

  1. Do you have a daily writing routine? What is it?

 

 

 

With ‘Living Life Backwards’, I set myself the target of producing 1600 words a day, five days a week. There were to be no excuses and there never were any. I’ve now completed my second book and am working on my third but now I allow myself a casual target of 1000 words a day. I understand having three books out at the same time is the beginning of becoming a professional author, which I would like to be. Yes I do work as well, but every life has its inconveniences!

 

 

 

  1. Do you have a favorite book? Particular favorite authors?

 

 

 

This is a hard one as you can imagine. The list is pretty long, but currently, despite the fact that I am a fickle and capricious fellow and these things keep changing, I’d say “The Great Gatsby’ is my current favorite. The book is only 55,000 words but so packed with content and character that is a far richer read than many books which are twice or three times its length in my opinion. Apart from the content, his writing style is simple but engaging and I always read it with enjoyment.

 

 

 

  1. What attracts you most to a book you’ve never read?

 

 

 

That it somehow illuminates the wonders and contradictions of our life on this planet and with each other. It must have a metaphorical integrity and involve situations which I regard as credible. Having said that, discovering a new author who enriches your understanding of the world is like making a new best friend: your life is always the richer for having ‘met’ them.

 

 

 

  1. What advice would you offer to new authors?

 

 

 

My advice to myself, and to any new or aspiring authors, or anyone with a dream is never to give up. The only way to ensure failure is to stop trying. The vast majority of those who have enough faith in themselves to work at what they do, and polish and refine their craft, and send their work out, regardless of the rejections, will arrive somewhere near the town of ‘Success.’ To live without a dream is to exist, and that will never be enough for me.

 

 

Spotlight on Megan Morales

My guest today is a young lady of great talent, who’s come through a lot of adversity to realize the dream of being a published author.  She’s one of the newest of PDMI Publishing’s authors, and it’s a privilege to know her.  Say hello to Megan Morales.

Spotlight on Megan Morales

  1. How long have you wanted to be an author?

I’ve wanted to be an author since I was very young, maybe around nine years old? I just remember picking up a pen or a pencil and started writing, even it didn’t quite make any sense. I just kept practicing and practicing, and well, here I am!

  1. Tell us a little bit about how being an epileptic has influenced your life. How does it influence your writing?

Ha! Well, it has influenced my life in good and bad ways, but I mostly like to look on the good side of things. It influences my writing, because I want to help people in any way I can, in ways that no one has ever helped me understand things.

  1. What are some of your favorite books/authors?

You’re joking, right? Everyone knows I’m an absolute fan of the books, Hannibal! (Thomas Harris’ books about serial killer Hannibal Lecter.)  Sarcasm aside, my favorite authors are, J.K. Rowling and Tolkien.

  1. Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what?

I do listen to things when I write, but it depends on how I’m feeling during that time of the day. Sometimes, I like to listen to rock like ‘Insane in the Brain’, or ‘Bad Girls’ by MIA. I have a broad range of music tastes, so it’s a bit hard to answer that question. I seriously hate rap and country though.

  1. You’re one of PDMI Publishing, LLC’s newest authors. How did you find out about PDMI?

A few months ago, I was telling my friend Vance Major about how I kept getting rejected by authors, because I didn’t have enough pages, and one even pointed out that I was a bit too young to start sending things to serious publishing companies. Vance asked me for a short excerpt from a novel I was working on, I sent it to him, and then Tc and Nessa contacted me! Most exciting day of my life!

  1. Tell us a little bit about your current writing project.

My current writing project, is about a girl who is living in a post apocalyptic world that is filled with freaky mutant bugs that were ‘accidentally’ created by the government. I can’t say anymore, it’s going to be such a huge surprise!

  1. What’s the hardest part of the writing process for you? The easiest?

The hardest part of the writing process for me, is to get all my thoughts down. I end up writing them, and it turns out only to be two pages! It’s a bummer, but I’m slowly working on it with my editor (Who, in this case, is me—it’s a lot of fun helping Megan shape this unique project.) The easiest part for me, is the detailing! I love to describe things, and it’s even more fun to write the killing scenes. Watching all those crime shows growing up/still doing so, has really paid off!

Spotlight on Vance Major

Today brings yet another interview with a colleague from PDMI Publishing–today, it’s with one of our talented illustrators, my PDMI brother Vance “V-Man” Major.  I don’t believe in cutting anyone short, and the V-Man had a lot to say, so I’ll just say ‘thanks, man” and get to his interview!  Enjoy!

 

Spotlight on Vance Major

 

1) How did you get started as an illustrator, and how long have you been doing it? Well, I have been drawing since the 1st or 2nd grade. Stick figure He-Man drawings were what I was doing in class instead of Math and such, ha! Then, I had moved to my Grandma’s ranch my 4th grade year, and had nothing else to do besides read encyclopedias and old books. I was very interested in Mario and Zelda from Nintendo, but couldn’t afford one, so I drew the adventures I wanted to have. And then I’d go play them outside on the ranch. I always doodled, but kinda slid away from it for a few years, trying to figure out who I was. It wasn’t until around my freshman or sophomore year that I picked up on it again, at Bible camp no less! They were something to pass the time when I got bored of the services. It wasn’t until my junior year though, that I started taking it seriously, and actually had people request me to draw them things. Ive always loved word of mouth as advertsing, as its effective and more passionate than anything kinda thrown in your face. But I’ve been drawing as long as I can remember.

 

2) What kinds of art subjects do you like best? Honestly, I’m a big kid. I didn’t really have much of a childhood, so being a comic geek and sci-fi nerd kinda helps me relive that part of my youth. I was always fascinated with He-Man, Batman, Star Trek. One thing that I think really made me go “hmmm I want to be part of this world of art” was Norm Breyfogle’s BATMAN #466. To me, the art just jumped out at me, and the story was just so gripping. And it wasn’t about the action, it was more a “morality play,” which is how I think comics and sci-fi work. The art just added so much to the story. Exciting action is good, but excessive action isn’t. And that’s something I think is missing in today’s comics.

3) Tell us a little bit about how you got involved with PDMI Publishing? Oh wow, It all seems like a blur to me now; it happened really fast! I have an art page on Facebook and posted my art on there, trying to get noticed by someone. Not for money, per se, but just to meet more people. Im really big on meeting cool people. And one of my friends from my Facebook geek group called the PROMENADE, Virginia (PDMI Publishing illustrator and author Virginia L. Jennings), she had messaged me that I should talk to her publisher. Now I resisted, as most things that sound too good to be true usually are. I said “no thanks.” She wrote back a little later and said “Think you really should talk to them.” I declined respectfully again. She wrote back YET again and said “you SHOULD talk to them.” I said “You know what, go ahead and talk to them for me and let me know what they say, I doubt they’d be interested.” And she said “Actually they’ve seen your stuff, love it, and want you.” My mouth dropped. No joke. That had never happened to me. I see so much talent out there, how could they be interested in me? Yet lo and behold, all was true. And it wasn’t a very hard decision to come to. I had almost said no, Id rather not be disappointed, as I had in the past. But then, I figured that life isn’t worth living if you’re not willing to go out on a limb. Now, I’m not saying everyday go out on a limb, but fortune favors the bold, ya know?

4) I know you’re a comic book fan. Are you a DC guy or a Marvel guy? Well, this is really where I get my panties in a bunch, ha! I love all of the early-to-mid Nineties comics. To me, that was a great transition period for comics, they did a lot of great stories(New Robin, New Green Lantern, Aquaman had a hook) and things were in a state of change with characters. There was some history, and seeing these things which I knew were new made me want to go back and find out the differences between what was, and what had come before. I liked that it wasn’t my parents’ Green Lantern, or the Superfriends’ Aquaman, or the Burt Ward “gee golly” Robin. Things were cooler, but it made the uncool of the past, more relevant to me. Looking at things in the New 52 (Note: DC Comics’ ‘soft reboot’ of their comic book continuity, begun in 2012) they just aren’t the same characters. I don’t mind different universes, but I hate reboots. All of that time invested, lost. And bringing back the stuff my parents would have read, just didn’t appeal to me. So I am not a fan of DC much now. The live- action movies are ok; the tv shows are usually better: they are top notch in the cartoon movies. But for the books themselves….ah, nostalgia is a curse sometimes. I take my Lil Sparrow comic shopping, so I can live through her on what she likes. Ha! I’d say my favorite comic character is Robin—the Tim Drake Robin (Tim Drake was the third teenaged Batman sidekick to bear the title.) Around the time he became Robin, I was getting into Batman. The 1989 movie had come out sometime before and I wanted to see it, but had to wait for VHS(gawd that’s old.) But his character in Batman 466, really was just a good guy who helped the man who had lost his way. By the end of the book, he had helped the man and told Batman that he would make sure he got home safely. To me, the capes and masks didn’t matter, it was the heart that made the hero. And also being close to his age, I could relate, or wanted to on the things I couldn’t understand. His character helped shape a lot of how I think. As he grew older and smarter, it paralleled a lot in my life. When Bruce died and Tim was thought to maybe take over, as he was closest in the detective part, that also paralleled things in my life. So that character to me, is who I love the most. Theres a lot other cooler characters, but to me, he’s the one that got me into comics.

5) What is your usual process or routine for working? It usually depends on what Im drawing or need to. I usually will sit on a project for a bit and think about how I need to take things. I seldom proceed until im absolutely sure where I need to go with the vision. Most people try to rush it, and it really shows. I’d rather have quality over quantity. There was one drawing where I needed to go to some dark places to get the feel right for the pic. I listened on YOUTUBE(cheap plug there kids, ha!) the Breaking Bad scene “I am the one who knocks” over and over. His delivery of that whole part is just eye twitchingly cool!  But with any project, you really need to be in the mood. I cant just pick up a charcoal pencil and go to work, I seriously need my diet soda bottle and some inspiring background noise. A lot of times I listen to commentaries or movie reviews, and it really makes me focus and relax. Sometimes I listen to music while I draw, stop drawing and focus in the music. When I come back to the art, I’m just in the zone! So it all just depends on what Im drawing for. Anyone can draw anything, I think. But to get the spirit of what you want, that’s what takes the most time, and I really am a perfectionist when it comes to my vision.

6) What is your favorite thing about being an artist? I enjoy reaching out to others, and showing people the world how I see it. When I can draw, its escapism that no drug can take you to. Because I’m an artist, Ive been able to reach a lot of the youth and help them turn their lives around from drugs, alcohol, or abuse in their family. Growing up as an abused kid, it helped me break the cycle that so many cant seem to break. Thru art, and showing people their potential, its not making the world better per se, but it’s helping people make better decisions and build better lives. To me, being an artist and using those talents to help others, that’s the most important thing a person can do. Money is great, but some people are so poor, all they have is money.

 

 

 

 

 

Spotlight On Cindy Koepp

Today, I have another of my fellow authors from PDMI Publishing, LLC.  She’s a fellow science fiction author, a fascinating lady, and a good friend.  She worried this might be too long, but I wouldn’t change a word.  Enjoy!

 

 

  1. How did you get started writing? When did you write your first story?

 

 

Oh, yeah, that’s a harder question than you might suspect. I was on some major meds when I was a kid, so I don’t remember a whole lot before I was about 12 or so.

 

 

 

I can tell you for sure that I was writing at least by 2nd grade. Mom has a story I wrote in a scrapbook somewhere.

 

 

 

I do recall – after my memory starts clarifying as a teen – playing a lot of mental what-if games. What if I were in the X-Men? What if Steve Austin had done managed to get that tank before it got him? What if Roy hadn’t grabbed the wire when he fell off the roof? What if there were an alien race that looked like a cross between a bird and a cocker spaniel? I mentally wrote myself into my favorite shows, movies, and books.

 

 

 

Sometime in middle school, I started turning those into stories, particularly X-Men adventures my pals and I concocted using characters we designed. Eventually, I moved away from fanfic and started coming up with my own brilliant ideas … some more brilliant than others.

 

 

 

  1. What are some of your favorite books? Favorite authors?

 

 

 

OOOooo… Let’s see. I remember enjoying these a bunch. I’m having a hard time recalling the plot of some of them because it has been a looong time. Sadly, they’re all in boxes in the garage, or I’d read ‘em again.

 

 

 

Janet Kagan (Hellspark, Mirabile Loved the storylines.)

 

Gordon R. Dickson (The Childe Cycle, particularly DORSAI! and Soldier Ask Not Again, great stories. Ultimately, all the tales in the series link up, but each book stands on its own just fine.)

 

Victor Hugo (Les Miserables … I liked the tale of how the Law of Unintended Consequences works out in the end, but you can keep the 100+ page description of the Paris sewer. It wasn’t /that/ interesting.)

 

Bruce Hale (Chet Gecko series. Hilarious!)

 

Jude Watson (Jedi Apprentice series. Excellent characterization).

 

 

 

    1. How has your life influenced your stories? Is there a particular character you identify with?

 

 

 

Oh, my life has been all over my stories, and I’m often in the story.

 

 

 

Remnant in the Stars: I am, to a large degree, both Sora, who often feels helpless to do anything, and Kirsten, who is disabled and can’t figure out why her health is deteriorating. Janice and Sora ended up with my wacky sense of humor. Kirsten’s subplot directly relates to my adventures of trying to figure out my illnesses and disabilities.

 

 

 

Mindstorm: Parley at Ologo: I am both Calla, who faces major discrimination for an inherited disability, and Thomas, who has trouble letting go of the emotions resulting from an attack against him. The whole plotline involving how those two get past their intense dislike for each other draws heavily on the experiences I’ve had dealing with discrimination.

 

 

 

Lines of Succession: I am Elaina. I enjoy doing a lot of activities that are considered “too manly” like archery and fencing and so on. I find chick flicks boring. Give me a lovely action movie any time. I’ve dealt with a betrayal, and I often have to take on the responsibilities of a non-disabled person in spite of being disabled and still make it work.

 

 

 

Urushalon: Amaya is me in the way she struggles with emotional disasters. Things affect me more than most people, but I try to keep it nailed down under a veneer of professionalism as much as I can … never quite as successfully as she does.

 

 

 

    1. Have you always liked science fiction? Do you have a favorite sci-fi novel?

 

 

 

Well, as far back as I can remember, I’ve liked science fiction, but I’ve also been told I liked a good mystery, too. These days, I don’t have much use for romance and erotica, and horror has to be much, much more story than blood and goo; but other than that, I like a good story and good characters no matter which genre. Science fiction, though, I would say is my favorite with non-magical fantasy coming in a close second.

 

 

 

My favorite science fiction novel would have to be … hmm … Janet Kagan’s Hellspark. The main character uses her wits to solve a problem.

 

 

 

    1. I know that your faith is an important cornerstone of your life. Is it ever hard bringing this into your fiction? Do you feel it’s hard being a person of faith in today’s largely secularized world?

 

 

 

Actually, I never try to bring faith into my fiction. The Christianity either fits or it doesn’t. So, I have Remnant in the Stars where one character helps another overcome crippling guilt through faith. In Urushalon, the Eshuvani were converted to Christianity not long after they crashed and most of them have stayed with it, so they use apostolic greetings and other quirks of that sort. Lines of Succession is in a setting similar to Renaissance Europe and reflects the Christianity of the era. Elaina is very much a religious sort.

 

 

 

That said, however, even my completely secular works (Mindstorm: Parley at Ologo, and The Condemned Courier) are written from a Christian worldview, so I’m sure my faith snuck in there, too.

 

 

 

I do find it difficult sometimes to stand strong in my beliefs. In part, this is due to a secularized world that preaches tolerance for everything except Christianity. That, however, Christians were warned to expect.

 

 

 

The part I find even harder to deal with is the way the Church is marrying the world “to be more relevant.” It’s hard to find a church that actually preaches the whole counsel of God. A lot of them are more like pep talks and motivational speakers. Ear tickling, not sound scholarship and discipling is the rule. Good, crunchy exegetical or even expositional Bible study is hard to come by.

 

 

 

My beliefs align most closely with conservative Baptist teaching, and I attend a Lutheran church (long story), so I catch a lot of heat from some who lump me into a category with other “evangelicals.” Unfortunately, these days, “evangelical” has come to be associated with those who try to force their religion on everyone around them. For the record, I have yet to shove my Bible up the nose of anyone else. I have this apparently amazing ability to be able to disagree with someone’s personal beliefs while still valuing them as a human being.

 

 

 

Anyway, I do my best to get along with the rest of humanity while staying true to my beliefs. That does make me unpopular sometimes.

 

 

 

    1. Tell everyone about how you got interested in birds. And tell us a little about Masika.

 

 

 

That’s another one that I don’t know how the interest started. I’ve liked eagles in general for longer than I can remember. I have pictures, statuettes, a memory-card holder, and all kinds of wild stuff with eagles and Bible verses with eagles and whatnot.

 

 

 

Masika is a Timneh African Grey. She came to me about six or so years ago. She’s been through a lot of hubbub, so she’s very skittish. I interviewed her here: http://ckoepp.webs.com/apps/blog/show/32556843-introducing-masika

 

 

 

Masika, formerly known as Rebel – her last owner was a Civil War/Western enthusiast – started out as a pet store bird. When the store closed up, she was stuffed in a warehouse and occasionally gifted with food and something approximating clean water. Someone got wind of that and secured her release, but after a couple years, couldn’t take care of her and gave her to his parents. Masika stayed there for about 15-20 years or so. Then that couple retired and one had failing health, so they took a couple stabs at rehoming Masika until a mutual friend suggested that I had a couple birds. The couple called me and asked if I’d like to take Masika. You bet! Masika has been with me for a half-dozen years.

 

 

 

Gradually, she’s starting to trust me. At first, she would flee when I reached in to change food and water. She decided at some point that I was not evil and would stay still. Then, a year or two later, she started resting her foot on my hand. More time passed until she started trying to put weight on that foot. Now she’ll step completely onto my hand sometimes, but I’d better stay still! Within the last month or so, I’ve tried to very slowly move my hand. Sometimes that’s okay. Sometimes it’s not. We’ll get there.

 

 

 

    1. Do you have a certain routine when you write?

 

 

 

Not exactly. I write whenever I can squeeze it in, usually at night before I crash, but I’ve written parts of scenes sitting in doctor’s offices or waiting in lines. I just need a piece of paper or mini-notebook and a pen. I type it in later.

 

 

 

If I’m at my computer, I make sure my notes are handy and that I have a glass of water nearby. Then I open up the story file, read whatever I wrote the day before, and dive in for the next bit.

 

 

 

    1. What advice would you give a new writer?

 

 

 

Learn what the “rules” are, not so you can keep them, but so that when you break them you know there’s a good reason for it and not just because you can and you want to. Good story and strong characters trump pretty nearly all rules.

 

 

 

However, when you’re submitting something to a publisher, make absolutely certain you follow their rules of submission with exacting detail. One slip may result in your manuscript being shuffled to the trash bin.

 

 

 

Seek advice from knowledgeable people, but use the advice with discernment. Advice from people more skilled than you are is a great way to grow, but you have no idea how many well-intentioned pieces of advice I followed that an editor then had me go back and undo.

 

 

 

Keep trying. This isn’t an easy gig, but it is a fun one.

 

 

 

Thanks for letting me play, Clay!

Spotlight On Daven Anderson

davenexpo Today, I have another guest with me…my fellow PDMI author, Daven Anderson.  It’s been a privilege getting to know him over the past year, and it was a privilege to meet him in person at the 2014 Birmingham Author Expo.  I’m proud to call him a colleague and a good friend.  And now, here’s Daven.

  1. What year did you first begin writing the first book in your saga, “Vampire Syndrome?”

    June 13, 2009. A friend lent me the four Twilight saga novels and I read them all in sequence. Upon finishing “Breaking Dawn” that afternoon, my first thought was “R-rated movie.” My second thought was “I can write something better than that.” By the time I went to bed that night, I had my characters Jack, Zetania, Damien and Lilith fixed in their present forms. A few days later, I attended a UFO expo, to flesh out the details of the alien Pure Vampires.

  2. Other than the Big Five’s reaction of wanting to reduce Jack’s role in the saga, what have been some other reactions people have had to the idea of a vampire with Down’s Syndrome?

    Some thought it was a clever gimmick to draw attention, including a few people in the industry. Reactions and comments about Jack from readers have been universally positive. A few of my readers have Down Syndrome, and others have friends or family members with Down Syndrome. When a woman who has known her brother for over 45 years says Jack’s voice and mannerisms are right on the mark, THAT is a good review! When a woman with Down Syndrome (who is an avid reader) says I “nailed it”, that means more to me than all the money in the world.

  3. Did you read a lot of vampire novels prior to beginning to write your own? Who are some of your favorite vampire authors?

First vampire novel I read (at 10 years of age) was Dracula. At 17, I read “Interview with the Vampire.” Obviously, my 17-year-old self did not think “I can write something better than that,” so I went on to read other vampire novels over the next three decades. Too many to list, but some highlights are classics such as the rest of Anne’s The Vampire Chronicles series, “The Hunger,” “I Am Legend,” “Let The Right One In,” the early “Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter” novels; to novels such as “The Historian,” “The Reformed Vampire Support Group,” “The Traveling Vampire Show,” and “The Radleys.”

  1. What, if anything, do you have in common with Jack Wendell?

    Jack left a 1992 half-dollar coin in the middle of a cattle field, and so have I.

    We are both nice guys, and each of us work in our own way to raise awareness of the wisdom and dignity of those with special needs.

  2. For those who want to write their own novels, what is the most important habit of good writing?

    Write the story first, ask questions later. You can always edit later.

  3. When you’re actively working on a project, how many hours a day do you spend writing?

    Not enough! Rather than time, I set targets of “X” amount of words per session, per week, etc.

  4. Do you have a favorite author or book? What is it?

    “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare.” My leather-bound volume was given to my great-grandfather on Christmas Day 1908.

  5. Do you think it would be fun to be a vampire?

    One of my human Vampires, in particular. No big problems living in the normal world, except that they cannot be vegetarians. Even there, red meat has blood at the molecular level, so my human Vampires can live indefinitely off a normal food diet that includes meat. It would also be very cool to age at one-tenth the normal rate, a much more appealing scenario than being stuck for eternity in a body that never ages (I’ll refer any doubters to “Interview’s” Claudia…).

  6. What is your favorite thing to do besides writing?

    I am a lifelong car enthusiast who attends all the car shows and races that time permits me to.

  7. What do you think is your strongest point as an author?

    I endeavor to have balance in my writing; Simple enough for the “average reader” to have an enjoyable reading experience, yet with nods and “clues” for the enrichment of the “hardcore reader” crowd. With “Vampire Syndrome”, I think I have achieved a proper balance where the average reader and the “core vampire novel reader” alike can both enjoy my work.