Author Interview, K.C. Finn

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Interview #75, with “compulsive, convoluted, and complex” writer, Kimberley Finn!

Describe yourself in 5 words:

Compulsive, Convoluted, Complex, Consistent and Complicated!

Share a short blurb of your work (10-100 words):

kimberley finn

The Atomic Circus: A Futuristic Mystery

A story is never a good story unless it starts with a murder. The more unusual the murder, the better the story, generally speaking. Meet Caecilius (KAI-KILL-EE-USS) Rex, a young detective in the not-too-distant future, a smog-filled post apocalyptic world riddled with crime and conspiracy.

When a new case quite literally falls at Rex’s feet, he teams up with his neighbour and associate Kendra Nai, an ex-army sergeant recently dismissed, to investigate. Little do they know that the events of The Atomic Circus will be the first step to solving the case of a lifetime.

Share an excerpt of your favorite author’s work (10-100 words):

Yet each man kills the thing he loves
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!
Some kill their love when they are young,
And some when they are old;
Some strangle with the hands of Lust,
Some with the hands of Gold:
The kindest use a knife, because
The dead so soon grow cold.

– Oscar Wilde, The Ballad of Reading Gaol

Comment on the writing versus publication process, in your experience:

The writing process is easily the more enjoyable of the two for me. Words flow like blood when I cut open the proverbial vein of imagination, and there’s nothing better than seeing the page fill up with your newly crafted ideas, even if they don’t all get used.

As a self-published author the publication process is a double-edged sword, because it’s very easy to put your work out there and be excited by seeing your books in print, but you can often feel swallowed up in the sea with the thousands of other people worldwide trying to get their work noticed. I believe that perseverance and networking are the true keys to success here, just as they would be if I was trying to secure a big time publisher, but I would rather be connecting directly to my audience and keeping my artistic freedom to write exactly as I wish.

Nicely said! What is your definition of “good writing”?

It keeps you reading, it gives you an emotional reaction (be it good or bad!), and most importantly it never inhibits your ability to understand or enjoy the story being told, because to me the story is far more important than the writing.

Please share your #1 tip for writers:

As a teacher of writing I have five top tips that I give to my
classes, so I’ll share them all here:

* Keep going, even if you don’t think anyone cares.

* If you like what you’re writing, then there’ll be at least one other
person out there who will too, so write for them if not yourself.

* Write every day. And that’s not every day that you feel like it. I
mean every single day.

* Don’t be afraid to big yourself up and make a big deal of your work.

* Take every opportunity that comes at you to show off your work and
your personality.

Cool tips! Your websites/blogs/etc:

www.theproverbialraven.blogspot.co.uk

www.facebook.com/pages/The-Atomic-Circus/148122065353125

www.goodreads.com/author/show/7145212.K_C_Finn

www.amazon.co.uk/K-C-Finn/e/B00DT76UEQ/

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Much thanks to K.C. Finn for stopping by — do visit Kimberley’s Website for more info on her projects!

K.C.’S BIO (in her own words):

finn

Born in South Wales to Raymond and Jennifer Finn, Kimberley Charlotte Elisabeth Finn (known to readers as K.C., otherwise it’d be too much of a mouthful) was one of those corny little kids who always wanted to be a writer. She was also incredibly stubborn, and so has finally achieved that dream in 2013 with the release of her first two novellas in the four-part Caecilius Rex saga.

As a sufferer with the medical condition M.E./C.F.S., Kim works part time as a private tutor and a teacher of creative writing, devoting the remainder of her time to writing novels and studying for an MA in Education and Linguistics.

Her website is The Proverbial Raven.

NOTE: K.C. is launching a new magazine in August called Indie Book Buffet. Keep a lookout for it as there’s a cool giveaway with the debut issue!

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Standing Out as a Self-Published Author

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By Guest Blogger Kristopher Miller

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Standing Out as a Self-Published Author

self_publishing

[“Books Scramble” | Image by Vladimir Melnikov]

You look on the bookshelves or an e-book service and notice they all feature the same thing: women who fall in love with vampires. Women who fall in love with werewolves. A fantasy quest involving elves and other traditionally used fantasy archetypes. Despite the somewhat different concepts, they all use the same plotlines and formula. All of this is used to sell a lot of books but it does not help the authors stand out in the crowd. This is because traditional publishing houses encourage the same stuff to be used over and over again in order to reap more money. Even some self-published authors also fall into that trend in hoping to copy the traditional published authors’ success.

The age us writers live in is a wonderful one because not only can we can be our own entrepreneurs, editors (though more than one person helps make a good manuscript), and illustrators. People need to take advantage of this era because there is a lot of potential to break new ground in the writing world, whether it is in the medium itself or genre. And it does not involve having to do something utterly groundbreaking to where material has to be Top Critics’ Choice-worthy, but something just fresh enough that it is material that is different from the rest of the pack.

Here are a few tips to slowly breaking from the mold:

standing_out

[Image from How to Write a Stand-Out Hook]

Look at Other Writers in Your Genre

Take some time to look at the writers who work in the genre you’re thinking of writing and releasing your book into. Look for patterns. What conventions do a lot of writers use? What patterns in regard to plot structure, character design, and settings do writers use in that genre? Look for those patterns and then think of ways like “How can I write this plot in a different way that does not need that type of character?” or “How can I make this setting unique compared to what other authors use?” Brainstorm of what you can do as a writer, think about what personal style you use, and deviate from the conventional norms in what might be refreshing to you and refreshing to the reader.

Write Several Drafts, Not An Outline

This step seems strange, because in school you were always taught that an outline was the best way to plan a written piece. From experience, it is a rigid blueprint that assumes you need to follow the outline. An outline also encourages shortcuts in terms of how to plot characters, settings, and the storyline. Instead, start writing the piece in short phases. Write a short summary of what is going on in your head. Don’t worry if you think it is crap, for you are going to work on it later. Work on a longer version of the summary, then start working on the first scene. You will find what works in the piece and what does not work in the piece. Then you can reevaluate that piece and ask yourself: did I do something differently than what other authors have done? What can I make better? What can I make different? Writing is a very continuous process for there’s always something that needs to be worked on.

Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment

My suggestion of creating a small summary is just one way a writer can start marking himself or herself from the pack. While working on the manuscript, write in some dialogue that is unexpected. Write a sequence that might seem out of place, for eventually that sequence might not seem out of place the more you work on the manuscript. Introduce a concept that might seem out of place with the genre you are working on. Eventually, you will work it in with enough writing and editing. Bottom line: keep experimenting with concepts that have not been played around in the genre before. Who knows, a chaingun might seem very, very out of place in a sword-and-sorcery fantasy novel but somehow it might fit in your universe that might not fit in the traditional universe. Mess around and have fun with inserting things that “aren’t” supposed to be in there!

writing

[“Writing” | Image from Eastern Michigan University]

Look at Different Types of Book Covers

Now, this would be a no-brainer, right? But sometimes authors look for book covers that sometimes overlap each other. If you happen to know an artist or two, ask and hire them to do a cover for you so that your book cover will look different than what other people have been doing. If you are buying a book cover, double check to make sure that the cover has not been used by another author already.

Don’t Just Talk About It…Do Something About It!

Lots of people like to complain of how writers these days are uncreative, how the traditional publishing houses are harsh, how Amazon is evil, blah, blah, blah, blahky blah. It’s one thing to talk about how the writing scene needs to change but there is a different between a person who just talks about writers and writing and those who actually write. Writing is a hard, laborious, time-consuming process that requires a lot of thought and a lot of spontaneity. You can write about all the suggestions about writing you can and you can rant all the fuck you want about how writers are not very creative…but are you actually creating anything? No? Well, you don’t have the damned right to tell people how they should write. If you are passionate about doing something different in the writing world, find a pen and a notebook and a keyboard. Get started.

Don’t Be Jealous of Other People’s Creative Ideas That You Are Tempted to Steal Them (Irony!)

If you see someone do some really cool stuff, chances are you are going to be impressed. And sometimes when we are all impressed by how badass and cool that idea is, we really want to do something like it!

And that’s the problem: we are not that person who created the idea and imitating the idea leads to an uninspired copy that will be hated by those who loved the original work. Worse, we get very, very jealous of that person’s work. We start to hate the person and the work, and we often wonder why we loved the person and the work in the first place. Jealousy is a wasted emotion that consumes, time, energy, and yes, physical and mental life.

Instead, be happy for that person’s highly creative ideas. Give that person your compliments. Write a positive review of that person’s work. Spread the work about that person’s work. Because that particular writer’s work is worth reading and it is worth reading. It is one more work that defies the norms, tries something different, and goes not take the easy way out. That work serves as an example of a work that defines conventional norms. You too can do original work on your own terms. Everyone has a way of doing things different, so don’t be a copy. Be an original. Do your own work and praise the ones whose work deserves to be praised.

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kristopher miller

Author Bio:

Kristopher Miller is a graduate student currently studying for his masters in technical communication but he is also writing hard on his latest novella, short story, poetry, and nonfiction projects. His first short story in first grade involved a frog that kept trying to eat a planet, only to be blown back by an alien spaceship. He has grown far from planet-eating frogs being blown away by laser beams and has recently released his first novella, The Maze’s Amulet, in 2012.

Mr. Miller is currently working on a sequel to the novella, as well as a poetry anthology and a short story anthology.

You can visit him, his works, his writing advice, and other drabblings at The Catacomb’s Bookshelf.

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Thanks for sharing your views, Kristopher :)!

Here are a couple of Kristopher’s past blog posts readers might want to check out. These posts help us remember there is such a thing as high quality and low quality — and that if we fail, for whatever reason, to distinguish between the two we pervert and harm our culture and our language:

(1) Commas Keep People Alive! teaches a valuable lesson about commas.

(2) “Hollowland” Review features a collaborative review of Amanda Hocking’s Hollowland, by Kristopher and AJ.

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P.S. And here’s Kristopher’s Q&A with JCS (24 June 2012).

— Jess C Scott / jessINK

Author Interview, Kevin Rau

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Interview #61, with obsessive/driven/optimistic author: Kevin Rau!

Describe yourself in 5 words:

kevin rau

Obsessive. Driven. Optimistic. Creative. Fluffy.

Share a short excerpt and blurb of your work (10-100 words):

hero_banner

From my book in progress: H.E.R.O. – Gene Front

“Winterfury knew the danger of the brick, but had been warned about the woman and her ability to telepathically control him. He threw the ball of cold at Psystar, who barely opened her mouth in reaction before the sphere hit her. When it struck, a thick mass of ice formed over the heroine. Her body froze in position on the chair. The brick, Mr. Drake, reacted faster than Winterfury expected. He closed on the master of ice in a few steps. Winterfury grew a thick shield of toughened ice over his left arm as the the large man moved in and swung.”

Share an excerpt of your favorite author’s work (10-100 words):

By Laurel K. Hamilton:

“Come, Anita, join me on the stage.” His voice wasn’t as good as Jean-Claude’s, it just wasn’t. There was no texture to it, but the mind behind the voice was like nothing I had ever felt. It was ancient, terribly ancient. The force of his mind made my bones ache.

Comment on the writing versus publication process, in your experience:

Writing is a creative process. Working with the flow of the story and the plot(s). Ensuring each character’s voice is their own. Generally, it’s an enjoyable process.

Publication would depend on what you specifically mean in this context. If you mean the process of converting a book to e-book formats and prepping a book for sale, then for me it involves editing (often tedious reading and re-reading your work and tweaking it, and then sending it off to others to get their input, and then go back and make modifications). It also involves creation of art for the cover, which is a creative process as well, since I create 3D art for my superheroes, and then use that to render an extremely high detail image for use on the cover.

Next, we’ve got the creation of the “back cover text,” which I personally dislike. I write a story for the full story, not to shorten it into a few hundred words. Last are the details of converting the Word document into the right format for e-books, which is minor for me. The true hard part is the marketing afterward, which doesn’t come naturally to me.

What is your definition of “good writing”?

I don’t believe there is a single definition. To me, the point of any fiction is to make a story that someone can sit down and enjoy. Ideally, the characters will be identifiable, and the reader will be able to “put themselves” into the situations in the book. “Good writing” to me certainly aren’t the nitpicky things such as minor grammar issues and formatting. (I pay close attention to these in my work, but that’s an attempt to make my work as professional as possible. However, a “proper English” story can be entirely boring or unenjoyable, and that would fail the “good writing” test to me.)

Yes, that kind of story would fail the “good writing” test to me too (subjective as it is!). Please share your #1 tip for writers:

I only get to give one? Hmm. Since I’m assuming those reading this will be more interested in releasing a story for sale, I’ll advise them to have others edit their work. Few people are truly good at editing out our own stories, we know what to expect, and end up glossing over errors.

Your websites/blogs/etc:

http://www.kevinrau.com is my primary author website and blog.

http://www.facebook.com/herobooks is my facebook page, I put images up here on a regular basis of my superheroes and some villains.

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Much thanks to Kevin for stopping by — be sure to check out Kevin’s website for more info about him and his action-packed books ;)!

Author Interview, Shane W. Smith

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Author Interview #40, with husband/father/creative writer, Shane W. Smith!

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Hi Shane! Please describe yourself in 5 words:

Husband, father, writer; driven, optimistic.

Always good to meet fellow driven optimists :) Please share a short excerpt and blurb of your work (10-100 words):

lesser_evil

Blurb: The Lesser Evil is a graphic novel that explores what it means to have a dream, and what that dream can end up costing…regardless of whether it comes true.

Excerpt:

Dear mum and dad,

By the time you read this, I will be gone. It’s nothing you’ve done. This is just something I had to do, for me.

I know you think I’m wasting my life, enlisting in the Senate’s navy. But Danny Hopkins enlisted three years ago, and he’s already a bridge officer. In a few years, he’ll probably command his own ship.

It’s what I’ve always wanted. I want to be out there among the stars, helping the Senate to protect and improve the lives of its people…

Share an excerpt of your favorite author’s work (10-100 words):

“I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.

The evil that men do lives after them;

The good is oft interred with their bones;

So let it be with Caesar.”

— Mark Antony, Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare

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I know it’s a bit passé to pick Shakespeare, but the literary world owes so much to his work, and I personally was tremendously inspired by this speech particularly.

No worries — give me Shakespeare over drivel anytime :P! Comment on the writing versus publication process, in your experience:

Writing has become so incredibly romanticised. The intangible and unknowable mystery of the creative process is responsible for more emotive and flowery purple prose than any other topic I’ve read about, including love. As much as I truly cherish and enjoy writing as a hobby and vocation, I have come to reject the premise that it has any divine or magical properties.

And getting published is hard work, fun or not. It’s work. In some ways, publication is the grounding process for writers, a reality check of sorts. Of course, the constant cycle of submission/rejection/repetition is one that would knock the romantic shine from any activity (indeed, having a romantic viewpoint seems to amplify the disappointment); but more than that, learning to treat your writing as a business venture really does provide another perspective into the whole process.

I’m yet to decide whether or not this is a good thing…but I believe that the point of tension between fantasy and reality is where the best writing occurs.

Yes, that might be where the creative tension thing comes into play ;) What is your definition of “good writing”?

For me, good writing tells two stories simultaneously (usually referred to crudely as the ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ journeys), and makes it seem entirely natural; organic rather than manufactured. Events feel inevitable because the characters are the way they are, and things only get resolved when the characters take action in a way they would never have even considered at the start of the story.

That’s not to say that considerations such as characters, plot, style, voice, world-building, dialogue, metaphor, suspense, authority, consistency and coherence need to be ignored; indeed, the very best writing mandates mastery of all these disparate elements. For my part, though, if an author has devoted considerable energy to the structure of the story and its subtext, there’s a much greater chance that I will enjoy reading their work.

Please share your #1 tip for writers:

Background: The Lesser Evil was a lengthy novel for almost a decade, and had been (rightly) rejected for publication about ten times before I junked it and re-envisioned it as a graphic novel. Less than two months after I finished putting it together, I’d landed an offer for publication with Zeta Comics for The Lesser Evil (and its sequel)!

I’ve given this advice before, and it’s pretty much the best advice I am capable of giving.

My #1 tip: If you can’t get a novel published, maybe it’s not meant to be a novel. Turn it into a screenplay, a song, a painting, an interpretive dance…or like me, make it a graphic novel.

Good advice (story > medium ^^). Please let us know your websites/blogs/etc:

Site: http://shanewsmith.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Shane-W-Smith/246284628744146

Twitter: http://twitter.com/#/Shane_W_Smith

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Much thanks to Shane for stopping by! Be sure to check out his website for his creative endeavours and “general ideas regarding the creative process.”

Author Interview, Ami Blackwelder

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Author Interview #11, with paranormal and historical romance author, Ami Blackwelder!

Describe yourself in 5 words:

Corky. Smart. Funny. Creative. Kind.

Share a short excerpt and blurb of your work (10-100 words):

3 lovers. 2 species. 1 way to survive.

I am torn. Two halves dividing. I feel it deep inside. There is no escaping it, no denying it. My body aches with a pain too familiar.

My hands clutched the metal student desk in sophomore Biology class at Alaska University. Sweat dropped from my forehead in the air conditioned room. Chills rushed up my spine and I shivered in a brief moment only noticed by me. My long nails scratched the surface of the classroom desk. My class schedule appeared on the square shaped electronic device on my desk, beaming in and out of focus as my vision blurred:

Biology
English
Humanities II
Lunch
Calculus II
Ethics

Share an excerpt of your favorite author’s work (10-100 words):

From ‘Little Wolf Ranch’ by Belle Magnolia
([Jan 24 – Tues]
Ch 1 — Owl Prophet

Fierce and feral, half his face painted black, the other half white, with a whirlwind in yellow on his cheek, the eighteen-year-old Kiowa warrior charged his stallion across the frozen ground. Kuy Syan Joshua (kwee: wolf shawn: little) rode with twenty-four others in the raiding party, his rifle sending leaded death to the few freight wagons trying to outrun their attackers. His sixteen-year-old half-brother Blue rode beside him, his gun raised, his lethal intent clear.)

Comment on the writing versus publication process, in your experience:

Writing is creative. Publication is technical.

What is your definition of “good writing”?

Great description, dialogue and narrative. Honest words that make you love the story and characters.

Please share your #1 tip for writers:

Believe in yourself.

Your websites/blogs/etc:

http://amiblackwelder.com/